If there’s anything more soothing than a slow country drive with endless mountain vista and flower scented air, then we want to hear about it. There are so many scenic drives in Queensland worth guzzling petrol over, from taking the government declared tourist drives to just hitting an outback highway and choosing a direction.
Compile a playlist and pack some snacks for the ride, bliss levels are about to skyrocket. Here are seven of the best scenic drives in Queensland. And remember, always be COVID safe and check operator websites for details on opening and closing times if you plan to make any stops along the way.
Great Barrier Reef Drive
Cairns to Cape Tribulation
The Great Barrier Reef Drive is a fantastic way to explore the stunning northeast coast of Australia and its remote beaches, coral reefs, rainforests and resort towns. North Beach, Rex Lookout, Port Douglas, the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation are some of the must-sees but, of course, the epic ocean views are the star of the show. The road stretches a cool 140km between Cairns and Cape Tribulation—but if you want to keep going all the way to Cooktown, you’ll need a four wheel drive and a sense of adventure.
Brisbane to Innamincka
Leave the coast and the bright lights of the city behind as you head deep into the heart of Queensland for an old-school outback adventure—it’s only a cool 1,152km. As you retrace the path of the old Cobb & Co coach trips, there’s plenty of nature and history to explore. Walk amongst the towering trees in the electric green Bunya Mountains, cast your line in at St. George and reflect at the historically significant Burke and Wills Dig Tree.
David Low Way
Point Arkwright To Noosa Heads
Ah David Low Way, you are a little beauty. With ocean views that most of us will never be able to afford, cruising along the coastal strip between Point Arkwright and Noosa will give you a taste of how picture-perfect the Sunshine Coast’s beaches really are. Hugging the cliffs and bush, with little detours through the beach towns of Coolum and Peregian Beach, this is a drive that’ll inevitably bring on a “How good is Queensland?” convo. Get your camera ready for some moving stills out the car window. Or, if you’ve got the time, pull in to one of the many lookouts.
Driving through the countryside just outside Brisbane, you’ll be overwhelmed with pastel hues, mountain views and pit-stops aplenty. Aratula hosts a gorgeous main street selection of stores, plus the grocer for your picnic supplies and the bakery for a good old-fashioned chunky beef pie. Hold out for 15 minutes to enjoy outdoor dining at Moogerah Dam, then burn those calories with your watersport of choice—kayaks, paddleboards and tinnies are available for hire nearby. Trading water for bitumen, head to Kooroomba Vineyard and Lavender Farm, an established restaurant and cellar door overlooking six acres of vineyards and spectacular Scenic Rim mountain views. Lastly, be sure to check out the family-owned Scenic Rim Brewery of Mt Alford to sink a few brews.
Blackall Range Tourist Drive
Maleny to Mapleton
This windy drive takes in the quaint country towns of Maleny, Montville and Mapleton, along with all their walks, waterfalls and local foodie haunts. It may only be 22km long, but with all the stops you’ll make at cute cafes, cheese stores (for picnic supplies of course) and breweries you’ll be stopping at, it might take days to cover. Lucky we’ve got you sorted with plenty of cosy cabins to stay in here, and you find all the other secrets hidden away along the drive here.
The Falls And Cunningham Gap Loop
Boonah to Killarney
Pack your hiking shoes for this drive, because you’re going to be out of the car and walking—but the views at the end will be worth it. You’ll find four different waterfalls along the The Falls Drive from Boonah to Killarney in the Southern Downs, not to mention a spectacular lookout over Condamine Gorge. Other highlights include a section of the famous rabbit proof fence, rainforests, burbling creeks and, if you carry on to loop back over the Great Dividing Range through the Cunningham Gap, long, windy stretches of road fringed by forest by that will fulfill all your Instagram fantasties. Check the route here.
Reefs, Rainforests And Caves
Cairns to Undara
If you want to see every kind of landscape and view that Queensland has to offer, a drive from coastal Cairns to outback Undara Volcanic National Park is the way to do it. Starting with seaside vibes in Cairns, you’ll head up a winding mountain road to the Atherton Tablelands, where lush forests and plentiful waterfalls await. After exploring a while, you’ll leave the moist, high altitude air to get a taste of the outback along the Kennedy Highway, all the way to Undara. Here, a series of massive caves that were once a lava tube system wait to be explored.
Cunnamulla to Karumba
This 1812km route isn’t for the faint-hearted. Stretching all the way from the NSW border to the very bottom of the Gulf of Carpentaria, the Matilda Way takes in history-laden country towns like Charlesville, Longreach, Winton and Cloncurry, but it’s not just towns and their old school pubs that are worth the drive. On the highways, you’ll run into epic road trains, find yourself stopped by herds of outback cattle and drive for hours without seeing a single other soul. This is true outback Queensland, and if you’ve yet to experience it, it’s about time you did.
While you’re out there exploring, why not check out Queensland’s most impressive caves.
Image credit: John Crux