Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to do a road trip down the Australian east coast with three of my American friends! My friends flew over for a short holiday while I was in my seventh month of my Australian working holiday. Together we met in Cairns and rented a car for our trip. In just three short weeks we drove south until we hit Byron Bay. Throughout our travels I saw some of the most beautiful beaches and scenery in Australia. Here are my top five favorite sites:
1. Noosa Heads National Park- After being in Australia for several months it feels as though I've been on a few dozen bush walks and nature hikes. All of these have been beautiful but nothing compares to the Noosa Heads National Park coastal trail. This trail was so unique because it gave the best view of both forrest and beaches. The trail was very well marked and easy to navigate so the sole focus was on taking in the beautiful scenery around us. There were even several coves we hiked down to so we could sit on the rocks in the midst of the ocean spray. Definitely do this walk if you have a chance!
2. Nimbin- I've had a million people tell me how awesome Byron Bay is but to be honest, I was disappointed in Byron. What caught my fancy was the nearby town of Nimbin. Nimbin is the coolest hippie town I've ever been in. The town is small so you only need a few hours but the shops are fun and quirky and the people are laid back and open-minded. We spent the afternoon here and I would have stayed longer had we not been on a schedule. Read our story.
3. Airlie Beach- Airlie Beach is another severely underrated location. Most people arrive in Airlie as a gateway to the Whitsundays. My friends saved money instead and spent three days and three nights in Airlie Beach. The atmosphere was very beachy and we really enjoyed walking in and out of shops and restaurants in between our leisurely walks to the beach.
4. Rockhampton Botanical Gardens- I was in Rockhampton several times before I saw the beauty in it. Being the steak capital of Australia you wouldn't think you'd find a lovely garden here but the Rockhampton Botanical Gardens are a lovely way to spend a few hours time. Most of the plants are marked so you can learn more about the Australian plant nature while you are there. The best part is that it's all free! More on Rocky...
5. Tewantin Bush Camp- Just outside of Noosa Heads there lies an awesome bush camp designed for backpackers. For just $15 per night you can camp out in the bush like an original pioneer. Even the kitchen and lounge room are set up in large tents so you really feel like you're camping only with extra amenities. We really enjoyed our stay at the bush camp and thought it to be a most unique experience. Read our experience.
Overall our east coast trip was quite pleasurable. We also enjoyed Hervey Bay, Surfer's Paradise and Brisbane. Queensland is full of wonderful opportunities and places to see, even for cheap or free!