The Ultimate Queensland Road Trip in a Motorhome
Queensland is the second-largest state in Australia, so you can guarantee there are plenty of things to see.
Home to the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest and stunning beaches, what is the best way to experience Queensland?
One of the best things to do while travelling in Queensland is to embark on a Brisbane to Cairns road trip in a campervan.
Picking up your campervan hire in Brisbane and driving north will allow you to see the best parts of the state at your own pace.
So, how long will the Brisbane to Cairns road trip take, and when should you do it?
Let me share my ultimate Queensland road trip itinerary from when we embarked on this awesome road trip in September 2022.
Best Time to do the Brisbane to Cairns Road Trip
Queensland has two seasons: wet and dry.
The wet season is during the summer months (November to March) and brings high temperatures and humidity leading to storms, floods and neverending rain. The wet season is also stinger season (jellyfish) in the north. So when you swim in the ocean, you must wear a stinger suit to protect yourself from the Irukandji and Box Jellyfish.
The dry season is during the winter months (April to October) and is the best time of year to visit Queensland. During the dry season, humidity is low, the temperatures get higher the more north you go, it’s whale season, and the ocean is free of stingers!
Therefore, the best time to embark on your Brisbane to Cairns road trip in a campervan is during the dry season.
Because hiring a campervan and going on a road trip is extremely popular in Queensland, there are many campervan rental companies to choose from.
However, I recommend Cruisin’ Motorhomes as I’ve had plenty of wonderful experiences with them. Their campers range from two to six-berth, are full of fantastic amenities and are great value for money.
So, pick up your campervan hire in Brisbane and embark on an adventure of a lifetime.
How Long Will it Take?
The Brisbane to Cairns road trip, or Pacific Coast Way as it’s commonly called, is a stretch of 1,695km that takes 20 hours if you drive it all in one go.
You could easily spend a few weeks following this stretch of road. However, if you follow this Queensland road trip itinerary, it will take two weeks, stopping at all of the best places along the way.
Days 1 & 2: Brisbane to Sunshine Coast
Drive Time: Two hours
Where to Stay: Noosa River Holiday Park
The best thing to do before you start your road trip is to pick up your campervan hire in Brisbane the day before you depart, which is exactly what we did.
That way, on the first day of your road trip, you can get up early and beat the traffic while making your way to the Sunshine Coast.
Along the way, you will drive past the Glass House Mountains, and if you’re keen on a quick hike with epic views, Mt Ngungun is the one to climb.
If you’ve been dreaming about seeing the beaches on the Sunshine Coast, the best place to base yourself for the night is in Noosa.
The best things to do in Noosa during your stay include
● Swimming at Noosa Main Beach
● Exploring Noosa National Park
● Paddling out to the Noosa Everglades
● Eating dinner at a beachfront restaurant
Days 3 & 4: Noosa to Hervey Bay
Drive Time: Two hours
Where to Stay: Pier Caravan Park Hervey Bay
Start day three of your ultimate Queensland road trip by driving the two hours to Hervey Bay from Noosa.
Once you arrive in Hervey Bay, spend the day exploring the beach town and visiting some top spots, including walking along Urangan Pier and watching the sunset at Enzo’s.
Your second day will consist of heading across the bay on a tour to K’gari (Fraser Island), the largest sand island in the world. Doing this Queensland road trip during the dry season (winter) means that you’ll be able to spot humpback whales! Hervey Bay is one of the best places to whale watch in Australia, so book your whale watching tour to K’gari in advance.
Day 5: Hervey Bay to Agnes Water
Drive Time: 2.5 hours
Where to Stay: Agnes Water Beach Holidays
Your next destination on your Queensland road trip is Agnes Water, one of the state’s hidden gems.
