If you’re looking for our biggest and ‘bestest’ tour, then our 21-Day Emu Tour is for you. As Australia’s largest native bird, the Emu is the perfect Aussie mate to guide you from Sydney all the way up the east coast to tropical Cairns. You’ll explore golden beaches, mountains and rainforests, meet the cheeky wildlife and friendly locals and discover some off-the-beaten-track highlights that aren’t on the usual tourist trail. You’ll travel with a local guide (and get their insider knowledge) and a bunch of like-minded travellers (your new lifelong friends) and explore all the amazing places Aussie has to offer!
Take the pressure off, kick back, relax, soak up the scenery and let someone else do the driving. Only Stray travels by private, air-conditioned bus all the way from Sydney to Cairns, with a maximum of 22 onboard for your comfort. See more and do more along the way with stops for walks, waterfalls, swimming holes, food and wine tasting!
So much more than just your tour guide - expect entertaining anecdotes, great recommendations, extra support and local insider knowledge. They know every inch of this country. You can't get this from a google search!
20 nights included. Accommodation is in 4-6 shared dorms in a range of hostels, backpacker resorts, eco-lodges, apart from 2 nights K’gari (safari tents) and 2 nights Whitsunday Sailing (shared dorm style on a maxi sailing yacht)
25 meals included - 14 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 7 Dinners
Top Rated Experiences
- Discover your inner wine connoisseur at Hunter Valley and taste award-winning samples fresh from the vineyard
- Catch a glimpse of local wildlife and snap the amazing views at Port Stephens
- Get a closer look at Australia's laziest (and cutest) marsupials at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital
- Visit the quirky towns of Bellingen and Eumundi for a taste of alternative lifestyles
- Connect and gain an understanding of the incredible Aboriginal Culture through a bush walk and cultural experience
- Centre yourself with a yoga class in laid-back Byron Bay
- Drop into the iconic Surfers Paradise and a local conservation park
- Spend a night exploring the buzzing riverside city of Brisbane
- Visit the Sunshine Coast and live it up in the resort town of Noosa
- Embark on a 3-day 4WD Safari to K’gari (formerly Fraser Island). Camp under the stars, visit a shipwreck and swim in crystal clear waters before enjoying sundowners
- Stay in the relaxed seaside town of Bargara and taste some of Bundaberg's famous rum
- Explore the breath-taking Whitsunday Islands during a 2-days/2-night sailing trip. Snorkel over vibrant fringing reefs and visit some of the world's most pristine beaches
- Embrace your inner nature-lover on Magnetic Island, a wildlife paradise filled with koalas and wallabies
- Discover the magic of the Atherton Tablelands - from amazing waterfalls and lush rainforest to a pristine crater lake!
- Enjoy the relaxed Cairns lifestyle and the fun nightlife that it’s famous for!
2023 Tour Dates
- 9 & 23 October - GUARANTEED
- 6 November - GUARANTEED
- 27 November
2024 Tour Dates
- 8 January - GUARANTEED
- 22 January
- 5 & 19 February
- 4 March
- 8 April
- 6 May
- 3 June
- 15 July
- 12 August
- 9 September
- 14 & 28 October
- 11 & 25 November
What we're all about...
Stray are the experts in taking you off the beaten track.
We’re all about finding one-of-a-kind experiences and immersing you in the REAL Australia.
Our epic driver guides will ensure you get the most out of your trip.
Tick off your East Coast bucket list with ease and be introduced to places you wouldn’t discover on your own.
Travel is about creating lasting connections and sharing experiences.
Stray travellers are open minded adventurers who make the most of every moment.
We aim to leave Australia better than we found it, supporting local communities and protecting our environment.
Travel with us and together we can make a positive change.
Sydney to Cairns: Emu Tour
Sydney Arrival Info
Check into the hostel anytime after 2pm. At 6.30pm head down to the hostel reception to meet your Stray guide and new travel mates.
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G’day and welcome to your epic East Coast adventure. Your tour begins in Sydney with a day to yourself to explore the city sights and world-famous landmarks. If you’ve just flown in, we recommend taking the train from the airport to Central Station, your accommodation is conveniently located straight across the road. Check into the hostel anytime after 2pm and if you’d like to begin your trip with a delicious cocktail (because wine-not?), head down to Circular Quay and the Opera Bar. Located at the base of the Opera House, with views of the Harbour Bridge, you’ll get all the iconic Sydney pics you can dream of. At 6.30pm head down to reception to meet your Stray guide and travel mates for the next few weeks.
