There are road trips, and there is the Great Beach Drive. Instead of endless stretches of boring bitumen, the road ahead is paved with golden sand. Rather than stopping at servos to fuel up on lukewarm pies, you can pull off, cast a line and reel in a fresh catch for lunch.
You can set up camp wherever your heart desires, or map out your journey to include overnighters at B&Bs in the heart of the Hinterland or at oceanfront penthouses.
The newly launched Great Beach Drive on Australia's Nature Coast (an amalgamation of the Sunshine and Fraser Coast regions) is over 200 kilometres of non-stop beach driving. Well, technically you'll have to kill the engine for three ferry stops in Tewantin, Inskip Point and Hervey Bay.
The trip is made via 4WD – your own or on a guided tour – and can be tackled in half a day if you're on a mission, a leisurely weekend, or full week if you want to embrace the journey as much as the destination. It's an easy drive for off-roaders of all levels of expertise.
Along the way you'll cover two adjoining UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, a Heritage-listed Marine Park, and the world's largest sand island. You'll find wide open spaces, spot whales in season, and cruise with the Pacific Ocean on one side and the iconic Australian bush on the other.
There are a handful of pre-made itineraries for those keen to take the wheel, including a 3-day itinerary starting in Noosa, camping at Rainbow Bay, and taking ample time to explore Fraser Island.
A 'Naturally Luxurious' 4-day itinerary features waterfalls and hatted dining in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland as well as an intimate guided tour of Fraser Island, while a 'Naturally Romantic' 5-day escape includes an interlude on Lady Elliot Island as well as shipwreck spotting and 'glamping' opportunities.
You can, of course, build you own itinerary, factoring in as much time as you want to pause, play and explore.
The accessibility and rich diversity of the region makes the Great Beach Drive one of the most exciting tourism products released in Australia this year, according to Fraser Coast Opportunities general manager David Spear.
Adding to that, Sunshine Coast Destination CEO Simon Ambrose says the drive will be a great source of inspiration for holidaymakers near and far.
"The Great Beach Drive will be a showcase for the region's spectacular beaches, sublime climate, dramatic scenery, our abundant range of water activities, our high quality seafood and our relaxed, laidback lifestyle," he says.
At the end of the journey, out-of-towners can head straight to the Sunshine Coast Airport or push on through to Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
The more you know:
- The Great Beach Drive is 4WD only
- If you're hiring a 4WD, make sure you read the Ts&Cs
- Only drive on low tide (www.msq.qld.gov.au/Tides/Tide-tables.aspx)
- You will require permits to drive (parks.nprsr.qld.gov.au/permits)
- Mid-week is the best time to make the journey
Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to the Sunshine Coast or Fraser Island.