East Coast Drive - Brisbane to Cairns
Experience the best of Queensland on this 1200 mile adventure along the Barrier Reef coastline. Your 9 day self drive will highlight idyllic islands, wildlife hot spots, secluded bays and beaches and stunning scenery.
During your journey along the Great Barrier Reef coastline you have the oppertunity to include a 2 night stay on Fraser Island or add an optional excursion to the jewel in the Whitsunday crown - Whitehaven Beach.
- Cosmopolitan feel of Noosa Heads
- Optional Fraser Island day tour
- Eungella National Park
- Airlie Beach, the gate way to the Whitsundays
- Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef
Day 1 - Brisbane to Noosa (145 kms)
Pick up your Avis intermediate automatic sedan rental car at the Brisbane City Depot or Brisbane Airport Depot and commence your drive to Noosa via the Bruce Highway.
Noosa has a cosmopolitan atmosphere, coupled with the natural beauty of the area. The headland is a National Park and there are several walks meandering through it to the various attractions of Boiling Pot, Hell's Gates and Paradise Cave, to name a few. The town's boutiques and restaurants are first class, and there is no shortage of entertainment.
Standard: Mantra French Quarter
Deluxe: Peppers Noosa Resort and Villas
Day 2 - Noosa to Hervey Bay (187 kms)
Depart Noosa and travel along the Bruce Highway through Cooroy and Gympie on route to Hervey Bay.
Gympie is the main entrance into the delights of Cooloola Beach, Great Sandy National Park and the glories of Fraser Island. At the Deep Creek Gold Fossicking Park you can explore an old goldmining site and pick, shovel or pan for gold.
Hervey Bay is full of history, beauty and attractions centred round sheltered waters and some 14 kilometres of golden beaches. Hervey Bay offers a colourful concentration of lifestyles and its waters are home to turtles, dolphins and dugongs. It is the whale watching capital of the world and the gateway to Fraser Island.
Fraser Island is a unique part of the Fraser Coast region, and its unusual formation of sand and rainforest make it a special source of adventure for visitors to explore. Although well known amongst fishermen and 4WD enthusiasts, it is the history and Aboriginal culture that gives Fraser Island its individual character, expressed through wonderful coloured sand cliffs, unique fresh water lakes and diverse flora and wildlife.
Standard: Mantra Hervey Bay
Deluxe: Oceans Resort & Spa Hervey Bay
Day 3 - Hervey Bay
Full day at your leisure in Hervey Bay to explore the area or alternatively you may wish to take a full day tour to Fraser Island.
Day 4 - Hervey Bay to Rockhampton (393 kms)
Depart Hervey Bay and travel to Torbanlea and through the towns of Childers, Gin Gin, Miriam Vale and Calliope to Rockhampton.
Rockhampton is the heart of the beef cattle country. Cammoo Caves, approximately 23km north of Rockhampton, are two cave systems, which are open to the public. A short distance away on the coast is Yeppoon the stepping-off place for visits to Great Keppel Island. Byfield State Forest just north of Yeppoon is a pleasant, secluded spot in a rainforest environment; at Cooberrie Park Flora and Fauna Centre visitors can cuddle a koala or feed a kangaroo.
Standard: Travelodge Rockhampton
Deluxe: Edge Apartment Hotel
Day 5 - Rockhampton to Mackay (330 kms)
Depart Rockhampton via the towns of Marlborough and Sarina to Mackay.
Eungella National Park is situated 84km west of Mackay and is one of Queensland’s most spectacular parks, with cloud shrouded peaks, deep gorges and lush rainforest. The park can provide a special treat for visitors lucky enough to see one of the resident platypuses in the creek by the camping area. There are graded tracks leading through rainforest to waterfalls and natural swimming pools.
