Brisbane to Port Douglas Road Trip – The Ultimate 10 Stops Itinerary

Brisbane to Port Douglas Road Trip
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Queensland is awesome, and a Brisbane to Port Douglas road trip is one of the greatest ways to experience the state, taking you to amazing beaches, tropical islands, quirky towns, and more! You’ll need to stop several times during the 2000-kilometre trip from Brisbane to Port Douglas, which takes 24 hours. Between Brisbane to Port Douglas, there are several great stops.

The Sunshine Coast’s greatest beaches precede Hervey Bay and Fraser Island as you drive north. After passing via Bundaberg, Rockhampton, and Mackay, you will finally arrive at the dazzling Whitsunday Islands. Through Magnetic Island, Mission Beach, and up to Port Douglas, the rainforest and Great Barrier Reef become increasingly visible.

A Brisbane-Port Douglas car journey should not be rushed. If you only want to go between cities, take a flight. The journey to Port Douglas is a great chance to see the Queensland coast. You may spot crocodiles and cassowaries. You may spot whales, kangaroos, and bright coral on the reef. The Brisbane to Port Douglas trip is a great way to learn about northern Australia’s sugar cane farmers, early immigrants, and Indigenous cultures.

A Brisbane-Port Douglas road journey is different for everyone. You are free to stop whenever you choose, and you may take as much time as you like. If you are in a hurry, the trip to Port Douglas may be completed in just four days. Some take two weeks. There are some that take two months! I recommend doing a road trip from Brisbane to Port Douglas that lasts for two weeks. You might wish to add a couple more stops to this itinerary.

Most of my road trip stops feature the greatest Queensland coast activities. Thus, some days have short rides between locations. Relax. You’ll love not driving! Following the roadway northward is the obvious choice. Know where to stop for the best Brisbane to Port Douglas road trip. A night spent on a tropical island and scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef are both included in this itinerary. Rum tasting and watching kangaroos on the beach first thing in the morning. You’ll four-wheel with dingoes after speedboating to the whitest beaches.

This is one of the finest Australian road journeys with so many experiences. Let’s begin!

What Is Port Douglas Popular for?

The spectacular Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest, and Cape Tribulation are some of the reasons why Port Douglas is so well-known. The Great Barrier Reef is also on the World Heritage Sites list. Because there are so many things to see and do during your trip to Port Douglas, you will need to be there for some time in order to explore the diverse variety of activities.

Ideal Route from Brisbane To Port Douglas

On this road trip, we are going to take the straight highway road from Brisbane to Port Douglas. Our first stop on this road trip will be the beautiful Noosa. Then from Noosa, we will go all the way to Hervey Bay then, along with Bundaberg-Yeppoon-Cape Hillsborough-Airlie Beach-Townsville-Mission Beach. Then before our final destination, we will explore Cairns and head to our final destination Port Douglas.

Travelling this distance by car will take around 24 hours, as it is a 2000-kilometre journey. I suggest planning for at least two-week for the Brisbane-Port Douglas road trip.

Brisbane to Port Douglas Road Trip: Itinerary, Places, Distance & Attractions

Bus Distance31 Hours 50 Minutes
Drive / Car Distance24 Hours
Stops9 Stops
Nearest AirportCairns Airport

Here, we will provide you with a detailed 9 stops road trip plan from Brisbane To Port Douglas, including information on accommodations, activities, and transportation.

Total distance is approx 2010 km and driving approx 24 hrs

Brisbane to Noosa

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Noosa Everglades Australia., Bernard Spragg – Public Domain Media Search Engine Public Domain

Total distance is approx 144 km Driving Approx 1 hr 50 mins

At the beginning of the journey, you will leave Brisbane and go north through the suburbs, and then finally emerge onto the highway that will take you up to the Sunshine Coast. If you depart early in the morning, you may face some rush-hour traffic as you make your way through the suburbs. Because of its beauty, Brisbane residents spend day vacations and weekends here. It is not just the proximity; it is also the diversity of things to do, ranging from the verdant hinterland all the way down to the stunning beaches, with lots of fresh products available along the way.

