1 Week Cairns To Brisbane Budget


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Adult (18+)
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Visit Whitehaven Beach Lookout

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K'gari 4WD Bus Day Trip

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Tropical Far North QLD

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Whitsunday Island Day Trip

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Great Barrier Reef

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Hand-Picked Hostels

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Cairns to Brisbane Bus Pass

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3 Lunches Included

9 Day Brisbane To Cairns Highlights Map


Explore the East Coast’s wonders with the popular Brisbane to Cairns Budget Itinerary! With this personalised and perfected getaway, get the most out of your time and dollars while you're experiencing Australia!

Hit the pristine Whitsunday Islands, dazzling Great Barrier Reef, marvellous K’gari (Fraser Island) and bustling cities like Brisbane, Airlie Beach and Cairns for a selection of natural magic! Jam-packed with social sailing tours, adventure experiences, reef snorkels and more, explore the East Coast with old friends and new ones on this unforgettable itinerary!

  • Explore paradise on a deluxe Whitsunday sailing adventure to Whitehaven Beach!
  • Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef and discover marinelife in Cairns.
  • Grab the wheel on your jam-packed K’gari day tour and swim in glorious lakes.
  • Sit back, relax and save money on your worry-free and flexible East Coast experience!

Your Sample Itinerary

Day 1

Girl peering around tree, East Coast

Welcome to Cairns!

Here comes the sun and the tropical adventures as you arrive in the heart of Far North Queensland. Check in to your deluxe hostel and discover the beauty of Cairns, a bustling hub of culture, food, rainforest and reef. Whether you’re hitting Rusty’s market for a juice, swimming in the Lagoon or hanging out at your hostel bar, get in the rhythm of beachside living!


Central Cairns hostel

Trip Extension

  • Pre-tour accommodation and activities in Cairns

Day 2

Snorkelling friends in clear waters

Dive into the Great Barrier Reef

Delve into the underwater wonders of the Great Barrier Reef; one of the seven natural wonders of the world! Your day boat departs from Cairns and leads you to the Outer Reef, where colourful corals, glimmering fish and majestic sea turtles dwell. Explore the reef either by snorkelling or scuba diving on your inclusive experience, where lunch, gear and tutelage are all included!


Central Cairns hostel

Day 3

Welcome to Airlie Beach Sunrise

En route to Airlie Beach

From one tropical centre to the next, set your eyes on Airlie Beach - a backpacker's dream! Home to an amazing nightlife scene, seaside vistas and natural wonders left, right and centre, soak up the sun in paradise! Your bus arrives in the afternoon, so hit the esplanade for a welcome drink before taking to the town to experience Airlie’s infamous live music scene. 


Hostel in the heart of Airlie Beach

Day 4

Whitehaven Beach group

Whitsunday Island sailing & snorkelling

Zoom out to the Whitsunday Islands on a day trip to the exquisite Whitehaven Beach and Great Barrier Reef! Spend ample time snorkelling vibrant fringing reefs before a stop at the bright white sands of Whitehaven Beach. A swim at Betty’s Bay and a bushwalk up to Hill Inlet Lookout are must-dos, as you take in the aqua hues at one of the most beautiful viewpoints in the world. You’ve seen the best of the magnificent Whitsunday Islands, you tropical mermaid!


Overnight bus to Rainbow Beach

Day 5

Two people at the Carlo Sand Blow in Rainbow Beach

Rainbow Beach chillin’

Wake up in a beautiful beachy haven, where rainbow-toned sandy beaches and bright blue waters colour your view! Rainbow Beach is a hidden gem of the East Coast, so hit the beach, enjoy a lazy brunch, explore the Carlo Sand Blow and go on a coastal walk. Today is up to you, so enjoy self-guided adventures or kick back and do as little as you please!


Beachy hostel in Rainbow Beach

Day 6

4 people swimming in Lake Mackenzie

K’gari (Fraser Island) 4WD safari

Catch the ferry over to K’gari (Fraser Island), the world’s largest sand island, and buckle up for the adventure of your dreams! This magical natural gem is laden with technicolour lakes, dazzling beaches, abundant wildlife and lush rainforest. Your local guide will illuminate K’gari’s wonders in a 4WD bus with stops at Lake Mackenzie, Maheno Shipwreck, Eli Creek and the tropical rainforest. Lunch and all ferry transport are included, so you can focus on spotting dingoes!


