15 Day Brisbane to Cairns Tour

    2023 DEPARTURES:  16 Apr, 14 May, 11 Jun, 16 Jul, 13 Aug, 10 Sep, 15 Oct, 29 Oct

    One of our most popular Brisbane to Cairns backpacker tours here at Real Aussie Adventures.

    Starting off in the capital of the Sunshine State Brisbane. Your Brisbane to Cairns backpacker tour is perfect if you want to explore the East Coast with like-minded people.

    Travel the East Coast on our guided tour from Brisbane to Cairns ticking off the highlights.

    On Fraser Island (K’Gari) camp under the stars, visit a shipwreck, and swim in crystal clear waters before enjoying sundowners. A 2-days/2-night sailing trip on the Whitsundays to snorkel over vibrant fringing reefs and visit some of the world’s most pristine beaches.

    Brisbane right up to Cairns on this 15-Day adventure. If you’d like to explore the best of the East Coast from rainforests and beaches to picturesque islands and destinations that are off the tourist trail then this tour is definitely for you. With a local guide (who will share their insider knowledge) and a bunch of like-minded travelers (who will become lifelong friends), you’ll explore everything that Aussie has to offer in style!

    Join us on our Brisbane to Cairns backpacker tour, we cant wait to show you the East Coast!

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      Day 1: Brisbane Arrival

      Check into our central Brisbane accommodation and make yourself at home. If you have time, we recommend hopping on one of the free CityHopper ferries to explore the city via the Brisbane River. Meet your guide and group at 5pm in the hostel reception and head down to Southbank to check out some of the many bars and restaurants.

      Accommodation: Brisbane YHA or similar
      Meal options: Self-cater, local cafes, restaurants
      Free activities: Catch the Brisbane city ferry

      Day 2: Brisbane to Noosa

      It’s a relaxed departure today as we leave Brisbane mid-morning and make our way north to Noosa. We’ll stop along the way for lunch and a walk to see incredible views of Noosa and Noosa headlands before arriving at our accommodation in the afternoon.

      Our Noosa accommodation is less of a hostel and more of a resort, with a pool and a licensed cafe (did someone say poolside margaritas?) as well as designer dorms with privacy screens and USB charging points. This evening, we’ll grab a drink at the bar and make plans to head and explore Noosa.

      Meal options: Self-cater, local cafes, dinner at hostel
      Meals included: Breakfast, drink on arrival.
      Free activities: Swim, walks, lookouts

      Day 3: Free day in Noosa

      Today you have a completely free day to spend doing whatever you like. Explore the Everglades by kayak, or book a skydive and see Noosa and surroundings from above. Grab a sun lounger and get some much needed R&R, go for a walk around the incredible headland, visit the beach or have a long, lazy lunch in the sun. The Noosa Surf Club is one of our faves so if you’d like to go out for dinner, you can’t go wrong with a local hotspot!

      Accommodation: Bounce
      Optional paid activities: Everglades Kayak, Skydive, Surf Lesson
      Meal options: Self-cater, local cafes, restaurants
      Free activities: Chilling by the resort pool, going for a walk in the National Park, visiting the famous beach or checking out the local boutiques and cafes

      Day 4: Noosa to K'Gari (Fraser Island)

      It’s an early start this morning as you head out for your 3-day, 2-night K’Gari (Fraser Island) adventure. During this amazing experience, you’ll explore the largest sand island in the world on a 4WD expedition, see the magical Lake Boorangoora (Mckenzie), discover towering rainforests, spot a wild dingo, cruise along endless sandy beaches and lose yourself in the magic of stargazing. If you fancy learning how to drive a 4WD, you can do that! This is going to be one of the best experiences of your whole trip and is definitely the best way to explore this world-heritage-listed National Park.

      After a bus, ferry and 4WD transfer, you’ll arrive at Beach Camp on K’gari (your accommodation for the next 2 nights). You’ll have a tasty lunch and then you can check out the camp which has a kitchen and a deck with ocean views. We’ll then head out for your first adventure to see some of the Island highlights. This evening, you’ll arrive back at camp to enjoy dinner, share stories, play the didgeridoo around the campfire and engage in some mind-blowing stargazing. Tonight, you’ll be lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves as you settle into your safari tent (which includes a comfy mattress and hotel-quality linens).

      Accommodation: Beach Camp K’gari (Fraser Island) Safari Tents*
      *Between Oct-Nov 22 the groups will be staying in cabins rather than safari tents.
      Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner & Snacks
      Included activities: K’gari adventure tour

      Day 5: K'Gari

      This morning, wake up to the gorgeous golden sunrise over the ocean, enjoy breakfast and get ready for a fun-filled morning exploring K’gari and her hidden treasures. Enjoy lunch on the beach and then spend the afternoon discovering more lakes (there are over 100!) and epic views before arriving back to camp in time for another dinner under the stars and some fun evening activities.