Today we’ll say goodbye to Sydney as we depart the harbour city and make our way north to the Hunter Valley wine region where we’ll taste some of the local wine and cheese before continuing through to Port Stephens, our destination for the night.
We’ll be staying at the Surfside hostel, set on 6 acres of natural bushland, with kangaroos and wallabies on site. This boutique accommodation is about creating a relaxing experience in an environmentally conscious way so you can put your feet up and feel good about it! Once we’ve checked in, you can explore the area, relax, or head to the beach for a swim. If you’re interested, go for a walk around and check out the architecture of the place - they’ve used wood and glass to maximise light and all development incorporates the nature of the area.
Tonight, we’ll enjoy a classic Aussie BBQ dinner and get to know each other - anyone know a good icebreaker?
This morning you have the choice to either sleep in, join your Stray guide for a hike, or jump in a 4WD bus to take part in some first-class sandboarding down the Stockton Sand Dunes (optional expense). The local sandboarding guide will teach you how to safely sandboard and tell you all about the amazing area and the rich Aboriginal history of the region.
If you don’t want to sandboard, your guide will join you for a walk to the summit of Tomaree Head, which stands at 161 metres above the Port Stephens entrance. This short 2.2km return track offers breathtaking views of the coastline and panoramic views of Yacaaba Head, Cabbage Tree and Boondelbah islands, as well as Zenith, Wreck and Box Beaches, Fingal Island and Point Stephens Lighthouse - you might even be lucky enough to see some dolphins (and if it’s May - September, you could see whales!).
Late morning, we’ll pack up and move on to our next overnight stop, Port Macquarie. We’ll have lunch on the way before visiting the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, where we’ll get a closer look at Australia’s laziest (and arguably cutest) marsupials. Check out the information centre to learn all about the hospital’s efforts to rehabilitate, protect and preserve the koalas.
Today we’re heading to the iconic surfing town of Byron Bay, known for its relaxed vibes and no worries attitude. On the way to Byron, we’ll stop at the historic and hipster town of Bellingen to get some lunch, followed by a special Aboriginal experience learning about the First Nations people of Australia.
Your Cultural Experience takes place at an important cultural site of the Gumbaynggirr people, the stunning location of “Niigi Niigi” (Sealy Lookout) within the Orara East State Forest. You’ll go for a 2-hour tour and see 360-degree views, as well as getting the opportunity to immerse yourself in culture through stories, songs, language and the uses of native plants. This will be an unforgettable cultural experience with an emphasis on authentic connection and contributing to helping a community regain their culture and identity.
Do More: By taking part in the experience, you’re making a direct contribution to the revitalisation of Gumbaynggirr language and culture with a percentage of the tour price going towards the local bilingual school to help foster cultural identity and education success.
When we arrive in Byron Bay, we’ll take you on an orientation drive around town to help you get your bearings, showing you points of interest and the top spots for food, shopping and nightlife. For the next few nights, we’re staying at boutique hostel The Surf House, located right in the heart of Byron and just a couple of hundred metres from the main beach - heaven!
Today you have a full day in Byron Bay to really embrace the Byron Bay motto: "cheer up, slow down, and chill out”. Start your day off with a morning yoga class on the rooftop of your hostel and then spend your day exploring the laidback hippy town.
You can walk to Cape Byron Lighthouse, mainland Australia’s most easterly point, or check out the many eclectic boutiques and cafes around town. You could join a sea kayaking or snorkel trip and search for dolphins and other marine life, or even go for an iconic Australian activity - learning to surf.
You lucky thing - you have ANOTHER free day to explore Byron Bay today. Tick off any activities you didn’t get the chance to do yesterday or pass the day wandering the township or relaxing on the beach. Hone your surf skills with more lessons or borrow one of the free surfboards at your hostel to try it out by yourself.
If you’re a foodie then you’re in luck, as eating your way around Byron is an experience in itself. There are heaps of vegetarian and vegan options available, a couple of our favourites are the Cardamom Pod for lunch and No Bones for dinner, both of which are super close to your hostel. This evening, head to the Saturday twilight markets for some live music and lots of boutique stalls showcasing local arts, crafts and some incredible food.
This morning, meet your guide and group outside the Surf House hostel at 8:50am and we’ll depart north across the NSW border to Queensland, stopping for some lunch and a walk around the famous Surfers Paradise. Next, we’ll head to a nearby nature reserve to spot some wild kangaroos, before continuing to Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland for the night. This evening, we recommend going for a stroll down to Southbank for a walk along the Brisbane River and then check out some of the many bars and restaurants.
