By Telma and Thomas | 30 December 2015 | Australia | Travel Guides

Travelling in Australia is a must-do amongst backpackers. Australia’s East Coast is one of the most iconic places to go backpacking because has everything a budget traveller could wish for: beach, sun and parties all night long.
We travelled down the east coast for three-and-half weeks and enjoyed every moment of it. Below is our road trip itinerary, as we suggest on what to do and see while travelling the East Coast of Australia.

Originally, the plan was to travel for two weeks, but we realised that was nearly impossible due to all the distances involved. What we didn’t really take into consideration when planning the east coast route, is that from Cairns to Sydney is a “mere” 2.420 km/1500miles! So if we really wanted to make the most of it and visit several places, we had to slow down!

In average the number of nights spent in one place was two, apart from Brisbane and Sydney which we stayed with friends/family. In reality we felt travel burnout while backpacking down the East Coast, because it was way too much. The packing, unpacking and moving every couple of days was insane, and taught us a big lesson: take your time & enjoy more.

Also, we travelled down the East Coast at the beginning of December and it wasn’t crowded at all; we never struggled to find accommodation on the day, booked tours just a day or two in advance and always caught the Hop on and Hop off bus without having to reschedule.

greyhound bus australia



Cairns to Sydney Route

Map of the route: Cairns to Sydney – 2.420 km/1500miles

travelling the east coast of australia Trip Highlights: 1 – Cairns; 2 – Mission Beach; 3 – Townsville; 4 – Airlie Beach; 5 – Agnes Water; 6 – Harvey Torquay; 7 – Brisbane; 8 – Sydney

Photo credit: Free World Maps

East Coast Australia Road Trip – Three Weeks

3 nights

1 night
2 nights

2 nights + 1 overnight bus to Agnes Water

  • Whitsundays

things to see in australiaTop – Left to Right: Cairns; Mission Beach | Bottom – Left to Right: Townsville; Whitsundays

2 nights

2 nights, before & after Fraser Island

7 nights, included Christmas, 1 overnight bus to Sydney, 1 night at the train station

7 nights, included New Year

  • Wollongong
  • Kiama
  • Sea Cliff Bridge
  • Minnamurra Rainforest



east coast of australia itineraryTop – Left to Right: 1770 Town; Fraser Island | Bottom – Left to Right: Brisbane; Sydney

How much does Backpacking the East Coast of Australia Cost?

Our budget for the East Coast of Australia is an estimated cost of what people should expect to pay, because our accommodation in Brisbane and Sydney was free. As well as most of our meals in Sydney. Therefore, showing the total of costs would be inaccurate.
Below is a breakdown of costs for Accommodation ONLY from Cairns to Brisbane, Transportation and Entertainment.

Regarding sleeping arrangements, all the bookings were very easy to make and to find online. We barely booked in advanced and always found something nearby the drop-off bus terminals. The cheapest option was backpacker hostels and we caught the overnight bus twice. Hostels rooms were on average:  *AUD$20-$25/USD$15-$20/GBP£10-£15 per person.

In Cairns High Street there are a lot of deals going on and with a bit of luck… and charm, we managed to find a good one. We opted for the Greyhound Hop on Hop off Pass, which was valid for three months. We paid *AUD$340/USD$250/GBP£180 per person from Cairns to Sydney, having unlimited usage of buses and stops along the way.

To find out about Fraser Island costs, click here.

Great Barrier Reef Day Trip – *AUD$178/GBP£85 two people
Whitsundays Day Trip – *AUD$268/GBP£125 two people
Bike Hire – 1770 Town – *AUD$50/GBP£24 two people

*Exchange Rates according to XE back in December 2015

day trip great barrier reef

Special Thanks:

We would like to thank the following people for their hospitality and kindness during our stay with them. Trent and Tamieka in Brisbane and Maria (Telma’s Cousin) in Sydney.

Further reading: Lonely Planet East Coast Australia (Travel Guide) is a complete and all-inclusive guide for those wanting to experience and explore East Coast of Australia. We strongly recommend reading this guide as it helped us planning our own trip. Happy Travels!

What do you think of our itinerary?

the best of the east coast of australia

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We are Thomas and Telma – the writers, photographers, videographers and founders of Blank Canvas Voyage.

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