7 Epic Road-Trips Around The Southern Great Barrier Reef

27 March 2015

Hot cross buns may have been lining the shelves since Boxing Day, but it seems the Easter Bunny has caught us unawares this year.

For those who have somehow avoided the aisle ends chockablock with chocolate eggs only to realise there's a long weekend fast approaching, fear not: an epic Easter road trip is right on your doorstep.

Southern Great Barrier Reef may not exactly roll off the tongue, but it's incredibly easy on the eyes.

This lesser-known pocket of World Heritage wonder in Queensland sweeps east from Emerald to Rockhampton in the north, and stretches southward through Gladstone and Bundaberg. It straddles the Tropic of Capricorn, which lends the region its name.

While 'reef' and 'road trip' rarely go together, they are perfectly paired in the Southern Great Barrier Reef. Here are seven easy self-drive adventures to inspire your Easter getaway, seamlessly blending Queensland's country and coast.
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Traipse the Beef & Bulls Trail

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 The trademark Rocky sunsets come free (Image: TEQ)

Rockhampton is widely regarded as Australia's Beef Capital (sorry Casino – no hard feelings). Since 1978, six impressive bull statues have been placed around the region to honour the regional city's proud and tender industry.

If the idea of cruising through the Rocky area and grabbing a selfie with each statue is your idea of a good time, the Beef & Bulls trail is for you. And that's no bull! (Sorry).
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Unearth the Capricorn Caves

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 Exploring the interior of the ancient Capricorn Caves

Some 23 kilometres of rural landscape north of Rockhampton will bring you to the Capricorn Caves. These unique limestone formations sit above the ground, where shy rock wallabies peek out from hidden crevices and fig tree roots drape the walls in a natural curtain.

The Underground Opera has been known to take advantage of the natural acoustics, while serious cavers don their hardhats and squeeze through Fat Man's Misery – a 30 centimetre-wide hole tackled only by commando crawl.
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Enjoy some Coral Coasting

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 The protected shores of Mon Repos (Image: TEQ)

Weekend road trips in the Southern Great Barrier Reef Region don't come much better than the Coral Coasting trail. Windows down, sunglasses on, radio humming away – classic.

Over the course of two days, you will take in the sweeping beach views of Burnett Heads, Yeppoon, turtle haven Mon Repos, Coral Cove, Agnes Water, Tannum Sands and Elliott Heads. If you like sleepy beach towns, you will love this journey.
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Meeting Mount Morgan

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 A throwback to gold rush days in Mt Morgan

The tiny town of Mount Morgan shows a side of Queensland rarely seen. Make the trek 38 kilometres southwest of Rockhampton to discover this former gold mining town which, for a while, was one of the most successful mines in the WORLD.

Rewind the clock to the 1800s in Mount Morgan before packing up a picnic lunch with locally baked treats and heading just out of town to the Frank Golding Lookout – the highest and most scenic point in town.
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Wandering to Woodgate from Bundy

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 Take a walk on the Woodgate side (Image: TEQ)

Fringed by 16 kilometres of white sandy beach, the quiet township of Woodgate is classically Queensland with its elevated houses, beach shacks and serene fishing spots where you could angle away many an afternoon.

The 60-kilometre route from Bundaberg rolls through picturesque countryside passing seasonal farm gates and national parks until you reach the sandy shores of Woodgate, with silica sand that rivals that of the Whitsundays.
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Discover the Discovery Coast

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 Surf's up in 1770! (Image: TEQ)

The twin towns of Agnes Water and 1770 ooze historical secrets and offer some of the best low-key beach holiday experiences in the Sunshine State. You'll have no problem finding a patch of sand and calling it your own.

Embark on a 135-kilometre drive starting south of Gladstone to visit the birthplace of Queensland, 1770, breathing in the salty air of Tannum Sands, adding a dose of country charm at Bororen and Miriam Vale along the way.
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Navigate the Burnett Circle

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 Lush green Cania Gorge bursts with 'wow' factor (Image: TEQ)

Food-loving roadsters can get their fill in the North Burnett region just beyond Bundaberg, where groves of citrus fruit, stone fruit, grapes and blueberries fill endless roadside stalls with hand-picked deliciousness.

The Burnett Circle can be done in a day, criss-crossing a handful of protected areas including the Mount Walsh and Coalstoun National Parks. Pick up your jaw at the imposing Cania Gorge before ticking off the townships of Biggenden, Gayndah, Mundubbera, Eidsvold, Monto and Mt Perry.

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Ashton Rigg

When I'm not at home in Brisbane, you’ll find me wanderlusting around hipster bars, eclectic boutiques and arty nooks. From bagels in Brooklyn to strudel in Salzburg, I believe the best way to experience a destination is by taking a bite! Tweets & 'grams at @AshtonRigg