Mackay to Cairns Road Trip – Full Itinerary for a Great Adventure

Mackay to Cairns Road Trip
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You have three routes to travel from Macky to Cairns, but the route via A1 and bruce highway1 is better. It is a short route and has many opportunities to relax and have fun. It is a 733 km long route that may take 8 hours and 33 minutes by car.

Cairns has many things to explore. It has many natural attractions which can make your trip so special. You can explore the world’s great Barrier reef and wet tropical rainforest. 

You have many beautiful places to explore on your routes, like Bloomsbury, Proserpine, Bowen, Condon, Ingham, and much more. Stay tuned; I will tell you the amazing ideas for fun on that route.

Mackay to Cairns road trip (The Easy Way)

Transportation ModeApproximate time 
Car8 hours 33 minutes 
Bus12 hours 28 minutes 

Cairns is almost 733 km from Mackay. The travelling time varies depending on your mode of transportation.

To cover this long route with ease but with a lot of entertainment, you should stop at a few beautiful places to relax. I recommend you stop at the following places while you are on the way to Cairns from Mackay.

Mackay to Bloomsbury

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Cape Hillsborough national park | Rob and Stephanie Levy | Flickr

Driving Distance: 87 km

Driving Time: 1 hour by car

Bloomsbury is a coastal location that is 87 km from Mackay. It will take approximately 1 hour to get there via Bruce Highway 1. No bus service is available so you must have your car.

It is a small town but is rich with many beautiful tourist attractions. You have the museums to explore history. National parks and coastal points to enjoy the beautiful scenery and have fun.

The roads, parks, restaurants, accommodation, and transport are fine and friendly to visit Bloomsbury. Everyone, from kids to seniors, has opportunities to enjoy.

Top attractions in Bloomsbury

Some of the top attractions to visit in Bloomsbury includes the following:

  • Bredls Wild Farm – BOOKINGS ESSENTIAL!
  • Cape Hillsborough National Park
  • Hamilton Island Wildlife

Accommodation in Bloomsbury

For accommodation following are the affordable hotels with better services.

  • Prince of Wales Hotel
  • Halliday Bay Resort and Golf Course and RV Park
  • Reef View Hotel

Restaurants in Bloomsbury

To have a tasty dining experience, I recommend you the following restaurants.

  • bp Truckstop
  • Sealand Takeaway & Cafe
  • Proserpine Palace Chinese Restaurant
  • The Point Tavern
  • Bommie

Bloomsbury to Proserpine

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Crocodylinae | Crocodiles (subfamily Crocodylinae) or true c… | Flickr

Driving Distance: 38. 7 km

Driving Time: 26 minutes by car

Prosperine is the next recommended stop for you during your travel from Mackay to Cairns. It is almost 38.7 km which may take 26 minutes to cover via Bruce Highway 1.

The town is famous for its rural vibe. It is one of the major destinations to explore cattle grazing and sugar cane. You have many parks and beautiful natural tourist attractions that are worth seeing.

It is located on the edge of the beautiful tropical coast of Queensland, giving visitors a perfect view. People are hospitable, markets are arranged, and roads are well-paved. Many things are waiting for you in Prosperine; you must stop at Prosperine.

Top attractions in Proserpine

Prosperine has many beautiful attractions, but I recommend the following places you must visit when you are in Prosperine.

  • Proserpine Historical Museum
  • Honeyeater Lookout Trail
  • Whitsunday Crocodile Safari
  • Colour Me Crazy

Accommodation in Proserpine

For accommodation, you can visit the following hotels in Prosperine.

  • Discovery Parks – Airlie Beach
  • Prince of Wales Hotel
  • Proserpine Motor Lodge
  • A & A Motel
  • The Grand Central Hotel Proserpine

Restaurants in Proserpine

During your stay in Prosperine, you can visit the following restaurants.

  • Blaze Pizzas Whitsunday
  • West End Cash Store
  • Proserpine Palace Chinese Restaurant
  • Hotel Metropole Proserpine
  • Red Rooster

Proserpine to Bowen

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Big Mango, Bowen | Outside Bowen En route Brisbane – Cairns … | Flickr

Driving Distance: 67.4 km

Driving Time: 51 minutes by car/3 hours and 4 minutes by bus

Okay, you want some more fun? Just a 51 minutes drive from Proserpine, you have another place to stop: Bowen. It is the smallest town, almost 67 kilometres from Prosperine via Bruce Highway 1 route.

