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Ultimate Brisbane to Cairns Road Trip

Cruise along the Queensland coast between Brisbane and Cairns, taking in the best that the Sunshine State has to offer.

Great Reef
You haven't explored Queensland until you've explored it via road. With World Heritage listed national parks and bucket list moments (hanging out with whales, cruising over to Whitehaven Beach and snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef just to name a few!) waiting for you discover the best of the Queensland coast on this 9 day Brisbane to Cairns road trip. Already in Cairns? Don't worry this itinerary is reversible!


Day 1: Brisbane Apollo Branch to Caloundra

Distance: 90kms

Travel time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Pick up your Apollo vehicle in Brisbane and hit the road. Day one's destination is Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast. This sleepy coastal town is known for its relaxed atmosphere and epic surfing conditions. We recommend picking up some fish and chips and spending the afternoon at the nearby Moffat Beach. 


Day 2: Caloundra to Hervey Bay

Distance: 210kms

Travel time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Leave Caloundra behind and continue north in the direction of Hervey Bay. On the way drop in at Rainbow Beach and take the short walk to Carlo Sand Blow. This sand blow is an accumulation of sand covering 15 or so hectares and is often marveled at for its out of worldly view. 


Day 3: Hervey Bay

Ready to have a whale-y good time? (Sorry, couldn't help ourselves!). The calm, protected waters surrounding Hervey Bay are one of the best places in Australia to spot whales. From July to October each year this region becomes a whale's hangout of choice as they drift on through on their annual migration between Australia and Antartica. 


People looking at whale approaching boat | Tourism and Events Queensland


Day 4: Hervey Bay to Yeppoon

Distance: 425kms

Travel time: 5 hours

A longer day on the road today but one that is well worth the destination. Situated just 30 minutes outside of Rockhampton, the coastal Yeppoon is a must do for those exploring the Queensland coast. From Yeppoon you can visit Byfield National Park, Pumpkin Island and Great Keppel Island so we wouldn't blame you if you felt the need to extend your Queensland road trip just to see more of this region. 


Woman sitting at infinity style pool lagoon at sunrise | Tourism and Events Queensland


Day 5: Yeppoon to Mackay

Distance: 355kms

Travel time: 3 hours 50 minutes

Stock up on your road trip snacks, you just might need them today! Leave Yeppoon behind, hit up your road trip playlist and enjoy a four hour drive to Mackay. 


Day 6: Mackay to Airlie Beach

Distance: 150kms

Travel time: 2 hours

Just north of Mackay you'll find Cape Hillsborough National Park. Famous for its furry locals, each morning Cape Hillsborough beach is dotted with a number of friendly kangaroos and wallabies. You have to be here at sunrise to catch them though so we recommend booking in the night before at Cape Hillsborough Tourist Nature Park, where you can practically roll out of your Apollo Camper and onto the beach.  


Kangaroo looking at camera on beach at sunrise | Tourism and Events Queensland


Day 7: Airlie Beach 

The day is yours to enjoy at Airlie Beach,  the gateway to the Whitsundays. Spend your day island hopping, snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, relaxing on Whitehaven Beach and taking in the spectacular view that is Hill Inlet. 


View of light blue ocean and white sand | Tourism and Events Queensland


Day 8: Airlie Beach to Mission Beach

Distance: 507kms

Travel time: 5 hours 45 minutes

Say goodbye to Airlie Beach and continue north. Mission Beach is a nature lover's paradise. Palm fringed beaches, tropical rainforest and golden sand is waiting to greet you at the end of today's journey. On the way to Mission Beach, take a detour to Wallaman Falls (Australia's tallest single drop permanent waterfall) and the Instagram famous and vibrant blue Cardwell Spa Pools. 


Aerial shot of two people walking along beach with tropical palm trees | Tourism and Events Queensland


Day 9: Mission Beach to Cairns Apollo Branch 

Distance: 140kms

Travel time: 2 hours

You may have arrived at Cairns but that doesn't mean your Queensland road trip adventure needs to end. Cairns is famous for its wealth of natural wonders including the world's oldest tropical rainforest and the world heritage listed Great Barrier Reef. 


Girl swimming next to turtle on the Great Barrier Reef | Tourism and Events Queensland



Sea Turtles

November to January: Mother turtles come ashore to nest at Mon Repos, Bundaberg.
January to late March: Tiny hatchlings take their first flips towards the shore at Mon Repos, Bundaberg.
All year round: Swim with the sea turtles across the Great Barrier Reef - our top spots are Lady Elliot Island, Lady Musgrave Island and Green Island!

Whale Watching

The calm, protected waters of Hervey Bay provide the perfect conditions for mother humpbacks to teach their newborn calves survival skills before continuing their migration along the Queensland coastline from June to October every year. 

Great Barrier Reef

Stretching over 2,300kms along the Queensland coastline, the Great Barrier Reef is a world heritage playground, just waiting to be explored. With five distinctive precincts, each offering a unique set of experiences, there is breathtaking adventure here waiting for you to discover.

Indigenous Culture

Immerse yourself in Queensland's Indigenous culture. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people proudly practice and share their culture. Discover stories shared over thousands of years and connect with the world's oldest continuously surviving culture. 


Where to stay

Ingenia Holiday Park Noosa

Fisherman's Beach Holiday Park

Seabreeze Tourist Park

NRMA Cairns Holiday Park

Ready to explore?


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