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Intrepid Travel

Intrepid Travel: Sydney to Cairns Adventure

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Weave your way from Sydney to Cairns along Australia’s breathtaking east coast on this 14-day adventure. Start by sampling some of Australia’s best wines in the Hunter Valley, get up close and cuddly with koalas in Dorrigo National Park and soak up the vibes of Byron Bay. The good times keep rolling over state lines, as Queensland offers the beautiful Whitsundays, the wilderness of the Atherton Tablelands and the sublime scenery and vast golden beaches of K’gari (formerly Fraser Island). By the time you wrap up in Cairns, you’ll have had a truly all-Australian experience.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip covers around 2500 km (1550 miles) over fourteen days. There are some long travelling days but it’s all part of the adventure and a great way to get to know your fellow travellers.
  • This trip includes an overnight train, which is super comfortable and features RailBeds, charging stations and USB ports. The overnight train is in RailBed class and is not accompanied by a tour leader. Should the train not operate due to track works or other factors outside of our control, it will be replaced with alternative transportation and an additional night stay in a destination enroute.
  • Multiple activities on this trip are subject to weather and water conditions and on occasion, may be cancelled for safety or operational reasons. In the case of cancellation, we will endeavour to find a suitable replacement activity.
  • This trip forms part of a longer combination tour. If you would like to continue exploring the east coast with us, consider booking our East Coast Encompassed (PZSVC) trip. See our website for details.
BeachesFood & wineNational parksWalking & hikingWildlife & nature

See what's included

  • Byron Bay - Lighthouse Walk
  • Whitehaven Beach
  • Whale Watching Tour
  • Townsville - Castle Hill Lookout
  • Sydney - The Rocks Dreaming Walking Tour with Aboriginal Guide
  • Springbrook National Park - Natural Bridge
  • Paluma Range National Park
  • K'Gari (Fraser Island) 4WD Tour
  • Hunter Valley - Winery Visit & Wine Tasting
  • Great Barrier Reef Cruise and Snorkelling Adventure
  • First Nations Cultural Experience
  • Dorrigo National Park - Rainforest Centre & Skywalk
  • Crowdy Bay National Park - Diamond Head Hike
  • Byron Bay - The Farm visit
  • Byron Bay - Sea Kayaking Tour
  • Atherton Tablelands
  • Meals included: 3 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 1 dinner, 1 special dinner
Tour map
Tour summary and feature

Guided Coach Tour

This suggested tour costs from AUD$5,631 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Sydney, finishes in Cairns

14 days/13 nights

Intrepid Selected Accommodation

 Pre and post tour options? YES

 Viewed 8 times in the last 7 days

Tour full itinerary
ITINERARY
Hunter Valley

Welcome to Sydney! Or Warrane, in the language of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, who are the Traditional Owners of the land on which Sydney is now located. Your adventure starts with a welcome meeting at 9 am at the starting point hotel. After, you’ll head out for a walkabout around The Rocks with a local Aboriginal guide. Walk through Hicksons Reserve, Campbells Cove and Cumberland Walk as your guide teaches you about this area's history, land and water use, and spiritual connection with the First Nations peoples. You’ll have amazing views of the harbour along the way, including Sydney Harbour Bridge and the CBD across the water. After your journey into the Dreaming, grab some lunch before heading north to the famous winery region – the beautiful Hunter Valley. Once there, you’ll visit one of the oldest wineries in the valley. Sit down for a wine tasting with a sommelier and listen to the history of the various wines and the winery. Next, head to Cessnock in the heart of the valley, our overnight location for tonight. Perhaps head out for an optional welcome dinner in Cessnock to get to know your fellow travellers.

Today's welcome meeting will take place at 9 am this morning at the starting point hotel. Please see details in the joining point section in the Essential Trip Information document. It’s very important that you’re on time, as the group will head out on the walking tour straight after. It’s highly recommended that you spend a night in Sydney before your trip starts.  Please note that The Rocks Dreaming Tour is on a join-in basis. Other travellers from outside our Intrepid group may join us.

