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What should I pack for a tour of East Coast Australia?

Recently updated on August 13th, 2023 at 09:14 am

If you’re planning a tour of East Coast Australia, one major question is what to pack? The tropics of Cairns call for floaty breathable fabrics, while downtown Melbourne can be crisp and cool even in the peak of summer.

Yes, what to pack for Australia depends on where you go and the type of holiday booked. What to wear in Australia changes if you’re planning a beachside vacation, city escape or an active outdoor adventure. Chances are you’ll be doing all three!

Feeling overwhelmed? The best thing to do is plan ahead so you can make the most of your holiday while on the road. If you’re planning to travel the East Coast of Australia, here’s ideas and tips for what to pack and what to wear wherever you go.

Swimsuit and towel

The top way to be prepared for a tour of East Coast Australia’s coastline is by packing a bikini or pair of swim shorts. Between Melbourne and Cairns there are more than 4000km of beaches waiting to be explored and you’ll surely want to take advantage of a few. Even in winter the water is quite warm!

The other beach essential? Pack a towel of course. But if you’ve read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy before then we shouldn’t need to tell you that…

Linen shirt, hat, sunglasses and sunscreen

Australians take sun safety seriously and you should too. The sun down under is extra strong thanks to an ozone hole, so applying (and reapplying) sunscreen is essential if you plan to be outdoors for more than 20 minutes at a time. If you are snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef you must be careful and wear reef safe sunscreen that won’t damage the precious and colourful marine life. This is easy to find in any pharmacy down under.

Also pack a hat for the beach or when you’re outdoors and a long-sleeve linen shirt for extra UV protection. Sunglasses (or sunnies, as they say in Aussie slang) are a must too.

Surf Lifesavers in Australia

Summer clothes

If you’re heading up to the tropics of Far North Queensland to swim in the Great Barrier Reef and explore the Daintree know this: it will be very hot and very humid all year round. If you’re thinking about what to wear in Australia, know that sometimes dressing for the climate is the only way to survive. Forget polyester and man-made fibres – pack loose cotton t-shirts, linen dresses or shorts.

In the bigger cities like Brisbane, Sydney, Gold Coast and Melbourne people dress more cosmopolitan. One day you might head to the wildlife park, but the next you might have a long lunch by the water – so pack prepared with a dressier outfit and shoes.

Credit: Tourism Australia

Adventure clothing

Australia’s nature is calling – the landscapes, the native wildlife and breathtaking scenery all demand your full attention. When considering what to pack for Australia, know that you will spend a lot of time outdoors. Go prepared with activewear or adventure gear to go on short coastal hikes or bush walks. This might mean a t-shirt and shorts for some, while others prefer yoga tights and a singlet. 

Walking in Queensland, Australia. Credit: Tourism Australia
Credit: Tourism Australia

Depending how extreme your adventures get and which season you travel in, for your East Coast Australia travel you may like to pack a raincoat, windbreaker or other waterproof layer. In Queensland the humidity will make wearing a plastic rainjacket uncomfortable, but down south it’s the perfect item to layer.

GET INSPIRED: Contrasts of Australia

Warmer layers

Speaking of the south, Melbourne has a reputation for having four seasons in one day, so no matter the time of year you will need options. If your tour of East Coast Australia takes to you the state of Victoria or city of Melbourne, be sure to pack jeans and a light sweater even in summer. In winter you’ll need something much warmer like a wool jacket, scarf and beanie.

Credit: Tourism Australia


If you know even a little Aussie slang you’ll know that the thongs we’re referring to here are flip flops, not underwear. Perhaps Australia’s favourite footwear, outside of downtown Sydney and Melbourne you’ll commonly see people wandering the streets, beaches and shopping malls in thongs.


Sneakers are perhaps the ultimate travel shoe – they can take you from the city to the bush. When wondering what to pack for Australia, include a pair of smart sneakers or pack both a chic sneaker and one for hiking. Women may also like to pack sandals for walking and a high heel for dinners out in the cities.

RELATED CONTENT: 6 incredible East Coast Australia experiences you can enjoy with Trafalgar

Insect repellent

No doubt you’ve heard about Australia’s cute and dangerous wildlife. If you stick to the paths and follow your guide’s instructions you’ll be fine… except for one thing. Pack insect repellent! You may also like to bring allergy medication and after-sun lotion, but you can of course buy all these things along with sunscreen in the many pharmacies and supermarkets found everywhere along the East Coast of Australia. 

Australian adaptor

When you head down under your world flips upside down. Okay, that’s not entirely true but they do use different powerpoints to what you are probably used to. Packing a power adaptor might be one of the most important things in your suitcase. Without it, your phone and camera will die and you won’t have evidence of your trip. Another great travel tip is to pack a power board from your home country. That way you can charge multiple items at once with just one international adaptor.

GET INSPIRED: Tastes of Southern Australia

Water bottle

Australia is an active, outdoors country and you will be out there exploring the best of her beauty so expect to drink more water than usual. Australians try to be eco-conscious so BYO (bring your own) refillable water bottle to stay hydrated while you tour the East Coast of Australia. The water is safe to drink across the country and you will find public water fountains to refill at in parks, bus stops and streets all along the East Coast.

Still wondering what to wear in Australia? We hope not. Let us know what else you’ll be packing in the comments below…

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