Cairns to Brisbane

Jump on the Share Bus from Cairns to travel with a bunch of other backpackers between Cairns and Brisbane 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 waterfalls near Cairns then head south swimming, surfing, hiking throughout the wonderful nature and beaches. Don’t forget Magnetic Island and Mission beach! 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. You could even go for a surf at Agnes Waters or hang out with some kangaroos at a beach at sunrise. Keep heading south as you explore the coastline and stop at beaches to swim. 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. Finish up by seeing some incredible hinterland, rainforest and beaches as you travel the Sunshine Coast and stop by Noosa. From Noosa you’ll head towards Brisbane where you can celebrate the end of your trip.

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: Cairns to Atherton

Meet your road trip crew, do a big grocery shop and get on the road! Its a short drive to Atherton. There, you’ll be able to see the Curtain Fig Tree and the volcanic lake, Lake Eachem. If you’re efficient and have time you might be able to check out a waterfall in the area.

Day 02/03: 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 04: Mission Beach

Enjoy some beach time. This 14km stretch of beach connects 4 palm fringed villages which you can walk to. Go for a walk, explore some hidden coves and beaches, or enjoy a fresh coconut on the beach. Aside from the beach you can check out the chocolate factory or the nearby rainforest and Fan Palm walk.

Day 05: Paluma Range and Cardwell Spa Pool

See some rainforest, waterfalls and jump in some swimming pools. When you get to Cardwell Spa Pool, you will see an absolutely incredibly blue swimming hole with natural spa jets. If you want to do something active, hike up to the Hinchinbrook Lookout to get a nice view of a nearby island.

Day 06/07: 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 08/09: 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 10: Cape Hillsborough

Enjoy a morning in Airlie then drive to Cape Hillsborough. If you can camp there the night you will see many wallabies and kangaroos come to the beach in the morning, so prepare to get up early!. There are a few walks and lookouts close to Cape Hillsborough you can do if you arrive in the afternoon.

Day 11/12: Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy

It’s a long drive to Agnes Water, so we have allowed 2 days in the region. 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 13/14: 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.

Day 15: 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 16: Sunshine Coast and Blackall range

Go from beach to the mountains! Make your way day the Sunshine Coast stopping at interesting beaches on the way. When you are ready drive inland to the Blackall Ranges/Glasshouse mountains, stopping at a waterfall on the way!

Day 17: Glasshouse Mountains to Brisbane

Take the morning to do a hike and enjoy the Glasshouse ranges. 11 volcanic peaks make for some interesting landscapes, lookouts and walking tracks! In the early afternoon make your way to Brisbane to finish your trip and celebrate with your crew!

Trip details

Cairns to Brisbane

Trip length: 17 days

Early bird: $592 (4+ weeks before Start date)
Full fee: $628

Start Dates: no dates available


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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