For decades, the Land Down Under has been one of the main meccas Irish expats have retreated to for their time abroad.
It’s no wonder that the Irish fall in love with the continent and don't come home. Its tropical rainforests, menthol-coloured water and a hippy surfer-vibe all wrap up neatly together to make the perfect sunshine destination.
Unfortunately, not all of us can take that elusive career-break to explore the Big Red for months on end.
Luckily, Irish explorers no longer have to pick fruit and backpack for a year to experience the real ‘Sraya. The East Coast Road Trip is the perfect adventure-of-a-lifetime to lap up all things Aussie, and it fits perfectly into any annual leave schedule.
(For more travel guides like these, visit my blog sunscribes.com!)
What is the East Coast Road Trip?
Considered one of the best road trips around the globe, this 2,500km route rivals the US’s Route 66 for top spot. Stretching from Sydney all the way to far North Queensland, this epic drive hugs the coastline with detours inland to experience true Aussie wildlife.
Day 1 – 3
The biggest city in Australia, Sydney is often mistaken for the capital. Well-known for its Opera House and famous Bondi Beach, Sydney has so much more to offer.
Take a step back from the crowds and explore the smaller beaches along the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk. Kill two birds with one stone and hop on the public ferry to Manly beach. Here you’ll get fabulous views of Sydney Harbour and rewarded with a beautiful destination on the other side.
Top Tip: Forget the Sydney Zoo. Instead, visit the smaller Australian Reptile Park just outside the city. It’s much smaller but has far less tourists, and allows interaction with the friendly kangaroos!
Unknown by many and passed over by most, this tiny seaside town is one of the best kept secrets on the east coast! A four-hour drive north of Sydney, Port Macquarie is home to a Koala Hospital.
This unique tourist spot is completely free to visit and is run solely by volunteers. Here they tend to sick and injured koalas and is certainly a must-see on the east coast.
Top Tip: Arrive before 3pm and enjoy the free tour and talk by the volunteers. Be sure to leave a donation for all the locals’ hard work!
Day 5 - 7
Check into Nomads Hostel and see where this hippy town takes you from there. Byron Bay, with its chilled surfer vibe, is the quintessential Aussie town that has captured the heart of backpackers everywhere.
The Lighthouse Walk in Byron is a highlight not to be missed. From the top, whales can be seen breaching the water every few seconds. Be sure to keep an eye out for the silhouettes of turtles and sharks near the cliff’s edge.
Top Tip: Splash out on a dolphin kayak hire, where families of bottle-noses squeak and swim around your kayak in the open sea.
View this post on Instagram
Byron Bay - My favourite place so far and our last stop in New South Wales! Keep an eye out this week for my blog post on this gorgeous place: what to do, where to go and best nightlife spots! Now on to Surfers Paradise, our first stop in Queensland #byronbay #travelblogger #sunscribes #australiagram #seeaustralia #capebyron #beachesofaustralia #USITOzTrip #travelblog #ExtraordinaryExplorer
Only an hour’s drive from Brisbane, Beerwah is home to one of the most legendary Australian hotspots: the Steve Irwin Zoo! This wildlife park will find you lazing on the grass with huge red ‘roos, learning about Australian conservation and even gives you the chance to snap a pic cuddling a cute koala!
Top Tip: Buy your tickets online to get a cheaper price.
Day 9 – 11
Affectionately nicknamed the Sunshine Coast, and rightly so, Noosa is home to some of the most spectacular sunset in the world. Spend the afternoon soaking in the cafe culture in Noosa. Hike through the National Park and have a picnic at Laguna Lookout. Spend a day or two sunbathing on the white sands of Main Beach.
Top Tip: The Spit in Noosa is the best spot to witness some amazing sunsets. Get here late afternoon and watch the resident pelicans come home to roost for the evening.
View this post on Instagram
Perfect evening watching the pelicans at sunset. The Spit in Noosa is the place to be during sundown, away from the crowds of Main Beach you can relax here on the sand with a blanket and watch the sun go down #pelican #sunset #thespit #noosa #australia #travelblog #travelblogger
Day 12 – 14
Fraser Island will, without a doubt, be a main highlight of your trip. Allow three full days here, beginning your trip at Rainbow Beach.
