Cairns to Townsville – A Cairns Backpacker Road Trip

Cairns → Townsville

For those fortunate enough to have a set of wheels, you’re in for a treat if you plan on making your way south. Cairns backpackers have either just arrived from the south–weary from their long journey, or are about to embark on an epic trip south to Sydney. Before you head out, take a look at this scenic route to start your road trip off right. This route comes from the Tropical North Queensland non-profit and the whole guide can be found here.


cairns backpackers road trip

As you set off from your awesome stay at Travellers Oasis, head south and you’ll soon hit Walsh’s Pyramid. Feel free to get out here for a 6km return hike before getting back on the road. Head onward to Babinda to fill your belly with tasty treats from the bakery and splash in the waterfalls and swimming holes of Babinda Boulders. 




cairns backpackers road trip

Start your day by passing by the highest mountain in Queensland, Mount Bartle Frere. Continue on to the colorful buildings of Innisfail, and on to the scenic beaches of Etty Bay. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot one of the fierce and prehistoric looking birds, the Cassowary. 




cairns backpackers road trip

Even if it’s not the most direct way, detouring to Canecutter Way is well worth it. You’ll pass by endless fields of sugar cane, an old Spanish castle in Paronella Park, and Mena Creek Falls, all before arriving at picturesque Kurrimine Beach. 



cairns backpacker road trip

Mission Beach is known for breathtaking (literally) views while skydiving, and it’s proximity to Dunk Island. Spend your time equally along the beaches and inside the lush rain forest before making your way to the Cardwell Jetty. If you have the time, take a detour to the Tully Gorge National Park for extreme white water rafting in the jungle. 



cairns backpacker road trip

Start your drive along the winding scenic road of the Cardwell State Forest. Stop at Attie Creek for a short walk to a waterfall, and Cardwell Spa Pool. Check out the birdwatching scene in Ingham, grab a mango at the Frosty Mango, and then admire the towering view of Castle Hill—you’ve made it!!!

Enjoy Townsville, and don’t forget to take the ferry over to Magnetic Island for koalas, barbie cars, and snorkeling! 


Need road trip advice? Talk to any of our friendly front desk staff 🙂