This is a round up of some of the places you might have missed whilst road-tripping up or down (or both!) Australia’s East Coast.
I’m not saying you will have missed them – in fact, the travel savvy among you may have even seen all 6 – but these are the slightly lesser known spots and therefore more likely to have been overlooked.
Hopefully some of you reading this will still be in the planning phase of your east coast trip and can therefore work these spots into your itinerary if you like the sound of them! Enjoy!
Hint: I’ve organised them in geographical order, starting from the north (of the east coast) and working south.
1. Daintree Rainforest
One seriously cool thing to do in the Daintree Rainforest is to spot endangered southern cassowaries. These are large flightless birds found only in New Guinea and Northeastern Australia.
Not only are they large – as tall as an adult human – but they also have incredibly colourful and unique facial features. Being endangered, sightings aren’t common but the Daintree Rainforest is one of the best places to spot them.
Aside from spotting these awesome birds, the Daintree Rainforest is a good place for hiking and picturesque drives. It’s located in tropical North Queensland, further north than Cairns.
The Captain Cook Highway is a scenic road that runs north-south in tropical Queensland, hugging the coast for much of its length. Driving along this route will provide you with many fantastic views over rainforest, beach and ocean.
One of the best viewpoints along the Captain Cook Highway is situated in Wangetti – not too far north of Cairns. To find it, search Google Maps for “Rex Lookout, Wangetti”.
Rex Lookout provides epic views over the long Wangetti Beach and its surrounding rainforest. From this hilltop spot it’s also possible to do hangliding – take to the skies in a tandem flight and enjoy a birds-eye view as you glide gracefully over the trees.
3. Rainbow Beach Sand Dunes
Top tip: come at sunset to kill two birds with one stone (for non-native English speakers, this means “to do two things at the same time”).
First and foremost, the sand dunes at Rainbow Beach are an awesome place to go sandboarding. If you don’t have your own board, you can rent them from a number of places in Rainbow Beach village. Some hostels – including Dingos – provide them for free for their paying guests.
In addition to sandboarding, the sand dunes also happen to be a perfect spot for watching the sunset – and an epic one at that! Come watch a spectacular sunset and then grab your board and ride down the dunes in the last rays of light.
The sand dunes are slightly southeast of the village – search Google Maps for “Carlo Sand Blow”.
4. Noosa National Park
Despite being relatively small, this protected area of natural park has heaps of stuff to do. Varying grades of walking trails wind their way through the park, leading you to secluded beaches and scenic viewpoints.
You could walk around the entire Noosa National Park in a single day, if you so desired. However, in my opinion, it would be worth spending an extra day to explore all the different trials and spend time on whichever beaches take your fancy.
The park is also a mini wildlife haven. One of my favourite things to do here was relax at one of the viewpoints and try to spot signs of life out at sea. Common sightings include whales, dolphins and turtles.
I managed to see a couple of turtles from the viewpoint known as Hell’s Gates (in reference to the dramatic cliffs). Despite being one of the more popular lookouts, there was virtually nobody else around when I visited; this made it all the more peaceful and enjoyable.
5. Glass House Mountains
This rather unique group of mountains should be on any East Coast itinerary! Unlike traditional mountain ranges – which rise as one – the Glass House Mountains are visible as individual peaks in an otherwise flat landscape.
At 556m tall (the highest point of Mount Beerwah) the Glass House Mountains are hardly the biggest mountains in the world. However, when viewed from afar, they really are a novel sight!
Most of the mountains are open to the public for recreation purposes, particularly walking. The trails vary in difficulty from shallow incline bushwalking to sheer face rock climbing. My recommended routes include the easy walk around the base of Mount Tibrogargan and the noticeably harder summit trail of Mount Ngungun.
Here is a link to a PDF about some of the available walking trials: ghmountains-walking-pdf.
Sunrises and sunsets are a must-see when visiting the Glass House Mountains! The best spot to catch the sunrise from is hands-down the “Glass House Mountains Lookout”.
For sunset, you have a few more options. The summits of Ngungun and Beerburrum are good, but my favourite is the fire tower lookout on Wild Horse Mountain – be sure to stay long after the sun has set to capture some awesome silhouette shots!
The Queensland government website has plenty more useful information about the Glass House Mountains here: parks.des.qld.gov.au.
Thirty kilometres inland from the New South Wales coastline is a small hippie village known as Nimbin. Proclaimed as the capital of alternative lifestyle, Nimbin is the place to come for live music, arts & crafts, festivals, wellness retreats, and much more…
It is probably most famous for its cannabis culture. Despite being illegal in the state of New South Wales, weed is readily available here in various forms. There are plenty of shops selling “special cookies” and even a dedicated hemp bar.
Aside from its culture, Nimbin is a colourful village set in beautiful rolling hills. There are waterfalls and walking trails to explore in the local area.