16 days in Great Barrier Reef, Melbourne & Sydney Itinerary

16 days in Great Barrier Reef, Melbourne & Sydney Itinerary

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Route & dates

16 days in Great Barrier Reef, Melbourne & Sydney Itinerary

Start: Detroit
Fly + shuttle:  29​h
1
Port Douglas
— 1 night
Drive:  2​h 30​min
2
Cooktown
— 2 nights
Fly:  6​h 15​min
3
Townsville
— 1 night
bus:  3​h 45​min
4
Airlie Beach
— 2 nights
+2
bus + taxi + Fly:  6​h
5
Melbourne
— 2 nights
Fly:  3​h 30​min
6
Sydney
— 3 nights
Fly:  25​h
End: Detroit

1
night
Port Douglas

Port Douglas ©
A holiday in Port Douglas balances an activity-filled getaway with plenty of opportunities to relax, thanks to its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and bustling beach life.
Kick off your visit on the 7th (Sun): do a tasting at Shannonvale Tropical Fruit Winery, identify plant and animal life at Mossman Gorge, then stroll through Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas, and finally relax and rejuvenate at some of the top local wellness centers. On the 8th (Mon), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: take in the exciting artwork at Janbal Gallery, view the masterpieces at Ngarru Gallery, then take in the exciting artwork at Des Spencer Galleries, and finally kick back and relax at Palm Cove Beach.

For photos, other places to visit, and more tourist information, read Port Douglas trip itinerary builder .

Detroit, USA to Port Douglas is an approximately 29-hour combination of flight and shuttle. You can also do a combination of flight, car, and ferry. The time zone difference when traveling from Detroit to Port Douglas is 15 hours. Prepare for much warmer weather when traveling from Detroit in April: high temperatures in Port Douglas hover around 85°F and lows are around 71°F. Cap off your sightseeing on the 8th (Mon) early enough to travel to Cooktown.

Things to do in Port Douglas

Parks Outdoors Wildlife

Side Trips

Mossman, Mossman Gorge, Palm Cove Beach
Find places to stay Apr 7 — 8:
Highlights from your plan
Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas ©
Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas
Shannonvale Tropical Fruit Winery ©
Shannonvale Tropical Fruit Winery
Ngarru Gallery ©
Ngarru Gallery

2
nights
Cooktown

Cooktown ©
Cooktown is a small town and locality in the Shire of Cook, Queensland, Australia. Start off your visit on the 9th (Tue): get engrossed in the history at James Cook Museum, steep yourself in history at Cooktown History Centre, explore the galleries of Eliabeth Guzsely Gallery, then take in the exciting artwork at Kuku Bulkaway Aboriginal Art Gallery, then stroll the grounds of Cooktown War Memorial, and finally visit a coastal fixture at Grassy Hill. Keep things going the next day: kick back and relax at Finch Bay, then look for all kinds of wild species at Great Northern Tours, then take in the dramatic scenery at Trevethan Falls, and finally explore the striking landscape of Black Mountain National Park.

To find out how to plan a trip to Cooktown, use our trip itinerary maker.

Traveling by car from Port Douglas to Cooktown takes 3.5 hours. Finish your sightseeing early on the 10th (Wed) so you can travel to Townsville.

Things to do in Cooktown

Parks Historic Sites Museums

Side Trip

Black Mountain National Park
Find places to stay Apr 8 — 10:
Highlights from your plan
James Cook Museum ©
James Cook Museum
Grassy Hill ©
Grassy Hill
Finch Bay ©
Finch Bay

1
night
Townsville

Townsville ©
Tucked snugly beneath a steep, craggy mount--known as Castle Hill--the vibrant city of Townsville is as picturesque as its backdrop.
Start off your visit on the 11th (Thu): head off the coast to Museum of Tropical Queensland, then enjoy the sand and surf at The Strand, and then hike along Castle Hill. On the next day, take in the exciting artwork at The Drill Hall Studio, then brush up on your military savvy at Army Museum North Queensland, then look for all kinds of wild species at Billabong Sanctuary, and finally pause for some serene contemplation at St James Cathedral.

To see ratings, maps, where to stay, and other tourist information, go to the Townsville trip planning app .

Use the Route module to find suitable travel options from Cooktown to Townsville. Expect a daytime high around 86°F in April, and nighttime lows around 70°F. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 12th (Fri) so you can catcht the bus to Airlie Beach.

