Hey, and welcome to Part 2 of Cairns to Brisbane Road Trip: Your Ultimate Guide. If you missed Part 1 you can find it HERE.
In this article we’re going to help you carry out the second part of your Cairns to Brisbane road trip with information on where to stay, what to do and how to get there between Mackay and Brisbane. The second part of this roadtrip is no less exciting than the first as we’ll be heading into the most populated part of Queensland, the south-east! So, buckle up and get ready for another amazing adventure!
Cairns to Brisbane Road trip: Mackay to Yeppoon – 1 day
Your next stop after Mackay is the quiet coastal town of Yeppoon, about 420km and 5 hours away. This is a big drive and the general consensus is that there’s not much to do on the way so grab some of your favourite tunes and get ready to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
You might like to start your drive early with a sunrise at Eungella Chalet and then get into Yeppoon around lunch time so you can make the most of this great little town.
Just before you get into Rockhampton and take the turn to Yeppoon, you will drive past an interesting tourist attraction called the Capricorn Caves. These stunning caves are set in a limestone ridge and are also home to bats at certain times of the year. Grab a tour (from $35) and check out the Cathedral Cave, one of the most popular. If you’re passing through in December, watch out for the Summer Solstice Light. It attracts visitors from all over the globe.
Cairns to Brisbane Road trip: Mackay to Yeppoon – 2 days
While the nearby town of Rockhampton might be bigger than little old Yeppoon, there is certainly no debate about which spot is nicer. Yeppoon is right on the coast and has a real small-town, friendly atmosphere about it. It’s the place to stay.
There is the Yeppoon Lagoon that overlooks the main beach as well as plenty of seaside restaurants offering up delicious meals.
If you stray away from the main drag, you’ll find many streets offering gorgeous ocean views and you’ll most likely spot some black cockatoos flying overhead – a real treat for the eyes!
Another spot well worth checking out is Emu Park. It’s 20km from Yeppoon but the coastal drive will pass in no time. Emu Park itself is a wonderful oceanside town with a laid-back atmosphere and there is some good surf (for those who) can and a lovely ANZAC memorial walk that will lead you to the Singing Ship, the town’s most well-known attraction. This is a trip you want to take.
What Else To Do In Yeppoon
Another popular pastime in Yeppoon is a trip to the Keppel Islands. This is the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef but there are still loads of pristine beaches and Australian habitat to check out. All information can be found at the local information centre or HERE.
If you’re in the mood to meet some furry critters without supporting inhumane practices, then Cooberrie Park Wildlife Sanctuary is the place for you. This sanctuary cares for injured and orphaned wildlife and your entry fee goes towards supporting this cause. You can get up close and personal with koalas, crocodiles and kangaroos, safe in the knowledge that you’re actually doing some good with your tourist dollars.
Last but not least, Yeppoon is famed for its exotic fruit such as mangoes, pineapples and lychees. If you pass through the town in October, you’re in for a treat! The Yepoon Tropical Pinefest is a celebration of all things pineapple-y. Check out the local information centre for more details.
Yeppoon Beach House will put you up for $29 a night.
Driving From Cairns to Brisbane: Yeppoon to Bundaberg (via 1770) – 2 days
In 330kms and just under 4 hours you will arrive at your next destination – Bundaberg. You can start the morning with a short hike (2.3km) in the Capricorn Coast National Park. This short track offers some great views of the Keppel Bay islands and you might even spot turtles swimming in the water below. The perfect way to start your day!
You can then make the trip straight through to Bundaberg. However, if you do have the time to spare, we highly recommend spending a night at 1770 or Agnes Waters. 1770 does have a bit of historical significance as the date (also the name of the town) marks Captain Cook’s arrival to Australia’s coastline. Although the town only has about 100 residents, the biggest drawcard is that you can see the sun set over the ocean (highly unusual for the east coast of Australia). The best place to watch the sunset is at Bustard Bay Lookout.
Agnes Waters also has some interesting spots to check out. Chinaman’s Beach is a hidden gem for surfers and the Agnes Waters Main Beach is awesome for anyone who enjoys a relaxing swim in the Pacific Ocean. The Paperbark Forest Walk might be short (400m) but it will lead you through a labyrinth of paperbarks and green fronds that are just magnificent. All in all, you could easily spend a couple of days here and we recommend you do just that. Check out Backpackers @ 1770 and 1770 Southern Cross Backpackers for the best deals.
From Agnes Waters or 1770, the trip to Bundaberg is only about an hour and a half long.
