Get ready for the road trip of a lifetime from Cairns to Melbourne! This adventure-packed journey spans about 3,500 km, taking you through some of Australia’s most iconic and picturesque landscapes. From tropical rainforests and vibrant coral reefs to bustling cities and breathtaking coastal views, every leg of this trip promises fun and excitement. We’ve put together the ultimate guide to help you make the most of this incredible journey, ensuring you hit all the must-see spots and hidden gems. Pack your sense of adventure and get ready for an unforgettable ride down the coast!

1. Cairns to Kuranda

  • Distance: 27 km
  • Driving Time: 30 minutes


  • Kuranda Scenic Railway: Historic train ride through the rainforest.
  • Skyrail Rainforest Cableway: Glide above the canopy with stunning views.
  • Kuranda Village: Explore markets, art galleries, and cafes.
  • Barron Gorge National Park: Visit Barron Falls and enjoy walking trails.
  • Kuranda Butterfly sanctuary

2. Kuranda to Palm Cove

  • Distance: 25 km
  • Driving Time: 30 minutes


  • Palm Cove Beach: Relax on this idyllic beach lined with palm trees.
  • Esplanade: Stroll along the beachfront promenade with shops and restaurants.
  • Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures: Learn about crocodiles and other wildlife.
  • Rex Lookout

3. Palm Cove to Port Douglas

  • Distance: 45 km
  • Driving Time: 1 hour


  • Port Douglas Four Mile Beach: Enjoy the beautiful sandy beach stretching into the distance.
  • Macrossan Street: Discover boutique shops, cafes, and restaurants.
  • Wildlife Habitat: Get close to native Australian animals.
  • Mossman Gorge: Explore the rainforest and swim in crystal-clear waters.
  • Great Barrier Reef tours

4. Port Douglas to Daintree Village

  • Distance: 45 km
  • Driving Time: 1 hour


  • Daintree River Cruises: Spot crocodiles and birdlife on a guided tour.
  • Daintree Discovery Centre: Learn about the rainforest’s flora and fauna.
  • Daintree Village: Explore this quaint village with its unique shops and cafes.

5. Daintree Village to Cape Tribulation return to Cairns

  • Distance: 50 allow extra time and distance returning to Cairns
  • Driving Time: 1-1.5 hours


  • Daintree Rainforest: Experience one of the world’s oldest rainforests.
  • Daintree River Ferry: Cross the river by ferry into the heart of the rainforest.
  • Alexandra Range Lookout: Enjoy panoramic views over the Daintree River and Coral Sea.
  • Cape Tribulation Beach: Walk on the beach where the rainforest meets the reef.
  • Marrdja Boardwalk: Stroll through mangroves and rainforest with informative signs.
  • Cape Tribulation Lookout: Hike up for stunning views of the coastline.
  • Ocean Safari Great Barrier Reef snorkel tour
  • Horse ride

6. Cairns to Atherton Tablelands ( Optional day)

  • Distance: 90 km
  • Driving Time: Return to Cairns is a full day


  • Millaa Millaa Falls: One of the most photographed waterfalls in Australia
  • Lake Eacham: A clear, blue volcanic crate
  • Curtain Fig Tree: A massive and ancient strangler fig tree near Yungaburra, accessible via a boardwalk.

7. Cairns to Mission Beach

  • Distance: 140km
  • Driving Time: 2 hours


  • Walshs Pyramid
  • Babinda Boulders, Devils Pool, Babinda Bakery.
  • Paronella Park
  • Mission Beach, Dunk Island
  • Great Barrier Reef Mission Beach
  • Mission Beach skydive land on the beach

8. Mission Beach to Townsville

  • Distance: 235 km
  • Driving Time: 3 hours approx


  • Tully Gorge National Park
  • Tully River: Known for white-water rafting adventures
  • Hinchinbrook island
  • Cardwell lookout

9. Townsville to Airlie Beach

  • Distance: 275 km
  • Driving Time: 3-4 hours
  • Magnetic island
  • Castle Hill panoramic vies of Townsville


  • Whitsunday Islands: Sail through these stunning islands, including Whitehaven Beach on a day or overnight tour.
  • Airlie Beach Lagoon: Relax by this picturesque swimming spot.
  • Skydive over the Whitsundays
  • Scenic flight over the Whitsundays

10. Airlie Beach to Mackay

  • Distance: 150 km
  • Driving Time: 2 hours


  • Eungella National Park: Spot platypuses in the wild.
  • Cape Hillsborough: Watch kangaroos on the beach at sunrise.

11. Mackay to Rockhampton

  • Distance: 335 km
  • Driving Time: 4 hours


  • Capricorn Caves: Explore these impressive limestone caves.
  • Rockhampton Botanic Gardens: Enjoy the lush gardens and zoo.

12. Rockhampton to 1770 (Agnes Waters)

  • Distance: 232 kilometers
  • Driving Time: Approximately 2.5 to 3 hours


  • Joseph Banks Conservation Park: Named after the botanist Joseph Banks, this park offers walking trails with scenic coastal views and opportunities for wildlife spotting.
  • 1770 Headland and Lookout: Provides panoramic views of the Coral Sea and the surrounding landscape.
  • 1770 LARC Tours: Amphibious vehicle tours that explore the coastline and nearby National Parks, including sandboarding on the dunes.
  • Lady Musgrave Island: Accessible by boat, this is a perfect spot for snorkeling and diving to see the Great Barrier Reef’s marine life.
  • Chinaman’s Beach: A quieter beach ideal for swimming and picnicking.
  • Agnes Water: Just a short drive from 1770, known for its beautiful surf beach and relaxed atmosphere.

