Ultimate East Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

East Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary
Ultimate East Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary 

East Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

This is an amazing East Coast Australia road trip itinerary that showcases the best that the East Coast has to offer in terms of its natural beauty.

East Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

Australia with its great outdoors is a paradise with which one can’t help but fall in love. An East Coast Australia Road Trip is sure to be a trip in paradise. With its scintillating landscapes, the length and breadth of Australia seem to be made to order for some of the best road trips in the world.

East Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary | Drive From Brisbane To Cairns

The Australian east coast from Brisbane to Cairns is a road trip everyone should do in their lifetime. You’ll find gorgeous beaches, amazing food, lush rainforests, white sand islands, and plenty of adventure. The coast is any sport and adventure lovers’ dream. With surfing, waterfall-hunting, hiking, scuba-diving, sky-diving, and more at one’s fingertips, there is really no limit to what you can experience. The more relaxed traveller can enjoy lounging at picture-perfect beaches, delicious drinks, spa days, and a fresh culinary scene.

We’ve put together a road trip itinerary, starting off in Brisbane up all to Cairns which rivals only that of the Great Ocean Road tours near Melbourne. The Brisbane to Cairns drive covers a stretch of a full 1600-kilometres for you to explore at your own pace, though we suggest at least 10 days to do the whole thing without rushing. If you’re tight for time, there will still be plenty for you to see and this itinerary can help you figure out the must-see highlights as you drive the Brisbane to Cairns distance.

East Coast Australia Map

Brisbane | East Coast Trip Australia

East Coast Australia Road Trip

You’ll start off your trip in Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, and home to 1.6 million Aussies. Despite its size, the metropolis maintains a small-town vibe, while boasting a hip craft beer scene, huge food markets, live music, and nightlife. If you’re feeling peckish, you’ll be more than satisfied by Brisbane’s food scene. The city is a melting pot for flavours, with everything from world-class coffee, Italian-pizza joints, to killer pizza and curry.. Some of our favourites spots include Red Hook for amazing NYC-inspired street food and Doughnut Time for well, amazing doughnuts!

The city also has a thriving arts scene, including a number of galleries and museums. Check out the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). Located at South Bank, the gallery showcases more than 17,000 works including diverse Australian and international exhibitions. Brisbane’s Southbank is also home to the city’s man-made beach and free Botanical Gardens, both well-worth a stop.

If you need a break from the hustle and bustle of downtown, just 12-kilometres away you’ll find Australia’s largest koala sanctuary, the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. The space cares for over 130 individual koalas, as well as providing koala talks, and educational programs. You’ll get the chance to meet a koala, hand-feed free-roaming kangaroos, and all while learning about Australia’s iconic species.

Byron Bay | East Coast Australia Road Trip |East Coast Australia Tours

East Coast Australia Road Trip

Next up, just a 2-hour drive from Brisbane, you’ll find Byron Bay. This quintessential Australian town is known around the world for its hip restaurants and cafes, laid-back surf culture, and gorgeous, aesthetically-pleasing restaurants. Take the time to explore the main strip, popping into the little niche boutiques and cosy restaurants.

With plenty of sunshine, Byron Bay is the perfect place to soak up some sun. We recommend renting a kayak so you can paddle past the breaking waves and potentially spot dolphins, whales, turtles, and more. Next up, surfing! Byron Bay is known for its epic surf, attracting people from around the world to come ride a wave. Check out Main Beach – truly one of the quintessential Australian breaks outside of Bells Beach.

The sandy white beach is not only the closest beach to town, but it also has a north-facing curve and a popular surf break. Even if you’re not into surfing, you can’t help but watch from the beach as guys and gals catch a wave. If you’ve always wanted to try surfing, we recommend heading to Clarkes Beach. This is a great place to take an introductory lesson and learn basic surf etiquette and skills.

While in Byron Bay, be sure to catch either sunrise or sunset (or both!) at the Cape Byron Lighthouse. Perched at the tip of Cape Byron, the lighthouse is mainland Australia’s most easterly point. If you’re here in the morning, you’ll be the first in Australia to see the sunrise. Take a guided tour, learn about the shipwrecks, or simply enjoy the stunning views.

Noosa | East Coast Australia Road Trip | Travel East Coast Australia

East Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

Once you’ve had your fill of Byron Bay, continue along the Queensland’s Sunshine Coast to Noosa. You’ll find everything from stunning lakes and national parks, to day spas, golf courses and a fantastic culinary scene. Whether you’re in the mood for an adventure or just want to chill out and relax, Noosa has got you covered.

