One-Way Car Hire Sydney to Cairns

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Mystery car hire
One-way mystery car hire

Take a minute to bet on getting an outrageous deal when you book a mystery car rental.

Imagine being able do rent a luxury car for $50-100 per day?

It’s a long old drive from Sydney to Cairns, but whether you take the Country or Coastal Route, you are in for a reasonably short transit.

Either route will give you an exceptional road trip experience. You will pass through plenty of towns and regional centres that will afford multiple opportunities for restroom breaks, refuelling, or grabbing something to eat.

Which Car Rental Companies Offer One-Way Car Hire From Sydney to Cairns?

Changes can occur with suppliers and the availability of their rental packages when it comes to one-way car hire, so it always pays to compare. With Car Hire and Rental, you can instantly compare top car rental companies that service Sydney and Cairns (both city and airport locations), including

  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Europcar
  • Thrifty
  • East Coast Car Rentals

How Far is it From Sydney to Cairns?

The shortest distance is just over 2400 km, while the coastal route (which is the most picturesque) is just over 2600 km. You will need four days of travel time if you plan to stop. Otherwise, you could have different drivers in shifts and reach Cairns in just over a day.

Why Should You Choose a One-Way Car Rental Trip From Sydney to Cairns?

One of Australia’s epic drives is a one-way car rental trip from Sydney to Cairns. You can go two ways: The Coastal Route or the Country Route. Either route showcases some of the most incredible natural scenery and takes you to famous cities, historic landmarks and other cultural tourist spots.

The Coastal Route from Sydney to Cairns can take 29 hours of non-stop driving, covering 2590 km. Stop-offs can include Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay, Surfer’s Paradise, Brisbane, 1770, Yeppoon, Airlie Beach and Bowen.

These are just a few beautiful places you can visit in this fabulous adventure. If you are arranging a tourist drive, a one-way car hire from Sydney to Brisbane is your ideal option.

What to See Along the Way?

The drive is long, but it will be the most extraordinary journey you can take along the Australian east coast. Here are some of the stopovers you can visit along the way:


A pleasant city with thousands of years of rich human history in its surroundings, Newcastle is a great place to visit for beautiful waterfront views and cheap but enjoyable activities. Take time to swim in the well-known Bogey Hole, an iconic ocean pool built in the 1890s. If you want to stop off for a few days, you can even troll the Hunter Valley region with its lush vineyards.

Port Stephens

Your next stop in the picturesque Central Coast area is Port Stephens. Not too far from Newcastle, this famous tourist spot has 26 immaculate beaches framed by varied terrain, including mountains and rainforests. Awesome activities you can do here are sand dune quad biking and whale-watching boat tours.

Coffs Harbour

The A1 road out of Port Stephens to Coffs Harbour is a scenic drive where you can take in the delights of Port Macquarie on the way. You’ll pass by sublime beaches and national parks buzzing with biodiversity and luscious lakes, while Port Macquarie boasts several beaches and the Billabong Zoo Koala & Wildlife Park. Coffs Harbour is home to the well-known Big Banana landmark and several outstanding beaches, including Emerald, Moonee, Diggers and Campbells.

Byron Bay

You’ll head out of New South Wales after this route of your road trip, and stopping at Byron Bay is a brilliant way to express farewell. This chilled-out surf town has an unequivocal hippie vibe. Apart from the excellent surfing conditions, you can hire a boat and spot dolphins or even try hang-gliding or skydiving if you’re feeling adventurous. Take a hike to Cape Byron Lighthouse for picturesque views of the bay or explore the rainforests and wildlife frontier.


Brisbane Southbank
Brisbane Southbank

Brisbane welcomes you to Queensland with its amazing vineyards, sensual, subtropical beaches, trendy galleries and adorable cafes. This is a wonderful city to stop and take stock for a day or more. The area around Moreton Bay to the east boasts soft sand beaches and electric blue waters where you’ll witness turtles and whales!


Roll up the Sunshine Coast on this next stunning stretch of your trip. You can visit national parks with oceanside sights, prehistoric volcanic peaks and abundant rainforests. At Noosa, you can unwind in plush spas, set your pulse racing with a seaplane ride or experience rafting. You can stroll around the grand marina or shop and dine at The Village at Peregian Beach.

Airlie Beach

Car hire Airlie Beach
Car hire Airlie Beach

This long portion of your trip between Noosa and Airlie Beach covers 1000 km, so you’ll want to split it over a few days to be comfortable. You’ll pass Bundaberg on the way (where you can buy a bottle of their legendary local rum) and Rockhampton, which has glowing botanical gardens and swish galleries. At Airlie Beach, expect palm-fringed beaches where you can snorkel in the pristine Coral Sea.

Hamilton Island

While at Airlie Beach, consider visiting  Hamilton Island before driving on to the last stages of your trip. One of the most famous Whitsunday Island destinations, you can get there on a ferry in just one and a half hours, and there’s a ton to see and do. 

For example, try stand-up paddleboarding on Catseye Beach, take a romantic sunset cruise, trek to picturesque Passage Peak or take a half-day speedboat journey to Whitehaven Beach in the centre of the Great Barrier Reef, which has jaw-dropping fine sand that’s 98% white silica.

Mission Beach

This shining beachside town is sandwiched between the Great Barrier Reef and a UNESCO-accredited rainforest, so the sight is as sublime as it sounds. It comprises four villages united by 14 miles of golden sands. Activities include hiking to the top of Bicton Hill in Clump Mountain National Park, white water rafting at Raging Thunder Adventures, Great Barrier Reef diving and fine dining at one of the many fabulous restaurants.

Atherton Tablelands

A couple of hours from Mission Beach, Atherton Tablelands presents your last slice of paradise before your final stop in Cairns. It has tranquil hot springs, fascinating wildlife, plunging waterfalls and vertiginous mountains. The local food and wine here are scrumptious, and you can even enjoy a bird’s eye view of the various terrain on a private helicopter tour.

A Quick Comparison With Other Forms of Transportation?

We’ve provided a table below that will help you compare the value of each transportation mode.

Mode of TransportationTime DurationEstimated Price
Car Hire (4 Days)27 to 30 hours$481
By Air3 hours$300-500
By Bus2 days, 1 hour and 15 minutes$440
Travel vs car hire price comparison

If you are travelling with four or five people, you will save more money by renting a car, and you will be able to experience more on your trip. It will also be worth having the flexibility to stop and stretch your legs at your convenience.

Compare and save on your one-way car hire with Car Hire and Rental!

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