The Road Ahead : August 1st 2012
TRAVEL THE DAY TRIP PARADISE BY ANY OTHER NAME Just over an hour south of Bowen and about an hour and a half north of Mackay is the gateway to the Whitsundays, Airlie Beach. A cosmopolitan and vibrant town filled with palm-fringed beaches and waterfront parks, Airlie Beach's pièce de résistance is the lagoon. Positioned right in the heart of the city, the man-made saltwater swimming area surrounded by grassy knolls is perfect for families. In the rainforest-clad mountains an hour west of Mackay is Eungella National Park, a popular day trip destination among Mackay locals. Home to rare native animals such as the platypus, gastric brooding frog and the orange- sided skink, Eungella National Park is the perfect spot to get back to nature with 22 km of bushwalking tracks offering breathtaking is WWW.ROADAHEAD.COM.AU THE ROAD AHEAD AUG/SEP 2012 36 I remember... I know they always say that the trip is more important than the destination, but growing up as a child in the back seat, the trip was just boring, the fun and enjoyment was what happened when we got there. Gympie is close to a lot of great spots less than an hour away, including the beach. My fondest 'road trip' memory as a child was a trip with my parents to the small town of Kenilworth, in the Mary Valley, but I must confess that was mostly because of its incredible playground. While in the area recently, I decided to detour and revisit the playground I loved as a kid, but was saddened to find the old equipment has been replaced with new 'safer' alternatives, and I was too heavy for the flying fox. Cameron McPherson - Journalist remember... Mackay locals have long headed 84 km west of town to Eungella National Park for a cool change. But we should let the new generation of 'mining boomers' in on the secret as well. The spectacular view of the Pioneer Valley on clear day alone is worth the winding five-kilometre ascent to the Eungella Chalet. But drive another eight kilometres to Broken River picnic and camping ground, which gives access to 24 km of graded rainforest walking tracks and good odds of spotting platypus in the creeks. From Broken River the road continues 26 km on to Eungella Dam. Conventional vehicles can negotiate the gravel road with care. A side trip to Finch Hatton Gorge -- nine kilometres off the Mackay-Eungella Road -- offers a picturesque drive with mountain streams, waterholes and rainforest walks. About half way up the Pioneer Valley is the township of Pinnacle, well known for its pub and its home- made pies. Bob Sim, RACQ-CQ Rescue Volunteer Coordinator and Past RACQ Central Zone Manager Yeppoon is a classic seaside village just over a half-hour drive east of Rockhampton. The picturesque esplanade is dotted with grassy knolls, palms and covered picnic and play areas -- perfect for picnic with the family. About 40 km south- west of Rockhampton is the historic town of Mount Morgan, once home to one of the richest gold mines in Australia. Today the town is far more laid-back and offers visitors the chance to delve into its fascinating past through a range of attractions, museums and tours. The drive might be a little longer, but a day trip to Hervey Bay is well worth it. About an hour and half south of Bundaberg, Hervey Bay is bordered by 40 km of beaches and recognised as Australia's whale watching capital. There's plenty more to this seaside locality than just whales, though. On the water you can enjoy kayaking, yachting, diving and snorkelling, while onshore there's the tranquil Orchid House within the Botanical Gardens. The Sunshine Coast is daytrip central. There are idyllic beachfront destinations such as Noosa, Mooloolaba and Maroochydore, where the sun, sand and surf are world- class. But head a little further north and you'll see there's even more t Coast. Queensland's Go City, Gympie, is home to cultural and historical exhibits such as the Gold Mining Museum, the Light Horse Museum and the Mary Valley Heritage Railway. East of Gympie, at Rainbow Beach, is the Carlo San Blow -- a huge sand dun perfect for tobogganing FOR MORE GREAT ROAD TRIP IDEAS SUBSCRIBE TO DRIVE:TRAVEL AT WWW.ROADAHEAD.COM.AU/SUBSCRIBE. PLAN YOUR TRIP ON To help you plan the perfect road trip, RACQ has developed a website designed to provide information as well as inspiration. At www.racq.com/roadtrip you can search for day trip ideas by region, find detailed directions with the Club's Online Trip Planner, and even view your chosen destination in an interactive brochure from the new RACQ Tourist Information Centre. It's that simple.
June July 2012