Lonely Planet East Coast Australia

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Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet East Coast Australia is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Eat and drink your way through Sydney's hippest restaurants and bars, explore the Great Barrier Reef's underwater wonderland and walk through the canopy of the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of East Coast Australia and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet's East Coast Australia Travel Guide:

  • Colour maps and images throughout
  • Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests
  • Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots
  • Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices
  • Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss
  • Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - including history, politics, food, wine, sport
  • Over 100 maps
  • Covers Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Byron Bay, Canberra, Fraser Island, the Whitsunday Islands, Cairns, the Daintree Rainforest, the Great Barrier Reef and more

eBook Features: (Best viewed on tablet devices and smartphones)

  • Downloadable PDF and offline maps prevent roaming and data charges
  • Effortlessly navigate and jump between maps and reviews
  • Add notes to personalise your guidebook experience
  • Seamlessly flip between pages
  • Bookmarks and speedy search capabilities get you to key pages in a flash
  • Embedded links to recommendations' websites
  • Zoom-in maps and images
  • Inbuilt dictionary for quick referencing

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet East Coast Australia, our most comprehensive guide to East Coast Australia, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled

  • Looking for a guide focused on Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef? Check out Lonely Planet's Queensland & the Great Barrier Reef guide for a comprehensive look at all this region has to offer.
  • Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out Lonely Planet's Australia guide for a comprehensive look at all the country has to offer, or Discover Australia, a photo-rich guide to the country's most popular attractions.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet, Charles Rawlings-Way, Meg Worby, Anthony Ham, Peter Dragicevich, Trent Holden, Kate Morgan, Tamara Sheward.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

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Country Map

ePub

 

Sydney & the Central Coast

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Sydney & the Central Coast

Chances are Sydney will be your introduction to Australia’s East Coast and there simply isn’t a better one. The city’s spectacular harbour setting, sun-kissed beaches and sophisticated sheen make it unique in Australia, and its outdoorsy population endows it with a confident charm that every city yearns for but few achieve.

It would be reasonable to assume that the areas surrounding Sydney would be content to bask in the reflected and undeniably golden glow of the metropolis, but that’s not the case. Each has its own delights. The Blue Mountains offers magnificent bush-clad vistas and opportunities to snuggle in front of log fires; Newcastle has surf beaches in profusion; and the Hunter Valley has leafy country roads scattered with producers of fine wine, chocolate and cheese. All three are endowed with world-class restaurants that rival even those in the big smoke.

Jan The year kicks off with a spectacular fireworks display over Sydney Harbour.

 

Byron Bay & Northern New South Wales

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Byron Bay & Northern New South Wales

Beach towns and national parks leapfrog each other all the way up this stupendous stretch of coast. Inland, lush farmland and ancient tracts of World Heritage–listed rainforest do the same.

Providing a buffer between New South Wales’ big cities to the south and Queensland’s built-up Gold Coast, the North Coast offers an altogether quieter and simpler way of life. In cute little towns throughout the region dyed-in-the-wool country types rub shoulders with big-city escapees and post-hippie alternative lifestylers – if you’re looking for fresh local produce, a top-notch meal or a psychic reading, you shouldn’t be disappointed. And if you’re searching for a surf break, rest assured that there will be an awesome one around the very next corner.

Nowhere on the East Coast conjures up the beach– nature–good times vibe quite like Byron Bay. Those who visit seldom go home complaining – if they go home at all.

Jun & Jul Winter brings migrating whales, lanterns to Lismore and rockers to Byron Bay.

 

Canberra & Southern New South Wales

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Canberra & Southern New South Wales

Come with us on a journey into three very important aspects of Australian culture. It begins in the modern city of Canberra, the nation’s capital and the repository of the national story: no other Australian city has better museums, better art galleries or, yes, more kangaroos.

A short distance away, the raw natural beauty of Australia’s eastern shore is everywhere in evidence, showcasing the Aussie love of wilderness from Royal National Park down to Ben Boyd National Park. En route, watch for poignant landmarks in Australia’s Indigenous history.

And then there’s the Aussie passion for the beach and all that goes with it – sometimes-nondescript towns with good restaurants, friendly pubs and activities from surf schools and skydiving to sea cruises. Throw in historic settlements such as Berry and Central Tilba and you’ll find ample reason to linger en route between Sydney and Melbourne.

Feb–May (except Easter) Sun’s still shining and kids are back at school.

