Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Noosa National Park, Queensland
Hunter Valley, New South Wales
Champagne Pools, Fraser Island
Sydney Harbour at sunset
Daintree Rainforest, North Queensland
Port Douglas Beach

Sydney to the Great Barrier Reef

20 day Self Drive Holiday - from £2099

With flights from £3199

The journey of a lifetime from Australia’s most iconic city to Cairns and tropical North Queensland, via beachside towns and National Parks.


  • Try the local vintage in Hunter Valley
  • Visit Byron Bay and the Gold Coast
  • Stay overnight on Fraser Island
  • Take the chance to visit the Whitsundays and Whitehaven Beach
  • Explore Queensland’s rainforests and National Parks
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Your Itinerary

Day 1 - Sydney to Hunter Valley (212 kms)

Depart Sydney and travel north over the Harbour Bridge and onto the Pacific Highway. Take an easy detour through the towns of Gosford and Newcastle, Australia’s sixth largest city, where you can enjoy a scenic walk along the foreshore. From Newcastle, travel via Maitland into the Hunter Valley. With wineries in abundance, take the opportunity to taste and purchase some of the finest wines Australia has to offer.

Hotel: Hunter Valley Resort (Standard) or Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley (Deluxe)

Day 2 - Port Macquarie (270 kms)

Leave the Hunter Valley and head back towards Newcastle, before veering north onto the Pacific Highway. Situated on the coast by the Hastings River and the Tasman Sea, Port Macquarie is an idyllic beach side town. Relax at one of the many restaurants or indulge at one of the local beauty spas. Don’t miss out on the beach however, where it’s not uncommon to spot dolphins.

Hotel: Country Comfort Port Macquarie Waters Edge (Standard) or Rydges Port Macquarie (Deluxe).

Day 3 - Byron Bay (400 kms)

Travel north to Kempsey, on the way to Coffs Harbour, the capital of the Holiday Coast. The highway follows the coast to the seaside town of Woolgoolga then turns inland towards Grafton. Travel to Woodburn and on to Ballina and then a further 38 kilometres to Byron Bay. Nearby Cape Byron is the most easterly point on the Australian coast and also has the country’s most powerful lighthouse! Byron Bay, renowned for its beaches, makes it an ideal spot for a stroll, picnic, swim or surf.

Hotel: Discovery Park, cabin accommodation (Standard) or Byron Bay Hotel & Apartments (Deluxe)

Day 4 & 5 - Gold Coast (95 kms)

Heading north along the Pacific Highway, you are destined for the glitzy Gold Coast. This short drive leaves plenty of time to stop for breakfast or lunch at one of the many coastal towns along the way such as Hastings Point or Kingscliff, before crossing the border into Australia’s second biggest state – Queensland.

The following day is at your leisure; why not scour the shops of Cavill Avenue before heading to the world famous Surfers Paradise Beach for a swim and relax in the sun? With plenty of bars and restaurants lining the streets, you won’t be short of dinner options.

Hotel: Vibe Hotel, Gold Coast (Standard) or Voco Hotel (Deluxe)

Day 6 - Brisbane (79 kms)

Today you are travelling on the Pacific Motorway towards Queensland’s capital city, Brisbane.

Ensure you set off early to have a chance to enjoy a visit to the Queensland Museum, visit the many stores and boutiques in Queen Street Mall or stroll along South Bank and explore the markets.

Hotel: Ibis Brisbane (Standard) or Royal on the Park (Deluxe)

Day 7 - Noosa (145 kms)

Depart Brisbane for Noosa on the Sunshine Coast. This is a short drive so you have time to stop at the Australia Zoo (own expense) along the way and spend half a day with a few of Australia’s natives, before arriving in the relaxed beach side town of Noosa.

Enjoy a leisurely walk through Noosa National Park, one of the best places to spot a koala in the wild, or simply make the most of the town’s beautiful stretch of beach and boutique shopping.

Hotel: Noosa Lakes Resort (Standard) or Noosa Blue Resort (Deluxe)

Day 8 to 9 - Fraser Island (196 kms)

Another easy day on the road today takes you to River Heads, the departure point for Fraser Island. From here you will board the Kingfisher Bay Catamaran and be transported to the stunning Fraser Island.

World Heritage-listed Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world, and an overnight stay will allow you to explore all its glory! You can join a whale watching tour between the months of August to March or the Beauty Spots Tour year round.

