East Australia is the perfect place for a family roadtrip. You’ll find beautiful beaches, vibrant cities, family-friendly restaurants and places to stay.
If your kids are interested in wildlife they’ll love experiencing some of Australia’s native animals like koalas, kangaroos, giant crocs and wallabies.
The distances are vast, so you’ll need a reliable vehicle to get you around. Pack plenty of snacks, water and sunscreen (especially in summer), get a great Spotify playlist together and you’re good to go!
We love road-tripping and have done some epic family holidays around New Zealand, as well as through some of Northern Europe. So a roadtrip along the East Coast of Australia from Sydney to Cairns is definitely on our bucket-list!
Here are some of the top places to visit on an East Coast Australia roadtrip with kids that we’ve visited and can recommend, along with some that are going onto our ‘must-visit’ list!
Taronga Zoo Sydney, NSW
One of the best zoos we’ve ever visited anywhere in the world is Taronga Zoo in Sydney. It’s certainly one of the most picturesque – the giraffes literally have multi-million dollar views from their home!
Our kids loved seeing the snakes including some of Australia’s most lethal reptiles. Getting up close and personal with incredible lizards and seeing kangaroos at close-range was a real highlight.
There’s also a great conservation ethos at the zoo, and they care for some of the world’s most endangered species like Sumatran Tigers, Asian Elephants, Gorillas and Southern Corroboree Frogs.
You can learn more about Taronga Zoo including opening hours and entrance fees here on their website.
The Big Banana Fun Park, Coffs Harbour, NSW
Ever since I was a kid and saw photos, I’ve been obsessed with visiting The Big Banana, and it’s definitely on our list of must-visits!
Located in the gorgeous seaside town of Coffs Harbour, there’s so much more to just the iconic banana statue. There’s a whole theme park called the Big Banana Fun Park, featuring a waterpark, mini golf, laser tag, ice skating, cheesemaking, and tobogganing.
You could easily spend a day visiting all these attractions and it’s an excellent place for a rest day from all that driving. They’ve got some amazing looking banana themed dishes at the cafe also – banana split or smoothie anyone?!
Learn more about the Big Banana Fun Park here.
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Gold Coast, QLD
There’s so much to do on the Gold Coast for families that it’s really worth stopping for a few days.
One of the highlights has to be Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, located a short drive from Surfers Paradise.
Currumbin features a host of animals from around Australia including koalas, kangaroos, giant crocodiles, native birds, Tasmanian Devil and more. They live in appropriate enclosures and there’s a treasure trove of information throughout the park telling you more about these beautiful animals.
Our kids absolutely loved watching the huge saltwater crocodiles in action, the informative birds of prey show and getting up close to kangaroos.
The park is quite spread out amongst beautiful Australian bush, but there’s a small shuttle train that runs around the park, perfect for tired little legs.
We highly recommend a visit and you can find out more on Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary’s website.
Noosa, Sunshine Coast, QLD
Our favourite Aussie smaller town (so far) is Noosa on the Sunshine Coast. This gorgeous little seaside town is the perfect place to stay and chill out for a few days beside the lovely beach.
It’s one of the top spots in Aussie for a family surf lesson, the waves are perfect for beginners either at Main Beach or further along at the quieter Sunshine Beach.
There are also plenty of lovely little shops and cafes serving great coffee for you to spend time in, along with lots of kid-friendly restaurants.
A must-do is the Eumundi Markets, 20km from Noosa into the hinterland. It’s a beautiful drive to Australia’s premium artisan markets which are open on Wednesday and Saturdays. You can sample local produce, see artisan crafts being made and there’s plenty of unique quality items for kids to spend their pocket money on.
If you’re wanting to travel further afield and get away from it all, then a visit to world-heritage listed Fraser Island is a must-do.
This ecological wonderland features rainforest, woodlands, stunning beaches and a variety of wildlife. If you’re lucky you may even spot a wild dingo running along the beach! It’s best to take a tour from Hervey Bay or rent a 4-wheel drive vehicle here though as the island is sandy and not suitable for standard cars.
Airlie Beach, QLD
Heading even further north to Far North Queensland, you reach stunning Airlie Beach, gateway to the stunning Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef.
There’s loads for families to do in this tropical paradise. Kids will love soaking up the sun and sea in the man-made Airlie Beach Lagoon complete with lifeguards, a kids pool, plenty of shade and free to use barbecues (it’s all thankfully croc and stinger free!)
It’s a great place to try sailing or jetskiing, or even more adventurous activities like tandem sky-diving over the Great Barrier Reef!
You can’t leave this place without visiting stunning Whitehaven Beach, dubbed ‘Australia’s best beach’ complete with turquoise water and powder white sand.
The city of Cairns in Queensland is truly at the heart of Great Barrier Reef territory, and the best place to organise a visit to this UNESCO heritage natural wonder.
You’ll find a plethora of companies offering all kinds of experiences – half and full-day tours, snorkelling, diving, semi-submersible viewings of the reef, activity platforms, glass bottom boat tours, and even helicopter flights!
While in Cairns, you must take a drive north to the stunning Daintree Rainforest. This ecological treasure is home to ancient rainforest trees and beautiful waterfalls. There are family friendly walks in the rainforest and if you listen you’ll hear the eerie call of the huge cassowary bird.
Kids will love a trip on the Kuranda Scenic Railway, which runs twice daily from Cairns. It takes you high up into the hinterland in a lovely old rail carriage. The trip offers beautiful views over the Barron River Gorge and stops at Barron Falls during the two-hour journey.
So there are our tips of some of the top places to visit on an East Coast Australia roadtrip with kids! Have you visited this area? Let us know in the comments if you’ve got any other hidden gems we should add to our list!