This is a perfect itinerary for two weeks on the East Coast Australia...
best for those that are here for a good time and not a long time!
This is our tried and tested East Coast Australia Itinerary starting in Brisbane and taking you on a tour of the East Coast's iconic beach destinations, as well as some time to check out Sydney too. No holiday to Australia is complete without a visit to the Sydney Opera House! Extra points if you're here around Christmas and fly down to Sydney for the New Years Eve fireworks as we did.
Day 1 - 2
Brisbane is the capital of Queensland and it’s pretty hard to miss during any trip around the East Coast of Australia. For this itinerary, it is the first stop and the place to gather yourself before you embark on the rest of your journey. Brisbane doesn’t need too much time but there are definitely some gems worth visiting. See our list of the top 10 things to do in Brisbane here.
Medium – The Park Hotel
Express (2 hours) $40
Normal (4 hours) $30-45
Day 3 – 5
Byron Bay – Nimbin – Ballina
Straight out of the city and to the beach! No trip along of East Coast Australia is complete without a visit to Byron Bay. Take a stroll through the town and become immersed in the chilled out, hippy vibes flowing in the air. The beach in Byron Bay is beautiful and you will most likely be joined by some buskers and stands selling fresh coconut water. Walk or drive up to the Cape Byron Lighthouse (the most Eastern part of Australia) for sunrise or sunset for spectacular views over the bay. Byron Bay is also full of amazing cafes and eateries so prepare for the struggle of choosing which ones to go for!
Take a day trip to Nimbin to discover what is probably the most unconventional part of Australia and the hippy and alternative lifestyle capital. Nimbin hosted the Aquarius Festival in the 70s and after the hype, some stayed behind to let the Aquarius dream live on. Now full of markets and cafes covered in colourful murals and psychedelic facades, Nimbin is a unique place for sure. Also, you didn’t hear this from us but it is also Australia’s weed capital, soooo…
We would recommend a visit to Nimbin with Happy Coach Byron, if only for the bus alone!
We found the accommodation to be very pricey in Byron Bay so we opted to stay in the nearby town of Ballina instead. This is also where the airport is located if you’re planning to fly to/from Byron Bay. Whether you’re staying here or just passing through, be sure to get a photo with The Big Prawn!
Medium – Ballina Byron Resort
Byron Ballina Airport to Sydney Airport (1 hour, 30 minutes)
$60 – 150
Day 6 – 8
Sydney is Australia’s most iconic city and a visit to Australia wouldn’t be quite complete without seeing Sydney Harbour. Spend the first days checking out some of Sydney’s hotspots – check out our full Sydney guide here. Then spend the next day catching up on anything you missed out on and preparing for the fantastic evening ahead.
Sydney has one of the best New Year’s fireworks displays in the world and it really does not disappoint. Have a few drinks in Sydney’s oldest pub in the historic area of The Rocks, Fortune of War before heading down to the harbour to watch the breathtaking display. We recommend watching the fireworks from Campbell’s Cove for the perfect view. Tickets are required to control numbers but the cost is free.
This itinerary includes seeing Sydney’s New Year’s display but if you are visiting any other time of year, Sydney can easily be placed at the start or end of this journey instead.
Medium – The Branksome Hotel
Sydney Airport to Sunshine Coast Airport (1 hour, 30 minutes)
$60 - 150
Day 9 – 10
Sunshine Coast – Buddina/Mooloolaba
After the hustle and bustle of Sydney, it’s time for some more beach time. Get a taste of the Sunshine Coast with a visit to Mooloolaba. East Coast Australia and particularly Queensland’s coast is famous for a reason, here you will understand why as you step onto the beautiful sands of Mooloolaba Beach. Mooloolaba’s esplanade is also full of cafes, juice bars, alfresco dining and fashion boutiques.
Medium – Kawana Waters Hotel
Bus (1 hour, 30 minutes)
Day 10 – 13
Noosa – Fraser Island/Noosa Everglades
Noosa is one of our favourite areas in East Coast Australia. The town has a very swanky, holiday vibe to it and the coastline is absolutely stunning. Noosa is also a great hub for activities in and around the area.
Within central Noosa:
Noosa National Park
Take a stroll along the coastal track in Noosa National Park. There are a few tracks available depending on how much time and effort you feel up to. We opted to just do a short walk to Hell’s Gate and back, which took roughly 45 minutes, each way. Along the way, there are many points of interest, including Boiling Pot Lookout, Tea Tree Bay, Dolphin Point Lookout, Fairy Pools and Hell’s Gate. Be sure to check the sign by the shop at the entrance of the park, which will tell you what wild and marine life could be spotted that day.
Noosa definitely has no shortage of markets and a visit to Noosa wouldn’t be complete without at least visiting one of the many options. Different ones are held each day of the week so check here to see which ones will be on whilst you’re there. We visited the Noosa Farmers Market on Sunday, which was a great option for checking out local products, alongside fab food options.
Hastings Street is where the main buzz is in Noosa. Lined with restaurants and bars, you will most likely find yourself here at least once during your time in Noosa. There are lots of places to choose from to wine and dine in. We would recommend Zachary’s for fantastic pizzas; we had the Riviera pizza topped with prawns and salmon and it was delicious!
The World Heritage-listed Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world. Fraser Island is popular for overnight stays but if time is limited, day trips are a great compromise. With a day trip, you will experience the 11-mile beach, which is also a highway! The beautiful Lake Mackenzie, which will have you feeling like a new person with the same PH level as conditioner in its waters and a walk through the only rainforest in the world that grows out of sand. Lunch will also be included with any day trips taken. Also, watch out for the dingos!
So, there are only two Everglades in the world; one in Florida and the other in Noosa! The best way to experience these Everglades is by embarking on a canoe or kayaking adventure. We had the best time heading out with Lake Escapades, who provided us with a map that allowed us to do a self-guided tour of the area. We ventured out to see the beautiful reflective waters of the Everglades and rested with a picnic on the river bank. Highly recommend!
Budget – Nomads Noosa backpackers - We can't speak or Noose but we loved our stay at Nomads Brisbane.
Medium – We found Noosa accommodation to be expensive but we found an amazing (new at the time) Airbnb for a great price!
Bus (2 hours, 30 minutes)
Day 12 - 14
Head back to where you started to reflect on the amazing past 2 weeks! Take in the last of the Brisbane sights or relax with a visit to Streets Beach.
Check out our 'gram