      Accommodation: Beach Camp K’gari (Fraser Island) in 2-3 share Safari Tents*
      *Between Oct-Nov 22 the groups will be staying in cabins rather than safari tents.
      Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner & Snacks
      Included Activities: K’gari adventure tour

      Day 6: K'Gari to Bundaberg

      After breakfast today you’ll hit the inland tracks to discover towering trees and take one last refreshing dip, enjoy lunch in the forest and then begin your journey back to the mainland, arriving into Rainbow Beach around mid-afternoon ready for your next journey north up to Bundaberg.

      Bundaberg is well-known for sugarcane, rum, ginger beer and more recently has been called the ‘Bundaberg Bowl’ for its reputation of growing and producing fresh food that’s served across the country. Your accommodation in Bundaberg is a relaxed eco-resort, this time you’ll be located by a nature reserve and have access to a spa, sauna, tennis courts and more! Tonight we’ll have a group BBQ dinner and a chilled evening.

      Accommodation: Kelly’s Eco Resort in villas or similar
      Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Snacks, BBQ Dinner
      Included Activities: K’gari adventure tour

      Day 7: Bundaberg free day

      It’s a day of exploring Bundaberg today! After breakfast, we’ll head to the Mon Repos turtle centre for a wholesome morning learning all about these amazing animals. The centre supports the largest concentration of nesting mating turtles on the eastern Australian mainland. You can grab a snack or lunch at the onsite indigenous-inspired Gidji cafe.

      In the afternoon we’ll head to the Bundaberg Rum Centre for a tour of their distillery and a tasting of their iconic rum. Or, if you’d prefer a full day out on the water and the chance to visit the Southern part of the Great Barrier Reef, your guide can book you onto the incredible Lady Musgrave Full Day Snorkel Tour for a day of snorkelling, a boat cruise, island walk and delicious food.

      Accommodation: Kelly’s Eco Resort or similar
      Meal options: Self-cater, local cafes, restaurants
      Optional paid activities: Lady Musgrave Full Day Snorkel Tour
      Meals included: Breakfast
      Included Activities: Mon Repos Turtle Centre, Rum Tasting
      Free activities: Checking out Bargara Beach

      Day 8: Bundaberg to Airlie Beach

      Today is a big drive day to Airlie Beach, the gateway to the amazing Whitsunday Islands, so load up on the snacks, make sure your phone is charged and you’ve got some good tunes loaded up. We’ll make some stops to stretch our legs and see some sweet views along the way, arriving in Airlie in the evening.

      Accommodation: Base Airlie Beach or similar
      Meal options: Self-cater, local cafes, bakery, restaurants
      Meals included: Breakfast

      Day 9: Airlie Beach to Whitsundays

      This morning, enjoy a sleep in, take a stroll down to the Airlie lagoon for a dip and then check in and receive your briefing for your sailing trip. After lunch, head down to the marina to meet your crew and jump onboard a 76-foot, maxi sailing yacht which will be your home for the next two days. As you leave the marina and Airlie Beach behind you, watch your crew hoist the sails for an exhilarating cruise out to the Whitsunday Islands – part of the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

      Once you arrive out around the Islands, jump in for a swim or snorkel amongst the fringing reef and then enjoy the sunset with a drink in hand on one of the crew’s favourite little beaches. In the evening relax on deck, have a few drinks, get to know the crew, stargaze and let the calm waters gently rock you to sleep – for the adventurous, mats are provided to sleep on deck under the stars or if you prefer a bit more comfort, a bed awaits you below deck.

      Accommodation: Shared dorm cabins/sections on a maxi sailing yacht
      Meal options: Self-cater, local cafes
      Meals included: Afternoon Snacks, Dinner & Dessert (BYO drinks)
      Included Activities: Sailing, snorkeling and exploring the Whitsunday Islands

      Day 10: Whitsundays

      This morning you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’re in paradise, as you wake up on a yacht surrounded by beautiful islands and enjoy a delicious breakfast on deck as you sail towards Whitsunday Island, home to the best beach in the world – Whitehaven Beach. You’ll disembark and enjoy a bush-walk to Hill Inlet Lookout and then spend the rest of the day exploring and relaxing on Whitehaven Beach. You can also go snorkelling today, enjoy a sunset beach session and another fun evening onboard with your group and the crew.

