When we decided we wanted to do a trip to North QLD, we looked into flying into Townsville and driving to Brisbane with a rental car. The cost of doing it this way seemed crazy, so then we threw around the idea of driving the whole way. We researched it and decided the best way for us to maximise our time and get the best value for our money was driving from Newcastle to Townsville via the inland route.
In this article we are driving from Newcastle to Townsville. We will highlight our route, our stops, what we listened to along the way and what we would do differently, if we did it again.
Map of route
Route – Driving from Newcastle to Townsville
We left Newcastle at 5:06am on the 13th of July 2022. We decided to take the inland route up to Townsville, stopping in Roma, QLD overnight. We also had a few pit stops planned along the way.
Stops – Driving from Newcastle to Townsville
Tamworth NSW – Arrive 8:40am (travel time – 3h 34m) – Depart 9:55am
The drive from Newcastle to Tamworth was pretty uneventful. We had a fair bit of traffic in Singleton due to the miners all travelling to work around the same time as us. After we drove through Singleton, we saw very little traffic and the drive was very easy. You do pass through a few small towns between Muswellbrook and Tamworth, slowing down to 60km/h for those.
We stopped in Tamworth for breakfast at Hopscotch. Hopscotch was located on the fringe of the Bicentennial park. Don’t be fooled by Apple maps, which took us to the wrong destination initially. We really enjoyed our breakfast here. We ordered the savoury mince and the corn beignets, plus coffees. We were really impressed with the menu and it was nice to see some different breakfast options for a change.
Before we hit the road again, we drove by Calrossy Anglican School, where Erika went to high school. Just a quick little trip down memory lane, while we were there.
Moree NSW – Arrive 1:05pm (travel time 3h 10m) – Depart 1:30pm
We swapped drivers in Bingara and Erika took the wheel between there and Moree. I have to say she was unlucky. The road was no good. Lots of pot holes, no line markings, cattle grids and LOTS of road kill. She had an encounter with about 8 kangaroos on the road, but she did a great job at avoiding them.
By the time we arrived in Moree we were both ready to use a toilet break. So, we went to the one place where you know you will always find a toilet, Maccas (McDonalds).
Neither of us felt like a full lunch, so we headed to the Moree Bakehouse for a sausage roll. I will say the sausage roll was pretty run of the mill and nothing fancy but it did the job.
We really didn’t spend much time in Moree at all, as we were keen to keep going at this point.
Thallon QLD – Toilet break and photo stop
This was just a quick stop to use the bathroom and take a picture of the silos. The silo painting was amazing, but the big blue tarp took away from the picture a little bit. I will report that the bathrooms were flushable toilets and they were very clean. There was also a shower as it seemed to be a spot for campers to stop as well.
Roma QLD – Arrive 6:30pm (Travel time 5hr) Depart 5:07am the next day
The drive from Thallon was a little arduous as it was dusk, so visability wasn’t great and the wildlife was coming out to play at that time.
Roma was our planned overnight stop. We had booked the Roma Central Motel a couple of months ago. We were very glad we had booked as a lot of the motels in Roma had no vacancies. We arrived after the recpetion closed and they just sent us a code to access the room key. This was a very easy process. The room was just what we needed. Clean with a comfortable bed and a nice hot shower. Plus the little kitchenette was a real bonus.
We had packed our dinner, as we knew that we would be tired and not be bothered to go out for dinner. We were lucky enough to have booked a room with a kitchenette so we heated up our spaghetti bolognese in the microwave and relaxed a little bit before heading off to bed for an early night. We were planning to head out early again the next morning.
Emerald QLD – Arrived 9:49am (Travel time – 4h 42m) Depart 10:30am
We headed off from Roma around 5am and planned to get a large chunk of the driving completed before we stopped for our first break in Emerald. This meant we had a couple of hours driving in the dark and dawn. Again battling the wildlife at their favourite time to play. We had two close encounters with kangaroos. I drove the first couple of hours and took it a little slower than the speed limit. This was the key factor to missing the second kangaroo as I was able to brake safely and avoid it.
We swapped drivers after a couple of hours and Erika drove us into Emerald. We stopped for breakfast and a bathroom stop at Maccas. Nothing to exciting to report here, Erika grabbed a coffee for the road after breakfast and we headed off again.
Today, our plan was to keep driving and just swap drivers when we needed a break. We really wanted to arrive in Townsville before it got dark.
Townsville QLD – Arrived 5:05pm (Travel time – 6h 35m)
WE MADE IT. After 24 hours of driving and 2 full days in the car, we arrived in Townsville. We were thankful to make it into Townsville before dusk. We will be doing a full article on our time in Townsville. So make sure to check back next week to check it out.
The drive from Emerald to Townsville was a long slog and Erika did most of this portion. I did about an hour and half but swapped out earlier than expected as I felt tired. We then swapped back just before Charters Towers.
What we listened to driving from Newcastle to Townsville
- Podquiz – We are both big fans of trivia and found this podcast a couple of years ago. I had saved about 3 weeks of them for the trip, so we had some fun playing along. If you love trivia, we highly recommend checking out the podquiz podcast. There are over 900 episodes now!
- Armchair Expert – Erika has loved this podcast for years and I recently got into it. We had a couple of Armchair Anonymous to listen to. This podcast is exclusive to spotify if you are interested in checking it out.
- The Saturday Quiz – Yes, did we mention we really love trivia? This one is very different to the podquiz. It is Australian and is using the questions from the Saturday newspaper. It has 2 guests and there is much more talking amongst the guests.
- Liar Liar – On the second day, we mostly listened to this podcast. It had 10 episodes and we listened to the whole series in one go. We really like doing this for this style of podcast as we don’t have to remember where we were up to. We both loved this podcast. It is a true story about an Australian woman who ran a Ponzi scheme and stole millions of dollars from her friends and family.
We also listened to some music, mostly a driving playlist and our desert island playlist. Music was listened to on day one. Day two was mostly listening to the liar liar podcast.
What would we do differently next time?
Overall, we wouldn’t change too much about this two-day drive. The main thing we would do differently would be to stop much later in the drive on the first day. Tamworth was only 3.5 hours in and we could have swapped drivers and gotten much further into our trip before our first stop. We would have preferred to have arrived in Roma closer to 5-5:30pm to avoid dusk as much as possible.
The whole idea of this part of the trip was to reach Townsville as quickly and safely as possible and we couldn’t have done it any faster. By doing it this quickly it has given us extra time along the coast. We only had 3 weeks of annual leave booked and doing the drive this way has given us the maximum amount of time in the locations we wanted to spend time in.