Travel tips Sydney to Brisbane & the Sunshine Coast
For information about Sydney and New South Wales, look at the following sites: www.visitnsw.com www.sydneyvisitorcentre.com
For accommodation see www.backpackers.com.au , www.yha.com.au or try "on site vans" at caravan parks or camping grounds.
Sightseeing Sydney. Suggestions. Downtown Sydney. Take a round trip on the Monorail for an over-view of the city, see the Queens Arcade, possibly lunch in a revolving restaurant on top of Australia Square or Sydney Tower. Opera House tour 16.45 possibly followed by dinner in the Opera House restaurant with harbour view and possibly evening performance? Book ahead!
Take the ferry from Circular Quay to Taronga Park Zoo. Among others, the nocturnal exhibit is very interesting. Here the exhibit is lit at night so that the nocturnal animals believe it is day and they sleep. During the day it is dimly lit with infrared lights and when your eyes have become accustomed to the dim light, you can see the animals moving around the display area. There is a fantastic view of Sydney and harbour from Zoo. Continue by ferry to Manly and walk or take the bus to Manly Beach. Return to Circular Quay by Ferry.
Preparation. Make sure you get road maps from Sydney to Brisbane and a city refedex of Brisbane. These are normally supplied by a hire car firm if you ask.
Australian Geographic maps of New South Wales and Queensland, or the A.G. map of Australia, are a great help in locating various points of interest, both historical and geographic, and includes a brief description of each interest. Australian Geographic Store:
A.G. CENTREPOINT STORE , Pitt Street Level Centrepoint, Market Street, Sydney (02) 9231 5055
Camping guide books for the whole area could be handy, even if you are not camping. Most campsites have "on site vans" which are a very convenient and they are an economical way to overnight. These are normally relatively new vans and very conveniently placed.
There are two main routes from Sydney to Brisbane, the Pacific Highway which follows the coast and the New England Highway which runs inland just West of the great divide. If you are only travelling in one direction as most travellers do, I suggest the following route, which starts on the inland highway then crosses through forested area to join the coast road for the northern section of the trip.
If you have just arrived in Sydney and have not yet seen the Blue Mountains, you could start with a visit to the Jenolan caves as noted below otherwise drive North direct to Cessnock and then to Singelton.
Blue Mountains. Travel on the Western highway to Katoomba, See the Three Sisters and the view from the lookout, then continue on to the Jenolan Caves. The Orient cave is very nice as is the River cave. There is a great view from the Devils Coach house which is above the entrance to the caves area. it is accessible by a stairway just inside the entrance. Tip: The Caves House has a wonderful mid day smorgasbord. Dont miss it. The Caves House is an old Tudor styled hotel run by the N.S.W tourist bureau and is reasonably priced. From Jenolan Caves travel North via Mt. Victoria, Bell, Kurrajong Heights, Colo Heights, Hunter Valley, (Vineyards) to Singleton.
From Singleton continue via Muswellbrook, Scone and Tamworth to Armidale. (Armidale has quite a few colleges to cater for students from properties in the wide reaching rural area.) Turn off the New England highway via Woolomombi, (Woolomombi Falls) and Nymboida to South Grafton. This trip takes you across the Great Divide and through some lovely areas. Stop occasionally in the heavily forested areas and listen to the bird calls in the bush. Two very notable calls are those of the Whip Bird and the Bell Bird. If you hear them you will know why they are so called. The whirring of the cicadas is almost always present.
From South Grafton you can continue North via Ulmarra, Woodburn, Ballina, Lennox Head, to Cape Byron Light House. Cape Byron is the most Easterly point of Australia and offers a great view from the hill, particularly looking South over a beautiful beach. There are wild goats grazing on the steep slopes. Continue North to Brunswick Heads, Murwillumbah, (outstanding ocean views after Mooball), Tweed heads, Qld-NSW border, Coolangatta. You could take the road beside the beach to Surfers Paradise.
The Gold Coast
There are lots of tourist attractions at the Gold Coast, maybe too many, and you can look through the possibilities on
If you have not seen something like it previously, Sea World is worth a visit, both for the animal displays and the fun park. The Currumbin Bird sanctuary is also interesting, but you should arrange to be there for feeding time. The other attractions such as Dream World and Movie World will depend on your own tastes.
When you have seen enough of the Gold Coast and need a bit of peace and quiet, I suggest a trip inland to visit Lamington National Park. This is a fantastic area of sub tropical rain forest and, being a little higher, is a little cooler than the coast.
Turn West off the Gold Coast Highway at the Nerang traffic lights and drive inland to Beechmont then South to Lamington National Park http://lamington.nrsm.uq.edu.au and Binna Burra Lodge and Camping ground. www.binnaburralodge.com.au Walking in Lamington National Park. Information is available at the lodge. There are many interesting walks or you can join a guided walk from the lodge and take a picnic lunch along. Accommodation is available at the lodge, but fairly expensive. You can also rent an on site tent at the camping ground as a much more economical alternative. See web site
When you leave the park visit the wind eroded sandstone caves which are on your left on the exit road. If you have really enjoyed this area, you may wish to visit O'Reilleys Guest House on the West side of the National Park. They have built a tree top walkway which literally allows you to talk to the birds. See the internet address given above. and also www.oreillys.com.au Travel North via Canungra, and if you wish to visit O'Reilleys, turn West towards Beaudesert then South to O'Reilleys. If you wish to continue on direct to Brisbane, travel via Tamborine Mountain, (spectacular views) and Tamborine, rejoining the Gold Coast Highway at Beenleigh, then North to Brisbane.
