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Sydney to Brisbane Coastal Drive.
Approx Driving Distances/ Time . 12 hrs from Sydney (950Km) to Brisbane.
The Pacific Highway from Sydney to Brisbane is also known as The Legendary Pacific Coast and for handy hints on the legendary destinations along the touring drive it's worth having a look at www.pacificcoast.com.au There is information about all the National Parks and State Forests on this site and a free downloadable touring guide covering all the destinations from the Central Coast to the Tweed on the QLD border.
The best beaches and towns are off the highway, follow any brown tourist drive signs and you will see the best of this coastline. The coastal route follows the Pacific Ocean and is the Number 1 National Highway, which stretches for approx 1000kms and is Australia's top tourism drive.
The highway is partially converted to a motorway and dual carriageway, but some parts are just a single carriageway. Please keep to the speed limit as there are plenty of speed cameras along this highway and also Police patrol. Speed limit is mostly 100 or 80kmh (110 on Motorways/Freeways)and through towns/villages 50 - 70kmh. The best places to stop and have a break is at the local pubs and cafes, there are many of these in the towns mentioned. They offer excellent lunches and dinners at very reasonable prices, plus you get to meet the locals with all their personalities and warm characters.
Sydney to Port Stephens – 2.30hrs
Port Stephens to Port Macquarie – 3hrs 30 mins
Port Macquarie to Coffs Harbour – 2 hours
Coffs Harbour to Byron Bay – 2 hours
Byron Bay to the Gold Coast – 1.5 hours.
Gold Coast to Brisbane – 1 hour
Newcastle is only approx 2 hours from Sydney. It is located in the heart of the Hunter Region and bordered by a stunning coastline with beautiful beaches. This city is NSW second largest city and it has certainly come along way, and is now a vibrant and interesting city to visit with some absolutely gorgeous beaches.
One needs to divert from the Freeway at the Newcastle Link Road. Stockton Beach and its sand dunes are truly one of nature’s masterpieces. Explore the sand dunes on a 4WD adventurer tour or camel, horse or sand buggy.
Situated only 2.5 hours drive north from Sydney; Port Stephens is an outstanding holiday destination. Covering over 126,000 square meters of water, two and half times the size of Sydney Harbour. Port Stephens, offers gorgeous and stunning unspoiled waters and over 26 golden beaches and eco-diverse Marine and National Parks. This area is really a must do if visiting Australia.
Port Stephens offers a unique diversity of activities for travelers, from snorkeling, diving in marine parks to discovering koalas in their natural habitat, to cruising the waters or standing on a beach to observe the resident bottlenose dolphins and humpback whales on their migratory journey up the coast (June to November).
The most popular beaches are Birubi Point, Fingal Beach and One Mile Beach, for calmer waters Little Beach and the foreshores of Nelson Bay are good family spots. The local Visitor Information Centres can answer all your questions and provide maps.
Drive Sydney to Port Stephens on F3 highway then Pacific Hwy. Approx 2.5 hours. Coaches depart from Sydney daily
Tea Gardens is a small town, located 219 km north of Sydney via the Pacific Highway, and 10 km off the Pacific Highway. It is separated from the town of Hawks Nest by the mouth of the Myall River, which runs from the Myall Lakes down to Port Stephens, and joined to it by the 'Singing Bridge', named for its tendency to act like a wind harp in a strong south-westerly breeze. Wild Koalas can often be spotted on the northern side of the bridge.
Coast road to Port Macquarie: If you have the time to spare, take a detour from the Pacific Highway at Bulahdelah and do the coast road. Visit the wonderful Myall lakes National Park and check out the super trendy Blueys and Boomerang beaches. Cross the bridge at Wallis Lake and discover the waterways of Forster/Tuncurry. Stay close to the coast and drop into Diamond Beach and Old Bar. Do the loop back onto the highway to Taree and then head for the coast again to Crowdy Head with a magnificent lighthouse and 360 degree views around the Manning Valley.
From Sydney follow the Pacific Highway north. It is a 4.5 hour drive to Port Macquarie via the Oxley Highway turnoff. Port Macquarie is a wonderful busy town with beautiful beaches and excellent accommodations and restaurants. You can take a cruise with the Hasting River Cruises or do a camel safari along the beach. The kids will love this town; don’t forget to visit the Koala Hospital and Wildlife Park as Port Macquarie is known as the Koala Capital of Australia. Free Koala Hospital tours are at 3pm daily.T here is plenty of accommodation here to suit all budgets.
Crescent Head is a seaside village located east of Kempsey. Its surfing beach is well known, but this is just one of the many fine attractions to satisfy the visitor to the village. Nearby is the Hat Head National Park , in itself a great attraction, as well as many other fine beaches, such as Back Beach, Goolawah, Delicate Nobby, Main Beach and Racecourse Beach. For campers/caravans Hat Head and South Head Rocks.
Make sure you drive the coastal road from Crescent Head to Hat Head; if you have a 4WD then you can also drive the coastal road from Port Macquarie. Crescent Head has a fabulous caravan park with cabins overlooking the beach.
