Escape to Chillagoe Caves

For many travellers and visitors, Cairns region is known to them as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and World Heritage Rainforest. It is true and these sites are fascinating and definitely a ‘must-do’ on any travellers itinerary. Cairns region offers so much more to do here that often gets missed. One such adventure is a road trip along the Wheelbarrow Way to visit the historic mining town of Chillagoe. A road trip to Chillagoe Caves is a journey through the outback that definitely shows a different side to the region than lush tropical rainforest and colourful reef. Here you leave the world behind and escape to the magical outback west.

Living in Cairns, we are blessed that we can virtually drive only few hours away and your in the highlands of Atherton Tablelands, World Heritage Listed Rainforest and Outback West. The Cairns outback west is no exception and the Great Barrier Reef sits in the heart of it where you can simply ‘sail away’ calmly out to the reef. I decided to take a road trip weekend getaway, heading west. My destination was Chillagoe, with stops along the way at Dimbulah, Petford and Almaden. Chillagoe is one place that I wanted to spent time on exploring its underground wonders and caves only short drive away. It is a great time to getaway from the city to the outback for relaxation. A weekend away for nature, beauty and exploration.

Why Go?

The township of Chillagoe is a genuine outback town with fascinating attractions and abundant wildlife. The area has its mix of history and geological wonders and was definitely on my list of what to see and do in Far North Queensland.

Chillagoe area is undeniably one of the most exciting, fascinating and diverse area to visit in the tropical outback. This town is known for its unique and impressive caves and underground wonders. Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park includes limestone bluffs, impressive caves, fossils, Aboriginal cultural heritage such as rock art and settler heritage such as historic mining smelters.

Also, the drive from Cairns to Chillagoe is one of my favourite back road that takes you through the scenic “dry” belt of the western Tablelands. During the winter months or wet season of the year, you’re able to capture some of the beautiful scenery. History tells that Chillagoe was once an ancient coral reef which has been transformed into spectacular limestone bluffs with a network of some 600 caves, early volcanic activity has created rich marble and mineral deposits has made it one of the fascinating place to visit. It was fascinating for me to explore this exciting underground world of vast chambers, eerie narrow passages, dripping stalactites and stunning limestone cave decorations. Given its remoteness and raw, natural beauty, it was the perfect place to visit and a ton of outdoor activities and this is what I wanted to do to fill up my weekend getaway. The visit to this area promises to be one of the great contrast, beauty and exploration.

Getting there?

During this global pandemic due to COVID-19, our travel restrictions have been in place and my plans on where to fly to have been limited so decided to go on the road again. Driving along a busy city laneway at 60km/h is not my idea of a relaxing road trip. But I am here 65km northwest of Cairns looking for the signpost that will get me away from the roar of the buses and locals commuting to and from work. It is only when I finally turn off the Kennedy Highway that my visit to one of the Far North Queenslands special places truly begins. This is The Wheelbarrow Way, which starts at Mareeba to Chillagoe, named after the gold mining pioneers who, when work was scare and transportation limited, trudged out bearing their worldly goods in a wheelbarrow.

Getting to Chillagoe is accessible by road and is known for its vast stretches of stunning Savannah land. The drive along the Wheelbarrow Way takes you through rich farmlands and wooded Savannah country. It truly gives you a taste of what tropical outback is like within doorsteps of Cairns. The road trip from Cairns to Chillagoe is 205km. Starting my road trip in Cairns, I crossed the Great Dividing Range (called Kuranda Range), passing Henry Ross Lookout, the Rainforestation nature park, the beautiful Kuranda village and continued to Mareeba, passing Speewah and Koah, on Kennedy Highway.

Mareeba is a sizeable country town located on the northern end of Atherton Tablelands, with fertile soils and consequently farming country. The town have a great museum and a few other things to see and do. I headed into the accessible outback west of Mareeba, taking the state route 27 and passing through Tabacum and Mutchilba before arriving in the quirky town of Dimbulah. Just before reaching Dimbulah is a small township which is the gateway to Hodgkinson Goldfields. In this tiny town, there is a historical railway station and a museum.

The township of Dimbulah in brief history, was the gateway to the gold fields, that sprang up on the Walsh River to service the ore trains. Once the mining faded, cropping became the focus and today sugar cane, mango and lychee plantations can be seen. Dimbulah has a memorial hall, local shops, a hotel, caravan park, soccer ground, bowling club and swimming facilities.

After Dimbulah, the road which is officially called Burke Development Road, I continued my drive west along the road to my next place, Petford. It is a very tiny place with a population of 32 residents. The locality takes its name from the railway station named after John, Joseph Petford, an official of the Queensland Railway Department for many years.

From Petford if you turn south, there is a side trip to Emuford, Irvinebank and Wtsonville that will take you all the way to the township of Herberton. After Petford, I continued my drive west along Burke Development Road to my next township west, Almaden. It is a small community with the population of 71 residents. This tiny township have another historical railway station and the pub – Railway Hotel. The places like Almaden, Petford and Emuford are all linked by the Etheridge railway, which welcomes the Savannahlander train on its weekly run from Cairns via Almaden and Mt Surprise to Forsayth.

From west of Almaden, I continued my journey to my final destination – the outback township of Chillagoe. On entering the Chillagoe region, a dramatic landscape created by massive limestone bluffs and rock formations greets travellers. The road is well maintained and the road to Chillagoe is gravel but the last 20km of the road close to Chillagoe are sealed and travellers should be on the lookout for cattle and horse which wander freely across the unfenced road. At times, you drive on dirt road and you’ll need a car that is reasonable at handling dirt roads. They can be rough at times but don’t require a 4WD.

As I took this state route 27, the scenery begins to change from lush greenery and farmlands to dry and less green as I entered the Savannah Region after Dimbulah. The Outbak scenery is dry, dirt reddish road, scarce greenery and lots of termite mounds. It is very fascinating to see and if it is your first time, you will be amazed to see how high these termite mounds lined naturally along the railways and Savannah.

Chillagoe

Finally, I reached the township of Chillagoe around mid-afternoon where I had enough time to wandered around the town to see the Railway Station, Bank Vault, Court House, Police Museum, Post Office and Post Office Hotel. Around the town, there are some great limestone caves, the old smelters, the courthouse museum, lookout point, the old railway station and the old Mungana township further west. At the end of the town, a tall chimney is visibly seen instantly as you enter the town is part of the ruins of the ore smelter which is iconic to Chillagoe. It is now a drive-around museum at no cost and there is a viewing platform and car park on a high vantage point with informative plaques. It is a site for great photo opportunity and fascinating information on how the pioneers toiled in those days.

