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Currumbin To Cooktown Driving Trail

From stunning beachside Currumbin on the Gold Coast to tropical Cooktown in Far North Queensland, the sunshine state has much to offer. Discover intriguing heritage sites and stunning natural wonders along the Currumbin to Cooktown Driving Trail at your own pace.

Seaside Currumbin, famous for its surf culture, is an ideal place to start.  Enjoy a beach stroll, the breathtaking views from Elephant Rock and perhaps coffee and cake from one of the many cafes located conveniently across the road offering glorious ocean views.


Just one block from the beach you will find Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and Currumbin Wildlife Hospital. The Wildlife Sanctuary is a Gold Coast icon that began more than 70 years ago when founder Alex Griffiths starting feeding the wild lorikeets to keep them from eating his prized flowers. Today you can get up close to some of Australia’s favourite animals and birds and more exotic species in the amazing Lost Valley precinct. Free flying birds of prey and colourful parrots delight audiences during the Wild Skies Free Flight Bird Show, and in the afternoons the Aboriginal Dance and Culture Show with the Yugambeh dancers tell stories that connect wildlife and the land to the local people. The colourful birds still come twice daily for feeding.

During a visit to the Sanctuary, visitors can also see first-hand how the dedicated Currumbin Wildlife Hospital team tirelessly care for nearly 14,000 wildlife patients each year. There is a glass viewing deck at the hospital, situated in the grounds of the Sanctuary, where you can watch the vets in action as they treat and rehabilitate patients for release back to the wild.

Further west, in Currumbin Valley there are pristine rock pools, stunning rainforests and the Gold Coast Great Walk that explores the stunning hinterland and World Heritage listed Lost World Valley.

Heading north along the M1 freeway towards Brisbane, stop in at Beenleigh Historical Village and Museum. Enjoy coffee or tea at the Tin Cup Café nearby and if time permits enjoy ‘Spirit of the Red Sands’, a dinner and live Aboriginal theatre experience.

From here you can take a detour across the M1 to the Redlands Coast and visit Ormiston House. Open each Sunday, visitors can take their own picnic basket or indulge in Devonshire Tea. The house, built in the 1860s is surrounded by 14 acres of historic grounds and gardens overlooking Moreton Bay.


Continue on to Brisbane and spend a few nights exploring this rapidly developing city where nothing has changed but everything is different! Heritage buildings and sleek glass skyscrapers combine to create a treasure trove of things to do in the city. There are busy shopping streets, galleries, markets, a plethora of restaurants, cafes and bars and so much more. The new Queens Wharf precinct (currently under construction) will revitalise the historic riverfront precinct and readapt it for public use. The Queensland Maritime Museum is a great place to visit or perhaps enjoy a show at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in nearby Southbank. Under the Story Bridge the Howard Smith Wharves precinct has lots of new venues including a micro-brewery and unrivalled river views.

Just a short drive west to Wacol you will find Wolston Farmhouse, Brisbane’s oldest remaining farmhouse, built in the 1850’s. Visitors can wander freely through the homestead that features artefacts that once belonged to our colonial pioneers including silverware in the dining room and sausage stuffers in the kitchen! Spacious verandahs surround the home and guests can try vintage games on the lawn and enjoy a delightful farmhouse tea on the terrace most Sundays (bookings are essential).

Continue to Ipswich where you will find many beautiful heritage homes. Each May and September, the town proudly hosts Great Houses of Ipswich events where local homeowners generously open their historic homes and gardens to the public and often share stories of the families who once lived there. In Ipswich you will also find lovely heritage sites including the Workshops Rail Museum to explore.


When you arrive in Toowoomba (home of the Carnival of Flowers each spring) you can see the National Carriage Collection at the Cobb & Co Museum and the Empire Theatre, a heritage listed art deco venue that offers historical tours and attracts many visitors each year. Don’t forget your camera when you head to popular Picnic Point Lookout and Parklands that sits on the crest of the Great Dividing Range offering panoramic views. Picturesque Queens Park is just a short walk from the Garden City’s CBD and the Transport and Main Roads Heritage Centre, the only road building museum in Australia is just 5klms away. Open by appointment, Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm, the Museum showcases the hard work and true pioneering spirit that helped shape Queensland. Close to town you will also find the Ju Raku En Japanese Gardens and Crows Nest National Park.

Take a short detour south west of Toowoomba to the Royal Bull’s Head Inn in Drayton. A beautifully preserved nineteenth-century hotel, saved by the National Trust and a dedicated team of volunteers that showcases life as it was on the Darling Downs during the early days of settlement. The Inn hosts monthly paranormal evenings and if you find ghosts a little scary, you can wander the cottage gardens and stables on the first Sunday of each month.

