Our East Coast Australia Route | Gap Year Travel


I get numerous questions from many friends and YouTube subscribers alike about where exactly Alice and I went along Australia’s East Coast and which places we would recommend. Here’s the full breakdown of where we stopped off at and which places you can’t miss.

Melbourne – Cairns

1. Melbourne

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We first flew into Melbourne which was by far both of our favourite city along the east coast. It beat Sydney hands down. Oh, and of course Melbourne has the Great Ocean Road!

2. Sydney

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Spending Christmas in Sydney was definitely a surreal experience and one not to be missed. We lounged about, sunbathed(?!) and basked in the gorgeous heat on Bondi Beach. We spent two weeks here!

3. Port Macquarie

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This was to break up the horrendous Greyhound Bus journey from Sydney to Byron and it was between Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour. As cool as it may have been to see the giant banana, we opted for Port Macquarie instead because of the Koala Hospital!

4. Byron Bay

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Oh Byron… how we miss you! Byron Bay is your typical Aussie-town filled with hipsters and surfers and an abundance of healthy food places. Alice and I also went to the Falls Festival here over the New Year period so it will always have a special place in our hearts <3

5. Surfers Paradise

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This was a stop-off between Byron Bay and Brisbane and we had heard a lot of mixed reviews on this particular city. We thought it was worth stopping off at though and the coast was absolutely gorgeous – the sea was the perfect temperature! We only stayed a couple of days though.

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6. Brisbane

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I wish we had stayed longer in Brisbane if I’m completely honest. Home to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Brisbane offered us the chance to get up close and friendly with kangaroos, koalas and many more animals. The city is also pretty cool but sadly we didn’t get the chance to explore.

7. Noosa


Alice and I actually really liked Noosa. We stayed with such a lovely host in an AirBnB after spending the night in a not-so-great hostel in the middle of nowhere. Noosa is a great place for surfing and here was where we had our first surfing lesson and also where we got up early enough to see the sunrise and walk on the beach at 5am! Noosa is absolutely beautiful. I’d definitely recommend a stop-off.

8. Rainbow Beach

The only reason one would visit Rainbow Beach is because it’s the gateway to Fraser Island and most tour companies depart from here. The town itself is absolutely tiny but we stumbled across a really cute café with backpacker discounts! If you ever find yourself in Rainbow Beach, be sure to visit Café Jilarty.

 9. Fraser Island

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A must-see along the east coast of Australia. The world’s largest sand island filled with lots of natural lakes and creeks is something that shouldn’t be missed. We had an absolute blast on the island despite the rainy weather (granted, we were a little disappointed) but Lake McKenzie is gorgeous. The water and sand particles mean that your hair and skin feel amazing after you’ve been playing around in it.

10. Hervey Bay

Just like Rainbow Beach, Hervey Bay is where tours depart/arrive back from Fraser Island. Our tour company was really good as it offered the option to be dropped off in a different location to the one we were picked up at. This was perfect as we continued our journey up the east coast without having to take another coach journey! Hervey Bay was where Alice and I ended up homeless for the night so it’ll be a place I’ll never forget…

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11. Airlie Beach

Yet another place along the east coast seen as a ‘one night before/one night after’ a tour. All overnight and day tours around the Whitsunday islands departed from here which meant that the entire town was filled with backpackers ready to partaaay. The hostel we stayed at was pretty cool and had hammocks to lounge about in – it was also really close to the coach station which was really good!

12. The Whitsunday Islands


Absolutely breathtaking. If you have to choose between the Whitsunday Island Tour and the Fraser Island Tour then definitely, definitely go for this one. You’ve seen all of the postcard pictures of Whitehaven Beach but it looks even better in person. The Great Barrier Reef also starts on the edge around the Whitsunday Islands which means you get to snorkel and scuba dive in some beautiful areas.

