All about the 16 Day Sydney to Cairns East Coast Essentials Package

This is the ultimate Sydney to Cairns East Coast package

We have squeezed one of the best Fraser Island tours, an incredible Whitsundays sailing adventure, the Queensland rainforest, and Magnetic Island into one amazingly action-packed East Coast 16 day adventure tour!

Stopping off in Byron Bay and to our off the beaten track paradise of Great Keppel Island, this tour package is the ultimate way to see the East Coast of Australia! You will visit three very different islands, four World Heritage National Parks and some secret spots recommended by locals. You will enjoy a great mix of unique accommodation and experiences including wine tasting, wildlife, indigenous culture, beaches, hiking, rainforest, reef, off-roading, surfing, and kayaking. 

Travelling in a group of like-minded people you will explore Sydney to Cairns led by our team of professional, experienced guides to see the ‘real’ Australia and meet some true Aussie locals. This East Coast time saver and budget-conscious package take in all the best bits of the most popular route in Australia, with your accommodation and activities included. 

You will travel on the bus from Sydney up to Barrington Tops National Park for an Aussie bushland experience. Crank up the tunes and get to know your fellow travellers as you wind past the Hunter Valley region. At Barrington Tops you get to relax in the hillside hot tub with your first beer of the tour and wonder why you ever spent time in an Australian city. You then hop on the train for a faster way to travel Brisbane to Cairns. The advantage of this is you can traverse the great distance of the East Coast a lot quicker, more time to spend doing the fun stuff! There is more leg room on the trains, a movie screen and the option to walk around. Heaps nicer than hours and hours on the Greyhound bus! 

You will spend two days on Fraser Island seeing the famous Lake Mckenzie, adventuring around this large sand island full of rainforest and lakes. On the Whitsunday Island boat, we take you to see Whitehaven Beach, another bucket list place on the East Coast of Oz. Plus have a snorkel on the reef and try to look for Nemo. Ferry over to Great Keppel Island to explore the southern Great Barrier Reef. Then it's off up to Magnetic Island to explore the National Park before finally the rainforest before finishing in tropical Cairns.

Check out our dates of departure, we leave Sydney every Tuesday heading north to Cairns.

Great for your first visit to Australia, see all the highlights from Sydney to Cairns whilst getting to know a great bunch of new friends. What could be better? 

16 Day Sydney to Cairns East Coast Essentials Package
Tour itinerary - 16 Days

  • Day 1 Sydney to Barrington Tops
    This morning we pick up in Sydney, you will meet your guide and group as we head into the Hunter Valley. You will do a tasting at one of Australia’s most famous vineyards. We then travel through the backcountry to our stunning stop on the edge of Barrington Tops National Park (a World Heritage Listed Area). Tonight, we stay in a private lodge overlooking the Barrington River, and we have included river tubing down a scenic part of the river for this afternoon. Warm up and relax in the giant hot tub before dinner.
    Stay tonight in our Hilltop Lodge in dorm share accommodation (D)
  • Day 2 Barrington Tops to Spot X Surf Camp
    In the morning you can go for a walk around the property before we begin our day’s journey. We stop for a visit to a Koala hospital to learn about their efforts in preserving Koalas, and at a nature reserve to spot wild kangaroos hopping along the incredible coastline, then travel on to our waterfront accommodation at the Surf Camp, arriving in the early evening.
    (Female only dorms cannot be guaranteed at this location.)
    Tonight you stay at the Surf Camp. (B, D)
  • Day 3 Spot X Surf Camp to River Retreat
    You can take a true Aussie Surf lesson this morning or just relax on the beach. The surf lesson is included in the price of the tour package. In the afternoon we travel to our River Retreat and go for a guided canoeing trip, spotting wildlife along the way. In the evening we have an Aussie BBQ, learn how to cook some damper and toast marshmallows around the campfire.
    Tonight you will camp in cabins. (B, D)
  • Day 4 River Retreat to Byron Bay
    Today we visit Byron Bay Australia’s famous chilled out surf and arts town. We stop in the picturesque town of Yamba along the way and go for a walk or a swim at the Angourie blue pools (weather dependent). We have an orientation drive on the way to Byron Bay to help you get your bearings. Make sure you look out for the great cafes and bars and take a walk down to the beach.
    Stay tonight at Nomads Backpacker Resort Byron Bay. (B)
  • Day 5 Free Day in Byron Bay
    A Free day to explore and experience Byron Bay. Our favorite thing in Byron is taking a walk to the lighthouse to view the Australian mainland’s most easterly point. you could also learn to surf, party, visit the alternative town of Nimbin (additional cost), or just relax and take in the laidback, hippy vibe. Your guide is getting some hard-earned rest today, so it's up to you what you do in Byron Bay.
  • Day 6 Byron Bay (via Gold Coast & Brisbane) to Rainbow Beach
    This morning we depart Byron Bay and cruise up to the New South Wales/Queensland border and hop out at Danger Point (after April 1) to stretch our legs and check out the view of one of Australia’s best surf spots, Snapper Rock. We then drive into the Gold Coast, Brisbane, and Noosa before we continue onto Rainbow Beach for the night. At Rainbow Beach, we take a walk up to Carlo Sand Blow for either the sunset or sunrise.
    Tonight you stay in Backpacker Resort Rainbow Beach. (D)
  • Days 7 and 8 Rainbow Beach to Fraser Island
    Get ready for two full days of exploring World Heritage Fraser Island. After a short 10-minute ferry ride from Rainbow Beach, you start your adventure of four-wheel-driving on the roads of sand.
    During your stay on Fraser you will have the chance to spot dingoes in the wild, swim in crystal clear freshwater lakes and swimming holes, hike through world heritage rainforest and explore the diverse landscapes in this unique habitat.
    Before heading to bed don’t forget to look up to enjoy the millions of stars and maybe even spot the five stars on the Aussie flag – the Southern Cross.
    In the late afternoon of day eight, your guide will return you to your Rainbow Beach accommodation where you have dinner included.
    (Day 7- B,L,D and Day 8- B,L,D)
  • Day 9 Rainbow Beach
    Today you will go on a 3 hour dolphin watching kayak tour. This is the perfect chance to see Bottlenose dolphins, Humpback whales, turtles, manta rays, sting rays and a wide array of marine birdlife. (B, D)
  • Day 10 Rainbow Beach to Emu Park
    We then head to Cooroy where we start our train journey. Travel by train to Rockhampton where we are met by a local bus which takes us to Emus Beach Resort. We are welcomed onto the resort and find out more about our Stray Treasure Island Experience for the next day. Stay tonight at Emu Beach Resort. (B)
  • Day 11 Emu Park to Airlie Beach
    This morning we head to a tropical paradise like nowhere else on our Treasure Island Adventure. Our destination Great Keppel Island is located on the south of the Great Barrier Reef with untouched coral, turtles, reef fish and manta rays all straight off the beach. Relax or have a go at snorkeling or kayaking (additional cost) before exploring the island. We have dinner at Emu’s Beach Resort before we catch the train in the evening and travel overnight to Airlie Beach – the gateway to the beautiful Whitsunday Islands. where you will have time to store your luggage before your Whitsundays day trip.
    Sleep on the overnight Train tonight to Airlie Beach (D plus Lunch after April 1 2019)
  • Day 12 Whitsunday Islands, snorkeling, reef and Whitehaven Beach
    Today provides an exhilarating ride to world famous Whitehaven Beach, pristine snorkeling reefs and guided Whitsunday Island National Park walks.

