Sydney to Cairns Adventure


Weave your way from Sydney to Cairns along Australia’s breathtaking east coast on this 14-day adventure. Start by sampling some of Australia’s best wines in the Hunter Valley, get up close and cuddly with koalas in Dorrigo National Park and soak up the vibes of Byron Bay. The good times keep rolling over state lines, as Queensland offers the beautiful Whitsundays, the wilderness of the Atherton Tablelands and the sublime scenery and vast golden beaches of K’gari (formerly Fraser Island). By the time you wrap up in Cairns, you’ll have had a truly all-Australian experience.

14 days, from

$4,092

per person

GROUP SIZE

16 people max

ACTIVITY LEVEL

3
Trip code: PZSPC
Style: Original
Theme: Explorer

Details

Countries Visited:  Australia
Accommodation: Hotel (4 nights), Cabins (6 nights), Overnight train (1 night), Holiday Apartments (2 nights)
Transportation: Private vehicle , Ferry , Overnight train , Boat , 4WD
Included Meals:

  • 3 breakfasts
  • 2 lunches
  • 1 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 16

  • Take a guided walkabout tour around Sydney Harbour with a local Aboriginal guide who will teach you about local First Nations history, Dreaming and the spiritual connection to Country, while you soak in gorgeous iconic views.

  • Get in touch with Australia’s wilderness and wildlife. Meet cute and cuddly koalas at an animal hospital, look out for whales if the seaosn is right and explore the rainforest and waterfalls in Dorrigo National Park.

  • Plenty of beachtime awaits with stays in Hervey Bay, Byron Bay, Airlie Beach, Mission Beach and a full-day tour of the Whitsundays, including Whitehaven Beach, where you will go snorkelling among giant tropical fish and corals and then relax on the 7 km stretch of beach as the sun descends.

  • Take an incredible 4WD adventure through the breathtaking landscape of K'gari (formerly Fraser Island). Ride across sand dunes and vast golden beaches in search of the iconic outback creature, the dingo.

  • Explore Mungalla Wetlands with a First Nations guide as you search for aquatic birdlife and learn about the history and culture of the Nywaigi people.

  • By travelling on this trip, you’ll directly support our Intrepid Foundation partner, Greening Australia. Donations help them tackle Australia’s complex environmental challenges, restoring landscapes at scale – in ways that work for communities, economies and nature.

Itinerary

Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Sydney - Hunter Valley

Welcome to Sydney! Or Warrane, in the language of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, who are the Traditional Owners of the land on which Sydney is now located. Your adventure starts with a welcome meeting at 9 am at your hotel. After, you’ll head out for a walkabout around The Rocks with a local Aboriginal guide. Walk through Hicksons Reserve, Campbells Cove and Cumberland Walk as your guide teaches you about this area's history, land and water use, and spiritual connection with the First Nations peoples. You’ll have amazing views of the harbour along the way, including Sydney Harbour Bridge and the CBD across the water. After your journey into the Dreaming, grab some lunch before heading north to the famous winery region – the beautiful Hunter Valley. Tonight, you’ll visit a local distillery for a gin and vodka tasting and then head to an optional welcome dinner in Cessnock in the heart of the valley to get to know your fellow travellers.  

Day 2: Hunter Valley - Crowdy Bay NP - Port Macquarie

Today, you’ll continue your exploration of the Hunter Valley region with a visit to an organic winery for a guided tour and wine tasting. Time permitting, you’ll head to another nearby winery where you might like to grab lunch and opt for another tasting. Then, drive to your accommodation just outside of Port Macquarie along the scenic coastal route, stopping at Crowdy Bay National Park along the way to stretch your legs on a short hike – keep your eyes peeled for whales off the coast as you wind your way by secluded coves, beaches and mountains.

Day 3: Port Macquarie - Dorrigo NP - Coffs Harbour

This morning, you’ll visit the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie, where you’ll meet the volunteers who work there and take a self-guided walk through the conservation area, learning about how this organisation provides care and treatment for koalas needing rehabilitation. Then, drive to Bellingen, where you might like to grab lunch and enjoy some free time. Continue to Dorrigo National Park via the gorgeous Waterfall Way, known for its lush, sub-tropical rainforest – the last piece of the ancient subcontinent Gondwanaland. Few places on Earth contain so many plants and animals relatively unchanged from their ancestors. Pop into the Rainforest Centre in the park, take a stroll along the skywalk and explore the rainforest with your group. Then, if you have time, head to Dangar Falls and maybe take a refreshing dip in its cascading waters. 

Day 4: Coffs Harbour - Byron Bay

Next up is Byron Bay – a laid-back surf paradise with boundless coastline, sand and friendly locals. But first, you’ll start your day with a walking tour of Red Rock with a local First Nations guide. Learn about the culture of the Gumbaynggirr people through stories, songs and the uses of native plants. Walk alongside The Solitary Island Marine Park Waterways and connect with Country as you learn more about the Dreaming and sample some local bush food. After, you’ll stop in Yamba where you might like to grab some lunch, before visiting Byron Bay Lighthouse for a unique photo opportunity and the chance to spot some dolphins, whales and other marine life.

Day 5: Byron Bay

Get up early this morning if you want to catch the sunrise – they are pretty ace from Australia's most easterly point – but if you prefer, you can sleep in too! It’s a free day today, so maybe kick-start the morning with a swim in the ocean or hunt down the best cold-brew coffee from one of Byron’s quirky cafes. Maybe hit the water this afternoon and take a sea kayaking tour or learn how to ride the waves with a beginner’s surf lesson. Find your centre with a yoga class or just hang out on the beach. Tonight, why not grab a drink at one of the local pubs or bars?

