Spark of Wanderlust blogger, Alizah shares her ultimate Cairns to Sydney road trip itinerary!
I took 10 days to drive from Cairns to Sydney with JUCY, but you can definitely spread it out over at least 14 days and still have plenty to do! Driving a Jucy van gave me the accessibility and flexibility to create my own itinerary and see a huge chunk of Australia that I wouldn’t have been able to see if I had only flown! If you’re interested in doing a similar trip than here’s the itinerary that I used and what I thought was worth seeing and even staying multiple days for!
Day 1: Wallaman Falls or Waterfall Circuit and Townsville
As we had already been staying in Cairns for 10 days, we didn’t bother with exploring the town and just headed out right away. However, I definitely recommend finding a Great Barrier Reef tour to snorkel with and see the amazingly colorful wildlife underneath the ocean. Chris and I took a tour with Frankland Islands earlier in the week, which was so awesome! We got to explore a beautifully desolate island, as well as snorkel and see the amazing underwater world of Australia.
However, like I said we took off the first day, as we wanted to get to Wallaman Falls, which is the largest waterfall in Australia! It’s a little out of the way and will add about two hours to your trip, but it’s definitely worth it! The falls are awe-inspiring and the coolest part is that you get to see it from a high vantage point and then hike down to it! Be aware that the hike up is strenuous as my legs were killing me!
You also have the option of doing the waterfall circuit on this day, which is made up of about 4-5 smaller waterfalls! If you have the time, why not do both?
Although you can camp out near Wallaman Falls, as well as along the waterfall circuit, Chris and I chose to drive our Jucy van to the nearest town called Townsville so that we could grab a bite to eat! Townsville isn’t anything too special, but is a good stopping point and has some nice restaurants if you’re not cooking. Additionally, there are quite a few free spots to camp and shower!
Day 2: Mackay and Sunrise at Cape Hillsborough
We set out for the journey to Mackay. If you have the time to do so, I highly recommend making plans to visit Whitsundays as they look absolutely stunning! Keep in mind that you’d have to book a ferry and rent an ATV or book a tour to do so. As we were on a time crunch, we decided to just get to Mackay. The drive wasn’t that special, but we had a blast listening to tunes in the Jucy Campervan! I recommend staying in Cape Hillsborough or Mackay and getting up early so that you can see Wallabies and Kangaroos hopping around at sunrise. It’s such a magical sight and was one of the highlights of our trip. It was so cool to be able to wake up in our Jucy Camper and roll out of bed and right into the sights of the cutest Australian critters!
Day 3: Rockhampton
After we enjoyed a sunrise at Cape Hillsborough we made our way to Rockhampton, which is a cute colonial looking town. There’s plenty of restaurants and pubs there, as well as pretty views of the nearby river, but this wasn't my fave place!
Day. 4 - 5 : Noosa and Noosa National Park
Today was the day that the magic really started to happen. From Rockhampton we made our way to Noosa, which is this beautiful beach and lake town. Up until this point, we’d found free camping spots along the way, but at Noosa we booked a night at a campsite that was right on the lake! Noosa is absolutely breathtaking and has everything you could ask for! We made the decision to stay two nights pretty quickly because there was no way we were going to feel like we had enough time with just one day and it was the best decision we could have made! We were able to enjoy swimming in the lake, exploring the beaches and doing some shopping at the cute little boutiques! My favorite part, however was Noosa National Park, which had amazing, but easy enough hikes that lets you enjoy both the eucalyptus forests and beautiful ocean views.
We also found the famed or at least Insta-famed, Fairy Pools along our hiking route. Don’t expect to have this place to yourself as it’s well discovered! If you do want it to yourself then it’s best to go there at sunrise. Also keep an eye out for Koalas! We saw one high up in a eucalyptus tree on our last day there!
Surfer’s Paradise and the Gold Coast are next on the list. It’s so cool to see the never-ending waves and surfers as far out as the eye can see. The Gold Coast is a cool beach city that kind of reminded me of Honolulu with a cityscape right on the beach that stretched for miles and miles.
Day 6 - 7: Byron Bay
The next day, we headed to Byron Bay, which I was incredibly excited about! I heard so many great things and I couldn’t wait to see it for myself. Byron was a lot more crowded than I expected and a little more rowdy so be prepared for a lot of young people partying at night. However, I still loved the bohemian, laid back vibes and the beaches were some of the most beautiful i’ve seen! We decided to stay for another two nights, because we enjoyed our time there a lot too! Make sure to check out the live music at the Byron Bay Brewery and go to see the lighthouse!
Day 8: Coffs Harbour
Coffs Harbor was a cute little town that we stayed at. There was a moving arts festival while we were there and so a lot of the buildings had projections of colorful patterns thrown up on them! There were also a lot of great restaurants in the area including one in which I got the best Halloumi burger I’ve ever had!
Day 9-10: Forster, Sydney or Newcastle
Although we decided to stay in a quant lake town called Forster, if you’ve scheduled a flight out of Sydney the next day then I recommend making the trek there so you can spend the night in the city! I loved Sydney and we actually ended up spending an additional three nights there once we dropped off the Jucy van. There’s so much to see and do in the city, it’s hard to do it in just one night! Definitely make your way to the Sydney Harbor and Opera House and walk around the quay! Also check out the downtown and old-town areas. I loved seeing all the old, victorian architecture that I was surprised Sydney had! You also have the option of staying in Newcastle. I’ve heard it’s quite beautiful, but we had to skip it since we were short on time.
Although camper-vanning was a little exhausting, it was one of the most memorable experiences and I’d do it again with JUCY in a heartbeat!
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