In Grey Nomadding on Monday 18th Nov, 2019

6-day self-drive road trip itinerary in tropical North Queensland

From the mountains to the beaches, there are impressive sights to discover at every twist and turn in tropical North Queensland.

Looking for a self-drive holiday that is jam-packed with natural wonders? One of the best road trips in the world can be found in North Queensland. There’s no need to jump on a plane and fly overseas when UNESCO World Heritage sites are right here on your doorstep.

Follow the Cassowary Coast, travel through the Atherton Tablelands and drive north along the Great Barrier Reef Drive on this six-day self-drive road trip to take in all of North Queensland’s best sights for a tropical adventure.

Day 1: Atherton Tablelands

Cardwell Forest Drive

Start your journey along the Cassowary Coast in quaint Cardwell Town, where you can grab some breakfast or lunch and make your final preparations for your six-day road trip. Follow Cardwell Forest Drive to Cardwell Lookout for panoramic views of the islands stretching into the distance. Be sure to also stop at the Cardwell Spa Pool, a popular tourist attraction with bright blue waters and picturesque surrounds. 

Day 2: Cassowary Coast

Mission Beach, Paronella Park and Mamu Tropical Skywalk

Want to spot a cassowary? They don’t call this the Cassowary Coast for no reason! Make Mission Beach your next stop for a chance to see these gorgeous creatures in their natural habitat.

Drive further north from Mission Beach and take a break at Paronella Park, a castle that was built in 1935. Now surrounded by tropical forests, it is an unexpected treasure that brings to mind ancient ruins and lost cities. The gardens surrounding the castle are beautifully designed and maintained, making it well worth the visit for avid gardeners.

After you have explored Paronella Park, head to Mamu Tropical Skywalk. Located within the Wooroonoon National Park, the Skywalk takes you through the different levels of the forest to experience nature from a whole new viewpoint.

Day 3: Cassowary Coast

Crystal Cascades, Curtain Fig Tree and Lake Barrine

Visit Yungaburra to see its famous Curtain Fig Tree, estimated to be 500 years old and resembling a curtain due to the 15-metre roots cascading down its length.

From here, take the Gillies Highway to your next destination, Lake Barrine. This lake was from a volcanic crater and you can enjoy a boat tour on the lake or hike through the gorgeous rainforest around it. It also has a Teahouse Café, which is perfect for a lazy lunch.

To end the third day of your road trip, stop at the Crystal Cascades. With countless mini waterfalls and large pools of water surrounded by rainforest, it’s hard to believe a place as peaceful as this is actually just 25 minutes from the vibrant city centre of Cairns. 

Stay two nights in a Queen Room with delicious cooked breakfast free on the first morning at Curtain Fig Motel. Check out The 60’s Plus Essential Guide to Tropical North Queensland e-Guide for more information.

Day 4: Great Barrier Reef Drive


You haven’t explored all that tropical North Queensland has to offer until you spend some time in Cairns! Whether you’re looking to relax at one of the resorts or looking for a cute restaurant to try out, Cairns is the entertainment hub of far North Queensland, making it the perfect place to take a day’s rest from driving.

Day 5: Great Barrier Reef Drive

Kuranda and Palm Cove

Take the Skyrail up to Kuranda! You can either start your trip from Smithfield (near Cairns) or Kuranda. Depending on the amount of time you have, you can enjoy a return trip or simply go one-way to Red Peak and Barron Falls. The Skyrail skims over the top of the canopy, which means you can experience the forest from a bird’s-eye view.

After your adventure on the Skyrail, it’s time to relax. Palm Cove is the epitome of a tropical getaway. It’s a gorgeous beachside town that is home to luxurious resorts and restaurants and is the perfect place to watch the sunset.

Day 6: Great Barrier Reef Drive

Port Douglas

This drive, which runs from Cairns to Port Douglas, is iconic. The Great Barrier Reef Drive hugs the coastline and is seriously impressive. Stop at various lookouts and beaches such as Four Mile Beach along the way and enjoy Port Douglas’s array of restaurants and boutique shopping once you arrive. You can also visit the Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome for a glimpse of Queensland wildlife.

Are you an animal lover? Get free entry to Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome in Port Douglas on page 17 of The 60’s Plus Essential Guide to Tropical North Queensland e-Guide.

If you love a good deal when you travel, download The 60-plus’ Essential Guide to Tropical North Queensland e-Guide for an array of discounts and insider information!

What’s your favourite destination in tropical North Queensland?

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