While we love a road trip with no destination and discovering new places along the way, we understand it's great to plan your trip and not miss out on some great spots. Below are three itinerary ideas departing from the pickup location in Coolum Beach and heading North, South or West depending on how much driving you want to do and if you're more of a beach or bush person. Enjoy!

HEAD NORTH

Driving North to the Fraser Coast and Gladstone Region takes you to the start of the Great Barrier Reef and past the natural wonder of Fraser Island. Total distance covered: 901km

146km – 1hr 45mins

Full of stunning natural beauty, Rainbow Beach is a gateway to the nearby Fraser Island. Our vans aren’t permitted on the island but you can take a day trip to explore the crystal lakes and beautiful rainforests. From the main town, you can take a 600m nature walk to Carlo Sand Blow which overlooks the Inskip Peninsula and Fraser coastline – particularly beautiful at sunset.

Stay: Rainbow Beach Holiday Village for camping with all the amenities right in the town or Inskip Peninsula Recreation Area for beachfront sites but no showers.

321km – 3hr 45mins

 Located at the Southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, Agnes Water and 1770 are neighbouring towns with extensive wildlife and secluded beaches. Take a tour to Lady Musgrave Island to spot turtles swimming in the reef or head to 1770 at sunset and sip a beer as the sky turns pink over Bustard Bay. The beauty of this region is the quiet beaches and a true feeling of relaxation.  

Stay: Workman’s Beach Camp Ground 200m from the beach, this popular spot is allocated on a “first-in” basis so get there earlier to secure a site or 1770 Camping Ground has beachfront camping with full amenities and a sunset view across the water.

227km – 3.5hr

 Hervey Bay is the place to spot humpback whales during the migration season from July to November. Occasionally viewable from the shore, the best way to see them up close is with a whale-watching tour. Other than whales, the town is another way to access Fraser Island and there’s plenty of shops and cafes to peruse in town. 

 Stay: Torquay Beachfront Tourist Park for beachfront camping and a walk to the shops or Fraser Coast RV Park for secluded camping with kangaroos.

193km – 2hr 15mins

Noosa is the quintessential beach town, popular with both national and international tourists. The main stretch of Hastings Street is jammed full of eateries and boutiques with a true holiday-vibe. Fans of nature will enjoy a walk through Noosa National Park around the stunning coastline with the opportunity to spot koalas in the gum trees and turtles popping up for air. Great for surfing, newbies can take lessons and the more experienced can head to the bays. 

Stay: Noosa River Holiday Park is a good spot near the town on the banks of the river with great facilities or Habitat Noosa Everglades Ecocamp is inland from Noosa Heads, on Lake Cootharaba with the opportunity to explore the Everglades.

18km – 20mins 

A short drive but one of our favourites along David Low Way winding down the coast. Take in the views along the coastline and stop off at Peregian Beach on the way for lunch at one of the many delicious cafes. 

WANDER WEST

The Sunshine Coast hinterland is full of lovely little towns and a feeling of serenity as you drive around the mountains surrounded by lush forest and sweeping views. A shorter itinerary in terms of distance, it will satisfy anyone after quiet evenings by the campfire and peaceful days exploring nature. Total distance covered: 161km

38km – 35mins

 The drive into the Sunshine Coast Hinterland is peppered with expansive views across the mountains to the ocean. Enjoy a slow winding drive up and consider stopping at Rick’s Garage in Palmwoods for a feed along the way. Once in Montville, the cute little town has a few shops and cafes to explore or you can head to Kondalilla Falls and follow the walking track to the top of the waterfall. Nearby Maleny has a similar vibe and there are also wineries and more waterfalls along the way. Lastly, Mary Cairncross Reserve along the aptly named Mountain View Road is a top spot for a picnic and sweeping views to the Glass House Mountains. 

Stay: Waterfall Retreat is a private campsite with secluded spots and a short walk to a waterfall (located nearer Yandina) or Mapleton Cabins and Caravan Park has bush camping with full amenities. 

