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East Coast Australia Experience

12 days 11 nights
Sydney to Brisbane
from AUD$6,444pp
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A vibrant, multi-cultural metropolis awaits your arrival in Sydney. From the Sydney Opera House to Bondi Beach, you will experience the famed landmarks of Sydney before taking to the skies by seaplane and touching down on Hawkesbury River for a exclusive pearl farm tour. On route to Port Stephens, bear witness to the extraordinary coastline of NSW, with towering sand dunes, idyllic seaside towns and white sandy beaches. Explore the estuary of Port Stephens on an entertaining dolphin discovery cruise before continuing to Irukandji for a unique shark and ray encounter. Road trip to the charming town of Port Macquarie, where you may consider visiting the Koala Hospital, a rescue and rehabilitation center for one of Australia's most beloved and endangered species. In Coffs Harbour, take part in cultural reconciliation and understand the importance of connections to country. A sumptuous sunrise hot air balloon flight over the neighbouring meccas of Byron Bay is certain to be an unforgettable experience and will stay with you as you drive the final stretch of your road trip over state lines and into Australia's theme park capital, the Gold Coast. In Brisbane, you will be treated to a scenic flight to the remote, Lady Elliot Island. Your final day will be spent exploring this unique island paradise, regarded as one of the best snorkelling destinations on the Great Barrier Reef!

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Itinerary
East Coast Australia Experience - Day 1
Private transfer Sydney Airport to your accommodation

On arrival, you will be met by a private driver outside customs exit and delivered to your Sydney accommodation.

Sydney

Sydney is Australia's largest city and the vibrant capital of New South Wales. The city was founded in 1788 with the arrival of the first fleet of convicts and soldiers, although the area has been inhabited by indigenous Australian ancestors who came to Australia between 15,000 and 45,000 years ago. Today, Sydney is a major international capital of culture and business, and also a key tourist destination recognised across the globe. Most famed for the unique Sydney Opera House, the city is also known for its beautiful surrounding beaches and as a gateway to popular sightseeing regions such as the Central Coast, the Blue Mountains and the Hunter Valley.

Your accommodation: Vibe Hotel Darling Harbour

Zen is a state of mind, and you’ll find yours at Vibe Hotel Sydney Darling Harbour. This property offers guests a new side to Sydney, one that celebrates an eclectic blend of hole-in-the-wall restaurants and world-class sites in close proximity.

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East Coast Australia Experience - Day 2
Explore Sydney

Often mistaken as Australia's capital city, Sydney is a vibrant coastal city with plenty to see and do. Starting in Circular Quay you will catch your first views of the two big icons, Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. From here you can catch one of the quintessential harbour ferries over to Manly Beach or Taronga Zoo, catching a glimpse of Kirribilli House, the Prime Minister's official Sydney residence, on the way over. Kirribilli is also home to one of Sydney's oldest markets at the Kirribilli Neighbourhood Centre twice a month. It is known for its stalls of vintage clothing, arts, delicious street food and its lively community atmosphere - so if you are in town on a market day, you can't miss it. For a relaxing end to your day of exploration, your dinner options are aplenty. From high-end restaurants around Circular Quay that offer amazing views, to the Chinatown food courts and a broad range of eateries at Barangaroo, you will be spoiled for choice.

Sydney Discover 24h Hop On Hop Off with Big Bus Tours

Experience all the excitement of Australia’s famous Harbour city aboard the Big Bus Sydney and Bondi Beach, open-top double-decker buses. The Sydney tour is the perfect introduction to this dynamic city, showcasing the iconic landmarks including the impressive arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the glorious Sydney Opera House and the sparkling waters of Sydney and Darling Harbour. The tour passes bustling shops, restaurants and attractions set amongst Colonial, Victorian and postmodern architecture.

Barangaroo - suggested activity

One of Sydney’s most recent and ambitious renewal projects, Barangaroo belies very little of its former life as an industrial container terminal. Weaving along the water’s edge, the precinct is bursting with incredible eateries, parklands, exciting shopping, cultural experiences, and the six-star Crown Hotel. Coming from Walsh Bay, begin your exploration by dipping into Barangaroo Reserve.
This large landscaped green space provides beautiful vantage points, lovely lawns, and the purpose-built Cutaway event space. Not to be missed is the important audio-visual artwork Wellama, which welcomes visitors to Gadigal country, and the multimedia Indigenous experience Ngangamay, embedded in the sandstone and accessed via a downloadable app, that honours Barangaroo, the powerful Aboriginal woman after whom the precinct is named.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Sydney Opera House Tour