As I explored more at my own leisure, I began to see and learn many surviving historic points of interest around Chillagoe and the region. There is so much to see and do to fully experience the past, it truly brought me back in time and immerse myself in the history of Chillagoe. I found Chillagoe a small friendly town with some interesting geology and history. It has a surprising mix of outback landscape, mining heritage, significant Aboriginal art sites and fantastic world class limestone caves. Chillagoe, once a thriving town in its hay-days for range of minerals and today only boasts a small zinc mine and some marble quarries and its world famous caves. Also, it is now one of the favoured haunts of mining buffs tracing the heady days of the 1870’s to the 1920’s mining boom.

Before retiring for the day, my last stop was a visit to the Chillagoe Hub. This is is a private run information centre where I wanted to collect some information about the area and also I signed up for a guided tour of the caves. The caves were my main focus on this weekend getaway road trip as I had never been in the cave before so I made sure to sign up for the next guided tour.

Chillagoe Smelters, once the centre of a thriving mining industry that brought wealth and development to the Chillagoe area, today the Chillagoe Smelters are a fascinating ruin.

Follow walking tracks to viewing shelters and gaze over this significant heritage site. The distinctive chimneys stand as reminders of the gritty bustling workforce, heavily-loaded ore trains and large-scale innovative industry that gave life to this site between 1901 and 1943.

What to do?

Just a short drive out of Chillagoe town is the Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park. It is home to some of the remarkable limestone caves in the region that is known for. The following day, I went on an early Park Ranger-guided cave tours to Donna, Trezkinn and Royal Arch Caves. It was time to head inside some of the caves to discover and explore Chillagoe’s underground world which are most popular attractions in the region.

Donna Cave

It was 9am, when we departed for our first cave tour to Donna Cave, located about 1.8km from Chillagoe. From the car park, it was about 10 minutes walk to the cave entrance and had additional time to read the sign. This cave is well lit and is one of the 3 caves in Chillagoe managed by the NPWS. It is only accessed by guided tour with a NPWS ranger who provides a commentary on the formation and history of the cave. Once inside, the first thing that I felt as I headed down into the cave was the enjoyment of the natural air conditioning effect of being underground. The temperature outside was little hotter while inside was nice and cool.

As I entered, right away I could see some of he cool stalactite and stalagmite formations. This cave features beautiful columns, calcite crystals and a cave decoration in the form of the Madonna. The cave has steel walkways and stairs. While walking this 200 metres walk through the cave, we were required to climb several steep flights of stairs – approx. 440 steps in total throughout the tour, including 33 very steep ladder-type steps.

We were made sure to wear the right feet attire and I found myself reasonably fit to do this tour. We were not required for hand-held torches and this spectacular cave were well fitted out with electricity. The stalactites and stalagmites were awesome and the while experience was well worth the effort.

Trezkinn Cave

From Donna cave, I continued my second tour of the caves to Trezkinn Cave at 11am. From the Donna Cave car park, located 1.8 km from Chillagoe, a boardwalk leads to the shelter at the entrance to the cave. From here, we enjoyed outstanding views of the Chillagoe landscape.

The access to Trezkinn Cave is provided via a steel catwalk encircling a huge central mass of limestone. The walk through the cave is about 150m long. Within the cave there are several steep flights of stairs and ramps – about 520 steps in total which includes 46 very steep ladder-type steps.

Inside the cave, a steel catwalk encircles a huge central mass of limestone. The sight of a magnificent ‘chandelier’ formation rewards us and it was absolutely marvelous to look at. No need for hand-held torches, this cave has also fitted out with electricity.

Royal Arch Cave

The final cave visited was the Royal Arch around 1:30pm. From the Royal Arch Cave car park, about 6km from Chillagoe central, a short 200 metres walking track lead us to the cave entrance. Prior to entering the cave, we were given torches that add to the excitement of us exploring the tall limestones karsts and enticing tunnels and to ensure we were able to see where we were waking. There were low overhangs in some places within the Royal Arch Cave so we were to be fit enough to stoop low in several sections. This cave tour took us 600 metres walk through passages, a variety of dark and daylight chambers. In fact, it has 11 chambers in one of the largest cave systems in Chillagoe. Now and again we hist with shafts of daylight that appear in between karst formations, and we could see cave dwelling bats echoing their way around the cave roof tops. The Royal Arch cave has been described by some as grand and impressive. It is a horizontal cave and probably the easiest and longer to explore. In my opinion, this Royal Arch cave was the most impressive cave among the three caves visited.

This cave was discovered by Sir William Atherton in 1888. The name “Royal Arch” given due to two combined features. From the outside the cave, one of the rock formations looks like the profile of Queen Victoria and inside the cave, there is a “daylight chamber” (referring to where the sun shines in) where the collapse of the roof of the cave hundreds of years ago led to the formation of a large rock arch. One of the creepiest parts of the tour was when we turned off all the torches in order to experience the actual darkness of the cave. It was amazing to see how dark it got that it didn’t matter whether our eyes were open or closed. Once the guide convinced us to also be be very quiet, the moment was definitely awe inspiring.

It was quite interesting to learn that the caves served as a tourist attraction since their discovery and that locals often like to take advantage of the cooler temperatures inside the caves by enjoying picnics in the daylight chambers. To me, the highlight of this cave tour was the unexpected shafts of daylight, fig trees, glimpse of darting bats, naturally sculptured limestone formations and ancient marine fossils. It was just fascinating and what a thrill and honour to be exploring this unique caves in Far North Queensland.

My Highlights

After only spending two nights in this outback country town – Chillagoe, I thoughly fell in love with the place. I just wished, I had more time to explore many more other self-guided caves. Discovering these underground wonders of the former mining town of Chillagoe and learning about the natural beauty of the caves have left me spellbound. It was absolutely amazing.

The guided tours to these three spectacular caves with a National Parks ranger and learning more about this amazing underground ecosystem, as well as visit to the Smelter site and Balancing Rock were definitely highlight of my road trip. I have visited Jenolan caves in New South Wales and I must admit, these caves in Chillagoe outclass many of the better known ones in the country and probably the worldwide. The variety and quality of the natural features in the caves were absolutely amazing. The ranger gave indepth information about their age and formation was just beyond. We had to go through the caves which were challenging for the unfit, as there were lots of steps and a few tight places to squeeze through, but overall the effort was worth it. The guide was very understanding if someone was a bit slower.

The tour of the caves was definitely an awesome experience not only allowed me to appreciate the caves but allowed me to see intricate detail as well as sense the awesome big picture of Chillagoes limestone cave systems.. The natural history of the caves and the entire area was fascinating and definitely added a new dimension of new knowledge to me.

For any adventure seeker who is interested or curious in caves should include the Chillagoe Caves on their itinerary to the Far North Queensland. You also get to see a little of the Outback without going too far west. For those wanting a bit more independence on self-guided adventure, make sure to bring a torch with fresh batteries and stay on prescribed routes. Without experience, you will definitely wouldn’t want to wander around lost or even get stuck without a light halfway through a cave. It is totally pitch-black where there is no light.