      Accommodation: Shared dorm cabins/sections on a maxi sailing yacht
      Meals included: Breakfast, Morning Tea, Lunch, Afternoon Snacks, Dinner & Dessert
      Included activities: Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet Lookout, bush-walk,sailing, snorkelling

      Dy 11: Whitsunday Islands to Airlie Beach

      Enjoy your final morning on board the yacht, jump in for another magical swim or snorkel and then sail on back to Airlie Beach. This afternoon once you’ve checked back into your hostel, go and laze in the sun by the lagoon or explore the town before freshening up and meeting your group and boat crew for the after party! There will be a reserved table, drink discounts, and meal deals – so get ready for a big night.

      Accommodation: Base Airlie or similar
      Meal options: Self-cater, local cafes, restaurants
      Meals included: Breakfast, Morning Tea
      Included Activities: Sailing, snorkeling

      Day 12: Airlie Beach to Yungaburra

      Today we’ll get on the road again and head up to the stunning Atherton Tablelands. We’ll stop at the famous Millaa Millaa Falls along the way for a swim and some amazing photo ops.

      Tonight, we’re staying at a cosy eco-lodge in the historic village of Yungaburra. We’ll check in and have a BBQ dinner before heading out for a moonlit paddle for some amazing stargazing through the rainforest at Lake Tinaroo. This night canoeing tour is the best way to spot unique nocturnal rainforest animals in their natural habitat.

      Accommodation: On the Wallaby Eco Lodge

      Meal options: Self-cater, bakery or cafes
      Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
      Free activities: Millaa Millaa Falls
      Included activities: Night wildlife canoe trip*
      *Note: depending on conditions, we might do the canoe trip in the morning

      Day 13: Yungaburra to Cairns

      Today we have an awesome day planned, visiting lots of cool spots before we reach our final destination of Cairns. In the morning we’ll visit the heritage-listed Curtain Fig Tree and Lake Eacham, a beautiful crater lake for a swim and a walk. Then we’ll head to the quirky Kuranda markets set in the rainforest, for lunch and a browse before heading to Cairns. Tonight we’re staying at an amazing resort with its own person-made beach! We’ll have a group dinner at the resort and then check out the Cairns nightlife.

      Accommodation: Gilligans Cairns or similar
      Meal options: Self-cater, local cafes, restaurants
      Meals included: Breakfast
      Included activities: Swim, walk, markets

      Day 14: Free day in Cairns

      Today is a completely free day so if you have a few too many cocktails last night, enjoy a lazy sleep-in and perhaps some hair-of-the-dog by the pool in the afternoon. If you’re ready for another day of adventure, why not book into a tour of Cape Tribulation or go to see the iconic Great Barrier Reef?

      Accommodation: Gilligans Cairns or similar
      Meal options: Self-cater, local cafes, restaurants
      Optional Activities: Cape Tribulation day trip, bungy jump, Great Barrier Reef trip, skydive, rafting
      Meals included: Breakfast
      Free activities: Hang out at the amazing resort pool, walk the Esplanade, visit the Botanical gardens

      Day 15: Cairns

      Today is the final day of your Brisbane to Cairns adventure. Give a wave and a hug to your new mates and head off for the next leg of your adventure, taking with you the most incredible memories, everything you’ve learned about Australia’s special culture and wildlife, and of course some classic Aussie lingo – G’DAY MATES!

      What To Bring
      Booking Info
      • Live it up in the resort town of Noosa
      • Embark on a 3-day 4WD Safari to Fraser Island.
      • Visit the Mon Repos Turtle Centre to discover how incredible turtles really are and taste some of
      • Bundaberg’s famous rum
      • Explore the breath-taking Whitsunday Islands.
      • Discover the magic of the Atherton Tablelands – from amazing waterfalls and lush rainforest to a pristine crater lake!
      • Go for a moonlit paddle through the rainforest to stargaze and spot wildlife
      • Enjoy the relaxed Cairns lifestyle and the fun nightlife that it’s famous for!
      • Camera,
      • Sturdy walking shoes/boots,
      • Warm clothing,
      • Waterproof jacket,
      • Hat & Sunscreen,
      • Swimsuit/towel,
      • Water bottle,
      • Toiletries,
      • Motion sickness tablets,
      • Insect repellent
      • Luggage is limited to one piece per person with a maximum weight of 20kg plus a day pack
      • A basic level of fitness is required for medium-length walks
      • Accommodation is in 4-6 shared dorms in a range of hostels, backpacker resorts, and eco-lodges, apart from 2 nights K’Gari/Fraser Island (safari tents) and 2 nights Whitsunday Sailing (shared dorms/sections onboard yacht).
      • 21 meals are included. We make regular supermarket stops so you can self-cater for other meals, or there are usually quite a few cafe/restaurant options in each location.

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