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Sydney to Cairns Travel Pass

Hop along the Aussie East Coast with this flexible travel pass!

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Group Size: Avg 20

Trip code: AULO

Duration: Up to 12 months

Flexible travel pass for the east coast
Valid for 12 months
Choose how long you stay in each place

Offering the convenience of a traditional tour, with the freedom of independent travel, our Sydney to Cairns pass is the perfect way to travel Down Under. Make your way up the East Coast by private bus, train and ferry, hopping on and off whenever you choose. You want to spend three weeks in Byron Bay? No problem! Had your fill of Brisbane after just 2 days? Just jump on the next bus! With 12 months of flexible travel, tons of included activities, friendly tour guides, free app for booking accommodation and activities on the go, and lots of other like-minded travellers on the road with you, it really is the best of both worlds.

Trip highlights

  • Explore the tropical beaches of Magnetic Island
  • Chill in bohemian Byron Bay
  • Go wine tasting in Hunter Valley
  • Meet the cuties at Port Macquarie Koala Hospital
  • Opt to add on unmissable Australian experiences, like sailing round the Whitsunday Islands!
Gap 360 Trip Notes

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What's included
  • 12 month travel pass Sydney-Cairns
  • Local guides
  • Access to booking app
  • Wine tasting, Hunter Valley
  • Koala hospital visit, Port Macquarie
  • Kangaroo spotting, Emerald Beach
  • Canoeing experience or Bush walk, River Retreat
  • Angourie Blue Pools, Yamba
  • Byron Bay orientation drive
  • Carlo Sand Blow Walk, Rainbow Beach
  • Guided Rainforest Walk, Airlie Beach
  • Forts Complex/Radical Bay Walk, Magnetic Island
  • National Park fees
  • 24 hour emergency support
What's not included
  • Accommodation
  • Meals
  • Travel insurance
  • Visas
  • International flights
  • Airport transfers
  • Optional activities and excursions
Further trip information

See the best of Australia’s East Coast with our flexible 12-month travel pass. Hop on and off whenever you like, spending longer in some destinations and less in others. We recommend you allow at least 4 – 6 weeks to complete the route, but you can do it in as little as 14 days or take the full year – it’s totally up to you! You’ll be on the road with other like-minded travellers and have access to our friendly tour guides as well as our app, which allows you to book your transport, accommodation and activities as you go. Stick with the standard travel pass or add on our Guided Travel Pass bundle for your first night’s accommodation in each place and some more amazing included activities (more info below).

Key benefits of the travel pass

  • Valid for 12 months
  • Stay as long as you like in each place
  • Travel by bus, train and ferry
  • 2 -3 buses / trains a week (timetable will be supplied)
  • Local tour guide
  • Free app for checking itinerary, connecting with other travellers and booking accommodation and activities on the go
  • Tons of included activities (see below)
  • National Park fees
  • Additional accommodation and activities bundle available at an extra cost (see below)

Guided Travel Pass bundle

Add the bundle on for your first night’s accommodation in each place and extra activities. As well as 24 nights’ accommodation, the bundle includes 22 meals and more included activities, like a 3 day K'gari stay, Blue Mountain trip, and Whitsunday's sailing adventure!

Route and activities

Sydney to Barrington Tops (bus)

Head to the Hunter Valley to sample some wine, before travelling on to Barrington Tops National Park. Go tubing, take a bush walk or visit a local farm. 

Barrington Tops to surf camp (bus)

Stop at Port Macquarie Koala Hospital to get up close with Australia’s cutest marsupials. Then explore Emerald Beach, a popular wild koala hangout. We’ll arrive at surf camp early evening.

Surf camp to river retreat (bus)

Enjoy a free morning surfing (optional), and relaxing on the beach, before spending the afternoon canoeing down the Nymboida River. If you want to spend more time here, hop off for a longer stay.

River retreat to Byron Bay (bus)

Next up, it’s the most chilled out town in Australia! Stop off en route in Yamba and enjoy a dip in the Angourie Blue Pool. We’ll take an orientation walk on arrival in boho Byron.

2 free days in Byron Bay              

Spend the day soaking up the sun, surfing and kayaking or take an optional day trip to Nimbin. Byron Bay is a popular spot – why not stay for a few more days by the sea?

Byron Bay to Rainbow Beach (bus)

Head along the Gold Coast to Rainbow Beach. We’ll walk to the beach on arrival to catch an epic sunset. If you want to explore the vast sand dunes of K'gari from here (highly recommended), you can add a trip on.

Rainbow Beach to Emu Park (bus and train)

We’ll take our first train today to Rockhampton where we’ll meet the bus and continue to Emu Park. Chill out by the pool with a few beers and soak up the sun.

Emu Park to Airlie Beach (overnight train)

We recommend that you add on a visit to Keppel Island here. Spend the day snorkelling, kayaking and sunbathing on the stunning island at the edge of the Barrier Reef. We’ll gather the group back together this evening at Emu Park, before taking an overnight train to Airlie.

Free day in Airlie Beach

Your guide will take you on a brief orientation of the town and leave you to explore at your own pace. Airlie is the jump off point for the Whitsundays and we recommend you take a sailing trip round the islands. You can also take a rainforest hike from Airlie.

Airlie Beach to Magnetic Island (train and ferry)

Take a bus, followed by train, then ferry ride out to tropical Magnetic Island. Explore the incredible beaches and wildlife on a guided walk and then spend some free time by the pool or sipping cocktails.

