Brisbane to the Daintree Discovery
Explore the golden shores and picturesque rainforests of Queensland on a 12-day adventure from Brisbane to Cairns. Take an off-road jaunt across Fraser Island’s dunes, sail through shimmering waters to discover the impossibly white beaches of the Whitsundays, flop and drop on the palm-fringed sands of Mission Beach, soak up the laidback energy of Airlie Beach after sunset and explore the colourful underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef. Learn to hunt and use native plants from a First Nations guide, encounter crocodiles and colourful birds on a cruise through mangrove thickets and walk under heavy green canopy in the mighty Mossman Gorge. This nature-filled and culturally-rich eco escapade is designed to get you away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and straight to the natural heart of Australia’s north.
Ages: 8 - 99
Accommodation: Hotel (6 nights) Resort (4 nights)
Your east coast adventure kicks off in Queensland’s capital of Brisbane at 10 am today. Travel through to sun-kissed Noosa, visiting one of Australia’s top surf locations on the way. Go koala-spotting in a national park before enjoying a glorious sunset over the Sunshine Coast’s hinterland. In the evening stay on the stunning Fraser Island – the local Butchulla people call it K’gari (paradise), and you’ll find out why soon enough. This incredible slice of land is the largest sand island in the world, stretching some 123 kilometres down Queensland's southern coast and tomorrow you’ll have the chance to explore it, so get a good night’s rest ready for a day of adventure – oh, and look out for dingoes!
After a delicious buffet breakfast, set off on a 4WD adventure through the breathtaking landscape of Fraser Island. Visit some of the renowned lookout points – perhaps Indian Head or the Cathedrals – for incredible views of the coast, then take a refreshing dive into the crystal-clear water of Lake McKenzie – an island icon. Visit the Maheno shipwreck and the coloured sands of the pinnacles, Pile Valley’s awe-inspiring Satinay and Brush Box forests as well as Central Station and Wanggoolba, before adventuring along 75 Mile Beach Road – one of the best coastal drives in the country – and taking a dip in the fresh waters of Eli Creek. From tropical dense rainforest to wild offshore waters – witness the contrasting fauna and terrain of this truly unique island as you venture across undulating sand dunes and vast golden beach, in search of that iconic outback creature, the dingo. This evening, relax at your accommodation and perhaps join the rest of your group for dinner at one of the resort’s restaurants.
Transfer back to Brisbane before boarding a flight to Airlie Beach, the hub town of the magnificent Whitsundays and home to endless beer gardens, trendy cafes and a lawn-fringed swimming lagoon. You’ll arrive late in the afternoon, so after settling into your lodgings the evening is yours to spend as you please. Perhaps stroll around and explore, or if the sun is still up why not visit some local swimming spots for a refreshing dip. Alternatively, you might feel more at home finding a seat at one of the many bars, grabbing a cocktail or two, and watching the sun set on the shimmering blue water.
After breakfast, take a leisurely day cruise through the postcard-perfect islands of the Whitsundays, including a stop at the world-renowned Whitehaven Beach. Words can’t do justice to the dazzling white sands, azure waters and densely verdant vegetation of this incredible corner of the world – Whitehaven is about as impressive as a beach can get, and at 98% pure silica, it’s about as white as a beach can get too. Peel your eyes away from the pristine sands and explore the colourful underwater world surrounding the Whitsundays on a snorkelling adventure. Get up close to a beautiful array of rainbow coral, playful fish and, if you’re lucky, maybe even some friendly turtles. Head back to Airlie Beach and enjoy one last drink in this lively town
Admire the change of scenery today as you jump into your private vehicle and head through undulating cane fields to picturesque Mission Beach, where World Heritage rainforest meets the colourful Coral Sea. Be welcomed by crystal-clear waters, stunning views and a large population of cassowaries – a flightless bird that thrives in the tropical forests of north-eastern Australia. This afternoon you can enjoy plenty of free time to soak up paradise and do as you please. You might like to wind down with an optional yoga class or go for a swim in the pool. Alternately, head out in search of the famous cassowary or simply grab a book and find a shady spot to sit and enjoy the tropical bliss.
