The Ultimate 2 Week Queensland Roadtrip: 2023 Guide

As the second-largest state in Australia, there is so much to see and do in Queensland. So, what’s the best way to see it? On a road trip! Here is the ultimate 2023 Queensland road trip guide.
Ultimate Queensland Road Trip Guide. Photo: Rondell Herriot | Unsplash

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With nearly 7,000 kilometres of coastline, a road trip along the Queensland coast boasts stunning beaches, islands and jaw-dropping scenery.

As the second-largest state in Australia, the best way to explore Queensland is on a road trip. 

From spectacular beaches to hidden waterfalls and tropical islands, there is so much to see during a road trip through Queensland. 

If you’re planning a trip to Queensland any time soon, you must make this 14-day road trip throughout the state. This road trip will involve you hiring a rental car or motorhome.

Day 1: Brisbane to Maroochydore 

Maroochydore. Photo: Peter Detheridge | Unsplash

Start your road trip in the capital of Queensland, Brisbane. Pick up your rental car or motorhome hire and head north to the Sunshine Coast. 

The distance from Brisbane to Maroochydore is 103km and takes 90 minutes. Along the way, you’ll drive past the Glass House Mountains, a spectacular sight to see. 

What to do and see in Maroochydore? 

Leave Brisbane early enough to have at least one full day in Maroochydore because there is quite a bit to do! 

Once you arrive in Maroochydore and check in to your accommodation, head straight to the beach for a swim! You can swim at Maroochydore Beach, Alexandra Headlands, or Mooloolaba, as they’re all close together. 

After you’ve cooled off, grab some lunch before your next activity. 

Once you’ve had lunch, put on your walking shoes and tackle the Sunshine Coast Scenic Walk. This coastal pathway stretches 4.4km from Cotton Tree Park in Maroochydore to the Esplanade in Mooloolaba. As you walk along the path, you’ll be greeted by stunning views of the beach and ocean beyond.

Head somewhere nice for dinner and enjoy a good night’s sleep before getting up early to head to your next destination. 

Where to eat in Maroochydore?

Since Maroochydore is a popular beachside town, there are plenty of places to eat, including

  • Ocean Ended Restaurant & Bar
  • Junk Maroochydore
  • Corbin’s Kitchen and Wine Bar 

Where to stay in Maroochydore? 

  • The Sebel Maroochydore (high-end accommodation) 
  • Waves Maroochy River (mid-range accommodation)
  • Mantra Sirocco (low-end accommodation) 

Day 2: Maroochydore to Noosa 

Noosa. Photo: Raygar He | Unsplash

The second day of your journey through Queensland will take you from Maroochydore to Noosa, one of the most famous spots on the Sunshine Coast.

The drive from Maroochydore to Noosa is 46 km and will take around 40 minutes. 

Get up early to drive to Noosa to ensure you can enjoy a full day exploring the outdoors. 

What to do and see in Noosa?

After you’ve checked into your accommodation (or caravan park), head straight to Noosa Main Beach. The ocean at this beach is calm due to its being protected by the headland, making it the perfect place to swim. 

Once you’ve spent a couple of hours swimming in the ocean and relaxing on the sand, head to one of the restaurants along the main strip for some lunch. 

Afterwards, head back to the beach, but instead of going onto the sand, head to Noosa National Park on the northern end for a spectacular walk to a hidden gem. 

The path in Noosa National Park wraps around the headland, meaning you’re walking right on the coastline the entire time! With plenty of secluded beaches along the way, you can stop off for a swim on a beach you’ve got entirely to yourself! 

You can walk all the way to Hell’s Gate before turning back, or you can continue until you reach Alexandria Bay. Just remember that you will have to walk back, too! 

Where to eat in Noosa?

Some of the best places to eat in Noosa include

  • Bistro C
  • Season Restaurant & Bar
  • Bang Bang Noosa 

Where to stay in Noosa?

  • Peppers Noosa Resort & Villas (high-end accommodation)
  • Noosa Lakes Resort (mid-range accommodation)
  • Bounce Noosa (low-end accommodation) 

Day 3: Noosa to K’gari (Fraser Island)

K’gari (Fraser Island). Photo: Frankie Dixon | Unsplash

Today you will leave Noosa very early to head to the largest sand island in the world. 

Located off the coast of Hervey Bay, K’gari (Fraser Island), at 120km in length, K’gari is the largest sand island in the world and one of the most beautiful places in Queensland.

The drive from Noosa to Hervey Bay (where you can get to K’gari) is 158 km and will take two hours. There is an island on the resort where you can stay. However, it’s best if you have a 4WD so you can travel around the island and even camp if you want to!