Activities:

  • Hunter Valley - Winery Visit & Wine Tasting
  • Sydney - The Rocks Dreaming Walking Tour with Aboriginal Guide

Staying in:

  • Hotel (1 night)

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Crowdy Bay National Park

Today, you’ll make tracks north along the scenic coastal route. Stop at Crowdy Bay National Park along the way and embark on a scenic hike through forests of heath, paperbark and swamp mahogany at Diamond Head, taking in views of golden beaches and dramatic rock faces. The quartz crystals in the cliffs sparkle in the sun, giving Diamond Head its name. Keep your eyes peeled for whales and dolphins off the coast as you wind your way by secluded coves, beaches, and mountains, and you may even encounter a mob of kangaroos on your walk. Later, continue your drive to your accommodation just outside of Port Macquarie.

Your travel time today will be approximately 3.5 hours. The Diamond Head Loop Walk at Crowdy Bay National Park is 4.3km, Grade 3. Alternatively your leader can suggest a shorter walk if you like.

Activities:

  • Crowdy Bay National Park - Diamond Head Hike

Staying in:

  • Cabins (1 night)

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Dangar Falls, Dorrigo National Park

This morning, you’ll visit the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie, where you’ll meet the volunteers who work there and and learn about how this organisation provides care and treatment for koalas needing rehabilitation. Then, drive to Bellingen, where you might like to grab lunch and enjoy some free time. Continue to Dorrigo National Park via the gorgeous Waterfall Way, known for its lush, sub-tropical rainforest – the last piece of the ancient subcontinent Gondwanaland. Few places on Earth contain so many plants and animals relatively unchanged from their ancestors. Pop into the Rainforest Centre in the park, take a stroll along the skywalk or explore the rainforest with your group.

Your travel time today will be approximately 2 hours.

Activities:

  • Port Macquarie - Koala Hospital guided tour
  • Dorrigo National Park - Short Hike
  • Dorrigo National Park - Rainforest Centre & Skywalk

Staying in:

  • Cabins (1 night)

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Byron Bay Lighthouse

Next up is Byron Bay – a laid-back surf paradise with boundless coastline, sand and friendly locals. But first, you’ll start your day with a walking tour of Red Rock with a local First Nations guide. Learn about the culture of the Gumbaynggirr people through stories, songs and the uses of native plants. Walk alongside The Solitary Island Marine Park Waterways and connect with Country as you learn more about the Dreaming and sample some local bush food. After, you’ll stop in Yamba where you might like to grab some lunch, before visiting Byron Bay Lighthouse for a unique photo opportunity and the chance to spot some dolphins, whales and other marine life.

Your travel time today will be approximately 3 hours.

Activities:

  • Coffs Harbour - Red Rock Gumbaynggirr First Nations experience

Staying in:

  • Cabins (1 night)

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Byron Bay

Get up early this morning if you want to catch the sunrise – they are pretty ace from Australia's most easterly point – but if you prefer, you can sleep in too! Later this morning hit the water with a guided sea kayaking tour of the Byron Bay Marine Park. See the beauty of the coastline while looking out for dolphins, turtles and whales and learning of the marine biology. The afternoon if free to do as you please so maybe hunt down the best cold-brew coffee from one of Byron’s quirky cafes, learn how to ride the waves with a beginner’s surf lesson, or just hang out on the beach. Tonight, why not grab a drink at one of the local pubs or bars?

Please note that Sea Kayaking activity in Byron Bay is on a join-in basis. Other travellers from outside our Intrepid group may join us. Additionally, please note that today's activity is not suitable for travellers who are pregnant.

Activities:

  • Byron Bay - Sea Kayaking Tour
  • Byron Bay - Lighthouse Walk

Staying in:

  • Cabins (1 night)

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Springbrook National Park

This morning, head to The Farm – a collection of micro-businesses on a working farm focusing on growing, feeding and educating through community farming. Maybe grab some breakfast here and pick up a few things to have for lunch later on. Continue to Springbrook National Park and take a short walk to Natural Bridge rock arch which was formed by the force of the waterfall over the basalt cave. This afternoon, head to the famous Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast for some beach time before continuing onto Brisbane where you’ll spend the night.

Your travel time today will be approximately 4.5 hours.

