Sydney to Cairns Explorer

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Group Size: Varies

Trip code: SC16

Duration: 16 days or longer

16 day guided group tour in Australia
Starts in Sydney, ends in Cairns
Loads of incredible included activities

See it all along Australia’s awesome East Coast: Join our 16-day Sydney to Cairns Explorer trip, have fun and make new friends! Go river tubing, stay at surf camp and kayak in a stunning marine park. Relax in the hippy town of Byron Bay, party at Rainbow Beach and go on an epic 2-day tour on famous Fraser Island! Sail around the gorgeous Whitsundays and relax on Magnetic Island. End this ultimate Aussie tour in the cool coastal city of Cairns, gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. You can even add in our Cairns Adventure package or learn to scuba dive programme for extra Aussie experiences on the amazing East Coast!

Trip highlights

  • Go wine tasting in famous Hunter Valley, stay by the Barrington River and go river tubing and enjoy a surf lesson and a stay at a beachside surf camp
  • Kayak to a remote River camp, relax in Byron Bay and Rainbow Beach and have 2 days of 4x4 touring fun on Fraser Island!
  • Relax on idyllic islands: Take a day trip around the Whitsunday Islands and laze on Whitehaven Beach and spend 2 nights on magical Magnetic Island
  • Add in 4 days of activities with our Cairns Adventure Package and go white water rafting, sea kayaking, hot air ballooning and more, or add in a Learn to Dive option, exploring the ocean around the gorgeous Great Barrier Reef
Further trip information

This action-packed tour package is a great way to see the best of Oz in a short amount of time. You’ll be travelling along Australia’s sun-soaked East Coast, enjoying unique overnight stays and awesome inclusive activities. You will be following a fixed itinerary, but please note that that this is not a traditional group trip, you will be joined by flexible travellers who’ll be jumping on and off the route as you go, meaning you’ll always be meeting new people! If you would prefer more flexibility, why not check out our Sydney to Cairns Travel Pass?

You can choose from four different combo packages as part of the Sydney-Cairns Explorer programme:

Option 1 (16 days): Sydney-Cairns East Coast Tour ONLY

Option 2 (22 days): Sydney-Cairns East Coast Tour + Learn to Dive at the Great Barrier Reef

Option 3 (22 days): Sydney-Cairns East Coast Tour + Cairns Adventure Package

Option 4 (28 days): Sydney-Cairns East Coast Tour + Cairns Adventure Package + Learn to Dive Great Barrier Reef

16-Day Sydney-Cairns East Coast Tour

Day 1: Sydney – Barrington Tops. Depart Sydney at 8am and sip wine in the vineyards of the Hunter Valley. Overnight stay in stunning Barrington Tops National Park. Go inner tubing and wildlife spotting! Dinner included.

Day 2: Barrington Tops – Surf Camp. Explore beautiful Barrington Tops National Park and have on the way to surf camp, the group will stop off for a quick visit to a Koala Hospital to see these cute and iconic animals. Your next destination is surf camp where you’ll enjoy an inclusive surf lesson - surf's up! Breakfast and dinner included.

Day 3: Surf Camp to River Camp. Go off the beaten track and kayak in the stunning inlet of our river retreat - great for spotting Australian wildlife. Camp out in this remote and wonderful place! Breakfast and dinner included.

Day 4: River Camp to Byron Bay. Make tracks for the legendary surfing and arts town of Byron Bay. On your way, stop off in the charming town of Yamba and enjoy a dip in the Angourie Blue Pool (weather dependent). Breakfast included.

Day 5: Free day in Byron Bay. There's so much to do in Byron Bay, you can spend this free day making the most of all the activities on offer, or just chill and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.

Day 6: Byron Bay to Rainbow Beach via Brisbane & Gold Coast. Drive along the Gold Coast into Brisbane. Cruise along the Sunshine Coast to Noosa. Arrive in Rainbow Beach, gateway to famous Fraser Island. Dinner included.    

Days 7 & 8: Fun on Fraser Island. Enjoy 2 unforgettable days of 4x4 tour fun on Fraser Island and return to Rainbow Beach for dinner on the evening of day 8. 1 breakfast, 2 lunches and 2 dinners included.