Step inside an iconic landmark. The Sydney Opera House is one of the world’s most recognisable landmarks and this is your chance to truly get up-close. Run your hands over the world-famous shell tiles, take a seat in the elegant custom-made white birch timber chairs and marvel at the vaulted ceilings. Visit areas off-limits to the public and capture photographs from rare vantage points. Watch unforgettable moments from past Concert Hall performances, learning about the history and future of this world-famous hall in an immersive digital experience. Experience the future within a  purpose-built venue that boasts heritage-inspired interiors, and state-of-the-art technology, including 270-degree visuals and surround sound.
From the jaw-dropping sweep of the sails to our soaring cathedral interiors, it is impossible to complete a tour of the Sydney Opera House without being compelled to look up.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Sunset Walk at Taronga Zoo

Want to discover a side to Taronga Zoo Sydney you’ve never seen before? This guided sunset walk through Taronga Zoo is your chance to experience twilight at one of the world's finest zoological gardens. Follow your guide through the zoo's endemic Australian animal displays. The Australian Walkabout Tour includes a visit to the kangaroos, koalas, wombats, echidnas and Australian birds.

Your accommodation: Vibe Hotel Darling Harbour

Zen is a state of mind, and you’ll find yours at Vibe Hotel Sydney Darling Harbour. This property offers guests a new side to Sydney, one that celebrates an eclectic blend of hole-in-the-wall restaurants and world-class sites in close proximity.
Meals included: Breakfast

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East Coast Australia Experience - Day 3
Scenic Flight & Broken Bay Pearl Farm Experience with Sydney Seaplanes

Depart from the Seaplane Terminal at Rose Bay late morning and enjoy the breathtaking views as you fly over the neighbouring harbour, where the Pittwater and Hawkesbury Rivers converge. You will touch down on the Hawkesbury River near Mooney Mooney on the Central Coast, where you will be greeted by pearl farm staff and taken to their Shellar Door. Here you will be immersed in the history of Australian pearls and get hands-on with pearl grading and valuation with pearls from different regions across Australia. After your tour you can sit back and take in the beautiful views as you enjoy your Pearlers' Platter lunch and choice of wine. On your flight back to Rose Bay you will soar past the Sydney Harbour Bridge and famous Opera House, so remember to have your camera at the ready.

Your accommodation: Vibe Hotel Darling Harbour

Zen is a state of mind, and you’ll find yours at Vibe Hotel Sydney Darling Harbour. This property offers guests a new side to Sydney, one that celebrates an eclectic blend of hole-in-the-wall restaurants and world-class sites in close proximity.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

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East Coast Australia Experience - Day 4
Collect your rental car

Our rental car range includes the latest vehicles from the top suppliers. We have a fantastic range, from economy hatchbacks to prestige sedans and SUVs. Insurance can often be included with a small excess or deductible.

Sydney to Port Stephens via Central Coast

After departing Sydney through the leafy northern suburbs, take the scenic route to the Central Coast. A popular stop on the way is the Australian Reptile Park, where you can see an array of local animals and even feed a kangaroo or cuddle a koala.
Continuing along the highway, you should take some time to explore the area with towns like Terrigal, Avoca Beach and The Entrance which are home to long sandy beaches, popular surf breaks, and great cafes and restaurants.
Continue north, skirting Lake Macquarie, Australia's largest coastal saltwater lake and pass Newcastle, the second biggest city in NSW, before arriving at Port Stephens.

Your accommodation: Oaks Port Stephens Pacific Blue Resort

If you are in search of the ultimate chance to unwind, Oaks Port Stephens Pacific Blue Resort is an ideal choice. Located in Salamander Bay and home to one of the largest swimming pools in Australia, the family-friendly resort includes an onsite gymnasium, heated spa, Japanese steam room, and tennis courts.
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 193 kms / 120 miles : 2.4 hours

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East Coast Australia Experience - Day 5
Port Stephens

With 26 sandy beaches to explore, an idyllic blue bay, a back drop of giant sand dunes & boasting one of Australia's highest populations of bottlenose dolphin, Port Stephens is anyone's paradise. The area has many sheltered coves perfect for families and has a variety of activities. Go for a swim with the dolphins or enjoy diving, surfing or snorkelling. Horse or camel ride down the beach, taste the local fresh caught seafood or get up close and personal to wildlife.
Ever wondered what its like to touch a shark or cuddle a ray? That's possible too. Wander the many bush walks or get an adrenalin rush quad biking or sand boarding down the towering Stockton Sand Dunes. The dunes stand guard to the Worimi Conservation lands, and are the Southern Hemisphere's largest moving coastal dunes.

