Queensland – Sunshine Explorer 7 Day Self-Drive Itinerary

Brisbane – Sunshine Coast – Gladstone – Rockhampton – Airlie Beach – Townsville – Cairns
Total Distance 651kms


* Crocodile Hunters Australia Zoo
* Sunshine Coast
* Mon Repos Beach, with the largest loggerhead turtle rookery in the South Pacific
* Great Barrier Reef
* Kuranda Scenic Railway in Cairns

Queensland is known as the Sunshine State of Australia, boasting perfect tropical weather and the world’s largest coral reef. With the azure waters of the Coral Sea and the South Pacific Ocean lapping its coastline, Queensland has something for everyone from adrenaline pumping adventure to relaxing on the sun-drenched beaches.

Day 1 – Brisbane to Sunshine Coat (93 kms)

Start your day early and head out for breakfast at one of the many eating places on Queen Street Mall.

The Myer Centre is a large multi-story shopping centre offering a variety of different shops for everyone and a must for those in need of some pure retail therapy!

Visit the unique South Bank precinct, the home of the state Art Gallery, the Museum and Australia’s only ‘inner city’ beach.

To see Brisbane from above, a visit to Mount Coot-tha lookout will give you a breath of fresh air. In the late afternoon continue north, following the signs to the Sunshine Coast, home of the Big Pineapple.

Overnight: Sunshine Coast

Day 2 – full day at Sunshine Coast

The Sunshine Coast is a chain of sandy beaches beginning at Caloundra and including the towns of Noosa Heads, Maroochydore and Mooloolaba.

Travel past the Glasshouse Mountains to the Big Pineapple where you can take a ride on one of the attraction or enjoy one of their famous Macadamia Nut Sundaes. Not far from Glasshouse Mountains is the Crocodile Hunter’s Australia Zoo, which is full of fun and excitement. Drive through to Maroochydore and visit Underwater World where you see the incredible variety of marine life. Various feeding sessions and talks are held throughout the day.

Noosa is a good place to stop for lunch and is full of natural beauty, good restaurants, cafes and elegant shops.

Overnight: Sunshine Coast

Day 3 – Sunshine Coast to Gladstone (499 kms)

Head off early in the morning and travel north passing through Hervey Bay and the cane fields of Childers then slightly further north to Bundaberg – home of the famous Bundy Rum and the birthplace of aviator Bert Hinkler – tour the rum distillery.

Visit Mon Repos beach, with the largest loggerhead turtle rookery in the South Pacific.

Travel along the highway to Gladstone. Gladstone is a modern city and offers a wide variety of restaurants and eateries to suit all tastes. Near Gladstone is the historic Town of 1770, and Agnes Water, Australia’s northern most surfing beach on the east coast.

Overnight: Gladstone

Day 4 – Gladstone to Rockhampton (105 kms)

Continue your journey north to Rockhampton. Rockhampton is the capital of the Capricorn region – the gateway to the Capricorn Coast, central highlands, gem fields and the rural hinterland and offers many attractions, including the Aboriginal Dreamtime Cultural Centre, an Ancient Tribal Site situated on natural bush land.

Visit Rockhampton’s Heritage Village, which is an active township museum where you can experience the town’s rich and colourful history.

Overnight: Rockhampton

Day 5 – Rockhampton to Airlie Beach (469 kms)

Start your day early for a slightly longer drive towards Mackay and then further north onto Airlie Beach. Begin your drive along the Bruce Highway to the town of Mackay, known as Australia’s largest sugar centre. North of Mackay the highway reaches the sugar town of Proserpine and then take the turn-off for Airlie Beach. Airlie Beach is the gateway to the Whitsundays.

Overnight: Airlie Beach

Day 6 – Airlie Beach to Townsville (289 kms)

From Airlie Beach, venture further north to Townsville where the Great Barrier Reef is just off the coast. Dive or snorkel among the rich clusters of coral. Visit the world’s largest coral reef aquarium where you can also see dive shows and marine feeding exhibits. Check out the Imax Theatre or the Billabong Wildlife Sanctuary.

Overnight: Townsville

Day 7 – Townsville to Cairns (340 kms)

Travel north and on your way to Cairns, visit Mission Beach and spot a Cassowary Bird or visit the crocodile farm.

Once in Cairns visit the Kuranda Scenic Railway or take a short boat trip to the outer reef. You will find rainforests, seaside towns and kilometres of beaches. You can overnight in Cairns or continue driving through to Port Douglas where you will find the drive to be one of the most scenic in Australia.

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