Even before you get to the Sunshine Coast, there are some things to visit, such as the Glass House Mountains and the Australia Zoo near Beerwah. There is plenty of towns to choose from along the Sunshine Coast beaches if you choose to spend the night in one of them. Caloundra, Mooloolaba, and Coolum are three excellent alternatives to consider. On the other hand, I’m going to recommend that you drive to Noosa.

You will be able to explore the area without having to make many trips back to your lodging, but another reason is that this is the most well-known section of the Sunshine Coast, and I’m sure you want to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the highlights. Hastings Street is the place to go if you’re looking for hip restaurants and shopping; if you’d instead cool down by the beach, head to Noosa Main Beach. Noosa National Park provides parasailing, jet skiing, and other water sports.

Top attractions in Noosa

Accommodation in Noosa

  • Noosa Sun Motel & Holiday Apartments
  • RACV Noosa Resort
  • Netanya Noosa
  • The Islander Noosa Resort

Restaurants in Noosa

  • Little Humid Restaurant
  • Noosa Cruiser Restaurant and Bar
  • Gusto
  • Periwinkle restaurant
  • Noosa Waterfront Restaurant & Bar

Noosa to Hervey Bay

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Urangan Pier | Flickr

Total distance is approx 160 km Driving Approx 2 hrs 10 mins

As you make your way inland from the Sunshine Coast, you’ll get your first genuine experience of rural Queensland as you travel through a region of the state that is primarily agricultural. One of the most important industries in the area is cattle farming, and the further inland you go from the shore, the more prevalent this industry becomes.

My advice for your drive for the day is one that isn’t very lengthy and will take you to Hervey Bay. Although Hervey Bay has a lot of things to do in and of itself, it is most likely best known as the departure point for trips to Fraser Island. It is important to include space in your itinerary for a stop at Fraser Island if you have never been there before because the island offers a wide variety of activities.

You do have the option to bypass this stop and proceed directly to Bundaberg if you are not interested in visiting Fraser Island or any of the other attractions that are located in the Hervey Bay area. Hervey Bay is well-known for its whales, and it is often considered to be one of the greatest sites in all of Australia to go whale watching due to the fact that these marine mammals spend the months of July to October playing in the safe waters of the bay.

Other activities at Hervey Bay include boat cruises to see turtles, dolphins, and dugongs, relaxing on the beaches, and windsurfing and kayaking. Don’t forget Fraser Island! Hervey Bay offers accessible day trips to Fraser Island, a World Heritage Site. Fraser Island is accessible by ferry. You will not be sorry that you spent the night there, though, if you are able to make the necessary arrangements.

Top attractions in Hervey Bay

  • Urangan Pier
  • Wetside Water Park
  • Hervey Bay Botanic Gardens
  • Reef World Aquarium
  • Hervey Bay Regional Gallery

Accommodation in Hervey Bay

  • Sunseeker Motel
  • Emeraldene Inn & Eco-Lodge
  • Hervey Bay Colonial Lodge
  • Shelly Bay Resort

Restaurants in Hervey Bay

  • Odyssey Bistro
  • Vinvero’s Cafe
  • Aegean Waters
  • Bayaroma Cafe
  • The Dock Bar & Restaurant

Hervey Bay to Bundaberg

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Sea Turtles – rawpixel

Total distance is approx 110 km Driving Approx 1 hr 20 mins

The city of Bundaberg is not often thought of as much of a tourist destination, but if you dig a little bit deeper, you’ll find that there is in fact a wide range of activities that can be enjoyed here. In addition to being on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef, it is a gastronome’s dream destination thanks to its rich history of sugar cane production.

It is recommended that you break up the trip from Hervey Bay all the way up the coast to North Queensland by stopping for a couple of nights along the way. This will allow you to see some of the many landscapes that the state has to offer. However, if you are in a rush or simply do not wish to stop in Bundaberg, you may continue on to Rockhampton, which is around 4 hour and thirty minutes drive from Hervey Bay.

