Have you done the East Coast yet? Did you go up or down? I’ve heard you shouldn’t bother going here but should definitely spend at least 3 nights here! How much money do you need? How long does it take?
The Australian East Coast trip is infamous with backpackers. It’s usually where they spend the majority of their time in Australia and sadly sometimes the only part of Australia they will see. I’m lucky enough to have done the East Coast twice so hopefully I can help with some of the standard questions every newbie in Australia seems to ask.
Up or Down?
Typically, when travel agents say ‘East Coast’ they mean Sydney to Cairns or vice versa but some do include Melbourne (and so they should as Melbourne is awesome!). Where you start your trip usually depends on where you flew into or where you closest. If you are bang in the middle of the two cities, you should think about the weather conditions. Do you want it to get warmer or avoid the heat? Planning ahead is also a good idea. Australia is an expensive country so you may need to work after completing the East Coast. Where would you rather work is a question you should be asking yourself. I travelled up towards Cairns from Melbourne on both occasions. The first time because I flew into Melbourne and out from Cairns and the second time because I was travelling just as the coast was starting to get warmer and I wanted to end in Cairns where it would be hottest. Let’s be honest, all I wanted was a tan!
Where to go?
I’m probably going to contradict myself in this next section. When deciding where you want to visit, talk to friends and travel agents to get their advice but don’t listen too closely. This is YOUR trip. Your best friend might think that you only need to spend 1 night in Byron Bay but you might love it there and want to stay 3 nights. So do your research and make up your own mind. I’ll write where Stu and I went on our trip to give you an idea but there are plenty more places to visit so don’t think this is all the East Coast has to offer.
Melbourne (7 nights) 5 nights spend in a campervan doing the Great Ocean Road and Phillip Island. 2 nights in the city.
Sydney (3 nights) We’d been to both Sydney and Melboune before hence not staying long in each city.
Byron Bay (5 nights)
Surfers Paradise (3 nights)
Noosa (3 nights)
Rainbow Beach and Fraser Island (2 nights in RB, 2 nights on Fraser then 1 more night on RB) A self drive 4×4 Fraser trip is the one to choose!
Airlie Beach and The Whitsundays (1 night in AB, 2 nights on a boat trip then 3 nights in AB after) A travel agent will give you the best advice on which boat is best for you.
Mission Beach (3 nights) We only went to Mission Beach to do our skydive – amazing as you get to land on the beach.
Cairns (6 nights) There is loads to do here – The Great Barrier Reef, Bungy Jump, Atherton Tablelands, Cape Tribulation etc.
How long does it take?
The simple answer is, as long or as short as you want it to be. It all depends on how many places you want to visit. A typical amount of time is about 6 weeks. You can get open-dated travel vouchers for your trip so if you don’t have any limits on time you really can take it at your own pace. Another factor that comes into play is how you will be travelling the East Coast. If you have your own car or campervan this gives you a lot of freedom. If you will be using either the Greyhound or the Premier coach service then you have to stick to their timetables and ticket restrictions. Most of all, it depends on how much money you have and how long you can actually afford to travel for. Which brings me to my next section quite nicely…
How much does it cost?
It always comes down to money unfortunately and Australia is known for being very expensive. As well as paying for your boat trip and Fraser Island tour, there’s transport to think of, accommodation, extra activities, food and drink. It can add up to crazy amounts and unless you are really good at budgeting, you will spend more than you hoped you would. Our East Coast package cost just over $2000 each. This included our transport up the coast, all our accommodation, our skydive, the Fraser trip, the Whitsundays boat trip and the campervan hire in Melbourne. On top of this is spending money. Everyone will need different amounts of spending money but the East Coast is mainly about making friends and going out every night with them. You can stick to goon as much as you want but you’ll soon realise you’re spending money very very quickly. However, do not panic, remember this is a once in a lifetime experience and you don’t want to be missing out on memories because you can’t afford to do something. Just work a couple more months and do it properly. Australia might be a long way from home and you don’t want to go back with any regrets.
I hope this blog helps some of you plan your trip and you get the most out of it. And don’t forget that Australia is a massive country and there’s a whole lot more of it to explore than just the East Coast.