Brisbane - Rockhampton via Bruce Highway - Highway
Total distance 649km.
All distances measured from Brisbane
Coming from the south the easiest way to get to the Bruce Highway (Hwy 1) is to use the Gateway Bridge which although a tollway, saves a lot of time and effort. The bridge leads on to the Gateway Access Road and after passing the turnoff to Brisbane Airport and later the turn that would take you to the Redcliffe Peninsula, you reach the junction with the Bruce Highway well north of Brisbane.
The Bruce Highway is a beautiful four-lane divided road most of the way for hundreds of kilometres north with well signposted turnoffs to Bribie Island and Caboolture. Along this stretch the road keep a lookout on the left for the awesome splendour of the Glasshouse Mountains as they rise starkly from the plain.
Although the highway skirts the Sunshine Coast it is worth taking the time to explore the attractions of towns like Caloundra, Mooloolabah, Maroochydore, Coolum Beach and Noosa Heads.
Just before Nambour (104km) a replica of the famous Ettamoga Pub can be seen and invites a look. Other attractions in this area include the Big Pineapple with its rides through the exotic fruit plantation and the Ginger Factory at Yandina(114km).
If you really do have time to spend in this neck of the woods there is a great deal to see in the Sunshine Coast hinterland and the attractive little towns of Maleny and Montville with their craft shops, art galleries and eating houses have much to offer.
As you approach Gympie (172km) there is a lovely park on the right ˇ maybe a spot for a tea break or if you miss it there is a nice little rest area complete with toilets on the left just north of town.
The township and business centre are off the highway ˇ you turn right but then go under the main road to reach the shops which are quite extensive. The town is very hilly so if you need a spot of exercise this is a good place to get it!
Passing through the tiny township of Tiaro ˇ said ŰTyroÝthe excellent road continues to the Maryborough (264km) turnoff which is also the way to get to Hervey Bay which nowadays is a thriving centre for tourism with its extensive beaches, supermarkets, restaurants, hotels and caravan parks. The ŰBayÝ would be a good place to stay a few days ˇ or weeks ˇ if a bustling, on-the-go lifestyle attracts you.
AustraliaÝs largest and best known sand island, Fraser Island, can be reached by boat from Hervey Bay or by the barge that runs from Rainbow Beach to the south. It is strictly four-wheel drive vehicles only on the island.
Hervey Bay has become one of the best places in Australia for whale watching and during the season a large variety of vessels leave Urangan every morning taking hundreds of holidaymakers in search of a sighting of some of these monsters of the deep that come north to breed each year.
After Maryborough the road isnÝt quite as good although extensive roadworks are being carried out all the time and each year the highway is improved. The next place we come to is historic Childers (323km) but unfortunately it has become rather better known for the tragic backpacker incident a few years ago.
Just north of Childers we come to the turn on to Highway 3 for the thriving coastal city of Bundaberg famous for its rum distillery but also a pleasant holiday town with a number of beaches with in easy reach including Mon Repos where turtles come to lay their eggs in the sand each year.
If you are in to bush camping there are a number of places to interest you along this part of the highway ˇ the first one on the right being a popular, large rest area on the bank of a creek as you leave the little town of Gin Gin (379km).
Also popular about 30km further north is Lake Monduran formed by the Fred Haig Dam. There are toilets and a coin operated barbeque and three camping levels ˇ all with a view of the lake which sadly has been very depleted in recent years.
Mirium Vale (478km) is the place to turn right if you want to visit the Town of Seventeen Seventy where Captain James Cook ˇ then just a Lieutenant ˇ made a landing and where you can now follow in his footsteps by taking a tour in an amphibious LARC. The road used to be rough and off-putting but is now sealed for most of the way.
The port city of Gladstone with its large harbour and industrial installations is off to the right and can be visited from the southern turnoff (527km) and then the highway can be rejoined further north. If you like quieter parks, then turn left instead of right at this cross-roads and head inland to GladstoneÝs water supply, the Awoonga Dam where you will find a nice little caravan park and kiosk plus, down the hill, lovely picnic areas on the shore of the lake.
A little further north near the Port Curtis historic complex is the Calliope River Camping Ground ˇ a 48hr limit free camping area on the banks of the Calliope River. There are toilets here and fires are allowed ˇ a tolerant shire council has made a lovely facility available for travellers but unfortunately some people abuse the privilege and overstay their welcome.
The run from here to Rockhampton (649km) is an easy hourÝs run and a stay in ŰRockyÝis time well spent.