Planning a road trip from Brisbane to Cairns

Queensland won’t disappoint ... whether it’s scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef, paddling through crystal clear waters year-round, or catching some of the best surf on the Gold Coast. The drive between Brisbane and Cairns is considered a 'must do' by many. It’s one of the most popular backpacker routes in Australia – and trust me you’re gonna love it.

It'd be a great to take 3 weeks from start to finish to enjoy this road trip leisurely. So, rent a camper-van, throw your bags in, and hit the road.

1.    Brisbane to Noosa via the Sunshine Coast: (137km, 2 hours)

Pick your camper van, stock up on snacks and you are ready to enjoy a memorable road trip.

Sunshine Coast is the first stop, so head north out of the city to over 100km of beautiful beaches welcoming you. Don’t miss out on the Blackall Range, Glasshouse Mountains and the stunning Noosa Hinterlands.

2.    Noosa to Hervey Bay (and Fraser Island): (190km, 2.5 hours)

You may wish to stay in Noosa forever, but you must leave as there’s more adventure and surprise waiting for you. So, shake the sand off your beach towel and jump back in your campervan and carry on to the north up on the Bruce Highway towards Hervey Bay on the Fraser Coast ... famous for whale watching and the fabulous Fraser Island – It’s bliss!!

3.    Hervey Bay to Bundaberg: (120km, 1.5 hours)

Drenched in the beauty of stunning beaches of Fraser Coast and set your sights on Bundaberg, famed for its Bundaberg Rum. Over 500 hectares of grassland and guided tours around the distillery make this a great place to stopover and stretch your legs.

4.    Bundaberg to Yeppoon: (330km, 4 hours)

It’ll take 4 hours to reach Yeppoon, so sit back and relax as you cruise up the coast. Don’t forget to spend some time around Agnes Water, two pristine seaside towns where Captain Cook landed in 1770. The chilled-out beachside town of Yeppoon is known for its spectacular beaches, the islands out on the bay and tropical climate.

5.    Yeppoon to Airlie Beach: (500km, 5.5 hours)

Next stop is the spectacular Airlie Beach. You might want to break the journey with a stop in sugar capital of Australia, Mackay, as it’s a good 6-hour drive or so. The town of Airlie overlooks the world-famous Whitsunday Islands – serving as a great base for exploring the Great Barrier Reef.

[Also Read : Gadgets That Deserve To Go Along For A Trip To Australia]

6.    Airlie to Mission Beach: (510km, 6 hours)

Mission Beach is another 6-hour trip north. You can stop at Bowen - which was used as backdrop to Baz Lurhmann’s film Australia, staring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. Mission Beach happens to be a natural mid point between Townsville and Cairns, and with four villages connected by 14km of wide golden beaches – sounds like paradise, right?

7.   Mission Beach to Cairns: (140km, 2 hours)

This last phase of the trip is only 2 hours long, so you don’t have to spend too much time on the road before you can jump out of the campervan and discover the city of Cairns. This gateway to Queensland’s tropical north is home to several events, festivals, the Daintree Rainforest ... and of course, the Great Barrier Reef.

Jonathan Campbell

Aussie Trip Advisor, 12H Nob Hill, Roseland NJ 07068

Aussie Trip Advisor hand-craft Australian itineraries on a fee-for-service basis