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Plan Your Road Trip from Cairns

Route planner in Cairns


  • Great Barrier Reef
  • Daintree Rainforest Skyrail
  • Kuranda
  • Botanic Gardens
  • Swim, snorkel, dive,sail
  • Port Douglas
  • Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park
  • Cairns Night Zoo
  • Whitewater rafting
  • Fitzroy Day Trip

Three Great Days in Cairns, QLD

It's all action in sunny, sophisticated Cairns, gateway to the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef and international hub for travellers in their campervans.

There so much to do here you might want to start slowly. Park up the campervan and get out into the Cairns town and book a trip to the Reef. Wander past the lagoon and picnic spots of the Cairns Esplanade, do an Aboriginal walking tour or bliss out on the white sands of Mission Beach.

Alternatively, dive into action with a sky-dive or bungy-jump. Snorkel or scuba dive with brilliant fish and coral or sail past pristine islands on the Great Barrier Reef. Day-trip in the motorhome to Kuranda and discover Cairns' great restaurant and bar scene.

Day 1: Cairns sights

Ease into tropical holiday mode and park up in the camper and stroll along the oceanfront Cairns Esplanade, the city's social and recreational hub.

Cook up breakfast and cool off in the huge saltwater lagoon. Maintain the easy pace with a walk through the Cairns Botanic Gardens and lazy afternoon on rainforest-fringed Mission Beach, to the south of Cairns.

Cruise the mangrove-lined waterways of Trinity Inlet or explore the area on an Aboriginal walking tour, learning about fish, crabs and medicinal plants.

Or, try a bungy-jump or sky-dive. In the evening, Aboriginal artworks on display at the night markets.

Day 2: Great Barrier Reef

There's a huge variety of tours out to the reef, with something to suit every level of daring and experience and budget.

Go snorkelling, learn to dive or see the reef without getting wet on a glass-bottomed boat.

Take a day tour to the 6,000-year-old coral cay of Green Island. Snorkel alongside tropical fish, and explore the island's white beaches and rainforest.

Visit Michaelmas Cay, home to thousands of nesting seabirds,colourful corals, giant clams and reef fish. Sail to Upolu Cay – a small sand island atop a coral reef.

Travel to the Outer Reef on a multi-storey pontoon or explore it on an introductory dive trip. Discover the coral gardens, marine life and turtle sanctuaries with an experienced instructor. Extend your stay and get qualified on a five–day PADI course. For experienced divers, there are multi-day live-aboard trips.

Day 3: Kuranda Rainforest accommodation park:

Take a scenic rail trip across mountains, tropical rainforest, waterfalls and national park to the picturesque village of Kuranda.

Fire up the gas stove in the camper and have breakfast in the World heritage-listed rainforest, watching colourful birds and butterflies. Then follow one of the walking trails through the bush. Do short, gentle walks to Jum Rum Creek and Davies Creek Falls or a four-hour hike to Barron Falls.

Cruise down the river past platypus, turtles, lime-coloured frogs, parrots and fresh water crocodiles. Afterwards, visit markets for opals, Aboriginal art and hand-crafted jewellery.

Play the didgeridoo and learn about Aboriginal tribes in this rainforest.


Pacific Coast Touring Route, Queensland

Brisbane - Fraser Island - Bundaberg - Rockhampton - Mackay - Townsville – Cairns.

Reverse this route for a dramatic and exciting drive to Brisbane:

6 days drive

Capture some of Queensland's biggest coastal attractions– from the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef,islands and rainforest national parks. Four wheel drive Fraser Island, the world's largest sand island and see manta rays and turtles at Mon Repos, near Bundaberg.

Stay in Rockhampton and visit Great Keppel Island and the Capricorn Caves. Snorkel or dive reefs and shipwrecks near Mackay and go sailing in the postcard-perfect Whitsundays.

Walk the white sand of Magnetic Island, near Townsville and further north visit Hinchinbrook, Australia's largest island national park. The vivid colours, smells and sounds of this splendid coastline will stay with you long after your journey ends in Cairns, at the gateway to Queensland's tropical north.

Day 1 – Brisbane to Fraser Island:

Drive through Noosa and stop to explore the elegant boutiques, bistros and beachfront apartments of Hastings Street. Take a short stroll through the beaches and bush of Noosa National Park, pausing at lookouts with panoramic views.

