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This route has been frequently asked on the Australian Forum, so I have decided to create a Go-List which may assist travellers who are thinking of exploring this region or route in Australia.
Travel time. : Via the Bruce Highway (Coastal Route) distance is 1708 km and a travelling time of approximately 20hours. The ideal travel time would be 16 days to get the max out of this route.
To get the best out of this route, one needs time to explore the many pristine islands which are located just off the coast.
Brisbane is located on the Brisbane River and is a great city to explore for a couple of days. It's also known as the "friendly city" as it certainly has a laid back casual atmosphere and is truly blessed with perfect weather.
What to do :
Take a river cruise and see Brisbane from another perspective or stroll along the promenade at South bank and watch the locals swimming at the man made beach. For dinner dine at one of the numerous waterfront restaurants at Eagle Street Wharf.
Where to stay :
Brisbane has an abundance of accommodation from budget to five stars. Have a look on www.wotif.com.au for rates which caters for all budgets.
Moreton Island is situated just 35 kilometres from Brisbane in the Moreton Bay Marine Park. The island is mostly National Park with fabulous pristine isolated beaches, huge tall sand dunes, crystal freshwater lakes, wetland, mangroves, and an abundance of marine life. It's also famous for the resident dolphins which you can hand feed.
Hire a 4WD at the resort and drive around the island. (Fabulous experience) makes sure you see the Blue Lagoon, the wrecks, have a swim, drive along the beach to Kooringal and have a beer in the local bush pub. (A MUST DO).
Departure times are 8am, 10am and 5pm daily. The journey takes approx 75 minutes and the return catamaran from Tangalooma departs at 9am and 4pm daily. There are extra services on the weekend. You are only allowed 4WD's on the island.
Our room D14 was called the driftwood unit located in the Adventure's lodges section. The unit was a large spacious one-bedroom apartment, which could easily sleep six. The resort is not a five star but more like a 3.5 star but it is extremely comfortable offering excellent facilities and tours. There is one main swimming pool with a spa attached, which the children seem to enjoy. Tennis courts, squash courts, snorkelling gear, tinnies, catamarans, fishing rods can be hired at the resort, and the main attraction hand feeding the dolphins. This has to be pre booked between 1pm-5pm, the feeding starts at 7.00pm
Overall, we had a great weekend and enjoyed exploring the island and our unit, although not modern or trendy, it was very comfortable.
The Sunshine Coast has over 100 kilometres of beautiful beaches stretching through numerous coastal towns like Caloundra, Mooloolaba, Maroochydore, Coolum Beach and Noosa. It's a favourite holiday destination for many Australian's and Noosa is one of Australia's icon beaches. The drive takes approximately 1.5hrs north from
The Sunshine coast also houses the Glass House Mountains, Blackall Range and Noosa Hinterlands. Being a holiday destination the Sunshine Coast houses hundred's of hotels and apartments which cater for all budgets. The most popular spots on the coast are Mooloolaba and Noosa.
Stay : www.wotif.com.au under Sunshine Coast.
The Sheraton Hotel is located in a prime position directly across the road from the beach and in the heart of Hasting Street.
Our suite 302 was extremely spacious with an open plan combined living room and dining room. The bedroom was again roomy with a walk-in dressing room and a huge spa bathroom with walk-in shower. The suite felt more like a large one bedroom apartment. Like most Sheratons the swimming pools are usually the best features. The pool was large and built around a swim up pool bar
The drive from Brisbane along the Bruce Highway to Hervey Bay takes approximately 3.5 to 4 hours drive north of Brisbane. Hervey Bay is famous for Whale watching as humpback whales visit Hervey Bay on their migration south to the Antarctic in the months of August -October.
Hervey Bay is also the gateway to Fraser Island where the catarman's and barges leave from to Urangan Boat Harbour to Fraser Island.
Jetstar and Virgin Blue operate flights direct from Sydney and Australia's major cities to Hervey Bay. www.qantas.com.au www.virginblue.com.au
To reach Hervey Bay by Rail:
Queensland Rail offers a service between Brisbane and Maryborough. A Shuttle Bus can transfer you from Maryborough to Hervey Bay Airport.
