Compare Campervan Rentals in Cairns

Compare trusted campervan rental companies around Cairns to find great deals. Select from various models, features and prices to lock in your perfect motorhome rental and prepare to soak up the sun!

Famed for its warm year-round weather and infectiously laid-back vibe, Cairns attracts scores of campervan enthusiasts each year. But while the town is undeniably pleasant, it’s the outlying region that lures nature-loving campervan travellers in droves. So why not rent a campervan out of Cairns and see it for yourself?

From psychedelic Great Barrier Reef corals to the wildlife-rich Daintree, outdoor adventures abound in Far North Queensland. An endless array of cascading waterfalls and sugary white beaches lie within a few hours’ drive of Cairns, ideal for exploring on a road trip.

Camping is a popular pastime in the Tropical North (and throughout Australia), so expect excellent RV infrastructure. Water refills, dump stations, laundry facilities, and well-equipped campgrounds are rarely more than a quick drive away. Campervan-friendly campsites span rustic national parks to scenic cattle-strewn farms and flashy RV parks—there’s something for every budget and taste.

As most natural attractions lack on-site accommodation, a self-contained campervan rental is the most convenient (and cost-effective) way to explore the Cairns region. With convenient amenities onboard, you can park by a pristine lake and spend your days soaking up the magnificent scenery of Australia’s Tropical North.

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Popular Campervans in Cairns

Spaceships Alpha 2-Berth

Alpha 2-Berth


Apollo Vivid Camper

Vivid Camper


Apollo Trailfinder Camper

Trailfinder 4WD Camper


Cruisin 6-Berth Discovery

6-Berth Discovery


Hippie 2-Berth Hitop

2-Berth Hitop


Hippie Drift



Lucky Rentals Lucky Roamer

Lucky Roamer

Lucky Rentals

Britz Safari Landcruiser 4WD

Safari Landcruiser 4WD


Camperman Paradise S&T

Paradise S&T


Cheapa Campa 4WD Camper

4WD Camper

Cheapa Campa

Cheapa Campa Cheapa Trailfinder

Cheapa Trailfinder 4x4

Cheapa Campa

Spaceships Alpha 2-Berth

Alpha 2-Berth


Hippie 2-Berth Hitop

2-Berth Hitop


Apollo Trailfinder Camper

Trailfinder 4WD Camper


Britz Safari Landcruiser 4WD

Safari Landcruiser 4WD


Cheapa Campa 4WD Camper

4WD Camper

Cheapa Campa

Cheapa Campa Cheapa Trailfinder

Cheapa Trailfinder 4x4

Cheapa Campa

Not all vehicles may be available. Use the search tool to check availability for your travel dates.

Cairns Airport Campervan Hire

Can I hire a campervan at the airport in Cairns?

While there are no campervan rentals directly at the terminal at Cairns Airport (CNS), there are several campervan rental companies within 3–8 km (2–5 miles).

Jucy offers a complimentary shuttle with your rental. The other depots are easily accessible by taxi or Uber.

The Self-drive Holiday in Cairns

There’s plenty of cause to explore Far North Queensland in a motorhome rental. You’ll venture between breathtaking sites at your own pace and camp overnight amid spectacular scenery—all this is super affordable, too.

Travelling in and around Cairns in a campervan rental entails a broad array of benefits:

  • Cost-Effective: A camper is hands-down the most affordable way to explore Tropical North Queensland. As your accommodation and transport come rolled into one, you won’t have to fork out for pricey tours or hotels.

  • Self-Catering: Not only will you save on transport and accommodation, but you’ll slash your daily food spend. Any respectable campervan has a fridge and kitchen, letting you save big bucks by cooking at “home.”

  • Convenience: Forget returning to the city once you finish sightseeing for the day. With a motorhome, you can cruise to the closest campsite and wake up within easy reach of tomorrow’s adventure. Less driving and more soaking up the sites.

  • Freedom: The flexibility of motorhome travel is tough to overstate. Choose where you’re going on a whim—there’s no need to stick to a set schedule.

