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Brisbane to Airlie Beach Road Trip

Brisbane to Airlie Beach Road Trip

Hop on a thrilling adventure from Brisbane to Airlie Beach, where scenic wonders await at every turn. This road trip offers you sandy shores, stunning landscapes, and memories to last for years! 

So whether you’re a beach lover or a history buff, there’s something for everyone along the way.

Ready to explore? Read more to discover the treasures waiting for you on this unforgettable journey!

Brisbane to Airlie Beach Road Trip: An Overview

Brisbane to Airlie Beach Road Trip An Overview

The Brisbane to Airlie Beach road trip is an enchanting journey spanning 698 miles, with a travel time of approximately 12 hours and 40 minutes via the Bruce Highway.

As you traverse this scenic route, prepare to be captivated by stunning coastal vistas, quaint seaside villages, and lush hinterland scenery.

Noteworthy stops along the way include the city of Noosa Heads, renowned for its pristine beaches and busy atmosphere, and the charming town of Hervey Bay, where you can go for unforgettable whale-watching adventures!

Arriving at Airlie Beach, you’ll discover a tropical paradise situated along the shores of the Coral Sea. From exploring the iconic Whitsunday Islands to indulging in world-class snorkeling and diving, there’s no shortage of adventure to be had in this coastal haven.

Route: Bruce HighwayNumber of Stops: 6Distance: 698 milesTravel Time: 12 hours, 40 minutes

1. Sunshine Coast

Your first stop on the Brisbane to Airlie Beach road trip brings you to the Sunshine Coast, just 70.6 miles away, with a travel time of approximately 1 hour and 35 minutes.

The Sunshine Coast is renowned for its stunning beaches, with coastal towns like Noosa, Coolum Beach, Caloundra, and Mooloolaba offering sandy shores and sparkling waters.

Noosa has been known as the top beach destination, known for its pristine stretches of coastline and laid-back atmosphere.

But there’s more to explore beyond the beach! You can take a detour to the Glass House Mountains, where you can look at ancient volcanic peaks and hiking trails.

You can also jump into the lush landscapes of the Blackall Range and Noosa Hinterlands, where cascading waterfalls and image-worthy vistas await. 

Stop 1: Sunshine Coast
Distance: 70.6 milesTravel Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Address: 17 North St, Caloundra, QLD 4551, Australia

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Staying at a Sunshine Coast motel offers simplicity and convenience, with basic rooms and shared bathrooms that are kept clean for your comfort.

Despite its no-frills approach, the motel offers a prime location near shopping areas and eateries, making it easy to satisfy your cravings and stock up on essentials. Plus, its budget-friendly rates ensure you can stretch your travel budget further.

The real highlight? The motel is just a 15-minute walk from Bulcock Beach, allowing you to soak up the sun and surf of the Sunshine Coast before continuing your journey to the next destination. 


Address: 14, Shop2/16 River Esplanade, Mooloolaba, QLD 4557, Australia

Operating Hours: Monday – Wednesday: 4:00 PM – 11:00 PM; Thursday: 11:00 AM – 11:30 PM; Friday – Saturday: 24 Hours

When you’re in the Sunshine Coast, dining at Beachside Cafe & Bar is a must for a delightful seaside experience. Situated along the stunning coastline, this charming eatery allows you to soak up the sun a bit further while indulging in delicious comfort food.

Treat yourself to classic comfort foods like crispy fries, juicy burgers, and filling tacos, all served with a side of ocean views and fresh sea breeze.

2. Hervey Bay

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Your second stop on the Brisbane to Airlie Beach road trip brings you to Hervey Bay, a scenic 124.2 miles away, with a travel time of approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Hervey Bay is famous for its whale-watching opportunities, as humpback whales visit the area on their migration south to the Antarctic from August to October each year.

Stop 2: Hervey Bay
Distance: 124.2 milesTravel Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

Address: 475 Esplanade, Torquay, QLD 4655, Australia

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Staying at The Beach Motel in Hervey Bay is ideal for large families seeking affordable accommodation. With spacious rooms and budget-friendly rates, it provides a comfortable base for your seaside getaway.

Beyond its affordability, the motel offers plenty of opportunities for water activities. Here, you can enjoy kayaking and snorkeling adventures in the nearby waters or simply relax by the motel’s outdoor pool, perfect for cooling off after a day of driving and exploration.


