Best of East Coast Australia

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This classic coastal run takes in thousands of kilometres of coastline. It could take a lifetime or, with just 10 days and a handful of airline tickets, you could taste a few of the east coast’s highlights from Melbourne to Cairns.

1. Melbourne

Start this itinerary in the southern capital of Melbourne, a city famous for its nightlife, multicultural mix and diverse dining experiences. Rather than wander far and wide, we suggest you delve into the inner city’s bohemian and mainstream art scenes, linger in the cafe-colonised laneways, go shopping and take in a show.

2. Sydney

Your next stop is the bright and breezy harbour city of Sydney. You really need a couple of days to do this city justice. Must-dos include a Sydney Harbour cruise to get your bearings and a sense of how geography influences this city’s personality. No visit to Sydney would be complete without a plunge in the famous waves of Bondi Beach. On your final night book a restaurant with views of the spotlit Harbour Bridge and Opera House.

3. Brisbane

Move north to Brisbane, Queensland’s fast-paced capital, where you can board a river cruise to go cuddle a koala or catch a ferry to Moreton Island and hand-feed a wild dolphin.

4. The Gold Coast & Sunshine Coast

From Brisbane there are options to head to the Gold Coast with its glamorous beachside developments, great surf and over-the-top theme parks. Alternatively, head to the Sunshine Coast via the famous Australia Zoo, and then on to the stylish beach resort town of Noosa.

5. Whitsunday Islands

To get to the magnificent Whitsunday Islands you can fly to the party town of Airlie Beach or directly to Hamilton Island. Here you can opt for tropical cruising under a billowing sail, fabulous coral reef diving or snorkelling, or just lazing by the resort’s pool.

6. Cairns

Perhaps as an alternative to the Whitsundays, or if you still have the time and energy to go further north, move on to Far North Queensland’s tourism mecca. Cairns has something for everyone. There are fabulous excursions to rainforest hinterland and tropical beaches but best of all Cairns is the base for exploring the Great Barrier Reef. Once out on the reef, join a dive, strap on a snorkel or just hop on a glass-bottom boat.

This excerpt is taken from Discover Australia.

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For more adventures in Australia, see Lonely Planet's full-color Discover Australia guide.