New sign showing the times on the Bruce highway
New sign showing the times on the Bruce highway

Read this before road tripping through Queensland

The Premier is to be congratulated for suggesting Queenslanders holiday in the Whitsundays and those Brisbane to Whitsunday flights beginning on June 22 sound great.

But that line - "It is also a great drive up from Brisbane'' - does jar a bit.

The Bruce Highway is, frankly, not as affable as its good ol' Aussie name suggests.

So, before you, the average Brisbane suburbanite, load up the 2016 Camry with four suitcases, two squabbling kids and the cat (they are increasingly pet friendly up there) and head out for an 1100km road trip with Airlie Beach pumped into Google Maps, be warned: it's not even "a great drive'' to the Eumundi turn-off.

New sign showing the times on the Bruce Highway
New sign showing the times on the Bruce Highway

The road works will begin to frustrate you soon after you cross Pine Rivers Bridge which you'll be lucky to reach without a $200 speeding fine if you don't have cruise control.

After Eumundi things do improve with that impressive stretch materialising as you head toward Gympie but then you'll find yourself stuck behind a Mack-truck-stuck-behind-a-caravan long before you get to the sign for Maryborough, and then things really start going downhill.

Bruce Highway on the southern approach to Townsville
Bruce Highway on the southern approach to Townsville


It's usually a lousy drive from Maryborough to Gin Gin because the traffic snarls up in the one lane zones and it's just bloody awful from Gin Gin to Miriam Vale.

The one thing that might keep you going is the thought of a mud crab sanger at Miriam Vale's friendly Shell servo, but when you get there the lady inevitably says: "Sorry love, we're fresh out of mud crabs.''

So you drive on and somewhere between Miriam Vale and Rockhampton you, your partner or the cat is going to suffer a nervous collapse as the delays and frustrations and dangers of a one lane highway, which seems permanently under construction, overwhelm them.

So you have to get off the road and stop for the night at a motel which will cost you about $120 if you can fit everyone into the one room, and then you'll have to find another $80 for tea.

The Bruce Highway and Anzac Ave intersection
The Bruce Highway and Anzac Ave intersection

When day dawns you will have before you what Mackay residents have spoken about in hushed tone for years _ "The Rocky Stretch.''

It's four hours of mostly brigalow scrub and even though you can get up to 110km soon after putting Rockhampton behind you, the one lanes get longer and longer before you get to see the sea at Clairview.

Then the green canefields materialise as you motor on towards Sarina and you brighten up a bit and enjoy a brief respite with four lanes approaching and leaving Mackay, and that respite will get even better as there ring road nears completion.

But that one and a half-hour plus drive up to Proserpine is no picnic, even though the scenery does get truly majestic as you finally hang a right after Prosy and get on the final leg to Airlie.

And yes, I know … we should be a little more positive and look at the bright side.

The Bruce Highway from Airlie to Brisbane is an engineering marvel compared to what it was in 1970 when I first became conscious of its charms.

Then it was pretty much one lane the whole way before you got to the Caloundra turn-off if you did manage to get there, and didn't end up stranded by flood waters at Funnel Creek.

And the road side was always littered with empty beer cans and chip packets and angry, red-faced men shrouded in mists of steam standing in front of EH Holdens with the bonnet up roaring: "I cooked the bastard!''

But, seriously, be cautious about taking the Premier's advice and attempting to navigate the Bruce from Brisbane to Airlie.

Leave the Camry in the shed and take another look at those Alliance fares - some are, reportedly, as low as $99.

Originally published as 'Not even "a great drive'' to Eumundi': Read this before road tripping to Far North


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