21 Day Cairns To Brisbane Wanderlust

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Airlie Beach + Island

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3-day 4WD Tour

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Reef + Rainforest

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Beach Camping

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Social Vessel

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Great Barrier Reef

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Aussie Animals

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21 Day Cairns to Brisbane Wanderlust Map


Quench your wanderlust with our comprehensive 21 Day Cairns to Brisbane itinerary. From exploring waterfalls of the Daintree Rainforest to scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef and camping on Fraser Island (K’gari) to sailing the Whitsundays on a deluxe vessel, you won’t miss a thing on this seamless, inclusive trip of a lifetime.

Australia is absolutely full of marvels, from white sandy beaches to tropical rainforests to crazy nightlife and cities! Make new friends and sun-soaked memories as you spend three weeks discovering both the very best, as well as the best-kept secrets, of the dazzling East Coast on this jam-packed adventure! 


  • Explore the flourishing reefs, ancient rainforests and secret waterfalls of tropical Cairns.
  • Sail the glorious Whitsunday Islands on an adventurous, social overnight boat.
  • Experience the dazzling hidden lakes, forests and beaches of K’gari on a multiday 4WD camping adventure! 
  • Spend ample time in beautiful destinations like Noosa, Rainbow Beach, Moreton Island and more.


Day 1 

Great Barrier Reef introductory scuba dive 

Hit the ground running (or should we say swimming) as you jump straight into a Great Barrier Reef scuba dive on the first day of your itinerary! Cairns is renowned as a beautiful gateway to a flourishing section of the Great Barrier Reef, teeming with bustling marinelife, vivid corals and crystal waters. So, grab a scuba tank and embark on your intro to diving, where experienced teachers will train you in the very basics of scuba. Perfect for complete diving beginners, you will learn a new skill as well as get in and amongst some of the most breathtaking marine ecosystems in the southern hemisphere.

hotel Your Stay

Hostel in central Cairns

Trip Upgrade

  • Scuba Dive for advanced divers


Day 2

Atherton Tablelands waterfall adventure

Despite some pretty controversial advice, today you will indeed be chasing waterfalls! Venture through the dense tropical rainforests of the tranquil Atherton Tablelands, spotting colourful rock formations and native wildlife along the way! You will be heading out on one of the most renowned backpacker tours in Far North Queensland, Uncle Brian’s Waterfalls, which combines natural beauty as well as a fun, social group and upbeat, informative commentary. The absolute shining star of this trip is zipping down the natural waterslide at Josephine Falls!

hotel Your Stay

Hostel in central Cairns

Day 3 

Experience the Daintree Rainforest, Cape Tribulation and crocodile spotting

Be breath taken by ancient growth as you experience the world’s oldest rainforest: the Daintree. Magnificent towering trees, abundant wildlife and rich natural beauty will surround you on this illuminating and adventurous day! Witness the dazzling Cape Tribulation, before checking out natural crocodile habitat! A totally authentic Aussie wildlife experience, you can watch these prehistoric predators in their natural ecosystems, in a safe yet first-hand way… just wow!

hotel Your Stay

Hostel in central Cairns

Trip Extension 

  • Extend your time in Cairns with further accommodation or an overnight reef tour

Day 4

Cairns to Airlie Beach 

Enjoy your last morning in the charming Cairns before you begin your southbound journey to the lively Airlie Beach! From one tropical hub to another, you're bound to be just as impressed and inspired in this beachy, island region. With kaleidoscopic reefs, unforgettable beaches and an awesome local backpacker scene, the Whitsundays is just around the corner! Make a stop along the way to extend your itinerary with an incredible wildlife and island side-adventure with the Magnetic Island Koala & Wildlife sanctuary! 

hotel Your Stay

Hostel or apartment in the heart of Airlie Beach

Trip Upgrade

  • Private studio apartment with views of the Coral Sea
  • Hostel room upgrade

Trip Extension 

  • Magnetic Island Koala & Wildlife adventure

Day 5

Welcome to Airlie Beach

The colourful, beachy town of Airlie Beach welcomes you with open arms! Spend a full day exploring everything this backpacker-friendly town is renowned for. Whether you’re chilling out by the free Airlie Beach lagoon, heading out on a local hike, strolling along the esplanade or recovering from your Cairns adventures, you’re bound to find your jam. Don’t forget to go out to the main strip once the sun sets for some live music and great company at one of the many pubs, clubs and bars. 

