The route up Australia’s East Coast has earned its rep as one of the seemingly endless supply of must-do experiences in the country. The classic Sydney-to-Cairns route introduces you to both sides of modern Australia – the bright lights of the big city and the raw beauty of the Outback. You’ll get to try your hand at dozens of activities – everything from wine-tasting to sailing and snorkelling. And when you travel in small groups like we do, you really get out there into the wild to meet the locals and experience the land like they do. That amazing new frontier you’ve been looking for? Here it is.
Is this tour for me?
Travel Style: 18-to-Thirtysomethings
Fast, fresh, and fun adventures that never slow down, made for young, budget-minded travellers.
Physical Rating: 3 – Average
Some tours may include light hiking, biking, rafting, or kayaking in addition to walking.
Age requirement: 18-39
Service Level: Basic
Simple and clean hotels and hostels; affordable public and private transport; lots of optional activities.
Trip Type: Small Group
Small group experience; Max 20, avg 16
> Hands-on: Wine Tour, Hunter valley
> Hands-on: Surfing Lesson, Byron Bay
> Big Night Out: Cairns
> Sydney orientation walk
> Fraser Island 4×4 excursion
> Entrance fees to Cooloola Recreation Area and Fraser Island in Great Sandy NP
> Noosa Everglades overnight experience
> Noosa Everglades canoeing excursion
> Whitsunday Islands sailing excursion (3 days)
> Whitehaven Beach visit
> All transport between destinations and to/from included activities
Hostels (10 nts), overnight train (1 nt), maxi yacht (2 nts), cabins (2 nts). All nights multi-share.
9 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners
Allow USD $390-$510 for meals not included.
Private vehicle, train, maxi yacht, 4×4 vehicle, ferry, walking.
Staff & experts
Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout, local guides.
16 days Sydney to Cairns
Day 1 Sydney
Arrive at any time. There are no planned activities during the day, so check into the hotel and explore the city. If you arrive early enough, head down to the harbour’s edge to ‘The Rocks’ historic area and the Opera House.
Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting
The adventure begins tonight. Feel free to explore before your welcome meeting, but make sure you’re back in time to meet the group. After introductions, your CEO will review the details of your tour. Please note that normal check-in times apply at our start hotels, but you can usually store your luggage for the day if you arrive early.
Day 2 Sydney
Enjoy a free day to explore Sydney. Opt to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, hop on a jet boat ride through the harbour, or chill out at Bondi Beach.
Day 3 Sydney/Tamworth
Travel to the Hunter Valley for a wine tasting before continuing on to Tamworth for a taste of Australian country living.
Day 4 Tamworth/Yamba
Travel over the Great Dividing Range to Yamba, a quaint beach town. Go for a swim at the beach, relax, and enjoy the view.
Continue north, visiting Raspberry Lookout and Boundary Falls in Gibraltar National Park en route. Once in Yamba, head to the beach for a swim.
Day 5 Yamba/Byron Bay
Continue up the coast to Byron Bay, an alternative hippie paradise. Hit the beach and enjoy an included surf lesson.
After breakfast, travel the coastal road to the stunning surf and arts town of Byron Bay. Enjoy plenty of free time to experience the hippie surfing town. Options are abound — walk to the lighthouse (located on Australia’s most easterly point) for a chance to see whales swimming off shore or hang ten with the locals after an included surfing lesson.
Day 6 Byron Bay
Enjoy free time to hit the beach, get a massage, or try sea kayaking.
The free time is yours to explore. Walk along the long stunning beach, play in the surf, or simply hang out at the Byron Bay Brewery and people watch. Want to get your adrenaline pumping? Go skydiving, try sea kayaking, or go on a dolphin watch.
Day 7 Byron Bay/Brisbane
Travel north, and opt for a night out in Queensland’s capital.
Day 8 Brisbane/Noosa Everglades
Head north to Noosa, and enjoy a free afternoon for surfing or strolling the boardwalk to Noosa National Park, where koala sightings are common.
Day 9 Fraser Island/Noosa Everglades
Travel by private 4×4 and ferry to reach Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island. Walk through the rainforest, visit Lake Mackenzie, and drive along Australia’s only sand highway.
Day 10 Noosa Everglades/Airlie Beach
Go canoeing along the calm waters of the Noosa Everglades before hopping an overnight train north to Airlie Beach.
Day 11 Airlie Beach/Whitsunday Islands
Embark on a 3-day maxi yacht sailing adventure. Enjoy beach visits, island bush walks, and time to snorkel the reefs. Anchor off of secluded tropical islands at night.
After arriving in Airlie Beach, transfer to the marina and embark on a maxi yacht which will be our home for the next three days. Set sail to a secluded cove in the Whitsunday Islands where you will drop anchor for the night.
Day 12 Whitsunday Islands
Hike to an island lookout over Whitehaven Beach, known for its stunning white sand, then enjoy free time on the famous beach. Anchor off of a secluded tropical island at night.
The sailing route today allows us to follow part of Captain Cook’s route up through the Whitsunday Islands. Again we drop anchor in a secluded bay for the night.
Day 13 Whitsunday Islands/Airlie Beach
Continue sailing through the gorgeous backdrop of the Whitsunday Islands. Sail to the resort town of Airlie Beach for a night on the town.
After three days at sea, we sail back to Airlie Beach for a night on land in a local beach hostel. Feel free to relax by the pool at the end of the day.
Day 14 Airlie Beach/Cairns
Admire the scenery on the train north to Cairns.
Day 15 Cairns
Enjoy a free day to visit the Great Barrier Reef or get the adrenaline pumping by whitewater rafting or bungee jumping. Cap it all off with a Big Night Out in Cairns.
Day 16 Cairns
Depart at any time
A classic tour of the South Pacific touching on both Australia and New ZealandEXPLORE
Soak up the sun on the white sands and glistening shores of Australia's east coastEXPLORE
Travel through Australia's Tropical Top End and dusty Red CentreEXPLORE