Have a sleep in this morning before leaving Brisbane and heading north to Noosa. We’ll stop along the way to stretch our legs and see the amazing panoramic views of the Glasshouse Mountains and the Sunshine Coast before enjoying some lunch in the quirky town of Eumundi, known for its artisanal crafts. We’ll go for another walk to see some final views of Noosa and the gorgeous Noosa headlands before arriving at our accommodation in the afternoon.
Our Noosa accommodation is less of a hostel and more of a resort, with a pool and a licensed bar/cafe (did someone say poolside margaritas?) as well as designer dorms with privacy screens and USB charging points. This evening, we’ll grab a drink and dinner at the bar and make plans to explore Noosa.
Today you have a completely free day to spend doing whatever you like. Explore the Everglades by kayak or book a skydive and see Noosa and surroundings from above. Grab a sun lounger and get some much-needed R&R, go for a walk around the incredible headland, visit the beach or have a long, lazy lunch in the sun. The Noosa Surf Club is one of our faves so if you’d like to go out for dinner, you can’t go wrong with this local hotspot!
It’s an early start this morning as you head out for your 3-day, 2-night K’gari (formerly Fraser Island) adventure. During this amazing experience you’ll explore the largest sand island in the world on a 4WD expedition, see the magical Lake Boorangoora (McKenzie), discover towering rainforests, spot a wild dingo, cruise along endless sandy beaches and lose yourself in the magic of stargazing. If you fancy learning how to drive a 4WD, you can do that! This is going to be one of the best experiences of your whole trip and is definitely the coolest way to explore this world-heritage listed National Park.
After a bus, ferry and 4WD transfer, you’ll arrive at Beach Camp on K’gari (your accommodation for the next 2 nights). You’ll have some tasty lunch and then you can check out the camp’s kitchen and deck with ocean views before heading out for your first adventure to see some of the Island highlights. This evening, you’ll arrive back at camp to enjoy dinner, share stories, play the didgeridoo around the campfire and engage in some mind-blowing stargazing. Tonight, you’ll be lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves as you settle into your safari tent (which includes a comfy mattress and hotel quality linens).
Do More: Take part in a beach clean up on the island of K’gari and contribute to keeping this piece of paradise as nature intended.
This morning, wake up to the gorgeous golden sunrise over the ocean, enjoy breakfast and get ready for a fun-filled morning exploring K’gari and her hidden treasures. Enjoy lunch on the beach and then spend the afternoon discovering more lakes (there are over 100!) and epic views before arriving back to camp in time for another dinner under the stars and some fun evening activities.
After breakfast today you’ll hit the inland tracks to discover towering trees and take one last refreshing dip, enjoy lunch in the forest and then begin your journey back to the mainland, arriving into Rainbow Beach around mid-afternoon ready for your next journey north up to Bundaberg.
Bundaberg is well-known for sugarcane, rum, ginger beer and more recently has been called the ‘Bundaberg Bowl’ for its reputation of growing and producing fresh food that’s served across the country. Your accommodation in Bundaberg is a relaxed eco-resort, this time you’ll be located by a nature reserve and have access to a spa, sauna, tennis courts and more (we know, we treat you good!). Tonight, we’ll have a group BBQ dinner and enjoy a chilled evening.
Today you get to have a relaxing morning in Bundaberg. Enjoy a sleep in, go for a swim at the resort pool or why not play a game of tennis? We’ll have breakfast at the resort and then head to Bundaberg for lunch and to explore the area.
After lunch, we’ll head to the Bundaberg Rum Centre for a tour of their distillery and a tasting of their iconic rum. Or, if you’d prefer a full day out on the water and the chance to visit the Southern part of the Great Barrier Reef, your guide can book you onto the incredible Lady Musgrave Full Day Tour for a day of snorkelling, a boat cruise, island walk and delicious food.
Today is a big travelling day to Airlie Beach, the gateway to the amazing Whitsunday Islands, so load up on snacks and we’ll get the tunes going to get us through the day. We’ll make some stops to stretch our legs and arrive in Airlie in the evening.