29km – 30mins

In the heart of the Mary Valley region, you’ll find Kenilworth, a tiny town with a big reputation for the best doughnuts around! Head to Kenilworth Bakery in the centre of town and be prepared to queue if it’s the weekend. Kenilworth State Forest adjacent to the town has some great nature walks and you’ll also find the campsites out here provide walks and creek swims on-site.

 Stay: Bluff Creek Campground or Kenilworth Homestead both with wide-open spaces and creek access.

21km – 20mins

 Driving further North, you’ll find the rural town of Imbil. Imbil Lookout in the middle of town offers 360-degree views across the valley and the Railway Hotel, built in 1914, serves decent pub fare next to the railway track that runs through town. 

Stay: Imbil Camping Retreat alongside Yabba Creek or Borumba Deer Park set on 15 acres with friendly four-legged neighbours.  

46km – 35mins

Many people visit Eumundi for the bi-weekly markets, full of local produce and artisan products. The town is also home to one of our favourite bookshops Berkelou Books, stuffed full of new and second-hand books, and the Imperial Hotel, a great country pub with live music in the beer garden at the weekends. 

23km – 20mins 

If you’re feeling adventurous, stop off at Mount Ninderry on the way back to Coolum Beach and take a walk to the summit with great views back down the coast.

JOURNEY SOUTH

A Southerly road trip includes both world-famous beaches and quiet secluded rainforest as you drive over the state border and explore along the way. Total distance covered: 638km

207km – 2hrs 15mins

Straight down the Bruce Highway will take you from the Sunshine Coast to the Gold Coast, with the option to stop off in Brisbane along the way. There are coastal towns all along the Gold Coast with busier Surfers Paradise to the North and relaxed Burleigh to the South. Try breakfast at popular Commune before heading to the beach for a swim or surf.

Stay: Burleigh Beach Tourist Park is a holiday park right on the beach or head over the NSW border to Fingal Head Holiday Park close to surf breaks and a walk to the Fingal Head Lighthouse. 

82km – 57mins

Rather than heading straight to the highway, you can follow the coastline past the Northern NSW towns of Coolangatta, Kingscliff and Pottsville and take your pick where to stop off as they all have beautiful beaches and great cafes. Arriving in Byron Bay can be busy at weekends with one main road in, but the famous beach town is worth the hype. Brimming with gourmet cafes, local boutiques and a fabulous beach, Byron has a unique hippie slash hipster vibe and is popular for good reason. Boasting the most Easterly point in Australia, a walk to the Cape Byron and the lighthouse will take you out of the busy town and serves up a magical sunrise if you’re an early bird. 

 Stay: Clarkes Beach Holiday Park overlooks the famous beach but bookings are essential as it’s the only campsite in the main town or Belongil Fields is on the road as you drive into Byron and has nice grassy areas. 

110km – 1hr 45mins

 When leaving Byron, it’s worth stopping off at the little town of Bangalow, just 15-minutes inland, as it retains much of the charm that Byron had before it became so busy (apparently). North from here and into Springbrook National Park, you’ll drive into the world heritage listed Gondwana Rainforest. There are some great lookouts along the drive including Wunburra Lookout and Best of All Lookout plus plenty of walks within the park. 

Stay: The Settlement is the only campsite within Springbrook and you can walk to Purling Brook Falls from here or Mt Nimmel Lodge is nearby and surrounded by nature on 69 acres. 

200km – 2hr 30mins

At the Southern end of the Sunshine Coast, Caloundra has some beautiful bays and plenty of cafes to try – some favourites are The Pocket Espresso and One Block Back. If you’re visiting on a Sunday, check out Caloundra Street Fair and take a wander around the market stalls. 

 Stay: In the Beerburrum State Forest at Coochin Creek for secluded bush camping or Dicky Beach Holiday Park for beach access and a swimming pool on site. 

 

40km – 35mins

Stop off on the way home at Mooloolaba and take a walk along the coastal pathway or visit The Wharf for lunch and a browse around some great local boutiques.