Enjoy breakfast in a local cafe before venturing into the wet tropics of far north Queensland. Stop off en route to your next destination and discover a magnificent plunge waterfall nestled in dense tropical rainforest. Take a dip in the cool water, then continue on to Lake Eacham, a crater lake with beautiful blue-green hues in the heart of the Atherton Tablelands. Next, visit the unusual yet fascinating Curtain Fig Tree, a magnificent tree with extensive aerial roots that drop 15 metres to the forest floor, forming a curtain-like appearance. The day draws to a close as you head to your final stop, Cairns, one of Australia’s most lively tropical towns.
The breathtaking beauty of the world’s largest coral reef is on the bucket list of many travellers who venture to this incredible corner of Australia. The Great Barrier Reef is brimming with colourful coral and an amazing array of tropical fish, and today you’ll get to witness its magnificence with your own eyes on a snorkelling adventure through this underwater paradise. Cruise out to this famous reef this morning as you hear a marine conservation commentary about the importance of preserving the World Heritage-listed region and how you can do your bit. Then, it’s time to put on your snorkelling gear and dive into the dazzling waters, where you can freely explore a wonderfully rich ecosystem. After an incredible day, head back to the hotel, where you can freshen up and get ready for dinner. Compare memories, swap stories, and celebrate your east coast journey with your travel companions.
Welcome to Cairns! We pick up some new travellers who'll be joining us in for the next leg at around 11am. With the formalities out of the way, it’s time to hit the road for Port Douglas, with a couple of stops en route to break up the journey. First up is a Barron Gorge lookout that looks over a set of tumbling falls bursting from the rainforest. Spend some time ooh-ing and ah-ing at the lookout, then continue to the town of Kuranda. This little mountain village is the perfect place to grab a quick lunch (not included), before hitting the road again at around 2 pm. Settle back into the vehicle for an approximately 1.5-hour drive along the coast to Port Douglas. Take in views of cliffs covered in distinct native flora on one side and glittering blue ocean on the other, with some photo stops along the way. Arrive at the accommodation and spend a few hours settling in. In the early evening, take an orientation tour around Port Douglas. Stop at Trinity Bay lookout point to admire the perfect crescent of sand and surf in the twilight. Head to a local restaurant for drinks and dinner with your fellow travellers, then return to the resort for the evening.
Grab breakfast and get ready in time to leave the resort at 8 am, jumping on the ferry and crossing the river into the Daintree Rainforest. Meet up with a local family who live and breathe the rainforest, so much so that they hosted David Attenborough’s documentary crew when they were filming in the area. Spend some time learning from them about the forest, then continue exploring with a cruise along Cooper Creek. Your guide will point out crocodiles, birds and other wildlife while you glide through the water. Stop for an included lunch at a heritage restaurant smack-bang in the middle of the forest. If you need to cool off, there is also time to take a swim before continuing to Cape Tribulation. Take in views over the cape from a lookout, then head down to the beach for a guided walk and to learn about the region’s history. Return to the resort for the evening, where you can grab dinner at one of the restaurants within walking distance or choose to enjoy an optional al fresco dinner experience with Flames of the Forest.
Enjoy a day to explore this tropical paradise at your own pace. There are tonnes of activities on offer today, so be sure to talk to your leader about your options when it comes to snorkelling, reef tours and nature experiences. Your leader will also be on hand today to provide a transfer to Port Douglas town (and back) at 10 am and 6.30 pm if you want to spend the day shopping or grab dinner. If you’d prefer to move as little as possible, you could always take a day to unwind with spa treatments at the resort or chill by the pool with a book.
