Sydney, Australian Flag

Sydney to Cairns: an east coast Australia road trip

Sydney, Australian Flag

Australia is huge, and it’s difficult to know what to see and where to stop: there’s so much to do! The east coast is the most populated and built up area, perfect for if you’re looking for the Australia road trip of a lifetime.

With everything from remote coves to bustling cities, travelling from Sydney to Cairns is one of the most popular backpacker routes in the world, and for good reason.


With coves and beaches backed by a beautiful cosmopolitan city, Sydney is a great hub of culture and creativity. This is Australia’s most visited city, with many flights to Sydney taking you to brilliant attractions such as Bondi and Manly beaches, Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Blue Mountains national park.

Sydney Opera House and harbour, Australia

A couple of hours north from Sydney, Newcastle is a nice stop for a break. There’s surfing beaches on the shore and a great live music scene.

Port Macquarie

The conditions here create great beaches and ideal conditions for first time surfers, along with stunning scenery and wildlife.


This is the next big city after Sydney, and Brisbane is a friendly, laid-back destination set on a river and a man-made beach in the heart of the city.

River Cruise under the Storey Bridge in Brisbane, Australia
Agnes Water

Agnes Water is where Captain Cook landed in 1770, and it’s a hidden gem on Australia’s East Coast, with bays, rivers and coves. This is also one of the last places for surfing as you head north.


This quiet old-fashioned town is a window into the Australia of old, with wide streets and many local farms.


Rockhampton is the beef capital of Australia, and it’s a sprawling country town with many historical relics from the 19th-century gold and copper mining heyday.

Airlie Beach

This is the port to reach the Whitsunday Islands: 74 islands on the Great Barrier Reef, making it a lively small town all year round, with access to further sights by boat.

And finally to Cairns

With a beautiful marina and lagoon, Cairns is a bustling holiday destination with a laid-back attitude from its residents. There are many bars and nightclubs, along with some fabulous restaurants. It’s a great place to meet people as well, and perhaps here you will find the inspiration for your next road trip!

Explore Australia’s east coast your way, by hiring a car with friends and going on a wonderful Australia road trip from Sydney to Cairns.

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