Driving Brisbane to Cairns

Old Jul 17, 15, 7:04 am
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Driving Brisbane to Cairns

Hello!
We plan driving from Brisbane to Cairns late October - beginning November.
What things should we certainly see or do (Fraser Island, and few other things are already on the list)? Any possible hickups that time of year? Or conditions?

Wet season starts later but were roads ever flooded early November?
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Old Jul 18, 15, 12:26 pm
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What sort of things are you hoping to do/see on your way? 4x4 off-roading? Scuba diving? Beaches? Wildlife? Hikes? Sailing? Geology?

Also, are you aware of quite how far it is?
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Old Jul 19, 15, 12:13 am
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You do realise it's 1700km drive..... (similar to London to Florence).

Is your holiday going to based around driving from Brisbane to Cairns or is driving simply a way to get from Point A to Point B.

How long do you have to do the drive?
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Old Jul 21, 15, 2:09 am
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Originally Posted by kcupp95 View Post
You do realise it's 1700km drive..... (similar to London to Florence).
This does need to be borne in mind - and there's a lot less of interest between Brisbane and Cairns than there is between London and Florence...

To be honest, and from memory, the stretch from somewhere south of Rockhampton to up near Mackay is pretty dull, as is the road south of Townsville. From Townsville (once you get into the wet tropics) to Cairns is well worth doing though - provided you're there in the dry season (the southern winter) and not the wet season.
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Old Jul 21, 15, 8:31 pm
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Originally Posted by Christopher View Post
This does need to be borne in mind - and there's a lot less of interest between Brisbane and Cairns than there is between London and Florence...

To be honest, and from memory, the stretch from somewhere south of Rockhampton to up near Mackay is pretty dull, as is the road south of Townsville. From Townsville (once you get into the wet tropics) to Cairns is well worth doing though - provided you're there in the dry season (the southern winter) and not the wet season.
Not to mention the fact that it's 2 lane highway for most of the trip, lots of roadworks and if you get stuck behind a slower vehicle you are stuffed.

Unless you're stopping in at Josephine Falls, Babinda Boulders or Behana Gorge the drive from Townsville to Cairns is pretty average.
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Old Jul 21, 15, 9:46 pm
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[QUOTE=Christopher;25148181]This does need to be borne in mind - and there's a lot less of interest between Brisbane and Cairns than there is between London and Florence...
/QUOTE]

Yeah, but at least you don't have to stop every six miles to pay nine hundred bucks in road tolls like you would between London and Florence...

I've only driven the Rockhampton-Brisbane portion of this, but I had a good time and wasn't bored at all. Still, it's not a question of "what to see", because there's only one road and the things to see are spaced far enough apart that you're inevitably going to see them all.

The Rockhampton to Mackay section does have Airlie Beach, which is nice, and access to the Whitsundays, which are amazing. Not sure what's past that.

Having recently driven Brisbane to Melbourne, which is equivalent distance and has much less to see on the way (apart from Sydney), I don't think Brisbane to Cairns is a long or boring trip at all! I'd do it.
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Old Jul 27, 15, 5:29 pm
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I'll be doing something similar to OP, starting in Byron and taking 12 days on the road plus time at both ends. My current list of stops (and # of nights) is below. This may change, trying to work Cania Gorge in after seeing some pictures.

Does anything about this plan seem alarmingly dumb? Anything you'd take off entirely or shift around?

Byron (start)
Brisbane (2)
Hervey Bay (1)
Fraser Island (1)
1770 (2)
Mackay (1)
Airlie (2)
Undara (2)
Cairns (finish)

Cheers!

<Edit> Doing this trip in early September.
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Old Jul 27, 15, 5:57 pm
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Originally Posted by Guitarthur View Post
I'll be doing something similar to OP, starting in Byron and taking 12 days on the road plus time at both ends. My current list of stops (and # of nights) is below. This may change, trying to work Cania Gorge in after seeing some pictures.

Does anything about this plan seem alarmingly dumb? Anything you'd take off entirely or shift around?