Grab breakfast before leaving the resort at 8.15 am for a guided walk through the rainforest of Mossman Gorge. Work up an appetite on this gentle 1.5-hour hike, then grab morning tea (not included) before heading to Kuyu Kuyu (Cooya Beach) for an educational experience with a local member of the Kuku Yalanji family. Learn to throw a spear, which plants are edible and how Kuku Yalanji people live in harmony with the ever-shifting landscape. Enjoy lunch, then join an Aboriginal painting class in the afternoon. Learn about the significance of traditional and contemporary art and storytelling to First Nations people and leave with a small souvenir. Return to the resort in the early evening and enjoy a few free hours to relax. Grab dinner tonight with your group and toast to the beauty of the country around you.
Enjoy breakfast and time for one last swim before a 10 am departure for Cairns. We will make one drop-off stop at Cairns Airport and another at a central hotel in Cairns – before your tour begins please let your Intrepid representative or travel agent know which option you would prefer.
- Great Barrier Reef day cruise
Royal on The Park Hotel
152 Alice St
163 Abbott St
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Daytime temperatures can be extreme from Oct to March with temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius. Please bring a large refillable water bottle. We strongly recommend the use of dehydration salts and sports drinks as a way to combat dehydration during times of extreme heat.
Rip currents are the leading surf hazard for all beach users. They can occur at any beach, and can sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea. Rip currents are responsible for around 15,000 beach rescues and up to 120 people being drowned each year in Australia (source: Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA).
To enjoy Australia's beaches safely, take the following simple precautions:
* Always swim between the red and yellow flags, as these indicate it is a supervised location where a lifesaving service is currently on duty.
* Do not swim at unsupervised locations.
* Observe and obey safety signage, which indicates current and typical hazards for that location.
* Ask a lifeguard or lifesaver for advice on conditions; they are there to make your experience safer and more enjoyable.
* Always swim with a friend; never swim alone.
* If you get into trouble, stay calm and signal for help by calling and waving your arm above your head.
Be aware of your own limitations in terms of your physical health and your swimming ability in the given conditions. Never swim while, or after, consuming alcohol.
The Australian Tourism site has some great tips for staying safe in Australia
You can also contact us directly at https://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/contact-us/safety if you have any concerns about safety on your trip.
All travellers, except New Zealand citizens, must obtain a visa or travel authority before travelling to Australia. Failure to obtain a visa or travel authority before travel means you may not be allowed to board your flight to Australia. Most nationalities can obtain an Electronic Travel Authority via the internet before arrival. Please check the following website or with your relevant Australian visa issuing office for your nationalities requirements. http://www.eta.immi.gov.au
Why we love it
Take a 4WD adventure through the breathtaking landscape of Fraser Island. Venture across undulating sand dunes and vast golden beach in search of that iconic outback creature – the dingo!
Cruise through the islands of the Whitsundays, with a stop at the world-famous Whitehaven beach. Surround yourself with dazzling white sands and azure waters as you discover this idyllic place.
Witness the magnificence of the Great Barrier Reef on a snorkelling adventure. Brimming with colourful coral and tropical fish, enjoy an included cruise from Cairns to explore this underwater paradise.
Learn how to spear fish and gather medicine on Kuyu Kuyu (Cooya Beach) with Kuku Yalanji guides who are committed to maintaining their ancestral traditions and way of life.
Take a guided walk along the pristine, rainforest-rimmed beach of Cape Tribulation, where Europeans tried and failed to tame the coastal wilderness for hundreds of years.
Is this trip right for you
This trip visits some amazing beaches along the way. Please consider your level of swimming skill before getting in the water.
Only some meals are included on this trip. This allows for more freedom and flexibility, as there are often many great dining options along this part of the coast.
This trip requires a moderate level of fitness as it involves a lot of walking, allowing you to really get among nature. Please bring sturdy, comfortable walking shoes and comfortable clothing.
This trip includes time spent travelling in a private vehicle with your group. Extra space can be tight, and conditions may feel a little cramped. It’s all part of the adventure and a great way to get to know your fellow travellers. Please read the itinerary carefully for travel time estimates.