By bus - www.greyhound.com.au
Stay : The Bay Apartments. http://www.thebay apartments.com.au/
Fraser Island is the world's largest sand island and has now become a World Heritage Listed area due to it's numerous stunning beaches, sand dunes, 100 freshwater lakes, tea tree forests and rainforests.
A 4WD drive is required if visiting Fraser Island most tourists prefer to go on a tour which operate from Hervey Bay. Between July and November each year the Humpback Whales migrating call into Hervey Bay and usually stay for a few days.
The Dingo is also common on Fraser Island with numerous array of mammals including 74 different species of reptiles.
All tours and information can be found at the Tourist Information Centre at Hervey Bay.
Stay : Kingfisher Bay Resort - Frasr Island.
Eurong Beach Resort. - Fraser Island.
Bundaberg is famous for the the Bundaberg Rum Distillery and it's also the gateway to the beginning of the Southern Great Barrier Reef. If visiting Bundaberg take a drive to Mon Repos Turtle Rookery.From November until the end of March, the beach at Mon Repos each year hundreds of turtles return to complete their natural breeding cycle.
This little gem is saturated in Australian history and dates back to Captain Cook who on Wednesday 24 May 1770 went ashore his second landing in Australia to study the region in the Endeavour. Sir Joseph Banks also collected plant species from this area, which was noted in his journals.
The Town of 1770 is located approximately 1.5 hour’s north drive from Bundaberg and six hours from Brisbane. It is known for its advantage of being within close proximately to Lady Musgrave Island, Fitzroy Lagoon, Heron Island, Lady Elliot Island (The Bunker Group) and the Southern Great Barrier Reef.The whole region is gorgeous with plenty of attractions and activities to suit any traveller.
Stay : Mantra Apartments.
The Mantra is located on prime beachfront at Angus Waters. It is a new development offering resort style luxury accommodation. The town of 1770 is approx 5 minutes away by car.
Room- Our apartment 213 on the second floor was fantastic, ultra modern, chic and luxurious with every notion catered for. These apartments are outstanding in design and take my hat off to the architect, who finally got it perfect.
Kitchen area would be great for a family looking for a weeks holiday, with all European appliances including dishwasher/ microwave/ and all the modern equipment one needs for self-catering.
Lady Elliot Island is another natural true coral clay situated on the southern part of the Great Barrier Reef. The island is teeming with an abundance of live colourful coral and endless array of marine life. Its also known for the resident 40 or so Mantra Rays.
What makes this island perfect is you can literally just step off the beach and snorkel, swim or dive in a wonderland of colours and marine life. If you are there for the right season you will see birds nesting, turtle hatchlings, dolphins or humpback whales. There are very few spots in Australia where one can just walk off the beach and experience the Great Barrier Reef.
Seair offers exclusive flights from Hervey Bay to Lady Elliot three times daily. The flight takes approximately 40 minutes. Check in at the Lady Elliot Island Terminal at Hervey Bay Airport. Please check in 30 minutes before departure. All flights to Lady Elliot Island are operated by Seair. www.seasir.com.au or you can catch a 25-minute scenic flight from Bundaberg Airport.
Stay : Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort.
Lady Musgrave Island is apart of the Bunker Group of Island which lies 50 miles north of Bundaberg. This tiny island is a natural wonder a lagoon that stretches for miles within the Great Barrier Reef. The island is set on 3000 acres of living reef with a deepwater coral lagoon which is unique to the entire Great Barrier Reef Region.
The beautiful clear turquoise aqua blue waters with dazzling coral beds dominate the lagoon. This island is truly magical; one could literally stay here for days. We stayed for two days on our yacht and just had a wonderful experience.
To get here without your own boat you have to stay in the Town of 1770 and catch the Spirit of 1770 tour to Lady Musgrave Island. The tour includes snorkeling from the pontoon on the lagoon and a walk around the island to observe the birds and the turtles hatching their eggs. The bird life on Lady Musgrave is fascinating as the majority of the birds are called Noddies and live in the Pisonias trees which actually can kill the birds by their sticky resin which traps the Noddies in their nests.
Gladstone is a small town and is the gateway to Heron Island which lies approximately 72 kilometres NE off the coast from Gladstone. Heron Island is owned by Voyages and all bookings are essential. www.voyages.com.au
Daily and regular flights are available from Australian capital cities to Gladstone with Qantas. www.qantas.com.au
A courtesy coach transfer from the airport to the Gladstone Marina. Transfer departs 10.00am, and arrives at the marina 10-15 minutes.. The ferry service leaves Gladstone Marina at 11.00am daily.Final check-in time at Gladstone Marina is at 10.30am, if not arriving off a flight.
