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Cairns to Sydney: The alternative East Coast Australia bucket list

Australia is hands down one of my favourite places to be in the entire world.

Its undeniable beautyopportunity for adventure and insanely addictive outdoor lifestyle has had me return 4 times now. It certainly won’t be my last either.

If you’re currently planning or brainstorming your adventure over here in Australia – you’re probably feeling quite overwhelmed.

What are the must see? Where are the tourist traps? What should you prioritise?

Truth is, unless you’re coming to live over here, you aren’t going to see it all. And even if you did come to live here – you could be exploring for the rest of your life and still not cover everything.

The most important thing to do is decide what kind of adventure you want and create a bucket list. Now of course many tourist-y spots rightfully deserve a spot on your bucket list (like Fraser Island and the Whitsundays) but there are also a lot of places that get left out of the limelight, equally worth stopping off at.

I’ve created this post as an alternative East Coast bucket list to perhaps the ones you’ve already stumbled across online (read my original bucket list here). Hopefully, it will give you some lesser-known, less touristy gems to go and set your eyes on during your East Coast adventure…

Here’s my Cairns to Sydney alternative East Coast Australia bucket list…

1. Great Barrier Reef

Known, yes? Explored with the right trips, usually not! This beautiful reef can be seen from space it’s so big. Head out from Cairns on a full-day boat trip and see the amazing sights that the Great Barrier Reef has to offer. Jump in the water and you’ll see turtles, reef sharks and a massive selection of tropical fish. This is an incredible place to learn how to scuba dive too!! If water isn’t for you, you can also check out the Great Barrier by helicopter or if you’re feeling up to a challenge… see it with a skydive!

A trip I recommend is the ‘Passion of Paradise – with an Intro Dive’ – see more and book your trip here.

Cairns to Sydney: The alternative bucket list
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2. Atherton Tablelands

A little magic outside of Cairns, just a short drive away from the town you’ll find yourself in the tropical Atherton Tablelands, home to incredible waterfalls, lakes & natural waterslides! Make sure you visit Millaa Millaa Falls, it’s a beautiful waterfall and the filming location for music videos & ads. Get practising your hair flick for ‘the shot’!

A trip I recommend is the 1-day Barefoot ‘Atherton Tablelands Rainforest & Waterfalls’ tour. See more and book your trip here.

3. Noosa National Park

On the Noosa leg of WMGT adventure #9, we spent the entire day exploring this National Park. Australia is full of amazing national parks but this one tops the list! The hike is easy and there are plenty of beautiful spots to take in those good views. Our favourite part of the national park is the Fairy Pools which are natural pools where the waves crash into and create a bubbly effect!

Cairns to Sydney: The alternative bucket list

4. Cape Hillsborough

If you are an early riser then this is one for your Aussie bucket list! Catch the local kangaroos hanging out on the beach at sunrise at Cape Hillsborough, this one is probably best accessed by a camper van or rental car so add it to your road trip list and make sure you take your camera!

5. 1770 Castaway

If you fancy yourself as a Shipwrecked contestant then the town of 1770 has an experience for you! This is one of the most unique adventures on the east coast of Australia and it’s for those of you that love a challenge. In this 1770 Castaway trip, you’ll be taken to a remote island where you will be left with the essentials to survive your time on the island. Don’t worry though, this adventure is full of fun and you’ll be spending your time kayaking, hiking, exploring caves, chilling in rock pools, sandboarding, fishing and finding oysters.

A trip I recommend is the 1770 Castaway Tour, a 3-day/2-night adventure. See more and book your trip here.

6. Magnetic Island

Have you ever seen the topless pink Barbie cars and wondered how you can make this dream come true? Well, you will find these on the beautiful Magnetic Island just off the coast of Townsville. This island is small but full of adventure, rent yourself a topless Barbie car (or 4×4 jeep) and get cruising with your squad. There are plenty of beautiful crystal clear coves to discover around the island and look out for koalas, rock wallabies, lorikeets & sting rays!

A trip I recommend is the 3-night Magnetic Island Magic. See more and book your trip here.

7. Glasshouse Mountains

If you visit Brisbane and find that you are craving to get back out into the mountains, then you’re in luck. The Glasshouse Mountains are a short drive outside of the city (close to Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo) and are just breathtaking, make sure you take your trainers and plenty of water because the hike is REAL in this spot, but well worth the effort for the views.

Cairns to Sydney: The alternative bucket list
Photo credit:

8. Moreton Island

Another little gem outside of Brisbane, Moreton Island is a little slice of heaven and paradise! If you want to experience island life then get yourself here, you can kayak in clear kayaks to get the best views, snorkel the shipwrecks and relax on the sandy beaches after all the excitement of the east coast!

9. Dolphin Kayaking Byron Bay

I love Byron Bay and fall a little more in love with it every time I visit. If the name is a giveaway it’s a massive bay that’s protected by a cape, where the famous Cape Byron lighthouse is located. If you want to take in the beauty of Byron head out on a Dolphin Kayaking trip, LOADS of dolphins live in the bay and you are pretty much guaranteed to see them up close on your trip.

A trip I recommend is the 3-hour Go Sea Kayak experience. See more and book your trip here.

Exploring Australia with WMGT adventures

10. Watsons Bay

If you’re heading to Sydney you probably already have Bondi & Manly Beach on your to-do list but have you heard of Watsons Bay? You’ll find this beautiful spot just a short ferry away from Circular Quay, and it feels like you are on an island! It has lots of little coves with crystal clear water and the best views of Sydney. Make sure you check out the Watsons Bay Boutique for a ‘treat yourself’ cocktail.

Top tip: If you visit on a Sunday, travel in Sydney is capped at less than $2!

Wondering how all these trips fit into your Australia budget? Check out my guide to budgeting for Australia here.

Have you been to any awesome spots on the East Coast?

What were your favourites? I’d love to know!

Love as always + happy adventuring,


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Cairns to Sydney: The alternative East Coast Australia bucket list
Cairns to Sydney: The alternative East Coast Australia bucket list




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