A tour of the Bundaberg Rum Distillery is an absolute priority when you are in this area due to the fact that rum is one of the things that Bundaberg is most famous for. It doesn’t matter if you don’t enjoy drinking rum because the culture around sugar cane in this area places a significant focus on it. The turtle sanctuary at Mon Repos is another highlight of a trip to Bundaberg, and it is well worth making a reservation to go there between November and March to watch the female turtles lay their eggs or the young hatch out of their shells.

To visit the Great Barrier Reef for the very first time, you must fly to Lady Elliot Island or take a boat to Lady Musgrave Island from Bundaberg.

Top attractions in Bundaberg

  • Bundaberg Rum Distillery
  • Alexandra Park Zoo
  • Bundaberg Botanic Gardens
  • Hinkler Hall of Aviation
  • Mon Repos Turtle Centre

Accommodation in Bundaberg

  • Bundaberg Spanish Motor Inn
  • Villa Mirasol Motor Inn
  • Charm City Motel
  • Sugar Country Motor Inn

Restaurants in Bundaberg

  • Spotted Dog at Railway Hotel
  • Les Chefs
  • PapparDelles Italian Restaurant
  • Ballistic Bargara
  • Water Street Kitchen

Bundaberg to Yeppoon

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Crab | The beach at Yeppoon had a lot of these little crabs … | Flickr

Total distance is approx 328 km Driving Approx 4 hrs 10 mins

I want to apologize in advance to anyone. I am upset with this statement, but I find the section of the Queensland coast that goes from Bundaberg to Mackay to be the most uninteresting. The unfortunate truth is that it does not possess any of the well-known sights that are located farther to the south or, more specifically, further to the north. But because it is such a long journey to complete in a single day, I would suggest stopping for the night at some point along the road in order to get some much-needed rest. After all, you do realize that today is a holiday, don’t you?

And fortunately, there is a place that is worth stopping at, a bit of a jewel along the Capricorn Coast, and that place is Yeppoon, which is a tiny beach town. Yeppoon gives off the impression that it was designed specifically with tourists in mind, offering a coastline retreat away from the region’s towns that are focused on business and its huge pastoral lands. It serves as a port of entry to the water for both residents and visitors.

In addition to the beach itself, there is a large lagoon that is near it. There are activities such as fishing and surfing, in addition to other water sports. In addition, a boat ride across Great Keppel Island is a well-liked vacation option. The surprising amount of outstanding street art that can be seen in the city, in addition to the availability of excellent eateries and cafés. In addition, there is convenient accessibility to a number of national parks, many of which provide breathtaking scenery and trails for walking.

Top attractions in Yeppoon

  • Cooberrie Park Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Yeppoon Lagoon
  • Keppel Kraken
  • Yeppoon Main Beach
  • Spring Head Lookout

Accommodation in Yeppoon

  • Yeppoon Surfside Motel
  • Sail Inn
  • Oshen Holiday Apartments
  • Rosslyn Bay Resort

Restaurants in Yeppoon

  • The Waterline Restaurant
  • Beaches Restaurant
  • Food for Thought Cafe
  • The Rocks Yeppoon Bar & Restaurant
  • Keppel Bay Sailing Club

Yeppoon to Cape Hillsborough

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Total distance is approx 404 km Driving Approx 4 hrs 50 mins

As you go farther into North Queensland, you will notice that the weather is beginning to shift, and everything will begin to take on a more tropical vibe. This can be seen in everything from the newly sprouting rainforest to the animals that appear to be more aggressive. Mackay is a bit of a hidden treasure, with a laid-back atmosphere and the greatest collection of art deco buildings in all of Queensland. It is the next big city along the coast that you will reach when you go in that direction.

But Eungella National Park, where you can watch platypus at play, and Cape Hillsborough, where kangaroos meet on the beach as the sun rises, are the two attractions in the area that I would suggest the most highly to anybody visiting the area. I have strongly suggested that you book a room at Cape Hillsborough in order to take part in this unique morning event, which is a truly remarkable example of Australian culture. A large number of kangaroos and wallabies will descend onto the beach just as the sun is beginning to rise in order to be fed by the park rangers. After being fed, the animals will remain on the beach for some time.