  • Onboard Amenities: Large motorhomes have top-end facilities like indoor showers, kitchens, couches, TVs, and comfy king-sized beds. Some are even more luxurious than what you’re used to at home.

Remember these helpful tips when driving around Cairns in a campervan rental:

  1. All traffic moves on the left-hand side.
  2. Seatbelts and child restraints are compulsory.
  3. Carry a valid driver's licence when travelling.
  4. Traffic moves clockwise around the roundabout.
  5. There are no toll roads in Cairns.
  6. Watch out for wildlife, especially around dawn, dusk and when travelling at night. Country roads and long stretches of the open road are notorious for crossing wildlife.
  7. The blood alcohol content limit in QLD is 0.05%.
  8. Default speed limits in Cairns are 50 km/h for built-up residential areas and 100 km/h for roads in rural areas unless indicated otherwise. School zones also have speed limits reduced to 40 km/h during certain hours on school days. Always pay attention to posted speed limit signs and adjust your speed accordingly.

Travel Tips for Cairns

How can you save money on a campervan holiday in Cairns?

An RV provides an affordable alternative to the stock-standard hire car and hotel combo. A thrifty traveller can reduce expenses even further by following our top money-saving tips:

  • Book early: Like airlines, campervan rental companies base their prices on availability. Booking ahead can save you a considerable sum on your daily rate, especially during peak seasons.

  • Avoid peak seasons: Supply and demand mean prices skyrocket during busy times. Avoid school holidays, the Christmas/New Year period, and Easter to snag the best deal. As a neat bonus, you’ll explore pristine tropical landscapes sans the maddening mass-tourism crowds.

  • Book a low-cost camper: Do you need a pimped-out motorhome with all the bells and whistles? Settling for a budget-friendly rig will save you big on rental fees and fuel. There’s no harm in roughing it when you’re only on the road for a couple of weeks.

  • Reduce backtracking: Plan a tentative circular itinerary to minimise backtracking. Fuel will be one of your major on-road expenses, especially when rolling in a huge gas-guzzling RV. Aside from saving at the pump, you’ll spend less time driving and more time taking in the scenery.

  • Shop around for fuel: Download the Petrol Spy app to compare petrol station prices in real-time. Some are substantially more expensive than others.

  • Enlist a travel buddy: Campervan rentals and fuel cost the same, no matter how many people you’ve crammed in your rig. Finding an adventurous travel companion (or two) will do wonders for your wallet. Try posting your plans on social media if you don’t know anyone. Always vet potential applicants.

  • Free camp: While they’re not as prevalent as they once were, you can still find a few free campsites scattered around Far North Queensland. Roadside rest areas make for a handy free overnight sleep—bring a pair of earplugs for passing trucks.

  • Use low-cost campsites: You’ll pay a pretty penny for high-end caravan parks, especially those straddling the coast.

  • Cook: Eating out is expensive in Australia, and this far-flung region is no exception. Self-catering most meals will save you stacks of cash each day—good thing your camper comes with a well-equipped kitchen, fridge, and sink. Shop at big-name supermarkets (Woolworths and Coles) instead of the pricier small-town general stores.

  • BYO snorkel: Opportunities for offshore underwater exploration abound around Cairns. Bringing your snorkel and fins will save you money on rental costs.

When is the best time to go campervanning in Cairns?

Unlike Australia’s southern regions, where four distinct seasons are the norm, Far North Queensland experiences a wet season (November to March) and a dry season (April to October).

Most folks arrive during the Australian winter (June to August), which lands bang in the middle of the dry season. Balmy average highs of 26°C and near-perpetual sunshine make it the perfect time to explore the outdoors. Winter also sees calmer seas for sailing and snorkelling, plus the annual migration of the humpback whale.

In stark contrast, the Aussie summer (December to February) brings heavy rain to the region. Sticky humidity and sweltering highs of 31°C leave travellers drenched in sweat. But it’s not all bad. The “green” season sees flora bloom and waterfalls rage.

Spring (September to November) is the best time for spotting birdlife, including the elusive cassowary. Wrap up your holiday before November to avoid the “build-up,” a notoriously humid period leading into the Wet.

