After I graduated from uni, I wasn’t quite ready for the real world yet so I took the plunge and decided to book a one way flight to Australia.
I spent my first week in Sydney. I’ll be honest with you, I had never stayed in a hostel before and the one I stayed in wasn’t exactly the type of hostel that you’d want your first hostel-living experience to be in. Having backpacked for a year and stayed in hostels all over, I still stick to this!
I paid for an all inclusive week long stay at the hostel (through STA) and this included daily trips – surfing, to the Blue Mountains and so on. The week was enjoyable but I didn’t feel settled in Sydney and I wasn’t having as much fun as I’d dreamed about. That all changed though as soon as I began my trip up the East Coast!
Myself and one other friend planned all of our East Coast trip through the travel agent Peterpans in Australia. They were extremely helpful and everything they recommended was amazing. The accommodation was spot on every time and the buses were great – we didn’t face any problems whatsoever! Everything that we paid for is as follows:
- 3 Day Surf and Stay in Byron Bay with accommodation included + one extra night’s stay in Byron Bay
- 3 nights in Surfers Paradise + entry to 3 theme parks – Movie World, Sea World and Wet n Wild Water Park
- 1 night in Brisbane + ticket to Australia Zoo
- 4 nights in Noosa
- 3 nights in Rainbow Beach
- 3 day/2 night Fraser Island camping safari
- 3 nights in Agnes Water/1770
- 3 nights in Airlie Beach
- 2 day/2 night Whitsundays sailing trip
- 2 nights in Magnetic Island
- 2 nights in Cairns
Our Peterpans East Coast itinerary
Many of the hostels that we stayed in included breakfast or vouchers for an evening meal. They weren’t exactly gourmet meals but the minute you become a backpacker, all standards radically fall and you soon realise that you’ll just take what you can get.
Travelling up the coast was the least enjoyable part. Who enjoys sitting on a bus for 12 hours straight!? The only thing that got me through each journey was knowing how much fun awaited us at our next stop! I have to say though, the buses were pretty much always on time and the journeys were always very smooth. I paid $350 dollars for the Greyhound bus pass from Sydney to Cairns and this included all of the various different stops along the way. Each bus was booked in advance and so long as we turned up to the bus stop at the right time, we’d have no bother!
Byron Bay was one of my favourite stops along the east coast! We stayed at the Arts Factory Lodge, which is actually where some of The Inbetweeners 2 movie was filmed. It was one of my favourite hostels that we stayed in and whilst we were there we did three days of surfing. We were beginners but it was such good fun! The staff from Mojosurf were really enthusiastic and a good laugh. Even the bus journeys to and from were full of giggles!
We were here during ‘Schoolies Week’ – when Year 12 leavers from every corner of Australia flock to the coast to celebrate the end of their school years and enjoy the ultimate summer holiday. Seeing this in action was interesting to say the least. One entire building was occupied with Schoolies – each one of them on their balcony’s chanting and singing. I wish I’d had my camera handy to film it!! From Surfers Paradise we went to Movie World, Sea World and Wet n Wild Water Park. All three were really good fun but I have to say that I’m a sucker for a water park so that was probably my favourite of the three. As embarrassing as it is to admit it, my friend and I were literally the first ones on several of the water slides at Wet n Wild. Oh and another quick fact – remember that water park scene from Inbetweeners 2 that I’m sure we’d all like to forget!? Well that was filmed at this water park too (except they changed the name of it in the movie!)
We didn’t have long in Brisbane (one night) so we went on a walk to the City Botantic Gardens. It sits right on the river front which is lovely! That evening we went to a comedy show… it was one of the most cringe-worthy experiences I have ever encountered. But good fun nonetheless. As we were in Brisbane for such a short time, we didn’t have time to visit the lagoon at South Bank but having visited Brisbane at a later date during my time in Australia, I would have to say that it’s definitely worth a visit! The next day, we went to Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo which was amazing! I had never seen a real life kangaroo until this day so as you can imagine, I was in my ELEMENT! At the zoo, you’re free to roam about with them and can buy food to feed them. I was in animal heaven!