hotel Your Stay

Hostel or apartment in the heart of Airlie Beach 

Day 6 & 7 

Sail away on your two-day, two-night Whitsunday Island getaway

Embark on a sailing adventure bound to provide good memories, stunning island experiences and fun, social vibes! Sail through rolling island landscapes to Whitsunday Island. Here, you can lay upon some of the whitest sands in the world at Whitehaven Beach, swim in turquoise waters and marvel at the view from Hill Inlet Lookout! Your vessel includes snorkelling, all meals and accommodation and extras like SUPs and onboard spas! Relax, explore and party with new friends and old amongst utter tropical paradise! 

hotel Your Stay

Private or shared vessel accommodation

Trip Upgrade

  • Scuba dive
  • Private cabin 

Day 8 & 9 

Two leisure days in Airlie Beach 

Just because the sail is over, doesn’t mean the party is! Return to shore, check back into your accommodation to freshen up, before heading to the most popular club in Airlie Beach for an official sailing afterparty with your new friends! Don’t miss your exclusive free club entry and drink discounts. After celebrations (that often continue into the wee hours), get ready for two leisure days in the vibrant Airlie Beach. Whether you’re looking for more reef adventures, want to get your adrenaline racing with a skydive or simply want to unwind by the bay, it’s up to you for the next two days! With an array of day trips available to add to your itinerary, see the Whitsundays from the sky, sand or sea whatever your style! Or opt for some free things to do such as hikes for all levels, seaside picnics, foodie tastings or bayside BBQs! 

hotel Your Stay

Hostel or apartment 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

Day 10

Travel from Airlie Beach to Fraser Coast Region 

Head to the esplanade with a coffee for one last glowing Airlie Beach, revelling in your memories of island sailing, great company and dazzling nightlife! Then, check-out of your hostel or apartment and make your way to Rainbow Beach, where the days are warm and the adventure is limitless! 

hotel Your Stay

Overnight bus to Rainbow Beach 

Day 11

Play, paddle and relax in Rainbow Beach 

Named after the rainbow sands that make up the stunning beaches, Rainbow Beach is an awesome destination for backpackers to explore both the beach and bush of the Sunshine Coast! Check out the multitude of hikes and awesome camping opportunities in this small yet stunning beachside town. It is also a great gateway to the magnificent K’gari (Fraser Island) so don’t forget to have an early night in preparation for your multiday K’gari (Fraser Island) tour tomorrow! 

hotel Your Stay

Hostel in Rainbow Beach 

Trip Upgrade

  • Rainbow Beach Dolphin Kayak tour 

Day 12, 13 & 14

K’gari (Fraser Island) 4WD Camping Adventure

Catch the morning barge over to K’gari (Fraser Island) as you begin your adventure across the world’s largest sand island! Adorned with a rich history, jaw-dropping natural wonders, colourful wildlife and dazzling freshwater lakes, you and your group will immerse yourself in this ethereal island paradise. Take the wheel (literally) on your three-day, two-night 4WD camping adventure across all of the best parts of K’gari. Swim in the dual-tones of Lake McKenzie, float down the crystal clear Eli Creek, 4WD down the sandy 75 Mile and visit the beautiful Maheno Shipwreck. All food, transport and accommodation are sorted, and you will be resting easy in your deluxe campsite with rain-fed showers and magical evening campfires to complete your days of sun, salt and sand! We’re talking about some authentic island magic here! 

hotel Your Stay

Day 12 & 13 - two nights of starlit K’gari camping with deluxe facilities

Day 14 - Rainbow Beach hostel

Trip Extension

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

Day 15

Welcome to Noosa 

Travel from Rainbow Beach to Noosa, reflecting on your excellent K’gari ventures with an entry into your travel journal or a totally FOMO invoking Instagram post! Arrive in the palm-tree lined streets of Noosa and get ready to kick your feet up in a beach bum’s paradise. Chill out on the many beaches, catch a wave or simply catch up on your laundry and Facetime your family and friends back home! 

