East Coast Australia is the TOP destination for travellers. It pretty much has something for everyone. 2 weeks may not seem like a long time, but let us tell you, you can fit in A LOT of experiences and activities in this time frame. It’s gonna be jam packed and it’s gonna be epic.
We are gonna show you exactly how and share our tips on:
- How to fit in those epic bucketlist destinations
- Where to go to visit Fraser Island and the Whitsundays
- How long to spend in each spot between Sydney and Cairns
- And most importantly… how we can save you money $$$
From sky diving, to snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef to spending the night on a remote island, the East Coast has it allllll – it is winning with it’s list of insane trips and tours.
Plus, the new Greyhound Whimit pass makes it easier than ever for you to tick off all of the hot spots the East Coast has to offer.
A little spontaneity and going with the flow is sweet, but when it comes to ticking off those bucket list experiences in just 2 weeks, life is made so much easier if you jump on a tour and book some activities – which we can help you with!
The route we’re about to chat about starts in Sydney and takes you all the way up to Cairns.
The big ol’ question – to travel by Greyhound coach or camper van?
Now this TOTALLY depends on your style of travel, vibe, budget and if you are travel solo or with a crew…
Greyhound 15 Day Whimit pass
The Whimit pass is ideal if you’re travelling for a shorter period of time as you can cover more ground. You can pop all over the place without being tied down to a certain route. So more time adventuring and less time planning.
The benefits of travelling by camper are endless – complete and utter freedom to zoom around the insane ocean roads of Aussie, no late night awakenings from noisy hostel goers, and the ability to do what you want, when you want.
But, if you’ve only got 2 weeks, grabbing a bus pass or a camper would BOTH be epic options depending on your vibe and travel style… Choose the bus pass if you are a solo traveller, as you can just hop on and off as you please and go directly from place to place without having to factor in time for finding lifts or getting to and from the airport. Or choose to travel via camper if you are travelling with a crew or the other half and fancy abit of time to yourself and hitting the open road (just make sure you take into consideration how long the journeys are!)
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Where should we stay?
The best bet, if you’re travelling by Greyhound, is to stay in hostels.
As you know how long you’ll be travelling, we’d recommend pre-booking the whole 2 weeks of travel so that you don’t have to worry about finding a bed on the night.
if you travel via campervan then you will be spoilt for choice with the amount of paid and free camping spots on the East Coast! If you are travelling over a busy period such as easter or christmas then we recommend to prebook. The app Wikicamps is super handy for finding campsites and seeing where they are on the map..
Ready to begin the 'virtual' roadie?
We’ll take you through our favourite spots between Sydney and Cairns with extra tips on how long to spend in each location, what to do there and everything you need to know as a backpacker!
Stop 1: Sydney
2 days in Sydney
What to do here: You’ve got to see those iconic sites. Head to Circular Quay to see the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Stroll around the Rocks and the Botanic Gardens and get a great view of the harbour from Mrs Maquarie’s Chair. Jump on the ferries or buses and check out bondi Beach, Manly Beach, Watsons Bay and Coogee Beach.
What to eat: Head to Surrey Hills to find hipster cafes and lush brunches.
Where to stay: Sydney Harbour YHA hostel
Then, hop on an overnight bus to Byron Bay or hit the road. It’s a long ride via bus (about 13 hours), so be sure to get a night journey. You don’t want to waste a day with travel.
Stop 2: Byron Bay
2 days in Byron Bay
The HOME of RatPack Travel, when you are in the Bay shoot us a WhatsApp and come and have some bants with the crew!
What to do here: Head to the beach, these beaches are like NO other.. Our faves are Main beach, Belongil, The Pass and Wategos. Enjoy the music scene, there are buskers everywhere on everyday, the legend that is Tones and I (Dance Monkey) used to busk regulary in the bay and the cre would watch her! Now is your chance to tick the big sky dive off your bucket list. And what better place to do it then the home of RatPack yewwwwww. You can also give surfing a go, head to the hippie town of Nimbin, Kayak with Dolphins and do the epic hike up to the Lighthouse.
What to eat: The town is full of cute little eateries and healthy cafes but some of our favourites are, Byron Burgers, Byron Fresh, Combi, Dip Cafe, The Treehouse and the unreal sushi!
Where to stay: Backpackers Inn on the Beach, Cape Byron YHA or Nomads
Stop 3: Gold Coast
1 day in Gold Coast
What to do here: Head to the sky scraper lined beach at Surfers Paradise for a bit of chill out time or head over to Burleigh Heads for some epic city views and a dip in the lagoon. Fan of theme parks? Head to Movie World or Dream World to get your rollercoaster fix.
What to eat: Gold coast is known for its nightlife, so grab some goon and head out on the town for some food and drinks. You’ll find lots of good foodie deals here as there are alot chains and join a pub crawl for a true Surfers Paradise night out.
