Experience the best of Australia's less-visited yet beautiful East Coast. This includes highlights of Queensland, like the eclectic metropolis of Brisbane and the endless beaches and shimmering skyscrapers of the Gold Coast. You'll also take day trips to charming Byron Bay, visit a koala sanctuary, and go off-the-beaten path on self-drive road trips to rainforest-covered national parks.


  • Visit a wildlife sanctuary in Brisbane and cuddle up with koalas
  • Go on nature hikes in the incredible Scenic Rim
  • See the highlights of Queensland's famous Gold Coast
  • Take road trips to Byron Bay and national parks 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Brisbane, River Cruise to Koala Sanctuary, First Nations Dinner Show Brisbane
Day 2 Full-Day Aussie Outback Private Tour Brisbane
Day 3 Drive to the Gold Coast, Explore Gold Coast
Day 4 Day Trip to Byron Bay Gold Coast
Day 5 Day Trip to National Parks Gold Coast
Day 6 Depart Brisbane  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Brisbane, River Cruise to Koala Sanctuary, First Nations Dinner Show

Hang out with koalas at the Lone Pine Sanctuary

Welcome to Queensland! This northeast section of Australia is famous for its tropical rainforests, great surf beaches, and stunning Gold Coast region. Upon arrival in the capital city of Brisbane, you'll pick up a rental car, which you'll make good use of over these next few days. Once the keys are in hand, drive to your hotel in the city center, where you can unwind a bit after checking in.

In the afternoon, you'll board a boat for a relaxing hour-long cruise to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Pass towering city skyscrapers and waterfront mansions as you float along the scenic Brisbane River. Eventually, you'll arrive at Lone Pine, the world's largest koala sanctuary (with more than 130 koalas on site). Feel free to cuddle with these adorable marsupials and snap plenty of photos. You can also head to the Platypus House and check out the popular Birds of Prey show. Then, feed the kangaroos and wallabies or watch sheepdogs herd a flock of sheep on command.

Back in Brisbane, you'll enjoy Spirits of the Red Sand, an interactive dinner theater experience celebrating Australia's First Nations history. When you sit down, you'll be transported to a 19th-century Australian village and watch as the country's leading First Nations theater troupe tells the story of over 60,000 years of proud history through song and dance. The event includes a three-course traditional Australian meal and a meet and greet with the cast. 

Day 2: Full-Day Aussie Outback Private Tour

Visit Lake Moogerah, among many other destinations

This full-day guided driving tour allows you to witness the diverse natural beauty of the Aussie Outback that few tourists get to see. Just outside Brisbane lies the gorgeous Scenic Rim, an unspoiled region home to volcanic landscapes, fertile valleys, rugged mountain ranges, lush rainforests, and six national parks.

Throughout the day, you'll notice that the scenery changes dramatically. You'll pass a variety of landscapes as you drive through cattle country and lavender fields, stop at Lake Moogerah, and do some wine tasting, all the while keeping an eye out for exotic wildlife. There's also the option to take a mountain forest hike to enjoy even more natural splendor. When the tour is over, return to your hotel in Brisbane.

Day 3: Drive to the Gold Coast, Explore

Gold Coast - Surfers Paradise Beach
Surfers Paradise Beach on the Gold Coast

Continue your Aussie adventure with a road trip to the Gold Coast, Queensland's buzzing beach mecca. While the ride typically only takes an hour, you might enjoy a detour for rainforest hikes and waterfall visits at Tamborine, Lamington, and Springbrook National Park. Another optional stop is at Cedar Creek Falls. Here, you can swim in freshwater rock pools and snap photos of the falls from some great lookout points. Then, continue to the top of Tamborine Mountain and browse the hub of local businesses known as Gallery Walk.

When you're ready, continue to the Gold Coast and discover it at your own pace. Visit highlight beaches like the world-famous Surfers Paradise. If you like, take a surfing lesson or visit Burleigh Heads and kick back as you watch locals ride waves. Then, head to the famous Burleigh Heads National Park Headlands and hike from the rocky shore into the rainforest. One highlight on this part of the coast is Tumgun Lookout, where ancient volcanic columns converge with the sea. Keep an eye out for humpback whales in the winter and spring, and look for sea eagles flying overhead.

Consider a visit to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, a haven for native and endangered animals like the lorikeet parrot. Or, for a thrill, head to Q1, a 78-floor skyscraper that rises 1,056 feet (322 m) and is the highest point on the Gold Coast. At the top is SkyPoint Climb, which offers guided hikes along platforms on the exterior of the building with all necessary safety equipment included. The panoramic views of the Gold Coast on this external building hike are breathtaking. After an active day, head out and enjoy the famous Gold Coast nightlife.

Day 4: Day Trip to Byron Bay

Day Trip to Byron Bay
A typical day in Byron Bay

In the morning, drive an hour south to reach Byron Bay, located in the neighboring state of New South Wales. With its stunning natural attractions and welcoming community, Byron Bay is one of the world's most famous coastal towns. You'll be captivated by its gorgeous beaches, hinterland rainforests, spectacular coastal trails, premier scuba sites, and buzzing food scene.

Recommended activities include hiking Cape Byron (an easy 2.3-mi/3.7-km loop), browsing local boutiques, and watching the surfers at Wategos Beach. You'll also want to try one of Byron Bay's eclectic eateries, whose highlights range from plant-based delights at vegetarian restaurants to fresh seafood restaurants to authentic Italian and even organic fare at a working nursery/garden. If you're into spirituality, you should visit Crystal Castle, a rainforest escarpment overlooking Byron Bay that's home to two of the largest crystals on Earth.

Day 5: Day Trip to National Parks

Natural Bridge, Springbrook National Park
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Both Lamington and Springbrook National Parks offer ample opportunity to get up close and personal with nature. These fertile rainforest areas of the Gold Coast and Byron Bay hinterland have earned UNESCO World Heritage status due to their diversity of flora and fauna. There are many natural wonders in these parks and many opportunities for fun outings. For example, Springbrook is home to one highly Instagrammed landmark: the Natural Bridge. This enchanting waterfall plunges into a basalt cave down to a romantic lagoon below.

You can also drive up into the Green Mountain section of Lamington National Park for more waterfall spotting, a zipline adventure, and a skywalk over the treetops at a rainforest retreat. Or, head to the mountain's base for a tour of local vineyards. Here, you can pair a wine tasting with a gourmet picnic—tartan rug included. Enjoy your spread on the banks of the gently running Canungra Creek, or opt for an "alpaca picnic" where two of the property's furry friends will join you for the meal.

Day 6: Depart Brisbane

Farewell, Australia

Your brief but action-packed Aussie adventure has unfortunately come to an end. At the appropriate time, you'll drive back to Brisbane, return your rental car, and catch your flight home. Happy travels!

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Map of The Best of Brisbane & the Gold Coast - 6 Days
Map of The Best of Brisbane & the Gold Coast - 6 Days