Hotel: Kingfisher Bay Resort (Standard & Deluxe)

Day 10 - Agnes Waters (250 kms)

After your morning catamaran transfer back to River Heads, travel along the Bruce Highway towards Agnes Water. Head north on Childers Road towards the historic town of Bundaberg, the home of Bundaberg Rum. Lush green cane fields line the roads as you arrive into the quaint Agnes Waters town of 1770. Take a walk along the serene 7 km beach and enjoy one of the 267 days of sunshine!

Hotel: Sandcastles 1770 (Standard) or 1770 Beach Shacks (Deluxe)

Day 11 - Capricorn Caves (250 kms)

This morning’s drive will take you along the Bruce Highway to the country retreat at Henderson Park Farm. Leave time to stop at one of the small towns, like Boyne Island, along the way for lunch before arriving at Capricorn Caves. Here you can explore spectacular caves set in a limestone ridge.

Hotel: Capricorn Caves, cabin accommodation (Standard and Deluxe)

Day 12 to 13 - Airlie Beach (460 kms)

Follow the Bruce Highway along the coast as you head towards Airlie Beach. Again cane fields are a prominent feature along the roads heading into the farming hub of Mackay, before arriving in Airlie Beach, the gateway to the Whitsundays.

With a two night stay you have a a full day at leisure, on which we highly recommend a sailing trip to the pristine Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island.

Hotel: Mango House Resort (Standard) or Airlie Beach Hotel (Deluxe)

Day 14 - Townsville (275 kms)

Travel north passing through Bowen and the twin towns of Home Hill and Ayr. Townsville is a modern, tropical city and the administrative capital of North Queensland. A visit to Reef HQ is recommended; the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium. This evening join the locals for a walk along the waterfront esplanade, known as “The Strand”.

Hotel: Park Regis Anchorage (Standard) or Mercure Townsville (Deluxe)

Day 15 to 16 - Mission Beach (235 kms)

Continue north; following the picturesque Queensland coastline. You will pass through the towns of Ingham, known as “Little Italy” for its Italian settlers heritage, and Cardwell. Today you will see the rainforest meet the sea, by the beautiful little town of Mission Beach.

Take time to walk along the beach, visit the Mission Beach markets (held on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month) or drive out to Paronella Park, a beautiful semi-ruined Spanish Castle built in 1913 on 5 Hectares of lush ground next to a waterfall.

Hotel: Castaways Resort (Standard and Deluxe)

Day 17 - Daintree Rainforest (316 kms)

Today’s drive will take you into the rainforest of Cape Tribulation. This is where the rainforest truly meets the sea in a spectacular style.

Spend a memorable night surrounded by the lush green canopy of this ancient rainforest and explore this remarkable habitat through some of the many boardwalks which meander passed towering trees and creeks. Perhaps you will see some of the forest’s unique wildlife.

Hotel: Heritage Lodge in the Daintree (Standard) or Daintree EcoLodge (Deluxe)

Day 18 to 19 - Port Douglas (20 kms)

Travel south towards the popular holiday resort town of Port Douglas, a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.

The beautiful stretch of 40 mile beach, the picturesque marina and boutique shops of Macrossan Street make Port Douglas the perfect destination to end your East Coast self drive adventure.

A leisurely 2 night stay here will allow time to both unwind and relax.

Hotel: Villa San Michele (Standard) or Meridian Port Douglas (Deluxe)

Day 20 - Cairns (80 kms)

The last day of your self drive takes you on a scenic coastal drive back to Cairns where you can indulge in a spot of shopping, a walk around the lagoon or even take a side trip up to the small town of Kuranda and experience the local daily markets.

20 day Self Drive Holiday - from £2099

With flights from £3199


  • Upgrade to deluxe hotels from £415
  • Add extra nights in Sydney, Cairns or any location en route
  • Choose to fly Economy, Premium, Business or First Class
  • Add a stopover to Australia in Dubai, Singapore or another destination


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All prices are per person, based on 2 sharing a double or twin room, and include pre-booked accommodation, air conditioned car and unlimited kilometres. Hotels specified are subject to availability and may be substituted by one of a similar or higher standard. Seasonal supplements may apply.

Sydney to the Great Barrier Reef Map


You can book this self drive as it is or ask your Travel Consultant to add extra days in the places you choose.

Your self drive includes:

  • 19 nights accommodation
  • Modern, air-conditioned car hire
  • Standard or deluxe hotels
  • Return catamaran transfers to Fraser Island
  • Inclusive vehicle insurance with nil excess
  • Satellite navigation

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For advice or to start planning your holiday

talk to an Australia Expert on 0333 234 2889