A month in Australia is a good amount of time for you to see plenty of the highlights and experience some of the best things to do in Australia. Visit Sydney, Gold Coast, Great Ocean Road, Melbourne, the Great Barrier Reef, Sunshine Coast and Fraser Island to name a few.
There are so many great places to see in Australia and planning a month can be overwhelming and confusing to know where to start.
If you are looking to plan your Australia itinerary 4 weeks, you have found the right post to help you plan, decide and outline your Australia family trip. But, don’t worry hopefully after reading through this post your Australia travel plans will come together with a clearer understanding of the places to go!
For us, Australia was a much needed familiar type of culture for our family after spending 5 months in South East Asia on our 1 year of full time travel and being away from Canada for 8 months. We were getting a little homesick and Australia helped us feel at home. Oh, how I wish I could live in Aussie!
What You'll Find in This Post
- How to plan a trip to Australia
- Ultimate Australia Itinerary 4 Weeks:
- 1) Day 1 – 5: Gold Coast (Brisbane, Byron Bay, Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach)
- 2) Day 6 – 9: Fraser Island
- 3) Day 10 – 13: Sunshine Coast
- 4) Day 14 – 17: Airlie Beach (Whitsundays & Great Barrier Reef)
- 5) Day 18 – 21: Melbourne
- 6) Day 22 – 24: Great Ocean Road
- 7) Day 25 – 30: Sydney
- Australia Travel Tips
How to plan a trip to Australia
This is going to be fun, you get to be the Australia trip planner for your family, friends or that solo trip you are planning to take. Although our Australia trip was a family vacation, any of the destinations are geared towards anyone and everyone.
After reviewing the entire itinerary make some notes on which places you want to see and decide if you want longer or shorter in each of the destinations.
If you have less time like 3 weeks in Australia or 2 weeks in Australia you will just have to shorten up the time in each place and/or choose which ones you don’t want to visit as much. Not to worry, I would take any amount of time… even 1 week in Australia would be amazing :)
Please keep in mind that Australia is a very large country and almost impossible to see the entire country in 4 weeks. I am also in the mindset of not racing through the places just to say we have been there and not have enough time to really enjoy ourselves.
The east coast travel route is a common path that many people take to travel in Australia, and this was the route we decided to take.
In my opinion, for your first visit to Australia, the east coast trail is the best Australia itinerary to start with.
So here are the Top 7 places to visit on your 4 week Australian itinerary!
Ultimate Australia Itinerary 4 Weeks:
1) Day 1 – 5: Gold Coast (Brisbane, Byron Bay, Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach)
The Gold Coast is located in south east Queensland (halfway up the east coast) and is a great place to start your Australia trip with kids. Depending on where you are travelling from, your family will most likely have jetlag and a few days of soaking up the sun on the beaches in the Gold Coast will probably help.
As far as the eye can see beaches line the coastline. White sand beaches, chill vibe and a few day trips from our home base in Broadbeach was just what we needed to settle into the Aussie life.
Best Things To Do In Gold Coast
We spent one day and drove out to Byron Bay to visit the Cape Byron Lighthouse and hike around Cape Byron. Byron Bay is approximately 1 hour drive from Broadbeach so makes for a quick and easy day trip.
We also spent one day walking along the beach and in the area of Burleigh Heads, which a very cool area. If there is one spot I would love to live this may be it!
Although we did not take part in any of the amusement or theme parks, one of the best things to do in the Gold Coast is to visit these theme parks that are scattered in the Gold Coast:
- Australia’s Sea World
- Warner Bros. Movie World
- Wet’n’Wild Waterpark
- Treetop Challenge
- Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
One thing we wish we would have done was to go to the Skypoint Observation deck. It would have been amazing to see the coastline from this view.
Best Places to Stay in Gold Coast
We stayed in an Airbnb in Broadbeach only a few minutes walk from the beach. We didn’t have a pool or other amenities, so it all depends on what you prefer.
If you haven’t used Airbnb you can get credit from Airbnb the first time you use them (We get credit too just so you know :) But hopefully you found the info we shared useful to share the love with no extra cost to you Win-Win :)
If you are looking for hotels in the area here are some current deals:
- We flew into the OOL airport, some flights are cheaper flying into Gold Coast versus Sydney or Melbourne so check it out to save you some money.
- The Gold Coast can be a great central spot to use as a hub start travelling the east coast of Australia. Depending on how much you want to do in this area your days can go by very quickly. I would suggest that if are thinking about going to any of the theme parks those will take up a day on their own, so plan your Gold Coast Itinerary around that.
