Explore the golden shores and picturesque rainforests of Queensland on a 12-day adventure from Brisbane to Cairns
Explore the golden shores and picturesque rainforests of Queensland on a 12-day adventure from Brisbane to Cairns. Take an off-road jaunt across Fraser Island’s dunes, sail through shimmering waters to discover the impossibly white beaches of the Whitsundays, flop and drop on the palm-fringed sands of Mission Beach, soak up the laidback energy of Airlie Beach after sunset and explore the colourful underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef. Learn to hunt and use native plants from a First Nations guide, encounter crocodiles and colourful birds on a cruise through mangrove thickets and walk under heavy green canopy in the mighty Mossman Gorge. This nature-filled and culturally-rich eco escapade is designed to get you away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and straight to the natural heart of Australia’s north.
- Take a 4WD adventure through the breathtaking landscape of Fraser Island. Venture across undulating sand dunes and vast golden beach in search of that iconic outback creature – the dingo!
- Cruise through the islands of the Whitsundays, with a stop at the world-famous Whitehaven beach. Surround yourself with dazzling white sands and azure waters as you discover this idyllic place.
- Witness the magnificence of the Great Barrier Reef on a snorkelling adventure. Brimming with colourful coral and tropical fish, enjoy an included cruise from Cairns to explore this underwater paradise.
- Learn how to spear fish and gather medicine on Kuyu Kuyu (Cooya Beach) with Kuku Yalanji guides who are committed to maintaining their ancestral traditions and way of life.
- Take a guided walk along the pristine, rainforest-rimmed beach of Cape Tribulation, where Europeans tried and failed to tame the coastal wilderness for hundreds of years.
- Hotel (6 nights) Resort (4 nights)
- Fraser Island 4WD day trip
- Flight Brisbane to Airlie Beach
- Whitsunday Islands sailing
- Great Barrier Reef day cruise
Day 1 Brisbane to Fraser Island
Your east coast adventure kicks off in Queensland’s capital of Brisbane at 10 am today. Travel through to sun-kissed Noosa, visiting one of Australia’s top surf locations on the way. Go koala-spotting in a national park before enjoying a glorious sunset over the Sunshine Coast’s hinterland. In the evening stay on the stunning Fraser Island – the local Butchulla people call it K’gari (paradise), and you’ll find out why soon enough. This incredible slice of land is the largest sand island in the world, stretching some 123 kilometres down Queensland's southern coast and tomorrow you’ll have the chance to explore it, so get a good night’s rest ready for a day of adventure – oh, and look out for dingoes!
Day 2 Fraser Island
After a delicious buffet breakfast, set off on a 4WD adventure through the breathtaking landscape of Fraser Island. Visit some of the renowned lookout points – perhaps Indian Head or the Cathedrals – for incredible views of the coast, then take a refreshing dive into the crystal-clear water of Lake McKenzie – an island icon. Visit the Maheno shipwreck and the coloured sands of the pinnacles, Pile Valley’s awe-inspiring Satinay and Brush Box forests as well as Central Station and Wanggoolba, before adventuring along 75 Mile Beach Road – one of the best coastal drives in the country – and taking a dip in the fresh waters of Eli Creek. From tropical dense rainforest to wild offshore waters – witness the contrasting fauna and terrain of this truly unique island as you venture across undulating sand dunes and vast golden beach, in search of that iconic outback creature, the dingo. This evening, relax at your accommodation and perhaps join the rest of your group for dinner at one of the resort’s restaurants.
Day 3 Airlie Beach
Transfer back to Brisbane before boarding a flight to Airlie Beach, the hub town of the magnificent Whitsundays and home to endless beer gardens, trendy cafes and a lawn-fringed swimming lagoon. You’ll arrive late in the afternoon, so after settling into your lodgings the evening is yours to spend as you please. Perhaps stroll around and explore, or if the sun is still up why not visit some local swimming spots for a refreshing dip. Alternatively, you might feel more at home finding a seat at one of the many bars, grabbing a cocktail or two, and watching the sun set on the shimmering blue water.
