Mackay to Port Douglas
We hate to use clichés but sometimes they're undeniably true: the drive from Mackay to Port Douglas really is about the journey, not the destination. The road between the two cities is essentially a long chain of destinations - we've never had our ducks in quite as neat a row - the first of which is Airlie beach. As well as being a stepping point for trips to the paradisiacal Whitsunday Islands (if you only visit one, make it Whitsunday Island), it also boasts palm-fringed beaches, waterfront parks and a relaxed, tropical atmosphere. Don't spend too long beach and island hopping, however - from here it's a 600km drive up to Port Douglas along sugar cane lined highways, with detours to as many deserted bays and sleepy towns along the way as you want (and there's plenty). Before you hit the city, be sure to make a side trip to the Atherton Tablelands for waterfall hunting and enjoying the regions abundant local produce - preferably picnic style. Once in Port Douglas, you've got two choices - embrace the Far North Queensland lifestyle and do nothing but laze in a hammock for the rest of your trip, or head further up the cape into the wild Daintree Rainforest, where trickling creeks and rainforest-lined shores await (just watch out for crocs).