Right behind the Motorama Moorooka dealerships runs Beaudesert Road, nothing special and always busy during rush hour. After approximately 15 kilometres – just before the Motorama Browns Plains dealerships – this road turns into the Mount Lindesay Highway. So far it’s still just another road through the southern suburbs of Brisbane. But follow this road another 40 kilometres further down to Beaudesert, cross the border into NSW and it turns into the Summerland Way. Your first stop is Woodenbong (140 kilometres from Brisbane) and your adventure is on its way.
No good road trip ever started without a nice cup of coffee and Lynda’s Pit Stop on Woodenbong is exactly the place to get one. You’ll experience the hospitality of this rural, small village – just over 300 people – and get to sit down and research your plans. If you’ve got time there are heaps of National Parks around to explore (Border Ranges, Springbrook and Lamington) or mountains to climb (Barney and Warning), but continuing the drive also isn’t a bad idea of course. In approximately an hour (60 kilometres) you’ll arrive in the charming country town of Kyogle.
Cattle grazing, dairy farming and forestry are the primary industries here and the environment shows that. With Toonumbar National Park – which boasts extensive subtropical rainforests – on one side and Border Ranges, located on the rim of an ancient volcano, on the other, the view from any point along the way or in town is absolutely breathtaking. Visit the botanical gardens or the town lookout to get a glimpse of what Kyogle has to offer, but don’t forget to stop at Gateway Find Foods to get your hands on one of their savoury treats like quiches, frittata or pasties to either eat there or take away. It’s a busy place, so it’s hard to find a spot sometimes.
Heading down further south through the delightfully gentle countryside a wide, well-maintained undulating road leads you to Casino. Situated on the Richmond River, the town claims to be Australia’s ‘Beef Capital’ and its celebrated Beef Week runs every year in late autumn. It’s just 30 minutes (30 kilometres) from Kyogle, which would have taken a lot longer before the opening of the bridge over the Richmond River in 1876. Especially on this section you might notice where the Summerland Way got its name: it’s a popular tourist area for people during summer. Yet it never really gets busy.
Though you could choose to follow the Bruxner Highway west to Tenterfield or east towards Ballina via Lismore, we advice you explore the heritage listed Casino Post Office or railway station. For a refreshment you should visit the Commerical Hotel on the corner of Walker and Barker Street, just one street down from the main road. Enjoy the warmth of the log fire before heading down to your final stop.
With the afternoon sun setting you’ll pass through state forest including Banyabba, Whiporie and Ellangoran on your way to Grafton. Because this last 100 kilometres takes just over an hour, you might want to opt for a detour via Coraki, which was once the busiest inland port on the Richmond River. It features a historical museum and in October is home to the annual Tea Tree Festival, but will take you an additional hour to drive. Otherwise you’ll can also add a stop in Rapville and visit their historic pub or take the scnic drive to Butter Factory Lane and Trenayr Road in Junction Hill Village, just north of Grafton.
Sitting on the banks of the Clarence River, Grafton is an attractive historic city. In the last week of October, its lilac-blossomed trees take centre state as the Jacaranda Festival draws visitors from across the country – a good reason to visit. Have dinner at the Naked Bean and enjoy some live music before heading off to bed. The next day you can drive back, explore Yuraygir and Bundjalung National Parks or head further down to Coffs Harbour, another hour drive (85 kilometres). The Summerland Way ends here and though you might have missed out on some spectacular ocean glimpses, driving through the beautiful hinterland you’ll also miss out on heavy traffic and crowded places. Definitely worth the trade.
If you’re up for a road trip, don't forget to visit your Motorama service centre before heading out and make sure your vehicle is in perfect condition.
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