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The Backpacker Route

By Danielle Montgomery

Posted: 16th April 2013 16:00

The Backpacker Route

Whether you’re jetting off to Australia on a solo voyage or intending to elope with a travel buddy, having a trustworthy route already mapped out can be a huge godsend.  Most backpackers follow a similar path around Australia hitting the same destinations, tours and clubs as their traveller predecessors.  Start this route from the top if you’re flying out in Australian winter, or just reverse it if you’re flying out for an Aussie summer!

Fly into…Cairns

Cairns is the northern tropical city with a buzzing party scene and social life.  With tropical climates practically all year round, this is a great first stop when you land in Australia at winter, fully escaping the cold wind and rains from back home.  The activities in Cairns are endless; laze by the refreshing lagoon with an ice drink, rent a car and visit the scenic Tablelands, book a diving tour in the Great Barrier Reef, unleash your brave ego with a bungee jump or go white water rafting in the Tully River! A bored moment in Cairns is certainly a rare one.

Cairns to Airlie Beach

Every backpacker, whether you get seasick or not, has to book a boat trip around the fabulous Whitsunday Islands.  These tours make for some truly awesome memories as you make lifelong friends on board whilst you drift through the Pacific Ocean, stopping off at one of the top ten beaches in the world; Whitehaven.  Single day trips are available, however the most popular (and the most fun) tour is the three days and two nights package.  This way you not only get to visit more islands and have more opportunities to dive, but you get more time to really appreciate the magnitude of where you are.  Sitting on the deck beneath the stars with magical fish and dolphins around you is an unforgettable spectacle. 

Airlie Beach to Rainbow Beach

Although Rainbow Beach itself is incredibly small, consisting of a few shops, cafes and hostels, the fun that awaits you is on a totally different scale.  Rainbow Beach is the point of call for the Fraser Island tours, arguably the best experience in Australia.  Driving your own 4x4 jeeps along the beach with music pumping through your veins you’ll feel a sense of freedom totally unique to your system.  The tour consists of driving to amazing locations and then letting loose at night at the campsites.  Only one word of warning; beware of the dingoes!

Rainbow Beach to Noosa

Noosa is primarily used as a relaxation base and somewhere to chill out after your manic boat and camping trips.  With two glorious beaches and so many food joints to choose from, you’re stomachs will leave feeling warm and your soul restored until your next wild adventure! However if you can conjure up a smidgen of energy in Noosa, take a day to trek through the Noosa National Park route where you’ll witness some of the most beautiful views you’ve ever seen, or alternatively book some tickets to the Australian Zoo where Steve Irwin’s spirit still lives on.

Noosa to Brisbane

Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, is a city of much diversity home to futuristic skyscrapers and a thriving business economy whilst still maintaining a relaxed and laid back atmosphere.  Experience the eclectic nightlife in Fortitude Valley where top world DJ’s take to the decks for a memorable show, or if you appreciate the more quaint things in life, Brisbane’s West End is a bohemian gem featuring art shops, cute bookstores and an array of organic produce.  For an adrenaline rush, partake in rock climbing, abseiling and kayaking at Kangaroo Point where the views of CBD are outstanding. 

Brisbane to the Gold Coast

Surfers Paradise is exactly what it says on the tin; a paradise for surfers.  But even if you’re not a fan of the famous Aussie sport, you’ll be sure to find your own bit of paradise in this buzzing cosmopolitan city.  Representing the essence of Miami glitz, Surfers Paradise is a glamorous haven for any partygoer, boasting a chocolate box of nightclubs, bars and of course, all-night food outlets that are sure to help you into a sleep of sobriety! Hangovers can easily be cured with a trip to the bustling beach, where the cool waters will set your head straight in no time.  Surfers Paradise is a backpacker magnet and many hostels organise group nights out with free entries and free drinks; we all love a bargain!

Gold Coast to Byron Bay

Hippy, bohemian, folky and simple; Byron Bay is a town full of quirky shops and people, encapsulating just one of the many cultures living in this continent.  As you wander around this unassuming small town, you’ll find charming stores adorned with jewels, crystals, incense and flowery pants where you’ll feel a sudden urge to grow dreadlocks and join a street band playing the banjo.  However Byron Bay, away from its seventies ‘peace’ mantra, has a thriving backpacker population meaning the nightlife is always lively.  After a day of hitting the awesome Byron Bay waves, there’s no doubt your hostel will be getting geared up for a wild night out.  Spend your night dancing on the tables in Cheeky Monkey’s nightclub, where the intimate dancing space creates a vibrant and friendly atmosphere.  The other alluring factor of Bryon Bay is the day trip to Nimbin, a quiet hippy village that resembles looking through a kaleidoscope.  Colourful and entrancing, Nimbin favours a lenient approach to recreational pursuits, however the drug laws of New South Wales are most definitely still applicable. 

Byron Bay to Sydney

Sydney is a giant metropolitan of culture, modernity, history and exuberance.  Marvel at the architectural genius of the Sydney Opera House where you can take a guided tour, or say goodbye to vertigo by climbing the web of railings up the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  The diversity reflects that of any other major city around the world, harbouring a population deriving from different cultures and backgrounds.  A night out in the elusive Kings Cross area leaves a lot to be desired, but it still forms an integral part of the city’s culture that every backpacker must experience! Take a ferry out to Manly for a charming day out, or hit to the fashionable shops in the CBD.  The coastlines of Sydney such as Bondi Beach offer a vibe suited to those wishing to wine and dine their nights away in one of the many sophisticated outlets. 

Round Up

Australia is often misjudged of it’s sheer enormity, so don’t think the fun ends in Sydney, as more often than not this marks the beginning for another epic adventure.  Head to Melbourne in Victoria for some funky nights out in a much loved city, then make your way to Adelaide for some peaceful country living.  Don’t forget about Western Australia too, however the expense of Perth can leave the average backpacker counting the cents! 

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