Cairns is the heart of Tropical North Queensland and the ideal base to explore the wider region including Cairns Beaches, Palm Cove, Port Douglas, Mossman, Daintree, Cape Tribulation and the Atherton Tablelands. From reef to outback, through rainforest and grasslands.
Hire a car, pick-up this handy guide and off you go. Get off the beaten track, explore and discover everything you want, all on your own schedule. It’s impossible to list all the choices you have with four wheels at your fingertips.
Driving in Tropical North Queensland is an unforgettable travel experience and self-drive tours are the most popular way to see the best of what this region has to offer.
Take the Overlander’s Way and follow the paths of droving heroes who brought vast herds of live cattle from the east Kimberley to the North Queensland east coast. From the world heritage listed Great Barrier Reef and pristine beaches of north Queensland to the rugged rocky outcrops and red sand of north-west Queensland and into the Northern Territory, the Overlanders’ Way will take you through architecturally rich historic towns, dinosaur centres and to the home of some of the world’s most quirky events.
Experience the Savannah Way, Australia’s adventure drive, linking Cairns with the historic pearling town of Broome in Western Australia’s Kimberley region. The drive is approximately 3,700 kilometres long and meanders through Savannah woodlands that cover tropical northern Australia. The route is mainly sealed, although there are long stretches of gravel road and several challenging four-wheel drive detours.
Tackle the Cape York Peninsula, a four-wheel drive adventure of waterfalls, wildlife and Indigenous heritage to the continent’s northernmost point. Spend a week on an adventurous drive into an untamed wilderness area to stand at the very top of Australia. Epic Cape York is a remarkable journey through Cape York Peninsula taking in memorable pubs, ancient rock art and spectacular natural scenery. Drive along red outback roads, explore wetlands brimming with birds and fish, discover gold town ruins and try your luck at isolated fishing spots. Be amazed at the diverse birdlife, admire Aboriginal artists at work or enjoy the hospitality of a country race day.
Great Barrier Reef Drive
The Great Barrier Reef Drive from Cairns to Cape Tribulation is a long spectacular coastline hugging two World Heritage areas, the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics rainforest.
From Cairns, head north across the Barron River to the Cairns Northern Beaches including Trinity Beach, Palm Cove and Ellis Beach. The drive then winds along the edge of the Coral Sea past unspoiled tropical beaches to Port Douglas. Port Douglas is the gateway to the Daintree, the world’s oldest tropical rainforest. To the north is beautiful Mossman Gorge before you drive through sugar cane fields to the township of Daintree. Cross the Daintree River on the cable ferry for a leisurely drive through ancient rainforest, as you wind your way past pretty beaches to Cape Tribulation.