Take a peek at a map of Australia’s east coast and you’ll be amazed at how many beautiful beaches, cities, and towns dotting the coastline.
Australia is a large continent with many unique and wonderful cities and beaches. Some of Australia’s best experiences are to be had on the country’s east coast, which is full of notable landmarks, cities, and regions. Let’s take a close look at a map of Australia’s east coast and learn about the cities and locales on it in more detail.
“You feel free in Australia. There is great relief in the atmosphere – a relief from tension, from pressure, an absence of control of will or form. The skies open above you and the areas open around you.” — D. H. Lawrence
Some Basic Facts About Australia’s East Coast
Australia’s east coast is divided between three states: Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland. There is an East Coast Trail which generally follows the coast and runs from Melbourne in the south to Cairns in the North. Most of the east coast’s attractions can be seen between the cities of Brisbane and Cairns, but Sydney and Melbourne are definitely notable places on the east coast. Australia’s east coast – from Melbourne to Cairns – covers a distance of approximately 4000 kilometers.
Although Sydney was once the prime attraction of Australia’s east coast, Melbourne has rapidly become one of the primary tourist destinations of the east coast thanks to its burgeoning cultural scene. The city is home to many music festivals, film festivals, live theatres, markets, restaurants, and rooftop bars. Melbourne’s Eureka Skydeck offers a full view of the entire city, while the circle tram gives free rides throughout the city for those eager to explore what it has to offer up close and personal. The St. Kilda Beach is home to a suburb packed with amazing parks, shops, bars, and cafes. Tours let people experience the Great Ocean Road or take part in a wine tasting.
Sydney’s unique architecture and culture make it one of the most famous cities in the world. The Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge are recognizable landmarks and you can get some excellent photos of them via a cheap ferry ride. A coastal walkway winds between the Coogee and Bondi beaches, which are both pleasant experiences. Sydney is a popular surfing spot with its excellent access to these beaches. Day trips to the Blue Mountains are also popular excursions. You can get a good view of the city from Sydney’s Tower Restaurant or from the Sydney Bridge Climb.
“When I have a bad day, I dream about opening up a gelato stand on the streets of Sydney, Australia. Doesn’t everyone have a random escape fantasy?” — Nancy Lublin
Byron Bay is the most eastern point in all of Australia. The bay is surrounded by many picturesque beaches, rainforest, and waterfalls. Tours are given at the Byron Bay lighthouse and there is a hiking trail leading up to the lighthouse that grants an excellent view of the ocean. Kayaking with dolphins is a popular activity near the cape. Wategos Beach and the Arakwal National Park are popular destinations surrounding the bay.
Gold Coast is a short trip away from Byron Bay, only about a one hour journey to the north. The Gold Coast is home to a place called Surfer’s Paradise, where (naturally) surfing is a popular activity. Four of the largest theme parks in Australia can be found in the Gold Coast region including the Wet ‘n’ Wild Water World, Sea World, and Dreamworld. The Gold Coast’s waterfalls and hiking trails have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are well worth exploring. Hot air balloon tours are even available in the area.
Brisbane is about an hour north of the Gold Coast and has many free attractions like the Red City Hopper Ferry which will give you an excellent view of the city. Breweries and restaurants in the area are excellent, and the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is a tourist attraction where you can see koalas up close. Moreton Island can be reached via a boat and snorkeling can be done there.
Noosa functions as both the jump-off point for people heading to Fraser Island and the home of the Australia Zoo. Surfing and kayaking are both common activities here, and the Eumundi Markets sell a wide variety of intriguing goods and excellent food. The Noosa National Park contains many amazing waterfalls and beaches. Fraser Island is just north of Noosa, and it is the largest sand island in the world. The sand on Fraser Island is soft and white, and tours that explore the island and its coast are given via 4WD vehicles.
Airlie Beach is much farther north than any of the other locations listed so far, and it marks the beginning of Australia’s Tropics. There are more than 74 islands surrounding the Airlie Beach region, which are collectively referred to as the Whitsundays. Sailing trips through the Whitsundays are common, whether or not it is a short day trip or an overnight tour. The Great Barrier Reef is near here and snorkeling in the reef is an experience one won’t forget. Hiking trails are found around Airlie Beach itself, as are many restaurants and bars. The picturesque Cedar Creek Falls aren’t visited as often as the Whitsundays, but they can be well worth the trip.
“The scary thing is that even in the Great Barrier Reef, one of the most protected reefs in the world, researchers are seeing more diseases every time they look.” — David Kline
A few hours to the north of Airlie Beach lies Magnetic Island. The island becomes a more popular place to visit every year, and people can even stay overnight. Snorkeling and going on cruises are popular activities on the island. Geoffrey Bay is home to all kinds of wildlife here, and people can explore the Magnetic Island Forts via scenic hiking trails.
Cairns is found approximately 4-6 hours to the north of Magnetic Island, which is where the East Coast trail comes to an end. Cairns is considered one of the hotspots in Australia for adventurous types with exciting activities like bungee jumping, skydiving, jungle surfing, a minjin swing, ziplining and white water rafting to be found here.
Cairn is also home to many scenic lakes and waterfalls, many of which can be seen via a railway and cable car, which also transports people to the rainforest village of Kuranda. Diving near the reef, going on cruises, hiking around Cape Tribulation, and seeing wildlife at the Atherton Tablelands Rainforest all make Cairns a wonderful place to explore.