Dengue, Murray Valley Encephalitis (MVE) and Ross River Fever occur in northern parts of Australia (the Northern Territory, Northern Queensland and northern Western Australia). All three viruses are transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against them, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn. January 2009 saw an earlier than usual seasonal outbreak of dengue fever in northern Queensland, with over 600 confirmed cases in and around Cairns and Townsville.
There have been 77 confirmed cases of Whitmore disease (melioidosis) in the Northern Territory, mainly in greater Darwin, but with cases reported in the Katherine and East Arnhem regions too. One case has occurred as far south as Tennant Creek. The risk of melioidosis will continue to be present as long as the rains continue. Those most at risk are those with underlying conditions that impair the immune system such as diabetes. Please visit the NT Department of Health and Families website http://www.health.nt.gov.au - for more information.
Please note this tour operates in remote regions and as such medical facilities may be difficult to access. If you have any medical conditions or take any form of medication please provide full details & nature of condition. Please provide details of medication taken.
Food and dietary requirements
Australia eats multi-culturally. Everything from meat pies to ramen, laksa, pho, rice and pasta are part of the national diet.
The East Coast of Australia is renowned for its fresh food, including dairy (amazing cheeses), produce, seafood and meat. From high end restaurants and gastro pubs and cafe's to local restaurants and markets there is plenty of choice for all budgets. Local produce is a feature on back roads. Roadside stalls sell tropical fruit in season in Northen NSW and QLD.
Vegetarians and Vegans are well catered for in Australia and most restaurants and cafe's will have a good selection of vegetarian meals. Gluten and Lactose free diets are also well catered for.
Tap water is safe and delicious in cities and towns. In the bush its best to check with your guide if in doubt. Bring a reusable bottle and drink tap water where you can. You'll use less plastic, saving both the environment and money.
Australia has strict laws regarding arriving with fruit and veg into the country. Please pay attention to signs when arriving internationally.
Please budget approximately $15 per lunch, and $20 - $40 for each dinner, perhaps a little more if you intend to also enjoy a glass of wine or beer with your meal.
The Australian Dollar (A$) is the currency of Australia.
Credit and debit cards are readily accepted just about everywhere in Australia. Occasionally there may be a minimum spend for both in smaller shops. You can usually withdraw money from shops where EFTPOS is available. Automatic teller machines (ATMs) are common across Australia. ATM's may be limited in remote areas and your leader will advise you when to withdraw extra cash.
Credit cards in Australia require a pin number rather than a signature and may have a small surcharge for purchases.
Tipping is not expected but appreciated.
In Australia, tipping, while appreciated can be the exception rather than the norm. As a guide, tipping is appropriate in a restaurant for a meal (10-15% as a general rule).
In a taxi, a cafe or bar, rounding up is acceptable.
You can consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline AU$2-5 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
What to take
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps.
You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water, camera, and jacket etc. when you’re exploring during the day.
Below are some ideas and helpful tips on what you specifically need for this trip.
- Lightweight clothing. You will need to bring a mixture of lightweight clothing and warm layers. Clothes should be easy to wash and dry. Maybe bring a change of smart clothes for dinner in bigger cities. Australia is pretty casual. A pair of shorts or a skirt and a top with thongs is our usual summer wardrobe.
- Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through bush, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings. A pair of sandals or thongs (flip flops) are great for the beach.
- Sun protection - hat, sunscreen, sunglasses.
- Personal medical kit. A larger kit will be on hand with your leader, but we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes, Band-Aids and insect repellent.
- Water bottle. We recommend at least 1.5litre capacity.
- Camera with spare batteries.
- Ear plugs to guard against street noise and snorers.
- A good book, a journal and music player for longer drives.
Please keep your luggage to a minimum. One small soft-sided bag plus a day pack (no more than 15-20kgs in total per person) is essential. We recommend against bringing hard/externally framed suitcases as they are difficult to store in the vehicle and can damage equipment and other travellers' belongings.
Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your hotel safe. It’s also a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden. We recommend that you photocopy/scan all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals.