Autumn (March to May) becomes sunnier and drier towards the end of the season. Mid-April to May usually entails relatively pleasant weather. Plus, you’ll experience far thinner crowds (at least outside school holidays and Easter) than the winter peak.

It’s not just the sweaty weather you need to consider. Far North Queensland’s paradisiacal beaches receive millions of painful pests during the stinger season (November to May). The nippy waterborne critters, known locally as Irukandji jellyfish, make beach swimming foolish without a full-bodied stinger suit or a government-installed stinger net.

The deadly box jellyfish also bobs around Tropical North beaches during stinger season—follow all warning signs and take utmost precautions. Although injuries are rare in deep water, reputable snorkelling tour providers offer stinger suits to play it safe.

Speaking of safety, Far North Queensland is crocodile country. Heed all warning signs, and don’t wander too close to remote estuaries, beaches, and lagoons.

How long do you need in Cairns for a campervan holiday?

Seasoned grey nomads (retired Australian travellers) insist you need at least three months to do the region justice. And while that type of timeframe is undoubtedly ideal, fast-paced travellers can admire the highlights in a week or two.

With one week in Cairns, check out the main sites in Cairns and jump on a Great Barrier Reef snorkelling trip. Then head inland across the Atherton Tablelands to chase waterfalls at the Millaa Millaa Circuit.

Cruise between charming tableland towns (Yungaburra is our top pick) and check out a few fabulous fig trees on your way to Kuranda. Drive the scenic Captain Cook Highway north towards Port Douglas. Next, head deep into the Daintree to meander amid monstrously tall trees and plunge into croc-free swimming holes.

Two weeks in Cairns will let you run a similar course, albeit with additional stops and scenic side trips. Worthwhile pit stops include the likes of Mount Hypipamee, Wooroonooran, Danbulla, Granite Gorge, Crater Lakes, Lake Placid, Davey’s Creek, and Babinda Boulders.

If experiencing the Australian outback excites you, the Undara Lava Tubes and Chillagoe Caves make for great side trips (allow 3.5 hours drive in each direction). Tranquil tropical beaches more your jam? Mission Beach is within easy reach (2 hours each way). En route, stop by Paronella Park for a fairy-tale-style Spanish castle and Etty Bay to camp with cassowaries on the beach.

If you’re keen to savour a slice of island life, jump on the morning ferry to Fitzroy Island and pull up a towel on Nudey Beach. Don’t fancy leaving paradise that same day? Overnight in the ritzy Fitzroy Resort or the rustic Fitzroy Campground.

Parking a Campervan in Cairns

Where are some of the best places to park a campervan in Cairns?

You’ll find plenty of places to park your motorhome in the city. Unlike Australia’s crowded state capitals, Cairns has minimal traffic and plenty of spacious car parks.

The Cairns City Council provides free and paid on-street parking. Paid parking costs a reasonable $2 per hour and only applies to the CBD’s most high-demand streets. The city’s abundant free parking spaces often enact two-hour limits during business hours.

If you’d like to park for free while enjoying a lovely sea view, head to the northern end of the Esplanade. The car parks around Petanque Court and Fun Ship Playground offer unrestricted daytime parking just metres from the water.

Where can you park a campervan overnight in Cairns?

Queensland State laws prohibit sleeping overnight in a vehicle outside of a designated campsite. Furthermore, Cairns City Council has by-laws forbidding overnight stays on public roads within the jurisdiction.

Enforcement is strict in desirable areas such as beachfront car parks and the Esplanade but relatively lax in other places. Although most first-time offenders receive a warning, hefty fines can apply anytime.

There are no designated free camps in Cairns. Most motorhome travellers prefer to pay for a Cairns caravan park to save time. NRMA Holiday Park is the closest site to the CBD, but you’ll find half a dozen others scattered around town. Remember, nothing is ever more than 15 minutes away.

