1. Visit Sydney for the infamous Opera House or try the bridge climb over Harbour Bridge. A cheaper option is to climb the south-eastern pylon—only $13 and you’re allowed to bring your camera. Have a barbeque on Bondi Beach or try the Bondi to Coogee cliff walk. Less than an hour out of Sydney are the breath-taking Blue Mountains, perfect for a weekend hike.
2. Byron Bay is the perfect hippie spot, full of weed smokin’ and tightrope walkin’. Visit the Main Beach and walk along to the lookout point, or go to the unofficial nudist beach: Belongil Beach. Try kayaking whilst you’re there—I saw whales and dolphins just metres from the kayak! Also visit Nimbin, the drug capital of Australia. It’s only one street but holds a candle factory, an art gallery, and every fourth and fifth Sunday of the month, 8–3, it holds a market to showcase the community’s art, produce and music.
3. Brisbane is a bit of a city shock after the beaches in Byron. Go to the koala sanctuary and hold a koala, or visit the botanic gardens and Lagoon—it has the feel of a real beach. Beautiful architecture and plenty of food options makes it a great stop off point.
4. Noosa itself is gorgeous, with white sand beaches and a surrounding national park. The main reason I went though was for the Everglades. A three day, two night, trip canoeing down the river with stop offs to jump from trees, swim, and eat on various islands, all combined to make an incredible experience. Be warned though—my friend got attacked by sand flies here and was itching for days.
5. Rainbow beach is a small town with a beautiful beach, perfect for sunsets and sunrises. From here you can go on one of the most popular tours of the East Coast—Fraser Island. The tour involves driving round the island in 4×4’s, visiting shipwrecks and swimming in lakes and rivers. At night you cook your food with the rest of your group and have a make-shift nightclub in the middle of the campsite.
6. In the town 1770 (or Agnes Water) I stayed in the hostel Cool Bananas. They make meals and desserts for a very cheap price, have free wifi access, and offer surf boards out to borrow for the day. 1770 is the last place you’re able to surf up the East Coast without the risk of crocodiles, and when the sun is out it becomes a mini paradise. You can also go on a biker-tour and get clad up in leathers whilst exploring the surrounding area.
7. Airlie Beach has a lovely lagoon to lie by and has great nightlife, including Mama Africa Bar, with a McDonald’s nearby. From here many choose to go on another popular tour—the Whitsundays. You can pick from a multitude of boats, some go up to the Great Barrier Reef, others stay closer to home, but all involve paddle-boarding, snorkelling and the option to scuba dive. You can also stop off at the breath-taking White Haven Beach; with the whitest sand and clearest water I’ve ever seen.
8. Townsville takes you back to city life, with a plenitude of shops, food places and crazy golf options. From here you can get a boat to Magnetic Island on which you can do various water sports and which holds regular full moon parties.
9. Mission Beach is a small village, perfect for a break from life. With a large beach and gorgeous surrounding green mountains it’s a lovely place to relax, have barbecues and enjoy a real Aussie way of life. Many people also choose to do their skydives from here.
10. My favourite East Coast stop of all is Cairns. I recommend staying at the popular hostel ‘Gilligan’s’, which provides cheap meals in the attached bar and is renowned for its loud, sociable vibe (although you can ask for quieter rooms). Cairns itself has a lovely lagoon, huge shopping centre and great nightlife (which involves dancing on tables). As it is further North it’s usually guaranteed to be hot. Around Cairns you can do great day trips—I really recommend ‘Uncle Brian’s’ and a day horse-riding through rivers. Of course don’t forget the Great Barrier Reef—whether you want to snorkel or scuba dive, there will be a day trip or overnight trip out there for you.