Activities:

  • Springbrook National Park - Natural Bridge
  • Byron Bay - The Farm visit

Staying in:

  • Hotel (1 night)

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Noosa National Park

The next part of your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 10 am. Then drive to Noosa Heads – a serene town in Queensland by the sea – where you can grab some lunch, relax on the beach or go shopping in the cute boutique shops. If you’d like, maybe use your free time here to do part of the Noosa Coastal Walk and look out for local flora and fauna. This afternoon, you’ll hit the road again for the coastal city of Hervey Bay, where you’ll spend the night.

As this is a combination trip, the travellers in your group and your group leader are likely to change today. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary. Please attend as this is also a great chance to meet the new group. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place. Your travel time today will be approximately 3 hours. In Noosa you have time to complete a short walk along the coast if you wish. Choose from the Palm Grove Walk (Grade 3, 1.1km return/30 mins), Noosa Hill Walk (Grade 4, 2.8km return/90 mins), the 300m path to Boiling Point or Dolphin Point (1.2km one way) - both sealed and barrier free.

Staying in:

  • Cabins (1 night)

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K'Gari

After breakfast this morning, you’ll head to the stunning K'gari (previously known as Fraser Island) by ferry for a day trip. The name change is a major milestone in a long-running campaign by the Butchulla people, whose original name for this place means ‘paradise’ – and you’ll soon see why. Set off on a 4WD adventure through the breathtaking landscape. Start off with an adventurous drive along 75 Mile Beach Road – one of the best coastal drives in the country. Take a refreshing dive into the crystal-clear water of Boorangoora (Lake McKenzie) – an island icon. The lake is world famous for its turquoise colours and delicate white, 92% pure silica sand. Take another dip, this time in the fresh waters of Eli Creek, then visit the Maheno shipwreck and the coloured sands of the pinnacles. From tropical dense rainforest to wild offshore waters, you’ll witness the contrasting fauna and terrain of this truly unique island as you venture across undulating dunes and vast golden beaches in search of the iconic outback creature – the dingo. Tonight, head back to Hervey Bay where you can rest and recharge. 

Please note that your day trip to K'gari today is on a join-in basis. Other travellers from outside our Intrepid group may join us.

Activities:

  • K'gari - Full day 4WD tour

Staying in:

  • Cabins (1 night)

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Spirit of Queensland

Enjoy a free day in Hervey Bay today – one of the best sites for observing humpback whales during migration season. If the month is right, maybe spend the morning whale watching on the water, or rent a bike to cycle along the foreshore. Or you could take a leisurely stroll along the water’s edge, go kayaking or just enjoy one of the many gorgeous beaches nearby. Make sure you pick up some snacks for tonight's overnight train journey north on the famous 'Spirit of Queensland', from the train station at Maryborough West to Proserpine, just south-west of Airlie Beach, arriving early tomorrow morning.

Tonight you will take the 'Spirit of Queensland' overnight train to Proserpine. An Australian first, the revolutionary 'RailBed' is a spacious and comfortable seat by day that includes a state-of-the-art personal entertainment system, a 240v power point and a USB point. In the evening, the onboard team convert the seat to a lie-flat bed with all linen provided. The train journey will be unaccompanied by your leader. You'll say goodbye to your first leader at the train station tonight and your new trip leader will meet you at the other end upon arrival of the train in the morning. Please note that throughout the year scheduled railway track works may take place on the route from Hervey Bay to Airlie Beach. If the train happens not to run on your departure you will be driving with your leader instead, with an overnight in or around Gladstone. The total distance is around 900km, taking approximately 10 hours, split across two days. Please note that whale migration season is from July to October. Please choose your departure date accordingly if you would like to take advantage of the opportunity to see whales.

Staying in:

  • Overnight train (1 night)

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Conway National Park, Queensland

Your new leader will meet you at Proserpine train station early this morning. Head to their favourite sunrise spot as a group – the best way to start your day – and watch the land come alive. Then, you’ll head for an optional breakfast and caffeine hit at a local café in Airlie Beach. Your day is free to explore this coastal paradise dotted with palm trees. This hub town of the popular Whitsundays has beer gardens, trendy cafes and a lawn-fringed swimming lagoon. Maybe stroll around and explore, visit some local swimming spots for a refreshing dip or find a seat at one of the many bars and watch the sun sparkle on the water. Get to know your new leader tonight with an optional group dinner. 

