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Hitting the east coast of Australia is quintessential to your backpacking adventure in Oz. If you don’t have a lot of time while you’re here, we recommend hitting these top 10 spots, which are part of the classic tried-andtested journey; kind of like the yellow brick road for travellers.

Tour groups such as Contiki ( offer a whole host of east coast adventures (see end of article for some of its top tours to try).They cram lots in, planning everything for you and providing transport so you don’t have to waste precious time studying guides or maps. You’re going to make a lot of new friends on your adventure, and these are the relationships that last a lifetime, because nothing says friendship like watching out for snakes while your new mate takes a dump in the bush. Or the bonding experience of entering a wet T-shirt competition in Cairns.

If you do have more time, then it’s worth stopping in the little coastal towns you find along the way. The people you’ll meet in the small towns are generally friendlier and more typically ‘Aussie’ (in the Crocodile Dundee sense), because Sydney locals think crocs are a type of shoe they wouldn’t be caught dead in, and the price of beers in the small country pubs are circa 1985.

Perhaps you’ll get the hang of surfing and experience your own Endless Summer by following the sun north. Maybe you’ll feel at one with the peaceful lifestyle of Rainbow Beach and start selling seashells by the sea shore. We recommend having a backup day job or trust fund if this is the case. Or maybe you’ll just get stuck in Nimbin. You don’t need to tell us why. But, just so you have a good base to start with, here are a few of our favourite experiences we recommend you try when travelling the east coast...

1. The Whitsundays

Home to arguably Australia’s most stunning beach, the Whitsundays area spectacular chain of 74 islands off Queensland party town Airlie Beach. Like Australia’s version of the Greek Islands, spending a few days sailing and diving around these dots of palm fringed jungle is a classic backpacker experience, with main attraction Whitehaven Beach being one of the highlights of the east coast.

Of course the islands are also dotted around the Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and the winner of Best Visitor Attraction at the Golden BackpackAwards 2014. Talking of which, The Whitsundays themselves were voted by backpackers as the best area to visit in the whole of Australia, so there you have it.

The best way to explore? Take a blissful sailing trip and just sunbathe, dive or snorkel and enjoy. 

2. Discover Noosa

Noosa, from an Aboriginal word meaning ‘place of many trees’, has a sunny climate and warm locals. Some must-dos are the Noosa National Park, shopping along Hastings St, tours around the nearby Fraser Island, surfing, horseback riding, Jet Skiing, kite surfing, kayaking, biking and parachuting. Noosa is also a backpacker’s delight with well-priced resorts, a bustling nightlife and loads of bars and live music.

3. Fraser Island (& more)

A perennial fave, nothing quite beats hitting up the world’s largest sand island in a 4WD. The inland lakes are also some of the best swimming spots you’re likely to find in Oz. Another little secret for you: it’s a base for Fraser Island sure, but there’s a fair bit to see and do in Rainbow Beach too. Bizarre multi-coloured cliffs, friendly locals, spectacular coastal scenery, Great Sandy National Park, lovely beaches... it’s a wonderful little escape.


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