It occurs immediately adjacent to the Cape Hillsborough Nature Tourist Park, which is the best spot to stay in the area. There are also various treks that you can take from this location that will provide you with breathtaking scenery of the surrounding area. In the event that this is not something that you are interested in, though, you may choose to spend the night in Mackay instead, or you can just keep going straight to Airlie Beach, which is just around 1 hour and 30 minutes further on.

Top attractions in Cape Hillsborough

  • Cape Hillsborough National Park
  • Smalleys Beach
  • Twin beach lookout
  • Andrews Point Lookout
  • Wedge Island
  • Seaforth Beach

Accommodation in Cape Hillsborough

  • Cape Hillsborough Nature Tourist Park
  • Halliday Bay Resort and Golf Course
  • Seaforth Holiday Units

Restaurants in Cape Hillsborough

  • The Old Station Tea House
  • Tackles Restaurant
  • The Leap Hotel
  • Willy’s Woodfired Pizza

Cape Hillsborough to Airlie Beach

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Airlie Beach, Queensland – Wikimedia

Total distance is approx 128 km Driving Approx 1 hr 50 mins

From Cape Hillsborough, it is only a short drive up to Airlie Beach, which is known as the entry point to the Whitsunday Islands and is recognized as one of the most popular vacation spots in all of North Queensland. This is not a stop that should be skipped under any situation unless you have done everything else earlier.

To get the most out of your stay in the Whitsundays, you’ll need more than just one night there. There is a wide range of activities you may participate in while you’re there. At a bare minimum, you should plan to spend two nights at Airlie Beach so that you have time to take a day trip to one of the surrounding islands. On the other hand, you will most likely find that you desire even more.

Additionally, many visitors choose to spend the night on one of the islands. There are several resorts that are so luxurious that they would be out of reach financially for the majority of people, but there are also other possibilities that are more reasonably priced, however, you should not be scared to seek anything on Hamilton Island or Long Island.

I have some recommendations for things to do at Airlie Beach, including boat tours to the surrounding islands, regardless of the length of time you decide to spend there.

I recommend going to Whitsunday Island, which has Whitehaven Beach, and this full-day excursion is great. Scenic flights over the reef to view Heart Island are amazing. In addition, you may stick around in the lively atmosphere of town after the trip.

Top attractions in Airlie Beach

  • Coral Sea Marina
  • Boathaven Beach
  • Ocean Rafting
  • Airlie Beach Lagoon
  • Whitsundays Day Tour
  • Cruise Whitsundays
  • Whitehaven Beach Tour

Accommodation in Airlie Beach

  • Colonial Palms Motor Inn
  • Coral Sea Resort Hotel
  • Airlie Beach Hotel
  • Airlie Beach Motor Lodge
  • Mantra Club Croc Airlie Beach

Restaurants in Airlie Beach

  • The Belvedere At Toscana
  • Cafe One 3
  • Anchor Bar
  • Fat Frog Beach Cafe
  • Village Cafe Restaurant & Bar

Airlie Beach to Townsville

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Townsville australia,townsville needpix

Total distance is approx 272 km Driving Approx 3 hrs 40 mins

The Bruce Highway is the primary route that does exactly what we are doing, travelling by car from Brisbane to Cairns. By this point, you probably have a love-or-hate relationship with the Bruce Highway, which is the major route. This part of the Bruce Highway surrounds the coast, crosses rivers, travels through fields, and even passes mountains, so you rarely get trapped behind traffic.

Our today’s stop is Townsville which has more to offer than you may imagine. It’s also the gateway to Magnetic Island, one of my favourite stops on the route to Cairns. Townsville, the largest city in northern Australia, appears to be an economic centre at first impression. Once you start exploring Townsville, you’ll find loads to do.

If you want to explore the parks, beaches, and heritage along the coastline, you should go down to The Strand. Climb up Castle Hill to reach the overlook, which has breathtaking views. Explore the public murals and street art that can be seen around the CBD.

