Day 1 - The Sunshine Coast
For those travelling the east coast of Australia, Noosa is either the first stop after Brisbane if you are travelling north, or the last stop before Queensland’s largest city if you are travelling south. Situated on Australia’s Sunshine Coast, it is the most popular resort in the area and is popular with everyone from surfers, to some of the country’s ‘beautiful people’ to hordes of backpackers.
Incorporating three separate places (Noosa Heads, Noosa Junction and Noosaville), it is a good place to stop for a couple of days as it is primarily a beach town. The most popular with those stopping in the resort is Noosa Heads. The main street here is Hastings Street which is lined with surf shops, cafés and restaurants.
Main Beach Noosa is just two minutes walk from here. It is quite a big beach so finding a spot to laze in the sun and watch the carefree surfers catch their waves is never a problem.
Along with all the budget-tight backpackers, Australia’s elite also come here. This has resulted in many of the restaurants on Hastings Street becoming quite expensive in recent years. Have a quick look at the menus before you sit down to order as the bill could cause quite a bit of a shock at the end of your meal if you haven’t perused it already.
Day 2 - Noosa National Park
Noosa isn’t all about sunbathing and surfing. The small, but very beautiful Noosa National Park situated on Noosa’s head is full of great walks and wildlife. Koalas inhabit the park and can be seen regularly nesting on the trees with their young ones on their back.
One of the nicest walks in the park is the coastal walk which goes by a number of bays. These include Tea Tree Bay and Laguna Bay, and one of the lookouts is aptly named Dolphin Point. From here you can regularly see pods of dolphins swimming together which is always a pretty sight. If you enjoy walking, or if you are looking for to build up your photo collection, make sure to leave some time for this quaint park.
If you want to sample some of this resort’s nightlife, Hastings Street is the place to go. There are a few bars here worth checking out, but the most popular hotspot in the town is Rolling Rocks , a nightclub with an eclectic mix of tourists, surfers, locals and backpackers.
Day 3 - Hervey Bay - Gateway to Fraser Island
Home to some of the best whale watching sites in Australia (during migration season), and seen as the gateway to Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world, Fraser Island is a sleepy resort but is always full of backpackers either on their way or returning from the island. This doesn’t mean that for your time there, there is nothing else to do other than sit around your accommodation pondering on what Fraser is like. There are different things to keep you occupied before or after your 4WD safari.
Vic Hislop’s Great White Expo is an interesting museum full of photos and even some shark jaw bones to show you exactly how big the ferocious animals mouths span open. There are also some interesting news articles documenting the man in question. Another popular tourist centre in Hervey Bay is Neptune’s Reef World which is a moderate aquarium.
Of course, you may wish to top up your tan rather than shelter it from the sun in one of the city’s museums. One of the best beaches in Hervey Bay is located in Torquay and is a good place to watch sunsets also.
Day 4 - Fraser Island – The largest sand island in the world
Only 40 minutes from Hervey Bay via ferry is Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island in the world. This island is like no other in the world. Once you disembark the ferry you find yourself winding around some of the bumpiest roads you are ever to come across. These roads pass through some of Queensland’s densest rain forest.
After passing through the rainforest you reach Seventy-Five Mile Beach, the only beach in Australia which is also classified as a main road! From this never-ending beach you can turn off to Eli Creek, Lake Makenzie which is just one of the many freshwater lakes on the island, and also Rainbow Gorge, a beautiful hour-long walk along some of Fraser’s sand splits. It’s hard to believe that such a diverse landscape can be encased in such a small space of land.
Upon returning to Hervey Bay, you can choose to do two things. Get the overnight bus to Airlie Beach (your next port of call) that night, or you can take a day to recuperate. If you are there during whale watching season, take advantage of this and stay one more day to embark on a day trip the following day. Otherwise, as there isn’t else to do in this city, you are better off booking yourself on the next overnight bus and save yourself a night’s accommodation.
Day 5 - The most popular spot on the coast
Ask many travellers who have done the east coast of Oz and what is their favourite stop and they will tell you Airlie Beach. Stay here after a week or two on the coast and it feels like a holiday within a holiday. It has a beach to top up that Aussie tan, a national park nearby and loads of bars and restaurants. It is also the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands.
Presuming that you arrive in Airlie Beach after sitting on a bus for 13 hours, after checking into your accommodation the first thing you may want to do is rest for a while. But resting in this beach resort isn’t easy.
Shute Harbour Road is the town’s main thoroughfare and is lined with internet cafés, restaurants, surf and dive shops and bars. It is always a good place to go for a wander when you have nothing else planned, or when you get tired of sunbathing. In the evening also it is constantly buzzing, with cabaret singers belting out song after song to appreciative crowds.
Day 6 - Conway National Park
Not many people take time out to appreciate it, but not far from Airlie Beach is Conway National Park. As most visitors to the town are unaware the park is so close, it is always relatively searching for the perfect photograph. Instead, you are more likely to come across the fauna, flowers, wildlife and vistas which this country is so famous for. Some of the parks highlights include the view from the top of Mt. Rooper, and also the extremely rocky Swamp Bay.
To appreciate this park properly you should allow about four hours for this fascinating park. It takes about 20 minutes to get there from Airlie Beach, and there is quite a bit of walking to be done here too. But when you see some of the views you will see it is totally worth it.
Day 7 - The Tropical Whitsunday Islands
First and foremost, Airlie Beach’s premier attraction is the Whitsunday Islands. If you enjoy diving and lying around on boats, then you should book yourself on to one of the 3 day/2 night cruises. One-day trips, to put it simply, are condensed versions of 3-day trips. They visit all the main attractions – Whitehaven Beach, dive sites and more.
After your day on the reef, you deserve to see what all the fuss about Airlie Beach’s nightlife is. There are a number of bars along the Shute Harbour Road, but of all these there are three which attract more partiers than any else - Moroccos which is at the top of the bar, Beaches Bar which is smack bang in the middle of the road, and Shenanigans, Airlie’s token Irish bar. And if you have any more energy, you may even bring yourself to visiting the town’s most popular nightclub - Tricks.
Day 8 - Just one more day of sunshine...
You will find that Airlie Beach is one of the easiest towns on the coasts to say ‘I think I’ll leave tomorrow’. It’s just too easy to relax and do nothing there. As you are on your holidays, book yourself on to the next bus to Townsville for the next morning and enjoy one more day doing nothing in Northern Queensland’s most popular resort.