Visiting Australia has been at the top of my travel list for as long as I can remember. So one day I decided ‘why not’, I booked myself a ticket and nine days later I was departing for Sydney.
The East Coast of Australia is beautiful for a number of reasons and there’s a lot to see, but with so much content on the internet, where do we start? To help, I’ve shared my itinerary and tips below.
|City||Average temp (February) °C|
|Sydney||27 – 30|
|Cairns||31 – 37|
|Gold Coast||28 – 32|
|Byron Bay||28 – 32|
|Melbourne||20 – 30
(Melbourne’s weather is very versatile, it could get really cold, windy and rainy or be beautifully hot)
I travelled in February, which is still summer, but the weather can vary between cities. I’ve added the averages for the month.
THE MUST HAVES!
- Comfy backpack/daypack
- Comfy footwear, you’ll do a lot of walking
- 30+ sun cream & sunglasses – Australia is close to the ozone hole over the Antarctic so it has very high sun exposure. Make sure you protect your skin and eyes.
- Bottle of water
- Bondi to Coogee coastal walk – approx. 6k
Tip – wear comfy shoes, I made the mistake of doing it in converse – ouch!!
- Explore Sydney Harbour – the Opera house, Harbour Bridge and the Rocks. You’ll be surprised what you can come across by wandering around.
Jetlag kicks in – time for bed.
- The Blue Mountains – the area is huge but an organised excursion will show you all that’s worth seeing
Full-day excursion, including boat ride back into Sydney harbour- * Booked with sightseeing tours
- Visit Sydney’s fish market – get there early.
- Afternoon at one of Sydney’s beautiful beaches. I went to ‘Shark Beach’ (don’t panic, there’s a net in the water).
- An evening visit to Darling Harbour – great scene, food and nightlife.
- Family BBQ. I used this day to spend with my sister and cousins who live in Sydney.
Evening Flight to Cairns
- Scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef. Get up close to the jellies and stingrays. If you prefer you can snorkel instead which is just as good, without the added cost.
Full-day excursion, don’t forget travel sickness tablets as you spend the whole day at sea- * Booked with Passions of Paradise
- Visit Cairns lagoon ‘the Espinade’ a great spot to top up the tan, read a book and feel like you’re chilling on the beach.
- After a few hours relaxing, it was time for more adventure with White Water Rafting on the Barron River. A true adrenalin rush and SUCH a fun experience.
Beware; it’s likely you will fall out of the raft – but that’s all part of the fun.
Half day excursion. There is an option for all day, but for a first timer, half day is enough, you’ll be exhausted! *Booked with Raging Thunder Adventures
- Morning spent on the Daintree River looking for wild Crocodiles. We spotted a big fella in the water and loads of smaller crocs too.
- Afternoon spent exploring Cape Tribulation, one of the oldest rainforests in the world. You’ll see some amazing sights, swim in fresh water lakes and spot where the rainforest meets the reef – a beautiful place.
- Evening spent in Port Douglas, chill on the beach, drink a beer and watch the sunset.
Full-day excursion. *Booked with Uncle Brian tours
Morning Flight To The Gold Coast
- If you’re going to visit a zoo, I’d definitely recommend visiting one in Queensland, as you have the opportunity to get up close with the animals (which you can’t do in New South Wales).
I went to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, all the native animals are here. You can feed the Kangaroos, hug a Koala and I got to be the star of a show where I fed a huge Crocodile – a brilliant experience and worth the money (this only happens once a day and the opportunity is only available to one person).
Spend as long as you want here, I spent just over half a day * Tickets booked on arrival
BUS RIDE DOWN TO BYRON BAY
Day 8 continued
- It is BEAUTIFUL here. If you’re looking for a chilled and friendly vibe then Byron Bay is the place to be. There’s a lot to do, with great places to eat and a beautiful beach. I used the rest of this day to settle in and wander around
- A good day to… SKY DIVE. It’s hard to find anyone in Aus that hasn’t done this, so I thought why not. There was nothing more beautiful than freefalling over Byron Bay!!
Half-day excursion *Booked with Skydive Australia
- Cape Byron (the lighthouse) 6am start to watch the most beautiful sunrise you can imagine, whilst standing in Australia’s most Easterly spot. You will not regret the early start!!
- On to my first surf lesson at Tallow Beach. I’ve done a lot of fun things, but surfing was by far one of my favourites. I would HIGHLY recommend giving this a go.
Half-day excursion *Booked with Black Dog surfing
Morning Flight To Melbourne!
- Reality check, going from 30-degree heat, to cold and rain in Melbourne (pack wisely).
- I explored most of Melbourne by foot, Federation Square, St Paul’s Cathedral and a lot of wandering around checking out the street art. I also went to the 88th floor of the Eureka Skydeck to get a fantastic view of the whole City from above.
- I went to St Kilda beach at night to see wild penguins come to rest. Seeing them up close and in the wild was awesome (you don’t have to go to Phillip Island, you can see them in Melbourne too!).
- The ‘Great Ocean Road’ a scenic drive. You can stop off along the way at ‘Kafe Koala’ (Kennet River) here you’ll see wild Parrots and wild Koalas, put some seeds in your palm and the parrots will flock to you.
- We ended up at Port Campbell National Park – Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge. A breath-taking sight, well worth the road trip.
Full day excursion *Tour booked through Sight Seeing Tours Australia
- Harbour Bridge climb. This was great and I done it with my sister so it was even more special.
- I’d recommend ‘Phillip’s Foote’ (the Rocks) for a great meal where you can cook your own steak. Then a trip to ‘Pancakes on the Rocks’ to satisfy your sweet tooth – seriously delicious.
- I got up early to watch the sunrise over Bondi Beach. Hopped on a bus to town and went inside the Opera House, walked in Hyde Park, went to Darling Harbour (this time during the day), checked out the Chinese Garden (very peaceful) and went shopping in the Queen Victoria Building.
- I ended my travels out for dinner in the harbour with my sister and cousin, before an emotional goodbye to them and Australia.
So there you have it, you can explore Australia’s East Coast in just 2 weeks. It was non-stop but I used every minute of my time wisely. Public transport is great and flights with ‘Jetstar’ are generally quite cheap. There’s always the option of coaches or trains to travel around Australia, if you’ve got more time on your hands.
I travelled on my own (only being with my sister in Sydney) but you meet many other travellers, so you never feel alone and I always felt safe. It’s an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life and one I’m forever grateful for. I’d encourage everyone to travel or visit the East Coast of beautiful Australia.