The Mick Freestyle Pass will take you from Sydney to Cairns. You’ll leave no stone uncovered, exploring cities, islands, rainforests and the rest!
You can complete the pass in 14 days if you don't hop off for a multi-day Fraser Island or Whitsunday sailing trip but YOLO right? Most people take 3-4 weeks to complete this trip.
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Take the pressure off, kick back, relax and let someone else organise your transport. You'll be travelling up the coast on a mix of our Stray buses, comfortable trains and ferry.
So much more than just a 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!
See ALL of the East Coast, including some off-the-beaten-track destinations that make Stray stand out from the crowd. You can see them marked with a heart on the map because they're the places our travellers love.
It's easy to view your itinerary and book accommodation and activities on-the-go.
Flexibility at its finest!
A dorm bed will be reserved for you at every Stray overnight stop.
Book and pay as you go via our Stray Mate app.
- Wine tasting, Hunter Valley
- Koala hospital visit, Port Macquarie
- Kangaroo spotting, Emerald Beach
- Canoeing experience or Bush walk, River Retreat
- Angourie Blue Pools, Yamba
- Byron Bay Orientation Drive
- Carlo Sand Blow Walk, Rainbow Beach
- Guided Rainforest Walk, Airlie Beach
- Forts Complex/Radical Bay Walk, Magnetic Island
- All National Park Fees
What we're all about...
We’ve redefined the ‘traditional tour’ to give you the flexibility and freedom you crave.
Hop-off, stay longer and explore anywhere along the route. It’s your time, your way.
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 in-location and 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.
The itinerary below is for the current season. Given the nature of our trips and lack of control over weather, what we do each day might occasionally vary.
N.B. Hop off at Rainbow Beach or Noosa to visit Fraser Island and at Airlie Beach to visit the Whitsundays.
G’day, mate, and welcome to your Stray adventure! We depart the big city of Sydney early this morning to make our way to the Hunter Valley wine region for a tasting at an award-winning vineyard. From there, we carry on through the backcountry to our first stunning Strademark stop right on the edge of the World Heritage-listed Barrington Tops National Park. At our Stray exclusive accommodation beside the Karuah River, you can choose to go river tubing on the mild rapids, go for a bush walk, or visit a local farm. Finish the day with a shared group dinner and a couple of drinks round the campfire.
See More moment: Spend the night on the edge of the World Heritage-listed Barrington Tops National Park, well and truly off the beaten track!
We depart after breakfast and journey north through the remote countryside back towards the coast. Our next stop is the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, where you can 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. After this, we head to Emerald Beach, an iconic kangaroo hangout, where if you’re lucky you can spot them hopping along the beach. We arrive at our beachfront overnight stop Spot X in the early evening.
The morning at Spot X is all yours. Learn to surf in some of the best beginner waves in Australia, or for those who already know how to 'hang 10,' rent a board and show us what you can do! We recommend staying longer to do a Surf & Stay if you are keen to really hone your surf skills. You can also swim and chill out on the beach or sink into a hammock at the camp. We depart around midday, grabbing a bite to eat in town before travelling to our relaxing, rural River Retreat. Spend the afternoon on a guided canoe trip down the Nymboida River to learn about the area, which is home to amazing birds, snakes, and the incredibly shy platypus, and unwind with a refreshing dip in the river. This evening, we’ll gather round a bonfire and sleep in wilderness cabins or tents beneath the stars.
See More moment: Head out on a guided canoe trip or walk to spot wildlife and learn about the fascinating local history. In the evening, cook a classic Australian meal together and watch the stars.
Do More moment: Your stay here helps to support the local community of Nymboida. Once a hub for white water canoeing, the town has struggled since a crucial dam was shut down and after the 2019 bushfires. With the help of community volunteers and Stray passengers, the centre is being revived.
Next up - Byron Bay, known as the most chilled out town in Australia! On the way there, we stop in the picturesque seaside town of Yamba for lunch. We'll also visit the Angourie Blue Pool, an old quarry that was accidentally (and awesomely) filled by an underground spring, meaning you can now cool off in an epic fresh-water pool right on the beach! Upon arriving in Byron Bay, we’ll take you on an orientation drive around town to help you get your bearings, showing you the points of interest and the top spots for food, shopping and nightlife.
