Road Trip Day 43: Mission Beach to Cairns – The Last Kilometers

motorbike road trip

Mission Beach to Cairns

May 29, 2018

I woke up excited and also kind of sad that this was the last day of our Australian East Coast journey. As much as I wanted to cruise into Cairns feeling victorious, I also yearned for more road to travel and scenery to pass by.

Continuing with the trend of the rest of the road trip, rain was pounding down on the rooftop. I groaned, but also laughed as it seemed kind of fitting for our last day to be rainy. We waited out the worst of it in the hostel and then strapped our bags to the bikes for the last time.

I took the next forty minutes of driving past sugar cane fields and banana plantations to reflect on all the incredible places we’d seen over the past 43 days. From the muddy roads of rural New South Wales, to the misty mountain tops of Dorrigo National Park, to the sun-baked beaches of the Gold Coast, to the aqua pristine waters of the Whitsundays and Fraser Island. I also thought about the people we’d encountered–all the nationalities of backpackers, all the passionate hostel owners, and all the everyday Australians. I’ll admit, I got a little teary behind my visor thinking about all the memories and not wanting them to be over.

We were surrounded by mountains on either side, but could barely see the tops of them with all the rain. However, I was able to catch a glimpse of a sign that declared one of these mountains, Walsh Pyramid, and smiled. Soon, the WELCOME TO CAIRNS sign came into view and we pulled over for a celebratory photo–WE MADE IT!! I was filled with pride and felt accomplished, even though all we did was pull back on the throttle for 3,300 kilometers–through rain, wind, and sweltering sun.

Cairns City Limit

It wasn’t too much farther until we pulled into Asylum Hostel’s driveway and settled in. We negotiated a deal with Asylum to take professional photos for their website in exchange for accommodation for a full week, so we had some time to explore Cairns slowly. It wasn’t a poshtel or too fancy at all, but everyone at the hostel was extremely friendly right away–more than all the other hostel’s we’d stayed at. It made me wonder if cheaper hostels have friendlier people–ones that are down to earth and not fussed with their image as much. To be honest, the posh hostels seem a bit stuffy, as if people are afraid of looking uncool for saying hi to each other.

The sun was shining over Cairns, so we had a walk along the esplanade and the downtown area. For such a well-known city, Cairns is pretty tiny–Sydney is thirty times larger. Without any skyscrapers dominating the skyline, the city almost has a small town feel. It also has a great running path along the waterfront, public barbecues, and a public “lagoon” with fountains and pools to cool down in.

To celebrate our arrival, we wanted to treat ourselves by going out for dinner and drinks. However, we’re still on a backpacker budget and kept going back and forth over spending a lot of money for average food, or spending the same amount at KFC and having a proper feast. We picked KFC. Afterwards, instead of going to a bar and having overpriced drinks, we had a great time chilling at the hostel with our new friends drinking goon. Just because our road trip was over didn’t mean we’d stop living like backpackers!

So what’s next you might ask?

Well, for the next three weeks, we’ll be in Cairns exploring the city, driving around the Atherton Tablelands, exploring the Daintree Rainforest, and visiting Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation. We’ll also be trying to sell our beloved motorcycles, make some websites, and prepare for our upcoming Southeast Asia trip.

backpacks and motorbikes


May 29, 2018

Daily costs
Accommodation: Asylum Cairns, $0 (We worked out an agreement to take professional photos in exchange for accommodation)
Food & Drink: KFC $7, Goon $8
Fuel: $19

Distance traveled: 135 km


Total costs for 43 days per person:


Accommodation: $675
Food & Drink: $464
Fuel: $230
Motorcycle Maintenance: $275
Tours/Activities: $816
Other: $30

* we still haven’t sold the motorcycles yet, so this figure doesn’t include costs of buying the bikes


Total distance traveled:


Day 1: 216
Day 3: 438
Day 5: 140
Day 6: 150
Day 8: 150
Day 11: 115
Day 12: 78
Day 14: 186
Day 15: 100
Day 17: 120
Day 22: 337
Day 32: 233
Day 33: 481
Day 37: 275
Magnetic Island: 75
Day 41: 235

*This figure is just the distance traveled, not including the hundreds of kilometers around town