A Brisbane to Airlie Beach road trip is an exciting way to spend 2 weeks of your holidays in Queensland. If you are planning to do the trip with kids, then this is the article you need! We have given you a detailed itinerary for driving from Brisbane to Airlie Beach by car, and made the decisions of where to stop along the way, easy!
(You can also do this trip the other way around – from Airlie Beach to Brisbane!)
If you’re traveling with small kids, check out this list of the best folding car seats for travel!
Where to stop on a Brisbane to Airlie Beach road trip
If you are anything like me, you will be making a detailed plan for your road trip Brisbane to Airlie Beach. Firstly, you need to figure out where to stop on your road trip. The direct, non-stop Brisbane to Airlie Beach drive time is over 15 hours. Because we didn’t want to do a huge drive on any one day, we took smaller journeys over a few days. On our road trip with kids to Airlie Beach, we stopped at the following places:
In this article, we have detailed the best places to stop on a road trip to Airlie Beach below explaining why we chose them and what there is to do along the way up the Queensland coast.
Brisbane to Airlie Beach road trip map
Brisbane to Airlie Beach drive with kids
It is no secret that road trips with kids can be a challenge at times, so we have hints and tips to make the journey smooth when you have young children in the car with you. Trust me when I tell you this, most of the answers lie in screen time! Jokes!! (… only some of the answers lie there!) The best answer is the car games you have planned in advance and the stops you will make along the way, as well as the destinations you are promising them at the end of the day.
So without further adieu – our recommendations for the BEST way to do a Brisbane to Airlie Beach road trip with kids!
Brisbane to Noosa road trip (about 2 hours drive)
There is no need to begin the journey with long drive that gets the kids all bent out of shape right from the start. Noosa is a short 2 hour drive up the motorway and is a gorgeous place to spend a few nights. If you want to break the first part of your road trip up, why not stop at the world famous Australia Zoo on your way north? (We show you how to get in cheap and your kids into Australia Zoo for free here).
If you wanted to consider alternatives to the zoo, what about Aussie World, Wildlife HQ (formally the Big Pineapple) or, my favourite, Sealife at Mooloolaba. If you were thinking more free activities than spending your cash so early in the journey, check out one of the many beaches along the way. Our recommendations? Kings Beach at Caloundra or the lovely and quiet Cotton Tree.
Noosa also has a plethora of fun things for kids to do, like this surfing course, or this kayak tour. There are also plenty of free activities, from bush walks, cycling, visiting playgrounds along the Noosa River and much more.
If you want to know where to stop between where to stop between Noosa and Airlie Beach, then keep reading, we have given you the details.
Noosa to Woodgate Beach road trip (about 2 hours 45 mins)
After you leave Noosa, you can stop at Eumundi if you wanted a short hop to the next town. If you are here on a Wednesday or Saturday, it is definitely worth stopping in at the Eumundi Markets.
Another great attraction to stop at along the way is the Mary Valley Rattler. This is a steam train ride that they kids will love. You will need to plan ahead for this one but you can find out more about the train journey here.
Another great place to stop on your way from Noosa to Woodgate Beach is Maryborough! Maryborough is a city in the Fraser Coast region and our pick would be the Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary. Here you can pat a kangaroo, interact with the dingos and see Australian birds, snakes and lizards.
Keep heading north and you will make it to Woodgate Beach in time for dinner!
Woodgate Beach is a quiet seaside town just before Bundaberg. It really is an under-rated place that is absolutely perfect for families. We stayed in the NRMA Caravan park, but we actually rented a whole house which is right on the beachfront and next door to the caravan park.
At Woodgate Beach you can take the kids to play on the playground, play on the beach/es, go kangaroo spotting (we saw them in our back yard every night on dusk!) and soak in the quieter pace of life. We wrote about the best 16 things to do at Woodgate Beach with kids so you don’t have to go anywhere else to make your list of ideas!
Woodgate Beach to Agnes Water & 1770 road trip (2 hours)
After you have enjoyed your time at Woodgate Beach, you will need to get back onto the motorway to head north to Agnes Water and 1770.
Along the way you should stop at Bundaberg to grab one of their famous drinks. If you are passing through Bundaberg on a Sunday, again there will be a plethora of markets to choose from. We visited the Shalom College Markets which had a great range of stalls from fruit and veg, to craft to second hand items. We had to convince the kids that this was not the time to buy baby chicks…
The Bundaberg Botanic Gardens and playground are one of the best things you can do when you visit Bundaberg.
