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HOME > Australia > Fly-Drives > Brisbane to Cairns


Day 1 - UK to Brisbane

Fly from London to Brisbane, arriving the next day.

Days 2-3 - Brisbane

On arrival make your way from the airport to your chosen hotel, for a two night stay - we have a range of hotels to choose from, and your length of stay in Brisbane is flexible. Brisbane is an easy city to explore on foot, with the central area being compact and dotted with historic buildings. Take a cruise on the Brisbane River or explore the cafes and bars.

Day 4 - Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast

Collect your rental car from the Brisbane depot, and head out of town towards the Sunshine Coast. We’d suggest heading inland to the Glasshouse Mountains (approx 120 km / 1 hour 45 mins, plus stops), snaking your way through the forests to take in the views of these spectacular peaks. Travel along the Sunshine Coast resorts of Mooloolaba and Maroochydore on the way to your accommodation for the night.

Day 5 - Sunshine Coast to Hervey Bay

Today wind you way through the Sunshine Coast and on via Rainbow Beach and Maryborough to Hervey Bay (approx 290 km / 3 hours 45 mins, plus stops). Gorgeous Rainbow Beach has spectacular sand dunes of a multitude of colours backing white sand beaches that are great for surfing, while sleepy Maryborough’s claim to fame is that PL Travers - the author of Mary Poppins - was born here (check out her statue on on Richmond Street!) On arrival in to Hervey Bay check in to your hotel for a two night stay.

Day 6 - Hervey Bay

Spend a day exploring the Fraser Coast region from Hervey Bay - perhaps go whale-watching depending on the time of year, or take a trip to Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island and one of the most spectacular parts of the Queensland Coast.

Day 7 - Hervey Bay to Anges Water

Travel via Bundaberg to Agnes Water, popping in to pretty 1770 when you get there (approx 235 km / 2 hours 45 mins, plus stops). Bundaberg is best known for its rum and a tour of the famous Bundaberg Rum Distillery is a ‘must do’ for rum fans. The town of 1770 marks the first landing point of Captain Cook in Queensland in the year of 1770, and is just past Agnes Water itself, one of Queensland’s most laid-back beach resorts and the most northerly of the state’s surfing beaches. On arrival check in to your hotel for an overnight stay.

Day 8 - Agnes Water to Rockhampton

Today is a straightforward drive to Rockhampton, the ‘cattle capital of Australia’ (approx 225 km / 2 hours 30 mins, plus stops). When you get to ‘Rocky’ keep an eye out for the Tropic of Capricorn marker (yes, you hit the Tropics here!) and if time allows continue through the city to the Capricorn Caves, 24 km north and well worth the detour. On arrival check in to your hotel for an overnight stay.

Day 9 - Rockhampton to Airlie Beach

We’d suggest driving from Rockhampton to Airlie Beach via Mackay and Cape Hillsborough National Park (approx 520 km / 6 hours, plus stops). Mackay is a relaxed town with plenty of art deco architecture and a great lido, while Cape Hillsborough is best known for its wild kangaroos and wallabies that come to the beach at sunrise and sunset most days - we wouldn’t recommend being here at these times as you’ll need to drive in darkness to do this (not a good idea) but the beach and the national park itself are very pretty indeed. On arrival in to Airlie Beach check in to your hotel for a two night stay.

Day 10 - Airlie Beach & the Whitsundays

Spend a day exploring the Whitsunday Islands, some of the most beautiful islands in Australia and home to stunning Whitehaven beach, often claimed to be the best beach in the world!

Day 11 - Airlie Beach to Townsville

Drive from Airlie beach to Townsville via Bowen and Ayr (approx 275 km / 3 hours, plus stops). Both Bowen and Ayr are worth a quick look but if you get to Townsville in good time we’d suggest heading to the Reef HQ Aquarium, one of the best of its kind in the area. On arrival check in to your hotel for an overnight stay.

Day 12 - Townsville to Mission Beach

Follow the coast north to Mission Beach, perhaps popping in to the Tyto Wetlands at Ingham, and the swimming holes at the Paluma Range National Park on the way (approx 250 km / 2 hours 15 mins, plus stops). If you have time pop over to Magnetic Island from Townsville before setting off. Mission Beach itself is a string of towns set along one of the most beautiful stretches of the Tropical Queensland Coast, so when you arrive check in to your hotel, grab yourself a beer and relax.

Day 13 - Mission Beach to Cairns

Your last drive takes you from Mission Beach to Cairns (approx 150 km / 2 hours 15 mins, plus stops), and we’d recommend a short detour to Babinda Boulders for a swim in the river. On arrival check in to Cairns drop off your car at the depot and make your way to your hotel for a three stay.

Days 14-15 - Cairns

Spend the next few days exploring Cairns, and the Great Barrier Reef. We’d highly recommend taking the Skyrail to the village of Kuranda, and a day trip to the Great Barrier Reef is a ‘must do’ for any trip to Queensland - we love the Quicksilver trips to Agincourt Reef.

Day 16 - Return

Make your way to Cairns airport for your return flight to the UK, arriving the next day.

Brisbane to Cairns Fly-Drive Holiday

This classic Queensland fly-drive itinerary takes you from Brisbane to Cairns (or reverse) via 1,700 km of stunning scenery, amazing experiences and the Australian laid-back lifestyle.

Fly drive holidays in Australia - Brisbane to Cairns fly-drive


from £1769 per person

2 nights Pacific Hotel Brisbane

1 nights Novotel Twin Waters Resort

2 nights Beach Motel Hervey Bay

1 nights Sandcastles 1770 Resort

1 nights Cattle City Rockhampton

2 nights Mango House Airlie Beach

1 nights Clarion Hotel Townsville

1 nights Castaways Mission Beach

3 nights Mantra Esplanade Cairns

10 days Car Hire

Brisbane to Cairns fly-drive ideas

Fly-drive holidays to Australia - make a holiday enquiry

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Fly-drive holidays to Australia - make a holiday enquiry

2022 fly-drive package holidays to Australia Prices are per person based on two sharing, including flights, accommodation and car hire, and are subject to availability.

Flights from Heathrow - other departure airports also available, call for details. Holiday ref T0917W.

Campervan holidays to Australia



from £1725 pp

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Campervan holidays to Australia Holidays to Australia with Escape Worldwide - Great Barrier Reef QLD (copyright Tourism Whitsundays) Holidays to Australia with Escape Worldwide - Glasshouse Mountains (copyright Tourism and Events Queensland / Jason Charles Hill Photography