    Visit the Northern and Southern ends of Whitehaven Beach, spending at least two hours relaxing or exploring the 7km of white silica sand.

    Walk to the Southern Whitehaven lookout with breathtaking views of Pentecost Island, join the guided walks to Hill Inlet lookout and snorkel for an hour enjoying the amazing hard and soft corals of the fringing reefs. (L)

    Please note that your Stray guide won’t be present today and you will be in the safe hands of the crew from Ocean Rafting. Upon completion of your Whitsundays day trip, you will have the night free to explore Airlie’s great nightlife and choice of restaurants.
  • Day 13 Airlie Beach (via Townsville) to Magnetic Island
    Today we take many modes of transport. First a local bus, then a train, then a ferry and another bus all to bring us to the tropical paradise of Magnetic Island. With nearly 50% of Magnetic Island being National Park you will find there is much to explore. You will have a guided walk around the Island, then its time to do more exploring or just relax by the pool. You will be staying at Bungalow Bay Koala Village YHA on Magnetic Island.
  • Day 14 Magnetic Island
    Today you can just relax or visit the resort Wildlife park (extra cost). Your guide will be taking a rest, so you are free to explore the abundant beaches of Magnetic Island.
  • Day 15 Magnetic Island to Tully Rainforest
    We travel back to the mainland on the ferry, travel by train to Tully – getting in at around lunchtime. We travel by bus into the amazing rainforest of Tully Gorge National Park. Cool off with a swim in a beautiful swimming hole, before a BBQ dinner and stories about the campfire.
    Tonight you will be camping in a campground in a World Heritage Listed rainforest (D)
  • Day 16 Tully to Cairns
    We wake early at our rainforest camp for breakfast and then have an interpretative walk through the forest, learning about the traditional indigenous use of the land. We then travel back to Tully to catch the train north, arriving into Cairns central train station at approximately 4.05pm, where your East Coast adventure comes to an end. (B)
Real Adventure Group Real People
Real Aussie Says:
Explore Australia's stunning East Coast stretching all the way from bustling Sydney to the sunny tropics of Cairns. Full of bucket list adventures, this travel package is designed to help you tick off all those once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Perfect for those 18-39 years old.

16 Day Sydney to Cairns East Coast Essentials Package Price information AUD per person



Tour code: SC16

Departure information


Every Tuesday.

Tuesday (except Dec 10, 17, 24, 31 2019; Mar 24 2020)

From 8.00am Wake Up  Hostel, Sydney.


More information

Important Notes

Things you need to know about this tour
  • This itinerary is subject to change due to cultural, operational or seasonal conditions. Accommodation included is a guide only and will be confirmed with a personalized itinerary seven days prior to departure.

    If a date doesn't suit we can tailor make you an East Coast package, so get in touch and let us plan your adventure!

    Although the group you are traveling with will not exceed 24 passengers (41 during peak periods) a number of the activities including the cruise in the Whitsundays, four-wheel-drive touring on Fraser Island, and rail journey are not exclusive to the group. You will travel with additional people and will have larger group sizes on those days. You will also travel with guides specific to those activities, rather than your East Coast guide.

    As this is a tour package, your guide and group will change throughout your journey. You will travel on Stray Australia transport with Stray Australia guides. While you will have a fixed pre-arranged itinerary, other Stray Australia customers on a more flexible pass will hop on and off throughout the trip.

    This is an open-aged tour, however, most passengers are between the ages of 18 and 39.

    Female dorm customers will be placed in single-sex female dorms where possible.

    Dietary requirements: Vegetarian diets are generally easily catered for by each of the operators in this tour package if informed before departure. It may not always be possible for more specific dietary needs to be catered for, particularly in more remote areas visited. It is recommended that passengers with specific dietary needs carry snacks and other food items that they are certain will be suitable, as Real Aussie Adventures and its partners cannot be responsible for the ingredients contained in meals provided.


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