It’s described as the green behind the gold which makes Mackay so special. The gold being its beautiful beaches, the green, its hinterland. Start this journey in the Mackay CBD, home to the innovative regional art gallery, ArtSpace Mackay; the pristine Mackay Botanic Gardens; stunning Mackay Marina; and the iconic Eimeo Pacific Hotel on a clifftop with views overlooking the Whitsunday Coast, Brampton, Keswick and St Bees islands.
Once you’ve had your fill of fine seafood and fresh sea breezes, head 80km west through the lush Pioneer Valley, towards Eungella National Park. Eungella means “land of the clouds” and you’ll experience this feeling as you drive through emerald lowlands, along sugar cane fields, and past quaint townships before arriving at Australia’s longest stretch of sub-tropical rainforest.
This is an easy day trip along the sealed road to Broken River and the journey takes you past Melba House in the heart of the Pioneer Valley in Marian. It is here that renowned opera singer Dame Nellie Melba spent her first years of married life and these days it’s been preserved as a museum displaying an array of photos, memorabilia, recordings, books and furniture of Melba’s era. There’s also an arts and crafts shop here selling locally-made gifts and souvenirs.
About 65km west of Mackay you’ll find the Pinnacle Pub and locals believe it’s the pies here that have put the Pioneer Valley on the map. Choose from eight different varieties, all made freshly on site. And it even comes with a story. Apparently the Pinnacle Pie was conceived in the mid 1990s when the Teemburra Dam was under construction and workers had no where to go for lunch. Still hungry? Check out the pub’s large crumbed steaks which are said to be the size of a dinner plate.
Continue along the same route and not far away you’ll hit Finch Hatton Gorge, home to superb rainforest walking trails. Both the Araluen and Wheel of Fire waterfalls are deep natural swimming holes which make a dip ideal on a hot day. Then it’s onwards and upwards towards Eungella National Park which covers more than 51,700ha of land and numerous walking tracks through tropical and temperate rainforest. There’s also some great camping spots at Fern Flat or Crediton Hall which are along the Mackay Highlands Great Walk.
One of the great highlights of this drive journey is the opportunity to spot usually shy platypus in their natural habitat. Head to the viewing platform at Broken River either early in the morning or late afternoon and you can watch as they use their duck-like snouts to feed on freshwater molluscs, crustaceans and other small invertebrates. Bird watchers also adore Eungella National Park, home to 225 species. And after a busy day of sight seeing, swimming, walking and wildlife watching, retire to one of the area’s many accommodation options.
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.
A driving trip to The Wild North is for those adventurous spirits who love leaving clouds of dust in the wake of their 4WD. There are a number of ways to experience the epic Cape York Peninsula in which you’ll witness historic hotels, ancient rock art and breathtaking natural scenery and wildlife. These journeys will take you along red Outback roads, past wetlands brimming with birds, and into isolated fishing spots. You can test your four-wheel driving skills over treacherous creek crossings on the Old Telegraph Track and swim in stunning waterfalls. Here are some of the best tracks on your trip to the top.
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!