300km (one way)
Car or Camper
Ayr to Hinchinbrook Island
Leave your worries behind and switch to island time!
As well as being central gateway to the world’s greatest natural wonder – the Great Barrier Reef – North Queensland is also dotted with island oases right along the coast, each with unique experiences, and natural landscapes to lose yourself in. So come on, ditch the hustle and bustle, and come island hopping with us!
Ayr to Magnetic Island
The fertile soils of the Burdekin region produce some of the region’s best fruits and vegetables, making it an ideal place to grab a bite! Sister towns Ayr and Home Hill – connected by the might Burdekin River Bridge – are filled with quaint and quirky cafes that are sure to satisfy.
But we’re island-hopping right? Well, the wonders of the ocean are found below the waves here in Ayr, home to one of the world’s top dive sites in the SS Yongala – head out with Yongala Dive to experience a hive of marine activity.
Just an hour north is Queensland’s unofficial northern capital – Townsville, and the gateway to the ultimate island jaunt on Magnetic Island. Clock-up a few more nautical miles with a short 20-minute ferry ride with SeaLink Queensland across to the locally nicknamed “Maggie”, where the adventure is up to you.
Spend the day (or ideally days) exploring the 23 beaches and bays dotted around the island, either by car (if you travelled by Magnetic Island Ferries car barge), or hire the ultimate island cruiser with Topless Car Rentals. Even better, take a discovery tour with Aquascene Charters to access some of the most remote and exclusive beaches on the island.
Make a splash along one (or both) of the self-guided snorkelling trails at Geoffrey Bay and Nelly Bay and get an up-close-and-personal look at the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef – right off the beach!
If nature and wildlife is also your thing – you’re in luck – because Magnetic Island is also home to Northern Australia’s largest colony of koalas in the wild!
Wake before the sun and take the gentle stroll along the Forts Walk – it’s the best place to spot a furry companion, and also a pretty sweet sunrise vantage point… can’t beat a 360-degree view! Want a local’s point of view – take the Fort Walk tour with Magnetic Island Best Bus Tours.
Optional Detour – Townsville
Leave the island paradise and spend the night in Townsville to experience some of the local delights on offer, including fine-dining restaurants, local eats and breweries, galleries, Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium, Castle Hill and much more!
Townsville to Orpheous Island
While not technically part of the ‘road’ trip, if you’re in search of a luxurious getaway, you can’t miss Orpheus Island. Located amidst the magical waters of the Great Barrier Reef, Orpheus Island Resort is a secluded island hideaway accommodating just 28 indulged guests. Access via a 30-minute helicopter journey from Townsville.
Alternatively, Orpheus provides the perfect backdrop for a more private interlude if guests wish to simply relax and succumb to a unique indigenous-inspired treatment at the Gwandalan Day Spa.
Optional Detour – Stay the night
If you can’t bear to leave this tropical paradise, stay a few extra nights at the Orpheus Island Resort before heading back to Townsville.
Townsville to Hinchinbrook Island
The drive from Townsville to Ingham takes you back into sugar cane country as you pass vast expanses of the sugary shamrock greens of the cane fields. A proud cane growing township, Ingham is also home to stunning Wet Tropics, and the southern hemisphere’s largest single drop waterfall, Wallaman Falls.
While in Ingham, you must try the local Italian cuisine, and fresh local produce. The Taste of Hinchinbrook Tour with Ravens Tours will guide you along the tastiest trail!
Just a short boat ride through the Hinchinbrook Channel, you will discover the Jurassic beauty of Hinchinbrook Island. Managed as its own National Park region, the island only allows 40 visitors at any one time, so you’re very likely to wander its wild beaches and leave only your footprints. The island is also renowned for its natural infinity pool atop the picturesque Zoe Falls – well worth the hike to the stunning views of the island, and a great place to cool off.