Where to stay: Bunk Hostel
Stop 4: Brisbane
1 day in Brisbane
What to do here: Stroll around the city, do a spot of shopping (or window shopping) and head over to South Bank to take a dip at the man-made beach. Jump on the FREE ferry and cruise up and down the river. Go to Australia Zoo. Check out the sunset from Mount Cootha
What to eat: There are loads of backpacker and happy hour foodie deals in Brisbane, or Brisvegas as it’s known. Pop over to the Eagle Street for some dinner under the city lights at the harbour, Southbank for pubs or head to Eat Street for Food truck central! If you are keen for a night out, head to Fortitude Valley where you will find plenty of clubs and bars…
Where to stay: Summerhouse Backpackers
Stop 5: Noosa
1 day in Noosa
What to do here: Take the National Park walk and if you’re lucky you might spot a wild koala. Get a sick shot at the Fairy Pools or try your hand at surfing. If you’ve got time, head to Noosa Spit which is essentially a natural lazy river.
Where to eat: You’ve gotta try Betty’s Burgers – they’re to die for! There are some awesome restaurants on Hastings Street, a little on the expensive side but worth it..
Where to stay: Flashpackers Noosa (Say hello to the crew for us they are legends!)
Stop 6: Fraser Island
Head to Rainbow Beach before setting off for 3 days on Fraser Island on a tour
What to do here: The question is, what isn’t there to do here!? Fraser is awesome! Lake Mckenzie is beaut, Lake Wabby is super cool. There’s an old ship wreck aka the Maheno, a natural lazy river, dingos and wildlife roaming around, driving on the beach and through the jungle, camp under the stars- the list is endless.
What to eat: You don’t need to worry about that (mainly because there are no restaurants on the island) You’ll get meals included in the tour, expect to pitch in and help with the cooking as part of the experience.
Where to stay: Again, camping accommodation is included on the tour. There is even the option to upgrade to a glamping experience on the epic Drop Bear tour!
Hop on the overnight bus to Airlie Beach. Again, it is a long one.
Stop 7: The Whitsundays
Head to Airlie Beach before setting off for 3 days on the Whitsundays.
What to do here: Feast your eyes (and your feet) on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world AKA Whitehaven Beach. Sail around the Southern Great Barrier Reef and catch an epic view at Hill Inlet look out. Snorkel on the reef during the tour and check out the unreal wildlife!
What to eat: Food will be included in the tour and even better, the crew cook it for you.
Where to stay: Get this… You’ll be staying on the ocean, on the boat, an experience like NO other…
Stop 8: Magnetic Island
Head to Townsville before setting off on the ferry to spend 3 days on Magnetic Island.
What to do here: Spot wild koalas along Forts Walk, get a 360 view of the island from the view points, hire a topless 4wd and cruise around the island, feed wild wallabies at sunset and visit all of the beaut beaches.
What to eat: Head to the hostel bar for happy hour and some epic food, the breakfast here is the ultimate hangover cure!
Where to stay: Base Hostel, we have an epic deal that includes your accomodation, ferry transfer, and some epic extras… read more about this deal here
The Final Stop: Cairns
3 days in Cairns
What to do here: The moment you’ve been waiting for – it’s Great Barrier Reef time, learn how to scuba dive or head on a snorkel tour of the reef. You can also visit the Atherton Tablelands which is full of waterfalls or head up to Cape Tribulation and check out the Daintree rainforest and spot the crocs on the Daintree River. if you’ve always fancied skydiving and landing on the beach then this is the spot, Mission Beach is just a short drive from Cairns. Fancy a bungy jump overlooking the rainforest? You can do that here too!
What to eat: Cairns is TOTAL backpacker central, so if you’re running low on cash at this point there’s a load of backpacker friendly bars and restaurants to pick from, make the most of the food deals in your hostel too!
Where to stay: Mad Monkey
Top tips for your East Coast Adventure...
There you have it, the ultimate 2 week itinerary for travelling the East Coast of Australia. Its an absolute beauty and all of the recommendations above come from our own experiennces. The RatPack way is ALL about sharing honest, genuine advice with the next generation of BackPackers, or as we like to call our legends that book with us, RatPackers…
Check out our top tips below to make your adventure EPIC:
- Get your trip on paper ( or virtual paper ), its so much easier to see your 2 week trip on a calendar. Hit the link here to request a free calendar from us.
- Book your Campervan as soon as you book your flights, the further in advance you book it, the more epic deals you can take advantage of. Click here to request a discounted quote.
- Don’t leave the big trips like the Whitsundays and Fraser island until the last minute, get these locked in when you book your trip as these get booked up months in advance in the busy periods. Read more about these epic trips here
- Chat to us if you need some inspiration or general advice about your trip, we’ve all been there and done it, and are always here to help!
Our Favourite East Coast Experiences...
Chat to our Team
We operate a 24/7 service across multiple time zones. Our RatPackers have all been there and done it! Get the ball rolling on your upcoming trip. Send over your rough travel plans (including your flight details / dates). If you are yet to book a flight and seeking advice – HIT US UP ↡
If this looks like your kinda thing, we’re more than happy to make a calendar for you to pin point exactly what’s going to be going on each day. You’re gonna have the time of your life!
Yewwwwwwwwwwwwww Holly (RPT Blog Writer)
Stay Tuned for my next piece…