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East Coast Road Trip Australia

East Coast Road Trip Australia | Road trip planner Australia | KILROY
Suzan Woodcock

A1, the main road from Sydney to Cairns, is the world's longest beach road and perfect an Australian road trip of a lifetime. That’s why we’ve created the perfect itinerary for you! If you’re itching for an unforgettable experience down under but want to do it at your own pace, you should hit the road and experience Australia on wheels. Take some time off and travel Australia by jumping into a campervan! You’ll have all the amenities and comforts, while being free to go where you want, when you want!

Want to rent a car or campervan?
Learn more about how you can travel the Australian East Coast in a campervan or car.
Road trip on the East Coast

The Australian Road Trip - Driving up the East Coast

Your road trip starts in Sydney! This is both Australia's largest city and Australia's cultural capital. Almost all travels in Australia begins and ends in Sydney. We can help you find the perfect campervan or car for your road trip in Australia, but if you are planning on buying a car Sydney will have the most options, as well. Buying is a great option if you are planning on driving around for a long time (more than just some months) and know your way around and engine in case it breaks down on a backroad or in the bush. If you plan to get off the A1 and experience some more rural parts of Australia, we also advice that you either buy or rent a 4 wheel-drive. Some roads in Australia are gravel roads, so renting a powerful car can be a good idea.

Take a few days to explore Sydney. Visit the opera house, the Olympic city and Bondi Beach. Enjoy the sunshine and if you throw down a cold Foster's or two down, you're guaranteed to get a sense of the Aussie vibe. Once you have a car or a campervan it's time to hit the roads. The end target of the trip is Cairns in the north, Australia's action sports and diving capital.

Your best friend on the trip will be the A1 main road that takes you all the way up to Cairns. But remember to take plenty of detours from the A1 to the smaller side roads. It's rarely on the highway that the greatest experiences await. It is not unusual to see a kangaroo or two crossing your way on an Australian road trip, so be aware!

East Coast Road Trip Australia | Road trip planner Australia | KILROY
You're starting out from Sydney!
Let's give you the inside scoop on where to go, what to, do and how to navigate amazing Sydney
City-guide Sydney

The Blue Mountains - Culture and nature at its Best

Although Cairns is located directly north along the coast, you should actually start by driving west and into the Blue Mountains. This is a stunningly beautiful mountain range, known as the Great Dividing Range. It stretches all the way along up the coast to Cairns, but the most charming and easily accessible part is located right next to Sydney.

Australia's colonization was based in Sydney, so the Blue Mountains are kind of Sydney's backyard and home to 150-200 years old villages, similar to the small western cities in the US. Especially cities like Leura and Katoomba captures the essence of this culture. While there, it is worth while making a stop to visit the local vineyards to try some of the different grapes and vintages of the region. Some of Australia's best wines are produced in in New South Wales and finding a good vineyard isn't a problem.

East Coast Road Trip Australia | Road trip planner Australia | KILROY
Interested in surfing down under?
If you are in Australia, you really have to go surfing! The waves are amazing and the experience will be unforgettable.
More about surfing in Australia

Surf’s up at the Australian Gold Coast!

What places you should visit on the coast between Sydney and Brisbane is a matter of temperament and beach cravings. Byron Bay, located 200 km south of Brisbane and 800 km north of Sydney is a must see. This is the beginning of the Australian 'gold coast'. The beaches are fantastic, and the atmosphere is laid back with a hint of flower power. 100 km closer to Brisbane you'll find Surfers Paradise. This is the same deal as Byron Bay, just a tad more 'upscale' and surfer-like. This is the place to spend a few days to learn the noble art of board standing and surfing the waves.

