The Great Barrier Reef Drive
One of the most iconic stretches of road in all of Australia is now officially recognised as the Great Barrier Reef Drive after receiving approval from the Queensland State Government. While the 140km section of road will still remain known officially as the Captain Cook Highway and Cape Tribulation Road, the new name is set to encourage self-drive travellers to make the spectacular journey. Starting in Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef drive takes in the rugged coastline from Ellis Beach to Port Douglas, past Mossman and over the Daintree River before meandering through the world heritage listed Daintree Rainforest on the way to Cape Tribulation. See the big crocs up close during feeding times as well as experience the wetland boat rides and wildlife presentations. Hartley’s is family friendly and offers a three-day return pass, giving you all the time you need to explore this attraction.
Great Tropical Drive
The Great Tropical Drive offers self-drive travellers a holiday choice unlike any in the world with its vast array of experiences and ever-changing scenery taking in pristine rainforests, azure coastlines and the dramatic landscapes of rural and outback Queensland. The 2079km Great Tropical Drive incorporates the coastal drive from Cooktown through Cairns and Townsville to Ayr and Charters Towers in the south, plus the hinterland Tablelands’ communities of Mareeba and Atherton. Incorporated within the Great Tropical Drive is a series of 13 shorter Tropical Discovery Trails, enabling visitors to explore shorter sections or offshoots of the primary route. The route travels through areas of enormous environmental and Aboriginal significance, including 70 National Parks, conservation areas and state forests, the Great Barrier Reef, Hinchinbrook Island and World Heritage tropical rainforest. Towns along the Great Tropical Drive offer insights into the early history of the area, while others present opportunities to savour unique tastes of the tropics and experience exhilarating adventures. Some of Australia’s best-known attractions, such as the Undara Lava Tubes, can also be seen on this drive. From Cairns, through Port Douglas and on to Cape Tribulation there is 140km of tropical coastline that stretches along the Coral Sea. This is truly one of the most spectacular drives. Visitors can tailor the Great Tropical Drive itinerary according to their personal interests, length of visit and preferred destinations. While a few of the offshoot trails require a 4WD, most of the primary loop of the Great Tropical Drive is sealed, making it safe and easily accessible for all vehicles.
TOURS Sweet Farm Tours,
in the picturesque Whyanbeel Valley just north of Mossman, offers a great experience on a working sugarcane farm and cocoa plantation. Learn how cocoa is grown right here in Tropical North Queensland, and discover for yourself why their Daintree Estates Chocolate is becoming known as Australia’s best chocolate. Get back to nature with one of the most experienced cruise operators on the Daintree River. The Crocodile Express has been operating eco croc and wildlife cruises since 1979 and as your guide takes you along sections of this ancient waterway, take in the wildlife and flora along the foreshore and creeks. You may even be lucky enough to see Scarface, the Daintree River’s alpha male croc, who is an impressive four metres long and estimated to be around 50 to 70 years old.
ATTRACTIONS There are a great number of things to do along this route. Deserted beaches are a plenty while Rex Lookout, between Cairns and Port Douglas, is highly recommended for a stop and photo opportunity as the hang gliders make the most of the cliffs to soar above the shimmering Coral Sea.
No journey would be complete without a visit to Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures.
STAY AT CAIRNS’ NORTHERN BEACHES