Australia is bursting with beautiful places, and it can be hard to know which places to visit on the East Coast on your Stray adventure. We’ve put together a list of our favourite spots to help you plan your trip of a lifetime. With the knowledge of expert adventurers behind you, all that you’ll have left to do is book your tour and do your little excited dance!
AMAZING PLACES TO VISIT IN NEW SOUTH WALES
Two of our most popular tours start here, and we’d hazard a guess that most of you will be spending some time here anyway. Some backpackers avoid cities like the plague, while others embrace them – whichever you are, Sydney is sure to charm the pants off you. The sweetheart of the south, Sydney combines big city life with beach vibes, and the call of nature is never more than an hour away. Check out Bondi Beach and the famous coastal walk to Coogee for some free fun, or hit the town and live up to your backpacker reputation. If you crave nature, the Blue Mountains day trip is the perfect quick fix.
This is the view of the coast line above Port Stephens from the Tomaree Head lookout. It rises over 160 metres and you feel like you really are on top of the world when you see the view from the lookout. After the bustle of cosmopolitan Sydney, Port Stephens on the Pacific Highway is where the bush meets the sea: enjoy the pristine waters and white beaches, as well as the freshest sea food. As well as those unforgettable beaches and views, you'll have the chance to visit the highest sand dunes in the southern hemisphere - and try out sand boarding down the dunes.
Coffs Harbour is a coastal resort famous for bananas, and in particular, the Big Banana. This is also our gateway to discovering more about the traditional aboriginal custodians of the region, the Gumbaynggirr people. We take a special tour to immerse ourselves in their culture and heritage, learn their history through story and song and in turn, help them to protect and nurture their heritage and language. Part of this tour takes place at an important Gumbaynggirr site, Niigi Niigi or Sealy Lookout, an atmospheric point with incredible views of the coastline.
The happiest town in Australia gets an honorary mention here. You could be spending two nights in Byron Bay as part of your tour, with the relaxed atmosphere and cool bars of the town to enjoy on your east coast tour. The motto of this town is “cheer up, slow down and chill out”, and that’s exactly what we recommend. There is plenty to do here; sea kayaking with wild dolphins, scenic walks, more surfing opportunities or a day trip to Nimbin. Relax, embrace the vibe and explore at your own pace.
WHERE TO GO IN QUEENSLAND
Welcome to Queensland and its cool capital. Wedged between the sparkling ocean and multiple national parks, Brisbane is a great place to explore on your East Coast tour. The bustling city is famous for its diverse arts and cultural scene – check out the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). Head out on a free walking tour to discover hidden gems in the city, like laneway bars and the Eat Street markets. Our must do activity is taking a dip at Streets Beach, Australia’s only inner-city beach. For more beach vibes, head out on a day trip to one of Brisbane’s nearby islands and explore the shipwrecks & marine life.
Wunya Ngulum - that's the welcome of the traditional Kabi Kabi people who originated from Noosa. You've got 2 nights in Noosa, which is great as you'll be staying at Bounce Noosa, which describes itself as the town's newest boutique holiday stay. With its pool deck with bar and stylish rooms, it has a beach club vibe right in the heart of Noosa. You'll have two days to discover the beautiful beaches, perfect for swimming, surfing and snorkelling, lush National Park and one of only two everglades in the world - which you can explore by kayak on your Stray tour. Check out the boutiques and bars on Hastings Street, the town's vibrant coffee and craft beer scene and try to get to the Eumundi Market, with 500 fashion, artwork and gift stalls.
A visit to K'Gari, or Fraser Island is an East Coast rite of passage. The world’s largest sand island, your Stray Tour gives you a unique opportunity to explore this incredible destination. Some of our tours include a three day, two night stay on Fraser Island in Safari tents. You’ll grab a group of mates and take turns driving 4WD trucks all over the island. You’ll camp under the stars, swim in champagne pools, play impromptu volleyball and walk up to stunning view points. All along the East Coast, you’ll hear people talking about Fraser Island, and there’s only one way to find out if it lives up to the hype… Just do it! We visit Noosa then do the Fraser Island tour from there.
Bundaberg gets its name from "Bunda", the name of the local aboriginal group and the anglo-saxon "berg", meaning town - literally the town of the Bunda. These days it's better known for its iconic Aussie Rum of the same name, its ginger beer and as the place turtles like to call home. You'll get the chance to find out more about "Bundy" as the rum is known, and have a little tour and taste at their distillery. You can see turtles hatching at the Mon Repos Turtle Centre, or maybe go on an amazing day cruise to snorkel off Lady Musgrave Island. Oh, and did we mention you stay in an eco lodge with its own gardens, pool and outdoor barbecue area less than 5 minutes from the beach? That's beautiful Bargara beach, perfect for surfing beginners.
Airlie Beach is on every back packer's itinerary for two reasons. First, its the gateway to the beautiful Whitsunday Islands, and secondly, because of its fantastic, party-atmosphere night life, seven days a week. And of course, on your Stray tour, you get to experience both! We'll arrive in the evening, check into our resort style accommodation, then we'll hit the town. There are always a lot of travellers passing through, so every night is a party night at Airlie Beach. After a chill out in the morning with time to check out the beautiful lagoon, we head down to the marina for the next leg of your adventure. A visit to the Whitsunday Islands - on your own private 76' crewed yacht.
Another beach, another launching pad for an Australian favourite. From Airlie Beach we head out to visit the magical Whitsunday Islands. After a big night out and relaxing morning at Airlie Beach, stroll down to the marina to board a 76 foot sailing yacht to visit the magnificent Whitsunday Islands. You'll stay a couple of nights with the crew on the yacht in this breathtaking destination. You’ll visit the picturesque Whitehaven Beach, swim in the southern end of the Great Barrier reef, and watch the sunset from Hamilton Island. The word most commonly used to describe the Whitsundays is ‘paradise’, and you can see it for yourself in style on a Stray tour.
We leave the coast behind for a day or two to travel inland. The beautiful natural region of Atherton Tablelands is 700 metres above sea level, with the landscape formed by ancient volcanoes - that are now extinct you'll be pleased to know! You'll discover crater lakes, swim in a natural pool beneath a 60 foot plunging waterfall, and see one of Australia's most famous trees, that is over 500 years old. On top of that, we stay in an eco lodge in a historic village, take you for a night time star gazing canoe trip and call into the quirky local markets.
Cairns is a tropical adventure centre. The most obvious draw card for this far north city is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef. You can take a day trip out to snorkel or SCUBA dive amongst turtles, rays, and hundreds of species of fish. Back on the mainland, you can go white water rafting on Australia’s best rafting river or skydive over the whole place for panoramic views. If you’re just in the mood to chill, visit the markets, wander the botanical gardens or swim in the huge central lagoon. For those who don’t want the adventure to end, there are plenty of day trips from Cairns – check out Kuranda and Fitzroy Island.
We hope this guide has helped you to decide which East Coast tout to take. To get the most out of your Stray adventure, we recommend planning ahead, taking it slow, and saying YES as often as humanly possible.
Want more? Read our Bucket List for the East Coast here.