Quickest Route Melbourne to Cairns

Submitted: Sunday, Mar 16, 2003 at 21:20
ThreadID: 3881 Views:30507 Replies:9 FollowUps:6
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We are planning a Cape York trip this coming season and would like to go the most direct route we can from Melbourne to Cairns to give us more time at the top end.

Looking at maps, going pretty much straight up is obviously the shortest but I am not sure of the best way from Melbourne to Bourke (eg Newell to Dubbo or via the Kidman way( which Tom doesnt like anymore)).

Then should we go Cunnamulla to Barcaldine to Hughenden and on the Kennedy Hwy or Developmental road to Cairns.

Would really appreciate any advice or experience. Would like to take the trip slowly, but with work and school kids and $$ in short supply, need to make the most of what we have got.

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Reply By: Jeff - Sunday, Mar 16, 2003 at 21:28

Sunday, Mar 16, 2003 at 21:28
What I can tell you is from Melbourne to Brisbane, the quickest isn't on Highway 1 (the Pacfic Highway I think for most of it). Going the inland route as I call it (I think it's the New England Highway), through West Wyalong, Forbes, Parkes, Dubbo, Moree and Goondiwindi. From Goondiwindi, I'm not to sure. I think the highway that goes north through Miles up to Rockhampton is the best from there, then there's really only one way from Rocky. What does anyone else think>?
AnswerID: 15336

Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Sunday, Mar 16, 2003 at 21:36

Sunday, Mar 16, 2003 at 21:36
You're travelling good to Moree, Jeff, without checking a map, I think up to Roma, Emerald, Belyando to Charters Towers then Townsville Cairns.

That Kennedy Hwy is not all bitumen, and can be a bit rough. Hooroo...

Some quiet roads up that way too, so one is able to register a good average speed. Said nothing about speeding, that's up to the individual. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge....
FollowupID: 9337

Reply By: Member - Bob L - Sunday, Mar 16, 2003 at 21:57

Sunday, Mar 16, 2003 at 21:57
Have a look at WWW.TRAVELMATE.COM.AU and try the trip calculator.
Melbourne Cairns 2794km approx 33hours travelling.
If this suits your requirements the driving directions are really good.
Used it for Wagga Wagga/Kurumba and it worked fine. Wagga Wagga/Echuca not so good as we saved 50km with a bit of local knowledge..
AnswerID: 15340

Reply By: baz - Sunday, Mar 16, 2003 at 22:15

Sunday, Mar 16, 2003 at 22:15
have done that trip many times from Cairns to Shepparton as follows,Shepparton ,Griffith,Cobar,Bourke,Charleville, Barcaldine, then up to Torrens Creek, then i prefer to go across to Charters Towers, then up to Cairns.I personaly think it's better to go that way ,than Hughenden then to the Lynd Junction, Mount Garnet,Cairns.
regards Baz.
AnswerID: 15341

Reply By: Suzuki Viagra - Sunday, Mar 16, 2003 at 23:07

Sunday, Mar 16, 2003 at 23:07
You may find that thru shep is not best due to roadworks I jsut moved up from Melb to Brissy and have done it a few times. Definatelye Newll and Aim for Emerald or at least Toowoomba not Brissy....

Remember Melb to Cairns is about twice the distance Melb to Brissy - although some routes are shorther you're still looking at 3000k's plus ...... never underestimate aussie bush - you've got a long way before you hit the fun stuff.....
AnswerID: 15344

Reply By: Peter L - Monday, Mar 17, 2003 at 01:03

Monday, Mar 17, 2003 at 01:03
Andrew, you already have it figured. Couple of years back we went via Kidman Way (Good gravel) to Cobar etc etc. Kennedy Development road was slower (alot of sand) but is relatively direct. Otherwise roads were quite OK and as reported speeds can be maintained!!!