Address: Hervey Bay, 351a Esplanade, Scarness, QLD 4655, Australia

Operating Hours: Monday – Wednesday: 6:30 AM – 5:00 PM; Thursday, Sunday: 6:30 AM – 9:00 PM; Friday – Saturday: 6:30 AM – 10:00 PM

Dining at Enzo’s on the Beach is a delightful experience for beachgoers in Hervey Bay. This charming restaurant offers fresh seafood dishes and other culinary delights, all served with stunning views of the ocean.

For those seeking a lighter meal or a casual beachside bite, they also provide light breakfast and lunch offerings still in this relaxed atmosphere, complete with water views and an outdoor dining area. 

3. Fraser Island

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Your third stop on the Brisbane to Airlie Beach road trip is Fraser Island, located approximately 81.5 miles away with a travel time of about 4 hours and 51 minutes. 

If you’re wondering where to park your car, numerous caravan parks in Hervey Bay offer the option to leave vehicles on-site for a fee, especially if you’re staying for a night or two before or after your Fraser Island tour. 

To reach Fraser Island, catamarans and barges depart from Urangan Boat Harbour, providing access to this stunning destination. 

Fraser Island is a natural wonder, known as the world’s largest sand island, and has been designated as a World Heritage listed area due to its breathtaking landscapes.

Once on the island, you can explore its many attractions, including pristine beaches, towering dunes, over 100 freshwater lakes, and lush rainforests filled with tea tree forests and unique wildlife.

Remember to watch out for the island’s resident dingoes, as well as other mammals and reptiles that call Fraser Island home. 

Stop 3: Fraser Island
Distance: 81.5 milesTravel Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Note: This route includes a ferry ride

Address: Kingfisher Bay, K’gari, QLD 4581, Australia

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Staying at Kingfisher Bay Resort offers you luxurious retreat amid the natural splendour of Fraser Island.

Located within World Heritage-listed surroundings, the resort provides a range of accommodation options, from comfortable hotel rooms to spacious villas and eco-friendly houses, catering to various preferences and group sizes.

Here, you can indulge in many amenities and activities, including four swimming pools, a rejuvenating day spa, guided eco-tours, and exciting outdoor adventures such as 4WD tours and whale-watching cruises.

Address: Kingfisher Bay Resort North White Cliffs, K’gari, QLD 4655, Australia

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Dining at The Sand Bar in Fraser Island offers a delightful culinary experience amid the island’s natural beauty. Situated within Kingfisher Bay Resort, this beachfront restaurant serves up a tantalising dishes inspired by fresh, local ingredients.

You can enjoy a casual yet elegant atmosphere, with indoor and outdoor seating options overlooking the sparkling waters of the Great Sandy Strait. 

4. Agnes Water

Your fourth stop on the Brisbane to Airlie Beach road trip is Agnes Water, a charming town located 184.7 miles away, with a travel time of approximately 5 hours and 16 minutes, including the ferry ride from Fraser Island to Hervey Bay.

Steeped in Australian history, Agnes Water traces its roots back to Captain Cook’s exploration in 1770, when he landed ashore during his second voyage to study the region aboard the Endeavour.

Notably, Sir Joseph Banks, an English naturalist and patron of the natural sciences, collected plant species from this area, as documented in his journals.

The town of Agnes Water also serves as a gateway to Lady Musgrave Island, Fitzroy Lagoon, Heron Island, Lady Elliot Island, and the Southern Great Barrier Reef

Stop 4: Agnes Water
Distance: 184.7 milesTravel Time: 5 hours, 16 minutes
Note: This route includes a ferry ride from Fraser Island back to Hervey Bay

Address: 52 Captain Cook Dr, Agnes Water, QLD 4677, Australia

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Agnes Palms Beachside Apartments offer a tranquil retreat located next to the paperbark forest, with beach access just 200 meters away. 

You can relax in spacious and well-appointed apartments, complete with modern amenities and private balconies overlooking the lush surroundings.

With beachside relaxation and reef adventures right at your doorstep, Agnes Palms ensures a memorable stay for both you and your furry companions (yes, they’re pet-friendly!).


Address: 1 Tavern Rd, Agnes Water, QLD 4677, Australia

Operating Hours: Sunday – Thursday: 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM; Friday: 10:00 – 12:00 AM; Saturday: 10:00 AM – 1:00 AM

Dining at Agnes Water Tavern offers a classic pub experience in a spacious and stylish setting. Located in a large, smart watering hole, the tavern offers a relaxed atmosphere with a sleek wood deck, unique beer keg tables, and views of lush foliage.

