From one amazing city to another our Melbourne to Cairns road trip itinerary will take you past amazing beaches, forests and mountains, there is something for everyone in this trip, so pack your bags and let’s go!

Quick stats

3919km trip distance

21 day roadtrip

Campervan recommended

road trip map

Melbourne – Kosciuszko National Park

Day 1 - 3
Kosciuszko national park

After enjoying your stay and exploring what Victoria has to offer, we will start to make our way to Cairns. Day one will entail leaving Melbourne city and making our way to Kosciuszko National Park, we will need to start this leg of the trip in the morning as it is about a 6 hour drive and we do not want to be driving at night. Of course, there are plenty of stops along the way like Huon Creek, you might even decide to spend the night here if you are feeling like a break after 3.5 hours of driving and even better, its free camping. Huon Reserve boasts a tranquil creek with a very peaceful atmosphere which just what the body needs after leaving a busy city! After you have had a lovely rest we will continue to Kosciuszko National Park where we will explore, firstly you will need a national parks pass to enter the park which can be purchased online, and be sure to get it because there are rangers around all year.

After you have arrived in the national park there is a lovely free campsite called Thredbo Diggings which is situated right on the banks of the river, now remember its free so its nothing flashy. If hiking is your thing, hike Mount Kosciuszko and boast about how you’ve walked the tallest mountain in Australia, or if you’re an animal lover there are also horse rides you can do on the mountain. Collect some supplies from the town centre in Jindabyne before heading on your way the next morning back on the road.

Kosciuszko National Park to the Blue Mountains

Day 3 – 4
Three Sisters blue mountains

On our way out of Jindabyne we will have a quick pit stop in Canberra. In Canberra you will find the war memorial, parliament house and some lovely museums. Most people that drive through Canberra pay their respects to the war memorial then continue the road trip! From Canberra we are going to drive to the Blue Mountains and set up camp for the night, this is almost a four-hour drive. There are lots of campgrounds around the Blue Mountains for you to pick from. The following day you will explore and hike around the Blue Mountains and enjoy views from the Three Sisters and the waterfalls that Wentworth Falls has to offer and to finish off your day you can enjoy a picnic in the Botanic Gardens.

Blue Mountains to Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and Palm Beach

Day 4 – 5
Ku-ring-gai chase national park

From the Blue Mountains we are going to make our way to Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, after about an hour of driving you will arrive here.

Not only are you relaxing in the clear blue water but also embracing the Aboriginal heritage it has to offer. Getting to the national park may seem a bit daunting if you aren’t organised. You can either drive and park at the West Head Road car park and walk down a 2.8km incline or park your car and catch the ferry from Palm Beach Wharf and arrive that way to the only campground in the park, the Basin Campground only allows tents. Once you have arrived, get exploring! Mackerel Beach and the Resolute loop walk offers Aboriginal rock engravings and beaches not many will access as they are off the beaten track, if walking isn’t your thing, go and hire a kayak for the day from The Basin campground.

From here we are going to head over the Palm Beach and spend the night!

Palm Beach

Day 5 – 6
Palm beach NSW

Palm Beach is a lovely Australian gem, it’s not far from Sydney either if weekend trips were your thing! Palm Beach is full of golden sands and clear water for you soak up. This stop is really to relax and reenergise for the next leg of the journey, so let’s chill out at the Boathouse for some nice lunch on the waterfront and restock on the necessities needed for the van. During the day you can enjoy a kayak at the beach or take a walk up to the historical Barrenjoey Lighthouse that was built in 1881.

There are lots of caravan parks to stay in at Palm Beach like the Palm Beach Caravan park that offers powered and non-powered sites.

Palm Beach to Nelson Bay

Day 6-8
Tomaree head port stephens

From Palm Beach we will make our way further up the coast to Port Stephens/Soldiers Point, this is about a 3-hour drive but it by no means is a strenuous drive. Once you arrive you have a lot to choose from, Port Stephens is surrounded by several smaller towns that offer beautiful beaches, bush walks and pretty great breaky spots by the water. Some of the towns you can visit are Nelsons Bay, Soldiers Point and Shoal Bay, all of which are worth a trip to. Whilst your there you can enjoy some super fresh seafood on the beach from the local fish markets whilst taking in the sunset or watch the dolphins glide through the beach, there is something for everyone here.

