Brisbane is a great gateway to eastern Australia’s splendid coastline. Drive the Pacific Coast north, stopping for resort glamour in Noosa or to four wheel drive the sandy tracks of World Heritage-listed Fraser Island. Sail past islands topped with jungle green in the idyllic Whitsundays. Stop in Gladstone, Mackay, Rockhampton and Cairns, just some of the access points for the technicolour treasures of the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef. Walk through primeval treetops in the Daintree Rainforest or through pristine national park on Hinchinbrook Island. From Brisbane, it’s a short flight to the glittering harbour, cultural attractions and golden city beaches of Sydney.
Go boating, sea-kayaking, windsurfing or ride a jet-ski in Moreton Bay, a short drive from Brisbane. It’s also a quick detour south to the Gold Coast, with its golden beaches, huge theme parks, tireless nightlife and lush hinterland. Drive north on the Pacific Coast Touring Route, stopping to soak up Noosa’s natural beauty and jet-set elegance and watch whales from Hervey Bay. Four wheel drive to inland lakes, rainforest and coloured cliffs on World Heritage-listed Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island. See sea turtles on Mon Repos beach or snorkel with manta rays at Lady Musgrave Island, both near Bundaberg. Chill out on the beach in 1770 or awaken your senses in the lush rainforest of Cania Gorge National Park. On your way up the coast, stay in Rockhampton and visit Great Keppel Island and the Capricorn Caves.
You can fly direct to Cairns from Brisbane. Alternatively, drive all the way there on the Pacific Coast Touring Route. This takes you past Airlie Beach, the departure point for your dream sailing trip through the 74 palm-fringed islands of the Whitsundays. Bushwalk on South Molle Island and walk the white, silica sands of Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island. Go castaway on Magnetic Island, near Townsville and further north visit Hinchinbrook, Australia’s largest island national park. Arrive in Cairns, the most popular gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. Learn to dive or snorkel with tropical fish and coral and even dwarf minke whales. From Cairns, take a scenic train to the butterfly-fringed rainforest village of Kuranda and return on the Skyrail, high above the canopies. Trek the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest, a little further north. Four wheel drive to Cape Tribulation or south of Cairns bushwalk to waterfalls near Mission Beach. For more adrenalin, white water raft down the Tully River, an hour south of Cairns, or the Barron River in Barron Gorge National Park.
Fly direct to Sydney or drive the Pacific Coast Touring Route through Byron Bay. Here you can restore your zen in a rainforest retreat or see Australia’s first sunrise turn the lighthouse pink. In Sydney, explore the historic cobblestone streets of The Rocks and visit the museums along Macquarie Street. Walk through the Botanic Gardens, looking at the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Take a ferry to Manly or Watsons Bay. Learn to surf at Bondi Beach, swim in Coogee’s calm waters or head north to Palm Beach. Wine, dine and shop in inner-city precincts such as Darling Harbour, Paddington, Surry Hills, Potts Point, Glebe and Newtown. Past Sydney’s fringes, you can bush walk in the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains and spend the night in a quaint mountain village. North of Sydney, discover the Hawkesbury River and surf beaches of the Central Coast. Visit some of the Hunter Valley’s 120 wineries and swim with dolphins in Port Stephens. South of Sydney, camp in the Royal National Park or snorkel in Jervis Bay.