If you need some further tips for packing, you can always check out our ultimate packing list.
Climate and seasonal
Summer (December – February) Average temperatures range from 18 - 26°C (65.5 - 78.4°F). Its pretty humid
Autumn (March – May) The mildest time of year when the humidity drops and average temperatures fall between 15 - 22°C (58 - 72°F).
Winter (June – August) Sydney’s coolest months are June to August when average temperatures drop between 9 - 17°C (48 - 63°F). Rainfall is generally highest in June. July is the coolest month.
Spring (September – November) In spring, days are warmer but the humidity is not as high as summer.
Averages range from 11 - 23°C (51.8 - 73.4°F).
Summer (December – February) Its between 21 - 29.8°C (69.8 - 85.6°F) in summer with the most rainfall and spectacular thunderstorms.
Autumn (March – May) It finally cools down - 15 - 25°C (59 - 77°F), with low humidity and less rain.
Winter (June – August) Generally dry and mild with mean temperatures between 11 - 21°C (51.8 - 69.8°F).
Spring (September – November) Warm, sunny days are tempered by cool sea breezes. 15 - 25°C (59 - 77°F).
Summer (December – February) Average temperatures range from 24 - 31°C (74 - 88°F). The wet season begins building up around December, with the most rainfall in the summer.
Autumn (March – May) It is still very warm during both the day and night. Temperatures average between
22 - 29°C (70.7 - 84.2°F). The rain subsides from April but it gets windy until October
Winter (June – August) Brings slightly cooler temperatures and lower humidity. Average temperatures range from 18 - 26°C (63.5 - 78.8°F) with little rain.
Spring (September – November) Temperatures range from 21 – 29°C (68.9 - 84.2°F). Its the end of the dry season when humidity starts to build..
A couple of rules
Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden.
Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.
The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips.
By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund.
If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.
Can’t stop thinking about your adventure? Tell us all about it! We read each piece of feedback carefully and use it to make improvements for travellers like you. Share your experience with us at: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/
Before you travel please download our pre-departure checklist to make sure you are fully prepared for your trip.
EAST COAST: ALL general enquiry must be directed to our Reservations team on 1300 654 604. In the case of a GENUINE EMERGENCY, or concerns about a missed pick-up on the DAY OF DEPARTURE ONLY please contact our Operations Manager in Cairns. If your call does NOT warrant an emergency situation you will be asked to call our Reservations team in business hours.’
Intrepid Emergency contact: +61 (0) 474 229 435
Via Travel: 0474 229 435
Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers and staff are trained on these principles, and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel.
Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting:
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Australians are not required to be covered for hospital care due to being covered by Medicare. However we strongly recommend that Australians have a domestic travel insurance policy which covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. It is also strongly advisable that Australians have current ambulance cover in the case of emergency evacuation or incidents requiring ambulance transportation.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all international travellers and should be taken out at the time of booking. Your travel insurance must provide cover against personal accident, death, medical expenses and emergency repatriation with a recommended minimum coverage of US$200,000 for each of the categories of cover. We also strongly recommend it covers cancellation, curtailment, personal liability and loss of luggage and personal effects. You must provide proof of your travel insurance on the first day of your trip; you will not be able to join the trip without it. If you obtain travel insurance through us you acknowledge that you are satisfied with the level of insurance we have arranged.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience.
Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. Sharing a room can be a great way to get to know people quickly and make close friends. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.
Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour.
We've allowed plenty of room for freedom and flexibility in our trips. In fact, flexibility is one of the ingredients that makes each of our trips so exciting. This style of travel offers us some unexpected circumstances at times, for example, bad weather and road conditions, technical defects of transportation, inconveniences caused by local operators and authorities, and other circumstances beyond our control. Changes in the program may be required to make the best of the unique situations that we encounter.
Overnight stops and driving distances each day may vary to best suit the needs of the group. Our described itineraries are to be used as a general guide only.
Hotel (6 nights) Resort (4 nights)