13. 1770 to Bundaberg

  • Distance: 120 kilometers
  • Driving Time: Approximately 1.5 to 2 hours


  • 1770 Headland and Lookout: Panoramic views of the Coral Sea
  • Lady Musgrave Island: Great for snorkeling and diving to see the Great Barrier Reef’s marine life.
  • Paperbark Forest Boardwalk: A short walk through a unique forest with paperbark trees and lush vegetation.
  • Eurimbula National Park
  • Ganoonga Noonga Lookout: Offers views over the park and coastline

14. Bundaberg to Hervey Bay

  • Distance: 115 kilometers
  • Driving Time: Approximately 1.5 hours


  • Fraser Island: Take a tour to the world’s largest sand island.
  • Whale Watching: Visit during the season (July to November) for a chance to see humpback whales.

15. Hervey Bay to Noosa

  • Distance: 190 km
  • Driving Time: 2-3 hours


16. Noosa to Brisbane

  • Distance: 150 km
  • Driving Time: 2 hours


  • Australia Zoo ( inbetween Noosa & Brisbane)
  • Glasshouse Mountains
  • Brisbane South Bank: Enjoy the parklands, lagoon, and cultural sites.
  • Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary: Cuddle a koala and feed kangaroos.
  • North Stradbroke island
  • Moreton island

17. Brisbane to Byron Bay

  • Distance: 165 km
  • Driving Time: 2-3 hours


  • Gold Coast (Surfers Paradise 1 hour south of Brisbane)
  • Tamborine Mountains and Springbrook
  • Byron Bay Lighthouse: Walk to the easternmost point of mainland Australia.
  • Main Beach: Surf or relax on the golden sands.
  • Byron Bay kayak

18. Byron Bay to Coffs Harbour

  • Distance: 240 km
  • Driving Time: 3 hours


  • Big Banana: Visit the fun park and learn about the banana industry.
  • Coffs Harbour Marina: Stroll along the jetty and enjoy fresh seafood.

19. Coffs Harbour to Port Macquarie

  • Distance: 160 km
  • Driving Time: 2 hours


  • Koala Hospital: See koalas being cared for.
  • Tacking Point Lighthouse: Enjoy coastal views and whale watching.

20. Port Macquarie to Newcastle

  • Distance: 250 km
  • Driving Time: 3 hours


  • Newcastle Beach: Swim or surf at this popular spot.
  • Merewether Ocean Baths: Take a dip in these historic baths.

21. Newcastle to Sydney

  • Distance: 160 km
  • Driving Time: 2 hours


  • Sydney Opera House: Take a tour of this iconic building.
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge: Climb or walk across for stunning views.
  • Bondi Beach: Relax on the famous beach or walk the coastal trail.
  • Hunter valley
  • Blue Mountains

22. Sydney to Canberra (Optional)

  • Distance: 290 km
  • Driving Time: 3-4 hours


  • Parliament House: Visit Australia’s political heart.
  • Australian War Memorial: Explore the extensive exhibits.

23. Sydney to Melbourne (via Coastal Route)

  • Distance: 1,050 km
  • Driving Time: 14-16 hours (split over multiple days)


  • Jervis Bay: Visit Hyams Beach, known for its white sand.
  • Narooma: See seals and enjoy the coastal scenery.
  • Lakes Entrance: Explore the Gippsland Lakes region.
  • Wilson’s Promontory: Hike and see native wildlife in this national park.

Final Destination: Melbourne


  • Federation Square: Enjoy cultural events and galleries.
  • Great Ocean Road: Take a day trip to see the Twelve Apostles.
  • Laneways and Arcades: Discover street art and unique shops.
  • Phillip island Penguin parade

Need a free campsite or low coast campsite?

WikiCamps Australia: This is a popular app and website that provides information on campsites, including free and paid options. It allows users to filter by location, facilities, and reviews from other campers.

Camps Australia Wide: A comprehensive guidebook and app that lists campsites across Australia, including free camps. It’s updated regularly and includes detailed information and maps.

CamperMate: This app provides information on campsites, petrol stations, and other amenities along your route.

Local Visitor Information Centers: When you arrive in a new area, stop by the local visitor information center. They often have maps and brochures listing nearby campsites, including free options.

Campsite Signs: In more remote areas, look out for signs indicating free campsites. These are often provided by local councils or community groups.

Government Websites

National Parks and Wildlife Service: Many national parks offer free or low-cost camping options. Check the websites of relevant state and territory national park services for details.

Local Council Websites: Some local councils provide information on free camping areas within their jurisdictions.

Tips for Your Trip:

  • Campervan Parks: Book ahead, especially during peak seasons.
  • Weather: Be prepared for varying weather conditions from tropical Cairns to Melbourne..
  • Plan Your Stops: Allocate extra days for chill time

This road trip offers an incredible journey through diverse landscapes, cultures, and attractions. Enjoy the ride and safe travels!