The southern boundary of Queensland is at 29 degrees South latitude and the northern boundary is at 11 South latitude. In the Northern Hemisphere, this is approximately equivalent to from the southern United States border south to Venezuela. For similar latitudes, in one hemisphere, similar temperatures can be expected in the other hemisphere. The Tropic of Capricorn, which is the boundary between the temperate and tropic zones, splits the state into about one third temperate zone with the remainder in the tropics. A low range, called the Great Dividing Range runs roughly parallel to the east coast. It is mainly about 50 km inland, but in a few places it is located on the coast. Temperatures on the coastal side of the range are more moderate than on the inland side. i.e. temperature fluctuations are less on the coastal side.
The northern tropical part of the state has a monsoonal climate, with heavy summer rainfall and dry winters. Southern Australia has a winter rainfall pattern. Because the southern section of Queensland is geographically located in the middle, it has a climate between these two opposites. It has mostly summer rainfall, but not the winter and spring droughts of the northern section.
In the southern temperate zone of the state, summer temperatures are usually in the mid thirties Celsius, (90 F) and air humidity is high. Bicycle touring in these conditions is unpleasant. However, in April, May, June, July, August and September, the conditions are usually close to ideal for bicycle touring. The maximum temperatures seldom exceed 24C (75C) and the minimums are usually above 5C (41F). I favour May and August as the minimum temperatures are slightly higher, but the daily maximums are still comfortable.
In the north, June, July and August are the best months. Even then, the daily maximums can be in the low thirties Celsius, (90F).
Thus, when the southern parts of Australia and New Zealand are too cold and wet for bike touring, Northern New South Wales and Queensland provide excellent touring opportunities.
Because of the large distance between the north and the south, only general information can be provided. Parts of the north coast receive over 3200 mm (125 inches)/annum with most of this falling in summer. The southern coast receives about 1500 mm (60 inches)/ annum, with about 70% in summer. There usually are not the extreme drought periods that are experienced in the north. In the far west, (the arid zone) the rainfall is as low as or less than 250 mm (10 inches)/annum.
The Department OF Natural Resources has extensive historical rainfall maps.
The prevailing wind is predominantly south to south east for most of the year. Because of this, it is strongly recommended that bicycle tourists travel south to north as much as possible.
The Bureau Of Meteorology has an excellent web site which provides both detailed and general information on temperature, rainfall and prevailing winds. Wind roses for Australia by area and season are at Bureau of Meterology wind roses.
An on-line map, in PDF format, of the east coast of Australia from Rockhampton south is available here
These maps show the major roads and towns but are not detailed enough for navigating when bicycle touring.
In my view, the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland (RACQ) publishes
the most suitable maps for bicycle touring. They also publish a
comprehensive accommodation guide which lists motels and caravan
parks and gives details of the cost, and facilities. It also
gives town populations and a few details about the town. It is
too large for carrying when touring, but is ideal for planning
purposes. For South East Queensland (SEQ) the map sheets
Gold Coast Northern Rivers District Map
Brisbane Sunshine Coast District Map
are sufficient. For the remainder of the state, select those which are categorised as District Maps.
The (Queensland) Department of Main Roads distribute a free map which is marginally useful, as it lists the roadside rest-areas, and indicated if water is available at them. For the rest-areas controlled by Main Roads, it also indicates if camping is permitted. It is deficient in that it does not indicate when camping is permitted in rest-areas controlled by other authorities. It can be obtained from Queensland Government Travel Centres. Some Shire Visitor Information Centres also have it. I saw copies in the Boonah Visitor Information Centre.
The Map Market has an online shop and will ship overseas. South East Queensland from Sunmap Touring is a good general purpose map for planning and navigating and is available from them.
A web source of commercial maps is World Wide Maps and Guides. They do not have an online shop but will also respond to email requests for advice on the most appropriate maps for a region. They also stock a few books on bicycle touring. They ship overseas and accept international credit cards.
The only unique attraction in Queensland is the Great Barrier Reef. It is a coral reef of over 1000 km in length. It offers excellent skin diving and fishing, plus general sightseeing. It is a marine park and is world heritage listed. The North Queensland rain forests are also world heritage listed and contain many waterfalls and other scenic attractions. The beaches in SEQ are excellent, but equal quality beaches can be visited in New South Wales, without the traffic problems encountered in coastal Queensland.
Most of the coastal strip carries heavy traffic on roads which do not have shoulders, and often there is no alternative road to the highway. The distance between towns and the heavy traffic often makes bicycle touring difficult. Also, most of the scenery is monotonous. The road seldom follows the coast and the scenery mainly consists of poor quality forest or cane farms.
The population in Queensland is mainly on the coast, with much lower population density to the west of the Great Dividing Range. Queensland, aided and abetted by the local RTA is firmly entrenched in a car culture. The motorised traffic on the coast is heavy and does not have a "share the road" culture. Because of this, bicycle touring east of the Great Dividing Range is not recommended. An enjoyable alternative for bicycle tourists is to ride on the western side of the range, where motorised traffic is light. Fortunately, these areas are the most suitable and the most scenic.
West of the dividing range, the population density is lower and the traffic is much lighter. Bicycle tours of seven to ten days duration can be planned almost entirely on lightly trafficked roads. The scenery is more varied and is pleasant rather than spectacular. It is mainly agricultural. If the aim is to travel from south to north, highways need to be used. The traffic on these is usually reasonably low.
Except in the isolated western part of the state, the roads are mainly paved with short sections of reasonable gravel. The RACQ maps distinguish between paved and unpaved roads. However, as conditions are continuously improving, the maps often show sections of unpaved roads which are now paved.
The RACQ accommodation guide, provides the cost of motels and caravan parks listed in their guide. It also allocates a star rating for the facility. For caravan parks, the rating is oriented towards motorised touring and is only a rough guide when bicycle touring.
All trains, except the Spirit Of Capricorn will carry two bikes/train. The handlebars have to be turned, and the pedals removed. The Queensland Rail site provides maps of the routes, timetables and fares.
For those wishing to ride to Sydney, the booklet, The Pacific
Bicycle Route is recommended. It describes a route which is
a mix of the coast and the hinterland. It was published in 1987
and thus some of the information on facilities is out of date,
but the map and most route descriptions are still accurate.
It can be obtained from,
or World Wide Maps and Guides usually stock it. A few corrections
Brisbane suburban trains now allow bikes in the passenger sections on off-peak trains. i.e. bikes are allowed on all out bound trains in the morning and on all inbound trains in the afternoon and at night.
The caravan park at Queens Park Ipswich is closed.
An alternative inland route is via the New England Highway. The NSW section of the highway has a bicycle lane for it's entire length. I wish I could say the same for the Queensland section. Probably, the best alternative is to follow the Pacific Bicycle Route as far as Casino, and then ride west to the New England Highway at Tenterfield. The townships of Mallanganee and Tabulam have small shops and hotels, but no official camping grounds. In either town, it should be possible to discretely camp in a park.
A road route planner" is useful for finding towns and a route to them.