Heron Island to Gladstone
The return ferry leaves Heron Island at approx. 2.00pm Island time , arriving into Gladstone approx. 3.45pm .
Australian Helicopters operates scenic transfers between Gladstone Airport and Heron Island daily. The Helicopter service operates at the airport which has its own booth. The Helicopter is the quickest and easiest way to get to Heron Island, however its also the most expensive.
Stay :Country Plaza International Hotel.
If you have to stay in Gladstone then this hotel is the best in town. It is located in Goodoon Street, which is the main street of Gladstone’s city heart, so you just walk outside and you have the shops.
The hotel is a comfortable country style hotel offering harbour views from some rooms. If staying here make sure, you ask for harbour views otherwise you will just get the street view, which is rather boring.Our new room 413 was on the fourth floor and had distant views of the water and Heron Island.
The hotel has a good size outdoor swimming pool with plenty of table and chairs. There is a very nice restaurant on the lobby floor. It is about 10 minutes by taxi to the airport or if driving there is ample parking available.
Fab caravan park on the beach with self contained cabins, caravan and tent sites.
BIG4 Barney Beach is situated at Barney Beach and close to Tannum Sands and Boyne Island. www.big4.com.au
Heron Island is a true coral cay situated on the Great Barrier Reef. The island is gorgeous surrounded by aqua tourquise clear water and stunning coral. Its one of the few places in the world where you can swim straight off the beach to the reef.
The marine life is incredibile with thousands of colourful fish, delightful Green and Loggerhead Turtles. Heron also has an abundance of birdlife with Pisonia forests which are home to thousands of Noddies similiar to Lady Musgrave Island.
Regular flights are available from Australian capital cities to Gladstone with Qantas.
Heron Island also has over 30 best diving spots in Australia which suits scuba diving and snorkelling, with most located only 15 minutes from the beach.
stay: Voyages no longer controls Heron island. See link below.
Rockhampton is known as the Beef Capital Of Australia. It has some interesting heritage buildings in the "old part of town" which is worth strolling through. Not being a huge fan of Rocky, I prefer to drive through and stop at Yeppoon.
By car - drive to Yeppoon approx 30minutes north of Rockhampton to Rosslyn Bay Marina.: Ferries depart Pier One Rosslyn Bay - Keppel Bay Marina at 10.30am Tuesday, 9.15am Wednesday to Sunday, & 3.00pm Friday.
Ferry to the mainland at 2.00pm Tuesday, & 3.45pm Wednesday to Sunday, & 10.00am Friday. Cars can be left at the carpark next door to the Marina, there is also a small cafe selling refreshments and snacks.
Where to stay - Svendsens Beach
Mackay is known as the sugar capital of Australia because the area farms more than a third of Australia's sugar cane. So driving through Mackay one automatically is engulfed with fields of sugar cane, which to me is the essence of Queensland backbone in farming.
Mackay also has a fabulous marina where one can stroll along the foreshore promenade to the patrolled beach. There are plenty of restaurants and cafés located at the marina which is approximately a 5mins drive out of town.
The other major attractions around Mackay is the Eungella National Park which also houses the Broken River Mountain Retreat where you can be guaranteed of spotting numerous shy platypus. Finch Hatton is close by and is blessed with gorgeous lush tropical rainforest's and waterfalls. One can take a ride over the rainforest's on a flying fox, which is heaps of fun or stroll to the Wheel of Fires waterfall .
Stay : The Clarion Hotel Mackay Marina
Mackay is also located close to Brampton Island and Keswick Island. Voyages own Brampton Island so all bookings must be made through them www.voyages.com.au
Getting There - Brampton Island.
Australasian Jet operate flights daily from Mackay to Brampton Island (transfer time: 20 minutes) and from Hamilton Island to Brampton Island (transfer time 30 minutes).
Regular flights are available from all Australian capital cities to Mackay daily. A launch runs from Mackay Marina to Brampton Island daily and Australian Helicopters depart from Mackay Airport daily.