Dolphin Discovery Cruise

Port Stephens is home to over 160 resident bottlenose dolphins, and is known as the Dolphin Capital of Australia! These dolphin-watching tours have a high success rate of dolphin sightings and both inside and outside viewing areas. The skipper gives entertaining commentary about these incredible creatures throughout the cruise. Includes morning or afternoon tea depending on your departure time.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - One Hour Quad Bike Tour with Sand Dune Adventures

Live the adventure that promises you a Quad Riding experience like no other with Sand Dune Adventures. Experience the magnificence of the Worimi Sand Dunes on Stockton Beach, riding safely from bush to beach with expert guides. This one-hour quad bike ride takes in the wonders of the highest sand dunes in the southern hemisphere, the glorious views of the sweeping coastline and a chance to learn about the history of the land.

Your accommodation: Oaks Port Stephens Pacific Blue Resort

If you are in search of the ultimate chance to unwind, Oaks Port Stephens Pacific Blue Resort is an ideal choice. Located in Salamander Bay and home to one of the largest swimming pools in Australia, the family-friendly resort includes an onsite gymnasium, heated spa, Japanese steam room, and tennis courts.

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East Coast Australia Experience - Day 6
Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounter

Unlike the usual aquarium viewing through glass, at Irukandji you can meet the wildlife, pet them, feed them and even share the water with them! Wade with into the shallow water of the tropical lagoon in bare feet, being surrounded by many curious and friendly sharks & rays. Wearing your own clothes, you will mostly stay dry with only your feet and legs becoming wet. Stepping into the water with the animals, is a whole new level of excitement, fear and admiration.

Port Stephens to Port Macquarie

Today's drive begins by following the bay around to the north to rejoin the Pacific Highway and cross the Karuah River. Your drive to Port Macquarie is along the Legendary Pacific Coast Drive, one of the state's most beautiful routes. If you aren't in a rush and feel like a detour to explore more of the coast, then you will be rewarded by a stop in Forster. Seafood lovers can relax here over a lazy lunch of freshly oysters while overlooking the water. Port Macquarie is your destination for the day and is home to 17 beaches, beautiful scenic walks, and the Koala Hospital. If time allows, we recommend the 9km Coastal Walk from town to Lighthouse Beach.

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital - suggested activity

The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital was established in 1973 and is a licensed wildlife rehabilitation facility. The Hospital is a popular tourist attraction which welcomes thousands of national and international visitors every year. The Hospital is also a scientific research, training and education centre.
The Koala Hospital consists of exhibit enclosures, a treatment clinic, intensive care units and rehabilitation yards, many of which have trees for koalas to learn to climb as part of the rehabilitation process. There is also a Koalaseum - a museum for Koalas which provides information on koala evolution and biology and interactive displays so visitors can touch koala fur or look down a microscope at koala poos (scat).
Admission is free, so we recommend bringing some cash to donate to their valuable conservation work.

Your accommodation: Sails Port Macquarie by Rydges

Sails Port Macquarie is a stunning 4.5-star waterfront hotel in Port Macquarie. The stylish and contemporary design of the hotel, inspired by its breathtaking bayside location, offers the chance to retreat, relax and rejuvenate with all the coastal life essentials. The hotel provides a year round heated pool, tennis court, and lush, landscaped gardens. You can take a complimentary kayak or paddleboard and explore the canals from the hotel's private jetty.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 232 kms / 144 miles : 2.5 hours

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East Coast Australia Experience - Day 7
Port Macquarie to Coffs Harbour

From Port Macquarie, head north on Pacific Highway. Around 30 minutes into your journey, you will pass the town of Kempsey. If you are a country music fan, or want learn about country music in Australia, you can stop in at the Slim Dusty Centre. Slim was a country music icon in Australia, and the museum covers his life, as well as costumes, images of Australian life and its people, as well as the music of some of Australia’s finest musicians.Take a detour to the beautiful, relaxed riverside town of Bellingen and stop for a coffee in one of its lovely cafes, or a beer at the local brewery. From here you can also check out the Promised Lands on the Never Never River, a hidden gem with stunningly crystal-clear waters that you can swim in. Head a little further up the B78 highway to take a walk through the breathtaking Dorrigo National Park, and cool off at Dangar Falls just outside of the Dorrigo township.
From here, continue up the Pacific Highway on to Coffs Harbour. Home to the iconic Big Banana, Australia's first "big thing" built back in 1964. Stop at the cafe for a coffee or banana split, or head into town to take a stroll on the Coffs Harbour Jetty.

