Cairns Brisbane Road Trip Planner

If you want to enjoy the whole aqua sea & beautiful sunset at the beach, don’t miss this article! Then, just book a flight ticket to Cairns; you get all aqua like heaven when you get off the airport!

It’s time to talk about what things to do & drive the route from Cairns to Brisbane. This article will show you planning to go on a road trip between Cairns & Brisbane. But, first, check the drive map.

Before You Take Action

I must say that I haven’t been to every attraction on this road. So here I just tried some practical recommendations for road trips by my friends & residents and wrote itineraries using my experience as suggestions.

You don’t need to follow my whole plan; arrange it, add and remove some places in your mind and consider your limited day & budget. Then, hopefully, you will enjoy a fun fill & unforgettable road trip of your own!

Cairns Brisbane Drive Route Map Overview

Cairns Brisbane road trip route map Australia
Cairns Brisbane road trip route map (Click pic to see full size)

How Many Kilometers Is This Route?

Primary route navigation shows 1684 km on Google Map just typing Cairns to Brisbane, but 1684 km is nothing; you have to add more to this route for your vacation.

How Many Days Are Best For A Road Trip?

If you navigate from Cairns to Brisbane without an airplane, it must take 19-20 hours to drive a car shown on Google Maps. On average, you need five days for driving if you are going for 4 hours. It’s just driving without attractions, visits, and entertainment like water activities.

Once you decide to take some tour that strongly recommends seven days up (at least one week) on you, 10-14 days (2 weeks) is better, depending on your budget. Before renting the car or camper van, ensure the attractions list between Cairns & Brisbane.

Why Choose Cairns & Brisbane for Road Trip?

Brisbane City is the capital state of Queensland; most people live & work in a modern lifestyle city. Cairns is a second famous town where many people here enjoy the water activities, have vacationed at the beach, and eat seafood.

Besides that, there’re many beautiful coastal attractions between these two cities. But, of course, many travelers’ favorite sport is skydiving, especially at Airlie Beach & Noosa. Experienced travelers shared by my friends who were on a working holiday visa.

First, let’s check the attractions list below to see what you can add to your vacation plan you would like.

Best Attractions between Cairns & Brisbane

  • Barron Falls
  • Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
  • Birdworld Kuranda
  • Esplanade Lagoon
  • Crystal Cascades
  • Crystal Caves
  • Whitsunday (Airlie Beach)
  • Fraser Island
  • Noosa National Park (Laguna Lookout, Cooks Monument, Fairy Pools, Noosa Spit)
  • Skydive (Tour booking)
  • Great Barrier Reef (Tour booking)
  • Green Island (Tour booking)

Check Over 15 Up Attractions Between Cairns & Brisbane>>

You don’t have to add them all to your trip plan, consider your budget for accommodation & petrol, and choose some places that MUST be on you.

Cairns or Brisbane? What Place Should be Your First Start In This Road Trip?

I suggested you start your road trip from Cairns; why did I say that?

Cairns was my first place to stay for my working holiday when I was a backpacker. So when I saw the first sunshine after the 4:30 am flight arrived at Cairns, quiet but just sea sound around my ear, some cloudy in the yellow, blue sky then sun rising, that was stunning.

I knew that it was the beginning of my two years backpacker lifestyle. I tried to explore some places, eat different kinds of food, and have fun on-water activities. It’s just a pity that it didn’t take skydiving cause any budget for that; perhaps you do it & share photos with me.

For most international tourists who take international flights as your vacation begins. And you can’t wait to see the famous attractions—the attractions like the Great Barrier Reef and many other water activities. So you take it just at the beginning of days, even skydiving, all you can do from Cairns.

Conversely, if you are going up from Brisbane, you will have to fly back to Brisbane from Cairns to leave by international flight. So book an international flight from Cairns, get off at the beach, rent a car, take a tour, and head south to take a road trip to Brisbane. That’s great for you.

12 Days Itinerary Cairns Brisbane Road Trip

You need at least seven days to 14 days to set your drive plan in the previous paragraph. In this paragraph, I will share with you about drive itineraries for different days.

This part itinerary navigates between Cairns & Brisbane. Let’s check it:

Day 1 – Cairns City

Cairns Esplanade Lagoon QLD Australia
Cairns Esplanade Lagoon
  • Estimated Distance – 8.8 km
  • Estimated Drive Time – 18 min

>>Get Navigation on Google Map

In this part, you have some places that should be first:

Get some supplies; you can go to Cairns shopping center for food after your flight has arrived. Chill swimming at Esplanade Lagoon, have dinner at Cairns Night Market, then have alcohol at a bar. All these places near Esplanade are just by walk conveniently.

Day 2 – Crystal Cascades Tour

Crystal Cascades QLD Australia
Crystal Cascades
  • Estimated Distance – 19.6 km
  • Estimated Drive Time – 30 min

>>Get Navigation on Google Map

You can book a tour at Regional Tourist Information Centre Cairns.

Tour Crystal Cascades and visit other attractions.

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway QLD Australia
Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

>>Get Attraction List on Google Map

You have some places worth being:

Explore around Cairns, touch those natural.

Day 3 – Green Island Tour (Optional)

Green Island QLD Australia
Green Island

>>Get Attraction List on Google Map

In this part, you have these attractions hit:

Enjoy the aqua vacation to Green Island. It’s the most popular tour when you touch Seawalker Green Island & Marineland Melanesia, be there by ferry. So many people here for diving & sailing can ask agents for the Great Barrier Reef diving tour at Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises.