This two-night, three-day camping escapade is shared with a handful of other backpackers. Together, you will take turns driving the huge four-wheel-drive jeeps over sand dunes and vast beaches.
Each tour is led by a well-informed guide, who will show you the all Aboriginal secrets of this World Heritage Site. Crystal–clear lakes, campfires and wild dingos are all on the agenda for Fraser Island.
Top Tip: Book your tour with Dingo Tours, they will show you a good time!
Day 15 - 17
Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands
This is what you’ve been waiting for: paradise! Airlie Beach is a small backpacker town filled with great nightlife and even better weather. It is used as a launch-pad to discover the Whitsunday Islands, which lie just off the coast.
The Whitsundays is a beach lover’s haven: sand whiter than flour, and water to die for, make sure to book an over-night trip to these islands.
Luckily, there are boats and tours to suit every need: party-boats, snorkelling trips, luxury stays. Whichever you pick, it will be pricey, but worth the dollars spent!
Top Tip: As the Whitsundays sits on the outskirts of the Great Barrier Reef, make sure to pick a tour with lots of snorkelling. Turtles can be spotted here, so Go-Pro at the ready!
View this post on Instagram
Happy New Year everybody! Been working like crazy all over the Christmas period, but its all been worth it! Just booked flights to Indonesia in February! Not a bad start to 2017! Can't wait to be back in crystal clear waters like this pic on the Whitsunday Islands! See you in six weeks Bali!! #Indonesia #Bali #Travel #TravelBlog
Day 18 - 19
This stunning little island has only come under the radar of travel-savvy backpackers in recent years. Just off the coast of Townsville (original name, I know), Magnetic Island is one of the few guaranteed places to see big numbers of koalas in the wild.
“Maggie” has some of the most beautiful beaches in Australia, and is reminiscent of the islands in the Gulf of Thailand, with its rugged landscape, sky-reaching palm trees and fresh coconut water.
While visiting the island, rent an open-top dune buggy and get exploring all the nooks and crannies of this secluded paradise.
Top Tip: Book a bed by the beach in BASE Hostel. Cheap as chips and with different entertainment each night, this accommodation is the best on the island.
View this post on Instagram
Aghhhh my week has just been made! Finally saw koalas in the wild today! We were so lucky and managed to spot four, including this unbelievably cute baby and her moma???? The Forts hike on Magnetic Island is the best place to spot koalas in their natural habitat, there's over 800 in the national park so you're almost certain to see one. Head over to the Sun Scribes' Facebook page to see more adorable pics!! #magneticisland ##theforts #koalas #koalasinthewild #wildkoalas #hike #australia #travelblog #wildlifeaustralia #maggieisland #ExtraordinaryExplorer
You’re in real tropical Australia now! By now, your east coast road adventure will probably have you completely beached out. Take a detour inland to the tropical rainforests of the Tablelands. Visit the Millaa Millaa Waterfall, home to the famous “hair-flick” photos on the ‘Gram. This famous waterfall was the location of Peter Andre’s song Mysterious Girl as well as the Herbal Essence ad.
Top Tip: Appreciate the lush greenery of the Tablelands by taking part in a bushwalk with Uncle Brian’s Tours.
Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef
You finally made it to the top! Last, but certainly not least, Cairns is the final destination of your three-week Australian adventure.
Home to the Great Barrier Reef, this is where the wildlife gets a little less cuddly, and a little more scary! Crocodiles are a real threat here in Cairns, therefore a lot of beaches are closed off to swimmers.
Instead, Cairns is home to a stunning man-made lagoon, where you can chill under a palm tree and enjoy the tropical climate. Book a snorkel or scuba-diving tour and see just exactly what the GBR has to offer!
Top Tip: Join in on the huge pub-crawl that happens every Saturday night; but be careful not to arrive to your snorkel/dive hungover, you may not be allowed to participate!