Embark on the Gringo Trail through Australia: A backpacking journey from Sydney to Cairns, uncovering adventure, surf, and vibrant culture.
Forget about Thailand as the default escape for rain-soaked Brits; there’s a fresh wave of adventurers exploiting their Commonwealth privileges, and they’re flying down under to the land of Oz’s Gringo Trail. Some fly solo, some tag along with the touring crowd, and a select few drag their mates along for the wild ride. But here’s the kicker—they all end up traversing the same damn path.
Much like the underbelly of any trendy tourist hotspots, these locales develop unique identities within a subculture of nomadic wanderers. Certain places build up a reputation. Accommodation recommendations get passed around. Certain people become icons in the transient travelling community, and thanks to the likes of Instagram, it becomes hard to meet anyone who hasn’t bumped into one of your previous trail acquaintances.
Exemplifying some sort of subcultural pilgrimage, or an informal mass migration, here’s the ins and outs of the Aussie trail.
Start off in Sydney
You kick off your adventure in Sydney for one of two reasons. a) It’s where the cheapest flights land, and b) It’s quite conveniently located at the very bottom of South-eastern Australia, which makes it the perfect launchpad for your journey upwards.
Sydney, though somewhat similar to other bustling metropolises, possesses a unique charm that often captivates and refuses to let go. With Bondi Beach just a short 30-minute bus ride away, it boasts everything that London dreams of having; pristine beaches, abundant sunshine, world-class surf, and charming little restaurants and markets that beckon your senses.
Fly up to the Sunshine Coast and Get To Know Noosa
Noosa is where backpackers take refuge, but it’s perhaps one of the wealthiest coastal towns you’ll ever set foot upon, despite backpackers being notoriously penny-pinching. With an array of luxury houses perched along the coastline, the town may be small, but it certainly delivers on gastronomy, serene parks, and top-notch surf experiences.
Book a Tour of Fraser Island
Fraser Island is a destination best experienced through a guided tour, and Dingo Tours offers the most budget-friendly option for intrepid travelers. As the largest sand island globally, Fraser Island is possibly the wildest stop on the Gringo Trail. This pristine locale is also home to wild inhabitants known as “Gringoes,” fox-like creatures that can be surprisingly feisty. The island is not for the faint of heart, with shark-infested waters, slithering snakes, and various insects adding to the thrill.
Party in Gold Coast
Gold Coast and Surfer’s Paradise are the unequivocal party stops. With high-rises defining the coastline, this glittering city hosts a vibrant nightlife scene that caters to the young and the adventurous. With little else to do during the daytime, travelers often take this spot as a well-deserved break in their journey.
Soak up Byron Bay
There are two reasons why you might have heard of Byron Bay. Either you’re a surfer, you’re a Luke Hemsworth fan (he lives there), or you’re seriously into your Aussie beach girl fashion. Whatever brought you to Byron, however, is irrelevant. This small but charming surf town is bustling with buskers, surfers, and travelers, all blending into a crowd that feels equally laid-back and effortlessly cool.
With a strong spiritual scene and a random 24-hour bakery for your 3 am cravings, Byron has plenty to offer for the mystically inclined. One mandatory stop for this crowd is The Arts Factory Lodge, a local hostel that offers all kinds of weirdly wonderful activities and hosts a rather iconic talent show.
Take a City Break in Brisbane
Brisbane feels like quite the contrast to the rest of the tour because amidst beaches and national parks, the Gringo Trail suddenly halts in a metropolis. This urban hub welcomes activities such as museum walks, shopping extravaganzas, and, of course, club-hopping adventures.
Sail Airlie Beach
Airlie Beach is another organized tour location, but one that is instead reached by boat. Sailing the Whitsundays is a breathtaking experience that defies words.
Finish it off at Cairns
Cairns is a celebratory last, or first stop (depending on how you plan your trip, but most make their way up, not down), where Hooligans is the ultimate stop for those looking to get rowdy. Think cheap alcohol, intermingled with sights such as the stunning Great Barrier Reef and the lush Daintree Rainforest.