Strung out for more than 18,000km end to end, Australia's east coast is a rippling ribbon of beaches and rampant wildlife. Offshore, the astonishing Great Barrier Reef is a 2000km-long hypercoloured haven for tropical marine life. Also here are hundreds of islands, from craggy nature reserves to palm-studded paradises. Fringing the land are brilliant beaches, with Australia's best surf breaks peeling into the shore. Inland are bewitching national parks with lush rainforests, jagged peaks and native critters that rate from cuddleworthy (koalas) to photogenic (Ulysses butterflies) and downright fearsome (saltwater crocs).
Traversing the east coast is an exercise in, well…exercise! The sun is shining and fit-looking locals are outdoors – jogging, swimming, surfing, cycling, kayaking, snorkelling, hiking… Why not join in? Get underwater on the Great Barrier Reef, the most photogenic submarine landscape on earth. Rampage down some white-water rapids, kayak across a lagoon, or set sail through a tropical archipelago. Move your shoes up a mountain, through a national park or alongside a rushing river. Or just head for the beach, where the locals let it all hang out.
Home to Indigenous Australians for millenniums, Australia's east coast is also where modern Australia kicked off. The first European settlement was in Sydney, and the city remains a honey-pot lure for anyone looking for a good time. Sassy and ambitious yet unpretentious, Sydneysiders eat, drink, shop and party with hedonistic abandon. To the south, Melbourne is Australia's arts and coffee capital – a bookish, Euro-tinged town with a bohemian soul. Wrapped around river bends, boom-town Brisbane is a glam patchwork of inner-city neighbourhoods. And don't forget Australia's capital, Canberra – so much more than a political filing cabinet!
Eat, Drink & Celebrate
Australia's big east-coast cities lift the lid on a rich culinary experience, with fantastic cafes, sprawling food markets and world-class restaurants. After dark, moody wine bars, student-filled speakeasies and boisterous Aussie pubs provide plenty of excuses to bend an elbow, chew the fat and maybe watch a bit of football. Beyond the cities, foodie delights range from fish (straight off the fishing boats) with chips, to the wares of cheese producers and small-town bakeries, to degustation dinners, paired perfectly with luscious wines from the Mornington Peninsula or Hunter and Yarra Valleys. The hardest part is deciding what to try first…