Port Douglas, Australia

Our Road Trip down the East Coast of Australia – Part 1

After well and truly getting our city fix in Melbourne and Sydney we were ready for our next Australian adventure – a three week road trip down the East Coast. Here’s the story of the first half of our Australia East Coast tour.

Driving the East Coast of Australia

We flew from Sydney to Cairns and were instantly bowled over by the heat and non-stop sunshine. We felt like we’d arrived in a completely new country with all the tropical birds, palm trees and bikini-clad tourists everywhere. Even though you couldn’t swim in the sea because of crocodiles and stingers, Cairns itself was a pretty enough beach town. We did get sick of hearing British accents everywhere and being stuck in hostels with young backpackers on gap years crashing around drunk, running up and down the corridors and vomiting in the bathrooms.

Port Douglas, Australia

Port Douglas

Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation

We’d been planning on travelling the east coast of Australia by train, but in the end we decided we’d much prefer to travel independently and move at our own pace, so we rented a car. This allowed us to take an overnight trip up to Port Douglas; the drive there was the most beautiful we experienced in Australia, far better than our uninspiring ‘Great’ Ocean Road trip. We spent the day exploring beautiful Port Douglas and got bitten to pieces by mozzies at Mossman Gorge. Completely by coincidence we ended up staying the night with fellow travel blogger Alyson of World Travel Family; it was great to meet another blogger in the flesh! The next day we drove up to Cape Tribulation, where the rainforest meets the sea – we strolled along some beautiful deserted beaches and explored the rainforest.

Mossman Gorge

Mossman Gorge

Deserted Beach at Cape Tribulation

Deserted Beach at Cape Tribulation

Back to Cairns

We stopped off again in Cairns for one of the highlights of our time in Oz – snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef. Our day-long boat trip took us out to three amazing snorkelling spots; the water was as clear as glass and crowded with all kinds of strange, mesmerising fish. Within seconds of getting in the water we saw a reef shark gliding through the coral; later we encountered giant clams, clownfish and all manner of colourful fish – we could have spent hours out there exploring this new alien world.

The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef

Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef

Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef


Next we headed down to Townsville where we came across the nicest hostel in Australia – the Civic Guest House.  We breathed a sigh of relief and settled into the quiet rooms, cooked in the sparkling-clean kitchen and took advantage of the fast wifi to get some work done in between walks along the beach. One evening we hiked up Castle Rock to watch the sunset; on the way a rain shower created the most perfect rainbow I’ve ever seen and even though I was exhausted, grumpy and soaked I couldn’t help but be awed by the spectacular pink and orange sunset waiting for us at the top.

Sunset from Castle Rock, Townsville Australia

The sunset from Castle Rock

Rainbow over Townsville, Australia

Rainbow over Townsville

Airlie Beach – Whitsundays

Our next destination was Airlie Beach, the gateway to the famous Whitsunday Islands. We spent a brilliant day sailing around the islands on an old-fashioned sail boat, the Derwent Hunter, stopping to snorkel near one of the islands.  The weather was fierce and windy – great for sailing, not so great for snorkelling as it made the water thick and cloudy; we still had a great time though.

Airlie Beach, Australia

Airlie Beach

Sailing the Whitsunday Islands, Australia

Sailing the Whitsunday Islands

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After all that we still had another 750 miles left to go on our East Coast road trip – find out about the second half of our journey.

  • Patti
    Posted at 06:46h, 22 May Reply

    We didn’t make it to Cairns when we were down under, thanks for sharing the photos. I especially like the photo of the sunset and the deserted beach. Lovely!

    • Amy
      Posted at 07:09h, 22 May Reply

      Hi Patti, that sunset picture is one of my favourites; Cairns is worth a look if you’re in Oz again.

  • Charlie
    Posted at 03:10h, 26 May Reply

    I had a blast in Cairns when I was a 20 year old gap-year backpacker. For sure I was one of those ones crashing around drunk, haha I’d probably hate it now! The Whitsundays were amazing though, even if I did feel seasick from the moment I got on the boat to the moment we got off… three days later! Looks like you had an amazing week.