- Another area if you prefer a busier more happening spot to be would be in Surfers Paradise. Jamie had stayed there years before on a backpacking trip to Australia, but for our family, we preferred to stay in a quieter area. All depends on what you like.
- We rented a car for our stay to get around the Gold Coast and to drive to Fraser Island.
NOTE: We spent 5 nights here but I think we could have reduced it to fewer days, especially since we didn’t do any theme parks. But, flying the red-eye into the area we wanted a couple of days just to regroup on the beach.
2) Day 6 – 9: Fraser Island
Fraser Island is one of Australia’s east coast must see! Fraser Island made up entirely of sand and a UNESCO site. I would highly recommend if you can squeeze this into your itinerary you will not be disappointed.
You can read our guide about all the things to do on Fraser Island for more details.
Best Things To Do in Fraser Island
- Island 4WD Adventure Tour
- Lake McKenzie
- 75 Mile Beach
- Airplane ride over the island
- Whale Watching
- Eli Creek
- Wanggoolba Creek
A Fraser Island tour can usually hit many of the things to do on Fraser Island with kids! Although the price can be expensive for the day, it is well worth the value in our opinion. Here are some other tour options for Fraser Island to consider:
Best Places to Stay in Fraser Bay
We spent 2 nights at Kingfisher Bay Resort which was perfect for families. We loved this resort, set up perfect for families with cool activities for the kids in evening and Jr. Ranger program.
There are a few other hotel options to choose from on the island including:
Best Places to Stay in Hervey Bay
We stayed at the first night in Hervey Bay at the Ramada Hervey Bay . The kids loved the pool and we wanted to stay the night before to ensure we were on the first departure to Fraser Island so we had the most of the day on Fraser Island.
- Book your Fraser Island in advance and try to schedule around this for your east coast itinerary. There are a limited amount of places to stay on the island and the tours get booked up early.
- You get to Fraser Island from Hervey Bay, there is a regular Fraser Island Barge that departures throughout the day.
3) Day 10 – 13: Sunshine Coast
Our next few days were spent on the Sunshine Coast. Another area that is lined with beaches and has a much more relaxed vacation destination atmosphere over the Gold Coast. We felt like this is the spot that locals go to get away from all us tourists :)
Our highlights from Sunshine coast included hiking the Noose National Park, one of our best hikes we did in Australia! We were also on the lookout for Koala bears and trying to smell for them, but we weren’t lucky enough to spot any at this place. But, this kept the kids entertained for the entire hike.
The best place to visit in Sunshine Coast with kids has to be the Australia Zoo. Crikey, it was great! This is the ultimate zoo to visit with your kids because it teaches them about protecting the animals. The values that have about the rehabilitation of the animals provides so much for the kids to learn. It is also the home of Steve Irwin – The Crocodile Hunter! Our kids favourite was visiting the animal hospital and feeding the kangaroos.
If hikes or zoos aren’t for you or your family, the beaches will be the next best place to visit. Lots of water activities available for you to spend the entire day at the beach.
Best Things To Do In Sunshine Coast
- Australia Zoo
- Noose National Park
- Beach activities
Best Places to Stay in Sunshine Coast
We stayed in an Airbnb which was close to Noose National Park because that was one of the major things we wanted to see. Don’t forget you can get credit from Airbnb the first time you use them! Otherwise, there are plenty of hotels in the area to choose from:
- The Australia Zoo is a full day, so plan to spend most of your time here walking around the zoo and going to live events they have in the park.
- Bring plenty of water on your hikes, the forrest can be sheltered from the sun but the humidity can dehydrate you very quickly.
4) Day 14 – 17: Airlie Beach (Whitsundays & Great Barrier Reef)
After Sunshine Coast, we continued to drive south and then caught a flight from Brisbane up to Airlie Beach which is located in northern Queensland. If we had more time we would have done the drive all the way up to Cairns, but within our month in Australia, this wasn’t going to be an option for us.
A bucket list item – snorkel and dive the Great Barrier Reef! You have to go and see the Great Barrier Reef when you are in Australia. To me, that would just be silly if you went all the way to the other side of the world and not see this massive reef that can be seen from space. It is a must-see in Australia! Hopefully, you are catching onto not missing out on this!
