Domestic Travel


10 reasons to explore Queensland's great beach drive

10 reasons to explore Queensland's great beach drive
1. Quick beach break – Noosa, Queensland Noosa gives you a chance to visit perfect beaches and enjoy excellent dining with something for everyone from canoeing on Noosa River to sailing, surfing and even sea-turtle spotting.

The Great Beach Drive is a new circuit from Brisbane or Noosa that takes in Fraser Island and Rainbow Beach plus the lesser-known delights of Tin Can Bay and the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. It’s an exciting new travel concept for SE Queensland that was launched in April 2015 by the tourism offices of the Sunshine Coast and the Fraser Coast.

Travel Editor David McGonigal took five days away to play in the Queensland sand and completed the drive. Here's 10 reason to take the trip:

1. Sand driving

If you enjoy adventurous driving this will be a fun holiday. We picked a Nissan Patrol with raised clearance and a kit to extract it from the sand from Tony at Coastal 4WD Hire The cautionary orientation talk before you are handed over the keys to the vehicle is worth close attention. While the beach driving was relatively straightforward the interior of Fraser Island - the largest sand island in the world – reveals itself to be both challenging and filled with surprises such as the crystal-clear creeks and spectacular flora. The roughest section for us was from Kingfisher Bay Resort to Lake McKenzie, however, this can change day to day.

2. Fraser Island by air 

It is very rare to have an airline that has a surf beach as its registered airport and an Air Fraser Islandhas been in operation for some 40 years. The sandy take-off and landing are exciting but the aerial views of the island, its lakes and forests is exquisite. 

3. Dolphins

Did you know there’s a place in Australia where you can stand in the water while dolphins nuzzle against your fingers looking for fish? If you’re thinking WA’s Monkey Mia then you may find a delightful alternative at Tin Can Bay, Qld where a family of dolphins have turned up every morning for decades. It is a must-see!

4. The 'M' Town

Maleny is a picturesque village poised on a mountain ridge north of Brisbane. The Saturday markets here are busy and worth a trip. Also take time to visit the Maleny Botanic Gardens. It is a pretty private garden just outside town that offers amazing views of the Glasshouse Mountains plus some truly great scones (with jam and cream, of course). Nearby Montville is a quaint spot with a spectacular glass chapel perched on the edge of the mountain.

5. Mary Poppins' Maryborough

Okay, while the town wasn’t actually named after her, this was where her creator P L Travers was born in 1899. There’s a statue of this very famous nanny outside her birthplace and there is even a Mary Poppins festival held in the town each June-July school holidays. See Mary Poppins Festival.

6. The Maheno Wreck

The goal for most driving up the beach on the east (surf) coast of Fraser Island is to reach the wreck of the Maheno that ran aground here while under tow in 1935. While she’s not ageing well, the distinctive wreckage is a photographer’s delight and fascinating to see close up.

7. Lake Mckenzie

This is spectacular and situated in the middle of Fraser Island, roughly equal distance from the main two places to stay on the island - the upmarket resort of Kingfisher Bay and the more functional but very well run Eurong Beach Resort. There are many lakes on the island but this beautifully clear lake with its white sand, tiny fish and aqua waters is the prime destination for travellers for good reason.

8. Wild Dingos

It’s unusual to see dingo in the wild so the 200 or so who live on Fraser Island are likely to be some of the nation’s most photographed. The ancestors of these wild dogs are believed to have been living in Australia for roughly 4,000 years. We saw a lean one quietly trotting along the beach, apparently oblivious to passing traffic until it opportunistically approached a parked van to see if any food had been left out.

9. Coloured Sands

The most spectacular stretch of the whole beach drive is between Rainbow Beach and Double Island Point. Here you cross multi-hued patches of sand while hemmed in by the surf on one side and rainbow coloured cliffs on the other. Getting the tide right is important!

10. Beach Highways

The wide expanse of hard-packed sand below the tide line is a natural highway only interrupted by eroded freshwater washouts of various depths. The speed limit is 80 km/h but fishermen, family groups, driftwood and washouts often make drive considerably slower.

What's your favourite Qld beach and why? Leave a comment below.

Written by David McGonigal. Republished with permission of