Road trips are fun. You have total freedom, can be as spontaneous as you want, and blast awesome road trip music while singing at the top of your lungs. It’s great for catching up with friends, and even greater if you just want to zone out and stare into space.
The recent trip to Southern Queensland was a mixture of all that plus epic activities. Friends have been asking me for the itinerary after seeing photos on Instagram, so here’s a compilation of everything we did with a couple of driving tips for Aussie!
At a glance
Here’s a detailed map I plotted for our Queensland road trip. It shows the key points of interests by days, as well as the rough driving directions. We basically started from Gold Coast, drove north to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, headed further up to Noosa, conquered Fraser Island and Lady Elliot Island (separately), before driving back south to Brisbane and Gold Coast.
Refer to the day by day itinerary below for things we did, as well as suggestions for others!
We flew in to Gold Coast using FlyScoot from Singapore and arrived early in the morning at about 755am. For a budget airline, I was surprised by the spacious seats on their new Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
Anyway we wasted no time, collected our spacious white van, and headed towards Currumbin Beach Surf Club for brunch! Surf Clubs in Australia are great places for hearty meals. The servings are usually generous despite the reasonable price. It’s also a great place to chill and people watch.
Currumbin Beach Vikings Surf Club
Hearty and affordable brunch at the Surf Club!Just sun bathing with our new friend on the right. Photo by: @beautifuladieu
We then wandered around the beach a little before heading to Burleigh National Park. We heard the lookout points were really nice and it was on the way to our accommodation at Surfers Paradise so we checked it out! You can even see the skyline of Gold Coast from Burleigh. But if you’re short of time, you can definitely give this a miss.
Chilling at Berleigh Heads. Photo by: @beautifuladieu
Amazing view of Gold Coast from our hotel balcony.
Checked into our hotel after, walked around Surfers Paradise, and grabbed dinner.
Mantra on View Hotel
22 View Ave, Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast
If you have time (these are stuff I did on my previous trip!):
- Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is worth visiting. If you love wildlife or have kids, it’s a great place to get up close and personal with the animals.
- Take a surfing class at Surfers Paradise! You can’t visit one of the most famous surfing spots in Australia without trying to surf. I did this during my previous trip!
- Hop on a Helicopter and take in the views of Gold Coast.
Drove for about 2-3hrs to this small town called Kilcoy. Unless you are interested in hunting Yowies (Australian Big Foot) like we were, you could probably avoid this detour and head directly to Maleny instead. That said, the Yowie Burger we had here was pretty tasty!
Maleny is part of this scenic area called the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. The drives are really beautiful and will probably make your road trip worth it. Our first stop here was at Maleny Botanic Gardens & Bird World. For a private garden, it was one of the most well managed ones I’ve ever visited. But the highlight for us was the Aviary, where we could interact with the birds and take pictures. There was also a ton of random animals outside the aviary, which was great fun!
The best part about road trips is that you can stop spontaneously to take photos. Photo by: @sunriseodyssey
Made a new birdie friend.
Quaint Montville. Photo by: @beautifuladieu
Next we popped by a cosy town called Montville, which felt like a walk back in time as we visited the galleries, coffee places, and craft shops.
Our accommodation for the night was a bit of a treat. If want to experience European luxury, this is it. Just the drive through the estate grounds to the French provincial main guest house was an experience. It’s like Instagram heaven cause everything is pretty. The suites are beautifully furnished, and the Long Apron restaurant serves food that plays with your tastebuds. I’ve tried fine dining before, but never like this!
The path towards reception. Light fell beautifully everywhere. The perfect sunset spot at Spicers Cloverlly Estate
Spicers Cloverlly Estate
68 Balmoral Rd, Montville
If you have time:
- The Sunshine Coast Hinterland is also famous for their fresh produce. Google and check out one of the many food trails available here.
- We also heard that the Glasshouse Mountains area is great for hiking. Difficulties vary so do your own research!
Moving further north, we started our day at the popular Eumundi Market, which is held every Saturday and Wednesday from 0630am to 0130pm. There are hundreds of different food and handicraft stalls that kept our bellies full and minds intrigued. Not to forget the talented baskers that made the walk around the market more enjoyable.