Keswick Island - Keswick Island can be accessed via chartered 12 minute flights or private boat charters.
This hotel is situated at the Marina and on the waterfront overlooking the Whitsunday Islands. The marina waterfront is a new development which consists of numerous new apartments, restaurants and cafés. There is an excellent walking track around the marina and along the surf patrolled beach
The hotel is not in town but approx 5 minutes taxi drive from the CBD. Our apartment (6007) was lovely with a large open planned lounge room which consisted of a small couch, dining suite, TV, balcony, and a modern kitchenette attached. The kitchen contained a stove, fridge (mini bar contents) microwave, coffee and tea facilities.
Airlie Beach is a great little town located on a peninsula overlooking the Whitsunday Islands. It's a fabulous place to base yourself for exploring the many wonderful islands and the Great Barrier Reef. There are array of tours on offer including sailing, diving , snorkeling , skydiving, and numerous others. Helicopter and Seaplane flights fly daily over the Whitsunday Islands and also to the world famous Whitehaven Beach.
There are numerous styles of accommodation available from backpacker's hostels to luxury apartments. There is something for everyone in Airlie, and with plenty of cafés and restaurants its a terrific place to stop, relax and explore.
Exploring the islands is easy as the main terminal is located at Shute Harbour approx 10mins from Airlie Beach. Ferries leave for Hamilton Island, Daydream Island and South Molle Island on a regular daily timetable.
Stay : Pinnacles Resort & Spa
The Whitsunday Islands are located in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, they lay 150km north of Mackay and 300km south of Townsville.The Whitsunday Islands are stunning and well worth your effort to explore. There are 74 islands scattered around the Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea. The best way to see the islands is by boat, sailing or cruising is the ultimate experience when visiting the Whitsunday Islands. There are numerous tours available to the Great Barrier Reef ; sailing tours are very popular which can be booked at Airlie or Hamilton Island. The cheapest way to see some of the islands is by catching the ferry from Shute Harbour.
The main attractions to see are Heart Reef, Whithaven Beach, The Great Barrier Reef, and the major islands such as Hamilton Island, Daydream Island, Hook Island, Whitsunday Island, Long Island and South Molle Island. The Whitsundays are perfect for snokeling, diving , sailing, and kayaking.
Stay : Hamilton Island / Daydream Island / Sth Molle Island / Hayman Island / Long Island/ Airlie Beach.
Bowen is located on the northern side of the Whitsunday Islands and is a easy 2 hours drive from Townsville or 45minutes from Airlie Beach. If you love beaches then Bowen will surprise and please you with it's stunning pristine beaches. You have Horseshoe Bay / Front Beach /Murray Bay / Kings Beach / Queens Beach / Gray Beach/ and Rose Bay Beach.
There is also an excellent walk called Mother Beddock Walking Track, which starts at the Horseshoe Bay Resort and winds around cliffs and beaches offering spectacular views.
The Tilt Train has regular service to Bowen and coach services connect daily.The closest airport is Prosperine or Hamilton Island.
If visting Bowen then take a short 45 minute drive to the historic mining town of Collinsville and visit the museum.
Stay : Coral Cove Resort - www. coralcove apartments.com.au
If you love bird watching then you will find Ayr fascinating with over 250 different bird species listed and abundance of wetlands, rivers estauries, and creeks makes it a Bird Watcher's paradise. It also known for its excellent fishing, crabbing and most important Ayr is the biggest sugar/ mango and melon region in Australia. So if you love those mangoes, well Ayr is the place to indulge your taste buds with mangoes delights.
Townsville is known as a defence city as it's holds a large Airforce Base which serves the East Coast of Australia. Townsville played an active role in the Second World War when American and Australian troops were stationed here to cover the effort in the Pacific.
The Strand - is totally worth walking down and in stinger months there are 2 stinger nets located on the beach.
*Castle Hill is worth visiting to see the awesome views of Townsville.
* At the North end of The Strand is the Rockpool which is fantastic with fresh salt water pumping into a ultra large open air pool.
*World's largest living coral reef aquarium located in town.
*Heading west the historic gold rush mining town of Charters Towers.
* Magnetic Island - 20min ferry ride from Townsville.
* The Billabong Sanctuary - wildlife
*Yongala Wreck - Diving enthusiasts have access to the wreck.
