Roadtrip in Eastern Australia – Our Route

Knowing full well this wouldn’t mean a package tour, we choose Australia as our honeymoon destination. And Fiji, to have full exclosure here. We were looking for something exciting, a place we hadn’t been before, ideally with great weather and lots to explore, and Australia seemed to be the perfect spot for that. It still was quite challenging to plan the trip as we had only so much time, squeezed in a honeymoon getaway in between, and also hadn’t any idea of the continent (it is so huge, don’t underestimate the area).

After a little research, we concluded that we had only enough time to explore Eastern Australia. There was still a lot to discover: Famous cities like Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, as well as lesser-known areas (from a European perspective) such as the tropical north in Queensland and the various islands off the coast. Still, there were so many questions we faced:

What is the best way to get around Australia? By car? With the Greyhound? By plane? By train? How fast does one get around in Australia? Is there a scenic ride, or do most highways run through the country? Which routes are worth the drive by car, and where should we instead take the plane to cover more distance in less time?

Fortunately, a former colleague shared her route with me, which made planning a little easier for us. She had also managed everything in three weeks. When I told her about our Fiji plans, she recommended skipping Fraser Island for that. I was grateful for every tip I received before touching down in Australia for the first time, so I am happy to share my route and recommendations here now. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me: I am pleased to share my feedback on our route and places we have been!

Touch down in Australia

We choose Etihad to fly the whole way to Australia as their route was considerably short (if you consider 24 hours as quick) and only included two stops in Munich and Abu Dhabi. Other than Etihad, Emirates or Qatar offer equivalent options too. In our case, Etihad was simply the most affordable. Also, it meant we could fly A380 and the Dreamliner for the first time. I had high expectations for the airline I had heard so many good things about, but frankly, I was very disappointed. I either appreciated their service nor found the food appealing. On a positive note, though, you can bid money on an empty middle seat in Etihad Economy Class. Hence in all our long-haul-flights, we ended up having a three-seater on our own, which was undoubtedly more comfortable as sitting, sleeping, and eating next to a stranger for more than 20 hours.

SYDNEY (New South Wales)

Oct, 27 – Oct, 31 // four days


In my opinion, Sydney is an ideal choice for the first stop in Australia. Not just because it’s relatively easy to reach from Europe, but also because it is among the famous cities in Australia and offers iconic landmarks and buildings to see and explore. It provides an excellent entrance to Australia, and you can acclimatize yourself and fight the jetlag easily as the city is western cultured and somewhat familiar. With an Aperol Spritz at the harbor (e.g., in the Hyde Hacienda Bar), one gets into the Australian atmosphere quickly. All in all, we spent three full days in Sydney. We booked an apartment suite in Veriu Broadway close to the university. The hotel was extraordinary, featured modern (industrial style!) rooms designed rooms with a small kitchen unit, and a café/co-working space in the lobby. We could have spent weeks here.

If you want to learn more about Sydney, I wrote a separate blog post about the Harbour City.


Oct, 31 – Nov, 5 // six days


From Sydney, we flew with Fiji Airways to Fiji, where we spent a few days relaxing on the beach.

BYRON BAY (New South Wales)

Nov, 5 – Nov, 8 // three days


After a few relaxing days on the Fiji Islands, we flew back to continental Australia, this time with Virgin Australia to Brisbane. At Brisbane Airport, we picked up a rental car and drove to Byron Bay. Don’t underestimate the distance! Google Maps predicted a driving time of about 1:20 hours, but in the end, it took 3 hours instead. Also, there is a time difference between Queensland (where Brisbane is located) and New South Wales (Byron Bay) that you should calculate in, too, when you plan to drive down the coast. Nevertheless, Byron Bay was worth every driving hour; I liked the beach town located on the Pacific Coast very much.

BRISBANE (Queensland)

Nov, 8 – Nov, 9 // one day


On Thursday, November 8, 2018, we drove back to Brisbane. Before we drove into the city, we firstly made a stop at the Koala Sanctuary (“Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary”) outside of Brisbane. Then, we spent the afternoon/evening in Brisbane and were very impressed. Next time we would like to spend more time here or visit not only the Gold Coast but also the Sunshine Coast.