Back on the coast, the Cooroy Butter Factory and Arts Centre hosts exhibitions, workshops and artists in residence, along with a beautiful artisan store. The Great Noosa Trail Walk is held annually in conjunction with National Trust Queensland, offering a great way to see this magnificent part of the Queensland. The trail passes through private property, state forests and both national and council parks.


Just north of the Sunshine Coast, Gympie has heritage buildings which date back to its time as a major gold mine. Nearby there are beautiful national parks including the Great Sandy National Park and Woondum National Park to enjoy.

National Trust’s Brennan and Geraghty’s Store Museum, in Maryborough is open daily from 10am to 3pm. The store showcases retail shopping from a bygone era displaying some stock items dating back to the 1890s. Maryborough is also the birthplace of Mary Poppins author, PL Travers and each winter the town comes to life with Mary Poppins magic.

From Maryborough, travel a short distance to beautiful Hervey Bay or perhaps venture to Fraser Island for a day trip or longer. The world's largest sand island stretches more than 120km offering panoramic viewpoints including rocky outcrops and a cliff famous for its sculpted ribbons of coloured sand. It has beautiful beaches, lakes and freshwater pools to cool off in and beautiful great walks through ancient rainforests where you can learn about the traditions of the indigenous people and the natural heritage of this unique stunning ecosystem.

The beautiful town of 1770, known as the birthplace of Queensland is famous as Captain James Cook’s second landing place on Australian soil.

From here travel a little further north past Rockhampton, to Emu Park, home of the Singing Ship monument that commemorates Cook’s historical explorations. Overlooking stunning beaches from a lush hilly landscape, this peaceful coastal village has lots of character and is a great place to spend the night.


Take an inland route now to Charters Towers and discover the remains of what was once Australia’s second largest city, after gold was discovered there in 1871. Visit the National Trust Stock Exchange Arcade which tapped into the world trade markets via a telegraph many years ago.

In town, National Trust volunteers will happily tell you the stories of Charters Towers’ golden past, and proudly show you a remarkable collection of WWI and WWII military memorabilia at Zara Clark Museum.


Next stop is Townsville where you should head straight up to the Castle Hill lookout for stunning 360-degree views of the city. Visit the Museum of Tropical Queensland to explore historic buildings and army barracks and the Townsville Heritage Centre to see Currajong House and Gardens, lovingly cared for by dedicated National Trust volunteers. Just a short ferry ride away you can explore beautiful Magnetic Island. The Island is located within the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef and is the perfect place to indulge in some time out to enjoy the peaceful surroundings and local wildlife that call the island home.

Award winning Paronella Park is also a must see, as is the Historic Village in Herberton on the way to the Atherton Tablelands where lookouts provide ideal spots to take in stunning scenery. You might spot wedge-tailed eagles as they soar high above coffee and tobacco plantations. In Atherton, visit National Trust’s Hou Wang Chinese Temple and Museum which is the last timber and iron Chinese temple in Australia, for a fascinating insight into Chinese heritage in north Queensland.

Atherton to Cairns is a 90 minute drive. Visitors flock to the Kuranda Scenic Railway, one of Australia’s most stunning train journeys that winds its way through World Heritage listed rainforest and tells the story of the history of the railway construction.

Then head deep into Australia’s Wet Tropics World Heritage Area via Skyrail Rainforest Cableway for a unique perspective of an ancient landscape. Gliding just metres above the jungle canopy you will immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, smells and tranquillity of a landscape that has remained relatively unchanged for 130 million years.


Even further north is the final stop on this driving trail. Cooktown, the gateway to Cape York is a quaint town set on the banks of the Endeavour River, where Captain James Cook beached his ship for repairs in 1770. This town has a significant story to tell. It is where the first recorded Act of Reconciliation was documented in the diaries of Cook and Banks, a story that has been retold through generations of local indigenous people. Cooktown has beautiful rainforest, waterways and stunning historic architecture. A nineteenth century Convent, now known as James Cook Museum, proudly displays an original anchor and cannon from the HMS Endeavour in its museum collection. Visitors often enjoy a fishing charter, exploring the pristine waterways by day or perhaps a twilight river tour on Riverbend cruises. This stunning town is beautiful to see from the water.

Queensland is Australia’s most popular tourist destination. A Sanctuary dedicated to the conservation of iconic Australian wildlife and heritage places preserved for future generations to enjoy combined with beautiful beaches, world wonders, natural serenity, sleepy outback towns, city life, arts and culture to offer Queensland's ultimate driving trail.

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