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

This is the ultimate Cairns to Sydney East Coast package! We have squeezed one of the best Great Barrier Reef snorkel trips, an excellent Fraser Island tour, the most incredible Whitsundays sailing adventure, plus the Queensland rainforest, and Magnetic Island into one amazingly action-packed East Coast 16 day adventure tour!

Stopping off in Emu Beach and  Byron Bay and to the off the beaten track Fraser 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 hiking in the Blue Mountains, wildlife, indigenous culture, beaches, hiking, rainforest, reef, off-roading, surfing, and kayaking.

Travelling in a group of like-minded people you will explore Cairns to Sydney 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.

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

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

  • Day 1 Cape Tribulation/Daintree
    The start of your journey will be a highlight for years to come. You will be collected by our World Heritage Rainforest operator, Jungle Tours to firstly travel to Port Douglas via the Great Barrier Reef Drive, one of Australia’s most scenic coastal drives. Upon arrival at Wildlife Habitat you will join a guided tour to see the endangered Cassowary and other wildlife before crossing the Daintree River on the cable-driven ferry, travelling along the rainforest-fringed Cape Tribulation Road through Daintree National Park, a magnificent wilderness region.

    We stop for a tropical lunch and to enjoy some free time for a swim in the pool at Cape Tribulation Beach House. You may also choose to walk along the spectacular Cape Tribulation Beach which has a boardwalk for a guided rainforest walk with great photo opportunities. On our return journey we stop at Alexandra Lookout for magnificent views before joining a Daintree River cruise in search for crocodiles, birds and other wildlife as you journey through the mangroves. Travel back Cairns arriving in the evening. Stay at Gilligans Hostel (L)
  • Day 2 Great Barrier Reef
    Today travel by luxury vessel to the Great Barrier Reef in only 90 minutes for a full day of snorkelling and/or the chance to do up to three dives (extra cost).

