Brisbane - Rockhampton via Brisbane Valley and
Burnett Highways (Hwy 17)
Total Distance 762km)
All distances measured from Brisbane
This is a pleasant inland alternative to the busy Bruce Highway (Hwy 1) and takes you through the charming little townships of the Brisbane Valley.
Leaving Brisbane navigate on the the Ipswich Motorway (Hwy 2) and this becomes the Warrago Highway (Hwy 54) at the junction (32km) with the Cunningham Highway (Hwy 15). The turnoff needs care - follow the signs for Toowoomba although you wonít be going there and avoid heading for Ipswich unless you want to have a look around this large city and itís bustling shopping areas.
The Brisbane Valley Highway (Hwy 17) turnoff is on the right (48km) along the way and the first town you come to is Fernvale and after this you cross the dam wall of the beautiful Lake Wivenhoe - one of Brisbaneís major water storages and an excellent place for a lunch or ëcuppaí break.
A few kilometres before you reach the lake, a road to the right would take you to the Somerset Dam and Kilcoy or Esk - alternatively you could have a beautiful drive through the Brisbane Forest Park back to Brisbane.
There are a number of access roads to the shores of Lake Wivanhoe as you travel northwards including one to a nice campground. Coominya has a camel farm and the once a year Camel Race Day is great fun if you happen to be in the area just then.
The quiet little town of Esk (100km) in the shadow of spectacular Glenn Rock is the next place we come to and it has a lovely quiet caravan park an easy stroll from the main street and shops. A drive to the lookout gives wonderful views of the town and surrounding countryside.
Just a few km north a road to the right leads to the Somerset Dam and a scenic route to Kilcoy and after the little towns of Toogoolawah and Harlin we come to the junction (132km) with the DíAguilar Highway (Hwy 85) that goes to Kilcoy and Caboolture.
A number of pretty little towns - Moore, Benarkin and Blackbutt are on our way to Yarraman (177km) and the junction with the New England Highway (Hwy 61). Hoop Pine is grown extensively in this area and a mill at Yarraman processes the timber.
The next major centre on our route is Nanango (198km) and here the DíAguilar Highway (Hwy 96) branches off for Kingaroy - the home of Queenslands colourful former Premier, Sir Joh Bjelke Peterson and famous for its peanut industry.
At Goomeri (262km) our route crosses the Wide Bay Highway (Hwy xxx) to Murgon in the west and Gympie in the east. The highway continues through undulating country to reach Ban Ban Springs (336km) and the junction with the Isis Highway (Hwy 52) to Childers. There is a nice little picnic area here with shade and off road parking with a roadhouse opposite.
We reach the Burnett river at Gayndah ( 362km) an important cirus growing area famous for its oranges. There is a nice lookout near the High School giving good views of the Burnett River and the district. Another thriving citrus district is found at Mundubbera ( 411km) where the ëBig Mandariní sits by the roadside.
The highway follows the Burnett River northwards to the sleepy little town of Eidsvold (446km) and then continues to the agricultural centre of Monto (522km). North of the town is the access road into the beautiful Cania Gorge.
A fairly long stretch takes us to the large country centre of Biloela ( 617km) with the nearby Callide Mine that provides the coal for the power station. This is an interesting town and has plenty of things to make a stay here worthwhile - an example being an original homestead building moved into the centre of the town for visitors to see.
The Dawson Highway (Hwy 39) heads west from here to the quaintly named Banana - called after a bullock! To the east, it goes to the coast and the port of Gladstone.
Mt Morgan (692km) is the final large centre on this route and has a history of mining going back to the late 1800s. Mining stopped in1981 but the mine chimney and opencut workings can still be seen while a steam train is used for sight-seeing tours.
The road down to the coastal plain is twisty and quite steep. Care needs to taken to prevent overheating brakes - using a lower gear is strongly advised for big rigs. There is an alternative route a little further west and although adding a little distance to the trip itís perhaps a bit less taxing for nervous passengers.
Having safely negotiated the mountain itís just a short run to our destination - the city of Rockhampton (762km) , Beef Capital of Australia.