Ah the East Coast of Australia. It’s a quintessential trip taken by many on a round the world adventure offering a multitude of difference sights and experiences. It’s also one that is very easy to get wrong, and there are many possible mistakes to avoid making.
With three journies between Cairns and Sydney under my belt, along with years as a travel agent, I’ve made and seen many of these mistakes myself. Want to have a great trip of your own? Heed my advice and I’m sure you will. Australia is a country teeming with places and activities get under your skin and leave you utterly in love.
However you travel and whatever you see – try not to make these 9 big mistakes when you travel the East Coast of Australia!
Not doing you own research
Don’t rely on what your friends tell you. Everyone enjoys different things and I’ve seen people choose horrible trips based on recommendations from others! Read blogs, speak to local travel agents and give the tours you’re considering a google. At the end of the day you know best so while it’s great to take on advice make sure it lines up with what you’ll enjoy too.
Underestimating the distance
It continually baffles me when people happily inform me that they’ve got a whole nine days to get themselves to Sydney and, yes, they’d like to do full tours of Fraser Island and Whitsundays. The journey from Cairns to Sydney is 2,600km and would be a solid 30+ hours of driving. You can just about squeeze it in 2 weeks but by the end of it you’re going to be totally worn out! To make sure you can see as much as possible with some rest days thrown in you need a minimum of 4 weeks. Ideally longer – but isn’t that always the case?
Not getting a local sim card
These days it’s so cheap and easy to grab a local sim that it’s crazy not to. Not only does having an Aussie number make it easier to connect with new friends, it also means you can be contacted easily by the tours you book and makes reconfirming and checking things a breeze. It’s also often cheaper to hotspot from your phone using the data than paying for WiFi in hostels where data can often be as slow as it is extortionate.
Travelling with strangers
Hurrah, you just had a few crazy nights with this person in Sydney where you tore Kings Cross a new one. Why not agree to let them tag along on your big trip? Because travel is stressful and can put strain on even the strongest of relationships. Think carefully before putting all your eggs in one potentially crazy basket, and know that I am 100% speaking from experience!
Being too poor…
The prices in Australia will make you cringe, and then maybe cry. Don’t drown those sorrows in a bottle of gin either, you definitely can’t afford it (alcohol in Aus is insanely pricey). If you lack a budget to see the Australian East Coast properly then it might be a good idea to save the little money you have, add to it, and travel later on. Don’t miss out on seeing Whitehaven Beach, skip sleeping under the stars on Fraser Island, or leave out a trip to the Great Barrier Reef because of budget restraints – come back when you can afford them.
…or wasting your money on booze and food
I once had two girls choosing between a Fraser Island and a Whitsundays tour. Foreheads crumpled, they told me of their money woes and dwindling bank balance. Later in the conversation I mentioned a Sydney brunch spot and their faces lit up, “The breakfasts in Sydney were so good! We were there for two weeks and ate out every morning.” Hmm, I wonder where their budget went!
The same goes for booze. I’ve seen people deliberate over a $50 difference in a once in a lifetime Great Barrier Reef tour. Skip the booze for a night or two and suddenly the superior boat doesn’t seem so pricey.
Not checking cancellations
Australian weather is absolutely mental. We get cyclones, storms, floods and bush fires. Sometimes it seems all in the same day. Plus there are always vehicle breakdowns, staff shortages and delays so it’s always good to double check that things are on course to go as planned. At least if you know ahead of time you can make alternative plans.
Getting wasted every night
There was a girl on one of my Whitsundays trips who was so hungover on the second day that she chose to stay in bed and skip a visit to Whitehaven beach. You wouldn’t believe how many people miss out on tours because they can’t get out of bed, or have a terrible day because they feel so ill. Don’t skip the clubs by all means, just do what I did and drink the night before a bus journey. Sleep on the bus safe in the knowledge that you’re not missing out on anything but boring Aussie highway.
Sticking to the standard route
Admittedly this might be a little harder without a car, but following footsteps of everyone else before you isn’t going to result in any surprises. Why not watch turtles hatching at Mon Repos, explore the Gold Coast hinterland or eat a steak in Australia’s beef capital Rockhampton? You’re guaranteed to get yourself some unique stories to tell.
Have you travelled the East Coast before? Do you have anything to add? Or have you made one of these mistakes and regretted it – I know I have!