Sydney and Cairns are undeniably two of Australia’s greatest cities for travel and leisure. Both are always included in lists of top travel destinations in the country—securing and cementing Land Down Under among the world’s best, if not already.
Sydney, for its part, is the country’s most popular even making Canberra, the capital city, pale in comparison. Harbour City provides uninhibited cosmopolitan adventures owing to the rich fusion of modern influences from all over the world without forgetting heritage and culture. North Queensland’s gateway city, Cairns, meanwhile, gets its nickname for being close to two of the country’s most iconic World Heritage Sites, Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest.
There’s ample reason for the east coast to be worthwhile and it not only is because of the famous cities therein. Now that you’re gearing up for the road trip of a lifetime, let’s make it even more memorable. From Cairns to Sydney, here’s how you can make the most of the destination juggernauts and everything else in between. Listed below are key stopover points you must do:
1. Cairns and Cape Tribulation
Being the so-called gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics of the North particularly the Daintree Rainforest, Australia’s back-to-back World Heritage Sites, the city of Cairns is the best place to start this spectacular road trip. Dive down and snorkel for the best and the brightest, ride the SkyRail Rainforest Cableway to see the forest the way the birds see it, enjoy the beauty of Fitzroy Island, Green Island and the Cairns Botanic Gardens. While you’re in the area, take a quick two-hour detour to Cape Tribulation. Trust us, you’re not going to regret the magisterial beaches and islands.
2. Airlie Beach
Next up is a twelve-hour scenic drive (and a ferry ride) to Airlie Beach. We’ve heard enough of the Whitsunday coast to know that there should be no stopping anyone from travelling here. The Australian suburb is part of what makes the peninsula so wonderfully satisfying not only for physical relaxation but also emotional respite. Though the entire peninsula contains about 74 islands everything else pales in comparison with Airlie Beach. Explore the white-sanded shores and cool blue water, snorkel, bask, bath, sail and, of course, wine and dine.
From National Highway A1, less than a six-hour drive will take you to Rockhampton. Lying on the Fitzroy River, the Queensland city quietly attracts tourism through its abundance of outdoor activities. One of Rockhampton’s major draws is the Capricorn Caves. The 33 hectare privately owned caves is open to the public and provides a wonderful tour around inside. Also in Rockhampton are the Riverbank Parklands, the Archer Park Rail Museum, Mount Archer and Mount Etna Caves National Park among many others.
4. Fraser Island
Still driving along the National Highway, we’re coming to the world’s largest sand island. Stretching over 120 kilometres and found right off Queensland’s eastern coast, Fraser Island also makes the cut as a World Heritage Site in Australia. The island maybe one of those sand-meets-shore country wonders but in Fraser, you can ride a four-wheel drive, go on a scenic flight, camp and sleep under the stars and even watch the wildlife! Nowhere else can you do these things without having to travel long winding hours to get to another hotspot. Also adding to Fraser Island’s uniqueness is being the only place on Earth where a rainforest grows on sand.
We know you haven’t had enough the magic that the water brings, so we’re giving you even more! Noosa, like many in this list, is both part of the Great Sunshine Way and the Pacific Coast Touring Route. Found in South East Queensland, only 130 kilometres from Brisbane, Noosa used to be an aboriginal home. Its bora rings, canoe trees, stone carvings, burial trees and place names remain a testament to this fact. It is also Queensland’s first Biosphere Reserve. That alone will make you want to go for a visit and discover the natural wonder and relaxation Noosa National Park can bring!
Now that we’re in the city, there’s no stopping this road trip from getting even better! A stopover in the sunny city of Brisbane is highly recommended; we just see no reason why you shouldn’t come and visit. Brisbane is a multicultural metropolis that never ceases to amaze its guests (and even often its locals) of the eclectic mix of activities and attractions it can provide. Make your tummy happy with its array of international food; restaurants here are award-winning and also world class. The city has both old and new under its belt: walkways and alleys are embellished with decorative graffiti, go on lovely day trips by the Brisbane River and experience nightlife exclusive to the city.
7. Gold Coast
We’ve said a lot about Gold Coast in the past and it being listed here further proves that it is one of the points of interest that should never be forgotten. Gold Coast, metaphorically speaking, is one giant magnet of a destination. The metropolitan region is only less than two hours away via Pacific Motorway from Brisbane. If the latter city mixes cultures, Gold Coast mixes sand, sea and surfing with skyscrapers! The skyline is truly one that will take your breath away. If you’ve only seen it in photos, you’ll find that it’s one of those that truly lives up to the expectations. Other water adventures you can do with the entire family here are a visit to Dreamworld, Sea World and Wet’n’Wild theme parks.
8. Byron Bay
You might think you’ve seen it all; you might think that we can stop altogether in this road trip but after reading this, you’re might want to think twice on that thought. Of course you haven’t seen it all, there is so much more! The beachside town of Byron Bay, which is filled with wonderful aquatic wildlife, is where you can go surfing, backpacking, skydiving and whale watching. If a quadruple treat still isn’t enough for you, then go snorkelling and scuba diving in its tropical waters. Near places of note are Nightcap National Park and Minyon Falls.
9. Coffs Harbour
The coastal city of Coffs Harbour is almost in the middle of two great Australian cities, Brisbane and Sydney so if you’re looking for a stopover that will be worth the extra day (or two) you’ve come to the right place. The city is near numerous national parks for wildlife encounters and exploring the beauty of the local fauna. Some of which are the Cascade National Park, the South Solitary Island and the Dorrigo National Park. If you’re up for some surf life, head on to Crescent Head and take to the beach!
After long travels to and from quaint little villages and towns, coming to Newcastle via Pacific Highway will feel like coming back to where all the buzz lives especially while it is the second most populated area in New South Wales. The metropolis is a place of lively and modern vibe. It presents some cultural, natural and historical sites like nature reserves, museums and visitor centres, tours and attractions fit for those who want to have fun while taking in the city’s roots. Of course, it wouldn’t be truly energetic without the colourful entertainment and nightlife and great food!
Sydney is the end where it all begins. Now that we’re down to our last stop, you may think that this destination is where it all just stops. While, Sydney is the truly the cherry on top, we’re gonna have to explore why it has truly been the number one choice for all travellers in Australia. The city houses some of the most popular and most iconic destinations in Australia—the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Tower. In the city, there’s a mix of everything you always wanted in a cosmopolitan city—thriving nightlife, crowded yet surreally beautiful beaches, modern architecture and many more. We’d need an actual book if we were to list all the things you could do here. Take our advice and find out just why it is truly Australia’s crown jewel.
Ready to take on our East Coast Cruising travel route? Call us, Apollo Motorhome Holidays, today and book a motorhome or a campervan! Follow our social media pages (Facebook) and we’ll keep you on the loop on all things road trips!