My Mini Guide to The East Coast of Australia

My Mini Guide to The East Coast of Australia

Dream about travelling the East Coast of Australia but feel like you’re forever browsing instagram feeds and not actually booking flights?

Want to explore the East Coast of Australia but have absolutely no clue where to start?

Me and Louis had no knowledge on the size of Australia, the places we wanted to visit or the things we wanted to see and do…other than Sydney Opera House, how very tourist of us. 

HOW DID WE PLAN OUR TRIP?

1. Lonely Planet Travel Guide

We were in New Zealand at a family friend’s home, literally counting down the days until our flight out of Christchurch and into Melbourne, Australia. With just a few days to play with, I went and purchased the well-known and trusted Lonely Planet travel guide. Certain that this book would not be worth it’s $42 price tag, I studied it hard and gained as much information as I could.

Pleasantly surprised, I LOVED the book. Together Louis and I sat with hundreds of differently coloured post-it arrows. Bookmarking every activity we liked the sound of and any place that sparked an interest. About 12 hours and 534 pages later, the guide no longer resembled a book but one big colourful post-it note.

Your new Lonely Planet book is also the perfect travel companion for when you arrive in Australia. Take it with you and give it a read every time you reach a new destination. You’ll never miss a thing!

Along with blog posts we had read and people we had spoken to, we shortlisted the places that we wanted to explore. With your chosen destinations in mind, we recommend printing off a map and marking the places on. This will give you a bigger idea of where places are and a rough order that you’ll be exploring them in.

2. Greyhound Bus Pass

With this information, we headed to the Greyhound Bus website, to book the buses that would transport us from each destination to the next. We’d already booked and paid for a ‘Melbourne –> Cairns Greyhound Bus Pass’ through STA {who I would totally recommend}. We did this before leaving England, something well worth looking in to. Greyhound offer many different passes at different prices, dependent on how much of the country you’d like to explore. Ours for example cost around £300 but we covered the entire east coast.

It couldn’t have been any easier to log in online and book our bus trips. As long as you travel in one direction and don’t travel back on yourself, all of your Oz transport is in the bag. You can change/cancel your bookings at any time so your travel plans remain flexible as ever too.

If you have a set time frame, I’d encourage you to book most of your buses and stick to the plan. Doing this for our 5 week trip meant we were able to sit back, relax and there was no continuous planning!

Obviously, if you’ve got longer, you can book your next bus whenever you feel ready to move on!

 

WHERE DID WE GO?

{MELBOURNE –> CAIRNS}

1. Melbourne

Endless people had told us to scrap Melbourne from our plans as we only had 5 weeks. I am super glad we didn’t because honestly WHAT A PLACE. If you’re all over good people and good vibes, you’ll be all over Melbourne. The city was like London away from London and if you’re prepared to travel a little further, you’ve got The Dandenong Ranges and The Great Ocean Road {perfect for a Australia road trip} bang on your doorstep! We were also lucky enough to meet my Auntie for the very first time and stay with her for 3 days! Graffiti covered lanes, lots of shopping and hippie foods outside alleyway cafes, just a few things to revel in during your stay in Melbourne. Probably though, the least ‘Australia’ you will feel throughout your trip, with it feeling very English {to me at least}.

Melbourne Australia Graffiti Street Food

2. Sydney

Did you even go to Australia if you haven’t got a selfie outside Sydney’s Opera House? It’s one of Australia’s largest cities and the most touristy destination along the East Coast. You’ll either love it or hate it, you’re either a city person or you’re not…that’s what people will say. But that’s not what we found. Sydney has a lot to offer and a lot of people wanting to explore. We found the quieter spots more satisfying than the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Both of which were always jam packed with thousands of floating cameras.

A street of hanging bird cages and Mrs Macquarie Point are just a couple of our favourite spots. Believe it or not, Sydney is super cheap to get around! $2.50 is the most you’ll spend on a Sunday and $15 every other day. With a smart travel card that caps when it reaches a certain amount. This covers you for boats out of the harbor, buses and those cool double decker under ground trains. Take FULL advantage of this just like we did and spend the $15 on an outing {e.g. to Sydney Zoo…the zoo with a VIEW!}. Then spend the evening getting free boats to different view points and see the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge in all their lit up glory!  So much more magical than the day time, trust me!