What to do and see on K’gari (Fraser Island)?

Some of the best things to do on K’gari (Fraser Island), which you can do on your first day with your 4WD, include 

  • Swimming in Lake McKenzie – a freshwater lake surrounded by some of the whitest sand you’ll ever see.
  • Drive along 75 Mile Beach.
  • Explore the Maheno Shipwreck – located on 75 Mile Beach, this shipwreck has been on the island since 1935 and is a must-see. 

Where to eat on K’gari (Fraser Island)? 

The majority of the restaurants on K’gari (Fraser Island) can be found near the Kingfisher Bay Resort, including 

  • The Sand Bar
  • Maheno Restaurant
  • Sand & wood 

Where to stay on K’gari (Fraser Island)?

  • Kingfisher Bay Resort (high-end accommodation)
  • Fraser Island Retreat (mid-range accommodation)
  • Fraser Island Beach Houses (low-end accommodation)

Related: These are the best beaches in Australia.

Day 4: K’gari (Fraser Island) 

Lake McKenzie. Photo: Greg Spearritt | Unsplash

On your second day on K’gari (Fraser Island), you will explore more of what this beautiful island offers. 

You will hop on the ferry in the afternoon and spend the night in Hervey Bay. 

What to do and see on K’gari (Fraser Island)? 

Some of the best things you’ll do on K’gari (Fraser Island) today include

  • Float along Eli Creek – Located along 75 Mile Beach, Eli Creek pours four million litres of water into the ocean every hour. The creek is deceptively powerful but a great spot to float down on an inflatable toy. 
  • Soak up the view from Indian Head – Located on the northern end of 75 Mile Beach, Indian Head is the island’s most easterly point. Standing at the top, you’re rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views. 
  • Swim in Lake Wabby – Lake Wabby is the island’s deepest lake and is a great spot to cool off in the afternoon. 

After a fun-filled day on the island, hop on the ferry back to Hervey Bay to spend the night before departing for your next destination. 

Where to eat in Hervey Bay?

Some of the best places to eat in Hervey Bay include

  • Enzo’s On The Beach
  • Sea Breeze Cafe Hervey Bay
  • Santini Pizza E Cucina 

Where to stay in Hervey Bay? 

  • Akama Resort (high-end accommodation)
  • Oaks Hervey Bay Resort and Spa (mid-range accommodation)
  • Woolshed Eco Lodge (low-end accommodation) 

Day 5: Hervey Bay to Agnes Water & Seventeen Seventy

Agnes Water. Photo: Ben Carless | Unsplash

Rise early on day five of your two-week Queensland road trip as you’ll be driving two and a half hours north to the beautiful beach towns of Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy. 

You will only be spending one day in this region, so it’s best to get up there early to make the most of your time there!

What to do and see in Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy?

These two towns are known as the gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef, so you can expect the beaches and outer ocean to be stunning.

Some of the best things to do in the area include

  • Great Barrier Reef tours
  • Great Barrier Reef scenic flights 
  • Bush Heritage Paperbark Forest Boardwalk
  • Horizons Kangaroo Sanctuary 

Where to eat in Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy?

  • Drift & Wood Restaurant & Bar
  • 1770 Rusty Pelican
  • Barraca by the Sea 

Where to stay in Agnes Water & Seventeen Seventy?

  • 1770 Lagoons Central Apartment Resort (high-end accommodation)
  • Sandcastles 1770 Motel & Resort (mid-range accommodation) 
  • Mango Tree Motel (low-end accommodation) 

Day 6: Agnes Water to Yeppoon

Yeppoon Beach. Photo: Valentina Golubovic | Unsplash

Today you will drive the farthest you’ve driven so far on your Queensland road trip. Get up early to tackle the three-hour drive from Agnes Water to Yeppoon.

Yeppoon is renowned for its beaches, warm climate and islands located off the coast. 

During your one day in Yeppoon, you have two options for things to do. However, both will be outdoors, experiencing the best of what the town offers!

What to do and see in Yeppoon? 

Leaving Agnes Water early in the morning is best so you can make it to Yeppoon early enough to enjoy the entire day.

During your one day in Yeppoon, you can do two different activities: heading to Great Keppel Island or relaxing on the beach or lagoon.

If you are tired from exploring and driving, Yeppoon Lagoon is a great place to spend the day as it’s a public pool right on the beach, offering stunning views. 

However, a day trip to Great Keppel Island is a must if you’re up for it. As one of the 27 islands off the coast of Yeppoon, Great Keppel Island is one of the most popular because of its untouched beauty. 

