Aussie East Coast Roadtrip Planner (on a budget)
Updated: Jan 31, 2020
Planning your Aussie East Coast trip but not very sure where to begin? Do not fear, I am here to help! Deciding on your route for any roadtrip is hard, where to go, what to see, what to miss out? When we were planning our trip most of our inspiration came from pretty Instagram photos and websites such as the famous Lonely Planet. It is always helpful to seek some inspo and guidance from others to ensure that your trip will be the most epic yet! I have decided to lay everything out bare and honest. This post will include everything from our exact route to our overall spending. I will also be writing up our trip in sections as three individual posts. These will cover Cairns - Brisbane, Brisbane - Sydney and Sydney - Melbourne to give you a more detailed outlook on things.
Please note this is all based on our personal opinion and experience. We did our trip on a budget and missed out a lot of very popular areas such as Fraser Island, Whitsundays, and so on. Although we would have loved to do everything, we simply could not afford it. It is possible to travel Australia without skydiving and swimming with sharks and no matter what you do and don't do, chances are your trip will still be epic. I am writing this post with the intention of helping out budget travellers like us, who enjoy doing cheap and free activities that perhaps are not your most typical. Lets get started!
1. Our exact route:
Below is our exact route, including all stops.
Cape Tribulation - Port Douglas - Cairns - Millaa Millaa - Mission Beach - Wallaman - Townsville - Bowen - Hydeaway Bay - Airlie Beach - Cape Hillsborough - Mackay - Yeppoon - Rockhampton - Agnes Waters / Seventeen-Seventy - Bundaberg - Elliot Heads - Hervey Bay - Rainbow Beach - Noosa - The Sunshine Coast - Montville - Beerwah - The Glasshouse Mountains - Brisbane - The Gold Coast / Surfers Paradise - Burleigh Heads - Springbrook National Park - Nimbin - Byron Bay - Yamba - Coffs Harbour - Port Maquarie - Bulahdelah - Port Stephens - Newcastle - Central Coast / Gosford - The Blue Mountains - Sydney / Manly - Coledale - Wollongong - Kiama - Hyams Beach - Batemans Bay - Narooma - Eden - Lakes Entrance - Sale - Golden Beach - Port Albert - Wilsons Promontory - Philip Island - Melbourne
2. Example timescale:
Our timescale: 10 weeks / around 2.5 months
Recommendation: 4 weeks min.
Australia is massive, as I am sure you probably all know. Do not be deceived by the distance between popular locations, they may be longer than you expect! Personally, I would recommend a minimum of 4 weeks to complete your East Coast trip. This gives you plenty of time to see everything you want to, and to have the odd pj day.
3. Our budget & what we spent:
Below I have included our total spendings on the trip (minus the cost of our van and minor repairs)
Please note, all figures have been rounded up to the nearest whole number.
*IMPORTANT: these figures are all based on the spending of TWO adults, for a more accurate individual spending half our numbers*
☀ What we aimed to spend per day: $60 (average)
☀ What we actually spent per day: $54 (average)
Where the money went:
Food Includes food shops, meals out, lunch out, takeaways, etc.
☀ Average per week: $127
☀ Overall = $1271
☀ Average per week: $116
☀ Overall = $1160
Camping & Accommodation
☀ Average per week: $86
☀ Overall = $856
Paid activities such as tours, museums, parks, etc
☀ Average per week: $29
☀ Overall = $287
Personal items (candles, decor, clothing, etc)
☀ Average per week: $47
☀ Overall = $470
☀ Average per week: $362
☀ Overall = $3,615
4. Example Itinerary
Below I have written a basic example and rough itinerary for your trip.
Please note: A more detailed overview will be available in following post. This will give you activities, places to stay and my favourite locations.
☀ Section 1 | Cape Tribulation - Townsville = 9 days
Main stops: Port Douglas - Cairns - Millaa Millaa - Mission Beach
Total distance: 302 miles / 486 kms
Direct drive time: 6hrs 40mins
☀ Section 2 | Townsville - Mackay = 5 days
Main stops: Hydeaway Bay - Airlie Beach - Cape Hillsborough
Total distance: 242 miles / 390 kms
Direct drive time: 4hrs 20mins
☀ Section 3 | Mackay - Bundaberg = 6 days
Main stops: Yeppoon - Rockhampton - Agnes Waters / 1770
Total distance: 388 miles / 625 kms
Direct drive time: 6hrs 50mins
☀ Section 4 | Bundaberg - Brisbane = 9 days
Main stops: Rainbow Beach - Noosa - Sunshine Coast - Glasshouse Mountains
Total distance: 225 miles / 362 kms
Direct drive time: 4hrs 10mins
☀ Section 5 | Brisbane - Coffs Harbour = 10 days
Main stops: Gold Coast - Springbrook National Park - Nimbin - Byron Bay
Total distance: 244 miles / 360 kms
Direct drive time: 4hrs 30mins
☀ Section 6 | Coffs Harbour - Sydney = 6 days
Main stops: Port Maquarie - Port Stephens - Newcastle - The Blue Mountains
Total distance: 331 miles / 532 kms
Direct drive time: 5hrs 45mins
☀ Section 7 | Sydney - Batemans Bay = 3 days
Main stops: Wollongong - Hyams Beach
Total distance: 176 miles / 283 kms
Direct drive time: 3hrs 55 mins
☀ Section 8 | Batemans Bay - Lakes Entrance = 3 days
Main stops: Narooma - Eden
Total distance: 273 miles / 440 kms
Direct drive time: 5hrs 10mins
☀ Section 9 | Lakes - Entrance - Wilsons Promontory = 4 days
Main stops: Sale - Golden Beach
Total distance: 160 miles / 260 kms
Direct drive time: 3hrs 5mins
☀ Section 10 | Wisons Promontory - Melbourne = 3 days
Main stops: Philip Island
Total distance: 121 miles / 194 kms
Direct drive time: 2hrs 25mins
Hopefully this helped some of you out with your roadtrip plans. If you have any questions feel free to send me an email!
Keep up to date with my journey through instagram:
Personal account: jenjaar
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