You have two full free days in Byron Bay to "cheer up, slow down, and chill out” as the town’s famous welcome sign instructs. And there is plenty to do in this laidback hippy town: practice your surfing skills down at the beach, walk to mainland Australia’s most easterly point at the Cape Byron Lighthouse, search for dolphins and other marine life on a sea kayaking trip, or visit the alternative town of Nimbin. Tonight, get out to experience Byron’s eclectic nightlife – there is always something going on!
You have another free day in Byron Bay today. Tick off any activities you didn’t get the chance to do yet, or pass the day wandering the township and exploring the many boutique shops and cafes. Eating your way around Byron is an experience in itself, and there are plenty of vegetarian options available!
This morning we cross the border from New South Wales into Queensland. Our destination today is Rainbow Beach, but those with more time might want to hop off and explore tourist hot spot Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast, Queensland's capital city of Brisbane, or the upmarket resort town of Noosa. Tomorrow you’ll begin your Fraser Island adventure (make sure you’ve booked in the dates in advance with Stray). Once you’ve checked-in, you’ll have a safety briefing for your Fraser Island 4WD trip.
After stopping briefly to pick up those who stayed in Noosa, we depart from Cooroy on our first train journey of the trip. Kick back for a scenic train ride to Rockhampton, where we meet the bus and your Stray Guide to head to our next Strademark destination, Emu Park. While at Emu Park you’ll have the option to visit stunning Great Keppel Island, snorkel with turtles and hike to some secluded white sand beaches (extra cost); or you can choose to do your own thing!
See More moment: Our stay at Emu Park provides your chance to get up close and personal with the Great Barrier Reef. You’ll have the chance to snorkel and play amongst one of the seven wonders of the world.
Please Note: Some trips may have an extra night at Emu Park.
Today we recommend opting to visit the highlight of the area, Great Keppel Island, a tropical island paradise at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. Catch the ferry for a day of snorkeling or kayaking (extra cost) before exploring the island itself in search of the perfect white sand beach for a little afternoon rest and relaxation. Tonight, we’ll gather together for dinner at Emu’s Beach Resort before we catch our first overnight train to Airlie Beach.
The train arrives in Prosperine early in the morning. Your Airlie-based Stray Guide will meet you at the train and accompany you on the bus into Airlie Beach. They'll help you store your bags, and then grab breakfast (extra cost) and give you a brief orientation of the town to help you get your bearings. You'll have the rest of your day free in Airlie Beach to do as you please. Airlie Beach is the gateway to the famous Whitsunday Islands, another backpacker favourite. Many people choose to hop off here and do a multi-day sailing trip, but it is also possible to do a day tour. You can also choose to join your guide for a hike in the rainforest to see amazing almost 360-degree views of Airlie and the Whitsunday Islands.
Please Note: Some trips may have an extra night at Airlie Beach.
You'll be up with the parakeets this morning with a medley of transport to catch today. Travelling by bus, train, and ferry (oh my!) we arrive at our destination of Magnetic Island in the late morning. Nearly 50% of ‘Maggie Island’ is national park land, and it's chock-full of amazing beaches and abundant wildlife. Your legendary local guide will meet you at the train station and then join you on a scenic walk to either the beautiful Radical Bay beach or the historic Forts Complex for incredible views and amazing photo opportunities. Join in the group pizza dinner tonight (extra cost).
See More moment: 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.
Please Note: Some trips may have an extra night at Magnetic Island.
We catch the ferry back to the mainland in the morning, and travel by train to tropical Cairns. We'll arrive in the afternoon just in time to check out the bustling Cairns Night Markets where we can grab a delicious bite, a cold beer and hunt for a bargain.
You have a free day in Cairns to explore this stunning destination. You could swim amongst colourful fish and turtles at the Great Barrier Reef, go skydiving, or take a day trip to the Atherton Tablelands Rainforest Experience where you can walk through a lush rainforest, visit the oldest living history museum and swim under crystal clear waterfalls. If you just want to soak up the sun and relax, check out the beautiful Northern beaches or the Cairns lagoon where you can go for a swim and chill out with a refreshing drink.
The days and times shown below are for the current season. To see future timetables, please visit our Timetables page. N.B. These are subject to change based on weather.
