Calling all south-east Queenslanders who have spent their days in iso dreaming of sunny road trips and glorious beach days—we’re finally allowed to hit the road. As you pack your bags and head off on your coastal Queensland adventure, we’re here to guide you through the best spots to eat, drink, sleep and be merry on your journey.
Your first stop as you travel due north? The gorgeous town of Gladstone. Packed with beachside adventures and boasting access to the iconic Southern Great Barrier Reef, we've teamed up with Queensland to guide you to all the best local haunts, watering-holes and stays that will take your road trip to the next level.
Things To Do
Ferry your way to the Great Barrier Reef
First things first, if you’re looking for access to the Southern Great Barrier Reef, hop aboard the Curtis Ferry. Whether you’re looking for nighttime cruises, a day of reef island hopping, or transport to and from the most idyllic, beachside camping ground you’ve ever laid eyes on, Curtis Ferry will get you there.
Explore one of Australia’s historical hot spots
Explore the town of Seventeen Seventy with LARC! Tours where you’ll get to check out the first landing place of James Cook. Choose from a selection of historical tours such as the Paradise Tour where you can explore Queensland's one and only operating lighthouse or the Goolimbil Walkabout for authentic hunting, gathering, and tasting experiences led by the indigenous community. For an all-around experience, opt for the afternoon picnic which boasts frequent wildlife sightings as you explore the national parks and waterways.
Soak in local artwork amongst natural beauty
Bike your way down Turtleway Bikeway to admire the public art that lines the scenic route. The Boyne Tannum Turtleway Artscape is a community project that highlights local artists, installing their work along the stunning Boyne River and beyond to draw attention to historically significant spots along the way. Spend a day moving from artwork to artwork to learn about the local community, history, and stories of the region.
Go Snorkelling On Heron Island
An overnighter on here is pure magic. Here, you can spend your days snorkelling right off your doorstep and your nights on the beach with a wine in hand as you watch the sun fall behind the ocean. If you're game to throw some adventure into your holiday, Heron Island is also a scuba divers paradise with 20 sites easily accessible from the island including the famous Heron Bommie. Trust us when we say once you arrive, you'll never want to leave.
Kayak your way through picturesque waters
What better way to explore the crystal clear ocean of Agnes Water than on the water itself? Liquid Adventures will hook you up with kayak tours that lead you through the stunning majesty that is Agnes Waters. Book their nature tour for a complete look at the area, or wait until sunset and watch the sun fall over the horizon as you lie back in your kayak.
Where to Eat
Cafe on the Point
Hankering for something sweet? Serving up freshly baked cakes, tarts, danishes, muffins, and slices alongside their perfectly brewed coffee is Cafe on the Point. Located inside the Yaralla Sports Club, Cafe on the Point is a relaxed spot to grab some quick tapas or a decadent dessert, any day of the week.
Gladstone Fish Market
For those of you who can’t resist freshly caught seafood, there is no better place to grab the catch of the day than Gladstone Fish Market. Here you’ll find a wide range of delicious marine eats as well as classic market fare. You can either stock up and prepare your own seafood feast or head to the legendary fish and chip shop where freshly cooked prawns, bugs, fish and more are awaiting you.
Serving up everything from classic Italian dishes to modern Australian cuisine, the stunning Pacinos restaurant is here to dish up your faves. Boasting a decent wine menu, gourmet pizza, and luxurious mains, this spot is ideal for a date night or special occasion. Finish the evening off with a decadent dessert from their ever-changing dessert menu.
Sip on ice cold beers served alongside fresh prawns as you gaze over the harbour views at Flavours Marina. This community favourite is known for their legendary Sunday sesh where each weekend they serve up bespoke cocktails alongside their usual tapas menu. Not in a savoury mood? Their in-house pastry chef is known for whipping up 'grammable desserts that taste as good as they look.
Where to Drink
Bebida Cocktail & Tapas Lounge
If you’re looking for dynamite cocktails, classy vibes, and delicious tapas, Gladstone’s Bebida Cocktail & Tapas Lounge is your best bet. Located in the CBD, this is the perfect spot to grab before or after dinner drinks. Make sure you also check out the adjoining restaurant Rocksalt which boasts a fresh, ever-changing seasonal menu of modern Australian eats that is re-curated every fortnight.
Lightbox Espresso and Wine Bar
Whether you’re a coffee or wine lover, you have to check out Lightbox Espresso and Wine Bar the next time you’re travelling through Gladstone. This trendy spot is all about perfecting the experience of drinking, offering an impressive and unique menu of handpicked wines, delicious coffee, bespoke cocktails, and French champagne.
The Dock at East Shores
Indulge in your love of waterfront views with a cocktail in hand at The Dock at East Shores. Looking over the Gladstone Marina and East Shore Parklands, this restaurant and bar boasts an extensive drinks menu, perfect for wetting your whistle throughout your travels. If you’re exploring Gladstone with friends, definitely book in for their Cocktail Class where you’ll learn how to make some signature drinks while sipping on multiple handcrafted cocktails.
Agnes Water Tavern
For classic pub vibes, you can’t go past the Agnes Water Tavern. Sporting a vibey beer garden and all your favourite brews on tap, this is the ideal tav to grab a cheeky beer and catch some local talent perform live.
Where to Stay
Wilson Island Reef Safari Tents
Looking for camping vibes without the hassle of actually camping? Wilson Island is home to permanent Reef Safari Tents so that you can enjoy the ultimate luxe camping trip minus the work. Wake up to the sound of the ocean, mere metres from your cosy king bed, and enjoy breakfast made by the resident chef. Spend your days snorkelling through the Great Barrier Reef, exploring the lush landscape, and sipping cocktails on your private deck as you soak in the sunset.
Discovery Parks - Tannum Sands
For a more traditional camping experience, head to Tannum Sands. For those on a vanning adventure, you can park your camper here. Otherwise, pitch a tent and make the most of their resort-style pool and tennis court. They also have adorable cabins for those who are still looking for a budget stay but aren’t down with the tent experience.
Metro Hotel and Apartments Gladstone
Enjoy uninterrupted views of the ocean at Metro Hotel and Apartments Gladstone. Located in the city centre, this is the perfect spot for those who are keen to enjoy everything Gladstone has to offer. With laundry and cooking facilities you can settle in for a longer stay and spend your days lazing by the pool and exploring the town.
Sandcastles 1770 Motel and Resort
After our recent stint in iso, a beach holiday is sounding pretty darn good right now. What we need is a resort on the beach that’s walking distance from civilisation to satisfy all our quarantine cravings. Sandcastles 1770 checks all our boxes, with the beach on its doorstep, an in-house restaurant, and shops and cafes just a short stroll away.
Packed with beachside adventures and boasting access to the iconic Southern Great Barrier Reef, Gladstone is slowly but surely making its mark on the map. Promise to holiday here this year and support Queensland businesses that need your help right now by joining our 20 For 20 Challenge.
Queensland is good to go, so let's get out there! And remember, always be COVID safe and check operator details and opening times prior to travel.
Editor’s note: This article is sponsored by Queensland and proudly endorsed by Urban List. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make Urban List possible. Click here for more information on our editorial policy.
Image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland