Howdy, Maxxis Man here! Ready for our next holiday road trip? I sure am … This one takes us down the spectacular Great Barrier Reef Drive, covering the 140km from Cairns to Cape Tribulation. Right in the midst of two World Heritage listed sites (the rainforest of the Wet Tropics and the exquisite Great Barrier Reef) this drive winds its way through picturesque beaches and holiday towns, along the magnificent tree-clad coastal road with sweeping views to rocky outcrops, water and beaches below, up into the tropical Daintree rainforest and beyond. Teaming with natural vegetation, birds and animals – if you’re lucky you may meet up with a legendary Cassowary bird, not to mention a few crocs! You can do this trip in a day – but give yourself at least two or three days or even a week to really explore. Sound good? Buckle up and let’s get on our way….
What car to drive and the all-important question of tyres:
An excellent choice for this trip is a Toyota Landcruiser, or Land Rover Defender, fitted with Maxxis’ durable, hardy MT772s or maximum traction M8060 Trepador tyres suited to any trail condition. With a vehicle-tyre combination like these you’ll be set for comfort on the bitumen and ready for absolutely anything if you decide to explore some of the 4WD-only tracks beyond!
Where are we going:
We start our 140km-long Great Barrier Reef Drive in sunny Cairns, the perfect place to refuel (if you’ve come from further afield) and get those tyres inflated for the onward journey towards Cape Tribulation! The main road (starting in central Cairns at Sheridan Street and becoming Captain Cook Drive) is sealed all the way to Cape Tribulation, after which you may want to head off into 4WD-only territory!
Where to stop along the way:
Cairns to Palm Cove: First stop (just a short 28km from Cairns) is the idyllic holiday spot of Palm Cove, which as its name suggests is a palm-lined beach, great for walking or admiring from one of many benches, beachside BBQ spots or cafes (a couple of which are equipped with luxurious couches for you to kick of your shoes, put your feet up and enjoy the views over the Coral Sea!) There are numerous holiday apartments and hotels (and a caravan park), set amongst the lush, tropical vegetation and shady, centuries-old Melaleuca trees, with local seafood on offer in the restaurants along the main street. If you’re planning on taking a dip, it’s best to keep to the enclosures due to stingers – (and avoid the lagoons where salt water crocs are sometimes spotted). A night or two here to recharge may be just what’s needed to get the trip started.
Port Douglas: If you can manage to pull yourself away, let’s get going again! On from Palm Cove is a most exquisite part of this drive, as the road starts winding along the coastline. This journey allows you to appreciate the natural beauty of Far North Queensland at its best, with not a building to be seen for miles around and the aqua-turquoise water stretching out beside you. Arriving in Port Douglas you’ll discover the perfect base to launch out from the Marina and visit the Great Barrier Reef for a day’s diving or snorkelling. Visit the award-winning Wildlife Habitat, for “Breakfast with the Birds”, take a nocturnal tour or simply experience the diversity of this interactive wildlife setting on two hectares that showcases North Queensland’s environments and animals. Enjoy some downtime strolling on the beach and relaxing and soaking up the holiday vibe of this character-filled town.
Mossman Gorge: Mossman Gorge (20km on) is your next stop– at the southern end of the Daintree National Park (the oldest surviving rainforest in the world)! You’ll need to park at the Mossman Gorge Centre and travel by shuttle bus to the heart of the gorge. Offering stunning rainforest views, towering mountains and fresh streams – you’ll have the opportunity to explore the forest boardwalk or take a “Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk” experience. With the local indigenous Kuku Yalanji people as your guides, this informative walk provides a unique encounter with their culture and history, traditions, plant life and other fascinating information.
Daintree: Back on the road, we’re heading to Daintree Village (40km) – with the Daintree River flowing past restaurants, art galleries, picnic and BBQ areas. We are now in the thick of croc country – so taking a river cruise will give you a good (and safe) vantage point to see crocodiles as well as some amazing bird life and the scenery! There are places to stay of various kinds (including camping and caravan sites) if you want to stop here for a day or two.
Cape Tribulation: From here you’ll make your way back to the signpost for the Daintree River Ferry, which we’ll be crossing to make the last leg of this trip. It’s a quick scenic crossing (during which you’ll be bound to spot more crocs), and before we know it we’re back on the road heading through magnificent rainforest and past the turn-offs to some spectacular beaches in the National Park. Cape Tribulation, our picture-perfect destination, heralds the end of the sealed road and of our trip – and is the place where the rainforest and Great Barrier Reef meet. It goes without saying that there’s much to explore in Cape Tribulation and surrounds, with unique activities such as “Jungle Surfing”, along with eco tours and boardwalks, tracks, forest trails, beaches and reef activities. There are plentiful accommodation options including some tucked away in the rainforest and others with stunning beach views!
What to pack:
It’s summer so it’s going to be hot and humid. Pack your swimming and snorkelling gear, tent, camping supplies and most importantly, your sunscreen — don’t forget to Slip, Slop, Slap!
Sights along the way not to be missed:
There are so many places to stop and detours to take along the way – including remote and secluded beaches and plenty of dense forest to explore. Below are a few suggestions of what not to miss:
- Yorkeys Knob, Trinity Beach, Clifton Beach (beaches north of Cairns)
- Thala Beach Nature Reserve, Port Douglas
- Daintree Discovery Centre — The heart of the forest
- Cow Bay – Picturesque, secluded beach surrounded with palm trees
- Cape Kimberley Beach – The closest beach to the Daintree River
- Mount Alexandra Lookout – Beautiful views
- The Marrdja, Kulki or Dubuji Boardwalks — Forest walks
- While our drive ends at Cape Tribulation — The Bloomfield Track beyond (only accessible by 4WD vehicles) offers many more adventures, creek crossings, and out-of-this world scenery, if you’re in the right vehicle (with suitable tyres of course!).
Well that about wraps up another holiday road-trip-of a lifetime (right here in Australia!) – so from myself and Team Maxxis it’s over to you to buckle up and enjoy! Look forward to hearing how those Maxxis tyres stood up to the Great Barrier Reef Drive test. Safe travels (and remember to stay well keep clear of the crocs!)
Please note: The information offered in this blog is of a general nature only and should in no respect replace detailed research, travel and safety preparations as relevant to your individual requirements and vehicle.