Noosa is one of the most popular beachside destinations in Australia, rivalling the likes of Apollo Bay and Bondi Beach. Located in the coastal suburbs of Noosa Head, Sunshine Beach is the perfect spot for a mini vacation. The hip beach has a lush canopy of green trees and palms, as well as a little village lined with cafes, restaurants, and shops to suit every taste and budget.

We love Noosa National Park which offers stunning coastal scenery of Noosa Headland and the areas around Lake Weyba. The park is a wildlife sanctuary, protecting the dense eucalypt forest, melaleuca wetland, woodland and wallum heathland that are some to some of Australia’s most iconic animals. Check out the coastal trails that run past the beaches at Noosa National Park. Walk or cycle the trail and look for koalas around Tea Tree Bay. If you’ve got more time, rent a kayak down at Lake Cootharaba and explore the stunning vistas.

Hervey Bay | East Coast Australia Road Trip | Travel East Coast Australia 

East Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

From Noosa, head onward towards Hervey Bay. The town is located on a natural bay between the mainland and Fraser Island. The area has a mild climate and nearly 14-kilometres of golden beaches perfect for swimming and relaxing year-round. The water here is very safe for swimming, with an average temperature between 21-26 degrees celsius. Explore the beachfront esplanade which follows the beach all the way to the city’s marina, lined with cute cafes, boutiques, banks and more.

Hervey Bay Australia is renowned as a great place to see humpback whales during their migration season between July to November. Unlike other areas, the whales don’t just pass through Hervey Bay. Instead, they use the bay as a stopover on their migration, resting and playing in the warm water. For the best viewing opportunities, get out on the water. There are many local whale-watching boats that operate during this season, offering intimate, close-up experiences.

The whales often come up close to the boats, splashing the water and being all-around playful. However, to see whales from the shore you have more luck in the South of Australia. Warrnambool whale watching can be done from shore.

Fraser Island | East Coast Australia Road Trip | East Coast Australia Road Trip

Brisbane To Cairns Drive

Next up, Fraser Island! Stretching 123-kilometres long and 22-kilometres wide, Fraser Island Australia is the largest sand island in the world. This unusual island is the only place on earth where tall rainforests grow on sand dunes at elevations higher than 200-meters. It is also home to nearly half of the world’s ‘perched lakes’ – lakes that are formed when sand is cemented together with decomposed organic matter to create an impermeable layer.

The layers form over depressions in the sand dunes, forming lakes when the dunes fill permanently with rainwater. From Hervey Bay, you can hop on the ferry for the 50-minute trip across to Fraser Island.

Fraser Island offers stunning scenery and abundant wildlife. Because the island’s plants and animals are isolated from the mainland, they are part of a highly unique ecosystem. Keep an eye out for dingoes around the island as they are thought to be Eastern Australia’s most pure strain. Though these furry animals may look like a friendly house pet, they are wild animals and should be treated as such.

Admire these animals from a distance, and never approach or feed one. Keep an eye out for other animals including both freshwater and sea turtles, as well as goannas. Depending on the time of year, the island is also one of the best places to spot female humpback whales and their young.

Airlie Beach | East Coast Australia Road Trip | East Coast Australia Road Trip

Brisbane To Cairns Drive

No East Coast Australia road trip is complete without a visit to the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system. Stretching over 2,300-kilometers, it is made up of nearly 3000 individual reefs and 900 islands. The reef is home to hundreds of indigenous creatures, including fish, corals, jellyfish, sea snakes, turtles, sponges, whales, dolphins, amongst many more. Though there are many places from which you can visit the Reef, we recommend Airlie Beach as a launchpad.

Located on the mainland, Airlies Beach is a vibrant little town filled with palm-tree lined beaches, waterfront parks and fresh, local dining. It offers everything you need from accommodations, bohemian restaurants and essential services like a bank and pharmacy. From Airlies Beach, you can rent snorkelling equipment, kayaks, canoes and more.

There are a number of tours that leave daily, suitable for solo travellers and families alike. Fishing is also a popular activity among locals and visitors alike. Visit Lake Prosepine to catch some barramundi or try big game fishing in the ocean.

Airlies Beach is also a gateway town for many other island resorts in the Whitsundays, a group of 74 idyllic islands located at the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. Most of the islands are uninhabited, characterized by their dense rainforest and white sand beaches, including the famous-world Whitehaven Beach. There are many ways to visit the area, including 1-day or multi-day sailing trips, seaplanes as well as scuba-diving and snorkelling tours.