Day 4 Whitsundays Cruise and Airlie Beach
After breakfast, take a leisurely day cruise through the postcard-perfect islands of the Whitsundays, including a stop at the world-renowned Whitehaven Beach. Words can’t do justice to the dazzling white sands, azure waters and densely verdant vegetation of this incredible corner of the world – Whitehaven is about as impressive as a beach can get, and at 98% pure silica, it’s about as white as a beach can get too. Peel your eyes away from the pristine sands and explore the colourful underwater world surrounding the Whitsundays on a snorkelling adventure. Get up close to a beautiful array of rainbow coral, playful fish and, if you’re lucky, maybe even some friendly turtles. Head back to Airlie Beach and enjoy one last drink in this lively town
Day 5 Mission Beach
Admire the change of scenery today as you jump into your private vehicle and head through undulating cane fields to picturesque Mission Beach, where World Heritage rainforest meets the colourful Coral Sea. Be welcomed by crystal-clear waters, stunning views and a large population of cassowaries – a flightless bird that thrives in the tropical forests of north-eastern Australia. This afternoon you can enjoy plenty of free time to soak up paradise and do as you please. You might like to wind down with an optional yoga class or go for a swim in the pool. Alternately, head out in search of the famous cassowary or simply grab a book and find a shady spot to sit and enjoy the tropical bliss.
Day 6 Atherton Tableands - Cairns
Enjoy breakfast in a local cafe before venturing into the wet tropics of far north Queensland. Stop off en route to your next destination and discover a magnificent plunge waterfall nestled in dense tropical rainforest. Take a dip in the cool water, then continue on to Lake Eacham, a crater lake with beautiful blue-green hues in the heart of the Atherton Tablelands. Next, visit the unusual yet fascinating Curtain Fig Tree, a magnificent tree with extensive aerial roots that drop 15 metres to the forest floor, forming a curtain-like appearance. The day draws to a close as you head to your final stop, Cairns, one of Australia’s most lively tropical towns.
Day 7 The Great Barrier Reef
The breathtaking beauty of the world’s largest coral reef is on the bucket list of many travellers who venture to this incredible corner of Australia. The Great Barrier Reef is brimming with colourful coral and an amazing array of tropical fish, and today you’ll get to witness its magnificence with your own eyes on a snorkelling adventure through this underwater paradise. Cruise out to this famous reef this morning as you hear a marine conservation commentary about the importance of preserving the World Heritage-listed region and how you can do your bit. Then, it’s time to put on your snorkelling gear and dive into the dazzling waters, where you can freely explore a wonderfully rich ecosystem. After an incredible day, head back to the hotel, where you can freshen up and get ready for dinner. Compare memories, swap stories, and celebrate your east coast journey with your travel companions.
Day 8 Cairns/Barron Gorge/Port Douglas
Welcome to Cairns! We pick up some new travellers who'll be joining us in for the next leg at around 11am. With the formalities out of the way, it’s time to hit the road for Port Douglas, with a couple of stops en route to break up the journey. First up is a Barron Gorge lookout that looks over a set of tumbling falls bursting from the rainforest. Spend some time ooh-ing and ah-ing at the lookout, then continue to the town of Kuranda. This little mountain village is the perfect place to grab a quick lunch (not included), before hitting the road again at around 2 pm. Settle back into the vehicle for an approximately 1.5-hour drive along the coast to Port Douglas. Take in views of cliffs covered in distinct native flora on one side and glittering blue ocean on the other, with some photo stops along the way. Arrive at the accommodation and spend a few hours settling in. In the early evening, take an orientation tour around Port Douglas. Stop at Trinity Bay lookout point to admire the perfect crescent of sand and surf in the twilight. Head to a local restaurant for drinks and dinner with your fellow travellers, then return to the resort for the evening.
