To see the east coast (roughly Sydney to Cairns), the cheapest thing to do is to book all the main things you want to do in one go with one travel company. We decided to book skydiving at Mission Beach, scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef, a two-day sailing trip around the Whitsunday islands and three days on Fraser Island. There are other things to see between Sydney and Cairns, but these were the things we wanted to do.
Another trick to save money: Most backpacking travel companies in Australia have price-beating promises, so if you get a quote in one office (preferably sent to you by email), you then just walk down the road to a different company and they will give you a cheaper or better offer. You can do this as many times as you like, until you are satisfied you’ve found the best value package. We paid 1200 AUD per person for all the above mentioned things. We could have gone with a cheaper package, but decided to spring for a nicer boat on our Whitsunday sailing trip. We travelled and slept in our own car, so we didn’t have to pay for accommodation or busses. People that don’t have a car usually book themselves on over-night busses and hostels along the way.
Fraser Island was our first stop, three days exploring with four-wheel drive cars. Fraser Island is mostly sand dunes and forest, with some unique lakes and rivers inland. It’s actually the largest sand island in the world. Everyone was allowed to try driving the four-wheel drive on the beach, I almost crashed the car into a sand-dune on my go. At night we stayed on a campsite run by Aborigines, which had funnily barred Australians, because they cause too much trouble (this might have been a joke). We had a pretty luxurious time there, some groups camped wild and had to build their own tents and dig holes in the sand if they needed to go to the toilet. Driving through one of these, we saw dingoes tearing a tent open to get at some food that had been left out.
Champagne pools, so called because when the tide comes in the water splashes into the pools (you can imagine). When we were there it was low-tide, so we didn’t get to see it.