Thrifty travellers can find a smattering of designated free camps around Far North Queensland. Some of our tried-and-tested favourites include:

A modest nightly fee enables access to several stunning campsites around the region. Some of the most spectacular low-cost options include:

National Parks around Cairns

Which are the best national parks to visit around Cairns?

The northern Queensland region around Cairns contains some of Australia's most magnificent national parks. From the lush rainforests of the Daintree to the crystal-clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef, there is no shortage of incredible natural beauty to explore.

  • One of the most popular national parks in this region is the Daintree National Park, known for its dense rainforests and diverse plant and animal life. The park is home to some of the oldest and tallest trees in the world and a wide range of exotic birds and animals.

  • Another must-see national park in northern Queensland is the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the largest coral reef system in the world. Visitors can snorkel or dive among the vibrant coral and colourful fish or take a boat tour to explore the remote islands and cays that dot the reef.

  • For those who love hiking and outdoor adventure, the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area is for you. You will find miles of hiking trails that wind through the rainforest, offering breathtaking views of the region's unique flora and fauna.

  • No trip to northern Queensland is complete without visiting the stunning beaches of the Cape Tribulation National Park. Here, visitors can relax on the white sand beaches, go kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding, or take a guided tour to explore the park's dense forests and diverse wildlife. A ferry ride is required to access Cape Tribulation. Tickets need to be purchased in advance, starting from $4 return per pedestrian to $16 return for a campervan.

  • Take the Skyrail or glass bottom gondola to Kuranda National Park. This park is located just 25 km northwest of Cairns and is known for its beautiful rainforests and hiking trails. It's a fantastic place to go for a day trip, and the car park easily accommodates large campervans and motorhomes.

How much is campervan entry to national parks in Queensland? Are any permits required?

Budget travellers will be happy to hear Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science (DES) doesn’t charge an entry fee for any national park in the Tropical North.

Although permits are required to drive through recreation areas elsewhere in Queensland (K’gari/Fraser Island, Morton Island, Bribie Island, etc.), travellers can bounce around the Tropical North without paying a cent.

Moreover, DES charges a meagre $7 per person per night for camping permits in all its national parks, state forests, and protected areas. That modest fee makes Queensland among the most affordable states to camp in Australia.

Families get a decent discount: $28 per night for two adults and up to six children.

Campground bookings must be made online through the Queensland National Parks Booking Service.

Access to the Cape Tribulation Area is only possible via ferry transfer. Tickets need to be purchased in advance, starting from $4 return per pedestrian to $16 return for an RV. The ferry runs from 5 am to midnight and is a short 8-minute trip.

Remote campsites typically have minimal (or zero) mobile phone reception, so book yours before you arrive. The most sought-after camps may book out in advance, especially during peak periods. Flexibility is your friend.

Top 10 Campervan-friendly Campsites near Cairns

Babinda Boulders (Babinda)

Located at the end of Boulders Road (a sealed road).

Free stays of up to 72 hours are permitted on a first-come, first-served basis. Facilities include toilets, cold showers and BBQ’s.

No pets allowed.

The Billabong (Kuranda)

Overlooking the Billabong with hot showers and WiFi.

Each campsite has its own open campfire.

Prices start at $30 for an unpowered site for two people and $40 for a powered site.

Children under 12 are half-price and under 4 are free.

Cape Tribulation Camping (Daintree)

Beachfront powered and unpowered campsites just 2.5 hours north of Cairns accessible via sealed coastal roads. Daintree Ferry transfer to Cape Tribulation is required.

There are no dump points in the Cape Tribulation area. The closest spots are located at Mossman or Port Douglas. Only bore water is available, which requires booking a powered site to fill your water tanks.

There is only bore water onsite to fill vans! You must book a powered site to fill your tanks with water.

Ellis Beach

There are beachfront, middle row and back-row sites available with direct beach access.

The campsites have the following facilities:

  • Water, power and sullage
  • Shady trees and concrete pads
  • T.V. cable available for all powered sites
  • Two amenity blocks

Powered sites start from $39 for two people in low season to $50 during high season.

Etty Bay Caravan Park

Located near Innisfail along the Esplanade in Etty Bay on the beachfront.