I got to do my first 30 minute dive with our day trip to the Great Barrier Reef. While the kids and Jamie snorkelled from the main boat. Both were spectacular experiences on one of our best moments of the year!
Another reason why we chose Airlie Beach versus flying up to Cairns was that we wanted to visit the Whitsunday Islands and walk on Whitehaven beach. We took a fun speedboat experience out for the day to these spots and was one of our best days in Australia.
Whitsunday Islands will blow your mind away on how beautiful this Australian beach is. This may be the softest sand we have ever seen in the world!
Also, wildlife is a major part of travelling with kids and Airlie beach was our first spotting of a wild kangaroo! When we landed and left the airport, we saw kangaroos in the wild jumping along the road. Its a smaller center so with that comes more wildlife spotting opportunities.
Best Things To Do In Airlie Beach
We took a day tour for both Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef. The Whitsundays Ocean Rafting Tour was a full day and absolutely loved it, you can check out this page for more details. The kids loved the super fast boat and loud music to pump them up. Not your typical boat tour!
We also took the tour for Outer Great Barrier Reef to the ReefWorld Pontoon, check out what the boat looks like and more info here.
- Dive or Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef
- Visit the Whitsunday Islands
- Spend the afternoon on Whitehaven beach
- Take a speed boat or sailboat through the islands
Best Places to Stay in Airlie Beach
We stayed at the BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort, you have to check out this place to stay. Our best stay in all of Australia, the kids loved the pool, waterslides, mini-golf and so much more. We stayed in a little bungalow. Loved it…. this is how Aussie’s camp – WOW! This is my one and only recommendation for where to stay in Airlie Beach.
- Plan for an extra day if you can to allow for some leeway for the ocean swells and weather. When we were there we had some big swells and had to go regardless because we only had a certain number of days.
- Take the motion sickness pills if the boats provide them. Really people… if the captain is giving out motion sickness pill before we leave the harbour please listen to him/her to make your trip more enjoyable. We weren’t ill from the boat trips (because we took the motion sickness pills the boats provide), but many others were if you are not used to the ocean.
- The cost of the flight can be pricey, so weight the extra cost if you are able to spare a few days on the road travelling versus flying.
- Book your tours in advance if you can so you are not disappointed upon your arrival and things are all booked up.
NOTE: We stayed in Airlie Beach for 8 nights, this much time is not needed. Have 1 day for Great Barrier Reef and 1 day for Whitsunday, and 1 day free is the perfect amount of time. Our family also wanted to have some free days at our amazing resort we stayed at. We also met some amazing families that we still keep in contact with for Aussie.
5) Day 18 – 21: Melbourne
Melbourne is a city that is full of so much life and a melting pot of so many places from around the world. We found Melbourne to have so many familiarities and influences from around the world from the people who have immigrated to Australia. There are European touches to the buildings and architecture, Chinatown and Little Italy districts areas that are must to go see and eat at.
There is also a great vibe to Melbourne that made me love it with all their street art, a lively university city and sometimes an eastern European forward thinking atmosphere.
Melbourne is also known for its food scene and they did not disappoint! We ate our way through Melbourne and enjoyed every minute of it. Queen Victoria market was one of our favourite spots with great food selections, coffee and atmosphere that we loved as a family. I would visit Queen Victoria market every week if I lived in Melbourne.
Best Things to Do in Melbourne
You will have no problem finding things to do for a Melbourne 3 day itinerary. Here are some more ideas for the family:
- Queen Victoria Market
- Riding the city circle trams
- Federation Square
- Scene Worlds
- LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Melbourne
- Walk along the Yarra River
- Street Art
- National Gallery of Victoria
- Royal Botanic Gardens
- Flinders Street Station
- Day Trip to Brighton Beach (the colourful beach huts)
- Check out the Melbourne cricket ground or go to a cricket match
Best Places to Stay in Melbourne
We stayed at the Ibis Hotel, which was a two-bedroom apartment. We really liked this area since it was close to the Queen Victoria market and fairly accessible to all the spots we wanted to go see in Melbourne. Some other hotel options for Melbourne:
- We didn’t need a car rental in Melbourne, public transportation was great.
- We rented the car for our Great Ocean Road drive from the airport we were going to fly out of, this kept the cost down since we were picking up and returning the vehicle to the same place.
6) Day 22 – 24: Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road (GOR) is one of the best drives in the world. The twists and turns that hug the south eastern coastline of Australia let you get some amazing views from the road. It’s also known as the Surf Coast Highway.
