East Coast Australia Road Trip: Pictures and Itinerary

I’ve spoken a bit about my East Coast road tripin the last few weeks;

But I’ve yet to actually tell you guys where I actually went!

East Coast Australia by Campervan

Spaceship Campervan

M and I hired a campervan for 28 days from 12th May – 8th June and drove from Sydney, all the way up Australia’s East Coast, to Cape Tribulation and then back down to Cairns for 9 days before heading to Auckland.

Hopefully our itinerary will give you some ideas for planning your own East Coast road trip!

East Coast Australia Road Trip: Pictures and Itinerary

Day 1: We picked up our campervan from Milperra, an outer suburb of Sydney and drove to Shoal Bay where we arrived just in time to run to the beach and witness this amazing sunset

Sunset at Shoal Bay, NSW

Beautiful sunset at Shoal Bay!

Day 2: We left Shoal Bay and headed up to Port Macquarie and got to pet koalas and feed kangaroos at Billabong Koala and Wildlife park

Feeding kangaroos at Billabong Wildlife Park

Look at me feeding an ACTUAL kangaroo!!!!

Day 3: Before parking our van up in Coffs Harbour we embraced our inner tourists and went to take some silly pictures at The Big Banana.  I mean, why the hell not?!

The Big Banana, Coffs Harbour, NSW

Who WOULDN’T want to pose in front of a huge, fake, yellow banana?! No-one, that’s who.

Day 4: Back to one of my favourite places in Australia: Byron Bay where I spent two days sitting on the beach, reading a book, watching the most beautiful sunsets and general feeling more relaxed than I have in a very long time.

Relaxing on the beach at Byron Bay

aaaaaaaaaand relax

Day 6: We’d already been to Surfers Paradise twice in 2010 so when we arrived in the Gold Coast we headed to Burleigh Heads instead.  I probably would’ve enjoyed it more had the weather not taken a turn for the worse and had to spend the afternoon freezing my ass off on the beach.

Day 7: On our way up to Noosa, we stopped off at King’s Beach, Dicky Beach, Sunshine Beach and Coolum Beach and then found ourselves a beautiful camp site right next to Noosa river.

Noosa River at Sunset

Our campsite was literally next to this: amazing!

Day 8: Having decided to spend two nights in Noosa, we headed off on a cruise down the Noosa river and spent the rest of the day feeling incredibly underdressed as we wandered around Noosa in our shorts and t-shirts and ended up on the beach.

Noosa River Cruise

One day one of those houses by the water WILL be mine……

Day 9: We left the sunshine in Noosa and drove into a torrential downpour which latest pretty much all day in Rainbow Beach so we sat in a café until the rain cleared and then took a walk along the beach.

Rainbow Beach

Rainbow Beach

Day 10: After arriving in Hervey Bay and heading straight for the beach to take some photos we settled into our room at Palace Backpackers which was part of the Fraser Island tour we’d booked with Palace Adventures

Hervey Bay Beach

How golden is that sand?!?! Very.

Day 11 and Day 12: We spent two days exploring Fraser Island in the best way possible – by 4×4 tag-along driving!!!

4x4 tag-along tour, Fraser Island

Hanging your expensive camera out of the window of a moving vehicle being driven by someone you met only hours ago is probably quite stupid and dangerous…..oh well….

Day 13: Back in Hervey Bay we moved back into Palace Backpackers with our new-found Fraser Island friends and spent the night eating every possible morsel of leftover food from the tour….it would’ve been a shame not to, surely?!

TrekAmerica Travel Limited

Day 14: We’d heard various accounts of what Agnes Water was going to be like but decided to head there anyway to see for ourselves.  We spent the best part of the day trying to get rid of the thousands of ants that had infested the campervan’s heating system while we’d been on Fraser Island, getting soaked in the rain in the process and, out of sheer lack of things to do, ended up watching movies in the van all evening.

Day 15: This day can be summed up in the following short sentence: 8 hour drive to Airlie Beach.


East Coast roadtrip

Don’t ask me what this bridge is called. I don’t know.

Day 16: We spent two very relaxing days in Airlie Beach where we stayed at probably the nicest campsite ever, met up with our friends from Fraser and chilled out at the Lagoon

Airlie Beach Lagoon

Day 18 & Day 19 were spent sailing, snorkelling and spewing my way around The Whitsunday Islands.

Yeah I’ve had better boat trips that’s for sure…..

Day 20: I couldn’t get off the boat quick enough when we arrived back at Airlie Beach marina and, after learning to walk on dry land again, we went for the biggest breakfast possible and…erm…climbed some palm trees!

Climbing palm trees in Airlie Beach

Climbing palm trees; not as easy as it looks. Believe me.

Day 21: By our fourth day in Airlie Beach I was ready to leave but was disappointed when we got to Townsville and found the town stark, empty and dull.  We drove up to Castle Hill  to see what the city looked like from above.