Day 9: Relax in Rainbow Beach. Spend the day relaxing in Rainbow Beach on a dolphin kayak tour or drive through Great Sandy National Park.

Day 10: Rainbow Beach to Emu Park. Travel by bus and train to Rockhampton and on to the beautiful Emu Park Resort.

Day 11: Great Keppel Island to Airlie Beach. Explore the paradise of Great Keppel Island and then spend the afternoon chilling by the pool. Catch an overnight train towards Airlie Beach. Breakfast included.

Day 12: Whitsunday Islands. Go on an incredible Whitsundays Islands day cruise. Laze on Whitehaven Beach, go on guided walks and snorkel among stunning coral reefs. Return to Airlie for another night of partying and fun. Lunch included.

Day 13: Airlie Beach to Magnetic Island. Take a ferry to tropical Magnetic Island. Nearly 50% of Magnetic Island is National Park, and the island boasts amazing beaches and abundant wildlife.

Day 14: Free day on Magnetic Island. Spend another day relaxing and soaking up the sun on tropical Magnetic Island.

Day 15: Magnetic Island to Tully Rainforest: Head to Tully and enjoy a unique Rainforest experience. Visit a swimming hole, set up camp and enjoy a traditional Aussie BBQ. 

Day 16: Tully Rainforest to Cairns. Travel north by train from Tully to Cairns, where the tour ends.

Please note: This is a tour package that combines exciting activities from different travel options. While your itinerary is fixed, your group and guide may change as you go, as some of your group may be travelling on different flexible itineraries. Certain activities, such as the cruise in the Whitsundays, the 4x4 tour on Fraser Island, and the rail journey are not exclusive to your group and additional people may join you on these days. Due to the operational nature of this trip, activities and destinations are subject to change.

If you fancy adding in even more amazing activities once you have arrived in Cairns, why not book our 4-day Cairns Adventure, which includes white water rafting, snorkelling, kayaking and a hot air balloon ride, or discover the gorgeous Great Barrier Reef on our 6-day Learn to Dive course?

Cairns Adventure Package

Enjoy 6 nights accommodation and 4 days of awesome adventure activities in Cairns:

Day 1: Full day white water rafting on the Tully River. Departs from Cairns at 6.30am. Return transfers, training and rafting equipment, BBQ lunch included. Local payment supplement of AUD30 for rafting.

Day 2: Half day guided sea kayaking tour around Fitzroy Island and the Great Barrier Reef. Afternoon spent snorkelling in the coral reef, doing rainforest walks or bouncing on the floating ocean trampoline!  Return ferry transfers and use of snorkel gear included.  Extra cost of AUD10 for return bus transfer. Local payment of AUD10 for kayaking.

Day 3: Balloon flight. Early start for 30-minute hot air balloon flight over the Atherton Tablelands. Bus transfer back to Cairns for some free time. No meals included. Local payment of AUD30 for Civil Aviation levy. Local payment of AUD30 for hot air ballooning between end of January and beginning of March.

Day 4: Full day snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef. An 8.15am start from Reef Fleet Terminal. Board catamaran ‘Reef Magic’. Five hours at reef site.  Snorkelling, glass bottomed boat tour, underwater observatory. Optional tours include helicopter tours and scuba dives (own cost).  Morning tea and buffet lunch included. Extra cost of AUD10 for return bus transfer.

6-Day Learn to Dive at the Great Barrier Reef

Learn to dive at the gorgeous Great Barrier Reef:

Day 1: Arrive in Cairns. Free time.

Day 2: Academic and Pool Dive Training. 8.00am-5.30pm.

Day 3: Academic and Pool Training. Includes visit to dive shop and final exam. 7.30am-5.45pm.

Day 4: Diving The Outer Great Barrier Reef. 5.45am start. Live aboard boat. Two training dives at the Great Barrier Reef.

Day 5: Diving. 7.00am start. Two training dives, one pleasure dive and one guided night dive.

Day 6: Diving, and Return to Cairns. Three pleasure dives. Farewell dinner (extra cost). Final night in hostel.

If you book the Cairns Adventure or Learn to Dive add-ons, please note that these individual programmes run independently of the Sydney-Cairns tour and you will therefore be with a different group of people than those you will meet on the tour.

Booking options

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