Discover the pristine beaches, tropical islands and plentiful national parks of Australia’s “Sunshine State” on this 4-day tour along Australia’s East Coast. On the way, you’ll enjoy some amazing scenery and wildlife, and end at the southern gateway to UNESCO World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef. And don’t fret if you’re in Sydney and want to experience the Great Barrier Reef – you can take a trip up Australia’s Pacific Highway! After the Great Ocean Road, it’s probably the most popular road trip in the country!
Australia’s East Coast Itinerary
- Brisbane to Noosa (Stops in: Glass House Mountains Lookout, Australia Zoo)
- Noosa to Hervey Bay (Stops in: Rainbow Beach)
- Hervey Bay to Seventeen Seventy (Stops in: Bundaberg Rum Distillery, Mon Repos Turtle Centre)
- Seventeen Seventy to Yeppoon (Stops in: Rockhampton, Capricorn Caves)
Day 1: Brisbane to Noosa
Once you’ve experienced the cultural sights and bustling energy of green Queensland capital, continue on from Brisbane to Noosa to delve into Australia’s Nature Coast.
Glass House Mountains Lookout
Stop for 45 minutes to take in the stunning view of vista of the Sunshine Coast’s most iconic mountain range. Rising above a forested plain, these conical peaks are the dramatic remnants of prehistoric volcanic activity. They are also central to indigenous creation myths and remain of important spiritual significance to this day. The short trail is only a 45 minute return hike, but passing through gum trees and a wet eucalypt forest gully makes it feel like a real natural escape.
Welcome to the home of The Crocodile Hunter. Founded by Steve’s parents, the Crocodile Hunter and his wife Terri expanded the attraction after the success of their TV show. Now, thousands of animals thrive in natural enclosures. One your 3-hour visit, you’ll not only see and learn about the many creatures here. You can even get up close and personal and feed a kangaroo, cuddle a koala and even pet a rhino! For more information, or to make reservations, visit australiazoo.com.au
Arrival in Noosa
Dripping in natural beauty, the resort town of Noosa is complete with its own stunning national park, miles of beaches where forest meets the sand and the country’s only Everglade ecosystem – one of only two in the world. You may not want to leave!
The turquoise waters of Noosa Main Beach sparkle in the year-round sunshine and they’re a stone’s throw from plenty of independent boutiques, cafes and bars on the neighbouring high street. Noosa’s other beaches are a haven for keen surfers. It’s also a great place for diving, and much quieter than you’d at the Great Barrier Reef.
Between July and November, swim in Noosa with humpback whales for a truly magical experience. There’s every water activity you can imagine available in this spectacular seaside town. And if you want to feel at one with nature head to Noosa National Park.
Duration: 6h 7min
Book a car from Brisbane to Noosa
Day 2: Noosa to Hervey Bay
Once you’ve enjoyed the nature and beauty in Noosa and the surrounding national parks, it’s time for adventure as you move on to Hervey Bay.
Take an hour to enjoy the multi-coloured sand dunes surrounding this coastal town. The psychedelic sandstone cliffs make for a magical backdrop to the Coral Sea waves that crash gently onto the sandy beach. A main attraction is Carlo Sand Blow, a unique moonscape sand mass that bisects the clifftop native bush and provides unrivaled views.
You can get to Fraser Island from here, but we recommend hopping on a ferry from Hervey Bay.
Arrival in Hervey Bay
Welcome to the whale-watching capital of the world! Hervey Bay is a natural bay between mainland Queensland and UNESCO World Heritage sight, Fraser Island.
Between July and November humpback whales visit Hervey Bay by the thousands. Widely regarded as the best place in the world to see these majestic mammals, Hervey Bay is home to the humpbacks for almost half a year. Plenty of tours are available to get up close and personal – remember your camera to capture the moment!
Regardless when you visit, take the ferry to Kingfisher Bay on the breathtaking Fraser Island. UNESCO recognised the largest sand island in the world for its “exceptional natural beauty”, and you’ll see why when you arrive.