Stand Up Paddle Tour with Wajaana Yaam Adventure Tours

This stand-up paddle tour takes guests on a cultural journey showcasing the local Gumbaynggirr language, bush tucker and Dreaming stories while paddling through the unspoilt Solitary Islands Marine Park. Your tour guides, who are all Gumbaynggirr or Aboriginal people who have strong ties to Gumbaynggirr country, are direct descendants of the world's first stand-up paddlers. Throughout your tour they will teach you about local Gumbaynggirr stories, language, and even help you find bush delicacies that you can sample, including lemon myrtle, yams and native sarsaparilla.

Your accommodation: BreakFree Aanuka Beach

Positioned on the stunning Northern New South Wales Coastline, BreakFree Aanuka Beach Resort offers everything you need in your Coffs Harbour accommodation, with recreation and relaxation all rolled into one, making for a delightful beach escape.
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 142 kms / 88 miles : 1.4 hours

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East Coast Australia Experience - Day 8
Coffs Harbour to Byron Bay

Today's drive will cover about 240km up the Pacific Coast, leaving you plenty of opportunities to stop off and take in the sights. Before heading off from Coffs Harbour, head to the Solitary Islands Marine Park to explore the surrounding waters on a snorkelling tour. These waters are home to diverse coral, colourful fish, turtles, and dolphins.
From Coffs Harbour, snake along the coast for 120km until you reach signs for Yamba. This sleepy hamlet has beaches that rival those of Byron Bay but remains a little more low-profile. Take a stroll on one of the beautiful beaches, or head to the Pacific Hotel for some great views.
From Yamba, return to the Pacific Highway and continue to head north. If you want an opportunity to spot a second "big thing" today, take a short detour into Ballina to see the Big Prawn. Back on the highway, it's just 30km (18 miles) further to your final destination, Byron Bay.

Byron Bay

The easternmost town in mainland Australia is famous for its surf culture, chic local shops and restaurants, and stunning beaches. Relax on the beach, catch the sunrise from the Cape Byron lighthouse, explore one of the many rainforest walking tracks and treat yourself with organic cuisine.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Night Vision Eco Walk

The Night Vision Walk is a truly one-of-a-kind experience. Imagine exploring the Australian rainforest at night, searching for nocturnal wildlife. Instead of wielding a torch, you’re incognito, wearing special night vision goggles. This is military grade technology that lets you see animals as they go about their business.

Your accommodation: Byron Bay Hotel & Apartments

Byron Bay Hotel and Apartments is your base to explore Byron Bay from. Accommodation located right in the heart of Byron Bay surrounded by vibrant cafes, restaurants and shops with the popular Main Beach just 150m away.
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 219 kms / 136 miles : 2.1 hours

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East Coast Australia Experience - Day 9
Byron Bay Sunrise Balloon Flight - Lunch Included

Sunrise flights over the Byron Bay region – Australia’s most easterly point – gives you the unique opportunity to be the first to watch the morning’s sunrise over the Australian mainland from the air. Each of the Byron Bay region flights is unique and the location of the morning’s launch site will depend on the wind conditions of the day, so your flight could be taking in magnificent views of the ocean, the hinterland, or the vast diversity of scenery around the famed counterculture meccas of Bangalow, Mullumbimby, Nimbin or Lismore.

Explore Byron Bay

Byron Bay is Australia's easternmost town and is home to beautiful beaches, lush rainforest, luxury retreats and some fantastic restaurants. People have always been drawn to the region for its fantastic surf, but today it also caters to those looking for a slow-paced break.
Take advantage of some of the town's beautiful walks, such as the Cape Byron track - the perfect place to watch the sunrise. This 3.7km loop takes you through rainforest and shear cliffs with panoramic views of the region. If you're there between June and November keep your eyes peeled for whales migrating along the coast.

Your accommodation: Byron Bay Hotel & Apartments

Byron Bay Hotel and Apartments is your base to explore Byron Bay from. Accommodation located right in the heart of Byron Bay surrounded by vibrant cafes, restaurants and shops with the popular Main Beach just 150m away.
Meals included: Breakfast

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East Coast Australia Experience - Day 10
Byron Bay to Brisbane

The drive from Byron Bay to Brisbane will see you crossing state lines from New South Wales to Queensland. This drive will take a little over two hours, so have a leisurely start to your morning before heading west out of Byron Bay and onto the M1.
Travel past Coolangatta, a surf and diving mecca revered for its unpretentious culture and bountiful array of aquatic life and continue through the Gold Coast, famed for its white-sand beaches, theme parks, and the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Stop at the iconic Surfers Paradise, take a surf lesson, or, for a bird's eye view of the city and surrounding beaches, head up the 270m tall (886 foot) Q1 building.
From the Gold Coast, continue on the M1 to the state capital, Brisbane.