Journey home

For past two days, spending my time on a lavish cave exploration, it was time for me to take a journey back to Cairns from Chillagoe. The drive back took me longer than expected with a few rest stops and divert of the main road along the way. It is a scenic drive crossing varied landscapes from the red dirt cattle station country, across the irrigated fruit growing tablelands and up through the rain-forested mountains before descending into coastal Cairns. I must say, the journey out west is not most common day trip from Cairns. Cairns is a popular stop for those visiting Tropical North Queensland, which, as they say, is where the rainforest meets the reef – and it is the rainforest and the reef most are in the region to see.

For many travellers, visiting Far North tropical paradise use Cairns as their base, Kuranda, Barron Gorge, the Daintree, Mossman Gorge, Ellis Beach, Port Douglas, Cape Tribulation, Paronella Park, Hartleys Crocodile Park and the Great Barrier Reef. These are all popular spots to spend a day. And with good reason, these places are glorious. But if you head west, you will find a totally different kind of day trip – red dirt, big skies, and bushland as far as eye can see – and it is well worth the journey. If you never, never go, you will never, never see it.

 

© COPYRIGHT: ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

© akamau.org. (2017). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material (photography and writing) without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to akamau.org with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

In Pictures: My Village Life

EXPERIENCE

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VILLAGE LIFESTYLE

A snapshot of what life is like in the village. A simple way of life that wanna keeps me going back home

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akamau

What I love about going back home

Who wouldn’t love to go home? There is no place like home and home is where our heart is truly defines how each person or individual belongs to. Being happy, comfortable and relax is a place where you feel like at home and that is something above and beyond. 

For the last few decades, going back home to the village had long been a much-loved holiday destination when I could relax and enjoy a break from the 9-to-5 grind back home. The dream of getting off the hamster wheel of working life and take a short break from home away from home, the village life in Papua New Guinea. It was time to go back home and that was exactly what I did. I know it was going to be a culture shock for me going back but mainly for me, I miss the proximity with my families back home, especially after living overseas for almost 30 years, now families at home have grown up children and engaging in so many things. It was the greatest moment for me, seeing them for the first time.

During the few years of my absence from the village and when I went back home to the village, my camera has never been so busy. The village life there has been definitely an eye-opener; the delightful people, the breathtaking scenery, the vibrant village community gatherings, simple and relaxed way of life… Every day there was so many photo worthy moments. Sometimes, it is true that a picture can paint a thousand words. Each picture tells a story of a certain place and time. In my opinion, there is no place on earth that a simple photo can tell so much about a place than Inuma Village. Here are just a few of my favourites. 

Home

The life here in this tiny remote village of Inuma is much simpler than Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea and a lot more easier and relaxed way of life. You can go to the rivers, swim, gardens, bush walking and hunting. You can simply indulge in a stress and trouble free atmosphere.

The village isn’t big and I love it. I enjoyed traditional home-cooked meals on the fire and went for night swims in the river just within two minutes walk from the backyard of the house. I am so lucky enough to have this village located near the river, the main highway and accessible to many simple way of living without spending a cent. It is simply a beautiful area.

Village way of Life

For me, by far the most amazing thing about going back to the village is the way the local people live and how I have blended within the village lifestyle. Having grown up in this village, I still now feel that I am much more a part of their lives. I was lucky enough to witness a village community work progress during my visit in the village. Depending on the work but usually they complete the task within the day when the whole village community coming out to help the whole time but usually they all have their own individual or family gardens that they survive on. They’re bright, noisy affairs and a whole lot of fun too. I must say, the whole atmosphere was electrifying.

Faces

The faces of families back home tells a story. Despite modernisation and the threat to their way of life, especially their way of doing things to survive is gradually changing but their beautiful smiles are always cancerous and unforgetable. They still continue to live the way they have for centuries and they are happy. Here are some of my favourites. 

Family Fun Experience

Telling my friends that I was going home was a huge wake-up call for me as most of my friends in Australia know very little about village way of life. However, sharing some of experiences like this opens up a whole new world to many. I hope to go back again and spent more time in the village. The highlight of my entire trip was spending time with my families and at the river as kids go about diving above waste-deep waters for prawns for my lunch as we made fires at each site near the river while enjoying my prawns with dry coconut on the menu. Most of the children were happy to get fresh coconut for my refreshment and the entire experience was far better than I first thought. I simply fell in love with the beauty, pristine and untouched environment. It was absolutely extraordinary and like no place on earth to experience this unique way of life.

Road to Port Moresby: Maggi Highway

The trip back from the village to Port Moresby, capital of Papua New Guinea was an experience that won’t be forgotten easily and without a doubt, it was an experience I want to repeat again – that was jumping on any public motor vehicle (PMV) passing along the highway. It was a rough journey but will do it again whenever I go back for a visit.

The road to Port Moresby from the village is probably the least treacherous, however, that doesn’t mean it isn’t one of the most dangerous roads in the world. I found that, when it comes to driving the Maggi Highway, it is the journey, not the destination, that is the main attraction on travelling on public motor vehicles. There are few words that I can describe the beauty of this drive – rough and dusty road, windy, ever-changing green and lush valleys and passing through many tiny villages. There is only one town along the highway which is less attractive compared to tiny outback towns in Australia which are well-maintained with clean facilities and respected shops. To me this was the experience I wanted to discover – a highway to heaven itself. To others, experiencing and exploring this highway is certainly not for everyone. If you rather sit back, relax and simply enjoy the comfort – travel on your own vehicle.

The trip back home can be describe in one simple word – Incredible. I loved my trip and what truly made the difference was my sister, nephew, brother-in-law and my families back home in the village. Without them, this would have made the trip un-extraordinary. I have seen and experience the lifestyle in just few days and that was just only one small part of it. It was incredibly amazing experience.

ABOUT ME


ic.golina

Papua New Guinean living in Cairns, Australia. Weekend getaway adventurer and Free-Independent-Traveller (FIT). Lover of unique and exotic travel experiences with a touch of luxury. Follow me to my travel world, brining you closer to your destination.

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Tasting the Best Wines in Australia

EXPERIENCE

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hunter valley winery

The wine begins here. Tasting the best wine in Hunter Valley

Posted by

akamau

Brief History

In the northern part of Sydney, away from the bustle and hustle of city life and famous iconic architectural structures like Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, you will find Hunter Valley Region. This region is a place where you can still see and taste the real wine in New South Wales and probably in Australia. This place is where the early vineyard history began to modern vineyard history. In 1823 about 20 acres of vineyards had been planted on the northern banks of the Hunter River, now known as Dalwood & Gresford area. With the arrival of viticulturalists James Busby who had a collection of 500 vine cuttings from his collections and private plantings contributed to the establishment of Hunter Valley’s claims to viticultural fame. By 1930s, the Pokolbin area built a reputation for quality wine production and number of qualified winemakers improved the Hunter Valley’s reputation in New South Wales. Since then, Hunter Valley has been one of Australia’s most well-known wine region. Within the Hunter region, there are over 150 wineries producing a wide array of exceptional wines reflective of their origin. It is a special place to come and enjoy the wine industry.