Day 6: Byron Bay - Brunswick Heads - Brisbane

This morning, head to The Farm – a collection of micro-businesses on a working farm focusing on growing, feeding and educating through community farming. Maybe grab some breakfast here and pick up a few things to have for lunch later on. Continue to Brunswick Heads for a 2-hour rainforest river cruise – glide along Brunswick River and enjoy some refreshments as you learn about the environmental history of the area, hear some local bush stories and watch the still water pass you by. This afternoon, continue to Brisbane where you’ll spend the night, checking out the famous Surfers Paradise along the way for some beach time. Tonight, say goodbye to any group members who may be finishing their travels here in Brisbane.

Day 7: Brisbane - Noosa - Hervey Bay

The next part of your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 10 am. Then drive to Noosa Heads – a serene town in Queensland by the sea – where you can grab some lunch, relax on the beach or go shopping in the cute boutique shops. If you’d like, maybe use your free time here to do part of the Noosa Coastal Walk and look out for local flora and fauna. This afternoon, you’ll hit the road again for the coastal city of Hervey Bay, where you’ll spend the night.

Day 8: K'gari - Hervey Bay

After breakfast this morning, you’ll head to the stunning K'gari (previously known as Fraser Island) by ferry for a day trip. The name change is a major milestone in a long-running campaign by the Butchulla people, whose original name for this place means ‘paradise’ – and you’ll soon see why. Set off on a 4WD adventure through the breathtaking landscape. Start off with an adventurous drive along 75 Mile Beach Road – one of the best coastal drives in the country. Take a refreshing dive into the crystal-clear water of Boorangoora (Lake McKenzie) – an island icon. The lake is world famous for its turquoise colours and delicate white, 92% pure silica sand. Take another dip, this time in the fresh waters of Eli Creek, then visit the Maheno shipwreck and the coloured sands of the pinnacles. From tropical dense rainforest to wild offshore waters, you’ll witness the contrasting fauna and terrain of this truly unique island as you venture across undulating dunes and vast golden beaches in search of the iconic outback creature – the dingo. Tonight, head back to Hervey Bay where you can rest and recharge. 

Day 9: Hervey Bay - Overnight train

Enjoy a free day in Hervey Bay today – one of the best sites for observing humpback whales during migration season. If the month is right, maybe spend the morning whale watching on the water, or rent a bike to cycle along the foreshore. Or you could take a leisurely stroll along the water’s edge, go kayaking or just enjoy one of the many gorgeous beaches nearby. Tonight, make sure you pick up some snacks for your overnight train. Drive to Maryborough West and take the train to Proserpine, just south of Airlie Beach.

Day 10: Airlie Beach

Your new leader will meet you at Proserpine train station early this morning. Head to their favourite sunrise spot as a group – the best way to start your day – and watch the land come alive. Then, you’ll head for an optional breakfast and caffeine hit at a local café in Airlie Beach. Your day is free to explore this coastal paradise dotted with palm trees. This hub town of the popular Whitsundays has beer gardens, trendy cafes and a lawn-fringed swimming lagoon. Maybe stroll around and explore, visit some local swimming spots for a refreshing dip or find a seat at one of the many bars and watch the sun sparkle on the water. Get to know your new leader tonight with an optional group dinner. 

Day 11: Great Barrier Reef - Whitehaven Beach - Airlie Beach

Today you’ll head out on a full-day tour of Whitehaven Beach, in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. Start with a guided walk to the spectacular Hill Inlet Lookout, where you can take photos of the sweeping ocean views. Then, hit the water and go snorkelling at Border Island, Dumbell Island or one of the secret spots your tour guide will show you. See coral reefs, colourful fish, turtles, clams and other marine life. Then, enjoy an included lunch and take a boat to the southern end of the 7 km stretch of Whitehaven Beach, taking the chance to kick back and relax in the sun after a day of outdoor adventures. Tonight, maybe head to one of the local bars for a cocktail (or two) and watch the sunset.

Day 12: Townsville - Paluma Range NP - Lucinda

This morning, you’ll hit the road again for a scenic road trip day to Townsville. Head to Castle Hill lookout when you arrive and take some photos of the gorgeous views of the town and ocean below. You’ll have some free time for lunch and to chill by the water. Carry on to Big Crystal Creek in the Paluma Range National Park, where you can take a stroll, swim in the creek or just relax among the sounds of local birdlife. This afternoon, you’ll head to Lucinda, where you’ll spend the night. Ask your leader for the best seaside spots for dinner and maybe enjoy a night walk to watch the sun go down.

Day 13: Mungalla Station - Mission Beach

This morning after breakfast, drive to Mungalla station, where you’ll meet the First Nations owners of the land – the Nywaigi people – and learn about their culture and history, including about the brutal conflicts with European settlers. The story you’ve been told will come to life as you visit an exhibition of pictures within the historic homestead. Then head out and explore the Mungalla wetlands in search of aquatic birdlife. Drive to Mission Beach this afternoon – a small coastal town with expansive beaches, palm trees and opportunities to explore the Great Barrier Reef. Stop in Tully along the way to stretch your legs, then ask your leader for the best way to spend your night. 

Day 14: Atherton Tablelands - Cairns

This morning after breakfast, drive to Millaa Millaa Falls for a nature walk and a quick swim in the cascades. Stop in Atherton for lunch at a local cafe Take the Curtain Fig boardwalk to see the iconic tree this park was named after – this park protects endangered mabi forest and a large green fig tree with extensive aerial roots that drop 15 m to the forest floor, forming a ‘curtain’. After, walk to Lake Eacham – the site of an old volcano and home to Australia’s largest python! Here, maybe take a swim (just keep an eye out for the resident freshwater crocodile) or continue your walk. This afternoon, you’ll drive to Cairns, where your trip will come to an end. If you’d like to stay longer, just speak to your booking agent.