A guide to roadtrippin’ Australia’s East Coast in a month

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2,300+ miles, 13 stops, 1 month. Welcome to my east coast of Australia trip! It’s one of the most popular destinations in the world, and I was well and truly sucked in like many others. I had been dying to visit and this country turned out to be everything I hoped it would be. It’s beautiful, it’s wildlife is crazy, the locals are even more crazy and I love it.

Along with being another tourist to fall for Australia, I was also another one to fall for ignoring people’s advice. Let me tell you now, Australia is HUGE. Like really big. Bigger than anywhere I had visited before. The route Jess and I took, along with my boyfriend, Tom, who joined us for the month (yes, I held down a relationship whilst travelling for 7 out of 8 months without him) meant a lot of driving, moving on and planning. There were things that we couldn’t fit in and places that we just didn’t have time to explore as we had prioritised elsewhere. But what an excuse to go back eh?

So I’m sharing my route with you to show what you can get done in 1 month on the East Coast. It’s done with a combination of flights, coach and of course camper van. You can’t go to Australia without one of those!

WHEN TO VISIT

I visited in July/August which is Australia’s winter. Obviously this meant that the weather wasn’t at it’s warmest but everywhere north of Sydney was lush. In Melbourne I was in jeans and a coat but everywhere else was a light cardigan at the most, but mostly shorts and t shirt. Just how you want it! If you’re really wanting the all round lush weather, I would recommend visiting between September-November during their spring, or between December to February if you really want to feel the burn.

There’s always stuff going on everywhere all year round in Australia, so make sure you have a look at the tourism boards for each of the destinations so you don’t miss out. I have linked each of them in the ‘find out more here’ link under each place.

GETTING AROUND

The roads along the east coast are an a easy drive and Australia is well set up for camper vans. I travelled the coast using a combination of internal flights, buses and then finally a camper. We headed to the tourist information centre to buy our bus tickets but I’m not gonna lie, nothing beats travelling the East Coast under your own steam in a camper! Make sure you double check your insurance policy when you hire one and check that it covers driving at night, as sometimes it doesn’t.

A Guide to Road Tripping along the East Coast of Australia

VISAS

For UK passport holders you will need to get an eVisitor visa online before you arrive. It allows you to visit Australia for up to 3 months within a 12 month period. Make sure you check out the rules relevant to you as they really don’t mess around with this stuff.

You also HAVE to have proof on onward travel or a return flight. Not kidding, I almost wasn’t allowed on my flight from Australia to New Zealand because I hadn’t printed off my amended flight tickets showing I was going to be leaving. Luckily they accepted seeing it on my phone but don’t risk it!

THE ITINERARY

MELBOURNE – 3 NIGHTS

Get there: SkyBus from the airport

I don’t know if it is because it was the first place I visited in Australia, but Melbourne is the one for me. It’s full of quirky cafes, bars, tonnes of restaurants and alleys jam packed with street art. There’s even a beach over at St Kilda to relax on if you want to escape the city. Be sure to use free bus and tram that goes around the city and spend some time hopping on and off at that. The bars here are amazing as well- I would recommend checking out The Croft Institute, Lily Blacks and Double Happiness. You might have to do some hunting for them but they are well worth it. And make sure you head to China Town for some delicious grub! For an amazing view of the city, rocket yourself up to 285 meters above ground at the Eureka Skydeck. Grab a cocktail and watch the sun set.

Find out more here

SYDNEY – 3 NIGHTS

Get there: Catch a cheap internal flight with a budget airline like JetStar

Ah the iconic city. There’s so much to do here and so many photos to take. Spend time wandering round the harbour and botanical gardens – head to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair to get a picture perfect view of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Hit the nearby beaches of Coogee and the famous Bondi (there’s a stunning walk you can do between them) and catch the ferry over to Manly Island from Circular Quay. At night, head over to the Kings Cross area where you will find a lively nightlife to dive into. If the weather is decent,  the Blue Mountains are perfect for a day trip- if you have a car then it’s about an hours drive outside of Sydney, or you can catch a train from Sydney Central Station or a get ticket for the Blue Mountains ExplorerLink hop-on-hop-off bus.

Find out more here

PORT MACQUARIE – 1 NIGHT

Get there: Greyhound bus

This beautiful town has 17 beaches and is home to the sweetest Koala Hospital. Do I need to say much more? Take a walk along the sea front where you will also find a hand painted break wall that looks pretty damn nice next to the blue ocean.

Find out more here

COFFS HARBOUR – 1 NIGHT

Get there: Greyhound bus

This little place is a great stop for water sports. You can try all sorts here like rafting and paddle boarding and there are a number of lookout spots for dolphin and whale watching. It’s a great spot to break up the journey as you head to Byron Bay.

Find out more here

A Guide to Road Tripping along the East Coast of Australia

BYRON BAY – 3 NIGHTS

Get there: Greyhound bus

No trip to Australia would be complete without a trip to Byron Bay. Even though I’m not one for spirituality or embracing my inner hippie, it’s still pretty damn gorgeous. Byron is for anything and everyone, so be yourself and let your hair down. It’s the perfect place to take surf lessons and learn from some pros. Take a walk to the lighthouse for some stunning views of the Bay as well, and keep an eye out for whales and dolphins if you’re there at the right time of the year.