* Camp in perfect natual isolation on Orpheus Island . It's accessible daily from Townsville via sea plane and launch from Lucinda or Taylors Beach. Orpheus is a national park island which also has a luxury resort on the island, however camping is permitted and welcomed but you must obtain a permit from Townsville information Centre.
This is my 2nd review of this hotel......and I still stand strongly for this hotel. One must just know what room to ask for...
suites have balconies and are spacious, to me these are the only rooms to book.
2. the swimming pool is fab, large with plenty of deck chairs .
3. Casino is great too......maybe we just had a winning night
Magnetic Island is located just 10 kilometres off Townsville. The car ferry or passenger ferry departs from Townsville regularly and arrives on Magnetic Island at Nelly Bay.
The island is truly a unique natural island offering naturalists, tourists and travellers a wonderful enriched experience. It's a must see if visiting this region in Australia.
Depending on your time schedule Magnetic Island can be explored in a few hours, days or weeks. The island only takes approx one hour to drive around as most of the sealed roads lead into the major beach attractions. You do however, need a 4WD for other dirt roads which off shoot from the major road around the island. Most of the island is National Parks, so one can only literally see half the island by road; otherwise there are some excellent walking tracks which lead you through the stunning national Parks.
Stay : Mantra One Bright Point / Peppers Blue / Segara Villas.
www.wotif.com.au (under Magnetic Island) for other accommodation.
The main town of the Hinchinbrook region is Ingham which is situated 110km north of Townsville and 250km south of Cairns. It also makes it an interesting day trip from Cairns. The town of Ingham is famous for its strong Italian culture and hertiage where you can a fab meal at one the numerous Italian Restaurants.
The region is fascinating a sheer wonderland of wetlands, tropical lush rainforests, sandy pristine beaches and Wallaman Falls is Australia's highest sheer drop waterfall of 305metres.
Other attractions :
The Paluma Range National Park, Jourama Falls, Tyto Wetlands, Mt Fox and the Hininchbrook Passage and Island.
Discover the gorgeous and magnificent island and passage, one of Australia's hidden natural gems. The best way to see this by catching the Hinchinbrook Explorer from Port Hinchinbrook departing at 10.30am daily and returning at 2pm If you want one can stay longer at the Hinchinbrook Island Wilderness Lodge and laze around Orchid Cove. Hinchinbrook Island is also famously known for the "Thorsborne Trail " 4 day walking trail.
Stay - Hinchinbrook Island Wilderness Lodge
Tully is the wettest town in Australia with the heaviest rainfall which creates lush rainforest's and spectacular waterfalls and gorge's. Tully is famous for the Tully Gorge National Park where white- water rafting is a big hit with enthusiasts and locals.
If you ever wanted to experience a little bit of paradise then I highly recommend you visit Mission Beach. There are so many attractions to keep any keen traveller or naturalist totally occupied and engaged, the beauty is overwhelming with the Great Barrier Reef at your doorstep, Dunk Island and forgotten private islands scattered endlessly over the crystal clear waters of the Coral Sea.
Mission beach has an abundance of National Parks and endless array of beaches; with beautiful untouched pristine land; endless array of wildlife including the majestic Cassowary bird. A thousand more bird species whispering sweet sounds to the rainforest and trees makes this place a natural paradise.
With its welcoming laid back village and colourful local characters makes Mission an unforgettable experience.
What a delightful location and beach hut, we were very thrilled with our rustic comfortable beach cabin. The Sejala cabins offer complete privacy with a touch of tropical paradise all wrapped up into a delightful beach holiday.
The cabin is well equipped with a double bed, couch, coffee table, TV and a small kitchenette. The bathroom is well appointed having a rustic ambiance with its tin shower and open aired louvered windows.
These cabins are not 5 stars but offer a delightful casual beach atmosphere oozing with charm and character. The beach is on your doorstep and the village is just a short 10-minute walk away along the gorgeous tropical beach.
Unfortunately DUNK ISLAND was destroyed by Cyclone Yasi. Due to the extensive damage caused by Cyclone Yasi, Dunk Island Resort will remain closed until further notice. However; one can use the island as a day visitor or camp in the designated areas. Bookings are essential if wanting to camp.