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary Day Pass Koala Photo

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is a heritage-listed zoological garden. The multitude of events, shows, and attractions include dingo encounters, koalas, kangaroos, wombats, free-flight bird shows, and the feeding of the park's massive saltwater crocodile. You will step back in time with a visit to Lost Valley and a journey through the ancient supercontinent Gondwana. Here, you will experience exotic Australian wildlife, including Cotton Top Tamarins, Red Panda, Capybaras, and four Ring Tail Lemurs. You can also visit the Extinction Trail, where you step back in time and learn about prehistoric times when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. The park also contains a serious aspect of its work and exhibits, and behind the scenes includes a state-of-the-art veterinary and rehabilitation hospital. The Sanctuary is a non-profit organization that invests in world famous Wildlife Research and Conservation Projects, to help save some amazing species from extinction. Their world famous Wildlife Hospital is one of the busiest in the world; the care and treatment are funded from park admissions, visitors, and donations from the public. You are welcome to visit the hospital and see the day-to-day workings from a viewing deck. Enjoy your day seeing the wildlife and learning about everything from Koalas to Wombats and Reptiles to the ring-tailed lemur.

Explore Brisbane

Brisbane is a hub of activities and attractions. With its unique blend of urban sophistication and natural beauty, Brisbane offers something for everybody. Starting the day early, one could begin by exploring the South Bank Parklands, a sprawling riverside precinct filled with lush gardens, walking paths, and stunning views of the city skyline. Take a leisurely stroll along the picturesque Brisbane River, visit the iconic Wheel of Brisbane for a panoramic view, or enjoy a relaxing breakfast at one of the charming riverside cafes. Next, consider delving into the cultural scene by visiting the Queensland Cultural Centre, which houses the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). Art enthusiasts can immerse themselves in a diverse range of local and international artworks, while history buffs can explore the Queensland Museum or the Museum of Brisbane. For a taste of the city's history, a visit to the Story Bridge and Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park is a must. The Story Bridge Adventure Climb offers breathtaking views of the city from its summit, and the Kangaroo Point Cliffs provide a perfect spot for picnics. Afterwards, make your way to the vibrant Fortitude Valley, known for its trendy boutiques, bustling markets, and eclectic mix of cafes and restaurants. Explore the Brunswick Street Mall, discover unique fashion finds, and indulge in a delicious lunch at one of the local eateries. To complete the day, a visit to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is highly recommended. As the world's oldest and largest koala sanctuary, visitors can cuddle koalas, hand-feed kangaroos, and get up close to a variety of Australian wildlife.

Your accommodation: Mercure Brisbane Spring Hill

Discover contemporary, 4-star accommodation at Mercure Brisbane Spring Hill. Overlooking the city skyline and Roma St Parklands, comfort meets style throughout the spacious guest rooms; all featuring generous open-aired balconies, free wi-fi and modern amenities.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 157 kms / 98 miles : 1.7 hours

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East Coast Australia Experience - Day 11
Great Barrier Reef Day Trip from Brisbane

Lady Elliot Island is located on the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. The visit allows you to view one of the most pristine sections of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef from the air as well as below the water all in one day. Enjoy a gorgeous scenic flight en route to Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, where you will be greeted upon arrival and given a brief island orientation tour before exploring the island at your leisure. You will be fitted out with snorkel equipment before joining a glass bottom boat/guided snorkel tour to explore the reef where you will come face to face with a large variety of coral and brilliantly coloured fish, and may even encounter turtles, dolphins and their resident manta rays. A buffet lunch is served in the restaurant and you can participate in one of the island’s guided activities after lunch or spend the rest of the afternoon snorkelling or relaxing.

Your accommodation: Mercure Brisbane Spring Hill

Discover contemporary, 4-star accommodation at Mercure Brisbane Spring Hill. Overlooking the city skyline and Roma St Parklands, comfort meets style throughout the spacious guest rooms; all featuring generous open-aired balconies, free wi-fi and modern amenities.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

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East Coast Australia Experience - Day 12
Return your vehicle to Brisbane Airport

Explore more of Brisbane before dropping your rental car at the airport depot and continuing your onward journey.

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