However, taking the ferry across to Magnetic Island is the most memorable thing that can be done while you’re here. Hike between beaches, boat along the coast, or drive on this tranquil outcrop. Because there are so many things to do on Magnetic Island, you should plan to spend at least a whole day there. However, since there is so much to see and do on the island, many visitors choose to stay for at least two nights.

Top attractions in Townsville

  • Museum of Tropical Queensland
  • Strand Park
  • Magnetic Island Ferries
  • SeaLink Queensland
  • Billabong Sanctuary
  • The Palmetum

Accommodation in Townsville

  • Castle Crest Motel
  • Beach House Motel
  • Cascade Motel In Townsville
  • City Oasis Inn

Restaurants in Townsville

  • A Touch of Salt
  • Wild Rice Laos & Thai Cuisine
  • Jam
  • GYO Japanese Tapas Bar Restaurant
  • Balabite

Townsville to Mission Beach

Woods Path Wilderness Landscape Australia Forest 877552
Woods Path Wilderness Australia Forest – Max Pixel

Total distance is approx 235 km Driving Approx 3 hrs 10 mins

Today, we’re really moving into Far North Queensland, a territory that doesn’t have a boundary but is much more tropical than North Queensland. There is less agriculture on the sides of the highways in the jungle, which results in the rainforest having a lush and wet environment. The communities are spread out further and becoming more away from one another. You can almost smell it in the air, and you’ll also note that life seems to move at an even more glacial pace.

Before you reach the hustle and bustle of the major city, you should make a detour to Mission Beach, which is a lovely place to unwind before you reach the metropolis. In addition to this, it enables you to do a variety of activities along the road. When you think of a tropical getaway, Mission Beach is probably what comes to mind. A long sandy beach with palm palms on one side and turquoise sea on the other.

At Mission Beach, there are a few separate communities scattered along the shore, all of which are within a short distance of one another that, if necessary, you could walk from one to the other. And since each of them has such limited growth, you have the constant feeling of being isolated from the stresses and strains of the outside world.

Although there are quite a few things to do in Mission Beach, many tourists find that all they really want to do is hang out on the beach, take a trip to Dunk Island, and relax at one of the wonderful cafes in the area. If you make your way inland into the jungle, you’ll find that you have more opportunities to be physically active there.

Top attractions in Mission Beach

  • Mission Beach Dive
  • Wildside Adventures
  • Djiru National Park
  • Mission Beach Visitor Information Centre
  • Clump Point Lookout

Accommodation in Mission Beach

  • Mission Reef Resort
  • Sanctuary Retreat
  • Castaways Resort & Spa Mission Beach
  • The Bungalows

Restaurants in Mission Beach

  • Olive Cafe
  • The Mission – Mission Beach
  • Cannonball
  • Taco Surf
  • World Famous

Mission Beach to Cairns

water underwater biology fish coral coral reef 631492
water, underwater australia, aquarium

Total distance is approx 140 km Driving Approx 2 hrs 10 mins

You may begin to face some traffic as you come towards Cairns. There are a few charming things to view along the route that will make it a more relaxing and delightful trip, despite the fact that you might want to rush to get to the ultimate destination, seeing these things will make the trip more enjoyable. You won’t even have time to blink before you arrive in Cairns. Even before you get out to the reef, there are a ton of activities you can do in the city that will keep you entertained. The city is a hub for tourism.

In recent years, the city itself has seen significant development, and as a result, there are now several superb fine dining facilities, as well as lovely new hotels and contemporary pubs. I think you’ll find that staying here for a few nights gives you a good base of operations. However, the city is also well known for serving as a departure point for trips to the Great Barrier Reef and the surrounding rainforest. You’ll find some interesting adventure activities like canyoning and white water rafting, as well as the tours themselves in Cairns.