You can also go there by bus; it takes more than 3 hours which is not a better option than a car. Many things are in this small coastal town for you to explore. You have many places to visit in Bowen; even you can stay for 2 or 3 days if you have ample time.

There are many beaches to relax and have a romantic time. Explore the big reef and hikes in Bowen. The town has special importance in cultivating fruits in Australia, especially Mangoes. You have many other tourist attractions in Bowen to have fun and relax.

Top attractions in Bowen

Never miss visiting the following tourist attractions while you are in Bowen.

  • The Big Mango
  • Bowen Historical Society & Museum
  • Euri Gold Farms
  • Bowen Yoga Room
  • Watertank Murals

Accommodation in Bowen

During your stay in Bowen following are some of the best and most affordable hotels to stay with family.

  • Queens Beach Tourist Village
  • Birch Motel Bowen
  • Harbour Lights Caravan Park
  • Queens Beach Hotel
  • Birch Motel Bowen

Restaurants in Bowen

You can go to the following restaurants to have spicy dining.

  • The Cove Restaurant
  • Fellows Fish Bar
  • Grand View Hotel
  • Bowen Noodle Bar

Bowen to Condon

ReefHQ Townsville
ReefHQ – Wikimedia

Driving Distance: 206 km

Driving Time: 2 hours and 19 minutes by car/ Approximately 4 hours by bus

Condon is the next stop on your way to Cairns from Mackay to stay and explore beautiful attractions. It is almost 206 km from Bowen; it takes 2 hours and 19 minutes to get there by car. 

Bus service is also available, but it takes almost 4 hours; you can use the bus if you are without a car or have ample time. Both follow the Bruce Highway A1/ A1 route. 

Many things are waiting for you to visit in Condon. It is a suburban area but is rich with beautiful tourist attractions. 

You have beautiful parks, museums, and other natural attractions in Condon that are worth visiting. You will definitely have a good time during your stay in Condon.

Top attractions in Condon

You can visit the following attraction for a picnic party or relaxation.

  • ReefHQ Aquarium
  • Castle Hill
  • Magnetic Island Ferry Terminal
  • Maritime Museum of Townsville
  • Museum of Tropical Queensland

Accommodation in Condon

Following are the best hotels for accommodation in Condon if you are with the family.

  • Hotel Grand Chancellor Townsville
  • Clarion Hotel Townsville
  • Cedar Lodge Motel
  • Carlyle Gardens

Restaurants in Condon

If you feel hungry, the following are the restaurants for tasty meals.

  • Carlyle Cafe Restaurant & Bar
  • Irish Finnegans
  • Hog’s Breath Cafe Cannon Park
  • Cannon Park Dining & Entertainment

Condon to Ingham

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Golf Club – Book Golf Breaks & Holidays

Driving Distance: 108 km

Driving Time:  1 hour and 14 minutes by car/ 2 hours and 42 minutes by bus

The next stop on your route to Cairns from Mackay via the A1 route is Ingham. You can reach it in 1 hour and 14 minutes by car. If you take a bus, it will take almost 2 hours and 42 minutes to get there.

Ingham is a small town in Australia that is famous for the sugar industry and sugar mills in Australia. But many other things are there for tourists to explore besides the sugar industry.

You have opportunities to enjoy the world’s single-falling waterfalls, natural hill areas, green areas, and much more. The visitors can spend a few hours to enjoy among nature, plan a picnic, and have time to rest at this calm destination.

Top attractions in Ingham

If you are in Ingham, you must visit the top attractions to make your visit to Ingham memorable.

  • Hinchinbrook Visitor Information Centre
  • TYTO Wetlands
  • Garbutt Park
  • Ingham Golf Course

Accommodation in Ingham

No worries about the accommodation; you can go to the following hotels for affordable accommodation in Ingham.

  • Lees Hotel 
  • Motel Ingham
  • Ingham Tourist Park
  • Ingham Herbert Valley Motel

Restaurants in Ingham

You can enjoy the versatile recipes in the following restaurants in Ingham.

  • Mick’s Bread Kitchen
  • Macdonald’s
  • Brick’s and Penny’s
  • Hotel Hinchinbrook Restaurants

Ingham to Cardwell

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Broome Deep Water Wharf & Jetty – Wikimedia

Driving Distance: 53.7 Km

Driving Time: 37 minutes by car/Approximately 1 hour by bus

Cardwell is the next beautiful place to stop on your road trip to Cairns. This coastal rural locality is a perfect destination to rest and rejoice for the remaining journey.

