21 Day Brisbane To Cairns Wanderlust

FROM
$2999
DAYS
21
NIGHTS
20
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Whitsundays

Airlie Beach + Island

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Fraser

3-day 4WD Tour

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Cairns

Reef + Rainforest

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Camping

Beach Campsite

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Sailing

Social Vessel

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Snorkelling

Great Barrier Reef

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Wildlife

Aussie Animals

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Flexible

Customise Dates

21 Day Brisbane to Cairns Wanderlust Map

About

If you’re coming to Australia to explore the East Coast, this 21-day itinerary will show you the very best! Adventure is all yours, as you spend three weeks traversing the idyllic coastline from Brisbane to Cairns stopping at all the best and hidden destinations along the way! 

Spend ample time exploring Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast, Noosa, K’gari (Fraser Island), Airlie Beach, the Whitsunday Islands and Cairns on fun, social adventure tours made for backpackers! Wander through the Daintree rainforests, snorkel and dive amongst corals of the Great Barrier Reef, lounge upon sandy white beaches, wake up to island sunrises and 4WD across K’gari for the true trip of a lifetime. It really is so much more than just another holiday with this 21-day adventure! 

Highlights

  • Immerse yourself in the flourishing reefs and ancient rainforests of tropical Cairns.
  • Sail the magnificent Whitsunday Islands on an adventurous, social overnight boat.
  • 4WD across the sands of K’gari, checking out the dazzling hidden lakes, forests and beaches! 
  • Spend ample time in holiday gems like Noosa, Rainbow Beach, Moreton Island, Brisbane and more.

Itinerary

Day 1 

Brisbane Sunset City

Brisbane City 

Lap up a full day in the eclectic Brisbane City, full of trendy bars, free day activities and gorgeous walkways and green spaces. Hop on an electric scooter and zoom around the best of the CBD, hit the South Bank street’s beach, before wandering over to West End to browse the vintage stores and quirky cafe scene. Or, grab your mates, a frisbee and a blanket and have a riverside picnic!

hotel Your Stay

Hostel or apartment in central Brisbane

Day 2

Moreton Island snorkelling

Moreton Island Adventure

Start your East Coast trip the right way by visiting Moreton Island, a stunning paradise just off the coast of Brisbane. Embark on your full-day adventure, which includes glass-bottom kayaking, snorkelling through charming shipwrecks and sandboarding down golden dunes! With turquoise waters, secluded bays and rich history, this little haven really is a hidden gem.

hotel Your Stay

Hostel or apartment in central Brisbane

Day 3 

Aerial Noosa headland view

The Sunshine Coast Awaits!

Set your sights on the Sunshine Coast, as you head on to Noosa where endless beachy stretches await.

hotel Your Stay

Hostel in the heart of Noosa 

Trip Extension

  • Crikey! What about a visit to Australia Zoo? Extend your trip with a stop at this world-famous zoo, home to Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter, and rub shoulders with native Australian wildlife! From koalas to kangaroos to wombats, say hello to these cute Aussie creatures and get some quintessential shots to send home! 

Day 4

Acai bowl held by a young backpacker

A sunshiney day in Noosa

Home to stunning coastal ecosystems, some of the best surf beaches out and a great, local, backpacker-friendly vibe, you won’t be stumped for things to do in Noosa! Hit the Noosa National Parks and go fairy pool exploring! Then, venture to Hastings St for a lunch (acai bowl anyone?), before hitting the beach for an unforgettable afternoon! Don’t forget to check out Koala Bar; a total backpacker hub! 

hotel Your Stay

Hostel in the heart of Noosa 

Day 5

Noosa Everglade Kayak Tour shot of woman

Noosa Everglades kayak discovery 

Embark on your Noosa Everglades tour, full of peaceful natural beauty and incredible flora and fauna. As one of only two everglade regions in the world, this is an extraordinary place to visit. Relax with a chilled out day of canoeing through the lush, tranquil everglades. Indeed, it’s great to enjoy a slow-paced experience sometimes, otherwise, 21 days of adventuring can really catch up with you! 

hotel Your Stay

Hostel in the heart of Noosa

Trip Upgrade

  • Hostel room upgrade

Day 6

Surfing Lesson Noosa with friends

A free day in Noosa

Whether you’re back chilling out on the beach, shredding it up in the surf or catching up on simple things like doing your laundry, take it easy with a leisure day in Noosa. Revel in a lack of urgency and relaxed coastal vibes common amongst most travellers and locals alike in this beachy town! 

hotel Your Stay

Hostel in the heart of Noosa 

Trip Upgrade

  • Noosa surfing lesson

Day 7

Woman looking up at trees, Noosa

Rainbow Beach, here we come! 

