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Cairns to Brisbane

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Harleston, United...
posts: 5
reviews: 8
Cairns to Brisbane

My Husband and I plan to drive from Cairns to Brisbane in February wiith five night stopovers. I would like to spend at least one night at Airlie beach. Has anybody undertaken a similar journey? Is it do-able in this timescale and are there any stopovers that are recommended? Grateful for any suggestions. Thanks.

South Pole
posts: 15,408
reviews: 39
1. Re: Cairns to Brisbane

it's a long way with lots of stretches of pretty monotonous driving.

5 days is doable however.

and february is the wettest month of 'the wet' up that way. bad weather can disrupt travel plans. it's cyclone (hurricane) season. so have a plan B ready.


good luck!

Edited: 5:04 pm, November 16, 2012
South Pole
posts: 15,408
reviews: 39
2. Re: Cairns to Brisbane

oooops......sorry, wrong link (again!).

try this one:


Noosa, Australia
posts: 363
reviews: 80
3. Re: Cairns to Brisbane

Be prepared for long stretches with nohing to see. Monotonous....yes that's a good word.

Why not drive to Airlie Beach and then fly to Brisbane? That's my tip.

There's a good chance it's going to be ridiculously hot and humid. Cover up whenever you're in the sun. Wear a good sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat.


Darwin, Australia
posts: 1,570
reviews: 57
4. Re: Cairns to Brisbane

More to see around cairns.

Mission beach nice

Rolling stone caravan park on the beach is great

Townsville for a few nights

Airline beach- well you are really not going to see much at airlie for one night. You need a day to go to the islands.

Cape hinchinbrook??? Is that right? Maybe not- but around there vim sure is a natpark with big busybcamp ground, but its a pretty spot - near airlie.

Mackey- go up into the range at eungalla

Between rockhampton and south you then face a long road of not much until 1770 or Hervey Bay an then Fraser.

To be frank you will not see much in that time.

Per book your accom as well.

Rain often cuts the Bruce highway around cairns anywhere south to past Mackey.

Alligator Creek...
posts: 24
5. Re: Cairns to Brisbane

I don't know the southern area well, but there is lots to do between Airlie Beach and Cairns - you could spend five days in Townsville and still run out of time (days out to Paluma, Magnetic Island, Charters Towers, The Billabong Sanctuary, then Reef HQ, Museum of TNQ and just enjoying the Strand, Castle Hill). Cairns needs a similar time to explore the reef, Daintree, Atherton Tablelands. In between the two there's three days trips at Paronella Park, Mission Beach and Hinchinbrook.

The only way to do the proposed trip in five days is staying one night each in Rockhampton, Mackay/Airlie, Townsville and Cairns - each of those has 4-6 hours driving between them, so you'd only have half a day to actually enjoy each area.

That said, February is not a good time to travel in north queensland. It is the wet season and cyclone season and if you were unlucky you could be held up in one place for the whole 5 days. I say this even though I love the region and have a B&B here! Save this particular trip for another visit - North Queensland in June/July is glorious - lots of sun, daytime tops of 24/25 every day and DRY but February could be disastrous!

Edited: 5:17 pm, November 22, 2012
Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Sydney, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Business Travel, New South Wales
posts: 25,826
reviews: 504
6. Re: Cairns to Brisbane

As mentioned flying to say the Whitsundays or Townsville & then hiring a car would be more practicial as the most interesting places are located around this region.

This would allow you plenty of time to enjoy places like The Whitsundays, Bowen., Magnetic Island, Hinchinbrook Island , Tully, & Mission Beach.


Harleston, United...
posts: 5
reviews: 8
7. Re: Cairns to Brisbane

Many thanks for all your support. I've decided to fly and spend some chill-down time at Arilie Beach

Alligator Creek...
posts: 24
8. Re: Cairns to Brisbane

Have a wonderful time and if you come back to explore North Queensland one day look up our B&B at Alligator Creek.

posts: 1
9. Re: Cairns to Brisbane

I did Brisbane to Cairns in 1 1/2 days. Left Brisbane at about 5pm and drove to Rockhampton and stayed the night and then finished off the drive to Cairns from there, left at 10am and arrived at about 1130pm. Now that was A LOT of driving with not a lot of stopping and I didn't find it so bad (shared driving with my partner) so spread across 5 days I'd say would be plenty of rest time between drives and plenty of time to see some things during the day :)

While I didn't stay anywhere else on my way so have no good recommendations, there was plenty of towns, beaches etc along the way to stay

Alligator Creek...
posts: 24
10. Re: Cairns to Brisbane

Truck drivers do the trip in one day, sleeping in their cabs for a couple of hours when they're tired but I don't think it's how most tourists want to do the trip. You would have arrived at Rockhampton at about midnight (if you didn't stop for a break or had any delays for roadworks etc). That's not touring it's torture. I'm sure your hotels weren't too happy with such late arrivals either. If you're not going to have time to stop and look at anything you might just as well go by plane.

People need to realise that most of the way is SINGLE LANE in each direction and you can easily get held up for long stretches by slow or large vehicles, not to mention road works.