We request that our property in Airlie Beach prepare rooms in time for our arrival. However as we're arriving prior to normal check-in time this isn't always possible. This means we may not be able to check-in immediately on arrival. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination, or head straight for the pool or the beach. The Coral Beach trail is a Grade 3, 2.2km return/90 min walk in Conway National Park.

Staying in:

  • Holiday Apartments (1 night)

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Hill Inlet, Whitsundays

Today you’ll head out on a full-day tour to Whitehaven Beach, in the heart of the Whitsunday Islands and in the centre of the Great Barrier Reef. Start with a walk to the spectacular Hill Inlet Lookout, where you can take photos of the sweeping ocean views. Then, hit the water and go snorkelling at Border Island, Dumbell Island or one of the secret spots today's guide will show you. See coral reefs, colourful fish, turtles, clams and other marine life. Then, enjoy an included lunch and take a boat to the southern end of the 7 km stretch of Whitehaven Beach, taking the chance to kick back and relax in the sun after a day of outdoor adventures. Tonight, back in Airlie Beach, maybe head to one of the local bars for a cocktail (or two) and watch the sunset.

Please note that your day trip to Whitehaven Beach today is on a join-in basis. Other travellers from outside our Intrepid group may join us. Additionally, please note that today's activity is not suitable for travellers with pre-existing back, neck or hip injuries or who are pregnant. A signed release will be required from all participants on departure.

Activities:

  • Airlie Beach - Full day Whitsunday Islands & Whitehaven Beach Tour with Snorkelling

Staying in:

  • Holiday Apartments (1 night)

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Paluma Range National Park

Today is a long day of travel, interspersed with some stops to stretch your legs. Your first stop is Townsville. Head to Castle Hill lookout when you arrive and take some photos of the gorgeous views of the town and ocean below. You’ll have some free time for lunch and to chill by the water. Carry on to Big Crystal Creek in the Paluma Range National Park, where you can take a stroll, swim in the creek or just relax among the sounds of local birdlife. This afternoon, you’ll head to Lucinda, where you’ll spend the night. Ask your leader for the best seaside spots for dinner and maybe enjoy a night walk to watch the sun go down.

Your travel time today will be approximately 6.5 hours.

Activities:

  • Paluma Range National Park - Crystal Creek
  • Townsville - Castle Hill Lookout

Staying in:

  • Hotel (1 night)

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Mungalla Station

This morning after breakfast, drive to Mungalla station, where you’ll meet the First Nations owners of the land – the Nywaigi people – and learn about their culture and history, including about the brutal conflicts with European settlers. The story you’ve been told will come to life as you visit an exhibition of pictures within the historic homestead. Then head out and explore the Mungalla wetlands in search of aquatic birdlife. Drive to Mission Beach this afternoon – a small coastal town with expansive beaches, lined with palm trees. Stop in Tully along the way to stretch your legs, then ask your leader for the best way to spend your night.

Your travel time today will be approximately 2.5 hours.

Activities:

  • Mungalla Station - Nywaigi First Nations Guided Day Tour

Staying in:

  • Hotel (1 night)

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Millaa Millaa Falls

This morning after breakfast, drive to Millaa Millaa Falls for a nature walk and a quick swim in the cascades. Stop in for lunch at a local cafe near Atherton. Take the Curtain Fig boardwalk to see the iconic tree this park was named after – this park protects endangered mabi forest and a large green fig tree with extensive aerial roots that drop 15 m to the forest floor, forming a ‘curtain’. After, walk to Lake Eacham – the site of an old volcano and home to Australia’s largest python! Here, maybe take a swim (just keep an eye out for the resident freshwater crocodile). This afternoon, you’ll drive to Cairns, where your trip will come to an end at approximately 5pm. If you’d like to stay longer, just speak to your booking agent.

Your travel time today will be approximately 4 hours. The Curtain Fig boardwalk is a Grade 2, 180m circuit taking around 10 min. The Lake Eacham circuit track in Crater Lakes National Park is a Grade 2, 3km circuit taking around 1 hour.

Activities:

  • Atherton Tablelands - Curtain Tree boardwalk
  • Atherton Tablelands - Lake Eacham walk
  • Atherton Tablelands - Millaa Millaa Falls

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