Head to the beach for your last Noosa sunrise, coffee in hand, taking in the magic of this exceptional spot. Then, check-out of your Noosa accommodation and make your way to Rainbow Beach, where more sun-soaked memories await!

hotel Your Stay

Hostel in Rainbow Beach 

Day 8

Rainbow Beach 4WD Entourage

Explore Rainbow Beach 

Named after the multicoloured sands that exist on its shores, Rainbow Beach is an awesome and simultaneously beautiful spot! A popular destination for Aussies and backpackers alike, there is a multitude of hikes and awesome camping opportunities in this small yet stunning beachside town. Explore, and have an early night as you prep for your multiday K’gari (Fraser Island) tour tomorrow! 

hotel Your Stay

Hostel in Rainbow Beach 

Trip Upgrade

  • Rainbow Beach Dolphin Kayak tour 

Day 9, 10 & 11

Woman in hat walking down Eli Creek

K’gari (Fraser Island) 4WD Camping Adventure

Catch the barge bright and early over to K’gari (Fraser Island), the world’s largest sand island and a total tropical paradise! Adorned with an interesting history, countless natural wonders, unique wildlife and gem-coloured freshwater lakes, you and your group will discover breathtaking marvels. Take the wheel on your three-day, two-night 4WD camping adventure across all of the best parts of K’gari. Take a dip in the sapphire Lake McKenzie, float down the crystal clear Eli Creek, zoom down the sandy 75 Mile and visit the historic Maheno Shipwreck. All food, transport and accommodation are covered, and you will be set up in a deluxe campsite with rain-fed showers and magical evening campfires to perfect your exceptional island camping adventure! 

hotel Your Stay

Day 9 & 10 - two nights of starlit K’gari camping with deluxe facilities

Day 11 - Rainbow Beach hostel

Trip Extension

  • Prolong your K’gari adventure with an additional day and night

Day 12

Australia driving kangaroo sign

Travel from Rainbow Beach to Airlie Beach

Whitsundays, here we come! Check-out of your Rainbow Beach accommodation (with the sunkissed glow of your K’gari camping experience), and embark on the journey to Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays Region!

hotel Your Stay

Overnight bus to Airlie Beach 

Day 13

Airlie Beach swimming

Welcome to Airlie Beach

The colourful, seaside town Airlie Beach welcomes you with open arms! Spend a full day exploring everything this backpacker-friendly town has to offer. Whether you’re chilling out by the free Airlie Beach lagoon, exploring a local hike, moseying along the esplanade or hanging out with other backpackers, you’re bound to have a blast! Don’t forget to go out to the main strip at night and catch some live music at one of the many busy pubs; a quintessential pastime in Airlie Beach! 

hotel Your Stay

Hostel in the heart of Airlie Beach 

Trip Upgrade

  • Private studio apartment with views of the Coral Sea

Day 14 & 15

Two guys sailing a boat

Embark on your two-day, two-night Whitsunday sailing tour! 

The Whitsunday Islands are full of dazzling seascapes, turquoise waters, island havens and friendly marine life! Discover it all, and more, with your two-day, two-night sailing getaway. Visit the world-famous Whitehaven Beach, with its gorgeous pure silica sands, before heading up to the spectacular views of Hill Inlet Lookout. Snorkel the glorious Great Barrier Reef and enjoy a blissful nautical adventure, with old friends and new ones! 

hotel Your Stay

Private or shared vessel accommodation

Trip Upgrade

  • Scuba dive
  • Private cabin 

Day 16 & 17

Whitsunday walking and exploring

Two free days in Airlie Beach 

Return to shore for two leisure days in Airlie Beach. Whether you’re looking for more reef adventures, want to get your adrenaline pumping or simply want to hang out and have fun on the mainland, drive your own Airlie Beach journey! With an array of day trips available to add to your itinerary, see the Whitsundays from all angles, be it the sky, sea or sand! Or opt for some free activities such as local hikes, esplanade bike rides, seaside picnics or bayside BBQs! 

hotel Your Stay

Hostel in the heart of Airlie Beach 

Trip Upgrade

  • Scenic Flight over the Great Barrier Reef
  • Award-winning Sky Dive over Airlie Beach 
  • Airlie Beach Jet Ski tour
  • Deluxe Hamilton Island day trip
  • Upgrade your accommodation to a resort stay

