What to see on the Legendary East Coast of Australia and what I would have done differently

Take the famous road trip down the Eastern Coast of Australia. Start in Brisbane or maybe further North and end you trip in Sydney or go all the way South to Melbourne if you have time! Read how I spent a few weeks on the Australian Coastline and how I would have done it if I had more time.

In January I chose to leave my comfortable home and boyfriend behind and go solo traveling around the world. First stop was the Australian East Coast. It was quite an experience! I had ups and downs I gotta tell you that, but it was a trip I'll never forget! I started my adventure with a bad hostel, a bad sunburn and badly homesick! But from there it could only go up... And it most definitely did!

Brisbane & day trips

I started my trip in Brisbane. I had booked a hostel in the center of the city to be able to minimize the transportation cost and time. Bad call. The hostel was partying until 3am & I was suffering from jet lag. Anyways, I woke up early to have a full day in Brisbane before going South the next morning.

I started my day at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, which a lot of people had recommended! It was different from the zoo at home because it was full of Australian wildlife animals like kangaroos, dingos, koalas, platypuses and wallabies. It is the world's first and largest koala sanctuary with more than 130 koalas. Besides that, you can hand-feed the kangaroos and wallabies there. It was a great start to my Australian adventure!

Then I had a few hours of shopping at Queen Street Market! A great place for both shopping and eating - two of my favorite things to do ;-)

Next stop was South Bank. The famous park with the Brisbane letters overlooking the skyline. Besides that, the park has lots of parklands, stunning river views and a sparkling lagoon surrounded by soft sand called "Streets Beach" were you can relax and take a dip in the water. From there I walked along the river until I ended up at Kangaroo Point Cliffs. After a bit of stair-climbing I was at the best lookout point over the inner city and the river. From there I walked a bit further so I could go back to the inner city through the famous Story Bridge. The best time to go there is at sunrise or sunset. I went for sunset and watched the bridge from the other side after crossing it. You could also go bridge climbing for a even better view!

I only had a day because I had arranged work at a farm for two weeks the next day, but if I could I would have gone a few hours North to Fraser Islands and Whitsundays. Whitsundays is right in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef - a must see in Australia for most people. Fraser Island is the worlds largest sand island and the only place where you can find rainforest growing on sand!

The Gold Coast

You'll find the Gold Coast an hour South of Brisbane. I only stayed here a day because I had made an agreement to work on a farm for the next two weeks as earlier stated. I arrived with the Greyhound bus at noon and wanted to finally relax after my flight. I ended up at the famous Surfer's Paradise. The city's beach. It was cool how the beach was framed by all of the tall skyscrapers, but the beach is not for swimming. It's no wonder that it's called "Surfer's Paradise": The waves were HUGE. I lost my sunglasses to them (rest in peace)... But I met a local who told me how this was mostly for tourists. The locals and the surfers go to Burleigh Heads Beach.

Another favorite spot of mine on the Gold Coast is Spring Brook National Park and it's waterfalls! I love waterfalls - especially when you can swim in them. The park is located 45 min. into the Gold Coast Hinterland.

Mount Warning for the adventurous

On my off-days at the farm, I was allowed to borrow a car and explore the Gold Coast Hinterland. My favorite day was when I drove to the bottom of Mount Warning and hiked the 4.5 kilometers to the top. Mt. Warning (Wollumbin National Park) is 1,159 m (3,802 ft) tall and the tallest mountain in Queensland. I've heard that you should do it early in the morning to witness a mesmerizing sunrise over the mountains! I'll do that the next time.

I hiked in the rainforest for the first few kilometers until I was halfway up. Then it was more in the open - meaning a lot of sweat... To reach the summit there's a rope climb part for the last 100 meters. The view was worth it though. The viewing platform at the top gave a magnificent panoramic view of all the mountains in the area and coastal views from the Gold Coast to Byron Bay - the next stop.