Cairns to Brisbane Road trip: Bundaberg – 2 days
Bundaberg town is what the famous Australian drink, Bundaberg Rum, is named after. A stay here wouldn’t be complete without a tour around the Bundaberg Rum Distillery. This drink is a big part of Australian culture so if you’re interested in this aspect of the country, check it out.
If you’re not a fan of the sugary drink, check out the Bargara Brewing Company for a beautiful drink made of pure Queensland rain water.
If nature is more to your taste, then the perfect tour for you begins daily at 10am. Segue Bundy’s Turtle Trail Eco Tour will take you through a conservation park dedicated to turtles full with explanations of their life journeys. Oh, and did we mention you’ll be cruising around on a Segway? Check out this site for more details.
In Bundaberg, you can also check out Woodgate Beach for pristine, uncrowded miles of sand. For something a bit more exciting, Mons Repos Beach offers up nesting loggerhead turtles from November to January and the hatching of the baby turtles can be witnessed 6-8 weeks after. What more can we say? 2 days in Bundaberg will only be just enough.
Cairns to Brisbane Road trip: Bundaberg to Rainbow Beach (via Hervey Bay) – 2 days
A short two-and-a-half-hour drive and you’ll be in the beautiful area of Rainbow Beach. The drive will take you through Hervey Bay which is a lovely place to stop off at and spend the night. Hervey Bay is best known for its wonderful whale-watching. If you are in the area from July to November, then you can book a tour and enjoy the majestic giants that swim up the coastline at this time of year. Although expensive, day trips to the world-heritage listed Fraser Island are also a popular pursuit and well worth the money – surf, sand and the occasional dingo strolling along the shore. Check out these links for tour options HERE and HERE.
Then you can head on down to Rainbow Beach. The name comes from the rainbow-coloured sand cliffs that line the picturesque beaches along the coast. Reds, yellows and oranges and mixtures of all three. If you have a suitable car, you can check out the 4WD tracks along the beach here and admire the colours from the comfort of your vehicle.
There is plenty else to do in Rainbow Beach including checking out Inskip Point Peninsula or taking the trip to Fraser Island that you didn’t get around to in Hervey Bay. Carlo Sand Blow is probably the biggest drawcard in the area around Inskip Peninsula. The sand dunes stand in a ‘moonscape’ formation over 15 hectares and offer spectacular views of the coloured sands.
A popular 600m walk from Cooloola Drive will see you watching the sun set over Tin Can Bay and the Great Sandy Strait.
Cairns to Brisbane Road trip: Rainbow Beach to Noosa – 1 day
1 hour 20 minutes and you are at your last stop on your Cairns to Brisbane road trip before Brisbane! There is plenty to see and do in Noosa so check out the next section for a detailed guide!
Cairns to Brisbane Road trip: Noosa – 2 days
Noosa is one of many places on the Sunshine Coast that make for an awesome destination. We chose Noosa because of its gorgeous beaches, incredible national park and great foodie scene.
Some of the most famous attractions in Noosa can be found on the coastal walk that takes you through the national park. First up are the Fairy Pools. These beautiful rock pools are completely natural, formed right on the edge of the ocean with crashing waves surrounding the spot. Just before these Fairy Pools is another gorgeous spot called Granite Bay. The views are amazing and the beach is not very crowded. And, last but not least, you can finish the walk with Hell’s Gates which is two giant rock formations in the shape of a, well, gate.
For the culture vulture, Noosa’s Main Beach and Hastings Street are the place to be. This strip of sand, sun and delicious restaurants has something to please everyone.
If you do have the time, check out Noosa Everglades, one of only two everglades in the entire world. You can grab a kayak or just on a horse and explore this masterpiece of nature keeping an eye out for some great birdlife.
Cairns to Brisbane Road trip: Noosa to Brisbane – 1 day
Noosa to Brisbane takes about 2 hours and 150km. It can be a quick drive through or a leisurely stroll down the motorway if you have time to stop off. Highlights include Montville and Maleny in the hinterland where you can visit Maleny Dairies and Kondalilla Falls and also Australia Zoo that Steve Irwin once called home.
Cairns to Brisbane Road trip: Brisbane – 5 days
Brisbane, Queensland’s capital city, once had the reputation of being a big country town. While it still feels a lot more laidback than Sydney or Melbourne, Brisbane is making quite the reputation for itself – old-style Queensland architecture, riverside dining and a gorgeous city centre. A good 5 days will allow you to really explore this city and appreciate its culture. For our Ultimate Guide to Brisbane – check out our next post.