Australia is such a vast and varied country that often tourists and travellers choose to explore sections of its land mass instead of the full spectrum of locations; after all, a ‘complete’ tour of the country will never allow you to truly see the destinations you are excited for. Each county and region has its own offerings, each of which are well worth sinking your teeth into through planting your roots a little deeper at each stop. If you’re planning on conducting this kind of trip on the East coast of Australia, then here are some things you really ought not to miss.
The nation’s de facto capital – despite Canberra, a hop skip and a jump from Sydney, being the official capital – Sydney encapsulates all that is cosmopolitan and happening about the land down under. Here, you’ll find fantastic world food and incredible local wines, a wonderfully picturesque harbour over which the Sydney Opera House looms, and some of the most hip nights out in the southern hemisphere.
Nearly all tours of the East coast stop in Sydney, so you’ll meet plenty of fellow travellers whether you stay in a hostel or simply bump into them in bars and restaurants. Those with a penchant for the high life will find it in opulent hotels and stylish bars, while those into their nightlife should check out the vibrant clubbing scene that Sydney boasts as an international city with a flair for attracting talent from around the world.
Heading north along the coast, your first major stop will likely be at Newcastle, named after the UK equivalent, even boasting the same street names and regional eccentricities as its inspiration. Sydney on a smaller scale, with more locals and fewer tourists, you’ll find here a youthful and energetic populace who are curious to meet travellers and boisterous when it comes to happy hour!
Again, the choice is yours when it comes to pitching up in a hostel or finding a little slice of paradise to set up shop on. Search for hostels on the usual websites – check reviews as some are very party-oriented – but for a more luxurious and exclusive feel, nothing can match the Boulevard on Beaumont offerings, which make a great base from which to explore the city.
Worimi Regional Park
Next up, you’ve got one of the longest beaches in Australia at your fingertips. The real attraction here is offloading on the extensive sand dunes that spread from the lapping shoreline towards the main north-south road. It’s best at this stage to be renting a car so that you can stop anywhere you please to sample this fabulously expansive ecosystem, which spreads as far as the eye can see.
As well as enjoying the pleasures of the sands, get yourself to a local village on the seafront which will almost certainly be serving some of the finest locally-caught fish in the country. Wash it down with a light glass of white wine while you look over oceans that hold huge whales beneath, and which reflect a variety of seabirds that hover over the waters in search of prey.
A traveller’s favourite, and for good reason, quaint, picture-postcard Byron Bay is many visitors’ favourite location in this part of Australia. Blending peaceful walks with luxurious restaurants and characterful locals, this is the town you may find yourself staying in for longer than you anticipated. And so you should – from golf to yachting, beaches to nature reserves, this locale has it all for the curious traveller, happy adventurer, and laid-back relaxation-lover combined.
The bay is famous for its cuisine options as well as its surprisingly rich cultural offerings, from exhibits and museums to mindfulness retreats and artesian shopping opportunities. This might be the first place you get your hands on a surfboard, perhaps joining a surf school for a few days in order to hone what is one of the most fun sports you can do while standing still.
The Gold Coast
The subject of nomadic dreams and beach-bum fascinations, you’ve by now found yourself washed up on the Gold Coast of Australia, which certainly takes the top spot, perhaps worldwide, for beach-based fun. With the city of Queensland the epicentre of metropolitan activity, it doesn’t take long to find yourself inside an idyll of surfer dudes cracking open beers and beach volleyball tournaments, all in the spirit of laid-back love.
If you were starting to get a little bored of the coastline of Eastern Australia, the Gold Coast is a timely top-up of the awe you first felt when driving along the beautiful shores. You might conjure up images of Rio de Janeiro as the waves roll against shores that are overlooked by towering modern skyscrapers. It’s one of the most beguiling mixes of human industry and natural romance combined into one of Australia’s real gems of a location.
Throbbing with energy yet at times docile as a koala, Brisbane is yet another of Australia’s cities of contrasts. You can find all the usual delights of urban Australia here, but those who’re on an adventurous expedition will hit out quickly towards the coast in search of yachting tours of the islands off the coast – all mesmerically beautiful and easy to reach through tourist companies that provide everything from jet ski tours to slow-chugging boats that tour the spectacular scenery of the region.
This is a destination where the scuba diving is particularly good; if you’ve got your qualifications, or if you’re looking to learn, head down to a dive school to see the colour and vibrancy that lurks metres below the reefs that create the surfer’s paradise of waves along the coast. Elsewhere, there are tours available that expose you to humpback whales – your best bet to spot them is between June and November – and inland you’ve got a range of national parks to explore for your dose of Aussie wilderness safari. You may even get the chance to swim with whales, if you’re lucky!
In what is only a small segment of Australia’s wealth of worthy tourists cities and sights, the East coast is perhaps one of the most rewarding in terms of sheer variety, unexpected spectacle, natural diversity, and culinary perfection. If you’re making your way into Sydney soon to embark upon your own tour of the region, make sure to stop in these destinations along your route so that you get full-frontal Australia at its most beguiling.