13. Magnetic Island

Alice and I actually split up for a couple of days: I went to Magnetic Island with some girls we had met on the Whitsunday Islands Tour while she went straight to Cairns to complete her PADI diving course. I‘m so glad I went to Magnetic Island as it’s so pretty and serene. Magnetic Island is also the only place you can hire a Barbie Car which is exactly what we did! We also saw a lot more wild animals {wild koalas are everywhere here} and went along to Bungalow Bay’s Koala village to see even more animals.


14. Cairns


Our final stop along the East Coast (even though we did fly back to Sydney for a couple of days afterwards…) Cairns is party central for backpackers and we stayed in the popular, party backpacker hostel that is Gilligan’s. Cairns itself isn’t much fun and it’s incredibly humid. I really, really didn’t like the weather whatsoever but the company made it bearable. After a couple of nights partying it up with all of the friends we had met along the east coast, and after our day of skydiving, we ended our east coast adventures and flew back to Sydney. Cairns is either the beginning or end an east-coast trip and in some ways, Alice and I wished we had done this first, but given how we wanted to spend Christmas in Sydney and how we had the Falls Festival over New Year, it didn’t fit in well with our schedule.

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And that was our route up the East Coast of Australia! If you’re planning a trip and have any questions to ask then please don’t hesitate to ask 😉 – Alice & I will also be filming a video soon about our trip so keep your eyes on my YouTube channel.

Peace and love,
Viola xo


20 years old | bit of a nerd | thoughts about life | travel, fitness, fashion + student blog |
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30 thoughts on “Our East Coast Australia Route | Gap Year Travel

  1. It looks like you had a fabulous time, and the pictures are absolutely lovely! My family is planning a trip to Australia quite soon, so this is getting me very excited.

  2. I have a wonderful friend on the internet from Australia, and would love to visit one day. It really is the other side of the known world for me though…

  3. Hi! Im planning a gap year thats a really similar route to yours, only without Melbourne and for 80 days. If you don’t mind letting me know, at an estimate how much did it cost you for the australia trip?

  4. Ugh, that picture makes me pine for the Whitsundays! What an incredible trip. Being on the Western coast, I haven’t seen much of what’s beyond Perth and Sydney… though you’re making me seriously consider traveling up the East Coast, too!

    1. I’d love to visit the West coast (and also go back to the East 😉 ) – definitely take a trip as it’s 100% worth it!

    1. They’re absolutely gorgeous. It is deeply sad to hear that, but yes you are right 🙁

  5. So beautiful – I love especially the Whitsunday Islands – the sand is as white as snow! I hope to visit Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania by the end of next year – as a European that will be probably as far as I can go on our planet 🙂

    1. The sand on the Whitsunday Islands is something I’ve never experienced before – it feels so soft and silky! Yes, definitely visit Australia and let me know how that goes! I’d love to go to New Zealand and Tasmania too 🙂

  6. Ahhh yessss, I am so happy you went skydiving. I went in Dubai and it was amazing…I love when people get out of their comfort zone and take the plunge! I have never been to Austrailia but it’s definitely on my list. Great itinerary.

    1. It was terrifying but I loved every second of it! Australia is definitely a country worth going to. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. I live in Brisbane city and have been to most of the places on this list. Its unfortunate that you could not explore much of Brisbane city, its really cool. And surfers paradise, Byron Bay and Noosa are simply quite stunning. They are the perfect weekend getaway from here 😀

    1. I really did like Brisbane and I wish we had seen more of it. I’ll be back for sure 😉

  8. I love and miss Australia like crazy as I had some of the coolest years of my life in this country
    Keep on rocking

  9. After all the beach photos and lazing around with kangaroos, I wasn’t expecting the skydiving picture! It looks like an amazing gap year! I did a gap year as well and was split between Australia and Brazil. I wound up going to Brazil but have always wanted to visit Australia as well. Thank you for sharing your experience!

    1. Haha thank you Judson, I still can’t believe I did it really! I’ve never been to South America and can only hope my Spanish significantly improves before I brave Brazil! Thanks for commenting 🙂

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