Kim's 1974 Port Douglas Adventure

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Kims 1974 road trip Mob
64 hr | 5,702 km
Kid friendly
In 1974, my family and I piled into our station wagon and set off on a road trip from Sydney to Port Douglas and back, caravan in tow. It was an epic 10 week journey; two weeks traversing up the east coast and back down south again, with a six week pit-stop on the Great Barrier Reef. As an eight year old looking to pass the time, much of the car journey was spent playing classic car games, such as 'I Spy' with my five year old brother. 
  • 10 weeks caravanning
  • 12 fishing trips
  • 2 'big things'
  • 1 breakdown
  • 1 stonefish sting
Sydney to Miami
Upon visiting the Big Banana at Coffs Harbour, my brother and I were in fits of laughter – we found the big piece of fruit really funny. Then it was on to Miami Caravan Park for a few days. It was the 70s; the sound of The Carpenters was everywhere and the Gold Coast was a hugely popular holiday destination. My dad was a keen rock fisherman, so we were always looking to catch something wherever we went.
All smiles in the wagon
All smiles in the wagon
Miami to Woombye

Sticking along the Old Pacific Highway, or the ‘Old Pac’ as we used to call it, we continued up through Queensland to Woombye, making a stop to see another 'Big Thing', the Big Pineapple. Fishing in those parts was incredible. My dad caught heaps of rainbowfish. At least, that is what I named them, being so bright and colourful as they were. Though I couldn't be sure rainbowfish is what they were actually called?

Miami Caravan Park
Splashing about at Miami Caravan Park
Woombye to Atherton Tablelands
While we edged along the coast for most of our journey, we did take some detours, heading inland at the Atherton Tablelands to look for and find a fair number of waterfalls and swimming holes. Discovering new bodies of water was mostly fun, except for the one time I had a sudden asthma attack at one of the waterfalls. My poor dad had the task of carrying me all the way back to the car.
Chasing waterfalls finding swimming holes
Chasing waterfalls and finding swimming holes
Atherton Tablelands to Port Douglas
Finally, we arrived at our stunning home for the next six weeks; Port Douglas and the Great Barrier Reef. We visited Green Island where the water was so crystal clear, I could stand waist deep and see fish zipping all around me. Dad used his rock fishing skills to fashion me a pair of sneakers with metal cleats on the bottom so I could walk on the reef. We also stayed at Trinity Beach, a truly beautiful place to spend some time, until one day when I spotted a fire burning on a hill. The fire grew quickly and suddenly we had to run for our lives!
Lifes a beach on Green Island
Life's a beach on Green Island
Port Douglas to Bundaberg
We had a fantastic month and a half camping around the Great Barrier Reef, meeting new people and making new friends, but all too soon it was time to make our way back home to Sydney. Looking out the window during the return drive, field after field of sugar cane would fly by, then one day a figure appeared in the distance. Dad rolled slow to a stop, ready to offer a lift to the hitchhiker. But this man was no stranger, turning out to be a family friend of ours. What were the odds?! Well, it was the 70s, Australia was a lot smaller back then, and it was pretty common to pick up hitchhikers. A very different time indeed.
Cairns Road trip 1974
Touring Port Douglas
Bundaberg to Gympie
Somewhere on the highway from North Queensland, we broke down. This was the time of no mobile phones, satellite phones or GPS, so the middle of nowhere really felt like you were in the unknown to the nearest town or gas station. While we waited for help to happen by, we got really thirsty but ran out of water. We had to improvise, and so we found ourselves quenching our thirst with what we did have – lemons! Luckily, we didn't have to suck on the bitter yellow fruit for too much longer as help arrived soon after. We stayed at a small little Queensland town for a while while we waited for the car to be roadworthy once again. 
Gympie to Sydney
We stopped at the Gold Coast again, right near Currumbin. I saw the most beautiful shells I've ever seen here – a whole beach scattered full of them. When I went back years later, the shells had been crushed. We spent yet more time fishing and swimming in the August sun, mindful were near the end of our amazing trip. But the last leg wasn't without its drama; my brother got stung by a stonefish and nearly died! Perhaps a sign that this incredible adventure should probably come to an end. Though the memories will last a lifetime. 
Our home for 10 weeks
Our home for 10 weeks
Road Trip Tales are Member-shared memories, providing a sample of their route. Some highways and routes may no longer be open today. If you would like to emulate Kim's journey, use the multi-place map. above, or create your own route using our trip planner and our road trip guides.