Vehicle Search
Country Select
Australia New Zealand
Vehicle Type
No. of Passengers
Pick up location (show map)
Pick up date
 Pick a date
Pick up time
Drop off place (show map)
Drop off date
 Pick a date
Drop off time

Queensland’s Pacific Coast

11 day Australia Trip » Brisbane to Cairns

Start: Brisbane
Finish: Cairns
Duration: 11 days
Total Distance: 2470 km

Day 1 – Brisbane - Hervey Bay [approximately 350 km]

After picking up of your rental vehicle, head north out of Brisbane via Bruce Highway. Take the time to visit the Glass House Mountains National Park. The volcanic peaks of these mountains, named by Lieutenant James Cook in 1770, are a prominent feature of the Sunshine Coast landscape. There are many bushwalking opportunities available around the Glass House Mountains, ranging from easy to challenging grades. Continue travelling north on the Bruce Highway. Take the Sunshine Motorway exit and make your way to the coast via David Low Way. There are many stunning beaches along the way. Stop at the chic resort town of Noosa Heads for some lunch and maybe a short walk along the attractive boardwalk close to Noosa River. Take the Cooroy Noosa Road back to the Bruce Highway and continue driving North and reach Hervey Bay later in the afternoon. The town is the gateway to Fraser Island, the largest sand island

Day 2 – Fraser Island

The day is at your leisure; alternatively you can take part in a full day tour to Fraser Island which is offered by local touring companies. These tours offer an excellent opportunity to get an overview of this incredible island national park and its many and diverse natural wonders.

Day 3 – Hervey Bay to Rockhampton / Yeppoon [approximately 500 km]

The next two travelling days are made up of slightly longer driving distances; it is therefore recommended to start the day early. Make your way back to the Bruce Highway which is part of the National Highway No. 1 that spans around the entire continent. You might like to stop off at the sugar cane town of Bundaberg to view some of the historical buildings or maybe even drop in at the famous Bundaberg Rum Distillery which is open to the public. Continue along Bruce Highway through wide open farm and beef cattle country. Detour off the highway to Gladstone, famous for its sumptuous seafood. It is a great place to have lunch, try Gladstone’s famous mud crab! Later on, continue north to Rockhampton; depending on your arrival time you might like to take a drive out to the resort town of Yeppoon. Take a walk along the charming esplanade with its palm trees and a enjoy the mesmerising shades of blue and green that the view of the sea, sky and islands offer.

Day 4 – Rockhampton / Yeppoon to Mackay [approximately 430 km]

Follow the Bruce Highway up the mid-Queensland coast to Sarina. You might like to take a walk around Llewellyn Bay and view all the marine life in the rock pools around the area. Follow the highway further north to Eton and Mirani and head west to take a short detour to Eungella National Park. High above the surrounding plains, Eungella’s mist-shrouded, forest clad mountains are home to some very unusual plants and animals; visitors have got the unique opportunity to catch a glimpse of the most mysterious marine animal in the country, the shy platypus. This unique creature spends most of its life in cool and dark freshwater streams, lays eggs, is a mammal, has a poison spike, a beaver-like tail and web-like feet. Enjoy a stop at Sky Window in Eungella to see the spectacular views over Pioneer Valley. Eungella is great for bushwalking; explore the rainforest along the discovery trail or take a longer walk. There are some beautiful waterfalls along the tracks. In the afternoon return to the coastal plain and your overnight destination – Mackay.

Day 5 – Mackay – Airlie Beach [approximately 220 km]

Mackay is an important shipping gateway for a number of agricultural products such as sugar cane, but increasingly, the mining industry about three hours west of the city has sent huge tonnages to the coast from where raw materials are shipped to all corners of the globe. Today’s drive to Airlie Beach is  short one and it will leave you plenty of time to check out some of the shops and many restaurants that await you in Airlie Beach.

Day 6 – Airlie Beach

Today enjoy a day at leisure to discover Airlie Beach, the gateway to the Whitsundays. More than 70 tropical islands make this spectacular region popular with holiday makers, sailors and fishermen alike. Take a wander along the main street and amongst the cafes and souvenir shops you will also find tour booking centres offering a wealth of daytrips, cruises, aviation adventures, adrenalin pursuits and much more. The tours and activities cover everything on land, sea and or in the air! Alternatively, if you prefer, near Airlie Beach is the Conway National Park, which includes both rainforest and tidal foreshore; it is an excellent spot for a leisurely bushwalk in beautiful coastal settings.

