Next week already my time here in Melbourne will be over, and I'll be flying off to Cairns. After a handful of days there I will travel on south to Brisbane to hang out with friends. But before then I figure I can fit in one or two stops.
I love stunning scenery and seeing unique landscapes that you can't find everywhere. (I'll of course do the reef from Cairns, unless anyone can convince me that doing it from somewhere else would be better.) I love hiking for several hours (up and down mountains preferably), but don't have transport (and can't rent a car as my creditcard has expired *grumble grumble*), and really dislike doing group tours, as I walk way faster than 99% of everyone, and want to stay around for longer to properly appreciate the sights than most other people would either. (However, if a group tour is the only feasible way to see something truly good, I'll consider it.) I don't care for partying or adventure "activities". Wildlife is good, but not a must.
So, my question to all of you - where on the East Coast between Cairns and Brisbane to go to best satisfy these things?
it sounds like you might like Magnetic Island which you reach with the ferry from Townsville. Two thirds of the Island is a national park with beautiful wildlife, including koalas and rare birds. You'll also find several beaches and we even experienced absolute privacy at some. Apart from that, I know there are lots of great walking tracks (didn't have time to go walking intensively as I did my advanced open water course there ) and all in all for me Magnetic was probably the least touristy place on the whole east coast. Concerning accomodation I can recommend Geoff's place, we camped there, but their bungalows looked nice and cozy.
And, of course if you're into diving a trip to the Yongala Wreck is a must!
Hope this helps,
Just a thought to add. We did the 'Reef' from a place called Airlie Beach, which is a fairly small town which won't have the same appeal as Cairns perhaps, but if you want a quieter time it may suit. There is still a variety of accommodation there and it's a good base to get to the Whitsunday Islands - Hamilton isn't far.
We used FantaSea for our Reef trip. You can't really avoid groups for this, but you do your own thing when you get out there anyway, within a fixed overall time limit, but FantaSea were very good.
I thought Airlie Beach was quite a party town, but maybe I'm getting old
You can get to the best, most unspoiled bit of the reef from Cape Tribulation, north of cairns, and also the oldest and least spoiled part of the rainforest. Also Mission Beach is pretty quiet (if you don't stay at one of the obvious party hostels), and you can do some walking and reef trips from there.
Hmm - maybe Thorsborne Trail on Hinchinbrook island near Cardwell, a little south of Cairns would suit you. It's 3 to 4 day self-sufficient walk from one end of the island to the other - http://www.longdistancewalks.com/hinchinbrook_island/preamble.html
Numbers on the trail are limited by national park authorities so you are advised to book ahead
Adding to the unfinished post above . . .
The walk covers beaches, waterfalls, and some pretty good views
this link should give you the general idea
you can apply online for a permit here
You'll find more info if you google Thorsborne Trail