The Great Beach Drive, located in Queensland’s stunning Australia’s Nature Coast, provides a road trip like no other. Offering the experience of driving on some of the world’s most stunning beaches, through some of the most idyllic National Parks and World Heritage listed areas, this is truly a once in a lifetime drive holiday experience.
The Great Beach Drive connects the Sunshine Coast with the World Heritage listed Fraser Island (K’Gari) and the Fraser Coast – forming a large part of the Australia’s Nature Coast. This region is home to an abundance of wildlife including kangaroos, whales, turtles, dingoes, dugongs, platypus and the world’s largest variety of bird species.
The drive route, approximately 380 kilometres long, also travels through landscape steeped in culture and etched in Australian history, covering two UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, a World Heritage Marine Park and the largest sand island in the world.
Day 1 - Noosa to Rainbow Beach
Depart your accommodation on the Sunshine Coast in your four wheel drive hire vehicle and head north to Noosa North Shore, the southern gateway to the Great Beach Drive.
Cross the Noosa River on the vehicle ferry at Tewantin and disembark at Noosa North Shore. Take the time to reduce the amount of air in your tyres to prepare for sand driving, and take the third beach access road to commence your Great Beach Drive experience, approximately 1km from the vehicle ferry.
Continue on to Double Island Point, where the surfer amongst us, can enjoy the world’s longest right hand surf break. Non–surfers can choose to take a walk up to the lighthouse for panoramic views overlooking the bay and on to Fraser Island (K’Gari). From July to November, spot a humpback whale as this part of the coast becomes a Whale Highway as the humpback whales travel to Hervey Bay as a part of their annual migration.
Take the Leisha Track (be sure to check tide times before proceeding any further) onto Rainbow Beach, a picturesque seaside town overlooked by towering and colourful sand cliffs at heights of up to 250 metres, after which the town is named.
Day 2 - Rainbow Beach
Get up early and explore the picturesque Carlo Sand Blow and watch one of the best sunrises you are likely to experience. The Carlo Sand Blow is a unique ‘moonscape’ sand mass that covers over 15 hectares and provides expansive views of the towering coloured sands surrounding Rainbow Beach.
Replace the vehicle for a day with the freedom of horsepower. Rainbow Beach has a long history with horses, from the use of horses in the early days of exploration, to the brumbies that still run free on Inskip Peninsular, and through the Poona National Park. In Rainbow Beach you can horse ride in a stunning beach location, and take your horse for a swim in the ocean with the stunning coloured sands as your background.
With endless kilometres of beach, enjoy some beach fishing for the afternoon or simply enjoy the diversity of the flora and fauna that calls this stunning location home.
Finish your day with a sunset cocktail and a beautiful meal at one of Rainbow Beach’s many restaurants and pubs, while reviewing the tide times and condition report for the following day’s adventure.
Stay overnight in Rainbow Beach.
Day 3 - Rainbow Beach to Fraser Island
Depart Rainbow Beach and travel to Inskip Point, taking the barge to the southern end of World Heritage listed Fraser Island (K’Gari). Enjoy the thrill of driving on Fraser Island’s (K’Gari’s) 75 Mile Beach to the township of Eurong. Be sure to look out for Australia’s Jabiru (a type of stork also found in South America) that calls the area home. Enjoy lunch at Eurong.
If you would like to explore more of the stunning east coast of Fraser Island (K’Gari), drive further north and stop at Lake Wabby, Eli Creek, the SS Maheno shipwreck and Indian Head.
You also shouldn’t miss an opportunity to see Fraser Island (K’Gari) from the air whilst on 75 Mile Beach. This will be the one time you can experience a beach ‘take off and landing’, whilst exploring Fraser Island (K’Gari) from the air where you are also likely to see an abundance of wildlife including humpback whales, turtles and dugongs.
If time permits, continue on to the stunning Champagne Pools, a perfect swimming location where waves crash over rocks lining sandy pools with a golden froth reminiscent of champagne bubbles!
Check into your accommodation for the night along 75 Mile Beach.