Day 7 – Airlie Beach - Townsville [approximately 310 km]

Today’s journey brings you closer to Far North Queensland, the tropical part of the “Sunshine State”, as Queensland is casually referred to. Head back to the main road north and stop en route at the small town of Bowen which is positioned within five kilometres of eight absolutely pristine beaches and bays. The town and surrounding area is well known for its mangoes, you might wish to visit the “Big Mango” which is situated a few kilometres out of town. There is a shop there that sells “all things mango”, from fridge magnets to chutneys – but best known of all is the sensational mango ice cream on offer! Before reaching Townsville, visit Bowling Green Bay National Park and take a walk around Mount Elliot. Later in the afternoon, arrive in Townsville.

Day 8 – Townsville - Mission Beach [approximately 250 km]

Before leaving Townsville this morning, visit the impressive “Reef HQ”, which includes giant aquariums and impressive displays about the wonderful marine world of the Great Barrier Reef. Come face to face with the wonders of the coral reef at the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium. “Reef HQ” is designed to stimulate the visitors’ curiosity, and visitors of all ages find this place an amazing experience. It has fantastic displays, thousands of marine animals, touch tanks, a full program of talks and tours and a waterside café. Afterwards, continue heading north on the Bruce Highway and past Ingham and Queensland’s largest island national park – Hinchinbrook Island – and Tully, Australia’s wettest town, to the tiny village of El Arish where you will find the turnoff to Mission Beach. Spend the afternoon in Mission Beach, exploring the township and enjoying a walk along the sandy Pacific Ocean beaches.

Day 9 – Mission Beach to Port Douglas [approximately 330 km]

Before departing Mission Beach, visit Bicton Hill and Cuttons Lookout which offer superb views over the island coast. You can also view the banana farms and other agricultural projects in the area. Some fresh fruit for the road would be ideal; buy it from one of the roadside stalls! Continue driving north on the Bruce Highway until you reach the Palmerston Highway, where you can turn West and stop at Palmerston in the Wooroonooran National Park. Beautiful lowland rainforest, wild rivers, the North Johnstone River Gorge and waterfalls make the Palmerston section of national park one of the most scenic places in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Go bird watching during the day and see many waterfalls along the walking tracks. Continue along the Palmerston Highway to Millaa Millaa and visit the spectacular Millaa Millaa Falls. Then head north to the small town of Yungaburra which is located in the Atherton Tablelands. Just outside this town is the most amazing tree you are ever likely to see, it is called the Curtain Fig Tree. The curtain effect results from one tree leaning against another tree on a 45 degree angle. The strangler vine then grew along the angle of the leaning tree, dangling 15 metres to the ground to create the amazing curtain effect. In the afternoon drive back to the Bruce Highway and head north to Cairns, the gateway to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. From Cairns take the Captain Cook Highway north to the tropical town of Port Douglas.

Day 10 – Port Douglas

Port Douglas, once a sleepy coastal town, is now a buzzing holiday destination and has attracted a great number of visitors over the years. It is an ideal destination from which to explore the wonders of the Barrier Reef; book one of the many day cruises that leave Port Douglas every day of the year. At approximately 9 AM, boats will leave for the outer Barrier Reef. Most companies offer complimentary morning tea and presentations on marine biology are shown aboard the vessels and during the trip out to the edge of the reef. Arrival at the outer Barrier Reef is then followed by swimming and snorkelling; experienced divers can often also take up this opportunity to enjoy a dive or two. Some companies have got platforms on the reef, on which guests can relax under shady domes; sometimes guests even get the chance to visit an underwater observatory from where they can see coral and fish without getting wet. The day tours include sumptuous buffet lunch, followed by fresh fruit and tea/coffee. After some more snorkelling or swimming, the boats return to the mainland later in the afternoon. At times of the year, whales, pods of dolphins, turtles, rays and other fascinating marine creatures can be viewed during these excursions.

Day 11 – Port Douglas to Cairns [approximately 80 km]

Today you have a free day to explore the Port Douglas region before driving back to Cairns on the Captain Cook Highway. Maybe you’d like to visit Hartley’s Crocodile Park which is the best place to see crocodiles in Australia. Or take a ride on the scenic Skyrail which is a unique rainforest experience and a world first in environmental tourism projects – during the construction phase, not one larger rainforest tree was cut to build the platforms and pylons for this unique cable car experience that takes visitors from the coastal plain to the rainforest village of Kuranda high above the majestic tree tops. Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park is also a fantastic experience and provides guests with great insight into the local Aboriginal culture. Later in the afternoon, arrive in Cairns where your North Queensland adventure will end. Drop of your rental vehicle and continue your journey.