This Brisbane to Cairns itinerary is without a doubt one of the world’s most stunning coastal drives. This self-drive holiday is full of stunning coastal spots that you wouldn’t believe existed until you saw them.
Spend 10 days following DriveNow’s 10-day Brisbane to Cairns itinerary.
Days 1, 2: Noosa
It’ll take roughly two hours to travel 145kms from Queensland’s capital to your first destination. Surf beaches, white sand and crystal-clear waters await. But if you like a quieter, more relaxed local vibe, then Peregian Beach is the place. Travel inland to explore the rolling green hills of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. Pay a visit to the Maleny Cheese Factory to taste some of the most scrumptious Buffalo Brie. Montville is another great stopover where you’ll discover the amazing French-style Poets Café, which boasts a gorgeous interior and sweeping countryside views.
Days 3, 4: Hervey Bay
Drive 190kms north and you’ll arrive at the lovely Hervey Bay. From mid July to early November, visitors flock to the area to watch humpback whales migrate up and down the coast. The sight is truly mesmerizing. Make sure you’re ready bright and early to get on a tour boat to witness this annual migration. Make sure you also find time to visit the world’s largest sand island, Fraser Island. Get ready for clear rivers running over white sand and lush rainforest. There’s also the famous Lake McKenzie, where the water is so stunningly clear that it cleans your jewellery as if it were brand new!
Day 5: Gladstone
A three and a half hour drive north of Hervey Bay brings you to Gladstone. But no trip to this part of Central Queensland is worth it without a stop at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery. Take a tour to learn about the town’s history linked to rum. Once you arrive at Gladstone you’ll want to head straight to the beach or hire a boat to go fishing.
Days 6, 7: Airlie Beach
Airlie is a bustling tourist town, which also acts as the gateway to the Whitsundays. There are many sailing tours to choose from. You can sail to Hamilton Island, Daydream Island or Hook Island, to name a few. Whatever you do, you must not miss a trip to the incredible Whitehaven Beach. It’s radiant white sand and turquoise waters regularly earns its reputation as Australia’s number one beach.
Day 8: Townsville
Another 275kms north of Airlie Beach is Townsville. On the way you can stop for lunch in Bowen and enjoy some of the region’s famous mangoes. Once you arrive in Townsville, there are plenty of activities to choose from. Visit Magnetic Island for a day in paradise or climb the city’s iconic Castle Hill.
Day 9: Mission Beach
About an hour and a half from Townsville is Australia’s highest single drop waterfall. At 268m high, Wallaman Falls is a must-see for anyone who loves a good swim in a rainforest. It’s situated in UNESCO World Heritage listed Wet Tropics. Continue north to Cardwell, and if you’re prepared to go off the beaten path for a while you can see the stunning natural beauty of the Cardwell Spa Pools. You’ve never seen water so blue in your entire life. Before the end of the day, land yourself a spot at Mission Beach to relax.
Day 10: Cairns
Your Brisbane to Cairns itinerary is coming to an end. But the good news is that once you reach Cairns there’s still an entire world of exciting activities waiting for you. Whether you’re adventurous and want to hike some of Queensland’s highest mountains, set off to explore the Great Barrier Reef, or chill at a cafe by the beach, Cairns has something incredible to offer everyone.