- Monday (Minimum 14 days, free day at Magnetic Island)
- Wednesday (Minimum 15 days, extra free day in Byron Bay, free day at Magnetic Island)
- Saturday (Minimum 15 days, extra free day at Emu Park, free day in Tully)
Sydney to Barrington Tops
|Barrington Tops (Arrive)||15:00||15:00||15:00|
Barrington Tops to Spot X Surf Camp
|Barrington Tops (Depart)||09:00||09:00||09:00|
|Spot X Surf Camp (Arrive)||17:00||17:00||17:00|
Spot X Surf Camp to River Retreat
|Spot X Surf Camp (Depart)||12:30||12:30||12:30|
|River Retreat (Arrive)||17:00||17:00||17:00|
River Retreat to Byron Bay
|River Retreat (Depart)||09:30||09:30||09:30|
|Byron Bay (Arrive)||14:00||14:00||14:00|
Free Day 1 in Byron Bay
|Byron Bay (Free Day)||Free||Free||Free||Free||Free||Free||Free|
Free Day 2 in Byron Bay
|Byron Bay (Free Day)||Free||Free||Free||Free||Free||Free||Free|
Byron Bay to Rainbow Beach (1-3 days)
|Byron Bay (Depart)||08:00||08:00||08:00|
|Gold Coast (Depart)||09:30||09:30||09:30|
|Rainbow Beach (Arrive)||15:30||15:30||15:30|
Rainbow Beach to Emu Park
|Rainbow Beach (Depart)||09:30||09:30||09:30|
|Maryborough West (Depart)||14:40||14:40||14:40|
|Miriam Vale (Depart)||16:35||16:35||16:35|
|Emu Park (Arrive)||19:30||19:30||19:30|
Emu Park to Airlie Beach (Overnight Train)
|Emu Park (Depart)||21:30||21:30||21:30|
|Airlie Beach (Arrive)||07:20||07:20||07:20|
Airlie Beach (1-3 Days)
|Airlie Beach (Free Day)||Free||Free||Free||Free||Free||Free||Free|
Airlie Beach to Magnetic Island
|Airlie Beach (Depart)||05:05||05:05||05:05|
|Townsville Train Station (Depart)||09:38||09:38||09:38|
|Townsville Ferry Terminal (Depart)||10:30||10:30||10:30|
|Magnetic Island (Arrive)||11:30||11:30||11:30|
Magnetic Island to Cairns
|Magnetic Island (Depart)||07:50||07:50||07:50|
|Magnetic Island Ferry Terminal (Depart)||08:20||08:20||08:20|
|Townsville Ferry Terminal (Depart)||08:50||08:50||08:50|
|Townsville Train Station (Depart)||09:53||09:53||09:53|
|Cairns (Free Day)||Free||Free||Free||Free||Free||Free||Free|
Need to Know
- Transport - Travel by bus, train and ferry. All included in the price of your pass and organised by Stray.
- Validity - Start travel within 12 months of booking and then your Freestyle Pass is valid for 12 months from the first day of travel.
- Booking Buses & Trains (Hopping on/off) - Use the Stray Mate app to manage your trip - you'll receive log in details in your Booking Confirmation email. Hop on and off as much as you like along the travel route - Here are our favourite places to hop-off. If you're on a short timeframe, we recommend booking all your transport in advance.
- Minimum Days - You don't need to hop off if you're short on time - you can travel your pass in the "Minimum Days". There are non-travel days throughout the route so you will not be travelling everyday.
- Departures - Buses/trains run to a seasonal timetable with multiple departures per week.
- Flexibility - The cost of your accommodation, activities and meals is not included in a Freestyle Travel pass giving you extra flexibility to choose options that suit your budget and taste.
- Accommodation - Book Stray preferred accommodation as you go via the Stray Mate app - there will be a dorm bed allocated to you at each overnight stop providing you book via the app 24 hours before.
- Activities - Book activities as you go via the Stray Mate app.
- Add on the Blue Mountains Day Trip before you leave Sydney - This action packed adventure is one of the best day trips on the east coast. Spend the day checking out some of the best view points over the famous Blue Mountain range, including the famous ‘Three Sisters’, and the breath taking Jamison Valley. If the weather is right, we’ll take a dip at a gorgeous watering hole. Learn more!
- Melbourne Express Sector - You can add a Melbourne > Sydney Express Sector to your pass by selecting it as an upgrade. Melbourne Express Sector is not a Stray-operated sector and is subject to availability. Once a travel date is confirmed this sector is non-refundable. Peak season surcharges may apply for travel over the Christmas and New Year period. If travellers want to travel during this time they will be notified before their booking is confirmed of any additional charges.
- Guides - Between Sydney and Rainbow Beach, your Guide is also your Bus Driver. Between Rainbow Beach and Cairns, where we travel on the fast, comfortable trains, you'll have In-Location Guides who will meet you at the station and show you around.
- 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! 70% of our travellers are travelling solo.