Vineyards: Hunter Valley

Why Go?

Going on any wine tours, whether in Australia or overseas, it is not only about tasting various wines and meeting other like-minded people but it is a great way to meet grape-stained winemakers. It is about been educated and learning about the regions rich winemaking histories and appreciating the fine art of wine. Australia has some of the best wineries, like the Barossa, Yarra Valley and Margaret River. Many of these places have sweep up all the tourists but the vineyards in Hunter Valley region have been turning heads in the wine world.  

Wine tasting tours has become a major draw card for wine lovers and tourists globally. I always had a desire to go on a wine tour but never had a chance to go on one. Whilst visiting Newcastle city – gateway to Hunter Valley region and without any hesitation, it was about time to go on a wine tasting tour in the beautiful Hunter Valley. To get the real taste of the wines, going on a tour was the best option rather than private or self-drive tours, which can be limited to wineries you can visit. This was the ultimate way to celebrate my first introduction to the wine tasting world in this picturesque setting and I didn’t have to steer the wheels during the tour.

Getting there?

Going on a wine tasting tour for the first time, my expectation was low and I decided to do a full-day wine and cheese tasting tour even though am not a wine and cheese connoisseur but I wanted to learn more about the wine, especially and simply to have a good time. A perfect sunny morning, the tour driver arrived on time and I was the first one to be picked up before 14 other people. Been new to the area, I was quiet pleased that I was the first to be onboard so I was able to have a tour whilst picking up other passengers around the area. The driver was brilliant from the first minute. He was very chatty, telling jokes with a great sense of humour, showed great enthusiasm and showed interest in the fellow wine tasting enthusiast. Along the way to our first vineyard, he was very informative about the Hunter Valley in general. With 15 people on the tour, the driver made everyone feel very welcome and comfortable and there was no awkwardness at any stage – considering we were all strangers and different ethnic backgrounds (it was only me, the rest were caucasians). The tour took us to 5 wineries and all the wine and cheese tasting was included in the tour package, apart from purchasing wine goodies. 

The luncheon included in the tour package was at Mount Pleasant wineries. The food provided was absolutely wonderful and certainly there was plenty of wine to consume. Having lunch in this idyllic setting over-looking the vineyards was a perfect location and it couldn’t been any better than this. I was totally mesmerised by the vineyards and how this fruits we know are produced or turn into wine.

First glass of wine tasting

The tour driver took us to some of the more boutique vineyards, which was very enjoyable. My favourite was Tulloch, followed by Mt Pleasant and McGuigans. In every wineries, we visited, the hosts were excellent and very knowledgable in what they were presenting to us.

By the time, we got to our last tasting of the wineries, the wines were starting to kick in and everyone on the tour were more interested in chatting with each other than actually tasting the wine. We ended the day with a tour and tasting of the cheese factory. It was a fantastic way to end our tour. 

Hunter Valley produces some of the Australia’s finest drops and my visit to their terroir was an absolute pleasure. What a thrill it was to go on a wine tour. It was absolutely entertaining, diverse and informative. Wine tour was a great way to enjoy the vineyards of the valley and as well as gaining an insights into wine making, meeting passionate makers and enjoying a glass in their own idyllic settings. 

All in all, it was a fantastic full-day wine tour in the Hunter Valley. I would certainly be very happy to do it again – without a doubt, I am now hooked on the wine tasting tours.

Getting around and where to stay?

Getting around in Hunter Valley is easy and all wineries are within reach with plenty of spaces. Most vineyards have places to eat and have very good restaurants from fine-dinning to casual style places.

There are various types of accommodations in the area to suit all budget from camping grounds, caravan parks to old vineyard cottages to guesthouses, as well as retreats and luxury resorts right next to the championship golf courses with mesmerising views. Most old cottages that are made up are absolutely great place to stay to enjoy the authentic Hunter Valley experience.

 

Where to stay?

ABOUT ME


icgolina

Papua New Guinean living in Cairns, Australia. Weekend getaway adventurer and Free-Independent-Traveller (FIT). Lover of unique and exotic travel experiences with a touch of luxury. Follow me to my travel world, brining you closer to your destination.

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Forget Air travel: Land travel by train and view the ever-changing scenery

EXPERIENCE

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train journey

Taking an amazing train journey along Queensland’s incredible east coastline

Posted by

akamau

The comfort of a train journey aboard Spirit of Queensland

Brief History

The rail journey from Brisbane to Cairns has been operating for more than 50 years. It is one of the Australia’s longest running and most endearing rail journeys. Today, this train journey is undoubtedly, one of Australia’s greatest rail journeys. It is most popular with travellers between Brisbane and Cairns. The train journey makes its way along the Queensland’s incredible east coastline through some of Queensland’s tropical capital cities and country towns. The train journey itself is relaxing, comfortable and flexibility with great social atmosphere makes it no better way to travel than by train. What a simpler style of travel.

Spirit of Queensland: Departing Cairns

Why Go?

Train travel has been one of my favourite mode of travel. There is something about this form of transportation that drives me and to do something that is highly efficient and somewhat adventurous and yet calm. My ambition, taking this train journey has been on my pending bucket-list for years and time to tick-it off my priority list. When it comes to trains, trains can be anything which makes it more interesting. Trains can be rattling rides, supersonic bullets or just in between but air travels are cramped and stressful, while coach or buses are ponderous and sweaty. 

Train journeys provide moments that stand out above others and the experiences you would never get from a plane or a car. They come to represent, for me, the places in which they occurred as well as the thrill of travel as a whole. Yes, trains are not just to get from A to B but train travel really is the journey and not the destination. Any train enthusiast will tell you this. You get to experience the ever changing scenery and the warmness and social atmosphere – the people you meet and the things you share. Trains are more social than any other mode of transportation. You can share meals with people you get to meet, trade information, share stories and make lifelong friends. With all these, has motivated me going on this train journey was to experience this contemporary, comfortable and great scenic journey making its way along the Queensland’s east coast which has been designed for relaxation. 

Getting there?

Leaving laid back Cairns, where the Rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef, my five-hour train journey experience aboard the Spirit of Queensland began the moment I step aboard and continued to Townsville where my memorable journey ended. The train offers travel options to suit every budget conscious travellers and has two classes of service, economy and rail-beds service. Whatever way you choose to travel, the same wonderful view is guaranteed. For me, I was craving to be in the rail-bed comfort with modern style seating and found it to be the only way to travel whilst economy travellers found themselves faced with the most basic seats. This premium section is all inclusive style of travel that features comfortable spacious seatings, which slide out as sleeping beds, personalised service with all meals delivered, entertainment and a host of extra special touches to ensure a memorable journey.

