Heart Reef Whitsundays

The Great Australian Road Trip – Part VII – Cairns to Sydney

This is the last portion of my journey around mainland Australia. After one year travelling and working, exploring and discovering, things are starting to come to an end. It is a surreal concept that I have yet to fully reflect upon and instead continue to live in the moment, making the most of my final adventures on this wonderful continent. A few weeks ago I left Cairns and hit the road headed south. With Sydney as the final destination it was time to see the most visited and probably most ‘touristy’ part of the entire country, the East coast. Let the adventure continue ending where it all began!

Whithaven Beach, Whitsundays
Whithaven Beach, Whitsundays

My first stop on the route was Airlie Beach and the gateway to the iconic Whitsunday Islands. I had planned a one day stopover in town before heading out on a three day two night sailing trip. It was the perfect amount of time to get oriented in town and set up for the sailing also the one day allowed me the chance to go on a scenic sea plane flight over the archipelago and outer Great Barrier Reef. It was awesome and really gave a perspective to the area I would be exploring by sea.

The next day I got on a small sailboat with 11 other people and two crew. With 14 in total we were a good sized group with an solid international mix and were immediately friendly with another, swapping introductions and various travel stories. The next couple days were amazing. The weather absolutely turned it on for us and we were treated to a sailing adventure fit for any unltimate vacation. This place is paradise!

There are not too many more words I can use to describe sailing Whitsundays. It is quite simply something everyone should try to get the chance to do when visiting the east coast of Australia.

From Airlie Beach I took a night bus further south to Rainbow Beach and one of the gateways to Fraser Island, my next east coast adventure. I had arranged an awesome itinerary for a 3 Day Fraser Island Eco Tour and was pretty stoked to start exploring Australia’s biggest sand island with another set of great people. Fraser had been a place I had wanted to visit for the entire year and it was really great to be sitting at the doorstep in Rainbow Beach about to bridge the gap and discover another iconic Australian landmark.

The three day trip was everything and more than I had been expecting. Now I try not to travel with high expectations anyways, but I was really hoping to see some wild Dingos and giant stretches of seemingly unending beaches. That is exactly what I got and more.

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Fraser Island is home to an ancient rainforest growing on sand!! How awesome is that!?! I for one couldn’t believe it. It felt as if I was walking back in the Daintree of Tropical North Queensland, an amazing ecosystem completely separate from the mainland with its own microclimate and thousand year evolution. Very cool indeed.

The trip with Adventure Tours Australia was an absolute blast and I was able to really get a great feel for why Fraser Island is so renowned among tourists visiting Aus. It is truly beautiful and a very unique place.

From Fraser it was back on the mainland and down to Noosa. One of the prettiest coastal towns in all Queensland, Noosa blew me away! I stayed at Halse Lodge and was treated like a long lost friend by owner Drew, managers Sarah and Jess, and all of their amazing staff. It was such a wonderful experience I should really start thinking about coming back to Aus to work for you guys!

Sadly I didn’t have a lot of time in Noosa, and to be honest the second half of my Cairns to Sydney trip was a bit rushed. I did however get some running in through the national park as well as a beauty sunset and some quality ping pong playing with some not so quality British competition. Ha!

I left Noosa on route to Brisbane. I tend to avoid big cities when travelling and Brissie was no different. I literally had a five hour stop over to catch up with a few friends from past travels. If you’re reading this, thanks for coming to hang and swap stories, it was a great afternoon!

I also had the chance to once again meet the original ‘Best Jobs in the World’ winner Ben Southall. Ben and I have been in touch for almost two years and have only met twice! In that time he has been an invaluable source of advice and information on the ‘Best Jobs’ gig and how to properly steer this beast to create the most opportunity possible and to truly connect with the people around you. I owe a lot of knowledge learned to Ben and it was amazing to catch up with him nearing the end of my stint as Best Jobs winner.

We both have ambitious plans for the future and it was fun bouncing ideas back and forth. If you’re reading this mate, I hope to see you on the road!

Ben Southall and I working out a tie during Best Jobs final. June 2013.
Ben Southall and I working out a tie during Best Jobs final. June 2013.

That evening I left Brissie on route back to the coast and the small town of Byron Bay. Byron as it’s affectionately referred to by many an Aussie is an amazing little surf town visited by many travellers from all over the world. It has impossibly beautiful coastal scenery with some of those perfect stretches of Australian beaches we all know and love. You could literally spend days exploring the coast surrounding Byron, I had one.

My full day in Byron was spent hiking and exploring the town. I took the morning to complete a lazy three and a half hour round trip hike to the Lighthouse and back. It was an amazing way to see some of the local coastal scenery and get some great shots of the beaches and people surfing. From there I met my friend Sam, who lives and works in Byron, for lunch before exploring the rest of the town. Sam showed me some of the highlights and I was off an yet another random mission to fix some of my travel gear. After a relatively unsuccessful mission, I decided to can it and meet Sam for dinner instead. She took me out with her friend Hannah to a sweet little Mexican resto. It was the perfect evening to chill and relax before heading for Sydney and finishing off the last portion of the trip.

Byron Bay Cafe
Byron Bay Cafe

That night I took the 14 hour bus to Sydney and finished off the second last portion of my Great Australian Road Trip. It was a relatively quick trip from Cairns to SYD, but all in all I was able to experience the highlights and fit in everything I had originally wanted to. Overall it was a very successful adventure with some great weather, new friends met, and another set of travel memories made.

The East Coast of Australia is gorgeous and is the most frequented for a reason. I am happy I was able to experience it firsthand. This being said it is time to move on. Next up for me is the famed island to the South and a part of Australia I have been looking forward to visiting for the entire year, Tasmania!!

Wheels up!!


Follow Greg’s exciting adventure around Australia – From the Best Job in the World to the completion of the Great Australian Road Trip !

Sunrise on Fraser Island
Sunrise on Fraser Island
Byron Beach Daze
Byron Beach Daze


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