View of Sydney Skyline From Mrs Macquarie Point Sydney

Sydney Opera House

3. Newcastle

A quick stop to meet up with new friends that we’d made the previous month in New Zealand. A house to stay in with an actual bed, a working shower and yummy as hell food. TALKING about food, we were introduced to a proper Aussie BBQ where we tried kangaroo meat, call me a local! As we got picked up from Sydney, it would have been rude not to take a road trip to the famous Blue Mountains. And they did not disappoint. The three sisters was an incredible view but the slightly quieter spots such as Sublime Point were just breath taking.

Anyway, aren’t we glad we stopped off in Newcastle! Also, especially lucky to have had 2 expert locals take us to those all important secret spots! The Bogey Hole {a natural sea pool formed on the cliff side}, The Anzac Walk {a high-rised walk through history, with both sea and town views} and Merewether Ocean Baths {swimming pools-in the ocean!} are just a few UN-missable spots!!

Sublime Point, Blue Mountains, Sydney, Australia

The Three Sisters, Blue Mountains, Sydney, Australia

Bogey Hole, Newcastle, Australia

4. Byron Bay

Oh Byron Bay, you didn’t like me…but I sure liked you. {Let me explain} … Firstly, we stayed in the most beautiful hostel {Byron Beach Resort} where the dorms are more like beach shallay’s, each with a communal green area outside and plenty of hammocks to relax in. If that doesn’t sound heavenly enough, for just a small price tag, it’s also situated on Belongil Beach which is part of Byron Bay’s coast line that you should not miss! The best part, is that the beach is your main road between the hostel and the town center.

This hostel is also where Sam from Ratpack Travel sits at his desk and gets your East Coast Australia trips planned and booked for insanely cheap prices. {Anything from hiring a bike to booking a boat for the Whitsundays}. Don’t forget to quote the code ‘Lauren10’ for a further 10% off!

Anyway {cheeky promo out the way}. Byron Bay … Take to the waves and book yourself a surf lesson, it’s the number 1 thing to do and you’d be crazy not too. Just try and avoid the jelly fish, unlike me. That naughty blue bottle caused me the worst pain I’ve ever come across!

Hire a bike and take the coastal bike track, lock up at ‘The Pass’ and grab a strawberry milkshake /plate of Halloumi at the café. Just don’t let the birds swoop your food away. Then take the walk up to Byron Bay lighthouse for some incredible views and that well-known shot for your feed. There’s so much to do in Byron, you’ll need a good few days!

Byron Bay Surfing Belongil Beach

Byron Bay Lighthouse Walk, Australia

5. Surfers Paradise

BOYS if you’ve driven around Surfers Paradise on Forza, who am I to tell you where to go? You know it all already…Louis sure did. We LOVED surfers paradise and really wish we had more than just 2 days to explore. Friday night saw us exploring the beachfront night market and going in/out of shops down the esplanade until gone 10pm. Earlier in the after noon was the perfect opportunity to ride all  77 levels to the top of the Q1 building for the most insane panoramic views over Surfers city sky-line and beach!

With another full day to explore, we grabbed ourselves an unlimited travel card from 7eleven for just $10 and hopped on the tram {light rail} to Burleigh Heads. We actually ended up spending most the day here with amazing distant views of the sky-line. There was also a perfect chill spot where a mix of tourists and locals sat watching surfers catch waves. What better way to spend your time here, it’s all in the name.

Surfers Paradise Beach and Skyline View From Q1 Building

Surfers Paradise Beach and Skyline From A Distance Burleigh Heads

6. Brisbane

Travelling isn’t full of perfect destinations that will blow your mind and Brisbane was definitely no exception to this. My recommendation would 100% be Southbank. It’s where you’ll get that famous shot stood on one of the ‘Brisbane’ letters and it’s also where you’ll find the beautiful man made lagoon that sits adjacent to Brisbane River. This is open day or night and is stunning for a swim whatever time of day. Markets and restaurants bring the atmosphere alive during the evening and the warm lagoon water acts as the perfect hang out with some music playing and your friends around. The boat service on offer can be a lot of fun too, a smooth free ride down Brisbane River can drop you right on South bank’s doorstep.

Brisbane Sign Southbank Australia

7. Noosa

A cheeky stay at the well-known hostel Nomads only meant one thing. FRASER ISLAND TRIP. Sam from Ratpack Travel set us up with this 3 day 2 night tour, where we’d stay at Nomads in Noosa pre departure and post departure as part of the already cheap price! Noosa rained on us, so we didn’t get to experience the ever so popular Everglades. But Fraser Island made up for any disappointment.