Rail-Bed comfort: Spirit of Queensland

The club-car where most economy passengers purchase their meals and drinks is also a meeting place – simply hang around for friendly chat with other travellers. The food on board can be good or it can be inedible, I found the meals on board Spirit of Queensland were deliciously tasty. The bathrooms were spotless rather than horrifying which I have experienced in other parts of the world. While I enjoyed the comfort of a train journey but for me, enjoying a chat with a total stranger creates an atmosphere, how sociable and unique train travel experience is.

Comfort of Club-Car: Onboard Spirit of Queensland
Premium class meals: Onboard Spirit of Queensland

With spacious seating and around the train, it provided gentle appreciate of scenery for me to look around and enjoy a sense of place and to marvel at how one region morphs naturally into the next. 

Travel in comfort: Onboard Spirit of Queensland

This train journey passes through some of the most scenic places along the coastline, with few stops along the way. I immersed myself in the ever-changing scenery from one town felt like a sense of a slide show happening in front me as the journey continues.  Yes, as I enjoyed this train journey, I continued to indulge myself with food, drink and photography. There is something to train travel that nothing else can compare to. It is fast and yet still enjoyably slow. It is social and yet private. It is old and yet ultra-modern. And it is so much fun. What a thrill to end this short five-hour train journey in Townsville but train continued beyond.

ABOUT ME


icgolina

Papua New Guinean living in Cairns, Australia. Weekend getaway adventurer and Free-Independent-Traveller (FIT). Lover of unique and exotic travel experiences with a touch of luxury. Follow me to my travel world, brining you closer to your destination.

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Outback Inland: CAIRNS – NEW SOUTH WALES

EXPERIENCE

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the great inland way

Explore and experience the open-wide road. An outback adventure of a lifetime.

Posted by

akamau

Road trip from Cairns to Sydney

Taking this “Great Inland Way” is really a highway like no other. It is one of the Australians most famous highway tourist road route that travels inland from Sydney, New South Wales to Cairns and Cooktown in Queensland. It has been designated by the Queensland Government as a State Strategic Touring Route. It is almost 3000 kilometre journey along fully sealed roads. From Sydney, it takes in much of central New South Wales before reaching the Queensland border at Hebel. The Queensland part of the Great Inland Way road trip extends to almost 2000 kilometres from Outback Queensland to Coral Sea. Some of the highlights include: Sydney, Bathurst, Orange, Dubbo, Gilgandra, Coonamble, Walgett and Lightning Ridge in New South Wales and Hebel, Dirranbandi, St George, Surat, Roma, Injune, Emerald, Charters Tower, Atherton, Cairns and Cooktown in Queensland. It is an open highway and to appreciate and enjoy some of the most beautiful and pristine gorges and national parks, one must detour from the main highway. It is truly a gem waiting for happy road travellers to adventure into.

Why Go?

The Great Inland Way route has been on my pending list for quite sometime. Taking on this dream destination drive was to experience and explore some of the Australian traditional cities and towns from pristine coastlines to arid outback country lifestyles. Living in Australia, a country that I call home is undoubtedly, one of the best country to explore and I wanted to do it. With over 15,000 Australian towns and cities, it have so many great destinations for holidays. It is a must for me to explore places all over the country from beautiful coastlines  to arid inlands and from lush tropical paradise to dessert outbacks. With such diversity, it has something for everyone to enjoy. Australia is such a big country and is the world largest island and sixth largest nation. Many international visitors underestimate how big Australia is and how far it is between our major cities. From every towns and cities, the climate changes from wet tropics to the arid outback. Australia is a country famous for its landscapes of pristine beaches, tropical islands and the rugged outback. With such diversity, I wanted to explore more of the outback and that is just one small part of it.

My six-day road trip adventure began from Cairns to Sydney passing through few outback towns covering almost from 500 to 700 kilometres of driving each day. The Great Inland Way roads are well signed and flat sealed roads. Driving through some of the outback towns, they are away and isolated from the major cities. I have found some of the towns where time has seemingly stand-still. Many of the towns are untouched by mass tourism and this adventure was to experience places where I can still see,  feel and taste the real outback towns. It has taken me through landscapes with a diverse mixture of earth agriculture, whitewashed, dry and dusty towns and some of the most beautiful sceneries you’ve ever laid your eyes on. Each town and cities I drove through were very different with unique layers of rich history, culture and lifestyle. Each cities, towns, gorges and national parks with their architectures, food and cultural significances tells a story. Each places with its surrounding sceneries along the highway were worth stopping to have breathtaking views.

Taking this route for the first time, I was wondering how to best spend my time in every town I visited but most outback places visited left me with different unique experiences. Each places had nice gardens, parks, rivers, tea houses and recreational areas to take a seat, breath and relax.

Getting there?

Day 1: Cairns to Townsville – 384 kilometres

My road trip adventure was a hectic itinerary as I was determined to visit many countryside towns, gorges, national parks and many must-see places during my six-day road trip. My first drive along the highway known as the “Great Green Way” between Cairns and Townsville was my taste of the Sugarcane plains and Banana Plantations. Using Cairns as my starting point, I left this lush tropical seaside city of Cairns, known as the Australia’s nature capital, famed for its world-class access to the nation’s biggest drawcards, the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest I passed through numerous small beachside and inland towns of Innisfail, Tully, Cardwell and Ingham before arriving in Townsville bypassing beautiful seaside town of Mission Beach. My first break along the Great Green Way before arriving in Townsville was the tiny seaside township of Cardwell for relaxation. The views from the foreshore are stunning.

Cardwell

Cardwell is a small coastal seaside town almost half-way between Cairns and Townsville. It is located 200 kilometres north of Townsville city and is a very popular stop for travellers between Cairns and Townsville. Cardwell has a population of approximately 1400 residents and is very much a small community. This small towns foreshore has been redeveloped and transformed into one of the best place for relaxation after a long hours of driving. This township is the gateway to Port Hinchinbrook Islands known as one of the most stunning hikes in the area and is the biggest island of the Great Barrier Reef which is completely uninhabited. This island is a gem for hikers and campers.  

Townsville

After leaving beautiful seaside town of Cardwell, I passed through the township of Ingham before arriving in Townsville city to end the first day of my road adventure trip. I had a quick tour and exploration of the city before having a nice dinner at a Thai restaurant in the city. To get a real taste of the tropics in Townsville North Queensland, the gateway to Queensland’s far north, you need to spent at least two weeks to explore the area. This coastal city will leave you feeling energised and alive. Townsville city has a vibrant mix of modern architecture and restored heritage buildings, bustling outdoor cafes, restaurants, boutiques and quirky galleries, all linked by a shady park-lined beach promenade. Yes, it offers a collection of attractions and events to spark everyone’s curiosity. I took a drive up to the top of Castle-Hill to marvel at the 360′ degrees view. It was just breathtaking. Just beneath the protective presence of Castle Hill is the city’s Central Business District (CBD) area, combined with modern fine dinning area and The Strand, waterfront lined with cafes and restaurants. Just a short 30-minutes ferry ride away from Townsville’s mainland is the city’s famous Magnetic Island where many locals and visitors commute each day.

