Cairns to Brisbane Travel Route (Campervan Hire)

Enjoy a great mix of long beaches, tropical rainforest and of course the world’s largest coral reef, the Great Barrier Reef
Distance: 1,700kms
Time Frame: 14 to 21 days
Best Time: May to September
Route PDF

Highlights of travelling Cairns to Brisbane (or vice versa)

  • Most popular is the coastal drive from Brisbane to Cairns – or vice versa
  • Great mix of long beaches, tropical rainforest and of course the world’s largest coral reef, the Great Barrier Reef
  • Take the time to explore around Cairns for your opportunity to spot a Cassowary, spend time in the Atherton Tablelands or head north on the sealed road up to Cape Tribulation
  • Queensland really does have something for everyone – explore all of Queensland by heading into the outback for a circuit back to Brisbane
  • Plenty of opportunity to see wildlife like Kangaroos, birdlife including emus, kookaburras and cassowaries, dingos – all in stunning locations, and maybe even a crocodile in the northern areas
  • Enjoy exploring a diverse range of National Parks all over Queensland and the many walks they offer
  • There are freedom camps, especially in the outback, and of course plenty of commercial camps – some of these are stunning locations along the coast
  • Refer to the Camps Australia Wide Guide book for locations for freedom camps which can be purchased for AU$65 from us, or you can purchase along your route at some information centres, book or camping stores.  You can also purchase an app called ‘Wiki Camps’ if you use a smart phone or tablet, plus the information centres en-route are a gold mine for local information


Video coming soon to provide you with more exciting details about this travel route


Leaving Cairns:

Cairns is very easy to navigate around and is the ideal starting point for many different trips. For example you could head north to Port Douglas, the Daintree and Cape Tribulation (sealed road) or you could travel west up into the Atherton Tablelands and over into the outback after visiting the Undara Lava Tubes. There is also a lot to see and experience around Cairns, like visiting the Great Barrier Reef and the Kuranda Sky Rail amongst other attractions.

  • Mission Beach, a beautiful coastal village surrounded by rainforest and coastal farmland – keep your peepers peeled for a cassowary sighting
  • Enjoy viewpoints which look out over Hinchinbrook Island (with the best lookout near Cardwell ) on the way to Townsville
  • Townsville has a nice esplanade, good for a picnic and walk. Drive up Castle Hill for some amazing views over the city and out to Magnetic Island. If you have time, take a day trip out to Magnetic Island, via ferry (leave your Camper Hire on the mainland)
  • Bowen –snorkel at Horseshoe Bay; get some excellent views over the Whitsunday Islands from driving up Flagstaff Hill; Enjoy the murals in town and the memorabilia from the move ‘Australia’ which was filmed here recently
  • Airlie Beach, the gateway to the Whitsundays, which are stunning islands with long white beaches. Enjoy bush walks in The Conway Range behind Airlie Beach. The majority of the tours to the Whitsunday Islands leave from Shute Harbour, near Airlie Beach. You’ll find markets on Saturday morning at Airlie Beach
  • Rockhampton spans the Tropic Of Capricorn and is the self proclaimed “beef capital” of Australia
  • Agnes Waters and The Town Of 1770 are a worthy detour from the Bruce Highway. Agnes Waters boast Queensland’s most northern surf beach while 5kms away you’ll find the laid back relaxed community of 1770
  • Enjoy ‘the Larc’ while in 1770, which is an amphibious vehicle that drives up the coastline of Bustard Bay to the isolated Bustard Head Lighthouse – the first lighthouse to be built in Queensland. Have a fantastic day, spotting an abundance of wildlife, spectacular scenery and learning about the history of the area
  • Bundaberg – another pretty detour off the Bruce Highway. If you visit 1770 first, take a secondary road down to Bundaberg which is a stunning drive. Bundaberg has attractions which are popular like finding out more about ‘Bundy Rum’ or ‘Bundaberg Ginger Beer’, which are both very popular drinks here in Australia. Head out to Bargara on the coast for more enjoyable scenery
  • Hervey Bay is one of the locations where you can take a day tour to Fraser Island. A great way, when on a limited time frame, to experience World Heritage listed Fraser Island (the largest sand island in the world) is on a 4WD day tour. You can see all the main highlights like the stunning Lake Mackenzie, enjoy a rainforest walk, see the spectacular and colourful sand dunes and even go for a couple of swims. There’s a variety of different day tours available, and these can also be taken further south from Rainbow Beach if you have more time to head out to this beautiful seaside community
  • Noosa, at the northern end of the Sunshine Coast offers everything from boutique shopping and exquisite cuisine to picnics on the beach. Also enjoy the nearby Noosa National Park situated on Noosa’s headland. It is full of great walks and wildlife
  • Enjoy the coastal drive from Noosa to Caloundra if you have time, through many popular seaside towns and past long golden beaches – plenty of campgrounds along this section. These can be busy during popular times like school holidays and Christmas.
  • Glass House Mountains – these are large remnants of volcanic peaks that are quite stunning against an otherwise flat landscape and can be seen from the Bruce Highway, heading back to Brisbane
  • Australia Zoo, a very popular attraction made famous by Steven Irwin (aka the Crocodile Hunter)
  • Brisbane is also a great base to start and finish many other popular shorter and longer camper road trips. Both the Sunshine and Gold Coast, including the hinterlands are popular with those who only have a few days


What Else?

  • See plenty of wildlife along this route also like Crocodiles (top third of Australia), Kangaroos, Wallabies, vast range of Birdlife including Cassowaries, Kookaburras and a range of parrots and maybe even a Dingo
  • A number of National Parks to explore with a range of scenery from long golden beaches in the south to the tropical rainforest in the north. You do not have to pay to enter the National Parks in Queensland. There is a cost for camping which can be pre-booked online or over the phone
  • This trip is popular as part of a circuit for those who have longer, including the outback of Queensland for a more diverse adventure
  • Enjoy a thousand star accommodation – you’ll see a number of commercial camps, low cost camps and free rest areas that allow overnight camping. Coastal commercial camps in popular tourist areas will be busy over school holidays, long weekends and Christmas. You’ll need to pre-book during this time
  • Minimum time frame of 7 days for those in a rush; many of our retired clients take 28 days or longer. 14 – 21 days is the most popular length of time for the coastal drive
  • Travel in the top third of Australia is best during the Dry Season, so this trip is best May to September

For a personalised information pack for this travel route drop us an email or call us on +61 7 3314 1518 (Australia) or +64 3 547 3003 (New Zealand) and we can provide you with rates and vehicle options.

We have a wide range of vehicle options to suit your travel needs and you don’t pay any extra to deal with us and you will benefit from our one to one customer service, experience and greater variety of vehicle options.


map_enquiry_button1Click here to view the full route brochure (PDF document)