Things to do in Townsville

Parks Museums Outdoors
Find places to stay Apr 10 — 12:
Highlights from your plan
Billabong Sanctuary ©
Billabong Sanctuary
Museum of Tropical Queensland ©
Museum of Tropical Queensland
The Strand ©
The Strand

2
nights
Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach ©
Very much a town with an emphasis on the tropical lifestyle, Airlie Beach offers exotic surroundings with palm trees and charming, sandy beaches.
On the 13th (Sat), stop by Into The Blue Gallery, then browse the exhibits of Above & Below Photography, then enjoy the sand and surf at Boathaven Beach, and finally enjoy the sand and surf at Airlie Beach Lagoon. Keep things going the next day: take in the exciting artwork at Art Whitsunday Gallery & Shop, then tour the water at your own pace with Charter Yachts Australia, and then step off the mainland to explore Whitsunday Islands.

To find where to stay, reviews, traveler tips, and more tourist information, read our Airlie Beach online route builder .

Traveling by bus from Townsville to Airlie Beach takes 4 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or do a combination of train and bus. Traveling from Townsville in April, you will find days in Airlie Beach are slightly colder (80°F), and nights are about the same (72°F). Wrap up your sightseeing on the 14th (Sun) to allow time to travel to Melbourne.

Things to do in Airlie Beach

Outdoors Parks Beaches

Side Trip

Whitsunday Islands
Find places to stay Apr 12 — 14:
Highlights from your plan
Airlie Beach Lagoon ©
Airlie Beach Lagoon
Boathaven Beach ©
Boathaven Beach
Charter Yachts Australia ©
Charter Yachts Australia

2
nights
Melbourne

Melbourne ©
The state of Victoria crown jewel, Melbourne boasts shaded streets, leafy residential neighborhoods, vibrant street life, and a picturesque city center.
Get some cultural insight at Old Melbourne Gaol and Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Kids will appreciate attractions like Eastern Beach Reserve and St. Kilda Beach. There's much more to do: contemplate the long history of St. Patrick's Cathedral, examine the collection at Federation Square, contemplate in the serene atmosphere at St Paul's Cathedral, and take an in-depth tour of Immigration Museum.

To see photos, reviews, other places to visit, and other tourist information, read our Melbourne driving holiday planner.

You can do a combination of bus and flight from Airlie Beach to Melbourne in 6 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of ferry and flight; or drive. Traveling from Airlie Beach in April, expect nights in Melbourne to be colder, around 50°F, while days are a bit cooler, around 68°F. Cap off your sightseeing on the 17th (Wed) early enough to travel to Sydney.

Things to do in Melbourne

Outdoors Historic Sites Museums

Side Trips

St. Kilda Beach, Eastern Beach Reserve
Find places to stay Apr 14 — 17:
Highlights from your plan
St Paul's Cathedral ©
St Paul's Cathedral
Eastern Beach Reserve ©
Eastern Beach Reserve

3
nights
Sydney

Sydney ©
Lent iconic status as a result of its famous bridge and opera house, Sydney has a down-to-earth charm that enhances its spectacular setting and functional efficiency.
Kick off your visit on the 18th (Thu): see the sky in a new way at Sydney Observatory, then see the interesting displays at Australian National Maritime Museum, then see the interesting displays at Hyde Park Barracks Museum, and finally explore the world behind art at Art Gallery of New South Wales. Keep things going the next day: admire the masterpieces at Museum of Contemporary Art, then stroll through Balmoral Beach, Mosman, then kick back and relax at Shelly Beach, and finally trek along Manly Scenic Walkway.

Use Inspirock's suggestions to plan your Sydney trip and find the best activities and attractions for your vacation.

Fly from Melbourne to Sydney in 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of shuttle and flight; or drive. Expect a bit warmer evenings in Sydney when traveling from Melbourne in April, with lows around 59°F. On the 20th (Sat), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can travel back home.

Things to do in Sydney

Museums Outdoors Parks

Side Trips

Balmoral Beach, Mosman, Shelly Beach
Find places to stay Apr 17 — 20:
Highlights from your plan
Australian National Maritime Museum ©
Balmoral Beach, Mosman ©
Balmoral Beach, Mosman
Shelly Beach ©
Shelly Beach

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