Indulge in delicious pub grub, ranging from hearty burgers and crispy fries to traditional Aussie favorites, all served with a side of laid-back vibes. With options for outdoor seating and live music, the tavern provides an enjoyable dining experience for all.

Just remember, if you plan on enjoying a few drinks, it’s best to designate a driver or arrange alternative transportation to ensure a safe and enjoyable evening.

5. Cape Hillsborough

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The second to the last stop on your Brisbane to Airlie Beach road trip is Cape Hillsborough, situated 375.9 miles away with a travel time of approximately 6 hours and 40 minutes.

One of the highlights of Cape Hillsborough is the unique experience of witnessing kangaroos on the beach during sunrise. However, it’s important to note that the timing of this event varies each day, so visitors need to check the specific times for their visit.

The kangaroos typically come onto the beach to feed on seaweed and seapods left behind by high tide. They usually venture onto the beach before the first light and retreat into the surrounding bushland after the sun rises.

This entire process lasts about 30 minutes to 1 hour, allowing plenty of time for a short drive to Airlie Beach afterward.

Stop 5: Cape Hillsborough
Distance: 375.9 milesTravel Time: 6 hours, 40 minutes

Address: 51 Risley Parade, Cape Hillsborough, QLD 4740, Australia

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Cape Hillsborough Nature Tourist Park is the perfect spot to park your RV or large vehicle before continuing your journey to Airlie Beach

Situated in a natural setting, the park offers spacious and well-equipped campsites, providing a comfortable and convenient base for you.

One of the highlights of staying at Cape Hillsborough Nature Tourist Park is the opportunity to witness kangaroos on the beach during sunrise.

The friendly rangers at Cape Hillsborough Caravan Park will even inform you of the best time to catch the roos, ensuring you don’t miss out on this unforgettable wildlife encounter.


Address: Turtle Shores Shopping Centre, 15 Blacks Beach Rd, Blacks Beach, QLD 4740, Australia

Operating Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 11:30 AM – 2:00 PM; 4:00 PM – 9:00 PM

After a long drive, Mackay’s Golden Sun Chinese Restaurant is the perfect stop for a satisfying meal on your road trip to Airlie Beach.

Indulge in traditional Chinese dishes like savoury stir-fries, aromatic soups, and mouthwatering dumplings, all prepared with fresh ingredients and expert culinary techniques. 

6. Airlie Beach

Arriving at Airlie Beach marks the final destination of your Brisbane to Airlie Beach road trip, just 79.3 miles away with a travel time of approximately 1 hour and 33 minutes. 

This coastal town serves as the gateway to the stunning Whitsunday Islands and the world-renowned Great Barrier Reef.

While Airlie Beach itself is known for its pristine beaches and a lively atmosphere, it’s important to note that swimming in the waters is not advisable without a stinger suit, as jellyfish can pose a danger.

Warning signs are placed around the waters to ensure visitors’ safety.

In addition to beach activities, Airlie Beach offers plenty of attractions to explore, including the breathtaking Cedar Creek Falls, where you can swim in refreshing natural pools amid lush rainforest surroundings.

Stop 6: Airlie Beach
Distance: 79.3 milesTravel Time: 1 hour, 33 minutes

Address: Shute Harbour Rd &, Erromango Dr, Airlie Beach, QLD 4802, Australia

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Staying at Mango House in Airlie Beach offers a tropical retreat with bright and relaxing accommodation options.

Choose from cosy studios or spacious 1- or 2-bedroom apartments, each equipped with modern amenities including free WiFi, flat-screen TVs, and kitchenettes.

You can also unwind by the outdoor pool or explore the lush gardens. The property also features a courtyard, BBQ area, and complimentary parking, providing everything needed for a comfortable stay before heading back to Brisbane.


Address: 5 Golden Orchid Dr, Airlie Beach, QLD 4802, Australia

Operating Hours: Thursday – Sunday: 12:00 PM – 10:00 PM

Anchor Bar is a laid-back dining spot in Airlie Beach, offering a pool and stunning sea views. Here, you can enjoy hearty meals alongside refreshing beers and cocktails.

With outdoor seating available, it’s the perfect place to soak up the sunshine while savouring delicious food and drinks. Plus, you can groove to live music, adding to the relaxed atmosphere of this seaside gem. 

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