Cairns Australia to Brisbane Road Trip


"Cairns Australia - Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef"

This page focuses on Cairns and a road trip down to Brisbane.

Cairns Australia to Brisbane is a great choice for those coming to Australia out of the main season or those that are keen to take in the Great Barrier Reef Australia. The trip takes in the stunning Whitsunday islands as well as Noosa and of course the capital of Queensland - Brisbane



Cairns Australia - When To Come And The Place Itself


This is tropical Queensland so the best time to come here is during the dry season, defined as being between May and October.

Clearly if you plan to be here during the typical Australian summer you can still visit the Great Barrier Reef Australia But you should expect lots of rain. It can also make for a choppy sea ride out to the reef.

The first part of the road trip remains in tropical Queensland but as you make your way down you start to get into "normal" seasons within Australia - i.e. hot during October to March with little rain.

Cairns Australia itself is a rather large town and for me lacks charm. I'd much rather stay either at Port Douglas or a small seaside town called Palm Cove. You'll find more information on the Great Barrier Reef Australia page.

Cairns could be the place for you if you don't like things to be too touristy. Both Port Douglas and Palm Cove are holiday destinations where as Cairns Australia has touristy areas as well as the feel of a usual Australian town. It's just a little tacky in my book.

But staying here is more reasonable and attracts the backpackers as a result. I'd recommend the following if you intend to stay in Cairns Australia:

  • Kewarra Beach Resort from £330
  • Il Palazzo Boutique Apartments $175 - good location
  • Pullman Reef Hotel Casino $220
  • The Lakes Resort $250
  • The Hotel Cairns $195
  • Budget:

  • On the Wallaby (an hour outside of Cairns) from $50
  • Fig Tree Lodge $115
  • Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort - a bargain from $60 for a cabin
  • Best Places to Eat

  • Cairns Night Zoo BBQ followed by tour (including seeing Kangaroos)
  • Mondos at the Hilton
  • Mizuni at Novatel
  • Dundees on the Water Front - picturesque dining


  • Cairns Australia to Brisbane Road Trip - BEST STOP OFFS


    To do this trip you need at least 10 days - more would be great as this is really only giving you one or two nights at each stop off. You are bound to love some points and want to stay longer. 2-3 weeks would be ideal.

    Cairns Australia to Magnetic Island via Mission Beach (235km)

    Mission Beach Australia is a great beach and is 115km south of Cairns Australia. Stop off here for a couple of hours before traveling a further 235km to Magnetic Island Australia To get here you need to head to Townsville and then catch a ferry over to the island. Ferry times are fairly regular but only once every hour so agree a time and aim to get there to avoid waiting around.

    Not that well known but perfect for island getaways.

    This island has everything and despite being in the Tropical north of Queensland, it boasts to have 320 days of sunshine. The rain doesn't seem to hit here although I'd still skip January through to March if you want to guarantee yourself no rain.

    Once on the island you can either enjoy the beaches, snorkel, water sports, tennis or horse riding. Swimming is safe and it's warm enough to swim all year round.

    Places to stay include

    Mantra One Bright Point - modern, clean and very near the ferry terminal. Make sure you ask for a room with an ocean view.

    Sails on Horseshoe This is getting a little tired now BUT it has probably the best location, only moments from the beach. It's also a bit quieter here as its away from the pub.


    Magnetic Island to Arlie Beach (280km)

    This is the gateway to the magical Whitsundays islands.

    The Whitsundays Australia are probably the most stunning part of Australia but equally one of the most expensive too. Airlie beach itself is a cheap option for visiting the islands. Follow this link to find out what to do on Whitsundays Australia

    If you are planning on taking a campervan,You can camp in a variety of places including

    Airlie Cove Van Park

    or Aspen Parks

    But see the Whitsundays Australia for more accommodation ideas.


    Airlie Beach to Rockhampton – 481km

    There is now not much to see until you get to the Sunshine Coast (in my opinion) so its up to you how hard core you want to be. It would take you 14 hours to drive to Noosa from here so you still need to break up the journey a bit more!

    I’d try to get to Rockhampton which is approx 481km. Rockhampton isn’t too bad. It’s the place to get a great steak as it’s the capital of Australia’s beef farming industry. But if you are vegetarian, you should find some good Barrumundi as the local Fitzroy river has an abundance of these fish.

    This is a chance to get to know the real Australia outside of the fancy cities and tourist routes like Ayers Rock and Cairns Australia. Don't expect anything too exciting and you won't be disappointed!

    Places to stay in Rockhampton:

    The Edge Luxury Apartments - luxury might be over promising but its probably the best place to stay in Rockhampton. The apartments are big and clean. Location is just outside the main town

    Best Western Cattle City Motor Inn - not a bad little stop over place. It has broadband and a restaurant and is right on the main highway (can be a little noisy as a result) But very affordable.

    Rockhampton to Hervey Bay (Gateway to Fraser Island) 390km

    You need a full day really to drive to Hervey Bay and then a further day or two to do Fraser Island Australia This is one of my favourite places. An island made entirely of sand and a chance to get back to nature. One not to be missed!

    Remember, you can’t take your campervan onto the island – 4 wd vehicles only. You'll find plenty of companies willing to hire you a 4WD and camping gear. Or you can take an organised tour. Try to stay overnight and camp on the beach though - it really is a wonderful experience.


    Hervey Bay to Noosa 180km

    Noosa or Noosa Heads is a fantastic seaside town with fabulous beaches, forest walks, boutique shopping, gourmet restaurants and some nightlife. This is a great place to relax for a few days and enjoy the sunshine. A classic destination for the Sydneysiders to get away from city life.

    Find out more by clicking Noosa Australia

    Noosa to Brisbane 160km

    A chance to get back to civilization and city life! Brisbane Travel experiences are not to be missed. Did you know that Brisbane is now becoming THE centre for the arts? Click on the link above to find out what you should do and where to stay in Brisbane

    You should also consider partying in the Gold Coast which is an area about an hour outside of Brisbane. It has fantastic beaches and is a total party town - think an Australian version of Vegas! Infact the locals call it Brisvegas! More details at the link above.


    That pretty much concludes your Australia Road trip between Cairns Australia and Brisbane.

    If you have more time available you can carry on down the coast all the way to Sydney.

    Or for an even longer trip, carry on all the way down to Melbourne.

    To find out more, check out East Coast Australia which will tell you about stop offs between Noosa and Sydney

    Or go to Sydney to Melbourne for stop offs between these two key cities

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