Travelling to East Coast Australia has become something of a tradition for many young Brits after they have finished school/university. I always knew that I wanted to go travelling for a few months after I graduated and Australia was the perfect place; it is so far away that it can be difficult to find the time to go. Visiting Australia is great because it gives you the chance to visit other places on route (Dubai, Singapore, Bangkok), and New Zealand is so close it would be rude not to visit! We visited Melbourne, Sydney, Cairns and Brisbane. All of these cities were great but the drive from Cairns to Brisbane was fantastic, as we had the freedom to change our plans depending on how we felt, or who we met.
Cairns to Brisbane
Our first stop after Cairns was Airlie Beach, which was our base for getting to the Whitsundays. For a small beach town Airlie has a very lively feel about it, and offers many pubs where you can enjoy food and drinks. There are many tour operators offering trips to the Whitsundays but they are all pretty similar. We chose one that took us to Daydream Island, Hamilton Island and Whitehaven Beach. All of the islands were great but Whitehaven Beach is a dream; the sand is so light and fluffy, and the water is exceptionally clear. I felt like I was in a completely different world whilst sailing through the Whitsundays.
Eat: Airlie Beach – Cook surf ‘n’ turf on a public BBQ
My boyfriend and I had met friends in Florida who were from Yeppoon, so we couldn’t resist the urge to stop by on our way down the coast. Yeppoon is a really chilled out town which is great for relaxing – we even stayed later than we had planned! Make sure to drive to the golf course and see the wild kangaroos that congregate here. Visiting Koorana Crocodile Farm was my favourite experience here, as it was extremely interesting, but Rockhampton Botanic Gardens and Zoo is also a lovely way to spend the afternoon.
Eat: Yeppoon – Flour (brunch), Megalomania (Asian)
Bundaberg was the perfect place for us to stop for lunch on our drive south, and Cairns was our first taste of Bundaberg rum, so we were intrigued by this town. Bundaberg Distillery offers different tour experiences for visitors and also has a great shop to buy souvenirs. You can’t visit the Bundaberg Distillery without also visiting the Bundaberg Brewed Drinks; Bundaberg Ginger Beer is probably their most famous drink but they offer a selection of fruit juices, including blood orange which is my personal favourite!
Eat: Montezuma’s (Mexican)
Hervey Bay/Fraser Island
We used Hervey Bay as a place to spend a couple of nights whilst we visited Fraser Island, which was definitely one of my favourite experiences in Australia. It is the largest sand island in the world and it is simply stunning. There are numerous different tours and companies you can use to see Fraser Island but most of them will take you to Eli Creek, the Maheno Shipwreck, the rainforest and Lake McKenzie. Eli Creek is a fresh water river that you can stroll down and drink from; it’s amazing! My boyfriend and I, along with a few others decided to do the small plane ride that they offer over the island. Although you have to pay extra for this part of the tour, I think it’s 100% worth it because you get a much better feel for just how big the island is, as well as getting to soak up spectacular views.
Noosa is a great place to stop on your way down the coast for a nice, chilled out couple of days. There’s a beach in Noosa Heads and there is Sunshine Beach, I would recommend going to both. Go to Noosa Heads during the day to sunbathe and have a stroll along, and then go to Sunshine Beach at night for a relaxing evening. Noosa National Park has a great selection of walking trails, which will show you a wide range of wildlife, and if you’re lucky, koalas.
Eat: Cook kangaroo on a public BBQ in Sunshine Beach
Australia Zoo was founded by the Irwin family and is the biggest wildlife conservation facility in the world. We knew that this had to be a stop that we made on our way to Brisbane; we wanted to find out more about the work the Irwin family do, as well as see animals that are native to Australia. Give yourself a full day to explore the Zoo as it is massive in size and there is so much to take in. Holding a koala and feeding kangaroos were my highlights from our day at the Zoo, but seeing the Tasmanian Devil was also exciting!