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East Coast Highlights

Explore the best of the East Coast in 21 days!

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Group Size: Max 20, Avg 15

Trip code: AECH

Duration: 21 days

21 day group tour in Australia
Explore Fraser Island & the Whitsundays
Snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef

Escape to the beautiful East Coast of Australia for 21 days of unforgettable adventures on this amazing group tour. From the natural wonders of the Great Barrier Reef, to the white sands of the Whitsundays, and the legendary nightlife of the Gold Coast, this trip has it all. Learn to surf like a local, snorkel with the sting-rays, camp under the stars on K'gari (formerly Fraser Island) and meet a koala at Australia Zoo. What are you waiting for? Pack your bags, jump on a flight and say G’day to Australia!

Trip highlights

  • Snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef – one of the World’s most diverse marine environments!
  • Visit the immaculate white sand beaches of the Whitsunday Islands by boat
  • Take surfing lessons on the Gold Coast
  • Explore the wild beauty of K'gari Island by 4 x 4
  • Meet Australian animals at the world famous Australia Zoo
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What's included
  • 20 nights accommodation
  • 6 dinners, 4 lunches & 4 breakfasts
  • Trip guide
  • Arrival airport transfer
  • All transport from Sydney to Cairns
  • Sydney orientation walk
  • Surf lesson in Surfers Paradise
  • Whitsunday Islands Sailing experience
  • K'gari Island adventure
  • Brisbane walking tour
  • Dolphin kayaking
  • Australia Zoo visit
  • Great Barrier Reef snorkelling day trip
  • 24 hour emergency support
What's not included
  • International flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Some meals and drinks
  • Visas
  • Optional activities
  • Local K'gari and Barrier Reef taxes (approx $20 each - subject to change)
  • Return airport transfer
Further trip information

Day 1: G’day Australia! Land in the beautiful harbour city of Sydney, where you’ll be met from the airport. Meet the rest of your group at the hostel before taking in all the highlights including the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House, as well as colourful Chinatown and Darling Harbour. Hop on the comfortable overnight coach to Byron Bay.

Day 2: Byron Bay Marine Park. Arrive in laid-back Byron, where you’ll be spending the next 2 days.  Mellow out with some of the bohemian locals, before kayaking through the pristine waters of the Marine Park. Look out for humpback whales, bottlenose dolphins and sea-turtles! 

Day 3: Byron Lighthouse & Beach. Watch the sun rise over Byron with a guided walk to the Lighthouse. Spend the rest of the day chilling on the beach, or checking out the eclectic cafe culture.

Day 4: Travel to Surfers Paradise. Head to the aptly named Surfers Paradise, where you’ll learn how to hang ten with a surfing lesson. Spend the rest of the day practising your new skills carving up the waves, before freshening up ready for a night on the town.

Day 5: Brisbane Baby! Arrive in the vibrant city of Brisbane. Filled with parks, sandy beaches, and sleek malls, there’s plenty to keep you busy. After the sun goes down, and the city lights flicker on, it’s time to get stuck in to some of Brisbane’s famous nightlife. 

Day 6: Australia Zoo. Meet some of Australia’s unique wildlife today at the World Famous Australia Zoo, home of the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin!

Days 7: Rainbow Beach. Travel to Rainbow, gateway to K'gari (formerly known as Fraser Island). Laze around on the beach and cool off in the calm blue water. You might even see the humpback whales that frolic around the coast at certain times of year!

Day 8: Ferry to K'gari. Hop on the Ferry to K'gari – the largest sand island on Earth!  You’ll camp here for the next two nights. With no proper roads or infrastructure on the island, this is a proper wilderness adventure. 

Day 9: K'gari Adventure. Explore the stunning landscape of the island by 4x4. Swim in the vast freshwater lakes, discover the Maheno Shipwreck, and mess around in the sand dunes.

Day 10: Return to Rainbow Beach. We’ll say goodbye to K'gari today, but not before exploring the stunning Lake Wabby! This afternoon, we’ll catch a ferry back to Rainbow Beach, where you’ll have some free time to relax.

Day 11: Rainbow Beach to 1770. Continue the journey up the east coast today as we head on to the Town of 1770 and Agnes Water. We’ll have the afternoon to explore the areas amazing landscapes and coastline.

Day 12: 1770 to Airlie Beach. We’ll travel onwards to Airlie Beach today,  jump-off point to the gorgeous Whitsunday islands.  Explore this lively coastal town, pick up some essentials for your boat trip, and make the most of the pumping nightlife.

Day 13: Airlie Beach. Today, we’ll catch some sun and relax at the local lagoon, and check out the coastline, before getting packed for your Whitsunday islands adventure!

Day 14: Whitsunday Islands. Cast off on your 2 night sailing adventure around the jewel-like Whitsunday Islands.  It’s all white sand beaches and the bluest water you’ve ever seen – paradise!

Day 15: Swim & Snorkel the Whitsundays. Get to know this exquisite collection of islands more today, with lots of stops to swim and snorkel over colourful coral reefs. We’ll visit Whitehaven Beach today, one of the loveliest in the Whitsundays. 

Day 16: Back to Airlie Beach. It’s back to Airlie Beach today. Lie back on the palm-fringed sand, or explore some of Airlie’s restaurants and shops. Tonight, grab a drink with some of the locals in some of the town’s many beer gardens.