hotel Your Stay

Hostel in the heart of Noosa

Day 16 

Noosa Everglades kayak discovery 

Explore the Noosa Everglades, a unique and tranquil ecosystem best seen by kayak! Gently paddle your way through glassy canals surrounded by beautiful wetlands and aquatic plants. As one of only two everglade systems in the world, this is an extraordinary place to visit, relax and slow down in a natural gem. Breathe slow and break up the busy adventure of your 21-day itinerary with this totally serene experience.

hotel Your Stay

Hostel in the heart of Noosa 

Day 17

A sunshiney day in Noosa

It’s time to discover the gems of the Sunshine Coast… and indeed, you won’t be stumped for choice when it comes to things to do. Renowned for its stunning beaches, backpacker-friendly vibes and trendy cafes and bars, Noosa has something for everyone! Head out on a coastal hike through the Noosa National Park, stopping along the way to explore and splash in the sparkling fairy pools. Hit Hastings Street for lunch, before catching a wave in the afternoon. And, if you want to learn to surf, let us know and we’ll upgrade your trip to include personal lessons. Finish your day off at Koala Bar, a quintessential bar for all fun-loving travellers that’s open till late! 

hotel Your Stay

Hostel in the heart of Noosa 

Trip Upgrade 

  • Noosa surfing lesson 

Day 18

Time to see those big city lights!

As we continue our way south, we have a few more days of adventures ahead! Brisbane is not only a world-class city offering endless opportunities for self-exploration, but it is also the gateway to more island adventures! Get your rest as we prepare to finish with a bang!

hotel Your Stay

Central Brisbane Hostel

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 19

Moreton Island Adventure

Head out to Moreton Island for a day tour of authentic Aussie fun down under! Slip and slide down golden sand dunes with a sandboard… a classic East Coast pastime. Then to rinse off,  immerse yourself in idyllic beaches as you swim and snorkel through charming shipwrecks. Don’t forget to look down as you kayak your own glass-bottom kayak over bustling reefs teeming with marine life! With its azure waters, secluded bays and rich history, Moreton Island truly is an adventurer’s haven.

hotel Your Stay

Central Brisbane Hostel

Day 20

Lets Explore the City 

Explore the lively Brisbane City! Lap up a full day exploring the eclectic suburbs full of bustling bars, free activities, great food and gorgeous walkways and green spaces. Hop on a shared electric scooter and zoom around the best of the CBD, venture over the bridge to South Bank’s street beach, before wandering over to West End to browse the vintage stores and quirky cafe scene. Or, if you prefer to keep it lowkey grab your mates, a frisbee and a blanket and hop on the CityCat to cross the river and have a waterfront picnic! For a wild last night of your itinerary, head to the nightlife centre of Brisbane: Fortitude Valley! Dance, party and celebrate the night away with your newfound friends and holiday glow!

hotel Your Stay

Central Brisbane Hostel

Day 21

Soak up the charm of city life! 

Whether you’re heading to a late brunch to recover from the night before, hitting the farmer's markets or embarking on one of the many free things to do, spend the last day of your three weeks in the belly of this charming and quirky city! Revel in the sun-soaked adventures had, natural wonders witnessed and new friends made… indeed, your wanderlust is bound to be satisfied after this journey! 

Trip extension 

  • Extend your time in Brisbane with further accommodation.
  • Check out our 40-day itinerary for an even longer East Coast adventure if you want to continue down to the Gold Coast, Byron Bay, Sydney, Melbourne and more! 

What's Included?

Tour Package Includes

  • Great Barrier Reef introductory scuba dive tour in Cairns
  • Daintree Rainforest, Cape Tribulation and crocodile guided tour
  • Waterfall tour through the Atherton Tablelands rainforests
  • 2-day, 2-night Whitsundays sailing trip
  • Exclusive VIP Airlie Beach afterparty
  • 3-day, 2-night guided Fraser Island 4WD camping tour 
  • Noosa Everglades kayak tour
  • Moreton Island full-day 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 Cairns to Brisbane
  • Overnight bus
  • Hostel breakfasts

What's Extra?

Optional Trip Add-ons

  • 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
  • Australia Zoo pass day tour
  • Explore Byron Bay, Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne 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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