The Capricorn Region is a real gem, in every sense of the word. You’ll really dig this drive into fossicking country.
Situated along the Tropic of Capricorn from which it borrows its name, Capricorn sits 23.5 degrees south of the Equator and is considered one of the Earth’s major circles of latitude. You’ll find extreme conditions and dramatic landscapes here which make this countryside a living museum bursting with mineral wealth and fossils. Along the way experience animal and plant life, bushwalking, camping, fossicking and swimming.
Start your journey in Australia’s beef capital of Rockhampton, known for its history and heritage. Check out the Rockhampton Heritage Village and Dreamtime Cultural Centre where you can learn about the traditional Aboriginal people of the area, the early days of Aboriginal mythology, and the significance of Kenniff’s cave and historic cattle-duffing in the region.
Drive about 30 minutes north of Rockhampton to the Capricorn Caves, which is known for its stunning rock formations. Dating back 390 million years, explore these caves and learn how the sedimentary limestone rock originated under the sea as coral growing in shallow waters. There’s plenty to do here, whether it is adventure caving, abseiling, climbing and a high ropes course, or a more sedate walk around the built platforms. One of the highlights of a visit here is a regular underground opera whose acoustics bounce beautifully off these walls.
Continue your drive to Mt Hay where you’ll find volcanic birthstones or thunder eggs, the result of this former volcano. While they look pretty plain on the outside, inside, these 120 million-year-old rocks tell stories of their geo journey. Heading further west, you can witness the sandstone plateau rising above the plains at Blackdown Tableland National Park. This National Park is home to ancient Aboriginal rock art and waterfalls and is bordered by high rugged cliffs. Home to the Ghungalu people, there’s plenty of spectacular lookouts, scenic waterfalls and unique plant communities to admire here. Walkers can follow several short tracks along creeks and to lookouts or you can drive the 19km loop road in a 4WD.
You’ll enter coal country at Blackwater, home to the International Coal Centre where you can learn about Australia’s mining industry and the life of early settlers. Families will enjoy this interactive learning experience, which also showcases the massive machinery used today. Once you have the theory, take a guided tour of a real working coal mine first hand in Blackwater.
Continue west past Emerald, where just outside the Town Hall there exists a fossilised tree trunk estimated at 250 million years old. You’re now in Queensland’s Central Highlands where towns such as Anake, Rubyvale, Sapphire and The Willows have the largest sapphire fields in the Southern Hemisphere. This region is renowned for its rich, golden yellow and coloured stones as well as the famous black star sapphires.
Finish your journey in Alpha, where dramatic shifts in Tectonic plates formed the Drummond Range, and from where you can witness petrified wood.
Taste the tropics both literally and metaphorically along one of Queensland’s most scenic routes which winds for 140kms between Cairns and Cape Tribulation in Tropical North Queensland. Known as the 'Great Barrier Reef drive', the road winds between two World Heritage icons, the Wet Tropics Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.
Drive west from Townsville and you’re in the gold rush era, drive north, and you’ll hit the southern gateway of the Wet Tropics World Heritage-listed rainforests. In whichever direction you decide to travel, start in Townsville, home to the famous Strand – a 2.5km stretch of inner-city beach and playgrounds – and museums which pay homage to the Great Barrier Reef. Once you’ve experienced the reef for real, head to Townsville’s Reef HQ Aquarium touted as the world’s largest coral reef aquarium which is also home to a Turtle Hospital. At the Museum of Tropical Queensland, right next door, you can learn the story of the HMS Pandora which sank on the Great Barrier Reef.
There are 31 beaches in Mackay, one for every day of the month, but why not head inland and discover the Pioneer Valley instead?
How long does it take to get to the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns? It very well may seem like a simple and easy question to answer, however, there are so many variables that make the answer not quite as straight forward as you may have initially thought.
No matter whether you are a snorkeller or a certified scuba diver, there are number of amazing Great Barrier Reef experiences that are a once in a lifetime absolutely ‘must do’. And a Minke Whale snorkel and dive Expedition is one of those that should be on your list!
Thinking of becoming a Certified Scuba Diver and looking to do your learn to scuba dive PADI certificate? Do you wish to learn to dive with a high quality professional company that has an outstanding reputation for not only skill but also safety and can match this with some of the best liveaboard dive boat fleets on the Great Barrier Reef?
This tour is special in so many ways, and is unrivalled to all other reef tours in Far North Queensland. First of all, it has the shortest open water crossing to get to the Great Barrier Reef. Fantastic news for anyone prone to motion sickness. Although this tour is a ‘Reef’ tour, it includes a ‘River Cruise’ on the journey there with Island activities on arrival. And a huge PLUS to guests that like to avoid the crowds, it has one of the lowest passenger capacities of all the island tours with a maximum of 100 guests. The destination is to an uninhabited continental island called Normanby in National Park which is part of the archipelago of Frankland Islands. It is located 10km offshore from the mouth of the Russell and Mulgrave Rivers at Russell Heads, which is approximately 45km South-East of Cairns. The Normanby Island has an abundance of wildlife not only in the water, but also on the island itself. The island is pristine, and has its own rainforest and a fringing reef not far out from its sandy shores. There are also coral gardens located further out from the island for the those that want to explore the deeper waters.
This is not a blog, it is a pitch on how good this Great Barrier Reef 2 day 1 night liveaboard dive trip from Cairns is such good value. One of our team members wrote it because she thinks it is such an amazing good value Great Barrier Reef tour, she wanted to write about it and put it on our Barrier Reef Australia blog page. We were not sure it was appropriate to pitch a single tour but we decided on free speech and free opinions so read more if you are inclined, or go to another page now. From our wonderful Great Barrier Reef Tour Specialist Chelsea Are you looking for a good value liveaboard Great Barrier Reef scuba diving adventure from Cairns without the crowds? Do you want the best dive deal money can buy in Cairns? If your answer is yes, then check out what deals we have on offer with our Great Barrier Reef Tour 2 Day 1 Night Sail, Snorkel and Scuba Dive tour!
If you are scared of the water and the creatures that live there or have never been exposed to an aquatic life in your younger years, but still wish to live out that lifelong dream of seeing the iconic wonders of the world the Great Barrier Reef, then that is okay, we have a tour that will enable you to see the coral reef from above the water and also below the water’s surface without you even getting your hair wet!