East Coast Road Trip Australia | Road trip planner Australia | KILROY
4x4 roadtrip
Fraser island is the a magical place and if you get a 4WD, you'll be able to explore without boundaries!
Read more about Fraser Island

Bounty commercial - Visit Fraser Island

Next stop could be Brisbane which is a nice and cosy city. If you're in town to catch a Sunday market at the Riverside Centre, do it! Brisbane is popular among backpackers on their way from Sydney to Cairns. If you have a spare seat in the car you will not have trouble finding a fellow passenger. The company can be great and can help you stretch your budget.

After Brisbane it's on to Fraser Island which is copy-pasted out of bounty island advertise. It's situated four hours north of Brisbane and the island is on UNESCO's World Heritage list. A road trip turns into a 'beach trip' on the broad stranded part of Fraser Island. Besides the dazzling white sand beaches and the blue ocean this island also has some of the world's cleanest freshwater lakes. This is a rare chance to try salt free swimming in Australia.

East Coast Road Trip Australia | Road trip planner Australia | KILROY
Diving Great Barrier Reef!
Do you want to go diving in the legendary Great Barrier Reef? We take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing but airbubbles!
The Great Barrier Reef Diving

The Great Barrier Reef

Just north of Fraser Island Great Barrier Reef begins and stretches over 1000 km to the north. The farther north the closer it is to the mainland. This magnificent coral reef is a lifetime experience and something you should not miss! You can enjoy the reef from a boat with snorkel and dive gear. The experience varies but the common theme is fish and corals of all shapes and colours, that you thought only existed in a colour card from the local paint dealer.

East Coast Road Trip Australia | Road trip planner Australia | KILROY
Your final destination: Cairns
Cairns is full of activities and experiences! There's so much to see and so much to do!
Read more about Cairns

Get your money’s worth of action - Visit Cairns

Your trips end destination is Cairns - Australia's unofficial capital of action. This is where you can easily spend travel budget on adrenalin kicks. You'll be able to try all kinds of activities: rafting, parachuting, horse riding, ballooning, mountain biking, sea kayaking and of course diving. In Cairns you can get almost any kind of action experience! At the end of the day, you can continue the high energy level in the active nightlife. Cairn’s knows how to party!

East Coast Road Trip Australia | Road trip planner Australia | KILROY
Don't want to drive?
If you don't want to travel by car you can also buy a flexible bus pass for Australia and get freedom without responsibilities!
Bus passes Australia

Timing, Distance and Time for a Road Trip up the East coast of Australia

Take a road trip from Sydney to Cairns either from September to November or from February to April or May. From December to March it rains a lot in Cairns and there’s no reason to hang under a canopy while the one flood replaces another.

The journey is between 2000 and 2500 km depending on the number of detours that you decide to take. Use at least one month and preferably two if you want a decent trip where you don't drive too much every day.

East Coast Road Trip Australia | Road trip planner Australia | KILROY

If You Want to Explore More of Australia

Australia has much more to offer than what you find on the East Coast. Perth, Ayers Rock, the great endless red outback and Tasmania are just some of the experiences that you miss out on when road tripping from Sydney to Cairns. Still the journey along the A1 offers the most experiences per kilometre 'Down Under' than any other route and is a classic!

We can help you with campervan and car rental in Australia, so you are set and ready from the get go! If you don't want to travel by car you can also buy a flexible bus pass for Australia and get freedom without responsibilities!

Read more about all of Australia and book your cheap flight tickets to Australia!

Wanna travel the world?

...but not sure how far your budget takes you? Or how to best combine seeing South Africa, Australia and Costa Rica in one go? Going on an epic trip around the world takes a lot of planning. That's why we're here: To help you get the most amazing trip possible.

Wanna travel the world?

...but not sure how far your budget takes you? Or how to best combine seeing South Africa, Australia and Costa Rica in one go? Going on an epic trip around the world takes a lot of planning. That's why we're here: To help you get the most amazing trip possible.

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Wanna travel the world?

...but not sure how far your budget takes you? Or how to best combine seeing South Africa, Australia and Costa Rica in one go? Going on an epic trip around the world takes a lot of planning. That's why we're here: To help you get the most amazing trip possible.