It is approximately 53.7 km from Ingham; it will take only 37 minutes by car and 1 hour by bus. You can go via any mode of transportation. Bruce HWY/A1 is the best route to get there. 

Currently, it is the fastest route with traffic conditions. You have tropical rainforests and pools to spend a beautiful time among the lush green trees. 

The visitors can enjoy the beaches and waterfalls. It is a perfect destination for a picnic.

Top attractions in Cardwell

Cardwell have many natural tourist attractions to explore, but the following are the must-visit attractions.

  • Cardwell Forest Reserve
  • Cardwell Forest Reserve 2
  • Attie Creek Falls
  • Cardwell Lookout
  • Cardwell Park Rest Area
  • Cardwell Jetty

Accommodation in Cardwell

For accommodation following are the best hotels in Cardwell.

  • New Life Pastures
  • Cardwell Van Park
  • Cardwell Beachfront Motel
  • Cardwell Beachcomber Motel Tourist Park Cardwell
  • Cardwell Beachfront Motel

Restaurants in Cardwell

You have the following options to dine in Cardwell.

  • Bearleys Bakery
  • Seabreeze cafe longue
  • Marine Hotel
  • Terry and Mamiko’s

Cardwell to Tully

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Group of People Horse Riding

Driving Distance: 43.5 km

Driving Time: 30 minutes by car/45 minutes by bus

My next recommendation for a stop on your route to Cairns is Tully. It is almost 44 km from Cardwell via Bruce Hwy/A1. You can get there in only 30 minutes by car and 45 minutes by bus.

It is a small rural village famous as Australia’s wettest land. You can enjoy the best time among the tall Golden Gumboots in Tully. Green hilly areas have many natural attractions to rest, dine and have fun.

Tully suits everyone, from kids to seniors. Its best parks, Greenlands, hilly areas, sugar-producing mills, beautiful houses, and roads are amazing. Your time in Tully will be memorable.

Top attractions in Tully

You have many attractions to visit in Tully but never miss seeing the following attraction when in Tully.

  • The Golden Gumboot
  • Reinsdown Horse Riding
  • Tully Cemetery
  • Tully Aerodrome
  • Tully Showgrounds

Accommodation in Tully

Visit the following places for easy and affordable accommodation in Tully.

  • Tully Caravan Park
  • Tully Motel
  • Mount Tyson

Restaurants in Tully

You have many restaurants to dine at, but the following restaurants have special tastes, so you must visit there.

  • Tully Hot Bread
  • Tully Pies
  • Ripe Harvest Cafe
  • Tully Bakery
  • Pizzatore

Tully to Innisfail

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Innisfail across the Johnstone River | From Coquette Point | Peter Albion | Flickr

Driving Distance: 53.3 km

Driving Time: 40 minutes by car/ 1 hour and 18 minutes by bus

Next to the Tully, Innisfail is a beautiful tourist destination to stop at and have fun. It is about 40 minute car drive from Tully. To cover that 53.3 km distance bus takes 1 hour and 18 minutes via Bruce Hwy/A1.

Innisfail has a beautiful tourist attraction that is worth visiting. You have the museums to explore the art and history of Chinese Pioneer and local Australians. The waterfalls and beaches view is amazing. You can spend 4 to 5 hours on the beaches.

Never miss seeing the large banana gardens in Innisfail. It’s delicious, and sweat banana is famous around the world. Be careful when near the Waterways because crocodiles are very dangerous in Innisfail.

Top attractions in Innisfail

Among its beautiful attractions following the top attraction that you should visit.

  • Sweeney Park
  • Loth Park
  • Warrina Lakes Botanical Garden
  • Callender Park
  • Dalry Maple Park

Accommodation in Innisfail

For accommodation, visit the below hotels; they offer the best facilities.

  • Innisfail City Motel
  • Goondi Hill Hotel
  • Black Marlin Motel Innisfail
  • Moondara Motel

Restaurants in Innisfail

There are the best restaurants to enjoy tasty meals in Innisfail.

  • McDonald’s
  • The Crown Hotel
  • Hungry Jack’s Burger
  • Domino’s Pizza Innisfail
  • Timmsey’s Seafood

Innisfail to Gordonvale

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Paintball Clu… | Flickr

Driving Distance: 64.7 km

Driving Time: 48 minutes by car/ 1 hour and 53 minutes by bus

After Innisfail at 64.7 km on Bruce Hwy/A1, Gordonvale is the best destination to stop and explore many natural tourist attractions. You can get there by crore bus, the car will take only 48 minutes, but the bus will take almost two hours.