View of Townsville city from Castle-Hill

Popular Attractions

Some of Townsville city’s many attractions apart from art galleries, parks and museums includes:

  • The world’s largest living coral reef aquarium – Great place to visit and learn about marine creatures. Once inside, you will immerse yourself in the underwater viewing tunnel offering magical views of a living coral reef and the predators that prowl the water depths. Go and discover the beauty and wonder of the Great Barrier Reef without getting wet.
  • Australia native wildlife sanctuary: This Billabong Sanctuary is an Australian native animal wildlife park set in eleven hectares of natural bushland. A great place to learn about Australian native wildlife.
  • The Strand – the spectacular Strand beachfront promenade is the most popular place to visit by locals and visitors. Along the waterfront is filled with cafes and restaurants.
  • Day trip Ferry ride to Magnetic Island – Go for a hike and explore more of the island or simply relax by the beaches

Most of the attractions are all family friendly places and you can’t leave Townsville without setting foot on these popular local attractions.

Where to Stay?

Townsville not only known as the gateway to the Queensland’s far north but it is also the biggest city in far north Queensland. Townsville has various types of accommodation ranging from resorts, hotels, motels backpacker, holiday houses, apartments, B&Bs and outdoor campings nearby. 

Day 2: Townsville to Clermont – 507 kilometres

After leaving the city of Townsville, the gateway to Queensland’s far north, I left behind the coastal cities and towns and headed inland for the dusty and dry country towns and its surrounding environments. My first introduction to the inland township of Charters Towers. Charters Towers is located 130 kilometres south-west of Townsville and is an easy 90 minute drive inland from Townsville. It is one of the most beautiful inland towns in Queensland, with its unrivalled architecture and unique history, Charters Towers is a surprising pleasure and a delight to visit.

Charters Tower

Charters Towers became a gold rush town when gold was discovered in December 1871 and during its hay-days in 1880s and 1890s, the town grew and prospered. Today, this town is known for its large number of elegant and historically significant buildings most of which are located on Mosman and Gill Streets. Within the area and in the surrounding streets, there are over 60 buildings of historical significance. There is lots to see and do in this town and you’re able to discover new adventures, fabulous walks, drives that will astound you. Many people think there is nothing to see and do here but you will find yourself staying longer and discovering much longer than you thought.

Beginning of the dry country – CT country

After spending an hour for fuel break and tour of this amazing inland town, I was away from Charters Towers headed for Clermont intending to stay the second night there, covering almost 400 kilometres. Almost half-way of driving, I arrived in Belyando Crossing Roadhouse situated almost in the middle of nowhere and the only stop between Charters Towers and Clermont. This part of Queensland inland route where you can drive for hours and not see anything more than flat land, kangaroos, cows and the open road. Fuel tank check is essentially vital and other mechanical checks on your vehicle.

Belyando Crossing

The Belyando Crossing approximately 230 kilomettres south of Charters Towers on the Gregory Development Road is where the highway crosses the Belyando River. The only roadhouse located at Belyando Crossing offers a shady picnic area to the travellers passing through. Also, it has a rest area where travellers can stop for a break. For those road travellers who want to break their road trip into two days, especially caravans, there is basic caravan park on the hill behind the service station where fuel and food is available.

Belyando Crossing Roadhouse

After driving for many kilometres and hours, I finally reached the coal mines near Clermont, the only sign of habitation on the entire of my journey, apart from the cattle stations. I spent my second night here with a nice dinner at the local motel before retiring.

Clermont

The township of Clermont is diverse and has a devastating history. It is a rich agricultural community but have a history of gold fossickers where many come to find and seek fortune. Yes, this town of Clermont is one of the historic towns in Queensland, northern part of Australia. It has a colourful past, rich in drama and laced with tragedy where travellers had to stay longer to feel, see and learn about this historical town. In 1916, this town had a devastating flood which killed 65 people. The parkland where the town was once located called “Hoods Lagoon” is now a parkland and it is a great place for travellers to stop. The park is a relaxing venue with barbecue, picnic tables and toilet facilities. It is a beautiful sport and a very family friendly environment. The footpaths and boardwalks around the Lagoon enable visitors to explore more of the numerous memorials which gives you the history of Clermont’s past. It is a very popular and picturesque backdrops for photography.

For those curiosity travellers may get the metal detector out, in search for gold nugget. It is a gem for Gold fossickers and you have to call into Clermont Detectors at the Caravan Park for a fossickers licence with more information of the available areas.

Having a quick tour of the this town gave me a feel of the frontier atmosphere that are still can be found in the area without having to look for too long. Hidden amongst the new prosperity are the remnants of earlier times, from the days of gold rush and copper mines, timber-getters and shearers, stockmen and squatters. Today, mining development brought many of the customer comforts of the town and more lively but the attitude of the local people are still one of the rugged individualism.

Popular Attractions

Some of the interesting attractions that a must-do visits in Clermont includes:

  • Clermont Historical Centre – Located just 2 kilometres north of Clermont and has a display of more than 8000 artefacts reflecting the dramatic history of the town, from tragedy to prosperity. Worth visiting and learning about this history that will blow your mind away. It is just surreal.
  • Another major attraction to visit further out of the town about 23 kilometre is the world’s largest seam of steaming coal located at Blair Athol. The tour of the mines are conducted with bookings through the Information Centre.

Have a self-drive tour of the towns parks and the area and you will be surprise to see some of the remnants around the town. It is a history worth knowing.

Where to Stay?

Apart from Caravan parks, there are variety of places to stay from backpackers to motels. However, it is wise to make an accommodation reservation prior to your arrival as most of the stay-over places can be limited.

Day 3: Clermont to Emerald – 115 kilometres

After learning about the Clermont’s turbulent history, I departed for Emerald but without leaving the town with a visit to the memorial that marks the height of the 1916 floodwaters on the corner of Capricorn and Drummond Street. With just a distance of  115 kilometres, the drive from Clermont to Emerald was an easy short drive. I arrived early in Emerald just before fighting the locals on their daily commute where I was to spent my night there. I spent most of the day self-drive, exploring this country town.

Emerald

Emerald is a thriving rural town and is the largest country town. This town is the main hub of the Central Highlands and gateway to one of the largest sapphire fields in the southern hemisphere. Since its establishment in 1879 as the base for the railway line, it has slowly grown into one of the major regional centres. This major country town has a number of industries in agriculture and mining. There is an extensive coal mining in the area which is a major source of revenue for the town’s economy It is also very big in the agricultural industry – that is cotton and grain growing.

Everything you wanted to see and do in Emerald township are within driving distance. You don’t have to drive to far distance to find what you are looking for.