 

Melbourne & Coastal Victoria

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Melbourne & Coastal Victoria

From windswept beaches to cosmopolitan seaside towns and legendary surfing spots, Victoria’s coastline has stunning vistas, cool-climate wineries and the culture-packed city of Melbourne. It’s a diverse coast; fairy penguins march up and down beaches in the popular tourist destination of Phillip Island, while Victoria’s west coast faces on to Bass Strait and attracts surfers and those searching for the iconic Twelve Apostles.

Heading up the southeast coast from the hiking paradise of Wilsons Promontory is a long, cruisy expanse of beach that meets up with a popular, activity-filled lakes system around Lakes Entrance (Australia’s largest inland waterway system). There are more stunning national parks on the approach to the Victoria–New South Wales border.

Feb School-holiday crowds have packed up and there’s good weather for swimming and hiking.

Jul Rug up and head down the Great Ocean Rd for a wintery whale-watching escape.

 

Brisbane & Around

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Brisbane & Around

Australia’s most underrated city? Booming Brisbane is an energetic river town on the way up, with an edgy arts scene, pumping nightlife and great coffee and restaurants. Plush parks and historic buildings complete the picture, all folded into the elbows of the meandering Brisbane River.

Brisbanites are out on the streets: the weather is brilliant and so are the bodies. Fit-looking locals get up early to go jogging, swimming, cycling, kayaking, rock-climbing or just to walk the dog. And when it’s too hot outside, Brisbane’s subcultural undercurrents run cool and deep, with bookshops, globally inspired restaurants, cafes, bars and band rooms aplenty.

East of Brisbane is Moreton Bay, with its low-lying sandy isles (don’t miss a trip to ‘Straddie’), beaches and passing parade of whales, turtles and dolphins.

Jan Brisbane swelters during summer: the perfect time to head to North Stradbroke Island.

May–Aug Cool, mild temperatures (bring a jacket) and clear skies – Brisbane at its best!

 

The Gold Coast

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The Gold Coast

Boasting 35 beaches, 300 sunny days and four million visitors a year, the Gold Coast serves up a sexy Aussie cocktail of sun, surf and sand. It’s no cliché to say that the beaches here are spectacular, with outstanding waves at Burleigh Heads, Currumbin and Kirra: it’s one of the best places to learn to surf in Australia. Behind the beach is a shimmering strip of high-rise apartments, eateries, bars, clubs and theme parks. The party capital is Surfers Paradise, where the fun sucks you into a dizzying vortex and spits you back out exhausted. The hype diminishes drastically as you head south, with Broadbeach’s sandy chic, Burleigh Heads’ seaside charm and Coolangatta’s laid-back surfer ethos. In the lush, subtropical hinterland, Lamington and Springbrook National Parks offer rainforest walks, waterfalls, sweeping views and cosy mountain retreats.

Jan Summer means sun, heat, busy beaches and the Big Day Out festival.

Jun–Aug Winter brings tourists from the chilly south chasing the sun.

 

Noosa & the Sunshine Coast

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Noosa & the Sunshine Coast

It’s not called the Sunshine Coast for nothing: the 100 golden kilometres stretching from the tip of Bribie Island to the Cooloola Coast are aglow with glimmering coastlines, hot surf spots and a warm populace for whom smiles are de rigueur…and shoes démodé. Stylish Noosa boasts a sophisticated dining and resort scene, while Mooloolaba, with its popular beach, outdoor eateries and cafes, is a long-time favourite with holidaying Australian families.

The ethereal Glass House Mountains loom over the seascape, while further north, the Blackall Range offers a change of scenery with thick forests, lush pastures and quaint villages. The Sunshine Coast is also home to one of the world’s great wildlife sanctuaries, the iconic Australia Zoo.

May Satisfy culinary cravings at the Noosa International Food & Wine Festival.

Sep Noosa’s streets fill with music during the four-day Noosa Jazz Festival.

Dec Celebrate the end of the year with folks who like folk at the Woodford Folk Festival.

 

Fraser Island & the Fraser Coast

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Fraser Island & the Fraser Coast

Nature lovers, rejoice! World Heritage–listed Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island, a mystical, at times eerie, land of giant dunes, ancient rainforests, luminous lakes and wildlife including Australia’s purest strain of dingo. Across the calm waters of the Great Sandy Strait, the mellow coastal community of Hervey Bay is the gateway to Fraser Island. From July to October, migrating humpback whales stream into the bay before continuing on to Antarctica. Further south, tiny Rainbow Beach is a laid-back seaside village and an alternative launching pad to Fraser. Fishing, swimming, boating and camping are hugely popular along this stretch of coastline.

