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HOME > Australia > Fly-Drives > Sydney to Cairns


Day 1 - UK to Sydney

Fly from London to Sydney, arriving the next day.

Days 2-4 - Sydney

On arrival make your way from the airport to your chosen hotel, for a three night stay - we have a range of hotels to choose from, and your length of stay in Sydney is flexible. Spend the next few days exploring Sydney - the Sydney Harbour Ferries are a great way to get around and give spectacular views of the harbour at the same time, so why not hop on a ferry and head over to Taronga Zoo.

Day 5 - Sydney to the Hunter Valley

Collect your rental car from the Sydney depot, and head out of town towards the Hunter Valley. We’d suggest following the coastal route via The Entrance (approx 245 km / 3 hours 45 mins, plus stops), taking in beautiful Bouddi National Park and taking a little time to explore forward-thinking Newcastle, perhaps stopping for a dip at the art-deco Ocean Baths. On arrival in to the Hunter Valley check in to your hotel for a two night stay.

Day 6 - Hunter Valley

The pretty Hunter Valley is one of the best places in Australia to sample local produce - we’re talking fine wine, craft beer, cheese, chocolate and so much more. Spend a day wine-tasting and sampling the local delicacies.

Day 7 - Hunter Valley to Port Macquarie

Head back to the coast from the Hunter Valley and explore the beautiful coastline of New South Wales - we’d suggest taking detours to Port Stephens and Myall Lakes (approx 380 km / 4 hours 40 mins, plus stops). Port Stephens is often called the ‘dolphin capital of Australia’ and the area around this sheltered harbour is also dotted with peaceful beaches and impressive sand dunes. Myall Lakes National Park covers one of the prettiest sections of the whole coastline. Check in to your hotel in Port Macquarie for a two night stay.

Day 8 - Port Macquarie

Port Macquarie - or just ‘Port’ as it’s often called - is a relaxed town with fabulous beaches, and a great place to chill. Surfing is particularly good at Town Beach and Flynn’s Beach, while whales can often be seen from the town between May and November.

Day 9 - Port Macquarie to Coffs Harbour

Today we’d suggest a couple of diversions to get you to Coffs Harbour, taking in South West Rocks and Bellingen (approx 250 km / 3 hours 30 mins, plus stops). En route to South West Rocks (with its spectacular beaches) stop in Kempsey, the home of the Akubra hat (and country music legend Slim Dusty). The coastline is dotted with incredible beaches, before heading inland to Bellingen, a relaxed town and veritable culinary hotspot in the hinterland. Coffs harbour is then a short drive away, with its laid-back beach feel, and the famous ‘Big Banana’. Check in to your hotel for an overnight stay.

Day 10 - Coffs Harbour to Byron Bay

Continue north from Coffs Harbour to Byron Bay today (approx 275 km / 3 hours 30 mins, plus stops), travelling via the grand elegance of Grafton and the relaxed vibe of Yamba, with the countryside in between dotted with picturesque villages. Ballina retains a number of historic buildings while nearly Lennox Head is renowned for its surfing, with a world-class point break. On arrival in to Byron Bay check in to your hotel for a two night stay.

Day 11 - Byron Bay

Laid-back and chilled, Byron Bay is the premier beach destination in Northern New South Wales, and while the beaches are spectacular it’s the atmosphere of the town itself that makes this place special. Spend the day getting to know the Byron Bay vibe.

Day 12 - Byron Bay to Brisbane

Continue north and cross the border in the Queensland as you head to Brisbane (approx 175 km / 2 hours 15 mins, plus stops). We’d suggest travelling via the Gold Coast, with a stop in glitzy Surfers Paradise. The route from here to Brisbane takes you via various theme parks, so thrill-seekers are well catered for. On arrival in to Brisbane drop your car off and make your way 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.

Day 13 - Brisbane

Spend today exploring Brisbane. The city centre is fairly compact and can be explored easily on foot, while the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is a few miles out of town, and is a great place to get close to a variety of Aussie wildlife.

Day 14 - Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast

Leave Brisbane behind and head 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 15 - 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 16 - 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 17 - 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 18 - 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 19 - 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 20 - 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 21 - 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 22 - 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 23 - 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 24-25 - 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 26 - Return

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

Sydney to Cairns Fly-Drive Holiday

A full-length itinerary taking in most of Australia’s East Coast, all the way from Sydney via Brisbane to Cairns - allow plenty of time and enjoy an epic trip that’s full of stunning scenery and incredible experiences.

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


from £2659 per person

3 nights The Grace Sydney

2 nights Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

2 nights Waters Edge Port Macquarie

1 nights Breakfree Aanuka Coffs Hbr

2 nights The Lord Byron, Byron Bay

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

19 days Car Hire

Sydney to Cairns fly-drive ideas

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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.

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