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Backpacking up Australia's East Coast in 25 Days: A Brief Itinerary

Tag along some travel buddies and drive a campervan from Sydney along the Pacific coast, all the way to Cape Tribulation; just a 2843km drive! Here is a brief itinerary and the best destinations along the way.

#1 Starting off from Sydney, after a 4 hour drive, have a short break at Port Macquarie, it’s good to stretch your legs while seeing this beautiful town over the Pacific coast.

#2 Drive to the iconic destination, Byron Bay! (2days including to get here)

Byron bay is a must see surfer destination. It is a magical hippy place which allows you to unwind and be carefree. You can walk the Cape Byron track up to the lighthouse, stroll around the markets or for the those to seek adventure; paraglide over this spectacular beachside town. Camping amongst water dragon’s at the Art’s Factory campsite/ lodge makes it quite exciting too. Make sure to sit back, relax and watch the beautiful sunset over the village.

Byron Bay
Sunset in Byron Bay
Light house

#3 Take a 75 minute detour to the west of Byron Bay into the hills where the hippy village of Nimbin is found, tucked away in rainforests. It’s a vibrant village with a friendly, happy community. Enough said, I’ll leave it in your hands to explore Nimbin’s intrigue nature. Funnily enough we found a Maltese Pastizzi van here, mmmm heaven when you got the munchies! And don't forget to try the happy cookies! (Stop here for a few hours before heading to Surfers or not more than a day).

Checkout the groovy things Nimbin has to offer at:

Typical shops
Maltese Pastizzi van

Surfers Paradise on a cloudy day

#4 Cross from New South Wales into Queensland through the

Gold coast. Stop at Surfers Paradise, the name says it all! The place is crawling with surfers and overflows with energy at night. Its tall buildings along the beach makes it unique. (2 days)

Surfers Paradise official website:

Visit Dream world. Scream ‘freedom’ on the rollercoaster ride, feels like heaven. (1 day)

If you are a city person visit Brisbane on your way up north, if you are not into cities 1 day would be more than enough here.

Here is a useful website when visiting Brisbane:

Brisbane Skyline

#5 The Wonders of Noosa Heads (2 days incuding travelling here)

Noosa Heads

Two and a half hours drive later; into the 200th km, along the sunshine coast you finally arrive at Noosa Heads. Noosa is known for its high end restaurants, which if you’re a backpacker you would want to stay away from. So I hope you got that stove at the back of your car and cook on the beach. Try your luck, I dare you! Cut a coconut and drink fresh coconut milk.

More about Noosa Heads at :

#6 Discover the wilderness and beaches of Fraser Island (at least 4 days)

Catch a ferry from Rainbow Beach to Fraser Island, the island of dingoes, sand dunes and beaches. Travelling in a 4x4 is a must if you want to get through the long sandy beaches. Best lodging here is pitching your tent and camping, and if you’re lucky you’ll get to watch Animal Planet Live! Watching a Python eat a Possum on our tent was quite an adventure. Tip: Never leave food in the tent as you attract dingoes.

Off road over the sand dunes, to the clearest and bluest fresh water sandy lake, Lake Mckenzie. Past the ship wreck on the beach, and drive to Eli Creek, relax and just float long the creek. Don’t forget to go up north of Fraser Island, enjoy a natural Jacuzzi at the champagne pools. The sea surrounding Fraser Island is so clear that if you’re lucky you might actually get to see sharks and manta rays from the cliffs edge. Make sure you also hike and then sand board down the sand dunes into the famous green watered Lake Wabby.

Sand dunes
Python eating a Possom
Ship Wreck

Champagne Pools

Lake McKenzie

#7 Back to the 1770’s (2 days)

Back on the road heading up the north the Pacific coast, meet the beautiful towns of Seventeen seventy and Agnes Water. Camp on the beach right under the palm trees, learn how to surf, kayak with dolphins amongst other amazing things to do in these towns.

A local guide to use before getting there:

Road Map from Sydney to Agnes Waters

#8 8 hour drive from Agnes water to Airlie Beach (a day's worth of travelling)

After a 6 hour drive you reach Mackay, the exotic sugar city, well known for its sugar production. Driving that further 150km gets you to Airlie Beach, the hub of the Whitsundays region. It's a place where you can relax by the lagoon, shop at the open markets, dine, party and go for a stroll on the boardwalk by the coral sea. Here you can check off your list of dreams some of which include taking a cruise around the Whitsunday Islands while watching humpback whales breach, going scuba diving and snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven wonders of the world and skydiving over the islands. (at least 2 days in Airlie beach, 2 days sailing around the Whitsundays, 1 day Great Barrier Reef).

Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays helpful website:

#9 From Airlie Beach to Cairns ( a day's worth travelling)

It is a 621km (approximately 7 hours) drive to reach Cairns from Airlie Beach. Along the one can rest after a 3 hour drive at Townsville, a large city on the sunshine coast. If you have more than 25 days time, hop on a ferry to Magnetic Island from here, and you could be in what many consider as paradise. If you are on a limited time frame, drive another 2 hours and 45 minutes and rest in Mission Beach, have a swim and relax, you would only be 1 hour 45 minutes away from Cairns.

Cairns has a beautiful tropical culture and is shaped by the Great Barrier Reef and Rainforest. You can easily spend 3 days going around the shops, dining out, partying, relaxing at the Esplanade Pool and taking boat trips from here to the Great Barrier Reef to dive or snorkle. (2 days in cairns, 1 day Great Barrier Reef diving and snorkeling trip)

Esplanade Pool
Great Barrier Reef Clownfish

#10 The last 4 stops in 4 days; Kuranda, Palm Cove, Port Douglas & Cape Tribulation

Cairns is the gateway to Queensland's tropical north. Kuranda is only a 30 minute drive from from Cairns. It is not on the way to Palm Cove, however definitely worth the small detour. Stroll around the colourful markets and visit the beautiful Barron Falls. Just a further 30 minute drive takes you to Palm Cove a tropical paradise, where palm trees hand over the white sandy beaches. 40 minute from Palm Cove takes you to Port Douglas, where you can sleep for the night. Here one finds one of Australia's most voted beaches, Four Mile Beach.

More information about Cairns and its surrounding areas at:

Barron Falls
Palm Cove

Reaching Cape Tribulation from Port Douglas is only a 2 hour drive, including a ferry trip across the Daintree River. You get best of both worlds here, because it is where the Daintree rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef meet. Stop at the beautiful Alexander Range Lookout and walk the Marrdja Botanical Boardwalk. If you are lucky you can come across the rare Cossowary while driving.

Explore Cape trib at:

Road map from Agnes Waters to Cape Tribulation

This was a great trip with great people, thumbs up to my tag along travellers Emma Cassar, Samuel Farrugia and Nicola Muir. Australia is a great place to meet like-minded travellers. Do not forget to tag along a few. Tag along with Traveller on the Road at

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