Swim in the fresh, crystal clear waters of Lake McKenzie and take a dip in nature’s jacuzzi, The Champagne Pools. Relax on the white sandy beaches and take a four wheel drive tour of the whole island. The possibilities are endless and we’re sure you’ll fall in love with Fraser Island.
Duration: 4h 8min
Book a car from Noosa to Hervey Bay
Day 3: Hervey Bay to Seventeen Seventy
After watching the whales and adventuring on the dunes of fantastic Fraser Island, keep going up the coast from Hervey Bay to Seventeen Seventy.
Bundaberg Rum Distillery
The Bundaberg region is home to rich volcanic soil and is extremely fertile – prime grounds for growing sugarcane. On your 90 minute visit, take a self guided tour of the Bundaberg Rum Distillery museum, or pre-book a guided tour to learn the history and production of Australia’s favourite rum. For a hands-on experience, book to “Blend Your Own Rum”! Click here to check tour times and book in advance.
Mon Repos Turtle Centre
The Mon Repos Turtle Centre is dedicated to marine turtle research, protection and education. They have the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on Eastern Australian mainland, and you’ll hear tales of the little creatures that take a big journey.
On your 2-hour visit, you’ll learn all about the conservation of these beautiful creatures through film, interactive displays and educational programmes. If you’re visiting between November and March, you’ll witness the rare sight of endangered marine turtles emerging from the sea to lay their eggs.
Arrival in Seventeen Seventy
The unusually named town of Seventeen Seventy is built on the site of the second landing in Australia by Captain Cook. We’ll give you one guess which year that was… In May, the local community reenacts Cook’s historic landing to commemorate his first encounters in Australia.
The town is filled with cafes and restaurants, tourist accommodations and endless supplies of nature to be explored. Go sailing or dolphin watching in the Coral Sea, relax on the golden sandy beaches or hike through the Red Rock Walking Trail.
Seventeen Seventy is also the southern starting point of the Great Barrier Reef.
Duration: 6h 51min
Book a car from Hervey Bay to Seventeen Seventy
Day 4: Seventeen Seventy to Yeppoon
After whiling some time away, head from Seventeen Seventy to Yeppoon, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef!
Rockhampton is known as “The Beef City” and Australia’s beef capital. It has a thriving (and massive) cattle industry, celebrated every three years during “Beef Week” as the city hosts an epic industry event.
Throughout the city are six bull statues, commemorating its main trade. During your 90-minute visit, grab a steak! Aside from beef, there’s an art gallery, and heritage village and plenty of great parks to enjoy, including the free entry zoo in the heart of the city.
Discover the natural wonders of one of Queensland’s oldest attractions. Take a guided walk through these spectacular caves. Or hike off the beaten track and even rock climb or abseil if you dare. The Caves are so magical that the limestone Cathedral Chamber even hosts weddings! Click here to view the available tours and pre-book to secure your place.
Arrival in Yeppoon
Yeppoon is the stunning gateway to the Capricorn Coast, and one of the best locations to begin exploring the Great Barrier Reef!
Lined with tropical beaches, Yeppoon is perfect for swimming and day trips to the Great Kippel Islands.
Explore the Capricorn Coast National Park, Yeppoon Main Beach and the Spring Head Lookout for stunning views of the natural landscape. The town is dotted with independent cafes and boutiques, and regular festivals and events are held there. It’s charming!
From Yeppoon, hop on a boat tour to see the Southern Great Barrier Reef. You might even want to plan multiple trips! While the Great Barrier Reef is the most famous, don’t forget that Western Australia has its own UNESCO-listed reef, which you can visit on a 6-day trip up Australia’s Coral Coast.
Duration: 6h 49min
Book a car from Seventeen Seventy to Yeppoon
Ready to tour Australia’s East Coast?
Here’s each leg of the trip up Australia’s East Coast so you can swim with whales and dive the Great Barrier Reef! If you ever need any help, just contact Daytrip’s customer service department.