Sunshine Coast to Cairns & Further North – Road Trip, Australia

After I finished my time as an AuPair on the Sunshine Coast, my plan was to travel up north once again so that I could leave Australia from Cairns to go to Bali.

Even though I’ve already travelled the East Coast with my family in a caravan from Cairns to Sydney, we only had a very short time for this long distance and therefore I didn’t felt like I had actually seen much of it.

Luckily a friend of mine, that I met right at the beginning of my travels in Melbourne about 8 months before wanted to join me for this trip and so we had a really great road trip together.

Before, we already did a little mini road trip in Wilsons Promontory, Victoria for a few days, to see if we would fit together travelling in a small camper and after travelling on my own for a long time, I was really happy to share this experience.

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Home on Wheels

We rented a camper at travellers-autobarn for little over a month in Brisbane and he picked me up on the Sunshine Coast, where we stayed for the first two days.

In the beginning, when you get your new car, everything feels weird, not homie and you might wonder how you are going to survive five weeks in this little space. But after everything has it’s place and you are into a routine, you can really imagine how people live in vans fulltime.

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On the Road

Because we had over 5 weeks for our trip, we could really stop wherever we wanted and only had to plan for a few days in advance, never rushed to get anywhere in time.

I know that is not the case for everyone, but I will just share out experience and the best places we visited and you can pick and choose what places you actually want to/have time to go to and I bet that there are still places that we haven’t visited ether – Australia just has so much to offer!

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Money Money Money

I tried to write down what we spend on this trip, but it is really hard to remember. Also, the costs really depend on season, if you try to find free camps as much as possible, if you eat out or do lots of activities and trips.

I’d say we spend around 700$ + 600$ for the costs of the van for those 5 weeks. So it was definitely not a cheap month on my travels. But on the other hand we went to soo many places, did so many amazing things, had the freedom of our own car to go places and that was definitely worth it.

When you first hear camping and van life, you think of a very cheap way of travelling. But actually renting a car, fuel & campgrounds are pretty pricey. It’s probably cheaper to travel by Greyhound Bus and sleep in cheap hostels but you don’t have the freedom of your own car to go places…

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FOOOOOD

As I said, the costs of your trip also really depend on what you eat, what you buy & cook and how much you eat out. And we definitely weren’t super thrifty.

Food is a really big passion of mine. I love eating out, trying restaurants and healthy eating and cooking is important for me and I would rather spend a bit more money on it – in my opinion, that’s worth it.

We did cook mainly vegan (meat and cheese is pretty expensive anyways). Lot’s of chickpea curries, wraps with egg or falafel, avo toasts, porridge, burgers & sandwiches…

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But we also loved a good Aussie brekkie in a nice café and with an epic view. Coffee is also pretty expensive, so I’d recommend not having coffee out all the time.

App Recommendations

There are some apps that have been really helpful to plan our trip, find free camps, find campgrounds, free toilets, water to refill our tank and to find cheap fuel.

  • Campermate
  • Fuel Map
  • Here we go
  • Wikicamper

As well as google maps obviously :D

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Our Trip

Our trip started on the Sunshine Coast, where I was living with my AuPair Family at that time. James picked me up and we spend one day in the Hinterlands of the Sunny Coast with another friend of mine.

We went to the Glasshouse Mountains, Maleny & Montville. A very beautiful landscape and drive and two very cute little mountain towns, that are pretty touristy (in a good way) and offer a lot for daytrippers.

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Then we continued to Rainbow Beach and had a night in Maryborough, before we went to Hervey Bay & Fraser Island.

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In the Bundaberg region we went to Coral Cove and Mon Repos Conservation Park. A very beautiful place where you can learn a lot about sea turtles and if you are lucky (and there at the right time) you can even see baby turtles hatch and make their way to the ocean.

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We further north to Rockhampton and Yeppel, where we stayed for two nights to have one full day on Great Keppel Island. A very small and beautiful tropical island where you can hike, explore, snorkel and enjoy – without many other tourists!

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In Mackay, we stayed at my friend’s families place and explored Eugella NP. I would really recommend going there as you can very likely see wild Platypus at Broken River
– which is really special, as they are super shy. And the Finch Hatton Gorge is very nice to have a cooling bath as well.

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Afterwards, we went to the famous Cape Hillsborough NP where you can experience a sunrise with Kangaroos at the Beach. Unfortunately, it was foggy in the morning, but nevertheless, this place is really beautiful.

Also, I can highly recommend doing the walk to the Turtle Lookout as we saw soo many turtles and the water has an epic colour.

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We spend a few nights in Airly Beach. Had breakfast at the Fat Frog with a beautiful view. Went to the Cedar Creek Falls, did a two-day sailing tour with Southern Cross to the Whitsundays and to snorkel & I also did my very first SkyDive which was such an epic experience and a really awesome view!

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Further north we stopped in Bowen for a night and went snorkelling at Horseshoe Bay – a really nice place to go to.

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I really fell in love with Townsville. The view from the Castle Hill for sunset is amazing and we also enjoyed an adventurous day on Magnetic Island.

Magnetic is really great for snorkeling, hiking, exploring and they also have some cute cafés, but it is definitely a more common and more touristy place than the Keppel Islands – very worth it though.

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Next up was exploring Little Cristal Creek, Jourama Falls and Wallaman Falls. A very beautiful area and we had so much fun exploring all day, swimming and wondering around.

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Mission Beach is probably a really beautiful place, but unfortunately, it was not the best weather, so we couldn’t really enjoy it to the fullest. We still did some rainforest walks and did a little Lookout drive around.

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Somewhere I really wanted to go was the Milla Milla waterfalls circuit. A bit off the Coastline but so worth going there in my opinion.

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In Cairns, we again stayed at my friends families place at Palm Cove / Clifton Beach and I can really recommend this area. Central Cairns isn’t really that special, but the northern Beaches are so beautiful!

The lagoon in Cairns is really nice as it is a free swimming pool area and the Art Gallery is really nice as well if you like to see some local and aboriginal art – it’s free to visit too!

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We went on a day-trip to Fitzroy Island, which I can really recommend, to snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef from the Island.

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Also went to the rainforest village Koranda for a day to explore the markets and go to the Butterfly Sanctuary.

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Obviously, we had to do another boat trip to the Great Barrier Reef for a day. They are so worth the money as it is so fun to snorkel and I also did my very first scuba dive trial which was a lot of fun as well.

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From Cairns, we went up further north: along the famous beach with stone architecture to Port Douglas, to then go even further to Daintree Village to do a Croc Tour on Daintree river.

We crossed the river with the ferry to go into Daintree rainforest. The ice cream at the Ice Cream Company is really amazing and so worth a stop as they have flavours of fruits you have never seen or heard of before – and they taste so epic and tropical!

That’s why I also decided to do a fruit tasting in Cape Tribulation to try all different kinds of tropical fruits and learn about them – so interesting, fun and delicious.

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We had such an epic time on our road trip and even though I would say I’ve seen a lot of Australia and had such a long time there – I still feel like I really need to come back to explore more and to go back to places I love.

Being in Australia for 10 months and really feeling like I belong there. I am already excited to come back!

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My last picture in Australia <3

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