Inland, agricultural fields surround old-fashioned country towns steeped in history. Bundaberg, the largest city in the region, overlooks the sea of waving cane fields that fuel its eponymous rum, a fiery, gut-churning spirit guaranteed to scramble a few brain cells.

Jun–Jul Bring your brolly to Maryborough’s Mary Poppins Festival.

 

Capricorn Coast & the Southern Reef Islands

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Capricorn Coast & the Southern Reef Islands

The stretch of coastline that straddles the tropic of Capricorn is one of the quietest and most lovely lengths of the East Coast. While local families flock to the main beaches during school holidays, the scene is uncrowded for most of the year, and even in high season you needn’t travel far to find a deserted beach.

The stunning powdery white sand and turquoise waters of the Capricorn Coast fit the holiday-brochure image perfectly. The pristine islands of the southern Great Barrier Reef offer some of the best snorkelling and diving in Queensland, and the opportunities for wildlife spotting – from turtle hatchlings to passing whales – are plentiful. Unspoilt beaches and windswept national parks can be found along the entire coastline.

Inland, you’ll find bustling Rockhampton – Capricornia’s economic hub and the capital of cattle country, with all the steakhouses, rodeos and gigantic hats to prove it.

Feb The Agnes Blues & Roots Festival rocks the Discovery Coast.

 

Whitsunday Coast

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Whitsunday Coast

Speckling the calm waters of the Coral Sea, the superlative Whitsunday Islands are one of Australia’s greatest natural attractions. Opal-jade waters and pure-white beaches fringe the forested domes of these ‘drowned mountains’, where you can camp in secluded bays, laze in resorts, snorkel, dive or island-hop through the archipelago. Beneath the shimmering seas, tropical fish swarm through the world’s largest coral garden in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The gateway to the islands, Airlie Beach, is a happening backpacker hub with a continuous parade of tanned, happy faces zinging between boats, beaches and banging nightclubs.

South of Airlie, Mackay is a typical coastal Queensland town with palm-lined streets framed by art deco buildings. There’s not a lot to do here, but Mackay is a handy base for trips to Finch Hatton Gorge and Eungella National Park – lush hinterland oases where platypuses cavort in the wild. To the north, Bowen has secret beaches and historical street art.

 

Townsville to Mission Beach

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Townsville to Mission Beach

In between the tourist magnets of Cairns and Airlie Beach, Townsville is a ‘real’ city with a pulse. Although North Queensland’s largest urban centre is often bypassed by visitors, it has a surprising number of attractions: a palm-lined beachfront promenade, gracious 19th-century architecture and a host of cultural and sporting venues and events. Magnetic Island’s national park, beaches, walking trails and wildlife are a quick ferry ride away.

North of Townsville, the Great Green Way wends past small sugar towns including Ingham, Cardwell, Tully and Innisfail; a stop offers the chance to experience true far northern country hospitality. Mission Beach, about half an hour east of Tully, is a laid-back village that ironically attracts thrillseekers by the busload, all keen on the region’s skydiving, white-water rafting and water sports. Forested Hinchinbrook Island and the lovely Dunk Island are top choices for the less adrenaline-addled.

May Celebrate all things wet and wonderful at Tully’s Golden Gumboot Festival.

 

Cairns & the Daintree Rainforest

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Cairns & the Daintree Rainforest

Tropical, touristy Cairns is an unmissable stop on any East Coast traveller’s itinerary. Experienced divers and first-time toe-dippers swarm to the steamy city for its easy access to the Great Barrier Reef, while those more interested in submerging themselves in boozy good times are well-served by a barrage of bars and clubs. For day-trippers, the Atherton Tableland – home to cooler climes, volcanic-crater lakes, jungly waterfalls and gourmet food producers – is just a short and scenic drive away.

The winding road from Cairns to ritzy Port Douglas offers spectacular coastal vistas, but it’s north of the Daintree River that the adventure really begins. The magnificent Daintree National Park stretches up the coast, with rainforest tumbling right onto white-sand beaches; don’t be so awestruck by the stunning surrounds that you forget to keep an eye out for crocs! Further up, the Bloomfield Track from Cape Tribulation to Cooktown is one of Australia’s great 4WD journeys.

 

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