For info on Brisbane, see http://www.queensland-holidays.com.au/pfm/regions/brisbane/index.htm
For general info on Queensland www.queensland-holidays.com.au as well as other sites listed on the page of links.
While in Brisbane, phone 1 800 222 689 for a free Motoring Holiday Guide to Queensland.
Continue in to the city to visit the South Bank Parklands. This is built on the site of the Expo 88. Interesting displays, good handcraft shops and a riverside restaurant. If you would like to see some of Brisbane City, cross the river on the Captain Cook bridge, turn off to the right and park at the Botanical Gardens. A walk up to the shopping centre would be interesting. The mall is between Adelaide and Elisabeth Street. The botanical gardens are very nice and a walk through the gardens and by the river would be relaxing after the city. When leaving the city follow the riverside expressway and then Coronation Drive Westwards along the Northern shore of the Brisbane River. Take a drive to the top of Mt. Cootha for a magnificent view of the city.
Drive West direction Ipswich and Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, (Koalas, Kangaroos, Emus etc.) is on your left between Indooroopilly and the Centenary Bridge, and is well worth a visit. After Lone Pine continue across the Centenary Bridge and take the Warrego Highway West. By pass Ipswich then turn North onto the Brisbane Valley Highway to Esk. Continue via the Somerset Dam to Kilcoy then East to Beerwah. Spectacular views of the Glasshouse Mountains from the range West of Beerwah. Drive North on the Bruce Highway then turn off to Mooloolaba.
The Sunshine Coast
Mooloolaba. Drive to the mouth of the Mooloola River. Lovely beach walk towards Mooloolaba. There is a Back Packers in Mooloolaba and a YHA in Maroochydore. There should also be some night life around Mooloolaba, particularly at the weekends. The YHA at Maroochydore offers use of canoes if you wish to try canoeing on the River.
Continue North from Mooloolaba to Alexandra Headlands (stop for lovely view) then follow the Maroochy River towards Coolum Beach and Noosa. Turn off at a headland just South of Coolum Beach for a magnificent view both North and South. Just North of Coolum beach on your right you will find a park place for the Coolum Beach section of Noosa National Park. Take the board walk through to the magnificent unspoiled beach. This is what all this beach area was like before the developers moved in. Continue North via Peregian Beach to Noosa Heads.
Noosa Heads. Musts to do in Noosa! Noosa National Park-Walks. The coastal path to Hells Gates is really beautiful and there are several lovely beaches on the way including Granite Bay and Alexandria Bay. Swimwear is optional. The short walks through "Tanglewood" and "Palm Circle", both near the parking area, are also very interesting. Information and maps are available from the park advisory office near the car park. Look carefully for Koalas in the large trees in the parking area. Laguna beach is the main surfing beach and is well worth a visit. YHA accommodation at Halse Lodge not far from the beach. Try a moonlight walk on the beach.
Drive along the bank of the Noosa River towards Tewantin. Pelicans and seabirds are in abundance, particularly when a fisherman is cleaning his catch. Make sure you try the local fish and mud crab while in the area. You could take a trip up the Noosa River by boat to Lake Cootharabah. One option allows you to walk across a narrow stretch of sand to the ocean beach and then after visiting Tewah coloured sands, to be driven back to Noosa along the beach by 4WD.
After Noosa, travel to Gympie via the Bruce Highway.
Gympie and surrounding area.
Gympie was a profitable gold mining town for many years, but when gold prices dropped and water flooded many mines, the economy changed over to agriculture, dairying and forestry. The gold mining has recently been recommenced and the Eldorado mine is running extremely profitably. Gympie is also an ideal starting point for many tours in the area. A visit to the Mining Museum shows a lot of the colourful past of the area, not only of gold mining. The Mothar Mountain pool and forest walk is very refreshing on a hot day. Make a trip to Rainbow Beach and the surrounding area. Walk South East along the beach to the coloured sands. Beautiful beach! There is a walk through part of Cooloola National Park to Poona Lake. The road to the Picnic ground and park place is on your right as you approach Rainbow beach, about 5 km before Rainbow Beach.
You may wish to organise a tour up the beach of Fraser Island by 4WD. Trips depart from Inskip Point, about 12km North of Rainbow Beach, crossing the Wide Bay bar to Fraser Island by barge and you are then driven up the beach to see the various attractions of the largest sand island in the world. These include fresh water lakes, streams and forests.
Return to Gympie, then take the Mary Valley road to Dagun, Amamoor and Kandanga. This fertile valley produces pineapples, papaws, bananas and beans as well as lots of dairy and beef products. Continue on to Kenilworth and Obi Obi to Mapleton. Here you could turn South along the top of the small range towards Montville. On your right you will find the Kondalilla National Park. The circuit walk below and up to Kondalilla Falls is nice and on a warm day it is rewarded by a swim in the pool above the falls. There are a few lookouts along the range road with views over the Sunshine Coast. Continue South to Montville then rejoin the Bruce Highway near Palmwoods. From here you can travel South towards Brisbane. On your right near the Glass House Mountains, you will see a strange building called
"The Ettamoogah Pub". The original pub was a feature in a comic strip and the building has been reproduced as it was drawn in the comic strip. It is worth a stop to look inside. Note the truck sitting on top of the roof. If I remember correctly it was caught in a whirlwind and landed there!!
You can follow the main road South to give your car back at Brisbane Airport.
I hope that some of my tips have been useful, and I would love to have a bit of feedback.