Brisbane to Cairns

Jump on the Share Bus to travel with a bunch of other backpackers between Brisbane and Cairns to see the biggest highlights of the East Coast. This is the stuff of backpacker dreams, take the opportunity to 4WD Fraser Island, kayak in the Whitsundays, see incredible beaches, mountains, rainforest and animals.  Think Noosa, Sunshine Coast, and incredible islands, beaches and towns.

This trip goes for 17 days and 16 nights. The destination is set, but the route is not – take control of your own adventure!

See some incredible hinterland, rainforest and beaches as you travel the Sunshine Coast and stop by Noosa. We’ll get you a sweet deal on shared 4WD hire to see Fraser Island, so you can head over there to drive along the beach, tube down a creek, or spot the shipwrecks (and dingoes!).  Or you can stay on the mainland to chill out at Rainbow Beach. Keep heading north as you explore the coastline and stop at beaches to swim. You could even go for a surf at Agnes Waters or hang out with some kangaroos at a beach at sunrise. Once in Airlie Beach you can look into taking a water taxi to an island in the Whitsundays to camp overnight and explore the area by kayak. Continue further north swimming, surfing, hiking throughout the wonderful nature and beaches. Don’t forget Magnetic Island and Mission beach! Swim by a few waterfalls near Cairns and then finally, head into Cairns to celebrate and enjoy a night at a hostel.

Expect to get fit with lots of hiking, snorkeling and exercise as you appreciate the natural sights. This is a no-frills adventure – you’ll be setting up your own tents, sharing the driving, cooking your own dinner and sharing your tent with another person. The target age group is 18-35.

Things to note

Please note this is a minibus rental, not a guided tour. You rent a seat on the bus. We provide a recommended itinerary to help guide you. You will rent your seat as either a ‘driver’ or ‘non-driver’. Non-drivers must never drive. Drivers can share driving and must be aged 21+ A few days before your trip you will be given a full guide book with free activities, paid activities, recommended campsites to visit, access to discounts, as well as recommended sights to see. Please bring your own water bottle, sunscreen and torch. However please limit your luggage to about 20kg – 1 big bag, and one day bag/small backpack. The minibus seats 12, anyone with a regular driver’s license can drive it. There is a trailer attached with all camping equipment and space for your bags. Be prepared to mostly free camp!

Trip Highlights

  • Explore national parks, awesome hiking tracks, and see some of the most famous beaches
  • Do Fraser Island and Whitsundays cheaply! Sharing the rental of a 4WD for Fraser and taking a water taxi to camp on an island for Whitsundays
  • Beaches with palm trees, koalas, and snorkel opportunities at chilled out Magnetic Island
  • Both rainforest and beach available to explore all throughout Australia’s north!


General inclusions

  • Your Toyota Hiace Minibus, to drive to the places you choose (but not on 4WD roads!)
  • Fully equipped trailer with everything you need for camping, cooking, and fun (equipment list)
  • Consumables such as: toilet paper, oil, salt and pepper, gas, bin bags etc
  • Recommended itinerary (but you have freedom!)
  • Guidebook (for activities and camping locations – both free and pay sites)
  • Fuel consumption for unlimited km
  • Comprehensive insurance with roadside assistance
  • Special discounts on activities and accomodation
  • National Park Entries

Trip-specific inclusions

  • Snorkelling gear (Great for Whitsundays and Magnetic Island)
  • Access to great discounts for shared 4WD hire; and to visit the Whitsundays


  • Most accommodation: although you can choose to stay at plenty of free camps, or budget pay camps
  • Food: We will give you all the equipment you need to cook what you like!
  • Sleeping bag: bring your own for hygiene reasons
  • Guide: it’s just you and fellow “rentees” driving this minibus. Enjoy!

Recommended itinerary

Day 01: Glasshouse Mountains

After meeting the crew and grocery shopping drive out of Brisbane towards the Glasshouse Ranges. 11 volcanic peaks make for some interesting landscapes, lookouts and walking tracks! If theres time after your walk, there is also an interesting scenic tourist drive.

Day 02: Sunshine Coast

Go from the mountains to the beach, stopping at a waterfall on the way! Once you hit the coast stop at a few beaches as you make your way up to Noosa Heads.

Day 03: Noosa and Hinterland

A nice coastal town, Noosa has it’s own, amazing, national park. Look up and you’ll see koalas in the trees. Take the coastal track through the park and visit the ‘Fairy Pools’. If you plan an extra day in the area, you could also kayak through the Everglades.

Day 04: Rainbow Beach and Hervey Bay

Drive towards Rainbow Beach or Hervey Bay! On the next morning you should pick up a 4WD from here and take a ferry over to Fraser Island (if you’re not going you can stay on the mainland though). Or choose something like a tag-along tour or a more classic tour. However on this day you can view the rainbow sand dunes at rainbow beach, see the incredibly large sand dune at Carlo Sandblow, and go to Point Vernon to see Kangaroos.

Day 05/06: Fraser Island

Enjoy some time on the sand island of Fraser Island, where you also can spot some dingoes. You can only drive around here with a 4WD. See some classic sights like the Maheno shipwreck, Cathedral Beach and Lake McKenzie.

Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy

The seaside town of Agnes Water is partially known for being the cheapest place to learn how to surf in Queensland. Give surfing a go or see the paperbark forest nearby. Afterwards check out the town of Seventeen Seventy. It’s the point at which captain James Cook landned and is obviously named after the year he landed. You can watch the sun set over the beach here – which is especially nice given you are on the east coast!

Day 08: Cape Hillsborough

A long drive to Cape Hillsborough, but if you can camp there the night you will see many wallabies and kangaroos come to the beach in the morning. However, there are a few walks and lookouts close to Cape Hillsborough you can do if you arrive in the afternoon.

Day 09/10: Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays

Time to explore Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays! You can join a sailing tour if you wish, but if you’re looking for a real adventure you can catch a watertaxi with a camping gear and set up camp on one of the islands. You’ll have the whole white beach to yourself. In Airlie Beach there are a few walks and a waterfall not too far away.

Day 11/12: Magnetic Island

Catch a ferry here from Townsville and check out this little island paradise! There’s some good snorkelling and the Fort’s Walk where you can spot Koalas and see some ruins from WW2.

Day 13: Paluma Range and Cardwell Spa Pool

See some rainforest, waterfalls and jumping in some swimming pools. When you get to Cardwell Spa Pool, you will see an absolutely incredibly blue swimming hole with natural spa jets.

Day 14: Mission Beach

Enjoy some beach time. This beach connects 4 palm fringed villages which you can walk to. Aside from the beach you can check out the chocolate factory or the nearby rainforest and Fan Palm walk

Day 15/16: Wooroonooran National Park

Home to the two largest ‘mountains’ in Queensland as well as rainforests, waterfalls and swimming holes. You can walk a skywalk, climb a ‘natural pyramid’, and see the very best waterfalls on this trip.

Day 17: Atherton to Cairns

Detour to Atherton to see the Curtain Fig Tree and the volcanic lake, Lake Eachem. Then make your way into Cairns to finish your trip! Celebrate the end with your new friends.

Trip details

Brisbane to Cairns

Trip length: 17 days

Early bird: $626 (4+ weeks before Start date)
Full fee: $674

Start Dates:

  • 19th April 2021
  • 31st May 2021


Discounts are available:

  • if you book more than 4 weeks in advance
  • for groups of friends travelling together
  • if you want to stay on the Share Bus for more than one trip

Please send us an email for details and to ask for your discount eligibility.

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