Top attractions in Cairns

  • Cairns Aquarium
  • Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
  • Cairns Botanic Gardens
  • Cairns Esplanade Lagoon
  • Crystal Cascades
  • Kuranda Scenic Railway

Accommodation in Cairns

  • Jack & Newell Holiday Apartments
  • Ingenia Holidays Cairns Coconut
  • Pullman Reef Hotel Casino
  • Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort

Restaurants in Cairns

  • Falafellicious
  • Snoogies
  • Cairns Burger Cafe
  • Tha Fish

Cairns to Port Douglas

Port Douglas 4 Mile Beach Queensland Australia panoramio
Port Douglas – 4 Mile Beach, Queensland, Australia – panoramio – Wikimedia

Total distance is approx 67 km Driving Approx 1 hr

Port Douglas is hard to image as a frontier town full of itinerant mariners and gold prospectors. The peaceful town that recalls its golden days is today a major tourist attraction with stylish arcades and well-heeled customers. Nowadays, Port Douglas seems imaginary. Holiday apartments and hotels with maintained lawns, blocks of units called “condominiums,” private golf courses, luxurious tennis courts, attractive restaurants, and every Great Barrier Reef tour imaginable fill the area.

Start your journey at the Macrossan Street Tourist Information Centre. It features brochures and maps that lead to brass plaques explaining the area’s history. Ben Cropp’s Shipwreck Museum on Port Douglas’ waterfront is a highlight. Shipwreck stuff contains money and ballast. Two spots represent Port Douglas. Turn right at the main street and follow the signs to Flagstaff Hill. It overlooks Four Mile Beach and the Coral Sea. Four Mile Beach, with its firm, white sands, is one of the area’s most stunning beaches.

Only the 1879 Wharf St. courthouse survived the 1911 cyclone. Jungle Habitat created an artificial rainforest near the Daintree Rainforest. Birds, butterflies, koalas, and crocodiles are everywhere. Many cruises visit the Outer Great Barrier Reef and Low Isles, a beautiful coral bay with a lagoon and an 1878 lighthouse.

Top attractions in Port Douglas

  • Wildlife Habitat
  • Four Mile Beach
  • Quicksilver Cruises
  • Trinity Bay Lookout
  • Calypso Reef Cruises
  • Silversonic – Scuba Diving & Snorkelling

Accommodation in Port Douglas

  • Port Douglas Motel
  • Mai Tai Resort
  • Mowbray By The Sea
  • Lazy Lizard Motor Inn

Restaurants in Port Douglas

  • Epicurean Port Douglas
  • Melaleuca
  • Salsa Bar & Grill
  • N17 Burger Co
  • The Mexican – Port Douglas

The Best Time to Travel Port Douglas

April to June and September is great times to visit Port Douglas. At that time, Port Douglas’ dry season begins when the weather cools and averages 25°C. Besides, you might be able to watch whales in September.


What Is The Cheapest Way To Get From Brisbane To Port Douglas?

The bus is the most cost-effective transportation option while travelling from Brisbane To Port Douglas. It will take around 31 hours and 50 minutes of your time and cost you between $120 – $200.

What Is The Fastest Way To Get From Brisbane To Port Douglas?

The fastest way to go from Brisbane To Cairns is a flight, which will take around 6 hours and 20 mins and will cost between $100 – $370 for each ticket.

Which Airlines Fly From Brisbane To Port Douglas Airport?

Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia fly from Brisbane To Cairns airport, which will take about 6 hrs 20 mins approx and costs $100 – $370 for each ticket. There is no flight to Port Douglas.

How Much Is A Bus Ticket From Brisbane To Port Douglas?

It will cost about $120 – $200 to travel from Brisbane To Port Douglas by bus.

Wrapping Up

As shown, the Brisbane-Port Douglas road journey is amazing! There are so many great spots to stop and enjoy Queensland’s beauty and meet intriguing people. As indicated above, this Brisbane to Port Douglas itinerary is flexible, so you may adjust the stops to your interests and time.

Avoid rushing whenever possible. The tour will certainly take longer because you’ll need to stay two nights in several places to see them thoroughly. If you have two weeks in hand, then this might be the greatest road trip of your life. Have a safe trip!!

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Hi, I'm Md Abid Hasan. The owner & content editor of is a travel blog that covers road trips, day trips, and destinations guide.

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