Magnetic Island to rainforest experience or Cairns, via Tully (ferry and train)

Catch the ferry and then travel by train to Tully. From here you can either join our rainforest experience (at extra cost), or continue on to Cairns. The rainforest experience is in Tully Gorge National Park and includes a swimming hole, BBQ dinner and camping.

Rainforest experience to Cairns, via Tully (train)

If you opted for the rainforest experience, take a guided walk through the forest this morning before jumping on the train to our final destination. Celebrate the last night of your amazing adventure in Cairns with your friends.

Don't forget your travel pass is fully flexible, so if you fall in love with anywhere along the way you can hop off and spend more time in your favourite spots!

Please note that we will book the pass as open dated, so you can decide the date that you want to start the pass- please download the trip notes for more details.

Please note all activities, itineraries and routes are subject to change.

Real customer reviews
Australia Facebook Group Discussion

Hey, I’ve just booked onto East Coast Highlights on August 31st. Has anyone else booked onto the same trip?x

Heya everyone! I had originally booked for oct this year but thinking of moving it to January 2023 to do the east coast tour. Is it a good time to go and is it still warm? ☀️☀️

Hey! Is anyone doing East Coast highlights in December 2022? 😁xxxx

Booking options

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Please note these start dates are approximate only, and may change due to different bus timetables during certain times of the year.

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Call us on: 01892 527392
Email us at: [email protected]
Return Flights from £871

Cheapest flights between London and Sydney for the next 6 months

Cheapest: £871 March, 2023
Most expensive: £3,282 December, 2022
Arrival information

You will need to arrange your own arrival into Sydney. Trips run at least three times a week and your travel pass will then be valid for 12 months from your departure date. As the trip departs early (8am) you should arrange your arrival for at least the day before the travel pass experience begins. We can advise you about accommodation options in Sydney: Just ask a travel advisor. 

Accommodation & meals


No accommodation is included as part of the Travel Pass (unless you book the Guided Travel Pass bundle). However, in each overnight location you will have accommodation reserved for you, so you don’t have to worry about where you will be staying. These will range from shared dorm rooms in hostels, to en suite twin or double rooms in motels. Accommodation costs are to be paid locally. You will also spend one night on an overnight train travelling from Rockhampton to Airlie Beach. The train does not have sleeper carriages but it is modern and comfortable, with reclining seats, a bar and a dining car.  If you choose to hop on and off for independent travel time, you will be responsible for finding and paying for your own accommodation, although your helpful tour guides will be able to advise you of the best (and cheapest!) local options.

If you take the Guided Travel Pass bundle, your trip will include the first (and in some destinations, 2nd night's) night’s accommodation at each stop (24 nights’ accommodation total).


Meals are not included on this trip, unless you take the Guided Travel Pass bundle, which includes 22 meals - 6 breakfasts, 8 lunches and 8 dinners. Please advise us of any dietary requirements in advance.

Minimum age & eligibility

For this trip there is a minimum age requirement of 18.

All visitors to Australia (excepting those from New Zealand) will require a visa or Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) to enter. These must be applied for before departure, and if you’re planning on working in Australia whilst you’re out here, you’ll need a Working Holiday Visa. If you are just heading to Australia for fun however, an ETA should suffice. Both visas can be applied for online.

Visa rules and regulations are subject to change. Please check the relevant embassy websites for up to date information.

Covid safety

This trip is designed with your safety and wellbeing in mind. As a result of Covid-19, many of our suppliers and partners around the world are introducing new policies and procedures surrounding health and safety in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. As the state of travel is evolving these new safety measures will adapt over time, and will be different for each trip. Here are some of the changes you may see on your trip:

Arrival safety meetings
Most trips have an arrival meeting on the first day where the guide or local team will run through the trip, the safety protocols, and to answer any questions you may have. Now more than ever it is important you arrive in time for these meetings.

Proof of vaccination or negative covid test
For the safety of all travellers, at the start of some trips you may be required to show evidence that you are fully vaccinated (14 days after your second dose) and/or show evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the tour start date in order to join the programme.

Updated hygiene and safety procedures
Our suppliers and partners have health and safety procedures in place on all of our trips. These protocols will be updated and adapted as a response to the Coronavirus outbreak, dependent on local restrictions and laws.

Transport and accommodation choices
Our suppliers and partners choose the accommodation and transport on our trips very carefully, and you may see a change to what would normally be used as a response to the outbreak. This may involve such changes as enhanced use of private transport or quieter accommodation.

Trained and knowledgeable staff
Our staff in the UK are trained to help you with your trip before you depart and answer any questions you may have. In addition, the local team and guides on our trips are there to help with any health and safety concerns and to ensure our trips run safely and smoothly.

Reduced group sizes
Some trips will run with reduced group sizes to start with. You may find that trips are more intimate and chilled, whilst still being packed with fun and adventure.

Your guide or the local team will be on hand to help you seek medical attention should you require it during your trip. As medical facilities and standards can vary around the world, you should ensure you have adequate travel insurance in place before you depart to cover you for any medical emergencies.

24/7 emergency support
We operate an emergency phone line for our travellers abroad. This is operated by a UK based member of staff 24/7 if you have a genuine emergency or urgent matter that you need attending.

It is important that you take measures to make travelling safer for yourself and others around you. Ensure you frequently wash your hands, cover your face when you sneeze and cough, bring and use your own hand sanitiser and facial coverings/masks, and enable social distancing where necessary. You should also ensure you listen to the instructions and guidance of the local team at all times, and follow all local laws and restrictions.