Popular Attractions

With very little mass tourism in the town but there are layers of attractions from restored historical features to modern natural attractions. One has to spend a week or two to really experience this township’s history and natural attractions. On of the “must-see” attraction in town includes:

 

  • National Trust Listed Railway Station – This station was built in 1900 and restored in mid 80’s. It features wrought iron lacework and pillared portico. It is a spectacular sight and cannot be missed.
  • Botanical Gardens – This botanical gardens are located not far from the town’s centre and on the banks of the Nogoa River which covers an area of 42 hectares is something that no visitors expect to see in an outback country town. The Gardens are home to 12 different themed plant communities, most representing plant species that are native to the region. These gardens are the perfect local place for a picnic and for visitors to enjoy.
  • Gem Fields – For curiosity travellers, take a visit to the gem fields nearby to the west of the town like I did. Two places of interests are Sapphire and Rubyvale.
  • Lake Maraboon and the Fairbairn Dam – Just a short drive from the town centre is the lake and the dam. This dam has been built for the cotton industry water supply and holds more water than Sydney Harbour. Be sure to see it to know why it is true. This is a perfect place to relax and have a picnic.

Where to Stay?

The township of Emerald is the largest country town and is a popular over-night stay for many travellers that are travelling by caravans, campers, self-drive travellers and truckies. With its huge agriculture and mining industry, the township has various accommodations to suit all budget travellers from motels, campers, caravan parks to backpacker accommodations. Be sure to make reservations in advance as most cheap accommodations can be busy, especially when most miners and farm workers frequently book this places.

Day 4: Emerald to St George – 597 kilometres

The next day, I left for St George in the early hours of the morning for my next over-night stop as I wanted to spend more time exploring Carnavon Gorge within Carnavon National Park. It is a place that every travellers should see. With a stop-over in the country town of Injune and Roma was worth stopping not only to break up the journey but to explore and learn more about the place.

Injune

This tiny country town of Injune is just more than a tiny town along the “Great Inland Way” route. This town is a great base for those wanting to explore the national parks of the region with breathtaking scenery, walking tracks and beautiful flora and fauna that cannot be seen anywhere in the world. It is just so unique to the area. With minimal time spent in the town, I detoured off the main highway to the secluded location – Carnavon Gorge.

Carnavon Gorge

This place will give you an experience that you will never get anywhere in the world. Falling in Love with Carnavon Gorge is easy to do and I loved it. This is where I came to find peace, beauty, tranquility and hint of adventure. This national park is renowned as one of Australia’s most spectacular wilderness areas and important Aboriginal cultural sites. The images taken shows below speak for themselves about the place. This gorge truly has the stunning landscapes and must say, it is the secret Jewel of Australia. To fully appreciate the beauty and diversity of this park, you will need at least a week to immerse yourself. It is a place where you can take a walk among the untouched and pristine environment, hike and camp in the park’s camping areas.

Roma

Leaving Carnavon Gorge, I felt quite relaxed and re-energise within myself. I continued my journey to Roma Where I had a good rest at a recreational area while enjoying a chat with plenty of happy travellers. Roma is an attractive town and is a thriving community. It lies at the heart of a rich sheep and cattle grazing area and not only boasts the largest cattle market in Australia but the southern hemisphere’s largest sale yards. I had a quick self-drive tour of the town but Roma deserves an over-night stop to take in all it has to offer. Yes, it has so much to offer and I was amazed of what I have seen in this town.

Popular Attractions

With the quick tour of the town, I have seen Roma has so much to offer. There are number of things to see and do which includes:

  • Roma Visitor Information Centre – Located in The Big Rig Complex. This complex is a must see for all who visit Roma. Experience in this place is not to miss by travellers and visitors passing through. It has interpretive panels, audio and other visual presentations and fully restored historic rigs and equipments. The history to present is just incredible.
  • Romavilla Winery – Queensland’s first wine making enterprise.
  • Heroes’ Avenue – To get a real feel of the town itself, take a walk along the heritage-listed Heroes’ Avenue, which is planted with more than 100 bottle trees. Each tree is a memorial to local solider who have lost their lives in WW1.
  • Mount Abundance Homestead – The homestead has important links to early explorers and was built in 1860 which is the site of the region’s first settlement.
  • Meadowbank Museum – I must say, this was my highlight to visit in Rome and highly recommends to any visitors to visit this place. The museum has one of the finest and most unusual collections of memorabilia in the country. Of particular interest is the deadly ‘man trap’ used to trap Aborigines who were stealing cattle. It is a huge and ugly variation of a rabbit trap devised to break the leg and almost impossible to open once caught in it. The rest, you need to visit it to experience and learn about the past.

Where to Stay?

Roma offers a variety of accommodation to suit all budget travellers. There is camping available and campers can inspect the museum during their stay.

St George

St George like many other typical Queensland rural towns is filled with so much history and is worth more than just an overnight stop. The town itself is located on a river – The Balonne River and is the heart of St George. It is known as the fishing capital of inland Queensland because of its location on the vast flatlands in the Darling Downs stretching out beyond the Great Dividing Range. This town is primarily a service centre for the surrounding wheat, sheep and cotton farmers. It also have fruits and vegetables and beef that make up useful contributions to the local economy. With wide streets lined with trees and heritage buildings dating back to the 1880’s add to the town’s country feeling. From the moment you arrive to the time you leave, this town relaxes the senses in all the right ways. I know why, I didn’t want to leave this town in hurry.


Popular Attractions

St George town situated on the river makes it an attractive town in an idyllic setting. A place to explore a little longer includes:

  • Since the town is perched on the banks of the might Balonne River, it is just a great place to stretch your legs and take in the breeze on the shady riverbank walkway flanking the town.
  • Visit Steve Margaritis and be amazed at his talent for carving emu eggs. When you see it carved into a stunning, illuminated piece of art
  • Indulge yourself at Riversands Winery and Cafe while in town
  • Learn more about the local cotton and grape industry by taking a tour of the Cotton Farm and Winery
  • Visit the immaculate museum with plenty to admire with the complex
  • Take a town tour and explore the murals 
  • St George Heritage Centre
  • Aboriginal Bush Garden
  • Picnic on the grassed river banks near the centre of town
  • Visit the Beardmore Dam or Jack Taylor Weir, both are great spots to picnic and throw in a line. It is a gem for every angler and you won’t be disappointed either. 

If your passing through the town on the day, St George’s event calendar, your able to catch some of the events that bring St George alive includes:

  • Dirranbandi Family Fishing Classic, the annual St George Family Fishing Competition
  • Yellow Belly Country Music Festival, which keeps the family and everyone entertained

My favourite tour was packing some drinks and nibbles and enjoying the Sandytown River Cruise. As we idle down the river and enjoying the views was just amazing. As we watched the abundant of birdlife including pelicans, cockatoos and eagles enjoying its natural environment is something you don’t see in country towns. It is definitely a place for photographer’s dream destination.

Where to Stay?

