May 22, 2016
This morning we woke up and packed up. Our relaxing days in Cairns have come to an end. Like yesterday, the rain was coming down and it was another gloomy looking day. We’re lucky we got two nice days before the rain started to come in. We went downstairs for a leisurely breakfast before checking out. We walked to Hertz to pick up the rental car, picked up our luggage from the hotel, and were on our way heading south towards Brisbane.
Cairns to Brisbane is approximately 1,680km and we’re going to drive there in three days. Ideally, we should have allotted more time for this drive since there’s a lot of very nice beaches (Whitsunday Islands) along the east coast but unfortunately we don’t have enough time. Lonely Planet recommends two weeks for this “road trip” and we’re doing it in three. For the first two days, Tim will be driving about 8-9 hours each day (which he says he doesn’t mind at all) and then the last day we’ll only drive a couple of hours so we could spend more time in Brisbane before flying to Sydney. We’ve been winging most of our planning but in hindsight I probably should have tried to plan out Australia a bit better so we didn’t feel so rushed during this portion. If we come again in the future, I’d like to go to Whitsunday Islands and spend a good chunk of time there. The pictures look so beautiful!
The rain was coming down quite hard as we drove for the first couple of hours. The area south of Cairns reminded us of Hawaii’s landscape – lush greenery with tropical crops on either side of the highway. Instead of pineapples, there were a lot of sugar cane and bananas. Our first pit stop was in Ayr, which was about a 5 hour drive (436km). We had a late lunch at McDonald’s – there aren’t many options for food on Sundays in small towns (most things are closed).
Ayr to Mackay (which is where we’re staying for the night) was another 3.5 hour drive. There wasn’t much (at all) in between these two places unless you are going to Airlie Beach or The Whitsundays. The sun began to set and we had to be more careful while driving because kangaroo like to hop around at dusk. We didn’t see any hopping around but we did notice a lot more (and larger) kangaroo road kill during this road trip than on the Great Ocean Road.
At around 8:30pm, we finally got to Mackay, which is a small city that has its own airport. We’re staying at the Ibis Hotel at the airport for the night. At first when we got to the parking lot, we saw that parking was $35 a night. But luckily when we checked in they said that it’s validated for hotel guests. It’s our first time staying in an Ibis hotel and it’s quite nice and comfortable. I’ve seen the chain around but never stayed in one before. If they’re all like this one, I’d stay in one again (Tim: we’ll find out soon enough as we’re staying at another Ibis hotel in Brisbane).
Steps today: 2,000
Kilometers driven: 734 kms