Day 18

Welcome to Cairns, waterfall

Airlie Beach to Cairns

Enjoy your last morning in the bustling Airlie Beach before you start your northbound drive to your final destination: Cairns! From one tropical hub to another, you're bound to be just as impressed and inspired. With teeming rainforests, thriving reefs and a fun, local backpacker scene, buckle up as Cairns is just around the corner. Or, if you're feeling restless, stop in at the pristine Magnetic Island for an awesome Koala & Wildlife Adventure to break up the trip!

hotel Your Stay

Hostel in central Cairns

Trip Extension 

  • Magnetic Island Koala & Wildlife experience

Day 19

Corals in the Great Barrier Reef

Scuba dive to the depths of the Great Barrier Reef

With flourishing reefs renowned for their unbeatable colours and marinelife, Cairns is a real hub for lovers of the deep blue. So, don a scuba tank and embark on your intro to scuba diving, where experienced divers will train you in the very basics of scuba. Perfect for all knowledge levels, you will learn a new skill as well as get in and amongst some of the most breathtaking marine ecosystems in the southern hemisphere. Our best tip… don’t forget the GoPro to capture your Finding Nemo moments! 

hotel Your Stay

Hostel in central Cairns

Trip Upgrade

  • Scuba Dive for advanced divers

Day 20

Travellers jumping in front of a waterfall

Atherton Tablelands waterfall adventure

Whoever said “don’t go chasing waterfalls” clearly hadn’t been to the dazzling gems of Atherton Tablelands, just outside of Cairns! Pack your day bag and head off on the best waterfall tour in Far North Queensland; Uncle Brians's Waterfalls. A favourite amongst backpackers, as well as a great way to illuminate the divine fairy pools and cascades amongst stunning rainforests! Don’t miss your chance to have a go down a natural waterfall waterslide at Josephine Falls!

hotel Your Stay

Hostel in central Cairns

Day 21

Blue Waterhole Daintree

Explore the Daintree Rainforest and spot crocodiles! 

Patter through ancient growth as you experience the world’s oldest rainforest: the Daintree. Brilliantly towering trees, a buzzing biodiversity of creatures big and small and marvellous natural wonders will greet you on your journey through these parts. Head out to Cape Tribulation and immerse yourself in the turquoise tropical waters, before heading to natural crocodile habitats to spot these ancient creatures first-hand (and at a very safe distance). This day adventure wraps up your jampacked 3-week itinerary, so revel in your time experiencing the absolute best of the East Coast! 

Trip Upgrade

  • Extend your time in Cairns with further accommodation
  • Check out our 40-day itinerary for an even longer East Coast adventure with time in Byron Bay, the Gold Coast and more! 

What's Included?

Tour Package Includes

  • Moreton Island full-day tour
  • Noosa Everglades kayak tour
  • 3-day, 2-night guided Fraser Island 4WD camping tour 
  • 2-day, 2-night Whitsundays sailing trip
  • Exclusive VIP Airlie Beach afterparty
  • Great Barrier Reef introductory scuba dive tour in Cairns
  • Waterfall tour through the Atherton Tablelands rainforests
  • Daintree Rainforest, Cape Tribulation and crocodile guided tour! 
  • Meals during your ticketed tours
  • 4 nights' accommodation during tours 
  • Guaranteed authentic adventures!  

Full Package Also Includes

  • 16 nights of additional accommodation
  • All bus transport from Brisbane to Cairns
  • Overnight bus
  • Hostel breakfasts

What's Extra?

Optional Trip Add-ons

  • Australia Zoo day trip
  • Noosa surfing lessons
  • Extended K’gari Tour 
  • Rainbow Beach Dolphin Kayak 
  • Magnetic Island Wildlife Island adventure 
  • Scenic Flight over the Great Barrier Reef
  • Award-winning Sky Dive over Airlie Beach 
  • Whitsunday Jet Ski Tour
  • Deluxe Hamilton Island day trip
  • Explore Byron Bay, Gold Coast and more! 

Optional Trip Upgrades

  • Van or rental car transport 
  • A private cabin on your Whitsunday sailing vessel
  • Advanced scuba dives
  • Hostel dorm upgrades

Terms and Conditions

Please read our terms, conditions and cancellation policies before booking your East Coast itinerary package. 

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