Day 17: More Airlie Beach Fun. You’ll have another day to enjoy the gorgeous lagoons and beaches of Airlie today. Then this evening, hop on a night bus to travel up to Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef!

Day 18: Arrive in Cairns. Check in to your resort-style accommodation in the rainforest-meets modern city of Cairns. Chill by the pool and explore the city, before experiencing some of the backpacker bars. 

Day 19: Great Barrier Reef Boat Trip. Strap on your snorkel and immerse yourself in the wonder of the Barrier Reef. With multicoloured corals and tropical fish all around, this is an experience you’ll never forget. Enjoy lunch on board the boat, before heading back to Cairns.

Day 20: Cairns. Get the most out of your last full day in Australia. You’re spoilt for choice in Cairns with the Esplanade Lagoon, the Pier Marina, and tons of cool cafes. Enjoy a farewell meal with your new friends this evening.

Day 21: Goodbye Australia. The time has come to say your goodbyes. Depart any time, or stay on Cairns for more adventures!

More Time in Australia

If you wanted to have longer to explore to epic East Coast of Australia, why not check out the incredible 5 or 6 week Australia East Coast Adventure? See all the best bits of the East Coast, including Fraser Island's amazing lakes, the white beaches of the Whitsunday Islands, and even spot koalas on Magnetic Island!

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Arrival information

You need to arrive at the starting hostel for the tour by 1pm on Day 1 for the Sydney walking tour and welcome meeting, so, we recommend arriving into Sydney the day before the trip begins. Please contact a travel adviser for more information about booking an extra night in the starting accommodation before the trip begins. You can fly back home on day 21 of the trip at any time from Cairns Airport.

Accommodation & meals

You’ll be staying 13 nights in shared backpacker hostels all on the East Coast of Australia including a resort, a beachfront hostel and awesome flashpacker-style accommodation. 3 nights will be spent on an overnight bus, 2 nights sailing around the Whitsunday Islands and 2 nights camping on K'gari. The majority of the journeys on the tour will be by coach. The coaches used are modern and comfortable, with USB sockets, wifi (connection dependant) and reclining seats. The overnight coaches also have even more legroom (more than most airlines!), as well as reclining seats, so you'll get a great night’s sleep. 6 dinners, 4 lunches and 4 breakfasts are included on this trip. All additional meals, snacks and drinks will need to be purchased by you.

Private room upgrades are available at extra cost. Please contact us to find out more.

Minimum age & eligibility

This trip is designed to be quite fast-paced and the minimum age to travel is 18 years old. This trip is designed for travellers aged 18-35 years old.

All visitors to Australia (excepting those from New Zealand) will need a visa or e-visa/ETA to enter. These must be applied for before departure, and if you’re planning on working in Australia whilst you’re out there you’ll need a Working Holiday Visa. If you’re just heading to Australia for fun however, an ETA will be fine. Both visas can be applied for online.

Visa rules and regulations are subject to change. Please check the relevant embassy websites for up to date information.

Covid safety

This trip is designed with your safety and wellbeing in mind. As a result of Covid-19, many of our suppliers and partners around the world are introducing new policies and procedures surrounding health and safety in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. As the state of travel is evolving these new safety measures will adapt over time, and will be different for each trip. Here are some of the changes you may see on your trip:

Arrival safety meetings
Most trips have an arrival meeting on the first day where the guide or local team will run through the trip, the safety protocols, and to answer any questions you may have. Now more than ever it is important you arrive in time for these meetings.

Proof of vaccination or negative covid test
For the safety of all travellers, at the start of some trips you may be required to show evidence that you are fully vaccinated (14 days after your second dose) and/or show evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the tour start date in order to join the programme.

Updated hygiene and safety procedures
Our suppliers and partners have health and safety procedures in place on all of our trips. These protocols will be updated and adapted as a response to the Coronavirus outbreak, dependent on local restrictions and laws.

Transport and accommodation choices
Our suppliers and partners choose the accommodation and transport on our trips very carefully, and you may see a change to what would normally be used as a response to the outbreak. This may involve such changes as enhanced use of private transport or quieter accommodation.

Trained and knowledgeable staff
Our staff in the UK are trained to help you with your trip before you depart and answer any questions you may have. In addition, the local team and guides on our trips are there to help with any health and safety concerns and to ensure our trips run safely and smoothly.

Reduced group sizes
Some trips will run with reduced group sizes to start with. You may find that trips are more intimate and chilled, whilst still being packed with fun and adventure.

Your guide or the local team will be on hand to help you seek medical attention should you require it during your trip. As medical facilities and standards can vary around the world, you should ensure you have adequate travel insurance in place before you depart to cover you for any medical emergencies.

24/7 emergency support
We operate an emergency phone line for our travellers abroad. This is operated by a UK based member of staff 24/7 if you have a genuine emergency or urgent matter that you need attending.

It is important that you take measures to make travelling safer for yourself and others around you. Ensure you frequently wash your hands, cover your face when you sneeze and cough, bring and use your own hand sanitiser and facial coverings/masks, and enable social distancing where necessary. You should also ensure you listen to the instructions and guidance of the local team at all times, and follow all local laws and restrictions.