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Car Rental in Australia and an Adventure on the East Coast
When it comes to Car rental in Australia, you will find a large number of companies offering a range of options. That being said, camper vans are incredibly popular, and this is certainly true in the case of the East Coast with hordes of backpackers yearning to take an adventure from Cairns to Sydney or vice-versa.
With this in mind, we had initially decided to rent a camper van, but given the great places to stay in this part of the world, we opted for car rental. For this reason, we were able to pick out some of the best places to stay and this also made sense as we wanted to meet fellow travelers rather than sit inside the privacy of a camper van for three weeks.
Australia is an incredibly large landmass with endless reasons to take a road trip, from paradise islands and stunning coastline to exotic wildlife, friendly locals and the enchanting outback. However, there is so much variety along the East Coast and endless towns, parks, tours, and experiences to encounter.
While Whitsunday Islands are arguably the most popular of these attractions, we found a good reason for this being the case and more than enough experiences to warrant our three-week car rental in Australia. In case you might be asking yourself, I refer to the fact that myself and two childhood friends had decided to rent a car and take an adventure from Cairns to Melbourne.
Here are some of the most memorable experiences and reasons for which the East Coast of Australia is such an exciting, fascinating and affordable place to rent a car:
You Have the Perfect Starting Point for Car Rental in Australia
When you first arrive on the East Coast of Australia, you are likely to touch down in either Sydney or Melbourne. However, many backpackers choose to venture north to Cairns or Darwin at some point, and this is often dependent on the weather at any particular time of year.
Either way, these are all perfect destinations for starting a road trip as you can quite easily rent a car in Cairns, Sydney or Melbourne. Furthermore, these are located at opposite ends of the East Coast which make them the most sensible starting point for an adventure. Whether you spend a week relaxing at the lagoon in Cairns or sightseeing in Sydney, starting in any of these destinations will still allow you to visit the most iconic attractions along the coast including Whitsundays, Fraser Island, and Byron Bay.
Whitsunday Islands is Worth It
When you think of the most iconic destinations in Australia, the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands, in particular, come to mind. Located amidst crystal blue waters in an uninhabited National Park, the latter is one of the most spectacular places I have ever encountered.
Obviously, there is no way to drive to these islands, so the car rental stayed in town. However, our group tour to Whitsunday Islands was one of the highlights of the trip and brought a welcome escape from the mainland for two nights. Having departed Airlie Beach, for the most part, this tour involves relaxing on the boat before exploring several islands on foot, sleeping on board the boat and taking time to snorkel in the alluring waters.
Simply put, Whitsunday Islands may feature on the front cover of travel magazines, but this is one travel experience which lives up to even the highest expectations.
Fraser Island is underrated
Most visitors know about Whitsunday Islands above and are likely to have heard about Fraser Island, but the unassuming nature of the latter is something which often takes people by surprise. For this reason, having left the car rental in Hervey Bay, we set off for Fraser Island with no idea that this enchanting landmass would be so incredibly exciting.
Fraser Island is unique for the reason that you can rent a 4×4 and self-drive around the island. We met some fellow backpackers in Hervey Bay with whom we would travel around the island, and the many campsites on Fraser made this isle easy to navigate. From the majestic Lake McKenzie and hidden beauty at Lake Wabby, we found an isolated wilderness and plenty of exotic wildlife including lizards, butterflies, and even a brown snake. After dark, this was also an interesting aspect, for we had dingoes come into the campsite and hurry past the campfire on occasion.
Finally, the mysterious shipwrecks and scintillating views from Indian Head were the “icing on the cake” which ensured Fraser Island was one of the best experiences on the East Coast.
Brisbane & the Sunshine Coast
When we first arrived in Cairns, we were excited to escape the busy town, but by the time we reached Brisbane, it was just as exciting to return to civilization. There was no end of safe places to leave our car rental in Brisbane and excellent accommodation, so all that was left to do was enjoy the restaurants, bars, and attractions.
Similarly, the Sunshine Coast was a nice mix of small-town Australia and modern civilization. That is to say; places such as Noosa and Mooloolaba offer a very relaxing environment, but then they also have the highest standard of facilities. Furthermore, the beach scene is just as prominent as these places being hugely popular for both beginners and advanced surfers.
Coastal Towns are Much More Than a Backpacker Haven
You can find backpackers and a party atmosphere almost anywhere you go along the East Coast, but the coastal towns offer so much more than any of the above. For this reason, while the main attractions such as Whitsunday Islands are worth every last cent, the coastal towns are very inviting and a great place to take a break with your car rental. Byron Bay and Airlie Beach are good examples, where comfortable hotels, fine restaurants, and quiet spaces are just as common as busy backpacker bars.
Melbourne is a City of Contrasts
Surprisingly, Melbourne was another highlight of our road trip, and while Sydney is home to many iconic landmarks, we found Melbourne to be far more alternative and interesting. In this respect, the vibrant nightlife, thriving café culture, and general food experience are unlike anywhere else along the East Coast. You should also find the locals are often more personal than other cities, but this is partly for the fact that Sydney seems to be bigger, faster and in so much of a hurry.
When backpackers arrive with a work visa in Australia, Sydney, Perth, and Melbourne are usually the main places to search for employment. For this reason, starting a road trip in Cairns with a car rental and driving south can make sense but either way, the most rewarding part of a road trip is the journey itself, which never fails to disappoint.
As you can see, there are many highlights to taking a road trip on the East Coast. Furthermore, the infrastructure in each destination ensures that car rental in Australia is both affordable and convenient. However, whether you start in the north or south, the experience is often the same, and for this reason, the only question is for how long you can afford to stay.