Lainey Quinn continued her global travels for The Travel Directory with six weeks on Australia’s East Coast – and offers her Top Ten Must See Places.
Lainey Quinn, aka ‘’, has completed her Australian East Coast trip and she’s dying to share her top tips with you on where to go! There are so many beaches, national parks, mountain ranges, creeks and mini cities that are absolute must see’s for when you get the chance to visit this beautiful country. Here is the perfect plan to follow if you need a budget itinerary for a truly Australian experience along one of the world’s most beautiful coastlines.
Week 1: Sydney and Bondi Beach
Start your trip in Sydney and visit the iconic Opera House, Botanical Gardens, Darling Harbour and Sydney Bridge. If you’re an adventure seeker, explore the Blue Mountains and the Figure of Eight Pools in Sydney National Park. A string of majestic coastlines line the East Coast and Bondi Beach is the best one to kickstart the experience. While you’re there, do the Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach walk and take a dip in the secluded beaches and pristine waters that will guide you along the way.
Week 2: Byron Bay and Surfer’s Paradise
Take surfing lessons in Byron Bay, go on a day trip to Nimbin (the smallest, most hippy town in the world) and dance your socks off in Cheeky Monkey’s nightclub. Continue to party it up in Surfer’s Paradise, otherwise known as the ‘Miami of Australia’ and catch an international DJ playing at one of the hotpot nightclubs. For some down time, relax on the stunning beach or put a shrimp on the barbie and have a BBQ at Cascade Gardens.
Week 3: Brisbane and Noosa
Top up your tan on Brisbane’s man-made beach in Southbank and get friendly with the Brissy locals – they understand the Irish banter! Head to Fortitude Valley for a whopper night out, the heart of Brisbane’s night life and you might even find Fatman Scoop playing at a street party. Pop up to Noosa and chill out for a few days after living it up in Brisbane. Go for a lovely walk through the National Park, explore the Noosa Everglades and take some more surf lessons on the beach.
Week 4: Rainbow Beach and 1770
Head off on a two-night Fraser Island 4×4 tour from Rainbow Beach and get ready for an experience of a lifetime. Fraser Island is where you can try your hand at off-road driving through jungles and rainforest while stopping at a tea tree lake for a quick dip. Sleep under the stars in the woods and make lifelong friends around a campfire. After the madness of Fraser, chill out in 1770 for a few days, also known as Agnes Water. The main attraction in 1770 is the exhilarating Scooteroo tour. Jump on a Harley Davidson scooter and fly around the town while spotting all kinds of wildlife, especially kangaroos!
Week 5: Airlie Beach and Magnetic Island
Airlie Beach is a vibrant town with music festivals and events on every day of the week. It is also from here that you can start your overnight Whitsundays boat trip and make a splash on Whitehaven Beach where the sand is so pure you can even brush your teeth with it! Next, get the ferry to Magnetic Island and immerse yourself in a tropical paradise – you won’t want to leave. Go on a hike to the WW2 fort and you’re guaranteed to spot koalas and wallabies along the way.
Week 6: Mission Beach and Cairns
Stay in the Jackaroo Treehouse Hostel in Mission Beach and immerse yourself in the wilderness of the Australian woods. Take the plunge and get ready to skydive from 15,000 feet and land on the beach. When you get to Cairns, rent a car and visit Cape Tribulation, the world’s oldest National Park, and drive to Millaa Millaa Falls, the majestic waterfall where the iconic Herbal Essences hair flick was filmed. Don’t leave Cairns without doing a day trip to the Great Barrier Reef and spot Nemo and Dori in the ocean.
All the above may sound like a lot to fit into six weeks but it’s completely possible if you follow this guide. The easiest form of transport along the East Coast is the Greyhound bus and a one-way pass won’t cost more than $400 per person (Sydney to Cairns). Accommodation is vast and varied and you can choose from a budget backpacker hostel for $30 per night or a private room in a hotel from $100.
For more hints and tips on travelling Australia’s East Coast, visit and check out her blogs. Photo credit: All photos were taken by Lainey Quinn aka Little Miss Sunray.
Top Ten Must See Places on Australia’s East Coast
- Sydney Harbour at Sunset
Sip on a cocktail at the Sydney Opera Bar and watch the sunset’s golden glow illuminate the Sydney Bridge right in front of your eyes. Afterwards, head to one of the harbour restaurants with live music and enjoy a delicious dinner followed by dancing your socks off.
- Bondi Beach
Dolphins, hunky lifeguards and top-notch surf lessons make this beach one of the best in the country. After you are finished tanning and gawking, do the Bondi beach to Cooggee Walk, you won’t be disappointed and you’ll get great shots of Sydney’s skyline.
- Byron Bay
Don’t skip the mecca spot for backpackers along the East Coast, the wonderful Byron Bay. Soak up the chilled vibe and surfer lifestyle for a few days before you head to the more active spots along the coast.
- Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
During your stop in the buzzy city of Brisbane, take a trip to the world’s oldest and largest koala sanctuary. The queues are generally not too long, nor is the entry fee too high, so your koala experience will be seamless and enjoyable from start to finish.
- Fraser Island
Visit the world’s biggest sand island, drive through the jungle and along the beach in a 4×4 at top speed! Camp in the wilderness of the woods, have a drink on the beach at sunset and toast marshmallows on the fire until the sun goes down.
- Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays
The jaw-dropping Whitehaven Beach is one of 74 islands that make up the Whitsunday Islands and it has been voted one of the best beaches in the world by TripAdvisor. The sand is so pure it squeaks between your toes when you walk on it and you can even brush your teeth with it!
- Magnetic Island
Also known as the ‘Koh Pha Ngan’ of Australia, Maggie Island is a paradise where rainforests and beaches remain untouched and secluded, just waiting to be explored. Two-thirds of the island is a National Park and the mountainous landscapes, coastal skyline and sunset horizons are so beautiful that no other place in Australia has compared to it – just yet, anyway!
- Mission Beach from Above
There are so many skydiving spots around Australia, but Mission Beach beats them all. Every backpacker stops here to do a skydive 15,000 feet high and land on the beach.
- Cape Tribulation
Put on your hiking boots, grab a few mates and drive to Cape Tribulation, the world’s oldest rainforest. Walk through woody trails and take in the sounds, sights and smells of the dense forest where anything could be lurking underneath your feet.
- Great Barrier Reef
There is nothing more tranquil than floating in the ocean face down with a snorkel and just watching the fish, turtles and other sea creatures swim past you in pure silence. Nemos, Dori’s and even sharks will swim casually past you. It would be a sin to go to Australia and not visit the Great Barrier Reef!