The Great Ocean Road is 243 KM highway in Victoria, it officially starts from Torquay and goes to Allansford. We only travelled from Torquay to Port Campbell, which is the most popular route since at Port Campbell is where the Twelve Apostles rock formation is.
Here is a quick overview of the road trip to give you an idea of what you can expect in each city along the way.
Great Ocean Road Trip Itinerary
Day 1: Drive from Melbourne to Lorne
Starting from Melbourne stop at Torquay and check out Bells Beach where the world renowned Rip Curl surf competition is held every year. Another amazing spot to stop is at Teddy’s lookout in Lorne for an up high place for everyone to have a really good look at the road below.
Day 2: Drive from Lorne to Apollo Bay
Halfway between Lorne and Apollo Bay is Kennett River, which is a well-known place to spot Koala bears in the wild. If you have kids, you know this is a highlight to see these animals in the wild. In Kennett River, look for Grey River Road by Kafe Koala or go further along Grey River Road if you want to walk to see them. This is also a good opportunity to break up the drive and have the kids stretch their legs from the drive.
Day 3: Drive from Apollo Bay to Port Campbell
Port Campbell area is where you will find the famous limestone stacks of the Twelve Apostles, Gibson Steps, Loch Ard Gorge, The Grotto, and London Bridge rock formations. All of these spots will take a few hours to explore and check out.
On the way, we stopped at Great Otway National Park for a short hike. If you have some extra time you can also try going to see if you can spot some more koalas at the Otway Lighthouse Road.
Day 4: Drive from Port Campbell to Melbourne
If you didn’t get a good look (or it started to rain the day before like us) at the Twelve Apostles you can check out Port Campbell National Park before you drive back. It is approximately a 3 hour drive back to Melbourne but expect some slower travel along this highway.
For more detail on all the best places to stop along the Great Ocean Road with full itinerary check out more details here.
Best Places to Stay in Lorne
Best Places to Stay in Apollo Bay
Best Places to Stay in Port Campbell
We stayed at the Southern Ocean Motor Inn with some other options here that you can check out. We didn’t spend too much on accommodation since we were really just sleeping, packing and leaving the next day.
- Take your time driving TO Port Campbell. The drive on the left side of the road is the best because you are on the side closest to the ocean.
- If you are really short on time and/or want to condense this part of the trip there are GOR day trips that you can take from Melbourne. Buses that are a full long day that drives you out to Port Campbell and the Twelve Apostles with a few stops in between. You don’t need to worry about driving the road either. We preferred the slow travel of driving with the kids and taking our time in the smaller towns along the way. But, a day trip is an option if you don’t want to miss out!
7) Day 25 – 30: Sydney
Sydney is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The city is blessed with having ocean views forever, stunning bridges, endless waterways and architecture to line the Sydney harbour. Not to mention the most iconic building that is associated with Australia, the Sydney Opera House.
There is no doubt that you must have Sydney on your trip around Australia. It is a big city with lots to do – the options are limitless here. Anything you want to go see or do is available.
We spent one day walking around the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Botanical gardens and around the harbour. Lots of great views of the Sydney bridge ate at some of the cafes and wandered through the streets.
Another day we took a day trip out to Manly Beach and walked along the path, went to the beach and enjoyed a more suburban feel to Sydney.
We spent a day at Bondi Beach and watched the surfers, boogie boarders and played in the waves. We enjoyed the chill vibe of Bondi Beach and the kids loved saying that they had been to where Bondi Beach Rescue tv show has been filmed. They watched a few episodes while in Aussie!
We also really liked the Sydney coastal walk from Bondi to Bronte. Walk all along the water with some great views.
Always great food in big cities and Sydney has some great options to choose from. Choose your cuisine of choice and search up on TripAdvisor for some best places to eat in Sydney for the most recent options.
Best Things to Do in Sydney
- Sydney Opera House
- Walk around Cirquay area
- Royal Botanical Gardens
- Sydney Bridge
- Darling Harbour
- Bondi Beach
- Sea Life Aquarium
- Taringa Zoo
Day Trips from Sydney
- Manly Beach
- Blue Mountains (we did not do this, but wish we would have)
Best Places to Stay in Sydney
We stayed in two different areas while we were in Sydney. We first stayed at an Airbnb in Bondi Beach, which was great to visit the beach and relax.
We also stayed downtown, at the Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel at Circular Quay, prior to our departure on our cruise. Downtown was awesome for checking out things close to the harbour, easy access and all fairly close. The hotels are generally more per night versus Bondi Beach, but you get the close proximity to the harbour.
