A girl in the tropical forest
Australia

Roadtrip from Brisbane to Cape Tribulation

As soon as you get out of Brisbane you will notice that you have found yourself in a completely different part of Australia. The distances between A and B become larger, the weather changes, sunrise is much earlier, people are more laid back and the surroundings are wild.
The straight distance between those two spots is a little less than 2000km but it took me 4 weeks to complete the roadtrip from Brisbane to Cape Tribulation.

The more north you get the wilder it becomes

After I took the first highway from Brisbane towards the north, I realised that I am in a different world. I drove between forests and bushes, the coastline changed from sand only into a mix of sand and mangroves. Not every beach looked like being swim-friendly, and the more north I got, the more warnings of crocodiles I have seen. The temperature changed into more and more tropical one, the nights started to get hot and sweaty. And I started to struggle to sleep because of the heat. It has been so hot and humid, so during the nights I had to leave every window and door of my van open. I had to choose: die from heat or die from wild animals. In the end, I have been lucky not having any spiders or snakes in my bed, but the mosquitoes have been a horror.

The realisation about how challenging this trip is

To get from A to B started to take more time because the distances became bigger. This means also sitting in a car for a few hours per day. This also means thinking about random things for a few hours per day. After a few longer drives, I just started to talk to myself. I started to realise how different this Australian roadtrip is – in comparison to my previous travels. I already did months of travelling solo, but always when I needed to socialise, I talked to people on the bus or in the hostel. But now – I am on my own. This travel, across Australia, in a van, just by myself, is one of the most challenging ones. Not because I am afraid of being alone, but because being alone is challenging as fuck.

The best things in life are free and challenging

Besides the wild nature that scares me and besides the fact that I am facing lots of challenges being alone, I can definitely tell, this roadtrip from Brisbane to Cape Tribulation has been more than amazing. Here I share a summary of the best spots that I visited along the way.

My top 7 places during the roadtrip Brisbane to Cape Tribulation

1. Sunshine Coast

Sunshine Coast is the best! Do not get me wrong if you are from the Gold Coast (it is very very pretty there as well) but the Sunshine Coast is the place I will rather be. Why? It is beautiful, it is laid back, it is exciting, it is less touristy and the water temperature doesn’t force me to wear a wetsuit! I loved this part of the coast as a whole. If you want some specific travel tips, I recommend you to visit Noosa Nationalpark, where you can do a beautiful early morning coastal walk.

One of many beautiful beaches at the Sunshine Coast, 2020

2. Rainbow Beach

Do not miss the Rainbow Beach! This place is an entry gate to Fraser Island (where I didn’t go because it was too expensive). However it doesn’t matter if you plan to go to Fraser or not, the Rainbow Beach itself is definitely worth a visit. First thing you should see there is Carlo Sand Blow, which is a unique landscape of 15 hectares of colourful sand. Go there for a sunset or sunrise. The second stunning thing to do is to go to Double Island Point. This place is accessible via the beach, only with 4×4 during the low-tide (you will need a permit for driving on the beach). If you do not have a 4×4, just ask around in the town and I’m sure someone will give you a lift.
If you want to hire a guide, go for Moondoggie Beach and Bush Tours.

Carlo Sand Bowl, 2020

3. Byfield National Park

I absolutely loved my two days trip into this national park. It is a beautiful drive through the forest, partly on some unsealed roads. If you want to explore the whole park, you should inform yourself about the road conditions before heading there.
I overnighted in a place called stoney creek (pre-booking needed via NP website). This place is in the middle of nature and it has a freshwater creek, where you can swim croc free! Just beautiful!

Early morning at the Stoney Creek in the Byfield Forest Reserve, 2020

4. Airly Beach

Airly Beach is a gateway to Whitsundays and it is a cool spot if you want to meet other fellows and go out for a drink. I stayed there a few nights and I enjoyed the vibe in this small town. They have plenty of live music and a few bars. There is also a nice lagoon in the town which will help you to get rid of the hangover. I also went to Whitsundays, which has been amazing, because I got a good deal and I stayed in a fancy resort for 2 nights. However, if you want to see the coral reef, you should better go for a tour to the Great Barrier Reef (which is the best from Port Douglas).

Whitehaven Beach, 2020

5. Etty Bay

Etty Bay looks at first sight like just a pretty beach, but it will surprise you once you spot a cassowary. Cassowaries are one of the biggest birds in the world and they really live there. They come to the beach every day in order to steal food from people like me (I left pieces of a melon outside of my van and one of the birds just took it).

6. Wallaman Falls

Stunning, highest (265m) permanent single drop waterfall of Australia is well worth a trip inland. There is an amazing viewing platform from where you will get the best view of this natural wonder. You can also make a short hike to the waterfall’s bottom (about 0,5-1h steep walk). The walk itself is not really interesting, coz you don’t see much. However, at the bottom, you will get a completely different perspective of the waterfall. I am not sure if you can swim there – it didn’t look very inviting when I was there. There is a national park camping area about 1km away from the waterfall. You will need to pre-book it online here because there is no phone service in the whole area. Watch out for wildlife, I spotted many kangaroos on my way to the waterfall.

The bottom of Wallaman Falls, 2020

7. Daintree National Park

This park is the farthest north point I could visit without 4×4. Daintree National Park is a World Heritage Site and apparently it is one of the oldest rainforests in the world. If you love to be surrounded by green, thick and impressive plants, then it is a place for you. The beaches there are the wildest I have ever seen. There is also no one in the water because of hundreds of crocodiles that inhabit those areas. Watch out for snakes, wallabies and cassowaries. Do not swim in the rivers, without making sure with locals, that there are no crocodiles. Go for one of the few walks between the mangroves, swim in a croc-free water creek or go for a hike in the forest.

secret spot in Daintree NP, 2020 🙂

Have as look at some of my pictures from this roadtrip!

If you are interested in different itineraries, not just in the roadtrip between Brisbane and Cape Tribulation, make sure that you read my other posts here.

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