Gordonvale is a clean and beautiful locality close to Cairns city that is rich with many natural attractions. You can explore the beautiful Aboriginal trees, beaches, hilly areas, and parks.

You can reserve a day to visit as many attractions as possible. The parks, museums, Greenlands, roads, mountains, and lush green trees all are amazing in Gordonvale.

Top attractions in Gordonvale

To have a beautiful time in Gordonvale, you can visit the following top attractions.

  • Mulgrave River Environmental Reserves
  • Greenpatch Camp Ground
  • Mulgrave Settlers Museum
  • Southside Paintball Club
  • Norman Park

Accommodation in Gordonvale

You can enjoy the best accommodation facilities in the following hotels in Gordonvale.

  • Pyramid Residential Care Centre
  • Cairns Gateway Bed and Breakfast
  • Thomas Street

Restaurants in Gordonvale

Following are the best restaurants to visit in Gordonvale.

  • Parkview Hotel
  • Piefection Bakery
  • Kate & Time Pizzeria
  • Coco Sushi

Gordonvale to Cairns

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Cairns, Australia | Sunset at Cairns city, taken… | Flickr

Driving Distance: 22.9 km

Driving Time: 24 minutes by car/ 54 minutes by bus

After Gordonevale, the next place is your final destination Cairns City. It is only a 42 minutes car drive from Gordonvale; if you take the bus, it may take an hour via Bruce Hwy/A1.

Cairns has many tourist attractions to explore, but it is famous as a Gateway to reefs because of its tropical rainforests. You have hundreds of places to have a good time in Cairns.

You must stay a minimum of two days to explore more and more things in Cairns. Its parks, beaches, tall green trees, and paved green-covered roads are amazing. Cairns is a safe city for tourists; by all means, it has hotels, restaurants, easy transportation, and better security.

Top attractions in Cairns

During your stay in Cairns, you must visit the following attractions for more fun.

  • Woodwood Park
  • Cairns Skating Centre
  • Cairns Botanic Gardens
  • Glacier Rock
  • Clohesy River Fig Tree
  • Shady Waters Camping
  • Davis CK Mountain Bike Park
  • Moody Creek Park

Accommodation in Cairns

Following are the best hotels to stay in Cairns.

  • Bohemia Resort Cairns
  • Cairns City Backpackers Hostel
  • Shangri-La The Marina, Cairns
  • Pacific Hotel Cairns
  • Crystalbrook Riley

Restaurants in Cairns.

Below is the list of ideal restaurants to visit in Cairns for tasty meals.

  • Crystal Garden Restaurants
  • Jade Chinese
  • Samgasat Thai Cuisine
  • Rosario’s Pizza, Pasta & Ribs
  • The Red Pepper Wood Fired Pizzeria


How should I travel from Mackay to Cairns without a car?

You can travel from Macky to Cairns via train if you do not have a car. The train will take 11 and a half hours to get to Cairns. It will cost you only 160$ to 170$. You can also enjoy some beautiful stations which are worth seeing.

What is the best month during the year to visit Cairns?

Cairns is a moderate destination you can visit any time during the year. But June to August is the best time to get to Cairns. The temperature during these months remains between 16 to 26 degrees. The weather remains dry and clear you can enjoy sailing and boating.

How many days do you reserve for a visit to Cairns?

Plan a 5-day visit to Cairns. It has many highlights to visit. You can view the Great Barrier Reef, rainforest, cairns city spots, and waterfalls.

What to be careful of in Cairns?

Cairns is a famous tourist destination, but you must be careful when visiting the rainforest. There are thousands of wildlife species, most of which are not dangerous, but you have to care for marine stingers, crocodiles, cassowary, spiders, and snakes.

What is the most convenient and cheap way to get from Mackay to Cairns?

Car is the best and cheapest way to travel from Macky to Cairns. It takes almost 8 hours and costs you up to 90$ for fuel. You can also stop at different places as much as time you want.

Which airlines fly direct from Mackay to Cairns?

There are several flight companies operating flight services from Mackay to Cairns. But for direct flights, Qantas and Virgin Australia are the best companies to choose from.


A road trip to Cairns from Mackay via Bruce Highway has many opportunities to have fun, dine, relax and explore natural attractions. While planning, you must plan a week’s trip and must spend two to three days between Mackay and Cairns. It will be a memorable journey for you.

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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