Back on the road, you'll pass through the gold rush town of Gympie and Maryborough, Queensland's oldest provincial city. Watch whales from Hervey Bay or catch a boat to World Heritage-listed Fraser Island, the world's largest sand island, just north of Rainbow Beach.

Drive your own four wheel drive camper or join a tour to see the island's attractions, from beautiful Lake McKenzie to the rainforest near Central Station and the coloured cliffs of the Cathedrals.

Day 2 – Fraser Island to Bundaberg:

Cross back to the mainland and continue your journey to Bundaberg, a historic sugar cane city and gateway to the southern Great Barrier Reef.

See colonial buildings and cruise down the Burnett River. Watch sea turtles nest and hatch on the small beach of Mon Repos. Then snorkel and dive the coral reefs and cays of Lady Musgrave Island and Lady Elliot Island, also home to a large population of manta rays.

Swim or fish at Elliot Heads, dive from Coral Cove and Innes Park or spot kangaroos in Woodgate Beach - just some of the attractions along Bundaberg's pristine 140-kilometre long coastline.

Day 3 – Bundaberg to Rockhampton:

Journey north through Gin Gin and the Town of 1770, named after the year it was discovered by Captain Cook.

On a detour inland, you can bushwalk the rainforest of Cania Gorge National Park and see the ancient Mystery Craters in Eurimbula National Park. Next stop is the green city of Gladstone, surrounded by rainforest gorges, lakes and beaches stretching to the Great Barrier Reef.

Arrive in Rockhampton and take a coral cruise to Great Keppel Island, snorkel at Shelving Beach, Monkey Point or Clam Bay or wander the Botanic Gardens. When you've worked up an appetite, test out Rockhampton's reputation as Australia's beef capital and order a mouth-watering steak.

Day 4 –Rockhampton to Mackay:

Head to the Capricorn Caves, spectacular above-ground caves in a limestone ridge. Further north is the tropical village of Yeppoon, gateway to the Capricorn Coast and Byfield National Park. Here you can birdwatch, bushwalk through rainforest and fish from the beach.

Continue north to Mackay, where you can lunch at the marina, do a heritage walk and walk, swim and fish from the city beaches of Lambert, Town, Illawong, Harbour, Bucasia, Blacks and Eimeo.

Meet possums, kangaroos, bush turkeys and echidnas on the beaches of Cape Hillsborough National Park. Do a day trip to the Brampton and Carlisle Islands in the southern Whitsundays. Snorkel or dive the Llewellyn shipwreck and pristine coral gardens near uninhabited Scawfell Island.

Day 5 – Mackay to Townsville:

Detour west to the subtropical oasis of Eungella National Park. Back on the coast you'll pass through Proserpine and Airlie Beach, both mainland gateways to the Whitsundays.

Explore some of the 74 palm-fringed islands on a day trip or chartered sail boat. Don't miss Whitsunday Island and the white, silica sands of Whitehaven Beach.Your journey continues north through mango orchards and green sugar cane fields to Townsville.

Wander the scenic beach promenade, soak up the balmy nightlife and take a catamaran to the beaches and national parks of Magnetic Island.

Day 6 – Townsville to Cairns:

Known as the Great Green Way, this 350 kilometre journey takes you through 12 national parks and over 20 tropical islands.

Drive through the living museum of Charters Towers, detour to Paluma National Park or explore Tyoto Wetlands near Ingham. Visit Wallaman Falls, Australia's highest single drop waterfall.

Explore Hinchinbrook Island, Australia's largest island national park or walk along breathtaking Mission Beach. Check out the Chinese temple and art deco buildings in Innisfail and go white water rafting in Tully Gorge National Park. Discover wetlands and rare plants of Eubenangee Swamp National Park and spectacular waterfalls in Wooroonooran National Park.

Your trip ends in the relaxed, Cairns

Three weeks from Cairns in a camper.

Three Weeks from Cairns

From Cairns, the islands, rainforest and reef of tropical North Queensland are on your doorstep.

Dive or snorkel the Great Barrier Reef and spot the luminescent Ulysses butterfly in the rainforest village of Kuranda.

Trek the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest, four wheel drive to Cape Tribulation or raft the raging rapids of Tully River.

