Preparing for the Australian East Coast Road Trip



If you’ve been following Sun Scribes for the last three months, then you’re totally up-to-speed with the itinerary of my East Coast Road Trip. But for those who have just joined (welcome!), I’ve decided to put together a simple, step-by-step guide on how best to plan your east coast trip and make the most of your time and your buck!


The east coast trip was without a doubt, the best holiday I have ever had. A trip of this measure can be a little daunting to those unexperienced backpackers like myself. From Sydney to Cape York alone, the route is nearly 3,500km long; add an extra 500km if you’re travelling from Melbourne! However, I’m here to tell you, you WILL have the time of your life and you WILL enjoy every minute.




I initially planned five weeks for my road trip, we ended coming back nearly eight weeks later. But we had time to spare, money to burn, and plain and simple just did not want the trip to end. To really experience the whole east coast and visit all the main stops, I’d really recommend four weeks. Five is better, but it can be done in four. Three weeks is doable but places will be sacrificed in order to get the main events. I think what many people don’t anticipate how long the travelling from one place to the next takes! We spent a whole day travelling from Rainbow Beach up to Airlie Beach; twelve hours in the car took its toll!






As you may know, we road-tripped in our own 4×4 car. I would HIGHLY recommend a campervan, but I understand it’s not for everyone. Vans are great for couples in particular and close friends. The doubles as accommodation, you can take it off the beaten track, and in general make your life easier.

You can buy a campervan, etc pretty easily in Australia. Check out the Facebook pages; Backpacker Car SYDNEY, Backpacker Cars Australia, and Irish Around Sydney, to find some cars and get an idea of pricing. For more information about buying a suitable road tripping car, click here.

You can also hire a campervan from a travel agent, which is what majority of people do. Check out Peterpans Travel, Jucy Rentals, Apollo Camper and Discovery Campervans to get quoted a price.



One of the greatest things about buses is having someone else worry about transporting you to your next awesome destination. We were beyond lucky and never broke down or got so much as a puncture on the road. But we did get lost once or twice! Greyhound Bus and Premier save you the hassle of taking care of a car. They both offer backpacker friendly pricing and best of all your pass can be open-dated if you wish. We met a lot of people who chose the bus option who enjoyed the experience thoroughly.






If you’re planning to travel in a campervan/jeep your accommodation options are varied, fun and adventurous! We stayed everywhere from upscale caravan parks with heated pools, to creepy trails in dark forests, to deserted beaches with nothing around for 50km. An absolute must-have for a road trip around Australia is the camper’s best friend: WikiCamp. At just $5 this app shows you all the places you can camp in Australia, free, paid, beachside, suitable for tents, vans, motorhomes, etc.



On this trip, hostels will become your main source of accommodation. Hotels are simply out of the question for this kind of trip – they are far, FAR too expensive. The standard of hostels in Australia is very high with it being such a backpacker friendly country. While on our travels, we found Nomads Hostels to be the best, with spacious rooms at reasonable pricing. A decent hostel can be booked for as little as $16-19 as long as you book in advance. There is often rooms available to book in on the day but be prepared to pay more. Also, hostels significantly up their prices at the weekends.

I would recommend purchasing a 10 night Base Jumping Pass. This can be used in any Base or Nomads Hostel. It’s a great money saver.

If you would like some privacy on your trip, double rooms are not out of reach. Book early and you can get one for as little as $50 a night. We booked one for $46, $23 each, meaning it was cheaper than an eight-bed dorm!

Booking.com should become your new best friend. Also hostelbookers.com and hostelworld.com. Trivago is okay but not the best for hostel booking and stay away from AirBnB, not worth your time, as the prices are far too dear for short-term accommodation.



It’s worth noting as well a lot of your trips you will book along the way will have accommodation included, i.e.: your Fraser Island tour, Whitsundays trip, surf camps, Cape Tribulation and other rainforest trips.




Okay mum if you could cover your eyes for this next bit that’d be great. My entire cost of this trip? A lot. A HELL of a lot. I saved for the guts of two years to come to Australia and luckily transferred my euros to AUD before the curse that is the BREXIT came along. At the time of my money, €1 equalled $1.56, pretty nice.

I had a pretty full piggy bank coming to Oz and I intended on spending it like it was going out of fashion! We ate like royalty every night, and booked trips whenever and wherever we felt. We drank more than I care to admit and in case you don’t know, alcohol in Oz ain’t cheap!

So rather than give you an estimation of my actual spending, I’ll give you an idea of what you should be spending, max.

Greyhound Pass Sydney-Cairns (one way) – $435

Trips and activities (Fraser Island, Whitsundays Tour, Great Barrier Reef snorkel, Mojo Surf Camp, Cape Tribulation, whale watching, scuba dive, bungee jump) – $2000

Accommodation – at roughly $16-$26 a night for four weeks based on eight-bed dorms (minus accommodation included in trip packages) – $500

Food – based breakfast, lunch and snacks all hostel style (self-cooked) plus one meal out for one month – $1000


Keelin Riley
Keelin Riley

Keelin is an Irish travel writer with a degree in journalism and a background in the Irish media. Keelin’s travel writing has been published in various media publications, and when she’s not off gallivanting around the globe, she enjoys keeping Sun Scribes up-to-date for all those fellow budget travellers out there!

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