Beachy hostel in Rainbow Beach

Day 7

Two women watching the sunset on the QUT Gardens Point Bridge

Roll on out to Brisbane

Brisbane (meanjin) is an awesome, unique city and is renowned as the heart of Queensland. So, hit the road on your final East Coast itinerary day with the city in your sights! Arrive in the CBD, where art, food and good times are abundant, and the next chapter is totally up to you!

Trip Extension

  • Post-tour accommodation and tours in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Byron Bay and more!

What's Included?

  • Whitsundays sailing and snorkelling day trip
  • Guided 4WD tour of K’gari (Fraser Island)
  • Cairns Great Barrier Reef cruise
  • Exclusive VIP Airlie Beach afterparty + welcome drink
  • Free luggage storage in Airlie Beach
  • Local guides and environmental commentary
  • 5 nights of accommodation
  • 1 overnight bus
  • All bus transport from Cairns to Brisbane
  • 3 lunches
  • Guaranteed authentic adventures!

What's Extra?

Trip Extensions

  • Pre-tour accommodation in Cairns
  • Post-tour accommodation in Brisbane

Trip Upgrades

  • Van or rental car transport
  • Hostel dorm upgrades

Terms and Conditions

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


Who will I travel with?

This is not a group tour, so you only travel with whoever you book for. Whether that’s solo, with your partner, friend or group of your own choice, spend your downtime how you like and make memories with your tribe!

Whenever you embark on a tour during your itinerary (like your Whitsunday sailing trip or K'gari 4WD), rest assured that they will be fun, adventurous backpacker-style experiences.

Is this trip guided?

This is a semi-guided itinerary, meaning that professional skippers and tour guides lead any time spent on individual tours (like sailboats, 4WD camping tours, reef tours, and the likes). However, the in-between bits like travel days, downtime and free days are up to you.

That means nobody will be waking you up for your early bus or checking into hostels with you, however, it makes your time in Australia undeniably more personalised and flexible. Read more about our semi-guided itineraries in our FAQs or chat with a local travel agent to match you with your dream experience.

If you are looking to travel with a group of other backpackers and be guided through every leg of your journey by a local leader, check out our fully guided group itineraries.

Are meals included?

Three lunches are included in this itinerary, all of which are provided during your day trips. The rest of the meals are up to you, and you will have plenty of access to bars, restaurants, cafes and supermarkets along the East Coast.

Do I need travel insurance?

Yes, we strongly recommend that travellers purchase their own travel insurance before their East Coast trip. Travel insurance is not included in your package price, and East Coast Tours is not responsible for personal injury, operator cancellations or delays.

How much spending money do I need?

We recommend about $60 to $100 AUD spending money per day. This will cover you for a meal in a restaurant, a couple of beers and some supermarket supplies daily. For details on your daily spending budget in Australia, check out our budget travel guide!

Can I upgrade to private rooms rather than shared dorms?

Of course! If you prefer some privacy, you can absolutely upgrade to a private room. Please note that you will pay the difference from a shared dorm to a private room, and all accommodation is subject to availability. For a detailed estimate, chat with our friendly travel agents over live chat to secure your space.

What kind of transport is included?

Our itineraries include bus transport which is primarily a Greyhound Whimit Pass. Greyhound Busses are deluxe coaches with in-seat USB charging, wifi, reclining seats, air conditioning and onboard bathrooms. If you wish to upgrade your package, you can book a rental car or campervan through our friendly travel experts to go your own way!

Can I extend or add on activities to my trip?

Simply chat with our friendly travel agents to personalise your itinerary before you book. We wouldn't blame you for wanting longer in the Byron Bay surf or Airlie Beach sunshine!

Are the dates flexible?

Yes, the dates for this itinerary are flexible. Simply input your preferred arrival and departure dates before booking, or chat with our expert travel agents about your timeframe and we'll make it work for you!

Are flights included?

No, flights are not included in this itinerary. We recommend a flight comparison site to get the best deal for your tickets to Australia.

East Coast Tours acknowledges all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Owners of Country and recognises their continuing connection to land, sea, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and extend that respect to all First Nations peoples.

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