In just over 100km, you can travel from the bustling iconic harbour of Gladstone into Queensland’s Banana Shire and Biloela.
Best known for its busy harbour, Gladstone is also a key gateway to the ocean and islands of the Southern Great Barrier Reef including Heron and Wilson, renowned for their prolific populations of birds. Surrounded by hinterland, start this journey – from Gladstone to Biloela – in the CBD, home to galleries, gardens, heritage sites and well-stocked lakes and parks. Take the Giants of Industry Tour and you can learn all about Gladstone’s industrial past, or drive to Auckland Hill and admire the scenic city views and beyond to Port Curtis. If you’re feeling adventurous, climb Mount Larcom. Down at the marina, you’ll find fishing boats packed with catches of fresh Queensland king prawns, reef fish, scallops, bugs, oysters and the Gladstone mud crab.
Leave Gladstone and follow the signs to Calliope, home to a Historical Village, which promotes the region of Port Curtis. There’s also a local history museum beside the Bruce Highway near the Calliope River Crossing.
About 90km south-west of Gladstone via the Dawson Highway sits Lake Callide, which is an ideal spot for fishing. There’s plenty of yellowbelly, barramundi and red-claw here. Bird watchers are also attracted to this spot for a wide variety of birdlife and campers like this lake, which is equipped with toilets, picnic tables and a playground. Nearby, Kroombit Tops National Park offers spectacular scenery, 4WD tracks, trails, creeks and camping.
Continue on towards Biloela and make sure you take the 14km detour, which takes you out to historic Greycliffe Homestead and Museum. For a taste of this region’s history, wander around this open-timber homestead, which was the home of the Nott family for 100 years. Here, you can glean an honest understanding of the conditions under which the early settlers existed. Check out the blacksmith shop as well as the shed housing the old-fashioned bullock dray. Continue for another 1km and grab a selfie at the Spirit of the Land Mural on State Farm Road. This 100m long mural, which wraps around a water reservoir, tells the tale of different cultures in the region coming together, focusing on the local Indigenous inhabitants and early settlers up until 1928.
Just a 3km drive away you will encounter Biloela’s largest attraction. And by big, we mean 28 metres high. Known as the SILO, you won’t find any grain here, but displays about primary industry and insights into cotton production, stud and dairy cattle, redclaw and ostrich farming, grain production and land care.
If you feel like a slightly longer drive, continue into the town of Banana, which is not named after a fruit, but a famous bullock. Banana was yellowish in colour and used to help local stockmen herd some of the more wild cattle into the yards. There’s a statue honouring Banana. If you continue another 20km, you’ll arrive in Moura where the Moura Weir is ideal for swimming and fishing.
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!