Trinity Beach (North Queensland)

Nov, 9 – Nov, 12 // two days


We left Brisbane on an early Friday morning with Virgin Australia towards Cairns – the tropical north, which awaited us with green and lush nature but also with rainy and humid weather. At first, I almost wished to take the immediate return to spend a little more time at the Gold Coast with its sunshine all year long. Cairns means the total opposite: With its location in a somewhat tropical climate, it only has a wet and a dry season.

In Queensland, we had a rental car, too, that we picked up at the airport in Cairns. Firstly, we drove about half an hour north to Trinity Beach, where we spent two nights in an apartment with a big terrace and a barbeque pit. After all the traveling and countless restaurant dine ins, we felt almost homish in buying groceries in a nearby supermarket and grill it on the barbeque. We purchased green asparagus, tomatoes, mushrooms, and lamb meat and accompanied by a delicate Australian White Wine, the two days in Trinity Beach were very relaxing. Nevertheless, compared to other places we’ve been before, Trinity Beach was rather dull, I do not recommend to spend more than 2 or 3 days here. Other than exploring the rainforest and the beaches, there is not too much to see. Luckily we found a great place to spend our time better: Fitzroy Island is just a 40 minutes ferry ride away and offers sunnier and less humid weather as well as crystal clear water and a few mountains with small hiking trails.


Nov, 12 – Nov, 13


After two nights in Trinity Beach, we hit the road again. Destination? Airlie Beach. With our experience gained e in Brisbane, we planned in more driving hours as the 7.5 hours Google Maps had predicted… As 7-10 hours were pretty challenging for one day, we looked for a place halfway along the route. Eventually, literally booked the hotel on the road, based on how far we’ve had come by then. This is why we ended up staying in Townsville.

Townsville was – despite what you’d expect from the name – surprisingly urban. Apparently, it is considered the unofficial capital of North Queensland, at least by locals. Even though we stayed somewhere rather unspectacular, there is a wonderful hotel incl. casino and a restaurant that serves great food, drinks, and offers a stunning view on to Magnetic Island. If I ever happen to drive through Townsville again, I will make sure to stay in The Ville Resort.

Even though Townsville was planned to be an overnighter only, we spontaneously decided to visit Magnetic Island on the following day. The island that is located 8 kilometers offshore from Townsville, is home to approx. 800 koalas. That was reason enough to go there. Thus, we spent the whole day on Magnetic Island (whereby we, unfortunately, did not see any koalas, but instead, unintentionally ended up in a 4 hours hiking tour on flip flops. But that’s another story.

When we returned to Townsville, it was already the late evening of November 12, and we were exhausted and sweaty, but instead of enjoying a well-deserved drink at the of November 12… knowing that we had a 4-hour drive to Airlie Beach ahead of us. The receptionist at our hotel in Townsville told us about the kangaroos standing at the roadsides on the way to Airlie Beach and asked us to drive carefully and slowly.


Nov, 13 – Nov, 15.


Airlie Beach was on our list due to its proximity to the Whitsunday Islands. We had booked a day sailing trip to Whitehaven Beach. In pitch darkness, we arrived on November 13 in our Airbnb (our first time in an Airbnb ever) and were positively surprised. The room, or let’s call it a bungalow, was precisely what you’d expect from an Airbnb: Well-designed bungalows with a pool in front of the door and absolute privacy. Lorna was also a great host, and we can highly recommend the cottage. As said, we were only in Airlie Beach to sail to the Whitsunday Islands, so other than that, we haven’t done anything worth mentioning.


Nov, 15 – Nov, 18


On November 15, we left PPP (Whitsunday Coast Airport) with Jetstar to Melbourne, where we spent the last days of our honeymoon. Melbourne was a worthy ending of a great trip. From Melbourne, we went back on November 18 again with Etihad (and luckily again with an additional blocked middle seat!!!) via Abu Dhabi and Munich to Berlin.

I hope the description of our tour gave you useful insight and tips. Are you also planning a trip to Australia right now? Let me know in the comments and feel free to ask if you have any questions. We liked Australia very much, and it will certainly not be the last time we visit the beautiful country.

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