Day 4 - Fraser Island
Depart your accommodation and continue on the Great Beach Drive taking the inland track west towards Kingfisher Bay. On your way across the island, stop at Central Station which was once home to a community of more than 100 people in the 1920’s logging era. At Central Station you can explore Fraser Island (K’Gari) rainforest along a boardwalk that fringes the silently flowing and crystal clear Wanggoolba Creek.
From Central Station, drive to the magnificent Lake McKenzie, one of Fraser Island’s (K’Gari’s) most popular and well recognised freshwater lakes. With its powder white sand and crystal clear water, Lake McKenzie is truly a once in a lifetime swimming location.
Continue along the Great Beach Drive through Fraser Island’s (K’Gari’s) towering lush rainforests to Kingfisher Bay on the west coast of Fraser Island (K’Gari), and check into your accommodation for your overnight stay.
Whilst staying at Kingfisher Bay, be sure to try the resorts ‘Bush Tucker Talk and Taste’ dining experience. Using bush tucker ingredients sourced from Fraser Island (K’Gari) and used by the Butchulla people, the traditional owners of Fraser Island (K’Gari), this will be a dining experience that you will never forget!
Day 5- Hervey Bay
Depart Kingfisher Bay by vehicle Barge to River Heads on the mainland and drive into Hervey Bay on Queensland’s Fraser Coast.
Hervey Bay is widely regarded as the whale watching capital of Australia, if not the world, and also offers some of Queensland’s best fishing experiences as well as a range of beach café, dining and accommodation options.
The whale watching season in Hervey Bay takes place between July to November, and it is the only location along the east coast Australia where humpback whales deviate from their migratory path to rest and play in the calm sheltered waters between Hervey Bay and Fraser Island (K’Gari). There are a range of whale watching options located in Hervey Bay, including a range of ‘swim with’ and immersive experiences which allow you to get closer to humpback whales than ever before!! Whilst in Hervey Bay, a whale watching tour is an absolute must do.
Day 6- Fraser Island, Hervey Bay and Maryborough
Enjoy the stunning west coast of Fraser Island (K’Gari) through a touring experience offered by members of the whale watching fleet in Hervey Bay, or explore Fraser Island (K’Gari) in style on a Fraser Island (K’Gari) Jet Ski Safari!
What ever option you decide to choose, both trips have it all, allowing you to get up close and personal with a variety of wildlife including turtles, dugongs, dolphins, a variety of fish species and even the Fraser Island (K’Gari) dingo.
The tours allow you to participate in a range of activities whilst exploring Fraser Island (K’Gari), including hiking, kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, fishing and stand up paddle boarding through the stunning creeks and estuaries that exist on the west coast of Fraser Island (K’Gari).
For something completely different, drive into the town of Maryborough, the home of the creator of Mary Poppins – PL Travers. Take the Magical Mary tour and step back in time, learning all about Maryborough’s rich history and the origins of PL Travers. Start your Portside experience with a Portside Heritage Gateway Pass, which includes entry into Customs House Interpretive Centre, and the number of museums that are available.
Day 7- Tin Can Bay, Rainbow Beach, Noosa
Rise and shine early so as not to miss the hand feeding of dolphins at Tin Can Bay. Rare Indo Pacific Humpback Dolphins can be seen at the boat ramp most mornings from 8am. View the wildlife at Tinnanbar with sea turtles hatching between November and March each year, or use this opportunity to spot a dugong, Australia’s ‘sea cow’. Drive the 49 kilometre back into Rainbow Beach then onto your final beach drive through the Leisha Track (be sure to check tide times before proceeding any further) to Double Island Point and enjoy the 80 kilometre drive through the Great Sandy Biosphere back to Noosa North Shore. In Noosa be sure to join one of the several operators who offer Noosa River sunset cruises. Sit back and relax and enjoy a glass of wine whilst exploring Woods Bay and experiencing the Lake Weyba wildlife before taking in the sunset at the river entrance. After your cruise check into your Noosa accommodation for the evening to complete your seven day Great Beach Drive Itinerary.