Head to the island on the Freedom Fast Cat and spend your day exploring secluded beaches, snorkelling on the reef and swimming with turtles and dolphins. However, if you choose to spend your time on Great Keppel Island, you won’t be disappointed. 

Where to eat in Yeppoon? 

  • The Rocks Yeppoon Bar + Restaurant
  • The Bungalow
  • Vue Wine Bar & Restaurant 

Where to stay in Yeppoon? 

  • Oshen Apartments Yeppoon (high-end accommodation) 
  • Coral Inn Boutique Hotel (mid-range accommodation)
  • Discovery Parks Yeppoon (low-end accommodation) 

Day 7: Yeppoon to Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach. Photo: 𝘗𝘪𝘦𝘳𝘳𝘦-𝘏𝘦𝘯𝘳𝘺 de Soria | Unsplash

Today you will have to get on the road early as you will be embarking on your longest drive of the trip today. The drive from Yeppoon to Airlie Beach is 506km, and will take around five hours and 30 minutes to get there. 

Airlie Beach is the Gateway to The Whitsundays and is where you’ll be spending the next few days. 

Airlie Beach is a busy tourist town in the high season, so depending on what time you plan on making this road trip, book your accommodation in advance. 

What to do and see in Airlie Beach? 

Since you will arrive around midday or after, spend your first day in Airlie Beach just relaxing after a long drive. 

The following two days will be spent on the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands! 

However, if you’re eager to get out and explore the town, Airlie Beach lagoon is a great place to cool off and enjoy the sunshine. 

Where to eat in Airlie Beach? 

Some of the best places to eat in Airlie Beach include

  • Fish D’vine & The Rum Bar 
  • The Deck Airlie Beach
  • Sorrento Restaurant & Bar 

Where to stay in Airlie Beach? 

  • Coral Sea Resort (high-end accommodation)
  • Airlie Beach Hotel (mid-range accommodation) 
  • Whitsunday Vista Resort (low-end accommodation) 

Day 8 & 9: Whitsundays Reefsleep Experience 

Great Barrier Reef. Photo: Yanguang Lan | Unsplash

Today and tomorrow may be the highlight of your trip through Queensland. 

While exploring the Great Barrier Reef on a day trip is a dream for many, did you know that you can actually sleep on the reef? 

Reefsleep is a two-day/one-night experience where you sleep on the Great Barrier Reef and under the stars. 

Located on Hardy Reef, a permanently moored pontoon, Reefsleep Experience is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 

During your stay, sleep under the stars, enjoy world-class service and food and snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef. 

You will be provided with food and drinks during your stay. 

On day nine, you will spend another night in Airlie Beach. 

Related: Here’s how to visit The Whitsundays.

Where to stay in Airlie Beach? 

  • Coral Sea Resort (high-end accommodation)
  • Airlie Beach Hotel (mid-range accommodation) 
  • Whitsunday Vista Resort (low-end accommodation)

Day 10: Whitehaven Beach 

Whitehaven Beach. Photo: Mark Nugent | Unsplash

No trip to The Whitsundays would be complete without visiting the most photographed beach in Australia, Whitehaven Beach. 

A day trip to Whitehaven Beach with OceanRafting gives you the perfect opportunity to explore this world-famous beach.

What to do and see on Whitehaven Beach? 

During your day trip to Whitehaven Beach with OceanRafting, you will

  • See the breathtaking view of Whitehaven Beach at Hill Inlet 
  • Swim in the crystal clear waters of Whitehaven Beach
  • Walk along the squeaky, 98% pure silica white sand 
  • Snorkel on pristine, exclusive sites on Hook and Border Island 

Food and drinks will be provided throughout the day.

Once you return to Airlie Beach, you’ll stay one more night before heading off to your next destination. 

Where to stay in Airlie Beach? 

  • Coral Sea Resort (high-end accommodation)
  • Airlie Beach Hotel (mid-range accommodation) 
  • Whitsunday Vista Resort (low-end accommodation)

Day 11: Airlie Beach to Townsville + Magnetic Island 

Magnetic Island. Photo: ROMAIN TERPREAU | Unsplash

Today you will be driving three hours north to Townsville. 

While there isn’t much to do in the city of Townsville itself, its surroundings have a lot to offer, so when you get there, you’re heading straight onto the car ferry to Magnetic Island. 

Magnetic Island is a tropical island located 20 minutes off the coast of Townsville. Home to 23 bays and beaches, fringing reefs and beautiful wildlife, it’s a must-visit in Queensland. 

What to do and see on Magnetic Island?

When you get to Magnetic Island in the afternoon, check into your accommodation and head to Alma Bay for a swim. With incredibly calm, blue water Alma Bay is the perfect spot for swimming. 

