East Coast Australia itinerary

2019 update: I wanted to update this post with all the things that we actually did in Australia, plus all the things that didn’t quite go to plan(!) and link you to all my other blog posts which go into more detail about the trip.

So we are in the planning stages for the trip of a lifetime – we’re traveling to East Coast Australia in February 2018! To say I’m excited would be a complete understatement – I wake up every morning singing the Australian national anthem and my Google search history is full of things to do on our trip.

The great thing about this trip is that nothing is set in stone. We’re hiring a camper van and driving the East Coast from Sydney to Cairns. Having a camper van makes it a lot easier when it comes to traveling to various destinations. Plus it means not having to rely on public transport.

If we like somewhere – we’ll stay there a little longer, or we may stop off somewhere that we hadn’t planned to and see something amazing which we didn’t know was there.

I’m going to keep this itinerary updated every time we plan something else so if you’ve got any recommendations for what to do on the East Coast of Australia then please leave them in the comments below. And, if you’re planning your own trip – check back here for inspiration!

Getting there

We booked our flights with Etihad Airways as they worked out the cheapest and we booked a bundle through Carlton Leisure including some internal flights. We’re flying from Manchester Airport to Melbourne, then Melbourne to Sydney. At the end of our trip we’ll be flying from Cairns back to Sydney and then from Sydney back to Manchester – phew!

East Coast Australia - Melbourne


Melbourne is the first stop on our list as we have family to visit there. Some of the things I want to do here include visiting St Kilda and Domaine Chandon in the Yarra Valley. I also want to spend plenty of time exploring the city.

Read about what I got up to while I was in Melbourne here.

Places to stay in Melbourne



Obviously Sydney is a must visit with every East Coast Australia trip. I want to do the Harbour Bridge Climb (although I may be slightly terrified) and visit Bondi Beach. I’d love to stay somewhere that has a view of Sydney Harbour and the iconic Opera House.

In Sydney we’ll be picking up our camper van which we booked through Ratpack Travel. We’ll be driving from Sydney to Cairns which is one of the most popular East Coast Australia routes. Then it’s eight hours on the road to our next stop…

Read about our favourite city in Australia here.

Places to stay in Sydney

Byron Bay

In this surfer’s paradise apparently there is a great walk up to a lighthouse (according to Where’s Mollie) which is best done at sunset and you can kayak with dolphins – I’m sold! Go Sea Kayak have invited us to go kayaking with them so I’m super excited to (hopefully) spot some dolphins.

Here’s what we got up to in Byron Bay.

Places to stay in Byron Bay

Gold Coast

Gold Coast

Famous for it’s long sandy beaches, the Gold Coast also has the largest subtropical rainforest in the world. Apparently the nightlife is incredible too!

Places to stay in the Gold Coast


We’re hopefully meeting up with friends who live in the city when we get to Brisbane which will be awesome as everyone knows locals make the very best guides! There’s a koala sanctuary here which I’m pretty keen to visit too.

Brisbane City YHA
Image courtesy of YHA Australia

While we’re in Brisbane we’ve been invited to stay at Brisbane City YHA for two nights which I’m super excited about as it has a rooftop pool and bar!

2019 update: it literally rained for the entire time when we visited Brisbane! But, nothing rains on my parade, so here’s some things to do in Brisbane when it’s raining.

Places to stay in Brisbane



Noosa National Park is divided into four sections and apparently there is an “unofficial” nudist beach here. While we may not fancy getting naked on this beach, there are plenty of walks to do here and beaches to explore.

2019 update: I was a little ambitious for this trip and there were a few places that we didn’t get to visit and unfortunately Noosa was one of them.

Places to stay in Noosa

Fraser Island

Rainbow Beach – Fraser Island

I’ve heard that the Fraser Island tours are not to be missed and so I’m definitely planning a trip there! On the tour that I’ve been looking at, you can explore a shipwreck, chill out at an emerald lake and dip into some champagne pools.

2019 update: We ended up having to choose between Fraser Island and a Whitsundays trip as we didn’t have time to do both during our Australia trip. I loved the Whitsundays but I was devastated to miss out on Fraser Island so its on my list for next time.

Places to stay on Fraser Island

Airlie Beach – Whitsundays

I’ve wanted to do a sailing trip in the Whitsunday Islands as soon as we started talking about Australia. The trips take in Whitehaven Beach and a few different snorkelling stops AND you can bring your own alcohol on board. I had a great time on this trip and I knew that I would love it before I even stepped foot on the boat! I’ve always loved boats and this trip made me fall in love with them even more! I was talking to the skipper about the maintenance involved when you own a boat and he was giving me some really helpful advice. I told him that I had been thinking of buying a boat for a while and he suggested that I check out GraysOnline Boats. I haven’t got round to looking at any boats for sale yet but at least I know where to look when I’m ready!

Read about our Whitsundays sailing trip here.

Places to stay in Airlie Beach


Townsville might be a good place to stop off on our way to Cairns and I heard there’s a really good YHA hostel there which has made it onto lists of some of the best hostels in the world.

2019 update: Oh, Townsville. Travelling doesn’t always go to plan and we ended up stuck in Townsville for two days due to flooding. Let me tell you, there is not much to do here when it’s raining.

Places to stay in Townsville


Cairns is our final stop with our camper van (I’m kind of thinking she will be called Betty…not sure why!) on our East Coast Australia road trip. There is a beautiful lagoon here that you can swim in, as we may not be able to go in the sea while we’re there because of jellyfish. There’s also something called Uncle Brian’s Rainforest Tour which has rave reviews.

2019 update: Because of the Townsville saga we arrived at Cairns later than we were planning which left us with less time there than we would have liked and so we missed out on some big tours and trips. We really liked Cairns as a city and we did get to do a sunset cruise which was lovely.

Places to stay in Cairns


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20 Responses

  1. Pocket Trailblazer (charlie) says:

    Great plan! Love it, you are gonna have an epic time and I definitely recommend Uncle Brian’s tour!

  2. Hannah says:

    I will be so interested to hear how you get on as we’re doing a very similar trip in June. Can’t freaking wait! We haven’t got much of a plan other than fly into Sydney then up to Brisbane and road trip it from there to Cairns. So if you find anything awesome to do along that stretch let me know!

    • Samantha Wragg says:

      Ahhh that’s amazing! I will definitely let you know all the must-dos! I’m getting ridiculously excited now, get me on the beach!

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