Distance: 348 km
Drive Time: 4 hr
Tour time: 2 days
At Babinda Boulders (1 hour south of Cairns) the water is refreshing year round. It’s a perfect spot to park the campervan and cool off in crystal clear water amid granite boulders. The swimming hole is waist-deep and sandy. Shady rainforest hikes take you to some magical places such as Devil’s Pool. Learn the Aboriginal legend of the Babinda lovers. There are two free campervan-friendly campsites nearby, too.
Back on the road, drive your campervan through the wetlands of Eubenangee Swamp National Park, a bird lover’s paradise. An easy loop trail through forest, mangroves and wetlands brings you to a grassy knoll with panoramic views of the paperbark swamp and water birds below.
Self-made Spanish immigrant José Paronella built Paronella Park as a gift to his wife Margarita. This magical moss covered pleasure garden has enough nooks, crannies and sources of fascination to keep you delighted for hours.
Call in at the relaxed beachfront hamlets that make up Mission Beach. Nestled between World Heritage rainforest and palm-fringed beaches, Mission Beach is a beautiful half way point for campervan explorers to spend the night. You have dozens of rainforest and coastal walking trails, secluded inlets, and wide empty beaches to explore, and if you’re lucky you’ll see an endangered Cassowary, but keep a safe distance.
Mission Beach offers a full range of dining options, cafes, art galleries, supermarkets, some good fishing, sky diving, white-water rafting and reef and mangrove tours. Water taxis shuttle day-trippers to idyllic Dunk Island.
Edmund Kennedy National Park makes a rewarding detour to mangrove forest boardwalks, empty beaches, and enormous lace monitor lizards.
Discover the unspoilt beauty and wilderness of Hinchinbrook Island. With its pristine beaches, rainforests, mangroves and inlets, Australia’s largest island National Park is worth planning for. After parking the campervan at Port Hinchinbrook or Cardwell, you can ferry across to Hinchinbrook Island.
The world renown Thorsborne Trail takes in the full diversity of the island in four days, but as only 40 people are permitted on the trail at a time, you need to book ahead. There are spectacular day trips, too. By limiting the number of hikers, you have a chance to connect with and appreciate the raw beauty of Hinchinbrook.
Between Cardwell and Townsville, the Bruce Highway meanders through verdant sugar cane fields. 7 km south of Cardwell, and just off the highway, is Five Mile Creek Swimming Hole where you can take a quick dip and enjoy a picnic. Heading west from Cardwell, the Cardwell Forest Scenic Drive is a 26 km loop that explores swimming holes, a natural ‘spa’ pool and waterfalls with picnic spots. 35 kms south of Port Hinchinbrook on the Bruce Highway, the Cardwell State Forest Lookout gives you unforgettable views of the Hinchinbrook Channel. Take your camera!
If you have time, detour through the small village of Paluma, Paluma Range National Park, and Crystal Creek for picturesque waterfalls and mist shrouded rainforests before heading back to the Bruce Highway.
Read more about Townsville here.
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