Must-Do Activities on Australia’s East Coast

For many, the east coast of Australia is a travel route that is at the beginning of the travel checklist.  The first-world status, hot weather, and english-speaking locals make for a good introduction to travelling around for the young and young-at-heart.

Throughout the hostel circuit, a multitude of tour companies offer package deals in hopes that you will book everything through them.  Not doing your research, however, can get you stuck out in bad situations that you can’t get out of.

Seeing as they all hit roughly the same route, we thought we would share some of our highlights of travelling Australia’s east coast.  Keep in mind that this area is immense, and you should have a minimum of 3 months if you want to spend ample time in any of these locations.

In geographic order from South to North (or coldest to warmest), here are our favorite activities on the East Coast of Australia:

Driving the Great Ocean Road:  Technically this is on the South coast, but it’s a day trip from Melbourne which is still considered Eastern Australia.  The rock formations here are some of the most unique sea-carved sculptures found anywhere.  A variety of tour options are available, but ideally you should get a group of friends, rent a car, and do the journey yourselves, at your own pace.  You’ll want a lot of time to stop and take pictures.

Abseiling the Blue Mountains:  Abseiling is basically the opposite of Rock Climbing, where you rappel downward off a cliff with a rope and harness. The Blue Mountains boast a beautiful array of canyons, cliffs, and rock features for you to plunge yourself down into.  Being only a short drive away from Sydney also makes this area greatly accessible, and a fine contrast to the hectic urban distractions of the city.

Surfing in Byron Bay - Of course, there are many other places to surf in Australia… but there is something about Byron Bay.  This community sits on Australia’s easternmost point, which aside from being a fun fact, makes for a geographical orientation that allows waves to come from three directions.  Aside from having stellar surfing, the locals here are a very friendly, laid-back people.  Surf schools abound here so whether you ride a shortboard or a softop, you will find waves and coaches to help you get better.

Mardi Grass in Nimbin – About an hour away from Byron Bay is the small hippie enbclave of Nimbin.  It was a refuge for those in the 60′s who just wanted to live off the land, man.  Today it’s one of the highest concentrations of Pot growers in Australia. These pot growers have a yearly festival at harvest time, with the clever title of “Mardi Grass”.  All in all the festival is a bet cheezy and disorganized, seeing as it’s run by a bunch of old stoners.  But it’s worth going for the novelty factor alone.

4×4 Camping on Fraser Island - This island is entirely covered with white sand.  As such, you need a burly land rover to navigate around.  Luckily there are a host of companies that can get you hooked up with a beefy 4×4 and all the camping gear you would need.  Watch out for the dingos who will steal your lunch.  Also be careful of swimming here, as the island boasts one of the highest shark populations on the east coast.

Sailing the Whitsunday Islands - The Whitsundays are a tropical island chain that looks straight out of a movie.  In fact, they are often used in big budget hollywood shoots, but don’t receive their due recognition and double as a backdrop such as the caribbean.  There are many, many sailing charters here that allow you to island hop.  There will be one for the budget and style you are looking for.

Diving the Great Barrier Reef: The Great Barrier Reef extends for thousands of miles offshore.  The closest point to land is Cairns, which is where many choose to dive and explore the reef.  Cairns has many dive companies that will train you up to learn everything you need.  You can even go on a 15 minute “intro dive” with a guide to see if you even like the idea of exploring underwater.   For those who are truly ambitious, you can even train up to be a divemaster for free in a work-exchange program.  You’ll be working long hours, but you’ll receive all the education you need to begin a career in the diving industry.

Any other activities that should be on the list?  let us know in the comments!

By Steve Andrews

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