Find out more here

GOLD COAST/SURFER’S PARADISE – 4 NIGHTS

Get there: Greyhound bus

This shiny sky scraper of a city has mixed reviews, but I think it’s great. You can indulge in all things westernised and touristic, all whilst being right next to one of the most gorgeous beaches. There are some great theme parks here and a casino if that also takes your fancy (it took mine and I don’t care). Wet ‘n’ Wild water park is perfect for the hot weather!

Find out more here

BRISBANE – 2 NIGHTS

Get there: Greyhound bus then pick up a camper van for the rest of your trip

The more I hear about Brisbane, the more I know I need to go back. 2 nights just isn’t enough! But as you’re on a tight schedule, it has to be done. Spend time exploring South Banks and the CBD where would will find loads of amazing cafes and restaurants for breakfast and lunch. There are also fantastic markets held during the week which are perfect to explore and grab something delicious. The Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) is a popular destination also, and make sure you catch a view of the city at sunset from Kangaroo Point.

Find out more here

NOOSA – 1 NIGHT

Noosa is small but the perfect place to chill out. Little Cove beach is adorable and the National Park is a great place to swing by to see Koalas hanging out in the trees. Give yourself some time to relax before the adrenaline kicks in on Fraser Island!

Find out more here

HERVEY BAY/FRASER ISLAND – 4 NIGHTS

Hervey Bay is your starting point for your trip to Fraser Island. Seriously, you can’t miss out on this one. It’s the world’s largest sand island and is over 80,000 years old. Pretty cool eh? Well, wait to you get on there! Book yourself onto a 2 night 4×4 trip and have a go at driving the cars on the sand. You will see lake McKenzie, Lake Wabby, float along Eli Creek, explore the rainforest, an amazing old shipwreck, tonnes of wildlife and some of the most amazing sun sets I’ve ever seen. Camping next to the beach is fantastic and what’s better than a good ole’ BBQ to line your stomach for the boozy couple of nights.

Find out more here

AGNES WATER & TOWN OF 1770 – 1 NIGHT

These 2 places are about 8km from each other but go hand in hand. Agnes Water is the last place you can surf going up the east coast. It’s quiet, the beach is stunning and it’s all just a bit dreamy.

Find out more here

AIRLIE BEACH/THE WHITSUNDAYS – 3 NIGHTS

This town might be small but it is big on parties. There are tonnes of bars mostly along one strip, so take a seat and drink up! You can’t swim in the sea here but there is a brilliant lagoon at the beach front to cool off in. It’s also the gateway to the unique and iconic Whitsunday Islands. The sand there is nearly pure silica and feels as soft as icing sugar, it’s stunning. You can do a day trip out to them on a speed boat like Ocean Rafting or an overnight sailing trip.

Find out more here

MISSION BEACH – 2 NIGHT

This beautiful little seaside town is quite but quaint. Find a spot to park on the seafront and enjoy the fresh air. If you’re wanting to get some adrenaline pumping, it’s the perfect spot to do a skydive from one of the greatest heights you can do – 14,000ft! A short drive away you will find Josephine Falls so take a dip in the cool water and have fun sliding down the rocks.

Find out more here

CAIRNS – 3 NIGHTS

Of course a trip to see the world famous Great Barrier reef is a no brainer. There are a number of tours to suit you whether you would prefer to snorkel or scuba dive, but whatever you do, make sure you have an underwater camera on you! Wander round the city and take a dip in the lagoon to cool down. There are some unmissable day trips from Cairns as well. Just north of the city you will find the Daintree Rainforest which is teaming with wildlife, and to the west you can explore the village of Kuranda nestled in the forest, and whats better is you can get there by cable car or train; both equally as scenic. What a place to finish your East Coast trip!

Find out more here

Ah Australia, the land of the epic road trips. Find out how to have the most amazing month driving up the East Coast here

4 Comments

  1. Pingback: A Guide to Buying a Car in Australia (and what not to do) | No Shoes Today

  2. This makes me miss Australia so badly! I’m going back to visit my family in December so not too long!

    So glad you mentioned The Blue Mountains – one of my favourite places near Sydney. 🙂

    • Laura - No Shoes Today on

      Ah amazing! I missed it from visiting 4 years ago so that’s why I’m back here now haha.

  3. We’ve been on a 3 month road trip through Australia last year (February – April) in a campervan and we absolutely loved it! Still, I like to read other people’s itineraries, just to see if we can find an excuse to go back! 😀 No, we already have an excuse actually, because we didn’t see the west coast. 😉
    We’ve seen quite a few places you visited as well, but one we’re really bummed out we’ve missed is Fraser Island. It looks and sounds so awesome!
    Australia is indeed huge, and it feels like you’re driving into different countries with the climate and landscapes varying so much, don’t you agree? Loved every second of our trip!

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