Byron (start)
Brisbane (2)
Hervey Bay (1)
Fraser Island (1)
1770 (2)
Mackay (1)
Airlie (2)
Undara (2)
Cairns (finish)

Cheers!

<Edit> Doing this trip in early September.
Why two nights in 1770? Honestly I've never actually been there, only been past.

You've got a lot of pretty-similar places in your list so the detour to Cania Gorge sounds like a good idea.

Carnarvon Gorge, quite a bit further inland at similar latitudes, is also pretty fantastic, I've never seen anywhere quite so alive, with butterflies, dragonflies, birds (and the occasional feral pig) everywhere -- despite being surrounded by arid outback on all sides. It's a pretty massive detour, so it's not a necessity, but I just thought I'd bring it up.
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Old Jul 28, 15, 8:38 am
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The double 1770 was because I expect to leave Fraser fairly late and then we have one of the longer drive segments up to the Mackay area the next day. I'm not committed to it.

Thanks for the feedback on the gorges, Carnarvon looks a little too far out of the way, but there might be a way to shuffle it in. My wife and I are big hikers and runners, so maybe we nix 1770 entirely and do a couple days inland.
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Old Jul 30, 15, 7:20 pm
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Originally Posted by Guitarthur View Post
I'll be doing something similar to OP, starting in Byron and taking 12 days on the road plus time at both ends. My current list of stops (and # of nights) is below. This may change, trying to work Cania Gorge in after seeing some pictures.

Does anything about this plan seem alarmingly dumb? Anything you'd take off entirely or shift around?

Byron (start)
Brisbane (2)
Hervey Bay (1)
Fraser Island (1)
1770 (2)
Mackay (1)
Airlie (2)
Undara (2)
Cairns (finish)

Cheers!

<Edit> Doing this trip in early September.
Okay, you are trying to cover way too much ground in way to little time.
If it was me, I would fly from Byron to Cairns - skip everything in between. That way you can see the reef, rainforest, Undara can be a side trip, plenty of other things around Cairns to have a great time for 2 weeks and you stay off the roads as much as you can. September is a great time in Cairns - basically it is 28C and sunny every day.

I would not recommend what you are wanting to do - spending long times on the roads is only asking for more trouble, especially if you are unfamiliar with the roads, the car and driving on the other side of the road. What is in Brisbane to see specifically - skip it? Fraser Island is a big island and not really suitable for a day - but it can be done in a long day trip with a tour group (4wd only). Cania Gorge - nice, but not nice enough to get me out there again. 1770 is a quiet little beachside town, but there really is nothing there. 1770 to Mackay is over a 6hr drive and there is pretty much nothing to see - between Rockhampton and Mackay there is nothing to see and is one of the more dangerous roads (fatigue). Don't bother with Mackay - go straight to Airlie Beach. But you will want to go to the islands anyway off Airlie Beach. Airlie Beach to Undara is a long way - 10hrs drive. Not alot to do at Undara, except for the caves. Undara to Cairns via Atherton is nice.

Driving long distances on holiday is not a great idea - you are tired, distracted and in unfamiliar surroundings. If you must though, get plenty of sleep and avoid driving at dawn and dusk because of livestock and kangaroos. Don't drive at night. Don't drive tired, please - that is one of the bigger problems on these roads.
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Old Aug 7, 15, 12:00 am
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Originally Posted by Crocodile View Post
Okay, you are trying to cover way too much ground in way to little time.

I would not recommend what you are wanting to do - spending long times on the roads is only asking for more trouble, especially if you are unfamiliar with the roads, the car and driving on the other side of the road.
I drove to Cairns from Brisbane with a friend in 3.5 days, and we had a great time. We got up early, drove about 6 hours and had the afternoon to relax at whatever beach we found (we were in a campervan).

I would limit the driving to a max of 6 hours a day, preferably less, and this trip is basically OK with just a few adjustments with that limitation. I don't think the schedule is too ambitious, but you have good advice about the destinations. Particularly Brisbane, I'd drive though it and spend more time elsewhere. Maybe substitute somewhere on the Gold Coast for night 1 and then Noosa for night 2?

Last edited by CPMaverick; Aug 7, 15 at 12:06 am
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