East Coast Australia Road Trip – Cape Hillsborough, Fraser/K’Gari Island 4WD Jeep Tour & Noosa Everglades (Part III)

From Cairns, Cape Tribulation and Daintree National Park in Far North Queensland, to Magnetic Island, the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands, the last couple of weeks exploring has been a nonstop adventure.

To ensure that we didn’t completely burn out, we decided to spend the next couple of days in Airlie Beach before moving on to Cape Hillsborough.

To read about the surreal experience we had spending the night on the Reefworld pontoon, as well as our time at Atherton Tablelands, ‘Maggie Island’ and Whitehaven Beach in my last blog post, click here.

Day 19 – Cape Hillsborough – A sunrise with a twist

With a population of just 44, Cape Hillsborough Nature Tourist Park is the only place you can stay when visiting this tiny coastal locality on the Central Queensland Coast.

Cape Hillsborough probably isn’t on every everyone’s to do list when travelling the East Coast of Australia, but there is one thing in particular that draws in the crowds…

Those who decide to stay overnight here are treated to a spectacular sunrise alongside wild kangaroos and wallabies on the beach. A National Park Ranger is on duty from around 05:00 AM to feed the animals and to ensure the public don’t scare the animals away.

I’m really not a morning person, but I’m so glad we set our alarms for 04:45 AM. Watching the sunrise with more than a dozen kangaroos and wallabies made for such a memorable occasion.

After catching 40 winks, we left Cape Hillsborough at 10:00 AM and then started the first leg of our longest drive yet – 376 miles to Agnes Water/Seventeen Seventy. It would have been foolish to drive this all in one go, so we stopped overnight in Marlborough.

Earlier in the day, we went on a one-hour guided tour of the Sarina Sugar Shed where we learnt about the process of how sugar cane is grown, processed and milled. We also got to taste some of their products including chutneys, freshly-spun candy floss and relishes.

Day 20 – Kangaroo Sanctuary – Agnes Water

Feeling well rested, we drove the remaining 3 hours 44 minutes to the Horizons Kangaroo Sanctuary & Campground where we were staying at near Agnes Water. The selling point was being in an environment with wild kangaroos roaming freely.

To break up the long drive, we made a quick pit stop at Rockhampton Zoo which was free. Here we saw chimpanzees, crocodiles, dingoes, kangaroos, koalas and meerkats.

Later when we arrived at the campground, Gary (the owner) wasn’t happy because we had said we were in a camper van and not a motorhome. Apparently there’s a difference?! I could tell straight away that he was a slightly odd chap.

We later found out when we went to watch him feed the animals at 17:15 PM that he has ill-informed and unsolicited opinions and conspiracy theories. He proceeded to tell us how the Australian government pay people $20m to kill kangaroos because they eat grass and compete with cows.

He then explained how Roos don’t get any diseases unlike humans but then he said that one of the kangaroos had mange and that he wouldn’t take it to the vets because “vets aren’t good people.” Very strange! Fair play to him for bringing up hundreds of orphaned kangaroos though.

It was also extremely cool that we saw a Joey – baby kangaroo in its mother’s pouch.

Day 21 – Bundaberg Rum tour

This morning, we had a look around the tiny seaside twin oceanfront villages of Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy before leaving for Hervey Bay 146 miles away.

We researched our route and found that we passed through the town of Bundaberg, which rang alarm bells. Without realising, it turns out this is where Bundaberg Rum is distilled.

Em and I aren’t big rum drinkers, but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity of going on the tour. This $30 (AUD) / £17 one-hour guided tour of the history and craft behind Australia’s most iconic rum was great because we got to actually see the process of distillation happening.

We saw up to five million litres of molasses fresh from the accompanying sugar mill across the road, one of the fermentation tanks and learnt about the double distillation process. (Unfortunately, we weren’t able to take any electronic devices with us).

To end the experience, we were able to have two drinks each at the grand Barrel House. We opted to sample the Bundaberg Original and Bundaberg Reserve rum.

Day 22 – Fraser Island (K’gari) 4WD Jeep Tour

This coastal city in southern Queensland is the world’s first Whale Heritage Site, making it one of the best locations in the world for spotting these gentle giants between the migrating seasons of July > November. Hervey Bay is also one of the main gateways across to Fraser Island (K’Gari), the largest sand island in the world.

Spending three days and two nights on a 4WD Tag-along tour on this UNESCO World Heritage-listed island is a popular thing for backpackers to do. We decided against this because we have Jippy – our camper van and we also would have had to have bought camp bedding (like we did in Alaska).

However, we did do the 1 Day Fantastic Fraser Island Tour with a company called Fraser Experience Tours for $295/£173, which was a more personal 4WD experience. We were never going to be able to explore all 184,000 hectares but we saw a great deal in the six hours we had!

After being picked up our tour guide, we got the 30-minute ferry across to Fraser Island with another couple and a solo female backpacker called Nicci from Wollongong, who was working seasonally with a whale watching company.

She must have brought good fortune with her because we saw so many whales breaching throughout the morning whilst driving along 75-mile beach and also a wild dingo.

To begin with, we cruised along the coastline until we reached the S.S. Mahano Shipwreck where we stopped for photos before then travelling further down the shoreline to The Pinnacles.

Later in the afternoon we walked on a boardwalk through hardwood forest and then swam in the stunning clear waters of Lake McKenzie.

Our tour guide explained that the silica sand would exfoliate the skin and soften our hair if we rubbed it into us and that it would make jewellery look as good as new. Em washed her hair with the sand and rubbed it into her engagement ring. I’m not sure it made any difference…

Day 23 – Noosa Heads

Today, we headed two hours further South to Noosa Heads on the East Coast. We had intended on staying here overnight but unfortunately there wasn’t availability at any campgrounds.

I really liked the laidback feeling of this backpackers town. Em bought a new PacSafe cross-body travel bag from a little shop called Lightweight Traveller and some face cleanser from Mecca on Hastings Street.

Day 24 – Noosa Everglades

One thing we definitely can’t complain about whilst we’ve been travelling around the world is the weather. The God’s have more often than not shined down on us. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case today.

We wanted to see the Noosa Everglades – one of only two everglade systems in the world. The other is in Everglades National Park, Florida which Emily has seen.

This spectacular network of pristine waterways and wetlands is set within the Cooloola region of the Great Sandy National Park and connects the Northern Noosa River system on the Sunshine Coast.

The best way to explore the Noosa Everglades is via the Everglades Eco Safari boat tour departing from the Habitat Noosa Everglades Ecocamp costing $130/£77 p/p, but you can also kayak through the mirrored waterways for an additional $15/£9 p/p or choose to camp overnight.

Before beginning the tour, we changed out of our jeans and trainers because we had to wade through shallow, knee deep water to reach the boat.

Over the next four hours, our skipper then gently glided the vessel through the ‘river of mirrors’ stopping at Fig Tree and later at Harry’s Hut for afternoon lunch. I’m sure this would have been a magical cruise if the heavens hadn’t have opened.

In my next post, we’ll visit Australia’s most famous Zoo, spend a few days exploring Brisbane before then chilling out on the Gold Coast.

If you’d like to keep up-to-date with our adventure, you can either enter your email at the bottom of this article to receive instant notifications every time I post a new blog; click the Follow ‘Al’ Around The World link, or drop me a follow on Twitter at @AlecW95 or on Instagram at @AlecW95 or @alatw95.

Alternatively, you can follow Emily on her travelling TikTok account at @emstraveladventure.

Thanks for reading, until the next time…


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