We took a mini van to Rainbow Heads and had a quick swim where we met a lovely couple from Milton Keynes {back near our home town, in England}…what are the chances and we soon became good friends. Then transported out of the van and into 4×4’s and made our way to the island where the beach is the only road and sand is the island’s pavement. It’s honestly a once in a lifetime experience and I’d urge anyone to pay the money to do it. Where else will you be sat in the back of a 4×4 with drum and bass blasting, travelling 80mph down the beach, on your way to amazing lakes such as Lake Wabby and Lake Mckenzie. Two of my favourite places in Australia! Honestly, book here.

Nomads Noosa Fraser Island Tour In 4x4's

Lake Mckenzie Fraser Island Tour Noosa Australia

8. Airlie Beach

Gateway to the incredible Whitsundays. Again, another unmissable destination for your East Coast Australia Trip. An amazing little place itself too…a jelly-fish free lagoon surrounded by palm trees, a cool little strip with independent shops and restaurants and a sky dive office 1 minute from your hostel if you’re feeling a bit of adrenaline. I never thought I’d be jumping 15,000ft from a plane, but travelling gave me the confidence to do so. I still can’t believe it was actually me but I know for sure it was when I think back to those UN-denying views of the Whitsunday islands whilst 15,000ft above ground.

Airlie Beach Lagoon Australia

Airlie Beach Skydive Over The Whitsundays, Australia

If that wasn’t enough, we then boarded the British Defender boat from the marina {read more here}and jetted off into the Whitsundays for 2 days/2 nights where we swam with turtles, chased string rays, snorkeled amongst nemo’s and layed in the crystal clear waters of the famous Whitehaven Beach…which I still don’t think was real. We made some incredible memories that we’ll never forget. Waking up anchored in the most beautiful of spots. Having baby hammer-head sharks and a dolphin family swim round our boat one evening. Listening to Dutch drum and bass and eating chocolate cake in the middle of the sea.

Sailing The Whitsundays On Board The British Defender, Australia

Whitehaven Beach Whitsundays, Airlie Beach, Australia

9. Townsville

Castle Hill let me tell you has to be the sweat-iest walk I have ever done. And I did quite a few during our time in Australia believe me. However, it was so worth it when we got to the top and could see Magnetic Island in the distance. Walking back down the road way probably added an additional 2 hours onto our walk. However, as it got dark, we got to see Townsville light up bit by bit as the sun went down.  Don’t waste your time in Townsville and take it upon yourself to get up Castle Hill.

Townsville Castle Hill Climb, Magnetic Island In Distance, Australia

10. Magnetic Island

On arrival to Magnetic Island, the weather was crap. But I didn’t care as we checked into Blue on Blue Resort HOTEL which Louis had treated us to for 2 nights for my 20th Birthday. Long gone were hostels as we said hello to movies on TV, en suites and a king sized bed. Horseshoe Bay is a must to explore and you can bus round the entire Island which takes all of 20 minutes, but it is beautiful. I can’t lie, we spent most of our time in the hotel. We hadn’t had luxuries like this for nearly 3 months so were in awe or everything.

The following day was my 20th Birthday and the sun was shining bright. We woke up super early and caught the 8am bus to Bungalow Bay Koala Park where we had breakfast with the Koalas. This will forever be one of my favourite memories. As we entered the park, a beautiful buffet breakfast was layed out as 2 koalas sat just next to us. Louis, our guide and 5 other strangers then sung happy birthday to me and I remember feeling so happy. We held a baby Koala too which topped off the whole experience.

Later the same day we decided to do the well known Forts Walk where 1. we spotted a Koala in the wild and 2. we witnessed some of the most incredible views ever. It’s a must do!

The Forts Walk, Magnetic Island, Australia

Holding a Baby Koala, Bungalow Bay Koala Park, Magnetic Island, Australia

Finally…

11. Cairns

 Cairns was simply a stop-off for us as the airport was near by, we only had one day which we happily spent down at the lagoon. We’d become partial to a swim in every Australia lagoon we could find. However, the main attraction from Cairns is the access to The Great Barrier Reef and also recommended to us was Uncle Brian’s tour, which is definitely worth a look into.

FAQ’s

Where can I book/plan my own trip?

Sam at Ratpack Travel helped us plan our entire 5 week trip, down to the day! Sam’s an expert and we trusted him every step of the way. We booked everything in one go for an amazing price. I’d highly encourage you to get in contact with him if you’d like to plan a trip. Between us, we can help you plan your perfect OZ Adventure. You can also use code ‘Lauren10’ for a further 10% OFF your Ratpack booking!

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Author {Lauren Alger} Copyright {Travel Your Dreams 2017} This blog post is not an ad and is not sponsored.

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