St George is a town that has various types of accommodations ranging from camping sites, backpacker, caravan parks, B&B and motels

Day 5: St George to Moree – 240 kilometres

Moree, over 200 kilometres further on from St George is my next stop. Leaving, Queensland State crossing over to the tiny township of Mungindi. This town is uniquely situated on both sides of New South Wales and Queensland border. The drive from St George to Moree is nothing more than miles and miles of operational farmlands from cotton, wheat, wool to dairy farming. 

Mungindi

This tiny town with an approximate population of 700 people,  is quite unique as it is the only border town in the Southern Hemisphere with the same name in two states, just divided by the tiny Barwon River. The township also uniquely have two Police stations, one in each state. The schools are in New South Wales and the hospital is situated in Queensland side. This tiny community is a vibrant place as it is renowned for its enthusiasm in bringing world class festivals and events to the local area. It has a lot of history that is worth spending few hours before continuing your journey.

Moree

Arriving in Moree just before the peak period as locals, farm-workers, truckies and caravaners commute, I unpacked quickly and headed for the hot-springs for the rest of the day. The township of Moree is rich with black soil plains and you will know why the area is an ideal for farming cotton, wheat, beef cattle, olive groves, vineyards and pecans. It is not only a farming country town but it is also one of the largest farm machinery distribution centres in the country. The location of the town is near the Mehi River and during the wet season, the town get flooded regularly over the years. The main streets are lined with beautiful heritage buildings.

Moree Spa Centre
Cotton farm tour

Popular Attractions

There are plenty of attractions in Moree and the list is endless. Spent a week or two to explore and have a feel about this town. Since the town being located near the Mehi River means that the town has numerous attractive riverside parks and reserves which are worth taking a stroll. Some of the attractions include:

  • Mary Brand Park – It is a pretty riverside picnic spot and also there is walking tracks as well known as Barry Roberts Walk which is highly recommended.
  • Stahmann Pecan Nut Farm Trawalla – It is the largest pecan farm in the Southern Hemisphere and you won’t be disappointed on this tour.
  • Cotton and gin farm tour – Moree is Australia’s richest cotton-producing region and taking this tour will give you an insight some of the unanswered questions about the cotton industry
  • Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre – The town is famous for its Artesian Spa and is my favourite spot. This place attracts thousands of visitors who flock the spa centre each year to enjoy the soothing thermal springs and people seeking health-giving waters. You can’t leave Moree without have a bath at the spa. It is an idyllic place for relaxation, rejuvenation and a great place to discover the therapeutic benefits of the mineral-rich waters.

Where to Stay?

There are plenty of places to stay to suite various budgets, ranging from caravan parks and classic country pubs to motels.

Day 6: Moree to Sydney – 621 kilometres

Spent only 2-days in Moree and loving it, I felt like I have been living here for years. With long distance of driving, covering more than 600 kilometres to reach Sydney, I planned to stopover in few towns and cities along the way. Hitting the open road, I drove through beautiful countryside towns of Gunnedah, Narrabri, Musswellbrook, Singleton, Maitland and Australia’s seventh largest city and second most populated area in the Australian state of New South Wales – Newcastle before reaching my final destination – Sydney.

Gunnedah

This country town of Gunnedah is the main hub of one of Australia’s richest agricultural regions – the Liverpool Plains. It is a large service town and it has everything for every travellers passing through to refill before continuing their road journey. It has variety of supermarkets, a choice of pubs and bistros and few great parks to stretch your legs. It has few additional attractions if you plan to stretch your break for a day or two. They is plenty of accommodation in the town. You will marvel at the beauty of the district and enjoy the hospitality and comfort that only the country local people can offer. Their genuine smiles and the natural beauty of the landscape paint a picture of real country Australia.

Narrabri

This country town cannot be missed as pass through. It is the centre of a major cotton growing industry apart from other agricultural industries in the area – wheat and beef. Spend few hours exploring the sights in and around Narrabri and you will be amaze to see the attractions the town offers. It includes, Mount Kaputar National Park, the Australia telescope Compact Array and other agricultural centres.

Maitland

The township of Maitland is both impressive and interesting town to explore. It is realistically, two township town. There is Central Maitland with its impressive High Street with lined with heritage buildings and charming mall – The Levee. The other is East Maitland. Both townships have are very impressive and is a place visitors need to see and explore their rich heritage. Maitland has always been the principal town of the Hunter Valley, renowned for its famous winery in Australia.

The Levee mall

Newcastle

The city of Newcastle is a destination that every visitor’s dream. Just 3 hours drive north of Sydney is the sunny-natured Newcastle. This town is anchored in indigenous and convict history and is filled with entertainment and attraction for everyone. From surfing beaches, hand-cut sea pools, a coastal fort to contemporary bars skirt the city’s harbour. The museums and artisanal restaurants lie at its heart. No wonder, I love this city and I have certainly ticked it off my list.

Sydney

Taking a big breath when you arrive in Sydney – you are in one of the Australia’s major and busiest city and is the gateway to two of the world’s iconic architectural structures – The Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Opera House and the famous Bondi beach which lies in the heart of it. It is the end of my journey and what a place to finish the might Great Inland Way and it couldn’t get any better.

In this typical modern city, you will almost find anything that suits your need and interest from shopping, food, entertainment, restaurants, markets, wines to all styles of accommodations (1 star – 5 star) and the list is endless. There is something for everyone. 

Popular Attractions

Being one of the busiest city in Australia, there is an abundance of attractions for everyone. Sydney is a world-class destination with so many spectacular zoos, parklands, beaches, historical centre and more. Some of the most popular attractions where millions of visitors come to Sydney to visit includes:

  • Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • The Opera House
  • Taronga Zoo
  • Bondi Beach
  • The Blue Mountains
  • Ferry Ride to Manly Beach
  • The Gap

 There is plenty to see and do and each day will be something different and new. To fully enjoy your stay in Sydney and to make the most of the city’s attractions, I’d recommend staying right in the heart of city centre or close the circular quay. This way you don’t have to fight the traffic from locals on their daily commute and you get to sample some of the beautiful sceneries and views in the city.

Where to Stay?

There are variety of places to stay and you need to find something that suit your style and budget. The accommodation range from 1 star to 5 star and you’re expected to find things more expensive than country towns.

From Personal Perspective:

I have found out that there are lots of reasons why I had to take a few days on this road trip and to make it more about the journey than the destination. This was the only one way to truly get a taste of the country towns. Also, by embarking on a Cairns to Sydney – Great Inland Way drive to get acquainted with the countryside. This Great Inland Way has taken me on a journey infused with exhilarating natural experiences and breath-taking beauty. The Great Inland Way runs through some of the finest scenery in the world and gave me an experience that I will never get anywhere around the world.

ABOUT ME


icgolina

Papua New Guinean living in Cairns, Australia. Weekend getaway adventurer and Free-Independent-Traveller (FIT). Lover of unique and exotic travel experiences with a touch of luxury. Follow me to my travel world, brining you closer to your destination.

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