Mackay is surrounded by miles of sugarcane fields, which give the city its title of Sugar Capital of Australia. During the crushing season (July to November) Farleigh Mill, a working sugar mill, and Polstone Sugar Cane Farm offer tours. Mackay’s heritage walk takes in the Police Station, the Court House and Commonwealth Bank, buildings that are all over 100 years old and listed with the National Trust.
Standard: Mackay Rose Motel
Deluxe: Clarion Hotel Mackay Marina
Day 6 - Mackay to Airlie Beach (150 kms)
Depart Mackay via the Bruce Highway to Proserpine where you depart the highway and head towards Airlie Beach.
Proserpine is a productive valley which was named after Proserpina, the Roman goddess of fertility, and supports a prosperous sugar industry. There is a pleasant hike to Cedar Creek in the rainforest-clad hills behind the town.
Airlie Beach is a popular holiday resort, and Gateway to the Whitsunday Passage - home of hundreds of Barrier Reef Islands. The tropical island resorts of Hayman, Hamilton, Daydream and South Molle, to name a few of the 74 islands that are just off the coast of Whitsunday and which lie inside the Great Barrier Reef, are only some of the attractions of the area. Sunshine, blue water and sandy beaches are the theme of the Whitsundays.
Standard: Mango House Resort
Deluxe: Coral Sea Resort
Day 7 - Airlie Beach
Full day at leisure in Airlie Beach to explore the area or alternatively you may wish to take a full day tour of the Whitsunday Islands
Day 8 - Airlie Beach to Townsville (300 kms)
Depart Airlie Beach travelling back to Proserpine where you rejoin the Bruce Highway and travel through the towns of Bower and Ayr to reach Townsville.
Townsville is the second largest city in Queensland and main commercial centre of Northern Queensland. Reef HQ is one of the most popular attractions in Townsville and is well worth a visit with its walk-through underwater tunnel, giving a great all-round view of the coral and the fish.
Standard: Mercure Townsville
Deluxe: The Grand Hotel Townsville
Day 9 - Townsville to Cairns (335 kms)
Depart Townsville today via the Bruce Highway and head towards Cairns via the towns of Ingham, Mission Beach and Innisfail.
Return your vehicle to the Cairns Airport depot or Cairns city Avis Depot
Ingham The climate and soil were perfectly suited to the introduction of sugarcane back in the early 1870’s and Ingham continues to prosper from its sugar production. The Wallaman Falls National Park with its 300 metre falls, bushwalks and spectacular rainforest and swimming and picnic spots is well worth a visit.
Mission Beach has fourteen kilometres of coastline and wide white sandy beaches met by rainforest.
Innisfail the character of the district was established with the influx of migrants, mainly Italian, after World War I. The town and the area have retained that very cosmopolitan mix ever since. At Mena Creek, south of Innisfail are the ruins of Paronella Park, a Spanish-style castle built by a migrant named Jose Paronella. There are also walks through rainforest and stands of bamboo and kauri pine to Mena Creek and Teresa Falls. Mt. Bartle Frere, north of the town, is the highest mountain in Queensland.
Optional full day Fraser Island experience inc. lunch - from £129
Optional full day Whitsunday Islands cruise inc. lunch - from £129
Stay on Fraser Island instead of Hervey Bay - from £82
9 day self drive - from £742
All prices are per person, based on 2 sharing a double or twin room, and include pre-booked accommodation, air conditioned car and unlimited kilometres. Hotels specified are subject to availability and may be substituted by one of a similar or higher standard.
Self Drive Tour
Relaxed and enjoyable self drive touring. Book them as they are or ask your consultant to add extra days in the places you choose. Available in both directions.
Your self drive tour includes:
- Well planned route
- Air conditioned car
- Standard or deluxe hotels
- All inclusive vehicle insurance
- Maps and information
- Flexible itineraries
Tailor Make your perfect Australia Holiday
With Freedom Australia you can enjoy the type of holiday you are looking for - with the help of our Free Planning Service.
You can mix and match any of the hotels, resorts and touring options on this website to create your perfect holiday experience.