In the evening, head to Picnic Bay to watch the sunset and grab dinner at one of the restaurants lining the beach. 

Where to eat on Magnetic Island? 

Although the island may be small, there are so many fantastic cafes and restaurants to eat at, such as 

  • Fruits ‘n’ Scoops
  • Scallywags Cafe 
  • Saltwater Restaurant Magnetic Island

Where to stay on Magnetic Island? 

  • Peppers Blue on Blue Resort Magnetic Island (high-end accommodation) 
  • Pure Magnetic (mid-range accommodation)
  • Nomads Magnetic Island (low-end accommodation) 

Day 12: Magnetic Island 

Magnetic Island. Photo: ROMAIN TERPREAU | Unsplash

Today you will experience the best of what Magnetic Island offers with a half-day Aquascene Charters tour. 

What to do and see on Magnetic Island? 

The half-day Aquascene Charters tour takes you to the best and most secluded bays on Magnetic Island for fantastic snorkelling opportunities. Along the way, the guides will teach you about the island’s history. 

Throughout the day, you’ll visit and swim/snorkel at three different beaches, some of which you can only access by boat!

In the afternoon, once you’re back on land and have had some lunch, hop in your car and drive to the Forts Walk car park. The Forts Walk is the most popular walk on the island as it takes you through the eucalyptus forest (you may see koalas!) and to WWII fortifications that boast 360-degree views of the island. 

The Forts Walk is a must while on Magnetic Island. 

Where to eat on Magnetic Island? 

  • SOS – Stuffed on Seafood
  • Thai Again
  • Mamma Roma 

Where to stay on Magnetic Island? 

  • Peppers Blue on Blue Resort Magnetic Island (high-end accommodation) 
  • Pure Magnetic (mid-range accommodation)
  • Nomads Magnetic Island (low-end accommodation) 

Related: This is the best time to visit Australia.

Day 13: Townsville to Atherton Tablelands

Millaa Millaa Falls. Photo: David Clode | Unsplash

Today, catch the early morning ferry back to Townsville to start your four-hour and 20-minute journey to the Atherton Tablelands. 

The Atherton Tablelands has some of the best national parks, hikes and waterfalls in Far North Queensland, making it a must-visit on your road trip. 

What to do and see in the Atherton Tablelands? 

Today you will be driving along the Waterfall Circuit to see some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the state. 

The Waterfall Circuit is 100km one way (you can do it on the way to Atherton Tablelands), where you can see the stunning waterfalls of Millaa Millaa Falls, Zillie Falls, Ellinjaa Falls and more. 

You will stay in Yungaburra for the night before making your final journey to Cairns. 

Where to eat in the Atherton Tablelands? 

  • Skybury Cafe & Roastery
  • Yungaburra Pub
  • Smokehouse Cafe 

Where to stay in the Atherton Tablelands? 

  • Eden House Retreat (high-end accommodation)
  • Yungaburra Hotel (mid-range accommodation)
  • On The Wallaby (low-end accommodation) 

Day 14: Atherton Tablelands to Cairns 

Green Island. Photo: Jodi Nelson | Unsplash

Today is the last day of your Queensland road trip, which means you’ll be driving the one-hour drive from Yungaburra to Cairns. 

Considered the Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, plenty of tours depart from Cairns that take you to the reef. However, there are two islands – Green Island and Fitzroy Island – located off the coast of Cairns- worth visiting for their epic snorkelling opportunities. 

You can choose to spend a few days in Cairns exploring the surrounding region, as it’s not too far from the Daintree Rainforest, the oldest rainforest in the world. 

What to do and see in Cairns?

Some of the best things to do and see in and around Cairns include

  • A day trip to Green Island or Fitzroy Island
  • A day trip to the Great Barrier Reef
  • A day trip to the Daintree Rainforest 

Where to eat in Cairns? 

Some of the best places to eat in Cairns include

  • Salt House
  • The Pier Bar
  • Vitalia’s Italian Restaurant 

Where to stay in Cairns? 

  • Crystalbrook Flynn (high-end accommodation) 
  • Rydges Esplanade Resort Cairns (mid-range accommodation) 
  • Palm Royale Cairns (low-end accommodation)

Final Thoughts 

Queensland Road Trip. Photo: Sylvain Cleymans | Unsplash

As the second-largest state in Australia, there is so much to see and do in Queensland. 

Road-tripping throughout Queensland is the best way to see what the state has to offer, as it allows you to travel slowly and discover places you would never have if you’d flown. 

From tropical islands to jaw-dropping waterfalls and stunning beaches, there is so much to see during a two-week road trip through Queensland.

When will you plan your trip?


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