Tourism Whitsundays, Queensland Australia, Whitsundays Holidays - Tourism Whitsundays QLD - Cairns to The Whitsundays Drive Itinerary
The Whitsundays, Queensland.
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Australia is the kind of country that is best explored behind the wheel of a car; nothing beats an Aussie Roadtrip! This certainly applies to North Queensland, many of the best places to experience such as deserted beaches, waterfalls and freshwater creeks, can be quite remote, and with each region being so different and diverse, self-driving is the way to go.

Cairns to The Whitsundays is approximately a 550km drive. Below we have mapped out the perfect itinerary including a couple of must do's on your way!

Day 1 - Cairns to Townsville

First Stop: Babinda Boulders | 60km South of Cairns | 1 hour drive

From Cairns head south along the Bruce Highway for about 1 hour and turn right into the town of Babinda. Road signs then direct the way to this gorgeous natural swimming hole, the perfect place to stretch your legs and have some morning tea.

Surrounded by lush rainforest, the Babinda Boulders is an iconic attraction and popular swimming hole and tourist attraction. It is a classic example of the fast-flowing tropical creeks in the area that are perfect for afternoon dips in the cool water to combat Far North Queensland's tropical heat.

CREDIT TEQ Babinda Boulders

Photo credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Second stop: Mission Beach | 80 km south of Babinda | 1 hour drive

Mission Beach, situated midway between Townsville and Cairns is made up of four beach villages linked by 14 kilometres of wide golden sands. This beautiful beachside area blends vibrant art and culture with unique tourism attractions, inviting you to relax and unwind.

When you hear of a beach situated between the Great Barrier Reef and a World Heritage-listed rainforest, you know it's a worthwhile stop. If you're lucky, you might even see an endangered cassowary. Adventure-seekers love Mission Beach and can fill their boots here with skydiving, deep-water diving, and white-water rafting!

CREDIT TEQ Mission Beach

Photo credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Final stop: Townsville | 235 km south of Ingham | 3 hour drive

You've covered some miles, so it's time to relax and take in Townsville's cosmopolitan ambience. Unofficially known as the 'Capital of North Queensland', Townsville boasts a more metropolitan feel due to its urban expansion. Here you can enjoy some boutique shopping on Flinders Street or hit up the local markets. When hunger calls, check out the top-notch restaurant scene on Palmer Street.

Day 2 - Townsville to Airlie Beach

First stop: Bowen | 200km South of Townsville | 2.5 hour drive

Continue on the Bruce Highway heading South until you reach Bowen, the mango capital of Australia, home to the delicious Bowen Mango (aka Kensington Pride). Bowen is a small town with big photo opportunities and an even bigger mango. Tick an Aussie icon off your list and grab a photo with The Big Mango.

Bowen's secluded beaches are one of the many treats you'll enjoy about the town, so secluded that you only have to share with locals who are in-the-know. Horseshoe Bay is a must, an all-rounder perfect for swimming and relaxing or take a picnic and enjoy the beautiful Bowen breeze! This secluded cove is also ideal for snorkelling; it is one of the only places where you can snorkel the fringing Great Barrier Reef straight off the beach!

180511 Credit markfitz Bowen 2 HR

Photo credit: @_markfitz

Final Stop: Airlie Beach | 79km South of Bowen | 1 hour drive

Spend the next 3 nights in and around Airlie Beach

190116 Credit Salty Wings Aerials Mainland Airlie Beach Airlie 2 HR

Photo credit: @saltywings

Click here for your Whitsundays itineraries.

Want to go from The Whitsundays to Cairns? Check out the itinerary here.

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