The road trip between Cairns and Brisbane is one of the most popular journeys in Australia. Although many itineraries are available to take you via the coastal route, here we will guide you through the inland route – Cairns to Brisbane via the Australian Outback!
The adventure takes you from the golden beaches and ancient rainforests of Tropical North Queensland, through the heart of the Aussie Outback, and finally ending in the cultural metropolis of the capital city, Brisbane.
One of the best ways to experience this epic itinerary, is to hire a campervan from Cairns. You can get deals on one way rentals, so try to check whether the price is better from Cairns to Brisbane or Brisbane to Cairns. If you need to reverse the itinerary to get a better campervan deal, then that is easy done!
The road trip extravaganza begins in the tropical city of Cairns. Famous for the natural gems that are found close by, which includes the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s seven wonders.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders, and Cairns is the perfect starting point for a reef adventure. Take a boat tour to snorkel or dive among the colourful coral and marine life, or even fly over the reef in a helicopter or seaplane for a truly unforgettable experience.
The Daintree Rainforest is the oldest continuously surviving rainforest on Earth and is home to an incredible diversity of plants and animals. Take a guided tour to learn about the unique flora and fauna, or even spend the night in a treehouse for a truly immersive experience.
The village of Kuranda is a charming mountain retreat that offers a glimpse into the traditional way of life of the Kuku Yalanji people. Take the scenic Kuranda Scenic Railway or Skyrail Rainforest Cableway to reach the village and explore the markets, galleries, and rainforest walks.
Next, head south to the Atherton Tablelands. This picturesque region is home to cascading waterfalls, crater lakes, and quaint towns. Stop in at one of the many farm gates to sample locally grown produce, such as tropical fruits and coffee.
The Atherton Tablelands is home to some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Australia. The most famous one is the Millaa Millaa waterfall that is also known as the waterfall of the waterfall circuit. But there are many other waterfalls like Zillie, Ellinjaa, and Nandroya falls. Take a hike to the falls, enjoy a picnic and swimming in the crystal clear pools.
The Tablelands are also known for their unique volcanic crater lakes. Lake Eacham and Lake Barrine are two of the most popular lakes to visit. Both lakes offer a variety of activities such as kayaking, fishing, and birdwatching. Take a leisurely stroll around the lake, or rent a boat and explore the lake at your own pace.
As you continue south, you’ll pass through the mining town of Charters Towers, a historic mining town that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and outdoor adventure.
The surrounding outback offers a unique landscape of rugged beauty, with red desert, dry creek beds and spinifex. Take a 4WD tour to explore the outback and see the wildlife that inhabits the area, such as kangaroos, emus, and lizards.
The town has many local attractions that are worth a visit. The Venus Gold Battery is one of the best-preserved batteries from the gold rush era. The World’s Second Largest Fossilised Tree is also worth seeing, it’s a massive tree that was buried by volcanic ash and is now exposed for all to witness.
The drive from Charters Towers to Longreach is a journey through the heart of the Queensland outback, with vast landscapes, rugged hills and wildflowers in season. Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or just looking for a new place to explore, Longreach has something for everyone.
Longreach is known for its rich history, especially for its connection to the Australian Outback pioneers and the iconic Qantas Airways. Take a tour of the Qantas Founders Museum and the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame to learn about the town’s rich history, and see the original aircraft, artifacts and equipment.
Longreach has a variety of restaurants, cafes and pubs that offer a range of delicious local and international cuisine. Take a stroll down the main street and try out the local specialties. The town also has a lively nightlife, with live music and performances happening regularly.
From Longreach, it’s a short drive to the iconic Town of Winton. Take a tour of the Australian Age of Dinosaurs, where you can see the fossils of the largest dinosaur ever found in Australia and learn about the history of dinosaur discoveries in the region.
The Waltzing Matilda Centre, a must-see for any Aussie history buff, where you can learn about the history of Australia’s most famous song and the story behind it. The Qantilda Museum, where you can learn about the history of the region and see the artifacts and equipment used by the pioneers.
After Winton, the road takes you through the rugged beauty of the Carnarvon Gorge, where you can hike through lush rainforests and swim in crystal-clear rock pools.
As you enter the gorge, you’ll be greeted by towering sandstone cliffs that rise high above the lush rainforest floor. The gorge is home to an abundance of wildlife and rare plant species. Take a hike along the gorge’s many trails, and discover hidden waterfalls, crystal-clear rock pools, and ancient Indigenous rock art.
The main trail is the Carnarvon Gorge walking track, it’s a 7.5km return walk that takes you through the heart of the gorge. You’ll be able to see the Amphitheatre, the Art Gallery, and the Cathedral cave. Along the way, you’ll also see many species of birds and other animals that call the gorge home.
If you’re feeling adventurous, take a guided tour to explore the deeper parts of the gorge. Go for a rock climb, abseiling, or canyoning to discover hidden gems that can’t be accessed on foot.
Last, but by no means least, you’ll reach your destination in Brisbane.
This vibrant city is known for its bustling nightlife, delicious food, and outdoor culture. Take a stroll along the South Bank Parklands, visit the art galleries and museums, or view the stars from Mt Coot-tha.
With so much to see and do, this campervan road trip is the perfect way to explore the diverse beauty of Australia. So pack your bags, pick up your campervan, and hit the road!