Chilling with our new pals
Noosa was so gorgeous! If I ever win the lottery, the first place I’ll buy a property is on Millionare’s Row. Whilst we were in Noosa, we hired a speed boat and went on a little adventure. There were lots of water based activities here – paddle boarding was another favourite. We also decided to go on an Everglades Cruise. The tour guide had a heart of gold and was cracking jokes left, right and centre. On the trip there was an option to canoe for part of the journey – an option which of course we took. Although perhaps we shouldn’t have as we somehow couldn’t master how to steer straight. We zig-zagged our way to the finish line but it was so worth it!
Our speed boat for the day
Being rescued by fellow canoers
The only reason to really come to Rainbow Beach is because it’s the starting and finishing point for your adventure to Fraser Island. We stayed at Dingo’s Backpacker Adventure Resort which I’d highly recommend. Each evening people came together at the bar and it was always good fun!
Best.three.days.ever! Honestly, I cannot recommend Fraser Island enough!! It was undoubtedly my favourite part of my East Coast adventure. Driving a 4×4 on the sand, swimming in Lake McKenzie, rolling down the hill and into the water at Lake Wabby, dipping into the Champagne Pools and seeing the Maheno Shipwreck were a few of the many highlights of the trip.
4×4 getting stuck – a frequent occurrence
Floating down a river on Fraser Island
Rolling down the sand hill at Lake Wabby
Jellyfish we found on Fraser Island
Whilst in Seventeen Seventy, we took to the roads and joined in on the infamous Scooteroo. We popped on our leather gear (equipped with flames of course), fake tattoos and joined a pack of like-minded travellers. We also went on the ‘castaway‘ experience and hopped on a small four-seater plane and got dropped off on a small island overnight. We snorkelled, canoed, played in a rubber dingy and sat round a camp fire in the evening. I would do it all over again, purely for the sake of the flight alone which was such a unique experience!
Our friendly pilot
Sunrise at the castaway island
Airlie Beach is the perfect place to stay before and after your Whitsunday’s sailing trip. We had some good fun in the evenings here (beer pong was a popular activity) and the hostel that we stayed in was another one of my favourites – Nomads Airlie Beach. We also met another friend here and travelled the rest of the coast as a three 🙂
Many people debate about what’s better – Whitsundays or Fraser Island. Although I would have to say Fraser Island topped it for me, Whitsundays was an extremely close second. We decided to opt for the ‘party boat’ and chose to go on the Atlantic Clipper boat. There’s a diving board off the boat, a slide going into the sea and a jacuzzi on the top deck. The boat alone is great fun but getting into the sea and swimming with sea turtles was even better, as was visiting Whitehaven Beach – one of the most, if not the most stunning beaches I have ever had the pleasure of stepping foot on.
In the water at Whitehaven Beach during stinger season
Do you want to build a sand man?
& backfliping off the clipper boat
Swimming with the sea turtles <3
Here we stayed at the popular Base Backpackers. The hostel has its own swimming pool, sea view, beach and the rooms are located in individual huts. Here we lounged by the pool and also hired out a topless Barbie car. I’m fairly certain there’s a more masculine (non-pink) car for those wanting to go down the less extravagant route. In between blaring out Aqua’s classic ‘Barbie Girl’ song at high volumes and cruising around the island, we went on a few beautiful walks and spotted some wild koala bears and fed some rock wallabies (they’re the cutest!)
The moment right before Barbie Girl got played on repeat
Feeding rock wallabies
We stayed at the infamous hostel Gilligans which has a nightclub attached to it. This is a hostel that never seems to sleep! In Cairns, the lagoon is the perfect relaxing hangout place – especially following a post-Gilligans hangover. Many people fall in love with Cairns whilst others don’t see the fuss. I actually ended up staying for quite a long time in Cairns as one of my good friends lived there so I have to say that I’m definitely quite partial to Cairns. Having a car there can come in handy as there are a few walks and beaches further afield. If you’re staying central though then there are a lot of nice bars and restaurants scattered about the place – a favourite of mine was the Pier Bar. If you fancy getting some cheap(ish) fresh fruit and veg to snack on during your stay there then I’d definitely recommend visiting Rusty’s Market at some point.
So in a nutshell, that was my East Coast trip – 29 days of laughs and adventures! If you’re planning your East Coast trip then hopefully this will come in handy for you! Many people go down the East Coast instead of up it but it really just depends on what suits you best.
Feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email if you have any questions about my trip or would like some help planning yours!