Facilities include laundry, amenities, WiFi, a general store and public BBQ’s and a playground nearby.

Prices start from $35 for an unpowered site and $45 for a powered site. Rates are based on two adults and two children, 4-12.

Granite Gorge Nature Park (Mareeba)

A savannah wilderness landscape just 12 km from Mareeba.

Powered and unpowered sites are available.

Prices start range from $16-$18 per adult and $6-8 per child per night.

Camping Facilities include:

  • Spacious, shady sites & picnic area
  • 2 Hot Shower & Toilet Blocks
  • BBQs and wood for open fires
  • Laundry facilities, 2 Camp Kitchens

Henrietta Creek Camping Area

Surrounded by rainforest and located in Palmerston (Doongan), Wooroonooran National Park, 38 km from Innisfail, just off the Palmerston Highway.

There are ten grass sites available for advanced booking.

Facilities: composting toilets, picnic tables, gas barbecues.

Open fires are restricted.

Kauri Creek camping area

A small camping area at the edge of Lake Tinaroo in the Danbulla State Forest area.

Amenities include flushing toilets and a shower room.

Bring your own water and firewood and book in advance.

Malanda Falls Caravan Park

Located in the Cairns Highlands, right next door to the Malanda Falls, which flow all year round. Facilities include open recreational spaces, a camp kitchen and electric BBQs, laundry, and three amenity blocks. There is also an onsite animal nursery.

Powered and unpowered sites starting from $27.

Platypus Campsite (Lake Tinaroo)

Located in the central part of the Atherton Tablelands, about 1.5 hours from Cairns.

Facilities include toilets, picnic tables, and wood BBQ’s.

HINT: bring drinking water and an external shower for the shower room.

Book in advance to secure your spot.

The Cairns Experience

Care-free Cairns is home to just 150,000 inhabitants; nothing is ever more than a 15-minute drive away.

But that’s not to say it’s a sleepy backwater. A constant influx of visitors—especially in the mild winter months—has seen the local hospitality scene flourish. Bopping bars and swanky late-night clubs lie peppered around the CBD, catering to everyone from backpackers and out-of-towners to locals.

By day, take a scenic stroll down the pedestrian-friendly Esplanade or cool off in the stinger-free Esplanade Lagoon. Culture vultures can check out a small but impressive selection of galleries and museums: the Cairns Museum, Cairns Art Gallery, and Australian Armour & Artillery Museum are the pick of the bunch.

Cairns Esplanade, Queensland

Keen to see exotic marine life without getting your feet wet? Make a beeline for the Cairns Aquarium. Foodies can frequent Rusty’s Markets by day and the Cairns Night Markets come sundown.

Cairns is best known for being the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. As the world’s most extensive coral system, this mind-boggling biological structure runs 2,300 km along the coast.

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

But there’s more to the region than its world-famous reef. Cairns serves as the jumping-off point to explore Far North Queensland, a tropical paradise of wild luscious landscapes.

The hippy hamlet of Kuranda sits between the thick rainforest and the gushing Barrons Falls—best admired from the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Venturing west leads you to the Atherton Tablelands, a lush pastoral land famed for its rolling green hills. Cute little villages, platypus-filled ponds, fabulous fig trees, and thundering falls beckon in-depth exploration.

Skyrail gondola ride in Kuranda, QLD

Beach bums will find a string of idyllic sandy stretches heading north: try Yorkeys Knob, Trinity Beach, Palm Cove, and Ellis Beach. Cruising further up the coast leads you to Port Douglas, a swanky beach resort with more Great Barrier Reef tours.

Clifton Beach, Cairns

Then you’ve got the ancient Daintree. This spell-binding 135-million-year-old rainforest (the first on earth) is home to pristine beaches, colourful cassowaries, and crocodile-infested rivers. Don’t miss the magical Mossman Gorge.

A creek in the Daintree, north of Cape Tribulation

Keen to go chasing waterfalls? Far North Queensland delivers: Millaa Millaa, Josephine, Wallaman, Windin, Stoney Creek, the Crystal Cascades… the list goes on.