While you are in Bundaberg, you should also consider stopping at Begara – the beach is gorgeous and there are a plethora of lovely cafes and restaurants to grab a coffee or a meal.
We’ve written a whole article dedicated to the best things to do in Bundaberg with kids. Click to read it now: Click here
After you have filled your tummy, jump back in the car and head north to Agnes Water & 1770.
Our must see in Agnes Waters are the paperbark trail, and Red Rock and our 1770 must see places are the sunsets and a ride on The Lark. If you want to know more about all the family friendly things to do in these Agnes Water and 1770 – click here because we have a detailed article.
Agnes Water to Great Keppel Island road trip (3 hours 15 minutes + ferry transfer)
The next stop is Great Keppel Island, via the ferry. The 3 hour 15 minutes drive has stunning views and the ferry ride is so much fun for the whole family. Our top picks of things to do at Great Keppel Island include, taking a walk to the beaches, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and enjoying the sunsets.
If you’re thinking about Great Keppel Island, click here to find out EVERYTHING you can do there!
A solid drive north from Yeppoon to Airlie Beach (5 hours 30 minutes)
This is the biggest drive for your trip.
If you drive straight through from Yeppoon to Airlie Beach, it will take about 5.5 hours. However, it would be a shame to miss some of these amazing stops along the way.
When passing through Clairview (a small beach town approximately 1.5 hours south of Mackay), you definitely must stop at the Dugong Sanctuary.. Often dugongs can be spotted when they surface to breathe from the shore, or in the water, when you’re in a kayak, boat or other recreational vessel, so make sure you keep an eye out for these amazing animals!
Proserpine is a great place to stop along the way. Just out of Airlie Beach it is a cute, regional town that houses one of my most favourite shops called Colour Me Crazy! They say a picture paints 1000 words, so check this out! You must go here!
The next stop before arrival is Cedar Creek Falls. The falls are situated about 30 minutes out of Airlie Beach towards Conway Beach, Whitsunday Area and are a must see for families. Its recommend you visit in the wet season (November to April) but it falls most of the year. We were lucky enough to take the photo below in July!! Its home to cold fresh water and little freshwater turtles that children love to spot.
You can even walk up to the top and bathe in the running pools.
Get Out with Kids Tip: Don’t forget to pack the mosquito spray.
Yippee!! After a ferry ride off the island and a big drive north, you’ve made it to your destination! Airlie beach has SO much to offer families with kids that it is worth the trip!
Our top 3 tips for Airlie Beach
Airlie Beach is amazing! You will be so pleased that you have done this trip. And you will be so glad that this is your final destination!
Great Barrier Reef trip
The next day was spent ticking off another item on our school holidays bucket list – a tour and a snorkel on the spectacular Great Barrier Reef. We were up early for our 8am departure from Airlie Beach. We spent the day with Cruise Whitsundays and travelled out to Hardy Reef. The kids loved being able to get right amongst it with the coral and the fish on the reef. We recommend this tour to get the best out of your visit.
Cape Gloucester Resort & Beach
How gorgeous is this place?! Another little secret spot tucked away about 45 minutes north of Airlie Beach. Established in 1995 with the purchase of 150 acres on the eastern shore of Edgecumbe Bay, Cape Gloucester Beach Resort was designed to be a small, inviting and environmentally sustainable resort.
You will find it just past Hideaway Beach down a (sometimes) unpaved road! There is a quiet resort here, but the beach and swimming pool is open to day guests. Plan for a short drive up to the resort
Walk the boardwalk and visit the lagoon
This swimming attraction is located in the middle of the main street and overlooks the sea, and best of all – it’s free! Add it to your list of cheap things to do in Airlie Beach!
It’s great for children and adults as it has a variety of different depths of water to suit all swimming abilities. It has a purpose built beach and a playground, giving you plenty of activities to experience with your little ones. It has areas of shade, toilets and outdoor showers.
This lagoon is the perfect place for families, its beautiful and accommodating. It’s our number one choice of things to do in Airlie Beach with kids.
Brisbane to Airlie Beach road trip with kids!
There has never been a better time to take advantage of the wide open spaces and beautiful coastal towns of Queensland. Get out amongst it and create epic memories with your kids. You will be so glad you did!