The Road Ahead : October 2012
ROADAHEAD.COM.AU THE ROAD AHEAD OCT/NOV 2012 36 TRAVEL WEEKEND ESCAPE plan a weekend escape with RACQ STORY DEB ECCLESTON NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE rehabilitative power of a weekend getaway. Amidst the chaos of work and family life, a weekend getaway is an opportunity to rejuvenate the senses, reconnect with family and even inject a little romance in between working weeks. Queenslanders are spoiled for choice when it comes to weekend getaways, so in the second instalment of Bring Back the Road Trip we've highlighted just a few to whet the appetite. For more, visit RACQ's website racq.com/roadtrip. NORTH QUEENSLAND Cairns is the perfect launch pad from which to explore some of the state's best tourist destinations -- Palm Cove, Port Douglas, Atherton Tablelands to name just a few. Then there's the city itself, with 26 km of coastline, a rainforest backdrop and an abundance of spa resorts and luxury accommodation. Spend a day snorkelling the reef, another shopping in the rainforest surrounds of Kuranda ... whether its adventure, romance or relaxation, the Cairns region has the location to suit. There's something special about the Atherton Tablelands, with its lakes, waterfalls tropical rainforest. The temperature is cooler, the air crisper and the pace slower. And with a vast range of local produce, it's as much a feast for the appetite as the senses. If a laid-back beach break is more to your liking, then they don't come much better than Mission Beach. This small beachfront town is located about two hours drive south of Cairns, and is where the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics Rainforest virtually become one. White water rafting, sky diving, jet skiing, scuba diving, snorkelling, fishing, hiking, sailing ... there is plenty of choice. Townsville is to north Queensland what Brisbane is to the south-east -- the bright lights of the city. Try your luck at the casino or dance the night away on Flinders Street East with its mix of funky nightclubs, bars and restaurants. Townsville is home to the world's largest living coral reef aquarium, an Australian native wildlife sanctuary, art galleries, museums and the spectacular beachfront promenade, The Strand. WESTERN QUEENSLAND There is plenty more to Queensland than beaches and rainforest. The state's west, with its breathtaking scenery, has long been a popular destination. About 380 km west of Cairns is Georgetown, the centre of the Etheridge gold field home of amateur gold prospecting. It is the hub of the Gulf Savannah region and an ideal base from which to explore the region. About four hours drive south-west of Cairns is Mount Surprise, a haven for gem ossickers with quantities of precious stones ying beneath the surface like hidden treasure. ount Surprise is perfect for camping, fishing nd off-road driving. NTRAL QUEENSLAND ere are two sides to Mackay -- hinterland coastal -- and both offer a rich variety of experiences. Visit a real working coal mine at Blair Athol and Peak Downs, tour the gem fields and explore the historic towns of Nebo, Clermont and Moranbah. If sand and sea is more your style, the Mackay coast has numerous beaches which are ideal for swimming and fishing. Beyond the city limits are the Hibiscus Coast to the north and the Serenity Coast to the south. When it comes to reconnecting, whether with nature or family, Gladstone has everything you need. The city itself overlooks a natural deep water harbour, while to the south lie the shires of Calliope and Miriam Vale with their secluded beaches and scenic national parks. The nearby Town of 1770 has a rich history, being the first place in Queensland where Captain James Cook stepped ashore. From Gladstone, you can take a trip to Lady Musgrave Island for a day of snorkelling, fishing and diving.
August 1st 2012