All about the 17 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 17 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.

Traveling 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?

17 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.
    You will meet your Stray guide at pick up from Gilligan’s in the morning of Day 3.
    STAY: Gilligan’s, 57-89 Grafton St, Cairns. (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.
    STAY: Gilligan’s, 57-89 Grafton St, Cairns. (L)
  • Day 3 Cairns (Via Tully and Townsville) to Magnetic island
    MEET: Your Stray Guide outside Gilligan’s Backpacker Resort
    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.
    STAY: Bungalow Bay Koala Village, 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 Stray guide will not be present today.
    STAY: Bungalow Bay Koala Village, 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.
    STAY: Backpacker Resort in Airlie Beach
  • Day 6 Whitsunday Islands, snorkelling reef and Whitehaven 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.
    STAY: Backpacker Resort in Airlie Beach. (L)
  • Day 7 Airlie Beach to Rockhampton/Emu Park
    Spend a relaxing day in Airlie Beach and meet your Stray 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.
    STAY: Night train and Emu’s Park Beach Resort, 92 Pattison Street, Emu Park
  • Day 8 Emu Park <> Great Keppel Island
    This morning we head to a tropical paradise like nowhere else on our Treasure Island Adventure. Our destination Great Keppel Island is located on the southern of the Great Barrier Reef with untouched coral, turtles, reef fish and manta rays all straight off the beach. Relax or have a go at snorkeling or kayaking (additional cost) before exploring the island. We have dinner at Emu’s Beach Resort tonight.
    STAY: Emu’s Park Beach Resort, 92 Pattison Street, Emu Park.(L and 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. We recommend taking a walk up to Carlo Sand Blow for sunset. 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.
    STAY: Frasers on Rainbow, 18 Spectrum St, Rainbow Beach. (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.
    IMPORTANT NOTES: Your Stray guide won’t travel with you to Fraser Island, but you will be well-looked after by the team at Fraser Explorer. Your next Stray guide will pick you up on Wednesday/ Day 12.
    STAY: Eurong Beach Resort Fraser Island
    Frasers on Rainbow, Rainbow Beach
    (B, L and D on both days)
  • Day 12 Rainbow Beach
    Today you will have the chance to witness some of the spectacular marine wildlife the Fraser Coast is famous for. You will be treated to a dolphin-watching kayak tour and Great Beach 4WD ride within the Great Sandy National Park. On this three-hour tour you have the chance of seeing Bottlenose dolphins, Humpback whales (May to November), turtles, manta rays, sting rays, soldier crabs and an array of marine birdlife. Make sure you bring along your swimsuit, towel, sunscreen, water, camera, a dry change of clothes and any snacks you may wish to eat.
    STAY: Backpacker Resort Rainbow Beach. ( B and D)
  • Day 13 Rainbow Beach (via Brisbane & Gold Coast) to Byron Bay
    Your southbound journey continues today as we travel in our own Stray bus through Noosa, Brisbane and Gold Coast, before heading onto our night stop at Australia’s coolest surf town, Byron Bay.
    STAY: Backpacker Resort in Byron Bay. (B)
  • 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.
    STAY: Backpacker Resort Byron Bay
  • Day 15 Free day in Byron Bay
    Today is at your leisure
    STAY: Backpacker Resort Byron Bay
  • Day 16 Byron Bay to Sydney
    Today is a big driving day as we travel all the way to Sydney, arriving in the evening for the final night of your 17-day tour. Say goodbye to your guide and check into tonight’s accommodation.
    STAY: Central Backpackers Sydney
  • Day 17 Sydney
    Today spend time checking out the vibrant city of Sydney or depart to your next destination at any time, as your package tour has now come to an end. We hope you’ve had an amazing time in Australia! Meals, activities and accommodation are not included in this unguided day.
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.

17 Day Cairns to Sydney East Coast Essentials Tour Package Price information AUD per person



Tour code: CS17

Departure information


Departs Saturday from 21 September 2019 up to and including March 14, 2020 departure
Except Dec 14, 21, 28

Travelling before 21 September? Check out our current itinerary: 16 Day Cairns to Sydney East Coast Essentials Tour Package


More information

Important Notes

Things you need to know about this tour

Although the group you are traveling with will not exceed 24 passengers (41 during peak periods), a number of the activities including the cruise 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 guide.

As this is a tour package, your guide and group will change throughout your journey. You will travel on Stray transport with Stray guides. While you will have a fixed pre-arranged itinerary, other Stray customers 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.

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.

Traveling before 21 September? Check out our current itinerary: 16 Day Cairns to Sydney East Coast Essentials Tour Package

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