Touring Australia’s East Coast – 10 places and experiences along the way

Beautiful beaches, metropolises, and nature you have never seen before. Australia’s East Coast has it all. Touring the route from Sydney to Cairns is on the bucket list of many people all over the world. It starts in, Australia’s most populated state, New South Wales and ends in Queensland. Along the way the views change from green fields to tropical forests with palm trees and picture-perfect blue waters.

With many tours including New South Wales and many exploring tropical Queensland’s coast, East Coast tours are an important part of We Tour Australia’s tour offering. Let’s take a look at what you can see and do along the 2500-kilometre-long drive (1553 miles) and see some of the different places that you will pass through.


Harbour city Sydney is also known as the Australian city that never sleeps. Australia’s largest city is a busy multicultural place and financial centre known for its Opera House and the Harbour bridge, famously lit up by fireworks as Australia welcomes in the New Year. But that doesn’t mean that there is nowhere you can relax within the buzzing city’s life. Lots of people love to go to its beautiful beaches as well, especially in the weekends, inlcuding the world-renowned Bondi Beach. This place with its intriguing combination of city and beachside lifestyle is seen as the ultimate Australian experience.  It’s a must see for anyone visiting Australia. (The Sydney City Council website provides helpful information on what to do in Bondi.)

Skyline view Sydney

Coffs Harbour

About 500km north of Sydney you will find Coffs Harbour. This town is easy to explore. The friendly locals at this small coastal city will make you feel welcome from the minute you arrive.  Coffs Harbour may be known for its banana plantations. But there are plenty of other things to do here, from beaches to water adventures. All the activities available and a laid-back local mindset ensures that you will find this place hard not to like.

Gold Coast

When in Gold Coast, you will see lots of families walking around. It is a very popular holiday destination not only for Aussies, but also for international travellers. There is a reason for this. There are stunning beaches that attract many surfers. Good swimming spots abound and there are plenty of activities for anyone who enjoy water sports and water parks. But don’t forget to explore beyond the coast into the subtropical hinterland and walk trough the rainforests. If you like waterfalls, this is definitely a must-do.


This open-minded city is nature oriented. When you are here you will see that everyone is easy going and loves the outdoors. Going outdoors does not mean you have to travel far. The city itself has already more than 2000 parks. Brisbane is also home to different wild animals. In the surrounding seas you can spot dolphins and turtles and koalas and kangaroos are just some of the Australian fauna you are likely to encounter. Even if you would like to be less active, you can still have a good time in Brisbane, since the city has a strong history in arts, music and sport. Visit the Gallery of Modern Art or one of the many live music venues. (The Brisbane City Council website offers a very useful guide to live venues and the entertainment they offer.)

Sunshine Coast

Sunshine Coast

The Sunshine Coast, north of Brisbane, is a foodie’s dream destination. You’ll find seafood restaurants all over the place. Add local wineries and breweries and visitors’ taste buds are in for a treat. The locals are always open to a conversation, so you won’t feel lonely here. In that way the Sunshine Coast has a similar feel to the Gold Coast. But there is a big difference between the two coasts, with the Sunshine Coast much less developed and crowded than its more well-known neighbour.

Fraser Island (K’gari)

This island is a special one. Made of sand Fraser island has no roads. That does not mean you can’t drive there. But you will need a 4WD. Of course, you can drive yourself. But you can also book a 4wd tour of the island and have a guide show you the island. Between the beaches and inland tracks, driving here will be a one-of-a-kind experience. There are many lakes and walking trails to explore, and you can easily spend multiple days here to get an insight into what it is like to live on this island. On the way you will probably meet friendly people who are willing to help if needed. Fraser Island is the place to be when you are looking for an Australian adventure.


Do you like to eat meat? Then, a visit to ‘the beef capital of Australia’ must be on your itinerary. A 40-kilometre drive from the East Coast and about 550km north of Brisbane, you’ll find the city of Rockhampton. Another small city there is a lot going on here and something for young and old to enjoy. The city is set in beautiful nature with Mount Etna National Park and Bouldercombe Gorge nearby.  You can eat a good and tasty steak in one of the many restaurants. If you are more into heritage and culture, there is a free self guided audio tour in which you will learn all about Rockhampton’s colonial past. It will take you along the Heritage Architecture Trail.

Whitsunday Islands

Whitsunday Islands

Rest on the white sand beach, swim with turtles in turquoise waters and snorkel or dive in order to explore the Great Barrier Reef, which stretches along 2000 km of coastline. The Whitsundays is truly a beautiful place to spend your holiday. It consists of 74 Islands of which Hamilton Island is the most popular. Here you can stroll down Hamilton marina or have, what is called, a dinner with a view. You can spend as much money as you would like in the Whitsundays. It will always be an unforgettable and luxurious experience. (See more about what the Whitsundays have to offer visitors on Queensland’s visitor guide.)

Airlie Beach

One of the gateways to the Whitsunday Islands is Airlie Beach. The town itself is also worth a visit. It is surrounded by many tropical islands, great restaurants and it also has a vibrant nightlife. Visiting the rainforest in Conway National Park will contribute to your tropical time in this area. Our tip: go to the Airlie Beach Markets; you will get the chance to talk to locals and buy some souvenirs for home.


Nearly 2500km north of Sydney, Cairns is the largest centre on tropical far North Queensland’s coast. It is seen as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. It is a diverse town surrounded by ancient rainforests, rich culture and unique reefs. Visiting the Botanic Gardens, located in North Cairns is a great way to add variety to your holiday. If you really don’t want to do anything and just relax, Trinity Beach is where you have to go. Here you can avoid the tourist crowd. (Need more travel inspiration? Visit the Tourism Australia’s website for more things to do in Cairns and far North Queensland.)

Already excited?

Our East Coast Islands and Rainforest tour will take you to all these places. Contact us if you feel like you need or want more information, we’d love to help you to explore Australia’s stunning easter coast line. Other websites that are useful during your time on the East Coast besides the Tourism Australia website are Nomads World and Lonely Planet.