    • Amy
      Posted at 03:47h, 26 May Reply

      Hi Charlie, yes, I’m pretty sure I would have loved Cairns when I was younger too; I had the exact same thought when we arrived in Kuta, Bali recently. Andrew and I are getting old! Sorry to hear you were seasick for so long, must have been awful.

  • Tim H
    Posted at 16:34h, 19 November Reply

    Wow. Love that picture of the rainbow. Nice timing.

    • Andrew
      Posted at 10:34h, 20 November Reply

      Thanks Tim, so lucky to get that shot. 🙂

  • louisa klimentos
    Posted at 14:52h, 12 October Reply

    I am glad you enjoyed yourself.Too bad you didn’t like the great ocean road,maybe it is because the drive isn’t all along the ocean.However there is a great ocean walk,which is much better than doing the drive as you see spectacular beaches and headlands,which you will not see if you drove.You will definately be inspired then.

    • Andrew
      Posted at 05:36h, 13 October Reply

      Hi Louisa, thanks for your comment. We’re not saying that the Great Ocean Road isn’t worth seeing or that it’s not spectacular but in comparison to what we saw in New Zealand it just didn’t quite astound us as much. I would love to do the Great Ocean Walk someday, the best bits of the drive were when we were out of the car and stopping at the viewpoints. 🙂

  • louisa klimentos
    Posted at 15:03h, 30 October Reply

    Yes New Zealand is very untouched,mainly because it is very rugged and you can’t get into these areas to destroy it. You can see alot in the short distance.That is why it is one of the most beautiful places on earth.How ever,when the British arrived in Australia alot of forests were cleared for farming and caused alot of environmental damage.The Australian Government of today do not care about nature.All they think about is the mighty dollar.Tony Abbot,our priminister is giving the ok to mine the Great Barrier Reef.In Quensland you find sugar cane fields along the highway and miles of it.That is why you have to drive down the side roads to see fantastic places,otherwise the drive may seem boring.I donated to Australian conservation group to stop any further damage to Australia.

    • Amy
      Posted at 04:20h, 31 October Reply

      Hi Louisa, thanks for your comments; I heard about Tony Abbot’s controversial plans. Don’t get me wrong, we did love our time in Australia and would love to go back and explore more off the beaten track. In my opinion I still find New Zealand to be the most beautiful country I’ve ever been to apart from the Philippines and yes, I agree that it’s more beautiful than England too.

  • louisa klimentos
    Posted at 15:08h, 30 October Reply

    Please watch the Art of walking,which is about 3 peoples’ experience doing the Great ocean walk.Look up You tube

  • louisa klimentos
    Posted at 22:50h, 28 December Reply

    Dear amy i hoped you had a wonderful Christmas and may the new year bring you happiness and joy.You are one travel bloger who spends the time to correspond with those who make comments on your travel blogs.Thank you kindly for doing this.It is really nice to connect with people from the otherside of the world.I hope you will get to experience many different countries and love to see you return to New zealand and australia again.Best of luck,louisa

    • Amy
      Posted at 03:51h, 29 December Reply

      Thanks Lousia, I hope you had a great Christmas too and that your 2015 will be full of fun and adventures. Thanks for reading our little blog and commenting, it’s great to hear your thoughts.

  • louisa klimentos
    Posted at 07:19h, 03 January Reply

    Thank you Amy for your lovely comment .You are indeed a really nice person.

    • Amy
      Posted at 12:04h, 04 January Reply

      Thanks Louisa, so are you 🙂

  • Sarah
    Posted at 04:19h, 21 November Reply

    Cairns is a place for adventure. It’s laid back nature with a lot of scenic views make it perfect one.

    • Amy
      Posted at 16:13h, 21 November Reply

      Yep, we loved it there 🙂

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