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Sydney to Brisbane via the Pacific Coast

Road Trip from Sydney to Brisbane

Road Trip from Sydney to Brisbane

One of the best ways one can experience the real Australia, is by going on a road trip. One such popular trip, is the road trip from Sydney to Brisbane via the Pacific Coast. Both of these capitals and the many towns in between, are jam-packed with entertainment, fun and excitement. 

You will pass through surf towns, where you will certainly lay your eyes upon stunning beaches and national parks, rich with native flora and fauna. The roads along this route are some of the easiest drives you’ll make around Australia, but taking some detours will also allow you to experience some of the most incredible places along the eastern coastline of Australia.

To get the maximum enjoyment from this spectacular expedition, a campervan hire from Sydney is a great option for transport. It allows you the flexibility to travel at your own pace, and the convenience of accommodation and amenities, freeing you up from hotel reservations and check-in times. Only having to unpack once is also a nice bonus!

DAY 1 Sydney to the Hunter Valley

Road Trip from Sydney to Brisbane

A day in Sydney can be consuming and for good reason, there is just so much to do. But searching for a more low-key activity besides the classic Circular Quay series of tourist hotspots, why not start your road trip in Bondi? The stays are just beautiful overlooking the long tucked-in inlet where the fresh blue water sparkles, the lifeguards are always at bay and the sands are pure white.

The height of the Sydney social world begins here with fantastic cafes and restaurants to choose from along the main boardwalk and even the opportunity to do a little side shopping with the beach as your backdrop before you begin your coastal drive and change of scenery again as you enter into the sweet lush hills of the Hunter Valley.

Wollombi

Getting ahead of the Sydney traffic, we recommend leaving just after 9:30 to avoid the rush of the busy workers as you head an hour and a half to the historical town of Wollombi situated within the famous Hunter Valley. If you’re looking for heritage and history then this town is for you. Explore the Aboriginal colonial and convict history whilst traveling the convict built Great North Road. 

There’s also the Wollombi Cemetery, St John’s Anglican Church built in 1849, the Endeavour Museum, and a walk along the village itself, which will infuse your minds with a terrific set of cultural and historical experiences.

Since the hunter valley is famous for its wine, why not join a tour from Wollombi from a farm sanctuary to even walking tours and of course the infamous wine trail taking in not just the breathtaking countryside but also the sweetness and flavour of Australia’s array of wines? There are a series of Rover coaches that can facilitate your day for you, with no driving required.

Black Creek Farm

Continuing inland on the road into the heart of the Hunter Valley, the Black Creek farm is a must-see destination along your road to Pokolbin. The Theleme wine is a family-owned vineyard and French provincial-inspired cellar door off the beaten track of the Hunter Valley. Choose from a selection of premium vineyard red and white wines, including Semillon Chardonnay, Rose, Cabernet, Merlot, and Shiraz, whilst relaxing against the picturesque setting of the lush valley behind. 

Pokolbin

The heart of the Hunter Valley, this wonderful part of the valley has so much to offer including terrific and recommended accommodations. You could change up your wine experience and head to the valley chocolate company established in 1999, a premier attraction in the area where you can watch a chocolatier make the confectionery and fudge for the stores it supplies to and this includes their finest Belgian Couverture.

Or perhaps you would like to enter the Mistletoe cellar door houses of the Pokolbin gallery where you can witness their display and available purchases from paintings to ceramics, glassware, wood turnings, sculptures, and other words of art, whilst wondering the sculpture garden on the way to the winery which showcases some of the incredible local talents.

DAY 2 Hunter Valley to Port Stephens 

The Hunter Valley is a rich valley surrounded by blue skies, rich green hills and fresh breezes and beautiful wildlife; it’s a terrific place to stay. Some recommended stays in Pokolbin or close by are Wine Country Tourist Park, Ingenia Holidays Hunter Valley and Voco Kirkton Park. 

Hunter Valley Cheese

City slickers get ready for an incredible and unique taste in the Hunter Valley. The famous Cheese company has a huge array of cheeses, the milk being soured from the Okada dairy at Hexam, and each outlet has fitted tasting bays with sharp piquant aromas and flavours.