Make sure you also visit South West Rocks and Scott’s Head along the way. There is a fabulous caravan park overlooking the beach at South West Rocks with self contained cabins. Head back to the main highway and take the next exit to Stuarts Point.
These sleepy gorgeous little gems are hidden amongst beautiful beaches and bush lands. Stuart Point is the largest of the three , whilst all have wonderful beachfront caravan parks. If looking for solitude , good beaches and surf then stay a few days and enjoy this lovely part of the coastline.
South of Coffs Harbour and stretching from the coast to the New England National Park is the Nambucca Valley with a laid back village feel and ideal fishing destination. The area has over twenty kilometres of coastline, lovely waterways, rainforest and empty beaches; Nambucca also has a number of friendly historic towns. Enjoy a drink at Slim Dusty’s “Pub With No Beer” in Taylor’s Arm, learn about the early settler history of Bowraville, walk along the river at Nambucca Heads and sample Macksville’s country hospitality.
Coffs Harbour is about a 6.5 hour drive from Sydney. Coffs has some excellent beaches, like Gallows, Park Beach, Diggers, Sapphire, Emerald, Sawtell, Sandy and more. Whale watching and professional fishing charters are also available at the Coffs Harbour Marina. It is one of the busiest and largest towns along the Pacific Highway. Now, if you have some spare time to explore, discover the wonderful towns of Bellingen, known for its National Trust buildings and the Dorrigo National Park. Take the road from Macksville to Dorrigo and see some wonderful scenery, then take the road from Dorrigo back to Coffs Harbour. Make sure you drop into the local Visitor Information Centres along the way to get local knowledge!
Grafton is a town known for its beautiful Jacaranda trees which are in full bloom in October. The town is located on the Clarence River which houses cute villages like Lawernce, Brusgrove, Copmanhurst and Jackadery. Make sure you visit Susan Island, which has the largest fruit bat colony in Australia. River cruises and houseboat hire are available on the river.
Yamba is a wonderful little village, with heaps of water based activities available for the river, beach and ocean; it makes a perfect holiday destination. Whilst in Yamba, take the ferry across to Illuka and spend a day at the local pub and have the best seafood for lunch. If you are travelling by car the following times will give you an idea of how long the trip will take. Lennox Head is a fantastic surfing beach and is ideally situated 20 minutes from Byron Bay. Turn right at the roundabout after Ballina Fair and drive along the coastal road to Byron. Lennox Head also has one of Australia's best right-hand surf breaks.
There are heaps of activities to do in this town such as golf, surfing, windsurfing, canoeing, fishing and sailing. Most of the water sports can be done and hired at Lake Ainsworth, just north of Lennox Head. The lagoon is coloured by the tea-trees which is supposed to have healing qualities for rejuvenating the body. Whales can be seen off Pat Morton lookout at Lennox Headland from June to August and September to October. Byron Bay is one of Australia’s most famous icon destinations, and is the eastern-most point of the continent of Australia. The beautiful beaches and casual lifestyle makes this town a must to see if traveling up or down the coast. Byron Bay is surrounded by National Parks such as The Boatharbour Nature Reserve, Nightcap National Park, Mount Warning, and Broken Head Reserve.
There are some fantastic beaches for surfing such as The Wreck, The Pass, Wategos Beach and Cosy Corner. The main Streets of Byron are Jonson, Bay Lane and Lawson, where you will be able to find plenty of restaurants and cafes. For the best fish and chips in town try Fishmongers and for a seafood meal try Fishheads. The Buddha Bar Restaurant just outside of town is a great dining experience, not to mention the local Byron Bay Hotel.
Dont forget to walk up to Cape Byron and see the awesome views of Mount Warning, Border Rangers and Tallow Beach. You may even be lucky to see some humpback whales through June to August and September and October. The Blues and Jazz Festival is held every year at Easter and attracts people from all over Australia.
Within minutes of Byron Bay there is the vibrant village of Bangalow with an array of trendy eateries, boutique shopping, art galleries, art & craft shops and vintage wares. Accommodation varies from rooms at the top of the pub to a quiet lush spa retreat setting such as
Tweed Heads has a beautiful estuary, river , lovely beaches and is known as a fabulous fishing spot. There are plenty of places to stay from Houseboats, caravan parks, cottages to 5 star resorts. See pacificcoast.com.au because you can download a free iPhone app that shows all the places near you to stay and visit and there is a free touring guide with heaps of information and all the local Visitor Information Centre details are in the back of the touring guide to help you with more information.
From Tweed Heads head to Coolangatta. Take a break and explore this lovely seaside village. From Coolangatta surf club take the walking track to Rainbow Beach and have a lovely swim in this very sheltered beach. It is also well known for its amazing surf. A great lunch can be had a the surf club overlooking Coolangatta Beach.
There are numerous styles of accommodation in Coolangatta from 5 star to budget.
To see more of the Gold Coast drive along the beach road to Southport, and see some wonderful beaches like Palm Beach, Burleigh Heads, Mermaid Beach, Broadbeach and famous Surfers Paradise.
Some of the best tucker can be found at the surf clubs. The Marina Mirage at Southport has excellent restaurants and bars.
The Gold Coast runs from Coolangatta to Southport and is flooded with a variety of cheap to expensive accommodation.