Our 21-Day Emu Tour is our biggest and best tour, taking you on an epic journey up the East Coast. As Australia’s largest native bird, the Emu is the perfect companion to guide you from Sydney all the way up to tropical Cairns. You’ll explore golden beaches and rainforests, meet the cheeky wildlife and friendly locals and discover some off the beaten track locations that aren’t on the usual tourist trail. You’ll travel with a local guide (who will share their insider knowledge) and a bunch of like-minded travellers (who will become lifelong friends) and explore everything that Aussie has to offer in style!
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 24 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/Fraser Island (safari tents) and 2 nights Whitsunday Sailing (shared dorms/sections onboard yacht)
24 meals included - 13 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 7 Dinners
Top Rated Experiences
Waterfalls, canoeing, sailing, wildlife spotting! There are so many awesome inclusions with the Stray Emu Sydney to Cairns Tour and we can’t wait for you to experience them:
- 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, Eumundi and Kuranda
- 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
- Have free time in Byron, Noosa and Cairns to relax or explore at your own pace
- Embark on a 3-day 4WD Safari to K'Gari/Fraser Island. Camp under the stars, visit a shipwreck and swim in crystal clear waters before enjoying sundowners at sunset
- Visit the Mon Repos Turtle Centre to discover how incredible turtles really are 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
- Discover the magic of the Atherton Tablelands - from amazing waterfalls and lush rainforest to a pristine crater lake!
- Go for a moonlit paddle through the rainforest to stargaze and spot wildlife
- Enjoy the relaxed Cairns lifestyle and the fun nightlife that it’s famous for!
Tour Dates 2023
- 8 May
- 5 June
- 10 July
- 7 August
- 4 September
- 9 & 23 October - New Itinerary Soon to Be Released
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 > Cairns: Emu Tour
Sydney Arrival Info
Check into the hostel anytime after 2pm. At 7pm head down to the hostel bar to meet your Stray guide and new travel mates.
DOWNLOAD FULL ITINERARY HERE
Monday: Arrive Sydney
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 7pm head down to the hostel bar for pizza night and to meet your Stray guide and travel mates for the next few weeks.
Tuesday: Sydney to Port Stephens
We depart the harbour city this morning 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. They’ve used wood and glass to maximise light and ensured all development encompasses the natural flora and fauna.
Once we’ve checked in, you can explore the area, relax, or head to the beach for a swim.
Tonight, we’ll enjoy a classic Aussie BBQ dinner and get to know each other - anyone have a good icebreaker?
Wednesday: Port Stephens to Port Macquarie
This morning either enjoy a relaxing sleep in, or get up bright and early and jump in a 4WD bus to partake in some first-class sandboarding down the Stockton Sand Dunes (optional expense). The local guide will teach you how to safely sandboard as well as inform you all about the amazing area and the rich aboriginal history of the region.
Depending on the conditions, we can go 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.
Thursday: Port Macquarie to Byron Bay
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. By taking part in the experience, you’re making a direct contribution to the revitalisation of Gumbaynggirr language and culture. This will be an unforgettable cultural experience with an emphasis on authentic connection and contributing to helping a community regain their culture and identity.
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!
Friday: Byron Bay Free Day
Today you have a full day in Byron Bay to "cheer up, slow down, and chill out” as the town’s famous welcome sign instructs. 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.
Saturday: Byron Bay Free Day
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, we assure you that 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.
Sunday: Byron Bay to Brisbane via Surfers Paradise
This morning, meet your guide and group outside the Surf House hostel at 8:50am. Then we’ll jump on the Stray bus and depart north across the NSW border to Queensland, and head to the famous Surfers Paradise where we’ll stretch our legs and grab some lunch. We’ll then head to a nearby nature reserve to spot some wild kangaroos, before continuing to Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland for the night. We’ll head down to Southbank for a walk along the Brisbane River and then check out some of the many bars and restaurants. We’ll then head to a nearby nature reserve to spot some wild kangaroos, before continuing to Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland for the night. We’ll head down to Southbank for a walk along the Brisbane River and then check out some of the many bars and restaurants.
Monday: Brisbane to Noosa
It’s a relaxed departure today as we leave Brisbane mid-morning and make our way north to Noosa. We’ll stop along the way for lunch and a walk to see incredible views of Noosa and 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 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 at the bar and make plans to head and explore Noosa.
Tuesday: Noosa Free Day
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 a local hotspot!
Wednesday: Noosa to K’gari (Fraser Island)
It’s an early start this morning as you head out for your 3-day, 2-night K’Gari (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 best 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 which has a kitchen and a deck with ocean views. We’ll then head 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).
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.
Friday: K’gari to Bundaberg
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! Tonight we’ll have a group BBQ dinner and a chilled evening.
Saturday: Bundaberg Free Day
It’s a day of exploring Bundaberg today! After breakfast we’ll head to the Mon Repos turtle centre for a wholesome morning learning all about these amazing animals. The centre supports the largest concentration of nesting mating turtles on the eastern Australian mainland. You can grab a snack or lunch at the onsite indigenous inspired Gidji cafe.
In the afternoon 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 Snorkel Tour for a day of snorkelling, a boat cruise, island walk and delicious food.
Sunday: Bundaberg to Airlie Beach
Today is a big drive day to Airlie Beach, the gateway to the amazing Whitsunday Islands, so load up on the snacks, make sure your phone is charged and you’ve got some good tunes loaded up. We’ll make some stops to stretch our legs and see some sweet views along the way, arriving in Airlie in the evening.
Monday: Airlie Beach to Whitsunday Islands
This morning, enjoy a sleep in, take a stroll down to the Airlie lagoon for a dip and then check in and receive your briefing for your sailing trip. After lunch, head down to the 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 cruise 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.
Tuesday: Whitsunday Islands
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.
Wednesday: Whitsunday Islands to Airlie Beach
Enjoy your final morning on-board the yacht, jump in for another magical swim or snorkel and then sail on back to Airlie Beach. This afternoon once you’ve checked back into your hostel, go and laze in the sun by the lagoon or explore the town before freshening up and meeting your group and boat crew for the after party! There will be a reserved table, drink discounts and meal deals - so get ready for a big night.
Thursday: Airlie Beach to Yungaburra
Today 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.
Tonight, we’re staying at a cosy eco-lodge in the historic village of Yungaburra. We’ll check in and have a BBQ dinner before heading out for a moonlit paddle for some amazing stargazing through the rainforest at Lake Tinaroo. This night canoeing tour is the best way to spot unique nocturnal rainforest animals in their natural habitat.
Friday: Yungaburra to Cairns
Today we have an awesome day planned, visiting lots of cool spots before we reach our final destination of Cairns. In the morning we’ll visit the heritage-listed Curtain Fig Tree and Lake Eacham, a beautiful crater lake for a swim and a walk. Then we’ll head to the quirky Kuranda markets set in the rainforest, for lunch and a browse before heading 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 Cairns nightlife.
Saturday: Free Day Cairns
Today is a completely free day so if you have 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 into 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 wave and a hug 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 > 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/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.