Their preservative-free, handmade cheese is the freshest locally spruced ingredients and they offer a huge range of over 50 regional chutneys flavoured oils, and jams to complement the flavours. 

Enjoy a cheese tasting or a cheese/regional preserves and olive tasting or why not a lunch tasting plate while you attend an artisan cheese and cheesemaking appreciation 101 course or even a cheesemaking workshop, getting involved hands-on. The options are endless.

One-Mile Beach

Getting back on the road, just an hour and a half away, situated on the exquisite NSW coastline, the One Mile beach is a place you should visit. Situated in Port Stephens this incredible beach is great for caravan stays, camping, or booking a hut for the night so you can explore, swim, surf, fish and so much more on your journey. 

For the more adventurous types, the Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounters is a unique interactive aquarium that allows visitors to get up close, feed, and interact with the marine life. 

The Oakfield ranch is also a great place to explore Birubi point the vast sand dunes and sweeping beaches on camel back. Enjoy a 20-minute ride into the stunning views, or book an hour-long ride to enjoy the serenity of Anna Bay at sunset.

Day 3 Port Stephens to Port Macquarie 

Start your day with a fresh walk to the elegant and striking Point Stephens Lighthouse which was built in 1862 and sits on an island a short boat ride from the mainland. The lighthouse balcony provides beautiful views over the island and the surrounding coast. Enjoy a stroll along the beach or discover the ruins of the burnt-out keepers’ cottages that remain on the island.

Forster 

Onwards and upwards to Forster, an hour and 54 minutes from your gorgeous morning walk at the Port Stephen’s Lighthouse, you will find the incredible Forster. Don’t forget to take pictures along the way on the drive and feel free to stop at some points to take in the beautiful ocean views.

Why not enjoy the Amaroo cruises, the largest and fastest most comfortable cruise vessel for whale watching and dolphin sighting with three different viewing decks and an abundance of space you will be guaranteed a view of all marine life and be guided by some incredible marine naturalists; the cruise will be insightful and exciting.

Or take a swim at the classic resort beach with the enticing arc of sand and lovely views while enjoying some takeaway as a picnic or a generous meal. 

Perhaps you could take a higher look at the Cape Hawke Lookout, which encapsulates the entire expanse of green and blue along the bay, here you can even catch glimpses of humpbacks and is situated in the Booti Booti national park, ten minutes from the town centre. To get there, it’s not a drive but a brief joyous hike through the Littoral rainforest.

Exploring Taree

Just a half-hour drive from this priceless jewel along the coast, you will find the splendid town of Taree.  Explore the Coorabakh National Park, enjoying places like the Newby cave and overhang composed of conglomerate rock, with the clearest stream flowing through, then continue to the picturesque Newby look out, taking pictures of the magnificent views of the Lansdowne Valley and to the west, Star creek is also worth visiting along the boardwalk located through the hidden lush rainforest and great to enjoy a meal or snack at the picnic tables.

Walk on to the Great Flat Rock look out and witness the grass-hanging trees growing out of the cracks in the sheer cliff or stop at the beautiful Waitui falls on Upsal creek.

Finish your exploration at the bushland tavern and enjoy the terrific food and atmosphere, this bar never disappoints.

Port Macquarie

Just over an hour away, enter the wonderful Port Macquarie.  Finish your long drive staying at one of the popular accommodation spots on offer. Places like the NRMA Port Macquarie Breakwall Holiday Park, Edgewater Holiday Park and Flynns Beach Caravan Park, and many more, are highly recommended and close to the bay for a walk along the water. The perfect way to finish your journey for the day.

DAY 4 Port Macquarie to Coffs Harbour-The Big Banana 

Waking up to a water view can leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed, and why not add to this feeling by attending one of the popular cafes in Pot Macquarie? Some of the top recommendations are the Sandbox Cafe, The Social Grounds, the bittersweet, and Bandwagon Cafe which come highly recommended and with great reviews, you can’t go wrong.