Day 9 Daintree Rainforest/Cape Tribulation/Port Douglas
Grab breakfast and get ready in time to leave the resort at 8 am, jumping on the ferry and crossing the river into the Daintree Rainforest. Meet up with a local family who live and breathe the rainforest, so much so that they hosted David Attenborough’s documentary crew when they were filming in the area. Spend some time learning from them about the forest, then continue exploring with a cruise along Cooper Creek. Your guide will point out crocodiles, birds and other wildlife while you glide through the water. Stop for an included lunch at a heritage restaurant smack-bang in the middle of the forest. If you need to cool off, there is also time to take a swim before continuing to Cape Tribulation. Take in views over the cape from a lookout, then head down to the beach for a guided walk and to learn about the region’s history. Return to the resort for the evening, where you can grab dinner at one of the restaurants within walking distance or choose to enjoy an optional al fresco dinner experience with Flames of the Forest.
Day 10 Port Douglas
Enjoy a day to explore this tropical paradise at your own pace. There are tonnes of activities on offer today, so be sure to talk to your leader about your options when it comes to snorkelling, reef tours and nature experiences. Your leader will also be on hand today to provide a transfer to Port Douglas town (and back) at 10 am and 6.30 pm if you want to spend the day shopping or grab dinner. If you’d prefer to move as little as possible, you could always take a day to unwind with spa treatments at the resort or chill by the pool with a book.
Day 11 Mossman Gorge/Kuyu Kuyu/Port Douglas
Grab breakfast before leaving the resort at 8.15 am for a guided walk through the rainforest of Mossman Gorge. Work up an appetite on this gentle 1.5-hour hike, then grab morning tea (not included) before heading to Kuyu Kuyu (Cooya Beach) for an educational experience with a local member of the Kuku Yalanji family. Learn to throw a spear, which plants are edible and how Kuku Yalanji people live in harmony with the ever-shifting landscape. Enjoy lunch, then join an Aboriginal painting class in the afternoon. Learn about the significance of traditional and contemporary art and storytelling to First Nations people and leave with a small souvenir. Return to the resort in the early evening and enjoy a few free hours to relax. Grab dinner tonight with your group and toast to the beauty of the country around you.
Day 12 Port Douglas/Cairns
Enjoy breakfast and time for one last swim before a 10 am departure for Cairns. We will make one drop-off stop at Cairns Airport and another at a central hotel in Cairns – before your tour begins please let your Intrepid representative or travel agent know which option you would prefer.
Touring with Intrepid Travel
Intrepid was started by two friends from Melbourne, Australia, in 1988 after embarking on a trip through the wilds of Africa in a modified ex-council truck, crammed with friends, supplies, a handful of aviator sunglasses and a case or two of beer. Could this type of travel be something others would be interested in? The answer was a resounding yes and today Intrepid send 100,000 travellers across the globe each year with the help of a staff of 1,000.
After three decades, founders Darrell and Manch, feel they know what travellers want. They get that it’s a big decision to fly across the world to wander the souks of Marrakech or enjoy a dreamy Angkor sunrise. They understand that you’re looking for a balance of inclusions and free time, a mix of classic highlights and local secrets you won’t find on Google. And of course, an authentic real life experience. Their leaders are born and raised in-country and they know their destination better than anyone. So you’ll do more than just see a place, you’ll live it. Small groups, big adventures and responsible travel – that’s Intrepid’s thing. With 1,000 trips in a variety of styles across 100 countries, you’re sure to find something you like.
Intrepid believe the real magic happens well away from the beaten path. It’s the little noodle bars, hidden galleries and backstreet bodegas and real life experiences you won’t find in a search engine. Real life experiences are those moments you know you’re really alive and experiencing something special. While it could be the instant you see one of the world’s great icons for the first time, it is more likely to be the moment you find yourself in the middle of a village square soccer game, being treated to a home-cooked meal by your new local friends or sharing a laugh with your fellow travellers as you try a new mode of transport … camel anyone? These unexpected moments are what travelling with Intrepid is all about, giving you a trip like no other.
Intrepid realises the world is a really big place. And there’s a plethora of different languages to learn, borders to cross and cultures to negotiate. Small group adventure travel makes these things easy and allows you to maximise your precious time off. Instead of worrying about logistics, you can focus all your energy on having the experience of a lifetime. Their tour groups are small enough to feel like you’re exploring a destination independently, but big enough to create a good social vibe. Group size will vary depending on where and how you’re travelling, but the average group size is about 10.
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