Australia's East Coast from Sydney to Brisbane is a well-travelled path, and for very good reason. Its mix of golden beaches, sprawling vineyards and rugged hinterland paint perhaps the ultimate portrait of the country's celebrated outdoors lifestyle. After exploring the many delights of Sydney, from its harbour icons to its seaside neighbourhoods, head into the wilderness to explore the spectacular Blue Mountains, taste your way around the award-winning wineries of the Hunter Valley and take in the charms of pretty coastal towns such as Port Stephens, Coffs Harbour and Byron Bay. It's all accompanied by included car hire and stays in hotels handpicked for their outstanding locations.
Days 1-2: UK/Sydney
Depart the UK for Australia, arriving in Sydney on day three. Before your flight, be sure to take advantage of our complimentary VIP lounge access at the airport.
Days 3-5: Sydney
On arrival in Sydney, you'll be treated to a private transfer to your chosen hotel. You'll have three days in this fabulous city to explore and see why it regularly appears at the top of the best cities in the world lists. There's a huge amount to see and do and fitting it all in will certainly be a challenge. For first-time visitors, the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House are a must, but there's so much more to this vibrant, cosmopolitan city that's worth discovering. Take a ferry to the beaches at Manly and Watsons Bay, try your hand at surfing at Bondi Beach or, for something different, why not browse the weekend markets in Surrey Hills or Glebe, both just a short distance from the CBD? Ask one of our Australia specialists for recommendations based on your preferences.
Stay: Rendezvous The Rocks (Standard) or Amora Hotel Jamison (Superior)
Day 6: Blue Mountains
Collect your hire car and head inland to the Blue Mountains. Located just 65 kilometres west of Sydney, this beautiful region is characterised by its spectacular gorges and gullies, bushwalking trails and a series of lookouts offering superb views across this World-Heritage-Listed landscape. You'll take it all in, of course, from our choice of handpicked hotels. Our superior option offers a delightful boutique stay in a collection of individually styled suites and cottages, while our deluxe-level upgrade mixes in the likes of fine dining, spa treatments and sweeping national-park views.
Stay: Old Leura Dairy (Superior) or Lilianfels Resort & Spa (Deluxe)
Day 7: Hunter Valley
Depart the Blue Mountains and head for the Hunter Valley, one of the premier wine regions in New South Wales. Wine growing in the Hunter can be traced as far back as 1828 making it the country's oldest wine-producing region as well as one of its most renowned. Spend time exploring and sampling the classic wines which include Semillon, Chardonnay and Shiraz, as well as some less well-known varieties such as Verdelho and Chambourcin.
Day 8: Port Stephens
From the Hunter Valley you'll head back to the coast and the pretty seaside town of Port Stephens. This wildlife hotspot is home to a pod of some 140 bottlenose dolphins, giving the area the unofficial title of Australia's dolphin capital. Between the months of May and November the town is also a prime spot for viewing the thousands of whales that pass by during their annual migration. Along with the abundance of marine life, Port Stephens is also a great spot to rare seabirds including the Gould's petrel, often seen on and around the scattering of offshore islands. Away from the wildlife and back on dry land, the town itself has a number of lovely independent boutiques and quality restaurants.
Meals: Breakfast (Superior – if staying at The Convent )
Stay: Oaks Pacific Blue (Standard) or The Anchorage, Port Stephens (Superior)
Day 9: Coffs Harbour
Continue your drive up the New South Wales coast to Coffs Harbour. Among the attractions of this delightful coastal city are its excellent beaches, a pretty marina and the chance to indulge in a number of water sports. Coffs Harbour is also well known for its banana production, as proclaimed by The Big Banana, a large walk-through replica of the town's favourite produce and one of the earliest of the 150 so-called 'big things' erected in towns throughout Australia.
Stay: Quality Inn City Centre Coffs Harbour (Standard) or Aanuka Beach Resort (Superior)
Days 10-11: Byron Bay
The penultimate stop on your coastal self-drive is the town of Byron Bay. A bohemian atmosphere pervades this laid back community, known for its New-Age philosophies, deeply ingrained surf culture, spectacular white-sand beach and Cape Byron, Australia's most easterly point. It is also emerging as a gourmet haven for foodies and there are a multitude of superb cafes and restaurants to choose from in the town. Take time to explore, perhaps try your hand at surfing with surf lesson or hop in a sea kayak for a paddle with dolphins but also just stop and relax, soak up the laid back vibe and enjoy the glorious beaches. Breakfast is included on day 11 for our Deluxe option.
Stay: Lord Byron Resort (Standard) or The Byron at Byron Resort & Spa (Deluxe)
Day 12: Brisbane
Continue north to Brisbane, the last stop on your East Coast drive and the state capital of sunny Queensland. Spend a day exploring the cosmopolitan city centre on the banks of the Brisbane River, or discover one of the city's trendy suburbs such as New Farm, full of cafés, markets and boutiques.
Stay: Hotel Grand Chancellor (Standard) or The Next, Brisbane (Superior)
Days 13-14: Departure
Return your car to Brisbane airport and board your overnight flight, arriving in the UK on Day 14.
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website