Yep, still pretty dull. Oh well, at least we got to go to The Frosty Mango!

Castle Hill, Townsville

Townsville: should probably be renamed Dullsville. Apologies to anyone who lives in or likes Townsville.

Day 22: We would have loved to hire a little car to drive around Magnetic Island but instead we opted for the budget option, bought hop on hop off bus tickets for $6 and spent the money we’d saved by going to Bungalow Bay where I held a crocodile, a snake, a skink and cuddled a koala.  Best.  Day.  Ever!!!!

Day 23: On the way to Mission Beach we drove past the most beautiful fields of banana plants and we spent a relaxing after sunbathing by the campsite’s pool, treated ourselves to dinner in town and then went down to the beach to watch the sun set

Mission Beach, Australia

Day 24, Day 25 and Day 26 were spent in Port Douglas where I spent possibly the best day of my life snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef and chilling out (read: frying my pale, British skin) on Calypso’s awesome boat

Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef with Calypso Reef Cruises

Day 27: If the 3G on our phones had been working I probably wouldn’t have taken us the wrong way on the way to Cape Tribulation. But I did.

Twenty minutes out of the way in the dense rainforest with no signal and no map reading skills.

We eventually made it to the Daintree River which we crossed on what may be the shortest cable ferry in the world ever and wound our way through the bumpy terrain of the rainforest until we arrived in Cape Tribulation to go Jungle Surfing!

Cape Tribulation Beach

Cape Tribulation Beach: don’t go in the water there’s crocodiles!!!! I think…..

Day 28: The last day of the road trip!! (*SOB*) After fighting my way through a maze of early morning spider webs to find the camp site showers and then finding myself showering beneath even more cobwebs (fun times……) we left Cape Trib and drove south back down to Cairns where we stayed in an amazing hostel, sunbathed by the pool and prepared to leave Australia after two years there.


Hopefully this post has helped you decide where you want to go on your East Coast road trip!  Or maybe you’ve already done Australia’s East Coast?

Let me know in the comments below where you went or where you want to go!

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  1. says

    Wow, it looks absolutely amazingly epic!! I’ve been looking through your pics trying to decide if I have a favourite place but I genuinely loved it all :)

    • says

      Monica I don’t think I could choose a favourite place either, I literally love it all too! Although….Byron Bay = amazing!

    • says

      Jen I felt so underdressed in Noosa, everyone was so posh haha! I did love it though and the spot we had in our camper by the river was so beautiful :-)

  2. says

    Was the big banana as big as you imagined? Not long ago I saw Tamworth’s Big Golden Guitar for the first time and was expecting it to be way bigger than it was!

    • says

      Alyssa renting a campervan is probably better in the short term because you don’t have to worry about selling it quickly when you’re finished with it. However, Monica from http://www.thetravelhack.com and her boyfriend bought a campervan in Australia because they were using it for almost a year I think.

      I can’t remember how much it cost us to rent the campervan for a month but if you google Spaceships Rentals and Jucy Campervans you can normally get a good deal :-)

    • says

      Hey Jodie! We rented the campervan from Spaceships Rentals (they’re all over Australia) but Jucy Campervans are great too. Just depends what type of van you want :-) I can’t remember how much it cost us for the month but I’d definitely recommend having a look on their websites and getting a quote :-) Hope that helps!

  3. says

    YEAAAAAAP! I agree! Everyone would want to pose with the banana. I certainly would! I might steal your pose, too.

  4. Dean says

    What was it like finding places to camp? Did you pay for camp sites or just pull over somewhere if so was it safe ?
    Thanks, awsome blog, helped create our plan :)

    • says

      Hi Dean! You’re not allowed to pull over and camp in Australia – although obviously some people still do at the risk of being woken in the night by someone tapping on your window! We paid for camp sites and just researched them on the way to each place or went straight to information centers in each town we visited and got details on camp grounds there. Hope that helps :)

  5. breanna says

    Looks so much fun! My boyfriend and I are planning a similar trip next summer, just wondering if you ever had any trouble finding campsites and if they were ever fully booked ? :)

  6. Jeanette says

    This is such a beautiful blog post! I’ve just finished uni myself and naturally travelling Australia is one of my big plans. Your photos make it look so inviting! xx

  7. Maria says


    Your trip looked awesome!

    My boyfriend and I are planning on doing the east coast in a spaceship camper van, but i was wondering what do you do with your camper van when going over to the islands?


    • says

      Hi Maria!

      So when I went on my Fraser Island trip the package included a 2 night stay (one night before the trip, one after) at a hostel on the mainland which has a carpark where we parked the van. And, when I went to The Whitsundays from Airlie Beach, we paid to park the van at a hostel carpark which offer parking specifically for this reason, I think it was the Base hostel.

      Hope this helps!

  8. says

    This looks so fun! I am planning a similar trip soon with my boyfriend. Were there a lot of campsites to stay at with your camper van? We are trying to figure out the cheapest way to do our road trip. Thanks!