Whether you’ve always dreamed of scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef, catching some of the best surf on the Gold Coast or paddling through crystal clear waters year-round – Queensland won’t disappoint. If you’re planning an upcoming trip to Australia’s sunshine state then the drive between Brisbane and Cairns is a must do. It’s one of the most popular backpacker routes in Australia – and for good reason.
This trip is a long one and we recommend you take at least 25 days from start to finish. So hire a campervan, throw your bags in the back and hit the road.
1. Brisbane to Noosa via the Sunshine Coast
(137km, 2 hours)
You’ve picked up your rental campervan, the roadtrip playlist you took 3 hours to put together last night is ready to go and you’ve stocked up on snacks. So what now?
First stop is the Sunshine Coast, so head north out of the city to where over 100km of beautiful beaches await you. Don’t miss out on the Glasshouse Mountains, Blackall Range and the stunning Noosa Hinterlands.
2. Noosa to Hervey Bay (and Fraser Island)
(190km, 2.5 hours)
You probably won’t want to leave Noosa, but you must! So shake the sand off your beach towel and jump back in your car or campervan and carry on north up Bruce Highway towards Hervey Bay on the Fraser Coast, famous for whale watching and it’s access to the famous Fraser island.
3. Hervey Bay to Bundaberg
(120km, 1.5 hours)
Leave the stunning beaches of Fraser Coast and set your sights on Bundaberg, famous for it’s Bundaberg Rum. Over 500 hectares of parkland and guided tours around the distillery make this a great place to stop and stretch your legs.
4. Bundaberg to Yeppoon
(330km, 4 hours)
It’s just under a 4-hour drive up to Yeppoon, so sit back and relax as you cruise up the coast. Make sure you spend at least 3 days in Agnes Water & 1770, two pristine seaside towns where Captain Cook landed in the year 1770. The chilled out beachside town of Yeppoon is known for its beaches, tropical climate, and the islands out on the bay. Perfect.
5. Yeppoon to Airlie Beach
(500km, 5.5 hours)
Next stop is the iconic Airlie Beach. It’s a good 6-hour drive so you might want to break up with journey with a stop in sugar capital of Australia, Mackay. The town of Airlie overlooks the world famous Whitsunday Islands – it’s the perfect place to base yourself for exploring the Great Barrier Reef.
6. Airlie beach to Mission Beach
(510km, 6 hours)
Mission beach is another 6 hour trip, but if you’re looking to escape the heat of the car for an hour or two stop by Bowen. This town was the backdrop to Baz Lurhmann’s film Australia, staring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. Mission Beach is the natural halfway point between Townsville and Cairns, and it’s made up of four beach villages linked by 14km of wide golden beaches – sounds like heaven, right?
7. Mission Beach to Cairns
(140km, 2 hours)
The last leg of the journey is only 2 hours long, so you don’t have to spend too much time on the road before you can throw open the campervan doors and explore the city of Queensland. This gateway to Queensland’s tropical north is home to festivals, events, the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest.
If you are planning a roadtrip in Queensland then check out the wide range of campervans for hire from Traveller’s Autobarn.