Top 10 Attractions around Cairns

Cairns, located in tropical North Queensland offers plenty of spots to explore for those taking a campervan road trip. From Central Cairns to the Great Barrier Reef, there is a range of activities to enjoy. Take a scenic cable car ride through the Skyrail Rainforest, visit the Northern Beaches, Nudey Beach, Hartley's Crocodile Adventures, or explore the Atherton Tablelands and the Daintree Rainforest. Don't miss out on the Great Barrier Reef Drive, with its stunning views of the Coral Sea and rainforest. Enjoy a memorable motorhome adventure in Cairns!

Atherton Tablelands (80 km from Cairns)

Quaint rural communities, green rolling hills and photogenic windmills lie peppered around this crisp highland region. Pop into Yungaburra to spot platypus splashing in a stream and marvel at the otherworldly Curtain Fig Tree. Crater lakes and rainforest-fringed waterfalls give cause to linger more.

Central Cairns

From munching noodles at Rusty’s Markets to swilling beer in city centre bars, Cairns offers a cosmopolitan experience sans the frantic traffic. Cool off in the Esplanade Lagoon or head west to swim in the Crystal Cascades.

Daintree Rainforest (130 km from Cairns)

The oldest rainforest on earth wows visitors with verdant canopies and unspoiled beaches. Marvel in the magic of Mossman Gorge, meander along moody boardwalks, and camp overnight on Cape Tribulation, where the rainforest meets the reef.

Great Barrier Reef (80 km from Cairns)

While some sections have succumbed to coral bleaching, vast swathes are still ripe for underwater exploration. Kaleidoscopic corals and curious ocean-dwelling creatures comprise any given trip. Opt for an Outer Reef tour to optimise the experience (albeit at a higher cost).

Great Barrier Reef Drive (60 km from Cairns)

From Palm Cove to the Port Douglas turnoff, this breathtakingly beautiful section of the Captain Cook Highway is among Australia’s most scenic drives. Enjoy turquoise Coral Sea waters on one side and lush Macalister Range rainforest on the other.

Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures (40 km from Cairns)

Struggling to spot a cassowary or crocodile in the wild? This well-regarded wildlife park brings you up close to all sorts of exotic Australian animals. Don’t miss the 3 pm Crocodile Attack Show—it’s one heck of a wild ride.

Millaa Millaa Circuit (100 km from Cairns)

This string of three stunning cascades is a must for any wannabe waterfall chaser. The highlight is Millaa Millaa Waterfall, a picture-perfect cataract plunging 18 metres into a refreshing swimming hole.

Northern Beaches (26 km from Cairns)

A string of golden sand beaches lies directly north of Cairns, perfect for sunbathing or frolicking in the waves. Hit Holloways Beach and Yorkeys Knob for laidback local vibes, or Trinity Beach and Palm Cove for swanky resort-style towns. At the top end, Ellis Beach is a palm-thronged paradise without a high-rise building in sight.

Nudey Beach (29 km from Cairns)

Arguably Australia’s best beach, this tropical dreamscape is Fitzroy Island’s sparkling highlight. Snorkel offshore to spot sea turtles or soak up some sun on its squeaky white sand. Just keep your kit on—contrary to its namesake, this isn’t a nude beach.

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway (13 km from Cairns)

Ditch the motorhome for a day and take this scenic cable car towards Kuranda, admiring untouched rainforests and the thundering Barron Falls from above. Serene riverfront walks, intriguing wildlife sanctuaries, and hip counter-culture markets await in this forest-enshrouded town.

Cairns Road-trip Itineraries

Are you ready for the ultimate adventure in Cairns? Buckle up and grab your sunscreen, because our range of campervan-friendly itineraries are packed with excitement and breathtaking natural beauty. From exploring the Great Barrier Reef to trekking through the lush rainforests of the Atherton Tablelands, you'll be experiencing the best of what Cairns has to offer. With the freedom and flexibility of a campervan, you'll be able to take your adventure anywhere you like and truly immerse yourself in the wild. So fuel up, set your compass to Cairns and hit the road for a journey you'll never forget!