Dunk Island has eight standard campsites .. Sites are available on first come basis. Camping is only permitted within the island's designated areas.
National Park Camping fees apply for Dunk Island The maximum length of any stay on Dunk Island is five nights.
Once on the island, visitors can enjoy the nature walks, a picnic on the spit, a swim in the ocean or a laze down by the beach. There are toilets and hot showers available, and you can also enjoy the free BBQs
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Dunk Island is located approximately two hours drive south from Cairns and 3hrs north of Townsville. It lies 4km off shore from beautiful Mission Beach. Dunk Island is located approximately two hours drive south from Cairns and 3hrs north of Townsville. You cannot take your car over to Dunk Island, you must go by plane, water taxi or ferry.
Catching the quick cat ferry from Clump Point is the best way to get to Dunk Island. 4.30pm. The ferry ride takes 25 minutes and there are no car facilities.
The quickest way is by water taxi which departs from Wongaling Beach which is approx 10minutes drive south from Mission Beach. Tickets can be purchased at the water taxi office.
The taxi departs the mainland at Wongaling Beach which is approx 10minutes drive south from Mission Beach. You leave your car at the booking office.
We caught the taxi over and it was fun and extremely quick.
Cairns is a lively city with an excellent range of accommodation to suit all budgets. It's a popular destinations for Australians especially in winter time as the weather is divine without the dreaded marine stingers. Cairns is also popular because of it's close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef , Daintree National Park , Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation.
*Kuranda Scenic railway
*Daintree National Rainforest Park
*Cooktown and Mossman
* Josephine Falls
* Babinda Boulders
*and most important the Great Barrier Reef.
We just stayed one night in this delightful hotel and loved every minute of it. we highly recommend this hotel for those looking for spacious suites with all the 5 star trimmings
Our room 17, was spacious with a king size bed, couch, TV and all mod stuff....what we did love mostly was the huge comfortable balcony with couch and chairs overlooking the marina.
We have stayed at this hotel numerous times, we always love coming back to this hotel due to it's awesome swimming pools and its direct beach access.
We loved our stay at the Mirage relaxing by the pool and strolling along four mile beach. To me, regardless of the negative reviews this hotel gets it?s still a pleasure to stay here. We also enjoyed hiring the bikes and cycling around the hotel grounds and also into town.
For information regarding where to stay check out these webpages below.
www.yha.com.au Lists all hostels in Queensland.
www.bunkbrisbane.com.au for Brisbane.
www.cairnsback packers.com.au - Cairns.
Cairns to Cape Tribulation 2.5 hours
Cairns to Cooktown
(Coast Road) 5 hours
Cairns to Port Douglas 1 hour
Cairns to Kuranda 40 minutes
Cairns to Palm Cove 30 minutes
Cairns to Innisfail 1 hour
Cairns to Atherton 1.5 hours
Cairns to Townsville 4 hours
Cairns to Cardwell 2.5 hours
Cairns to Tully 2 hours
Cairns to Mission Beach - 2 hours
Cairns to Airlie Beach - 8hrs.
Cairns to Brisbane 24 hours
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Brisbane to Bundaberg - 370kms
Brisbane to Gladstone - 540kms
Brisbane to Rockhampton - 645kms
Brisbane to Mackay - 980kms
Brisbane to Townsville - 1375kms.
Brisbane to Cairns - 1700kms.
The road between Rockhampton and Mackay is long and boring. You will need to fill your car up with petrol before leaving Rockhampton.
Be very careful if driving at dusk/ early morning as there are kangaroos on the Bruce highway. The Bruce Highway is 2 lane only, the bruce highway can be dangerous with large trucks speeding. The speed limit is mostly 100 KPH and in the towns 60 KPH , police often patrol the highways.
The Tilt Train runs three times a week return journey to Cairns from Brisbane stopping at major holiday destinations like Mackay, Proserpine, Bowen, , Ayr, Townsville, Ingham, Tully, Innisfail and Cairns.
For more information go to www.traveltrain.com.au or www.railaustralia.com.au
The Tilt train is cancelled until further notice. www.corporate.qr.com.au
Greyhound bus also services this region www.greyhound.com.au . Buy a mini-traveller ticket were you have 45 days to complete your journey between Brisbane and Airlie Beach. Cost $210.00 You can hop off / hop on at major destinations.