Road Trip From Gold Coast to the Great Barrier Reef

Oct 28, 2010

A state nearly seven times the size of Great Britain, five times the size of Japan, and two and a half times the size of Texas! That's right! It's humongous! I have always been in awe of the fascination of blue planet, diving in the Great Barrier Reef has been on my bucket list since.

One of the main misconceptions about the Great Barrier Reef is that it is close to everything in Queensland. No, that's not the case, the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is quite a distance from Gold Coast. GBR starts off at the Queensland's coastline just north of Bundaberg and runs north to the tip of Cape York about 2,300km. Bundaberg is about 6 hours drive, Whitsundays about 15 hours and Cairns/Port Douglas will take you approximately 24 hours of driving! The usual pictures of GBR on postcard or brochure are mainly from Whitsundays Islands (main areas include Mackay, Airlie Beach, Proserpine) and the Outer Reef off Cairns and Port Douglas. There are also some islands you can travel and spend a night at, Green Island, Lady Heron Island or Fitzroy Island - where you can snorkel right off the beach.

#1. An aerial view of Gold Coast towered over by many high-rises.

Itinerary and Road Map covering 10 days of Gold Coast to Cairns road trip, rubber tramping over 2,022km. Crossing towns, places of interest in sequence from Gold Coast to Cairns. [You can download the hi-res road map here] AVERAGE COST

Accommodations below are based on 2-person stay. Hostel Dorm will cost around AUD20-30 a night and Hostel private room from AUD65 a night onwards. You can also choose to stay in campervan (best with 4 persons) depending on your preferred mode of travel. Another good alternative for raw cultural experience will be Airbnb.
  1. Gold Coast - Surfers Paradise Backpackers Resort AUD65
  2. Sunshine Coast - Airbnb Master Bedroom with Ensuite (Maroochydore) AUD58
  3. Gladstone - Park View Motel (Gladstone Central) AUD79
  4. Rockhampton - A Cosy Place Close to Everything (Berserker) AUD51
  5. Mackay - Beachfront Self Contained Studio (McEwens Beach) AUD77
  6. Townsville - Frangipani Views (West End) AUD62
  7. Cairns - Double Bedroom Close to Esplanade (Cairns North) AUD39
  8. Cairns - Double Bedroom Close to Esplanade (Cairns North) AUD39
  9. Fitzroy Island - Fitzroy Island Resort (include island transfer) AUD450
  10. Cairns - The Jack Backpackers (Free Dinner!) AUD50
  11. Gold Coast - Beachy Lifestyle, Central Location (Surfers Paradise) AUD72

Foods (per person),
a restaurant with table service can cost from AUD15-25, Indian/Chinese take-away about AUD10, fast food cost around AUD9, sandwich cost from AUD5-8. If you'd like to save money, you can get ready meal (bakery/pizza/roasted chicken/chicken wings) from Woolsworths or Coles. A ready meal regular pizza can be as affordable as AUD3.5 on promotion!

Transportation - a return shuttle from Gold Coast airport to City Centre will cost AUD44 per person, if you are travelling in a group of 3 or 4, it's more economical to hire UBER. We rented a Hyundai Tucson from Europcar for 6 days around AUD800. Telco. Opt for Optus.


Gold Coast skyline dominated with towering developments, a place with plentiful to offer - varies from national parks, sandy beaches, theme parks, water activities to shopping! If you're not in hurry and a fan of theme park, I would recommend a 3 nights stay at Gold Coast, here's a good 3 days itinerary. We've pre-booked our rental car on the next day, hence we only get to spend a good one and a half day at Gold Coast.

Places of interest: Surfers Paradise, Q1 Observation Tower, Broadbeach (al-fresco cafe), Mermaid Beach, Burleigh Heads (surfing), Tamborine Rainforest, Curumbin Wildlife, Theme Parks, Whale Watching.

#2. Surveillance tower strategy was initiated back in the days of 1989 for Gold Coast's long stretches of ocean beaches. There are currently 39 specially designed towers, which are numbered and strategically placed along the 60km coastal strip.

#3. Love the combination white building against deep blue sky.

#4. Green lungs on top of the Gold Coast's luxury homes.

#5. Juxtaposition. Traditional vs Modern.

Oct 28, 2010
#6. The next morning, i head out at 4.30am to catch the twilight before sunrise. Flock of Silver Gulls formed a visual mass in the foreground, the shoreline shaped a leading line in the mid-ground, the signature towering skyline defined the background of Gold Coast and reflected.

#7. Managed to catch the sunrise at 5.18am.

#8. Early fishermen catch the fish!

#9. Found a great spot at Surfers Paradise with undisturbed view, entrance from Wharf Rd.

#10. Wake up and smell the waves.


New Member
May 15, 2018
These pictures and blog entries are gorgeous, heejennwei! Thanks so much for sharing them
I totally agree with Obscura56. Great photos, thanks.

Top Bottom