(While in Hughenden let the kids check out the dinosaur skeleton)

AnswerID: 15348

Follow Up By: Andrew - Monday, Mar 17, 2003 at 07:19

Monday, Mar 17, 2003 at 07:19
I wasnt sure what the gravel sections would be like. The worst thing would be to take the most direct route and find that you have to slow to 50 kph for a few hours because of terrible road conditions.
FollowupID: 9348

Reply By: Andrew - Monday, Mar 17, 2003 at 07:27

Monday, Mar 17, 2003 at 07:27
Had a look at Travelmate and if you type in direct from Melbourne to Cairns it says it is 2793k's and 35 hours. For a trip Melbourne via Rockhamptom to Cairns, it is 2793 and 33.44 hours. I am not sure how accurate their estimates are.

Does anyone have an idea which way might be quickest. I guess that over a few days, there might not be much in it and the more costal route is probably more scenic.

AnswerID: 15349

Reply By: baz - Monday, Mar 17, 2003 at 14:04

Monday, Mar 17, 2003 at 14:04
in terms of travel time the route i pointed out to you is by far the quickest, did it in january this year, the bride and two kids, in 26hrs driving time (diesel landcruiser) Have done the trip approx 25 times and have tried every way except the coast, the time taken , and the lack of towns and traffick, to me makes it by far the best way to go.

regards, baz.
AnswerID: 15370

Follow Up By: damien - Monday, Mar 17, 2003 at 16:02

Monday, Mar 17, 2003 at 16:02
Hi Baz,

You did Shepparton to Cairns in 26hrs - you must have been flying. I'm not arguing the fact with you, but it usually takes a minimum 18hrs to get to Brissy which is a little over half way.

I did Melbourne - Gold Coast a few years ago in about that time & that was sitting on 140kmh on sections of the Newell.
FollowupID: 9360

Follow Up By: Truckster - Monday, Mar 17, 2003 at 18:01

Monday, Mar 17, 2003 at 18:01
driving and travelling time are different.

you can take 18 hours Melb to Sydney if you like, but actual Driving is only 8-9 hours tops.

Travelmate says 33 so thats 7 hours difference in the 2, yes flying I would guess!
FollowupID: 9365

Follow Up By: Andrew - Monday, Mar 17, 2003 at 20:07

Monday, Mar 17, 2003 at 20:07
HI Baz

Travelmate says that it is 2648 k's from Shepp. to Cairns. So I reckon if that is the case you must have been pushing it. I reckon that I would be hard pushed to average over 100km per hour even driving time only. Do you do it in two days??

FollowupID: 9371

Follow Up By: Truckster - Monday, Mar 17, 2003 at 22:34

Monday, Mar 17, 2003 at 22:34
2 drivers, him and wife, would be easy to do...

2600 could be done, theres probably a lot of sections you could average 130-140kph if you wanted to, but risky specially double points time in NSW.
FollowupID: 9379

Reply By: dougie - Monday, Mar 17, 2003 at 19:39

Monday, Mar 17, 2003 at 19:39
if you dont need to go to cairns< dont!
If it is new country and adventure your after go staright up to normanton and then accross to the dirt to mareeba or take 1 of the short tracks to the weipa road(it is well maintained for the area) great rivers and creeks to camp on then by pass cairns altogether
you will see better country and have a lot more adventure, also the trip back will not be as dull as it is new country.
you get to go through longreach,Crocadile dundees walkabout creek hotel ( though it has been stuffed up since they moved it to the highway) winton ( the toughest town in australia, and the home of walsting matilda)The curry and on to where they coaght the biggest croc on record (28 ft 6inches)and the famous purple pub, Might take a day or 2 extra but then you can cut the cape a bit shorter.
AnswerID: 15399

Reply By: baz - Tuesday, Mar 18, 2003 at 00:11

Tuesday, Mar 18, 2003 at 00:11
yes that was two full days driving. I live in cairns so my first stop was cunnamulla then shepparton.In the route i gave you, as i said i go to townsville then across to charters towers to torrens creek then head south to aramac ,barcaldine etc.The other short way you can go, from your end ,is once you get tohughenden, then to the lynd junction ,and on to mount garnet, but that section of road from hughenden to the lynd can be quite rough. if you go the way i suggest you will only have 250 klm of dirt ,from torrens creek to aramac and it's good road, even suitable for cars. I can't give you accurate mileage because i have 295 tyres on the cruiser so not sure about that, but what i can tell you is i used 404 litres!!!!! just loves a drink this 100 series!!!!
regards baz.
AnswerID: 15449

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