    Enjoy exclusive moorings at various reefs and a variety of dive sites to ensure minimal environmental impact to the pristine coral formations we visit. Dive sites are frequented by a myriad of tropical and pelagic fish, rays, turtles, (friendly) sharks and the ever-popular Maori Wrasse. There are swim-throughs, wall and drift dives to appeal to every level of diver. Your tour include a wetsuit or stinger suit, as well as floatation noodles. Crew keep a constant watch over the snorkelling sites, so you can enjoy the wonders of the reef in complete safety.
    IMPORTANT NOTES: A direct payment of AU$20.00 Reef Tax and Fuel Levy is to be paid at check-in.
    Tonight you stay at Gilligan’s Resort Cairns, 57-89 Grafton Street, Cairns. (L)
  • Day 3 Cairns (Via Tully and Townsville) to Magnetic island
    You will meet your Loka Guide outside Gilligan’s Backpacker Resort at 8.15am
    We travel by train south to Townsville, getting in around mid-afternoon and then take the ferry out to tropical ‘Maggie Island’. There is much to explore on the island, as nearly 50% of it is National Park with amazing beaches and abundant wildlife. Tonight you stay at Bungalow Bay Koala Village YHA Magnetic Island.
  • Day 4 Free Day Magnetic Island
    Today you are free to relax or explore the island as you wish. Take a visit the wildlife park at the resort (extra cost).
    IMPORTANT NOTES: Your guide will not be present today.
    Tonight you stay at Bungalow Bay Koala Village YHA Magnetic Island
  • Day 5 Magnetic Island to Airlie Beach
    This morning your guide will join you on the Forts walk, otherwise, you can do some exploring, check out the local wildlife park or just relax by the pool. In the afternoon we travel back to the mainland on the ferry, then jump on the train to Proserpine, with a transfer to Airlie Beach arriving approx. 7 pm. Tonight you will stay at Backpacker Resort Airlie Beach, Airlie Beach
  • Day 6 Whitsunday Islands, snorkelling reef and Whitehaven Beach
    Meet your Ocean Rafting Guide at 9 am outside Base Airlie 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.
    Please note that your Loka 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.
    Tonight you stay at Backpacker Resort Airlie Beach, 336 Shute Harbour Road, Airlie Beach. (L)
  • Day 7 Airlie Beach to Rockhampton/Emu Park
    Spend a relaxing day in Airlie Beach and meet your Loka guide in the early evening when we transfer to the train and travel to Rockhampton. We hop off the train with a quick transfer to the cool, little coastal town of Emu Park where we spend two nights.
    Take the night train and Emu Park Beach Resort, 92 Pattison Street, Emu Park
  • Day 8 Great Keppel Island
    We have an awesome “Treasure Island” trip today with return ferry transfers to Great Keppel Island with its 17 sunning beaches, Treasure Hunt, Bluff Point Turtle Walk & evening meal.
    Stay at Emu Park Beach Resort. (D)
  • Day 9 Emu Park to Rainbow Beach
    We begin the day with an early morning bus transfer to the train. We travel to Cooroy then jump on our own private bus to Rainbow Beach, the gateway to Fraser Island. Here you will be met and provided with an afternoon walk to the Carlo Sand Blow. Rainbow Beach gets its name from an Aboriginal legend that tells of Yiningie – the spirit of the Gods represented by a rainbow – who was killed in a fight over a woman. When he crashed into the cliffs his spirits created the coloured sands that are visible today.
    Tonight you stay at Backpacker Resort Rainbow Beach (B, D)
  • Day 10 and 11 Two full days on 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 Island you will have the chance to spot dingoes in the wild, swim in crystal clear freshwater lakes and swimming holes 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 eleven your guide will return you to your Rainbow accommodation where you have dinner included.
    (Day 10 and 11 - B,L,D)
  • Day 12 Rainbow Beach to Byron Bay (SEE NOTES)
    Meet your Stray guide/bus at the bus stop across from Frasers on Rainbow
    Your southbound journey continues today as we travel in our own Stray bus through Noosa, Brisbane and Gold Coast. We stop for a walk at the Queensland/NSW border crossing at Danger Point to stretch our legs and check out the view of one of Australia’s best surf spots Snapper Rocks, before heading onto our night stop at Australia’s coolest surf town, Byron Bay. (B)
  • Day 13 Kayak at Byron Bay
    Rise early to meet your Kayaking group, kayak from Clarks Beach and follow the coastline out to the Cape where we catch up with our dolphin friends at Wategos Beach. Stop at Wategos Beach for a morning tea. Surf the waves in your kayak while taking in the some of the best sights the East Coast has to offer. Learn about local history, aboriginal history, the lighthouse, dolphins, whales and turtles. See the Most Easterly Point of the Australian mainland. You will return to Byron Bay and have the afternoon free to explore or relax in this laidback town.
  • Day 14 Free day in Byron Bay
    Today is at your leisure, maybe take a surf lesson, try some sea kayaking, take a trip to the alternative hippie town of Nimbin (all additional cost), or just chill out and take in the laidback vibe of Byron Bay.
    Tonight we stay at Backpacker Resort Byron Bay.
  • Day 15 Byron Bay to Sydney
    Today is a big driving day as we travel all the way to Sydney, arriving in the evening. This magnificent coastal city is yours to explore over the coming days as our tour ends the following day with a trip to the Blue Mountains.
    Stay tonight in the big city at Sydney YHA
  • Day 16 Blue Mountains World Heritage National Park
    Enjoy a full day of exploration in the Blue Mountains. Experience Australia's most visited World Heritage National Park, including the Three Sisters rock formation and a two-
    hour walk with your Loka guide to Wentworth Falls. Upon return to Sydney your adventure down the East Coast of Australia sadly comes to an end.
    Be sure to stay a few extra nights in Sydney to allow time to do some more exploring. You will be dropped back at Wake Up, where the Real Adventure Group can arrange some extra nights for you at additional cost, alternatively, Central Station is a short walk across the road if you need to get to another location. (L)
Real Adventure Group Real People
Real Aussie Says:
Explore Australia's stunning East Coast stretching all the way from the sunny tropics of Cairns to Sydney. 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 Cairns to Sydney East Coast Essentials Tour Package Price information AUD per person



Tour code: CS16

Departure information


Saturday's from Cairns (except 12 Jan; 23 Feb; 02, 16, 23, 30 Mar, Dec 14, 21 2019 and Mar 21, 28 2020)


More information

Important Notes

Things you need to know about this tour

PLEASE NOTE that all departures up until December 31, 2018 will include three nights in Rainbow Beach, where the sea kayak will also take place, and two nights in Byron Bay. The above itinerary is valid for departures from January 1 to March 31, 2019.

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 personalised itinerary seven days prior to departure.

**Although the group you are travelling with will not exceed 24 passengers, a number of the activities including the day trip to Cape Tribulation, the boat trips at Cairns and 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 Stray Australia guide.
As this is a tour package, your guide and group will change throughout your journey. You will travel on Stray Australia transport with our expert guides. While you will have a fixed pre-arranged itinerary, other Stray buddies 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.

PLEASE NOTE that your Stray guide won’t be present on the first two days and you will be in the safe hands of the crew from Jungle Tours and Deep Sea Divers Den. A $20 local payment for the Great Barrier Reef levy is due on departure. It is recommended that you spend the night at Gilligan’s the night before your Loka/Real Aussie tour package starts so you can store your luggage there, as you will not be able to bring your main luggage on the reef trip or to Cape Tribulation, just a sdaypack pack. (Real Aussie Adventures can book this pre-tour night for you at additional cost). You will need to make your own way to Gilligan’s after the completion of your reef trip, about a 15-minute walk. You will meet your Loka guide at pick up from Gilligan’s in the morning of Day 3.

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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