The secluded beaches and lush forests offer peacefulness and beauty. There are plenty of things to do in Agnes Water for the day, but some of the most popular are
● Joining a sunset kayak tour
● Strolling the enchanted Paperbark Trail
● Heading out for a surf on Queensland’s northernmost break
Day 6: Agnes Water to Cape Hillsborough
Drive Time: Six hours and 40-minutes
Where to Stay: Cape Hillsborough Nature Tourist Park
One of the longest stretches of the Brisbane to Cairns road trips occurs today. The 600km drive from Agnes Water to Cape Hillsborough will take you over six hours, but when you reach Mackay, you’ll be amazed at the rolling sugar cane fields.
After a long day on the road, you’ll want to stretch your legs. So, why not end the day with a sunset hike to watch the sun go down over Mackay?
Days 7 & 8: Cape Hillsborough to Airlie Beach
Drive Time: 1.5 hours
Where to Stay: BIG4 Adventure Whitsundays Resort
The next destination on this Brisbane to Cairns road trip is one of the most beautiful places in Queensland, the Whitsundays.
However, head to Casuarina Beach at sunrise to watch dozens of wallabies venture out onto the beach before you go. It’s a natural phenomenon that has drawn people from all over Australia.
After watching the sunrise and wallabies, make your 90-minute journey to Airlie Beach, the gateway to the Whitsundays.
Spend your first day getting to know the town, grab a bite to eat, swim in the lagoon and watch the sunset on the beach.
On your second day in Airlie Beach, one of the best things to do is hop on a tour and get taken out to the beautiful Whitehaven Beach.
Days 9 & 10: Airlie Beach to Townsville (Magnetic Island)
Drive Time: 3.5 hours
Where to Stay: Bungalow Bay Koala Village
Get up early to drive three hours to your next destination on your Brisbane to Cairns road trip: Magnetic Island.
You’ll first have to drive to Townsville, then catch the 40-minute car ferry to Magnetic Island, one of the most beautiful places in Tropical North Queensland.
Spend two days exploring the best of what Magnetic Island has to offer. Since it’s located on the Great Barrier Reef, there are plenty of fantastic snorkelling spots. With the Forts Walk hike and Geoffrey Bay rock wallabies, there is so much to see and do in this little slice of paradise.
Day 11: Townsville to Mission Beach
Drive Time: Three hours
Where to Stay: Mission Beach Camping & Caravan Park
After catching the early morning ferry back to Townsville, start your three-hour journey to Mission Beach.
Before making your way to Mission Beach, head inland to Wallaman Falls, the tallest single-drop waterfall in Australia. Make time for the two-hour walk to the bottom of the 268m falls.
Once you reach Mission Beach, head straight to the stretch of sand and spend the afternoon in the sun under the palm trees.
Days 12 & 13: Mission Beach to Atherton Tablelands
Drive Time: Two hours
Where to Stay: The Canopy Treehouses
After starting your morning on the beach, it’s time to head into the World Heritage Wet Tropics rainforest in the Atherton Tablelands.
Along the way, head along The Waterfall Circuit to see some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the region, such as Millaa Millaa Falls and Zillie Falls.
Sleeping in a treehouse is one of the best things to do while in a tropical rainforest. There are plenty to choose from in the Atherton Tablelands, and it offers the chance to relax and recharge before making your way to Cairns.
Day 14: Atherton Tablelands to Cairns
Drive Time: 1.5 hours
Where to Stay: NRMA Cairns Holiday Park
The final leg of your Queensland road trip takes you through the beautiful trees of the Wet Tropics towards Cairns.
Once you arrive in Cairns, spend the afternoon on the esplanade or swimming in the lagoon. No matter how long you stay in Cairns, one of the best things to do is go on a Great Barrier Reef tour.
So there you have it, the ultimate Queensland road trip in a campervan.
Pick up your camper from Cruisin’ Motorhomes in Brisbane and make your way up the coast to Cairns. Or, if you want to do it the other way around, Cruisin’ Motorhomes also has a branch in Cairns. So, you could pick up your motorhome there and make your way down to Brisbane.
Although this Brisbane to Cairns road trip can be done in a week, it’s better to take your time to soak up every sight along the way.