Day 4 – Cairns to Airlie Beach

Whitsunday National Park Airlie Beach Queensland
Whitsunday Airlie Beach
  • Estimated Distance – 627 km
  • Estimated Drive Time – 7 hr 40 min

>>Get Navigation on Google Map

In this part route, you have these places drive-through:

  • Innisfail
  • Townsville
  • Bowen
  • Airlie Beach

Moving to Airlie Beach might need a whole day’s drive; ready your energy. Then, when you arrive in the town of Airlie Beach, stay over, and take Skydive tomorrow.

Day 5 – Skydiving Tour at Airlie Beach

Skydiving Activity Australia
Skydiving Activity
  • Estimated Distance – 6.7 km
  • Estimated Drive Time – 8 min

>>Get Navigation on Google Map

Sky diving at Whitsunday (Airlie Beach). This map shows where the airport is; make sure you have done a skydiving tour book. Click Here for Skydive Airlie Beach.

Day 6 – Whitsunday Jumping Islands Tour

Heart Reef QLD Australia
Heart Reef

>>Get Attraction List on Google Map

Stay on Whitsunday and get more water activities & tours near Airlie Beach.

In this part, you can see many islands in Whitsunday:

I strongly recommend booking a cruise or sailing tour for Whitsunday jumping islands. Visit so many islands combined with aqua and white sand; the blue sky fills your eyes.

For cruise tour information, Click Here>>

For sailing tour information, Click Here>>

About Heart Reef, it’s a stunning reef that looks like a “Heart” natural shape in the aqua ocean, book a tour, and then a light plane picks you up to fly around this reef area you have seen. Click Here for this tour information.

Day 7 – Airlie Beach to Rockhampton

St Joseph's Cathedral QLD Australia
St Joseph’s Cathedral
  • Estimated Distance – 485 km
  • Estimated Drive Time – 5 hr 30 min

>>Get Navigation on Google Map

In this part route, you have these places drive-through:

  • Mackay
  • Rockhampton

Moving to Rockhampton through Mackay, stay over in Rockhampton.

Day 8 – Rockhampton to Noosa

Noosa National Park QLD Australia
Noosa National Park
  • Estimated Distance – 591 km
  • Estimated Drive Time – 7 h 20 min

>>Get Navigation on Google Map

In this part route, you have these places drive-through:

  • Gladstone
  • Bundaberg
  • Hervey Bay
  • Fraser Island (Optional tour)
  • Noosa (Optional today)

Moving to Noosa through Gladstone, Bundaberg & Hervey Bay, stay over in Noosa. Gladstone and Bundaberg are big towns with beautiful views, cultural backgrounds, and shopping centers where you can buy food and water.

Hervey Bay, close to Fraser Island, one of the most popular tours you can make a booking, is worth being. The popular attraction on this island is Lake Mckenzie (Boorangoora) & S.S. Maheno. For more information about this tour, Click Here.

Day9 – Noosa National Park

Fairy Pools in Noosa National Park QLD Australia
Fairy Pools in Noosa National Park

>>Get Attraction List on Google Map

You have some places worth being:

  • Noosa Head Main Beach
  • Dolphin Point Lookout
  • Laguna Lookout
  • Fairy Pools
  • Hell’s Gate
  • Noosa Spit

Go to Noosa National Park, hike at Laguna Lookout, Cooks Monument, swim at Fairy Pools, walk around at Noosa Spit, etc.

Day 10 – Sunshine Coast

Sunshine Coast QLD Australia
Sunshine Coast QLD Australia

>>Get Attraction List on Google Map

You have some places worth being:

  • The Ginger Factory
  • Point Cartwright Light
  • Bellingham Maze
  • Buderim Forest Park
  • SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast Aquarium
  • Australia Zoo
  • TreeTop Challenge Big Pineapple
  • Mapleton Falls Lookout
  • Gerrards Lookout

Leave Noosa, and go to Sunshine Coast, which has many beautiful attractions worth visiting.

Day 11 – Brisbane City

Lagoon South Bank - Brisbane City QLD Australia
Lagoon South Bank – Brisbane City

>>Get Attraction List on Google Map

You have some places worth being:

  • Brisbane City Botanic Garden
  • The Wheel of Brisbane
  • Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
  • Roma Street Parkland
  • Museum of Brisbane
  • Gallery of Modern Art
  • Story Bridge
  • Brisbane Sign
  • Mount Coot-Tha Summit Lookout
  • Streets Beach
  • Moreton Island (Optional)

Finally, we arrive in Brisbane and take a city tour of Brisbane. Another optional tour is the cruise trip to Moreton Island.

Day 12 – Gold Coast

Gold Coast QLD Australia
Gold Coast

>>Get Attraction List on Google Map

You have some places worth being:

  • Warner Bros. Movie World
  • Sea World
  • Jet Boat Extreme
  • Infinity Attraction
  • Surfers Paradise
  • Dracula’s Cabaret Gold Coast
  • SkyPoint Observation Deck
  • Mick Schamburg Park Lookout
  • Burleigh Head National Park
  • Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Point Danger & Snapper Rocks
  • Springbrook National Park

Don’t forget to visit Gold Coast and enjoy the surfing and sunshine at Surfers Paradise beach!

Want to know more attractions?

Check Over 15 Up Attractions Between Cairns & Brisbane>>


Above all, you have many water events and probably need 8-10 days to take down this whole trip. Also, they have many tours that you might book at first before you arrive in Cairns. Many people go for them, so don’t miss out!

I hope you enjoy this road trip, and you already know the best route between Cairns and Brisbane. Now, get your belongings ready, get food and a map, turn on your car engine and start it! 

By the way, besides the Cairns Brisbane trip planner, I recommend these route planners for your next road trip:

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