Port Macquarie Koala & Wildlife Park 

Just 12 minutes away, start the day with some local wildlife encounters, and experiences at the Port Macquarie Koala and Wildlife Park. Sit and feed the wallabies an experience you won’t regret or even book ahead and feed the cheetahs against the bright blue-sky backdrop and sea air surrounding you. This wildlife park advocates for conservation through education, and will have you excited and keen to learn about the amazing native animals.

The Big Banana 

Looking for a whole lot of bonanza and fun, just an hour and 52 minutes away from your wildlife experience, enjoy the many activities of the famous and iconic halfway point at the Big Banana. From the dodging lasers of laser tag to the 4D ride simulator, toboggan rides, ice skating, the fun zone filled with awesome arcade games, the giant slide, theatre adventure, and tour, eat at the candy kitchen, enjoy the reptile world or take part in the demolition derby.

Take your time browsing the opal centre or gift shop and eat a nice meal at the cafe and ice creamery. There is just so much to do and explore.

DAY 5 The Big Banana to Byron Bay 

Grafton 

On your way to the beautiful and famous Byron Bay, stop in at Grafton and explore what nature has to offer. The Clarence Gorge is a beautiful site with a stunning waterfall and surrounding hinterland. 

Or perhaps try your luck at the Grafton Regional gallery, a bright and modern extension of the heritage building showcasing vibrant and innovative programs of exhibitions, events workshops, and outreach education.

Try your adventurous spirit out at the river rafting and tubing with the Exodus adventures challenging those fears with some exciting trips and then finish with a decent and well-put-together meal at the Clock Tower restaurant.

Minyon falls look out 

Just a two-hour drive away, spend your afternoon at a location showcasing gorges, waterfalls, deeply shaded palms, and great walking tracks. Located within Byron Bay itself, admire the falls and the luscious valley beneath. On a clear day, you may be even able to look out to the coastline.

Watch the cascades flow over the Minyon Falls and enjoy the sound of local wildlife; a peace and ambiance that can’t be missed. There is also a picnic area perfect for a small picnic and a Boggy Creek walk that leads to the Minyon Falls walking track, leading you down the base of the falls.

DAY 6 Byron Bay to Gold Coast

Byron Bay is one of the most iconic tourist destinations along the coastline between Sydney and Brisbane. It has recently catapulted into the spotlight, thanks to the celebrities who live here, and also those who like to visit on holidays. These include the likes of Chris Hemsworth, Matt Damon, Zac Efron… to name but a few!

Cape Byron walking track

Become an explorer in the morning and enjoy the stunning coastal views along Cape Byron and its infamous walking track that takes you on a hike through the rainforest, along beaches, grasslands, and the clifftops to the lighthouse. Keep an eye out for turtles’, dolphins, stingrays, and in migrating season, whales.

Surfers Paradise 

Just over an hour away, the desired and famous location of Surfers Paradise will be the stunning seaside resort located on Queensland’s Gold Coast. Surfers Paradise beach hosts some of the most amazing shops, cafes, and nightclubs; a hotspot destination before you finish in Brisbane after your long trek from Sydney.

Want to finish with a view? The sky point observation deck located 230 meters off the ground is at the top of your list at the Gold Coast. Made for ardent leisure you will overlook a bright and busy landscape of wide beaches and hundreds of hotels and apartments.

DAY 7 Gold Coast to Brisbane 

A Park for everyone 

There are so many places and theme parks to explore on the Gold Coast.

Theme parks such as Dreamworld, have an abundance of medium to advanced rides, such as the claw, the giant drop, or a rollercoaster. Next door, enter the world of water at white water world for slides, a giant wave pool, luxury cabanas and so much more.

Not too far way there is also Australia’s most popular zoo, the Australian wildlife zoo aka Steve Irwin, this tangle of walkways will lead you through a jungle of endless possibilities and creatures you may or may not know. You can’t miss the crocodile shows too and if you are lucky one of the Irwin’s will be present to share this experience with you and the crowd. 

Brisbane

Although the road trip itinerary ends here in Brisbane, the fun certainly doesn’t have to. Make sure to leave yourself some extra time to explore the city sights, including South Bank Parklands, Mount Coot-tha, the Brisbane Botanical Gardens and Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. 

Ruben Arribas is a Spanish traveler who has traveled more than 70+ countries around the world. Now based in the Philippines!