Byron Bay to Sunshine Coast Road Trip

Heading on an interstate road trip? The eastern coast of Australia is an incredible spot to venture with room to both relax and play! From the laid-back vibes of Byron Bay to the sun-kissed shores of the Sunshine Coast, having a Thrifty rental car handy on your journey makes travelling a cinch. We’ve handpicked four unique locations to stop and explore throughout your trip, each filled with bucket-list experiences and landmark attractions.

Gold Coast
Get Going on the Goldie

Calling all adventure seekers! Home to stretches of sandy shores, vibrant nightlife and five thrilling theme parks, a road trip along the east coast would only be complete with a visit to the Gold Coast. Take advantage of Queensland’s warm climate and hot sunny days with an excursion to Aussie’s biggest water park.  

An hour and a half away from Byron Bay in the rental car, head to Wet’n’Wild for a day spent sliding up and down giant water slides, cruising on raft rides and experiencing zero gravity exhilaration. Just under 10 minutes away, visit Dreamworld for jaw-dropping thrill rides and up-close animal encounters. Feel the anticipation before you fall 39 stories on the country’s highest drop tower. Find yourself twisting and turning your way through the theme park with roller coasters and thrill rides made to excite!  

40 minutes inland, swap rides and attractions for picturesque views on a rainforest skywalk. Discover a world filled with eucalypt trees and unique bird sounds as you trek 1.5 km through the Tamborine Rainforest. Bring your camera along to capture enviable shots for the ‘gram as you walk the forest floor, up steel bridges, and finish 30 metres above the ground amidst the treetops. Learn more about the native trees at the Rainforest Eco Gallery, and settle down for a cuppa amongst the canopies at the Birdwing Cafe. With so many adventure activity options on the Gold Coast, you’ll be spoiled for choice! 

Welcome to Paradise

Sun, sand and sea? Sign me up! Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast is the place to be. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or have never tried surfing, the main beach is the perfect spot to take a dip on your East Coast road trip. Beginners can hire a board and take surfing lessons, swimmers can freestyle in between the flags and those who prefer the sand to the water can soak up some sunshine. On land, Surfers’ bustling vibe will keep you busy with beachside markets, specialty attractions and trendy cafes.  


Home to the tallest building in Australia, take in views of Surfers and beyond from 270 metres high on the Skypoint climb at the Q1 Resort Building. Choose from a day, twilight or night climb, and experience 90 minutes of breathtaking views you won’t get anywhere else. Thrill-seekers can opt to view the coast from the comfort of an exhilarating catapult on the Slingshot ride - with speeds of up to 160 km per hour, it’s a must for daredevils! 

Noosa River
Discover Natural Beauty in Noosa

Continuing north, at the tip of the Sunshine Coast you’ll find one of the only two Everglades in the world in Noosa. Keen to check out the ‘glades’? Paddle the calm waters of Lake Cootharaba and the Upper Noosa River on a kayak tour. Explore it at your own pace with a self-guided tour or opt for a guided tour by a local expert. On the half-day tour, you’ll paddle through long stretches of river with scenic bushland surrounding you, take a dip in tea-coloured waters and enjoy lunch on the lakefront. Fun fact:  44% of Australia’s bird life lives in the Noosa Everglades so be sure to get your cameras out and catch them gliding along this stunning spot. 


Prefer an on-foot adventure over kayaking? Noosa Heads boasts many hiking tracks from the shoreline to palm tree-lined pathways and you can spot the best of Noosa’s natural landmarks on the Coastal Track trail. This 11.4 km hike takes around 2.5 hours to complete and passes through beach, forest and rocky terrain. If you’re visiting in July-November, stop at the Dolphin Point Lookout and see if you can spot a whale! On the walk, you’ll also see the scenic cliff faces of Hell’s Gates and the unique formation of Devil’s Kitchen.

Cool Off in K’gari (Fraser Island)

Last stop on the Sunshine Coast? Here’s something you don’t want to miss - the world’s largest sand island - K’gari (Fraser Island).  Hop in the car, make your way over on the vehicle ferry and get ready to be amazed. Lounge on the island’s famed sandy beaches, visit bubbling rock pools and discover historic shipwrecks - including the SS Maheno that washed ashore in 1935 after a cyclone. Make the most of your time on K’gari with a swim and picnic on Boorangoora (Lake McKenzie). This stunning lake boasts clear blue waters and snow-white sands, it’s the perfect spot for a pause before wrapping up your time on the island.

There’s so much room for adventure from Byron Bay to the Sunshine Coast and the places we’ve listed are just the beginning! Whether your road trip is only for a few days or extends beyond weeks, the northeastern coast is an epic place for a thrilling getaway. 

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