Byron Bay (aka most beautiful beaches on the East Coast)

Byron Bay was by far my favorite place on the East Coast! And a popular destination as well, which could be seen by all of the no vacancy signs and the expensive hostel prices. But the beaches of Byron was gorgeous and something you can't miss when visiting! The water was a bright turquoise blue and the sand was soft. Perfect place for a beach day!

I started my beach hopping day at Main Beach. Beautiful view, but the beach was a bit too crowded for me. But no worries - just a ten minute stroll along the beach and I ended up at Clarkes Beach. The water was so clear and the sand was so soft I wanted to stay in Byron forever. At the end of Clarkes Beach was a lookout point with a breathtaking view of the beach, the ocean and the mountains. At Clarkes Beach I had lunch at Byron Beach Café.

A few hundred meters away was my favorite beach, Little Wategos Beach. A smaller beach with even fewer people and the same breathtaking view. A perfect place to get sun kissed for a few hours. If you have time then head up to Byron Bay Lighthouse. The view is absolutely incredible and well worth the hike!

When you're done with your tan, wait for the sun to go down and watch the beautiful colors over the mountains and ocean at Main Beach while you listen to live music and get ready for the beach party that's probably going to start as soon as the light is out!

Except for the beaches, Byron Bay's hinterland also has waterfalls, tea tree lakes, national parks and so on that's worth the trip, which I'm hoping to explore on my next visit!

Port Macquarie

Port Macquarie was also a good beach spot, however, the beaches were all different from each other. I started my day at Town Beach and walked towards the Tacking Point Lighthouse. Another fantastic lighthouse! The perfect place for sunrise or sunset. It's a 9 km costal walk, taking you through all kinds of beaches: A dog beach, a rocky beach, a nude beach and a lot of hidden beaches! However, bear in mind that it is 9 km ONE WAY. Make sure you know how to get home from your end point. Or do like me and walk all the way back and collapse in your hostel (not recommended). There are busses. At Town Beach you can also see the famous Brickwall. All kinds of people have painted the rocks along the pathway, making it a very special walk.

The beaches of the East Coast are also good for surfing. A friend from the hostel and I decided to give it a try and took a lesson. I don't think that I'll go professional any soon but it was fun. Most of the beaches along the East Coast are great for surfing and you'll find a surf school in most towns.

If you have a car then some good stops near Port Macquarie are Ellenborough Falls, Rawson Falls and Laurieton Lookout!

Nelson Bay & Port Stephens

Port Stephens was my second working holiday experience. I lived with a sweet elderly couple and helped them with the garden in return. On my day-off I went to Nelson Bay and Tomaree Summit (pictured). It's only a 20 min. walk, but the view in incredible from up there. From one side, you can see the ocean and a lot of rocks and maybe a few dolphins. From the other side, you'll see Zenith Beach where I went and relaxed after the "climb". A bit further away from the city you'll find the Stockton Sand dunes. Just miles of sand dunes! It's crazy.

Sydney and day trips

My last days in Australia I spent in Sydney and it was the perfect ending. Read about my favorite things in Sydney here. Some of the musts inside of the city are the Opera House, the Botanical Garden and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. You'll get the best views of the city from the ferry between Manly and Sydney (Circular Quay Station).

An hour away with the train to Olford and 6 km easy walking in the Royal National Park and I ended up at these natural rock pools. A few of them are shaped as the number: Eight (hence the name: The Figure Eight Pools). The pools were the coolest thing I'd ever seen and perfect for a daytrip from Sydney. Read how to get there and when to go here.

Another day trip is the famous Blue Mountains National Park. It's a two hour train ride with the Blue Mountains Line from Central Station and then you are 2 km from the greatest view of Blue Mountains National Park: Echo Point. This lookout is actually just worth going for. From here you can see the three sisters and the whole park actually! I walked through Scenic World to Federation Pass to Katoomba Falls and back to Echo Point. If you do this, be sure to start with the Giant Staircase. You do not want to walk up the 900 steps. I talk from experience...