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A superb 17-night Fly-Drive from Brisbane to Cairns, travelling along the spectacular Queensland Coast - epic spaces, laid-back towns and the Great Barrier Reef - our favourite Aussie driving region!
Day 1 - UK to Brisbane
Fly from Heathrow to Brisbane, arriving the following day. Departures from other UK airports are also available, please ask for details.
Day 2 - Brisbane
On arrival in to Brisbane, make your way to your hotel for a three night stay. Over the next few days get to know Brisbane a little better. We’d recommend heading to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary if time allows - its about 12 km from the city centre and is a great place to get close up to koalas, kangaroos, possums and plenty of other Aussie wildlife.
3 nights Brisbane - Hotel Urban Brisbane
Day 5 - Brisbane to Hervey Bay
Drive from Brisbane to Hervey Bay (approx 395 km / 5 hours plus stopping time) via the Sunshine Coast, Noosa, Rainbow Beach & Maryborough
Collect your car in Brisbane and start the journey north through Queensland - the traffic quietens off as you leave Brisbane. Detour off the Bruce Highway and along the Sunshine Coast to take in resort towns such as Maroochydore, Coolum and Noosa. A very worthwhile detour off takes you to pretty Rainbow Beach at the bottom end of Fraser Island, with its multicolour dunes, then on to Maryborough, where a statue of Mary Poppins marks the birthplace of her creator, PL Travers.
2 nights Hervey Bay – Mantra Hervey Bay Fraser Coast
Pretty Hervey Bay is a great place to spend a few days, with its long golden beaches, sub-tropical climate and plenty of activities – it’s one of the best places in the world for whale watching (late July to early November) and is the gateway to Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island and the only place where rainforest grows on sand. Heritage-listed Fraser Island can be explored on day and overnight trips, which you can book in Hervey Bay.
Day 7 - Hervey Bay to Agnes Water
Drive from Hervey Bay to Agnes Water (approx 235 km / 2 hours 45 mins plus stopping time) via Bundaberg
Continue along the Capricorn Coast heading north to Agnes Water - as you leave Hervey Bay you’ll start to move in to sugar cane fields and we’d suggest a stop in Bundaberg, which is famous for its rum (although the ginger beer is pretty good too!) - tours of the main distillery in town are available..
1 night Agnes Water – Sandcastles 1770 Resort
Agnes Water is a small and laid-back town with a stunning stretch of beach (the most northerly surf beach on the whole of Australia’s East Coast), while the tiny town of 1770 (named after the year Captain Cook visited) is super-pretty and just a few miles north. This area is perfect for a chill-out stop off the Bruce Highway.
Day 8 - Agnes Water to Airlie Beach
Drive from Agnes Water to Airlie Beach to (approx 700 km / 7 hours 45 mins plus stopping time) via Rockhampton and Mackay
Today is a bit of an epic drive, but this stretch of the Bruce Highway is marked by vast open spaces and light traffic – by making the journey in one go you can then spend a little longer at your next destination. Rockhampton is home to some impressive Queenslander architecture, as well as the Tropic of Capricorn marker point – the tropics start (and end!) here, and if time allows, there’s a great lido in Mackay for a cooling swim.
3 nights Airlie Beach – Mango House Resort Airlie Beach
Airlie Beach is the gateway to the Whitsundays, with a lively atmosphere in a pretty setting, overlooking the Coral Sea. It’s a great place to learn to dive, and whale watching is possible from July to September. Airlie Beach is one of the main points for trips to the Whitsundays, and boat trips can be arranged in the town.
Day 11 - Airlie Beach to Townsville
Drive from Airlie Beach to Townsville (approx 275 km / 3 hours 10 mins plus stopping time) via Bowen
Head north from Airlie Beach to Townsville, passing through towns such as Bowen and Ayr– the former has been featured in several Hollywood films, including ‘Australia’ itself!
2 nights Townsville – Clarion Hotel Townsville
Townsville is one of the larger towns in Northern Queensland and is a laid back town and a great base for exploring the area – a fun place for a few days. Nearby Magnetic Island is a beautiful lump of granite that’s always fairly peaceful and very relaxed – well worth exploring!
Day 13 - Townsville to Mission Beach
Drive from Townsville to Mission beach (approx 255 km / 3 hours 15 mins plus stopping time) via Paluma Range National Park and Ingham
Today continue along the Bruce Highway towards Mission Beach – we’d suggest calling in at Ingham, home to the Tyto Wetlands with its walking trails and impressive range of bird species, and also the Paluma Ranges for the lovely swimming hole at Little Crystal Creek.
2 nights Mission Beach – Castaways Resort & Spa Mission Beach
Laid-back Mission Beach makes a great stop on the way from Townsville to Cairns, and is a world away from these larger towns. Mission Beach is actually a number of small towns dotted along the coast hidden in amongst the rainforest, with the rainforest and beach merging in a tropical paradise. There are plenty of activities available from sky-diving to reef trips, plus the area has one of the highest densities of cassowaries in the country.
Day 15 - Mission Beach to Cairns
Drive from Mission Beach to Cairns (approx 170 km / 2 hours 30 mins plus stopping time) via Etty Bay and Babinda
We’d suggest taking a short detour off the highway to Babinda with its pretty swimming opportunity, and also visiting Etty Bay where you may be lucky enough to see the elusive cassowaries on the beach. Drop your car off as you arrive in to Cairns.
4 nights Cairns – Mantra Cairns Esplanade
Cairns is the heart of Queensland’s Tropical North and is a great base for exploring the region, including the Great Barrier Reef, which is at its closest to shore here – there’s a huge number of trips available to the reef itself, with options that are ideal for everyone from qualified divers to those who don’t like the water. Cairns also offers plenty of land-based activities from bungee jumping to rainforest trips, plus there’s a great swimming lagoon in the town centre and a good range of hotels, restaurants and shops.
Day 19 - Return
Make your way to Cairns Airport for your flight to the UK.
Issue date: 13 February 2019
Special offers Prices are per person based on two sharing, including flights, transfers and accommodation, and are subject to availability.
Depart Heathrow on 16 May
3 nights Brisbane
4* Hotel Urban Brisbane
11 days car hire - Nissan Pulsar
2 nights Hervey Bay
4* Mantra Hervey Bay
1 night Agnes Water
3*+ Sandcastles 1770 Resort
3 nights Airlie Beach
3* Mango House Resort
2 nights Townsville
3* Clarion Hotel Townsville
2 nights Mission Beach
3*+ Castaways Resort & Spa
Rainforest Hotel room
4 nights Cairns
4* Mantra Esplanade Cairns
Hotel City View room
£1675 per person