Explore the best of Cairns in 7-Days

Explore the best of Cairns in 7-Days

This 7-day itinerary offers a fantastic mix of city, beach, and nature experiences. You'll explore the natural beauty of the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest, discover ancient cultures and hidden waterfalls, and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere of the tropical paradise of Cairns.

MORE: 7-Day Cairns Itinerary
From the Reef to the Outback: A 14-Day Odyssey from Cairns to Darwin

From the Reef to the Outback: A 14-Day Odyssey from Cairns to Darwin

Set off on an adventure through the breathtaking natural beauty and deep cultural history of Australia's Northern Territory as you journey from Cairns to Darwin in a cozy campervan. You'll have 14 days to immerse yourself in some of the most captivating destinations in the Australian outback, from stunning landscapes, quirky wildlife, and lively Aboriginal culture. Transcend from the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef to traversing the untamed terrain of Kakadu National Park, discovering all the hidden gems in between, and revelling in the unparalleled splendour of the Australian wild.

MORE: Cairns to Darwin Itinerary
The Best of the East Coast: 7 Fun-Filled Days from Brisbane to Cairns

The Best of the East Coast: 7 Fun-Filled Days from Brisbane to Cairns

This itinerary follows the coastline between the two major Queensland cities of Brisbane in the South East and Cairns in the Tropical North, and covers a distance of over 1,800 km. What will thrill you the most? Spectacular white-sand beaches? Outstanding mountain scenery? Unique Australian wildlife? In tropical Far North Queensland, the rainforest meets the Reef, so get ready for an epic road trip across one of the most beautiful coastlines in Australia.

MORE: Brisbane to Cairns Itinerary

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of licence do you need to hire a campervan in Cairns?

As always, an Australian will need a valid class C (car) licence to rent a camper in Cairns. Probationary, provisional, and learner licences won’t cut it. Few campervan hire companies rent vehicles to customers under 21. Travellers aged under 25 will pay more to cover higher insurance costs. International travellers can rent a campervan with a valid International Driver's Permit (IDP) or an approved English translation of a comparable (car) foreign licence.

Is free camping allowed in Cairns?

Free camping is only allowed at designated sites in Cairns, and overnight parking is generally prohibited. Staying at a holiday park or caravan park will generally cost about $50–$100 (AUD) per night.

Some popular campgrounds include: NRMA Cairns Holiday Park, Cool Waters Holiday Park, and NRMA Palm Cove Holiday Park.

It’s worth planning to spend several days in the Cairns area, as there is a lot to explore within a relatively short distance from the city. To the south are the Atherton Tablelands with multiple waterfalls, to the west is Kuranda and Barron Gorge National Park, and to the north are Port Douglas and the Daintree Rainforest.

Of course, Cairns City itself is a great base for excursions into the Great Barrier Reef.

Can I take my rental campervan beyond Cape Tribulation?

No, the road from Cape Tribulation to Cooktown in Far North Queensland is unpaved and can be challenging. Generally, companies limit access to this area. Check with your rental company for any questions regarding restricted areas.

Can I take my rental campervan to Cape York?

Generally, regular 2WD campervans are not allowed to travel to Cape York. Many companies make exceptions for 4WD campers, but prior written permission must be obtained. Check with your rental company for any questions regarding restricted areas.

Can I rent an RV just for the weekend?

Most companies generally have a minimum rental period. Weekend rentals are possible, but the minimum rental period can range from 1 day to a full week depending on the time of year.

Enter your dates in the comparison tool to see which vehicles are available for your travel dates.

Are one-way campervan rentals available?

Yes, a large number of rental companies allow for one-way rentals. Our comparison tool will show you availability on your preferred route and automatically factor in any one-way fees charged by the campervan rental company.

A one-way motorhome road trip starting or ending in Cairns is a popular way to explore the East Coast of Australia. Many travelers choose Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney, or even Melbourne as the other endpoint of their journey.

Popular stopping points for travelers on their way to Cairns include Mission Beach, Airlie Beach, and Townsville.

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