Cairns | East Coast Australia Road Trip | East Coast Australia Road Trip 

East Coast Australia Road Trip - Travel East Coast Australia

Finally, the East Coast Australia road trip comes to an end as you arrive in Cairns, a large city in north Queensland set against the lush backdrop of tropical mountains and the Coral Sea. The weather here is pretty much always hot and humid, and there is abundant wildlife year-round. The city itself is full of laid-back cafes and restaurants, great shopping, and weekly live music. While most people use Cairns as a base from which to visit the Great Barrier Reef, there are lots to see in the area if you’ve still got energy at the end of your Brisbane to Cairns road trip itinerary.

We love the Cairns Esplanade Foreshore, especially if you’re travelling with kids. Walk the long boardwalk that spans along the beach, or check out some of the many cafes, restaurants, and pubs for a cool drink or something to eat. There is often live music and buskers entertaining the masses, so you can just sit back on the grass and enjoy. There’s even a big lagoon that can be swam-in year-round that is great for kids and adults alike, as well as a picnic area.

If you’re still seeking some adventure, sports lovers will love the area around Cairns. We’re talking tandem sky-diving, mountain biking, kayaking, snorkelling, paddle boarding and more. If you’re into some serious adventuring, Cairns has got it! If you’re into mountain biking, rent a bike or join a guided tour through networks of over 60-kilometers of trails. You’ll cycle through tropical rainforest and eucalypt woodlands, and enjoy views overlooking the Great Barrier Reef.

Cairns is also a great base from which to visit the Daintree National Park. The park is home to the oldest rainforest in the world, believed to be nearly 110 million years old. Keep your eyes on the lookout for the thousands of different animal species that live here, including many rare and endangered species. There are many hikes and walking trails, ranging in difficulty and accessibility. To really grasp the magnitude of the forest, we recommend taking the Rainforest Skyrail.

You’ll get to enjoy a small glass-bottomed cabin with incredible views of the rainforest below. There are stops along the way where you can get off and walk along the boardwalks underneath the canopy of trees. A ranger will guide you through a tour at Red Peak Station, before continuing onwards to Mossman Falls, an enormous waterfall where the trip ends.

Planning Your East  Coast Australia Trip

How To Get To Brisbane, Australia

You can book your cheap flights to Brisbane or flights out of Cairns right here cheap flights, through TripAdvisor or Agoda or CheapAir or Cleartrip or Makemytrip or Priceline right here. If you want to rent a car for your road trip,  book your car here.

Where to stay in East Coast, Australia

If you are planning to visit the East Coast,  Australia, and thinking of accommodation booking, we recommend TripAdvisor or Cleartrip or Agoda or Makemytrip or Priceline to save huge and get the best deals on booking your stay in Australia.

Click to book the best hotels in Australia

Tours/Activities available in East Coast, Australia

If you are looking to book tours and activities anywhere on the East Coast of Australia, you can do that right here.
You can book package tours on the East Coast of Australia. Plan your trip and book online places to visit in Australia.

Click here to know more and book Best Attractions in Australia

Driving around East Coast, Australia

Are you looking at getting the best deals on car rental for your East Coast Australia Road Trip, look no further. You can rent a car for East Coast Australia Road Trip to explore and experience the amazing treasures of the East Coast.

We hope you liked this ultimate East Coast road trip, whether you’ve got 10-days or 3-months, this itinerary just begins to scratch the surface of everything there is to see along Australia’s East Coast. Adopt the easygoing Aussie attitude and see where the road takes you. Either way, you’ll be sure to find stunning coastal views, gorgeous beaches, and plenty of wildlife.

Natasha is of the Great Ocean Road Collective. A website dedicated to sharing the beauty of the Great Ocean Road in Australia with travellers far and wide. If you are planning your trip, need some inspiration or looking for authentic advice on Aussie travel visit our website The Great Ocean Road Australia or check us out on Instagram.

PinitUltimate East Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary


Ultimate East Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary


East Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

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11 thoughts on “Ultimate East Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary”

  1. One of my close friends is from Australia and she has been asking us to visit Australia! I am bookmarking this for future reference! Thank you for sharing this!

  2. Road trips are always beautiful and fun. Australia is a beautiful place . Your write-up makes me feel like I am there only.

  3. I have done this entire road trip and I must say it is absolutely epic. The places along the way are stunning especially the Airlie beach. Have been there so many times and loved the Great Barrier Reef. This is a very good guide for the east coast of Aus.

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