How to road trip Brisbane to Cairns
Find yourself on the most insta-worthy, coastline roadie from Brisbane to Cairns.
By Ashley Andrew from JUCY
What to expect
- Free river cruise to a man-made beach
- Get close and personal with humpback whales
- Snorkel the world famous Great Barrier Reef
- Time: 10 Days
- Transport: Car or campervan
- Price: $$
Are you seeking those truly tropical island feels, whilst view hunting, tanning, cocktail sipping, boutique shopping and café hopping? Sure, you are! Admit it.
From the east coast of Australia and all the way to the Gram, hit the open coastal road with the freedom of a JUCY car or campervan. Be ready to explore the most sunshine filled, laid-back and adventure filled towns all the way up the coast.
Day 1: Free cruisin' Brisbane
Guys, enjoy the last of those big city feels because you’re leaving Brisbane after today. They say the best kinda fun is outdoors. We say the best kind of fun is free, so let’s combine the two.
We recommend jumping on the CityHopper ferry that will take you cruising into the centre of town. HERE, you’ll find a man-made beach bathing in sunshine. Once you’re done lapping up that golden Aussie sun, wandering around South Bank is a must. Don’t miss the unreal sunset from the top of Mt Coot-Tha.Once the sun is gone, Fortitude Valley is where the locals are at. Hit up Bens Burgers for dinner.
Day 2: Explore the hinterland's Glass House Mountains
Your adventure starts as you head into the Sunshine Coast Hinterland - about an hour north of Brisbane. Word to the wise, while you’re here, check out the Glasshouse Mountains.
Then head to Australia Zoo, because y’know. Animals. After, head north along the sunny coast until you land in Noosa Heads.
Day 3: Check out Noosa’s National Parks, Everglades and Boat House
This morning you’re heading to Noosa National Park because here you’ll find some cute AF koalas chilling in the trees and dolphins around in Laguna Bay. Fun, right?
THEN, head just under forty minutes north to check out the largest lake on the Noosa River, Lake Cootharaba. The river system here also leads back down to the perfect spot for a paddle, the Everglades. Nerdy fact: the Noosa Everglades are one of only two everglade systems in the world. We know because we asked an everglade expert. Not really, we just goggled. But still, that’s impressive. You have to admit.
After a day on the bay, chill out at the Noosa Boathouse. This insta-worthy spot overlooks the epic Hinterland and Noosa river.
Day 4: Get lost on Fraser Island
Catch the crack of dawn breaking around Noosa Heads and get ready to head five hours north.
Welcome to Fraser Island. The Island is only accessible by 4WD and has a giant 75 mile beach for you to have an absolute blast on.
We also recommend heading into the rainforest and check out Lake McKenzie. It’s a lake but 1000% times better. It’s SO blue.
Finish your day like an Aussie, crack a coldy and light up a barbie. The best part is that you can pitch a tent on the beach.
Day 5: Every day is hump day in Hervey Bay
Heading off a rad island isn’t SO bad when you know you’re only two hours away from experiencing Australia’s best whale watching. Unless you hate whales, in which case, soz. It’s time to leave.
Hervey Bay is home to the humpback whales and a Queensland must for whale watchers. Sign yourself up for a tour as most offer guaranteed whale sightings and the opportunity to enjoy a live whale show of breaching and tail flipping. Note: season runs July through until November.
Day 6: Beach hopping or cave hunting?
Get up at the crack of dawn and buckle up ‘cause you’ve got almost five-hours on the road to Yeppoon.
The main beach in Yeppoon is a peaceful and patrolled spot which makes it ideal for reading a book, sunbathing and swimming. However, if you’re still up for more adventure, head to the ancient Capricorn Caves.The limestone formed caves are a rare and natural attraction with many tours to suit the adrenaline junkies through to the wanderers.
Day 7: The ultimate hotspot, Airlie Beach
Brace yourself, this place is buzzing with backpackers, swimming lagoons, beer gardens and nightlife. What more are you after? The main street of Airlie beach provides cute boutique shops and if you’re here on a Saturday, you won’t want to miss the markets on the esplanade. Check out the vibrant nightlife and to cure the hangover, redeem yourself at the Wisdom Health Lab.
Day 8: Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island
Airlie beach is ultimately the hub to the Whitsunday Islands and while you’re here why not head out to experience one of them?
Your best bet is to grab a Whitsunday Island Hopper Pass so you can follow your own itinerary around the most popular island in the Whitsundays. From the unreal white sandy beaches, sparkling waters, to the bars and eateries, there is so much to see here.
Day 9: Townsville retreat
Castle Hill will ironically provide no castles, but amazing 360-degree views of the city and Magnetic Island. Once you've got your bearings, get cultured and uncover the significant site for the Australian military and Aboriginal heritage. Make sure you check out the observation bunker which was used by visiting American soldiers in World War II. After a big day of exploring, treat yo' self to a true sense of Australia by pitching camp for free at Saunders beach.
Day 10: Cairns
Get up, cause you’re headed four hours north to the tropical paradise of Cairns. Adventurous by nature and home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Cairns is the ultimate place to step out to the Great Barrier Reef. Take the plunge with a snorkelling tour, Or if you're more about chasing waterfalls, climbing mountains and rich rainforests, head ten minutes inland to the picturesque, Barron Gorge National Park. After a day of tree huggin' nature lovin' get back in touch at the Cairns night markets from 4.30pm on Abbott Street.
JUCY gives travellers the green light to have the time of their lives. With a range of cars and campers to choose from - you pick the destination, we’ll sort the rest.