This guy was amazingly sick. Juggling while playing a modified harmonica! So much food! Photo by: @beautifuladieu
After a very filling brunch, we drove to the lovely Noosa Heads. Noosa National Park is also nice, and we heard you can sometimes spot wild koalas if you’re attentive! We were pretty tired from all the driving though, so opted to spend more time at the beach instead.
There’s a really famous ice cream place called Massimo’s Gelateria at Hastings Street that you should try too!
Chasing the sunset at Noosa National Park.
Trying to take a wefie in the super cold waters. A lot harder than we thought!
Mantra French Quarter
62 Hastings St, Noosa Heads
If you have time:
- Try standup paddle boarding. Most hotels should offer rental, but there are schools along the main street and beach that will rent and give classes too.
Splitting up time! Usually this wouldn’t happen on road trips, but as we were on a mission, we had to split into two groups. Daniel & Gina from Sunrise Odyssey headed for the World Heritage Drive with our van and explored Lady Elliot Island. While Amanda and I did The Great Beach Drive and headed to Fraser Island on a 4WD Tag Along Tour instead.
Both routes visit UNESCO Heritage Sites, and are really amazing in their own right (check out the links below). So you should probably do both if you have the time. Thankfully I’ve been to Lady Elliot Island on my previous trip so I didn’t have to make any hard decisions.
Driving on the 75mile long beach was quite an experience.
Jump shots with new friends at Lake McKenzie on Fraser Island. Sunset on Fraser Island (sea facing side). Perfect reflection during sunset (island side).
Look out point at Indian Head on Fraser Island.
Bird’s eye view of Lady Elliot Island. You need to take a small propeller plane to get there.
Lady Elliot Island. You get to swim with turtles, manta rays, and all kinds of fish while snorkelling at the southern most point of the Great Barrier Reef.
In case you’re wondering what to do with your rented car, the solution is to simply plan ahead and drop your car off before the tours. This way you wouldn’t have to pay for extra days while you’re not using the car. Most of the big companies have multiple offices, so you can drop them off at various locations around the country.
– What’s great about The Great Beach Drive
– Exploring the Great Barrier Reef at Lady Elliot Island
– Sunrise Odyssey’s take on The Ultimate Road Trip in Queensland
We first headed to Noosa Farmer’s Market, which is only open every Sunday morning. It’s a great place to grab breakfast and food supplies. Food basically doesn’t get any fresher than this as you literally get fresh produce from the growers themselves.
It was then a long ride back to Brisbane, where we met up with Daniel and Gina to explore the city. We then headed to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary to interact with Koalas & Kangaroos!
Hunting for fresh food at Noosa Farmers Market. Clearly the Kangaroo doesn’t care about us.
Caught in act. Photo by: @sunriseodyssey
Oaks on Felix
26 Felix St, Brisbane
If you have time:
- Fortitude Valley has plenty of local designer goods, excellent food, and is also the main nightlife district of Brisbane.
- Check out South Bank for sure. There are beautiful parklands by the river, awesome restaurants, shopping, and even a man made beach!
An early 1.5hr morning drive back to Gold Coast, before flying back to Singapore.
*Essential info on renting and driving in Australia
- Remember to make sure you have an International Driving Licence (Singapore Driving Licence is ok).
- The minimum renting age is 21, but drivers below 25 may need to pay a surcharge. Some of the larger vehicles (8/12 seaters) may also require the driver to be at least 25.
- They drive on the left hand side side (steering wheel on the right), and uses the metric system for all measurements.
- Do rent your vehicle at least 2 weeks in advance if you plan to visit during peak season (school holidays & end of the year). The last thing is to be forced into a deal you don’t want at the airport.
- Before returning the vehicle, remember to top up the petrol. The surcharge from the rental companies are quite ridiculous
- Most importantly, keep to the speed limits (your GPS will remind you often), and rotate drivers ! It can get tiring during long drives.
– 10 things to do on a road trip in Queensland
If you have any questions regarding my epic Queensland road trip, do drop them in the comments section below and I’ll try my best to answer!