This morning, enjoy a sleep in or take a stroll down to the Airlie lagoon for a dip. After lunch, head down to Coral Sea Marina to meet your crew and jump onboard a 76-foot, maxi sailing yacht which will be your home for the next two days. As you leave the marina and Airlie Beach behind you, watch your crew hoist the sails for an exhilarating trip out to the Whitsunday Islands - part of the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Once you arrive out around the Islands, jump in for a swim or snorkel amongst the fringing reef and then enjoy the sunset with a drink in hand on one of the crew's favourite little beaches. In the evening relax on deck, have a few drinks, get to know the crew, stargaze and let the calm waters gently rock you to sleep - for the adventurous, mats are provided to sleep on deck under the stars or if you prefer a bit more comfort, a bed awaits you below deck.
This morning you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’re in paradise, as you wake up on a yacht surrounded by beautiful islands and enjoy a delicious breakfast on deck as you sail towards Whitsunday Island, home to the best beach in the world - Whitehaven Beach. You’ll disembark and enjoy a bush-walk to Hill Inlet Lookout and then spend the rest of the day exploring and relaxing on Whitehaven Beach. You can also go snorkelling today, enjoy a sunset beach session and another fun evening onboard with your group and the crew.
Enjoy your final morning on-board the yacht, have one last magical swim or snorkel and then sail on back to Airlie Beach. This afternoon we’ll jump back on the bus and head to Townsville. We’ll then catch the ferry over to our next destination of Magnetic Island in the late afternoon. Nearly 50% of ‘Maggie Island’ is national parkland, and it's surrounded by amazing beaches and abundant wildlife. Your guide will fill you in on the activities you can do around the island over the next couple of days.
See More: This island paradise is your best chance on the East Coast to see koalas in the wild. Keep your eyes out for these sleepy marsupials, rock wallabies, and colourful birds as you explore the forested island.
Today you will wake up in paradise and have a full free day to explore. This beautiful island is home to the historic Forts Complex, which you see in a scenic walk with your Guide. At the end, you’ll be rewarded with some incredible views over the island and ocean beyond. Spend the rest of your day relaxing on the secluded beaches, hiking through native bush or searching for wildlife! Top tip: stay alert and keep your eyes on the trees, Maggie Island is one of the best places in Australia to see koalas in the wild!
We catch the ferry back to the mainland in the morning and then we’ll get on the road again and head up to the stunning Atherton Tablelands. We’ll stop at the famous Millaa Millaa Falls along the way for a swim and some amazing photo ops.
We’ll go for a walk and a swim in Lake Eacham - a beautiful crater lake, and visit the heritage-listed Curtain Fig Tree, before making our way to Cairns. Tonight, we’re staying at an amazing resort with its own person-made beach! We’ll have a group dinner at the resort and then check out the legendary Cairns nightlife.
Today is a completely free day so if you had a few too many cocktails last night, enjoy a lazy sleep-in and perhaps some hair-of-the-dog by the pool in the afternoon. If you’re ready for another day of adventure, why not book a tour of Cape Tribulation or go to see the iconic Great Barrier Reef?
Today is the final day of your Stray adventure. Give a hug or a wave to your new mates and head off for the next leg of your adventure, taking with you the most incredible memories, everything you’ve learned about Australia’s special culture and wildlife, and of course some classic Aussie lingo - G’DAY MATES!
Sydney to Cairns: Emu Tour
Need to Know
- Trip starts: Arrival day is on a Monday and we depart from Sydney on Tuesday morning.
- Transport: Travel by private Stray bus, ferry and 4WD (K'gari/formerly Fraser Island), sailing yacht (Whitsundays).
- Included meals: Any dietary requirements or allergies must be advised upon booking so that they can be catered to where possible.
- Guides: Your Guide is your Bus Driver, Activity Organiser, Tour Guide, and friend. They’re always on hand to give you travel trips, advice and any help you need.
- Stray Travellers: Find your tribe and make meaningful connections with travellers from all over the world. The majority of our passengers are aged between 20-35 but there is no age limit! You just need to be reasonably fit and be young at heart! 70% of our travellers are travelling solo.
- Covid Safety Measures: To minimise risk to our travellers, staff and operators we will be doing everything we can to reduce the risk of transmission and we will be playing it safe with safety measures such as regular bus cleaning and disinfecting, and having hand sanitiser on the bus. If you would like a copy of our full COVID-19 Safety Plan, please email [email protected]
- Payment Options: If you'd like to secure your place on the trip, but are a little bit short on cash, you can reserve a seat with a $200 deposit. Click 'Book Your Travel' and choose the deposit option in checkout. You then have 6 months to pay it off - too easy! Better yet - there's no admin fee. You can make payments when it suits you using our Extra Payments page. You just need to have paid for your trip in full 31 days before you start your travels.