- Consider looking into day tours that make your life easier to plan, plus usually, the cost isn’t too much more. When we were looking at the Blue Mountains day trip this is the way we would have went.
- Take the local ferry to different spots if you want to feel like a local, it’s a fun way for the kids to experience it and see the city from the water.
Places on our Next Australia Itinerary
As I mentioned before Australia is a massive country and next to impossible to see all the highlights of Australia in 4 weeks. So these were the spots that were on our list that we had to scratch off until another time.
If you have any extra days to make it 5 weeks Australia itinerary consider the following top spots to see in Australia that weren’t covered in this above itinerary:
- Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, Northern Territory
- Alice Springs, Northern Territory
- Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory
- Perth, Western Australia
- Tasmania Island
Transportation in Australia
- We rented a car for driving around Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Fraser Island and the Great Ocean Road. We found in those areas we needed to have a vehicle for our family. Although there were places we could walk to we found it easiest to drive and public transportation wasn’t a cheaper option.
- Don’t forget for all you North Americans, driving is on the left side (steering wheel is on the right side of the vehicle)!
- We flew most of our flights with Jetstar airline within Australia.
- Australian’s generally do not tip! This threw us right off when going out with locals for supper and they told us not to tip.
- We looked into the train that could take you in one direction from all the way from Cairns to Melbourne, but for us, with the cost of 4 people, it was actually about the same to fly and rent cars for the spots.
Australia Travel Tips
- Feel free to change up the order of the destinations. We flew between most of the cities because we wanted to save travel time. You could also do a road trip and drive from Cairns to Melbourne or vice versa.
- As noted for some places, we stayed for a bit longer in some spots for certain reasons. We also were trying to plan our Australia travel around a cruise that we booked out to the South Polynesian islands of Vanuatu, Fiji, New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands. Sydney Harbour has so many great cruises you can add onto if you want to go out to spots here. New Zealand, South Polynesian, Tasmania island and a few others. Maybe consider adding a 3 or 4 day cruise onto your trip :)
- School vacation days in Australia. If you are trying to plan around the school vacation days to help with getting better prices or more availability… good luck – lol. I found it very confusing to try and figure out each state’s school terms. But, for most the majority of the kids are off school for most of December and January. This is considered their summer holidays (I think – lol).
- Australia Weather Look into the weather in each of the places to find out when the best time to go to Australia is for you. We were there towards the end of February and into March. The east coast was comfortable weather for hiking, going to the beach and walking around. We happened to hit bad ocean weather up in Airlie beach at that time, but it was still warm enough for beach weather. In Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road, during the time we were there, it was more light jackets or sweaters and pants for the most part. For Sydney, we had great weather, very comfortable for touring around and going to the beach too!
- States visited within the 1 month itinerary of Australia: Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
- Australia is not a cheap country to travel to. It is about the same as travelling in the USA and Canada for the most part. We tried to keep to a budget and as you can tell spent our money on experiences and once in a lifetime opportunity versus theme parks. But, it just depends on what you like. We only had so much money to spend on the trip so for us spending it on snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, airplane ride over Fraser Island and a boat tour to see Whitsundays island were well worth the dollars spent.
- Data cards and phone – when we landed in Gold Coast, we bought a prepaid SIM card from the newsstand and registered online for the card. The prices weren’t too expensive for the amount of limited data that we needed. The process to register was a bit more time consuming than in other countries we visited on our world travels. I would still recommend buying an old-fashioned map though for your highway travels since data reception can be spotting in some areas.
- Wifi was available mostly everywhere including hotels, restaurants, and cafes for free.
- We found pricing of the food and drinks to be about the same as North America, but we did notice that any kind of junk food was definitely more. Fewer chips and pop for us on this trip, which is a good thing anyways!
We enjoyed travelling along the east coast itinerary and loved our month in Australia. Australia is truly an amazing county with a wide range of places to visit and experiences for families to have. We found Australia to be a very easy country to travel around with kids with no barriers.
So, if you are thinking of doing Australia for your first long term trip with your kids then this itinerary of Australia will hopefully be a good guide for you to feel more confident about booking that trip!
Are there any places that we missed on our Australia travel itinerary? Any tidbits about Aussie to share?
We travelled to Australia from February 22 – March 28.
Our kids were 5 (turned 6 in Sydney) & 8 years old.