Drive the Savannah Way into the Northern Territory and the outback town of Katherine, then glide through the dramatic sandstone walls of Katherine Gorge.

Alternatively, fly to Alice Springs pick up another campervan or motorhome for a week exploring the awe-inspiring attractions of Australia's Red Centre, including Uluru- Kata Tjuta National Park and the gorges of the West MacDonnell ranges.

You can split your campervan hire between centres in Australia and we will combine them and treat them as one so that you can have the discount for a long term hire. The hires have to be with the same company to qualify for this.

Week 1: Cairns and Tropical North Queensland
Cycle, walk or rollerblade along the Cairns Esplanade, then swim in the huge saltwater lagoon. Spend a couple of days exploring the World Heritage-listedGreat Barrier Reef.

Snorkel over coral islands and cays, with tropical fish and even dwarf minke whales. Learn to dive, then discover the deep drop offs, underwater tunnels and caves. Sail the Low Isles or do a day trip to Green and Fitzroy islands. From Cairns, take a scenic train to the rainforest village of Kuranda and return on Skyrail.

Further north, trek the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest, home to the largest range of plants and animals on earth.

Spot ancient flowering plants, estuarine crocodiles, bright butterflies and musky rat-kangaroos.

Day trip to spectacular Mossman Gorge where you can experience aboriginal culture with a local Kuku Yalanji guide then continue on to Cape Tribulation.

South of Cairns bushwalk to waterfalls near Mission Beach. For real adrenalin, white water raft down the Tully River, or the Barron River in Barron Gorge National Park. Stay in Cairns, Palm Cove, Port Douglas or the Daintree.

Week 2: Cairns to the Savannah Way, Katherine, Darwin

For a unique driving adventure from Cairns, hire a car, stock up on supplies and set off on the section of the Savannah Way which winds through the Tropical Tablelands to Katherine in the Northern Territory.

Explore the lush countryside around Mareeba, visit Atherton's century-old Chinese temple and spend the night in Ravenshoe, Queensland's highest town. Marvel at Millstream Falls, Australia's widest waterfalls and lose yourself in the caves of Undara Volcanic National Park, the world's longest lava system.

Fossick for gold in historic Croydon and Georgetown and fish for barramundi in Normanton. Travel past the Northern Territory's remote fishing communities to Katherine, where you can canoe or cruise through the ancient sandstone walls of Katherine Gorge.

If the epic drive doesn't appeal, fly into tropical Darwin and spend the week exploring its surrounding attractions. Soak up Darwin's balmy weather and melting pot of food and cultures in the many outdoor festivals and markets.

Trek past waterfalls and plunge pools in Litchfield National Park. Don't miss World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park – a vast tapestry of wildlife, wetlands and Aboriginal rock art

Week 3: Cairns to the Red Centre

It's a popular route to travel from reef to rock from Cairns. Fly from Cairns to Alice Springs to experience Australia's Red Centre. Collect another campervan or motorhome here.

In Alice Springs, browse Aboriginal art along Todd Mall and learn about the town's pioneers in heritage sites. Bike ride to Simpsons Gap or ride a camel across the Simpson Desert.

In the West MacDonnell Ranges, swim in Glen Helen Gorge and see Standley Chasm blaze in the midday sun. Wander the desert oasis of Palm Valley in Finke Gorge National Park.

Trek to the rim of Kings Canyon and see the Lost City's weathered domes in Watarrka National Park. See Uluru from camel back, helicopter or motorbike. Learn about its Dreamtime origins walking around the base with an Anangu guide. Take in the steep russet domes of nearby Kata Tjuta on the Valley of the Winds Walk.

Campsites at Uluru for campervans and motorhomes.

Tourists should first of all be aware that they cannot camp anywhere within Uluru National Park, or indeed on Ayers Rock. Camping at Ayers Rock means staying at the campsite within the nearby service town of Yulara (Voyages Ayers Rock Resort), at Curtin Springs Station, or in the bush.

Curtin Springs is located on the Lasseter Hwy just 85km east of the entrance to the Ayers Rock/Olgas National Park or 360km SW of Alice Springs.

Discounts on campervan hire in Australia.

Use our booking engine to find out all the costs. Every day special offers and online discounts are added. You will see the discounts deducted from the rates as you go through the booking process.

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