Day 1 Brisbane – Bundaberg
In my humble opinion, you could probably skip the Sunshine Coast because you can always do a weekend trip from Brisbane. Unless you’re an avid surfer, a coast drive north to the Great Barrier Reef will suffice.
Head straight to Hervey Bay, where you might want to go whale watching. These tours are a bit pricey, but sightings are guaranteed so it’s a once in a lifetime kind of opportunity. Drive to Bundaberg, where if it’s the season and if you’re lucky you might get to see some turtles hatching at Mon Repos! If it’s not the season for turtles, push on to Agnes Waters to stay the night.
Day 2 Bundaberg – Airlie Beach
Start the 8-9h drive to Airlie Beach, taking in the sights along the way. Unfortunately, a lot of the day will be spent in the car. You could stop in Seventeen Seventy, Yeppoon or Mackay for your seafood fill or push on to get to Airlie in the afternoon. You can relax after the long drive – lie back in the sand and watch the sunset from Airlie Bay. Take your pick from a number of tasty cafés and restaurants: eg Little Vegas Burger & Bar [closed until further notice after Cyclone Debbie 🙁 ]. We would recommend staying at Seabreeze Tourist Park.
Day 3 Whitehaven
You can’t really pass up the opportunity to visit Whitehaven- so check out the day trip options from Airlie Beach. Whichever tour you choose, you won’t regret it – it’s as stunning as it looks in photos. Don’t be too sad when you get back to the mainland- there are plenty more snorkelling opportunities in Cairns. If you’re looking for a change for tonight, stay at Hydeaway Bay Caravan Park and enjoy the serenity and the sunset outlook from Cape Gloucester.
Day 4 Airlie Beach/Hydeaway Bay – Cairns
On your way to Cairns, you could stop at Bowen to dig into those juicy mangoes and photograph yet another giant fruit. You can also stop at Mission Beach or head a little inland to the Atherton Tablelands. The rainforest walks are stunning, especially if you are a huge waterfall fan like me. Then comes the final stretch to Cairns to drop off. If you feel like you’ve missed out on something spectacular, there’s always the option to add extra days onto your relocation.
There are loads of activities in Cairns- go on a snorkelling or diving tour or visit beautiful Palm Cove or Cape Tribulation. Take note if you are going during stinger season (Cape York to Townsville from October to June, Townsville to Gladstone December to June). Most locals don’t swim in a lot of areas, but beaches in Cairns and Mission Beach have stinger nets. It’s still a good idea to know the signs and first aid.