Nelsons Bay to Forster

Day 8-10
Forster Tuncurry NSW

After Port Stephens we will make our way up to more beaches in Forster. We will stay the little town just outside of Forster called Pacific Palms. This is a proper Australian beach town where the beaches outnumber the shops, from hidden beaches to family-friendly beaches you have everything you could want in a short getaway here. You can feel like you’re in a scene from Jurassic Park at Cellito Beach also known as Sandbar allows you to look at a beautiful blue ocean but if you turn slightly to the left you will also see a huge dense green forest. To actually access the beach, it’s a short walk through what feels like a huge forest where you will see a goanna if you are lucky, then you’ll arrive at the beach, remember to bring your water and snacks with you!

This is only one of the beautiful beaches here, you will also find Blueys and Boomerang beach for the surfers and Elizabeth Beach for the families. Fall asleep to the sea breeze and the sound of waves crashing at the Pacific Palms Caravan Park at Elizabeth Beach.

Forster to Coffs Harbour

Day 10-12
Coffs Harbour NSW

From Forster we will head to Coffs Harbour, which is about a 2.5-hour drive and there is a lot to do! Firstly, you will need to visit the Big Banana for a quick picture. Coffs Harbour is the only region in NSW where the mountains and Great Dividing Range meet the Pacific Ocean which makes for some spectacular views, you will find a great view at the Sky Pier, go explore the beaches like Diggers Beach and Park Beach for some great swimming spots before you set up camp at one of the many campsites that are offered.

Coffs Harbour to Byron Bay

Day 12-14
Cape Byron bay lighthouse

After we have finished exploring Coffs Harbour, we will make our way up to Byron Bay, which is 2 hours and 45-minute drive. Byron is where we will set up camp for two days to take in all its worth. When you’re in Byron there are a few must do’s, such as watching the sunrise from Byron Bay Lighthouse and explore the less crowded beaches like Tallows Beach and if you’re lucky you might spot some whales around.

Byron Bay to Brisbane

Day 14-15
Brisbane skyline sunset

Once we force ourselves to leave Byron, we will then head to Brisbane which is just a short 2-hour drive away, here we will have a little city break. Brisbane has lots to offer from city markets, some great restaurants and bars and even explore some museums before hitting the road again.

Brisbane to Hervey Bay & Fraser Island

Day 16-18
Hervey Bay whale watching

From Brisbane to Hervey Bay it is a 3.5-hour drive so leave early in the morning so you can make the most of it, because there is a lot of exploring to be done. Hervey Bay has peaceful beaches as they’re part of a bay meaning hardly any waves or rips and go for a nice walk down the Urangan Pier and explore the botanical garden, before heading out to Fraser Island the following day.

From Hervey Bay you will catch the ferry to Fraser Island which stretches over 123km so there is a lot to explore. Be sure to check out Lake McKenzie which boasts pure white sand and crystal-clear water! Look out for the shipwreck at Maheno Shipwreck and float in the Champagne Pools just to name a few. You can stay here the night or head back to the mainland and spend the night at a campground.

Hervey Bay to Airlie Beach

Day 18-19
Airlie beach

We are going to start this day off nice and early to make our way to Airlie Beach which is a bit of a big drive from Hervey Bay but it’ll be worth it! We will make plenty of stops along the way, dropping into Rockhampton, and Mackay along the way but you can stop along the way wherever you feel like! You will be gobsmacked when you arrive at Airlie Beach, this is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, so this is the place to be if you want to explore the reef along with some great national parks near by like Conway National Park and Cedar Creek Falls.

Airlie Beach to Cairns

Day 19-21
Cairns esplanade

Airlie Beach to Cairns is a 7-hour drive, so we will drive to Townsville for the night and then continue our drive the following morning to Cairns which will take the drive to 4 hours. We will end our road trip in Cairns that has so much to offer, from the Great Barrier Reef to the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. There is something for everyone here, so soak up the sun and relax in Beautiful Queensland.


For more information on hiring a campervan in Melbourne or Cairns speak to the Travellers Autobarn Team or get a free online quote today! 

If you want to read more of our Melbourne adventures, come and explore the dedicated Melbourne Road Trips. Happy Exploring!

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