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.
Cairns to Sydney Route
Map of the route: Cairns to Sydney – 2.420 km/1500miles
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
- Great Barrier Reef
- Palm Cove
2 nights + 1 overnight bus to Agnes Water
Top – Left to Right: Cairns; Mission Beach | Bottom – Left to Right: Townsville; Whitsundays
Top – 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.
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!
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We are Thomas and Telma – the writers, photographers, videographers and founders of Blank Canvas Voyage.
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