Townsville is the southern gateway to the Wet Tropics World Heritage area. Many travellers start their journey along the Bruce Highway from Townsville, a major regional city and airport.
Driving north from Townsville along the Bruce Highway is the start of your journey up the Tropical Coast along the Bruce Highway. This drive north is interesting as you pass quite quickly from the obvious dry tropics landscape into the green blanket of the Wet Tropics, with its mountains that are part of Australia’s Great Dividing Range and coastal plains comprising forest and pockets of agriculture.
About 20 minutes along the highway, you will arrive at Rollingstone. Here there is a pretty creek for swimming, a park with picnic facilities and you can follow the heritage walk signage. Some of Queensland’s largest pineapple farms, which provide opportunities for seasonal employment, are at Rollingstone. There is a four star caravan park if you want to stay longer.
Nearby is Balgal Beach, a popular beach and river fishing spot with boat ramp and pontoon facilities giving easy access to the Palm Group of islands. The beach has a stinger net and a patrolled beach for swimming or play golf alongside resident kangaroos. There is a choice of holiday accommodation from a caravan park to holiday homes.
The historic Mount Spec Road, about 60km north of Townsville, was built by hand in the Great Depression of the 1930s. Winding through Paluma Range National Park, it features beautiful stonework, especially the masonry arch bridge over Little Crystal Creek where you can enjoy a dip before driving through rainforest and past impressive stands of eucalypts.
Spiegelhauer Road to the north leads to Big Crystal Creek which is a great place to camp or have a refreshing swim.
The road continues to Paluma, an historic village known as the village in the mist. It has a much cooler climate than the coast. With a range of accommodation including camping and cottages, you will find arts and crafts, award-winning pottery and cosy teahouses. There are story boards to follow around Paluma for an historical walk, scenic lookouts and a number of easy to moderate rated bush walks.
Further along the Mount Spec Road is Hidden Valley where you are sure to see platypus. After dinner venture out to see sugar gliders, night spiders, possums, rufous bettongs and owls come to life in the dark.
Back on the Bruce Highway stop for an ice cream made with local mangoes and other tropical fruit before heading further along the highway to turn off to see the spectacular Jourama Falls in the northern section of Paluma Range National Park. A popular camping area, Jourama Falls also has a day-use area and walking track.
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