The Ultimate Road Trip: Driving Australia’s Pacific Coast from Sydney to Brisbane
If you’re looking for a stunning coastal drive to take on your next holiday in Australia, you can’t go past the Pacific Coast road trip from Sydney to Brisbane. One of the most popular drives in the country, the Pacific Coast serves up everything you could want on a car trip — beautiful views, stunning beaches to explore, plenty of quaint towns with cool shops and restaurants, and a multitude of spots to take in breathtaking sunsets. If you’re looking for a road trip destination for yourself, your family or a group of mates, you won’t be disappointed.
Read on for top ideas of things to see and do on a five-day drive along the Pacific Coast.
Day One: Travel from Sydney to Port Stephens
On the first day of the approximately 950-kilometre road trip, head north along the Pacific Highway to the Central Coast. In less than two hours you can be in the beachside town of Terrigal, a top spot to stop for a coffee at a cafe with great views of the ocean.
Terrigal is also home to many great restaurants, ice cream parlours and boutique shops. A short drive away you’ll also find The Entrance, where you and the family can enjoy feeding some of the pelicans who hang out by the water.
Alternatively, stretch your legs along The Entrance Coast to Lake Walk, a self-guided walk that covers around 7.5 kilometres of pretty coastline. In the afternoon, keep driving north to Port Stephens, a popular dolphin and whale-watching destination. Port Stephens is also home to lots of great restaurants at the local Marina where you can enjoy a fresh seafood dinner.
If you’re feeling like a pit stop, take the opportunity to explore the beautiful seaside town of Tea Gardens.
Day Two: Travel from Port Stephens to Port Macquarie
Drive around 2.5 hours north of Port Stephens to the laid-back coastal town of Port Macquarie. Spend the day checking out the beaches, shopping up a storm, or getting immersed in local activities. A visit to the Koala Hospital, the first one in the world solely dedicated to the care and preservation of these iconic creatures, is recommended. The hospital features educational displays, as well as the opportunity to see koalas being fed by volunteers each day.
Travellers can also enjoy exploring Port Macquarie’s Sea Acres Rainforest Centre, one or the largest coastal rainforest reserves in New South Wales. At the Centre, you can read about local Indigenous culture; walk across the rainforest boardwalk that’s elevated 1.3 kilometres above the ground; and browse the on-site artist gallery and gift shop for souvenirs.
Day Three: Travel from Port Macquarie toCoffs Harbour
Another great town to spend time at along the Pacific Coast route is Coffs Harbour (around two hours’ drive from Port Macquarie). Coffs, as it is known locally, is one of the largest and busiest destinations along the route, and is home to the famous Big Banana adventure park.
The popular tourist attraction was built in 1964 and has expanded over the years, now including not just the famous “Big Banana” that can be explored inside and out, but also an ice skating rink, a banana plantation tour, a Candy Kitchen, a Wild Toboggan Ride, a multimedia theatre experience, and The Banana Slip Water park, the first three-storey-high inflatable slide in the country.
The Clog Barn, where visitors can admire a miniature model Dutch Village and view clogs being made by hand, is also a popular tourist spot in Coffs.
Day Four: Travel from Coffs Harbour to Byron Bay
Roughly a three-hour drive north of Coffs Harbour is one of Australia’s most well-known beachside destinations, Byron Bay. Apart from playing host to a number of great music and cultural festivals through the year that are always worth attending, Byron is very well-regarded for its white, sandy beaches; great surfing; and outdoor and spiritual offerings.
Nature lovers are well catered to with the variety of National Parks that are nearby, including Mount Warning, Broken Head Nature Reserve, and Nightcap National Park (all of which feature lots of great walking tracks). Byron Bay is also home to many alternative healing outlets and shops; plus lots of great restaurants and cafes. There is even the Bryon Bay Premium Brewery for beer lovers to add to their itinerary.
Day Five: Travel from Byron Bay to Brisbane
Just around two hours’ drive north of Byron Bay is the final destination, Brisbane. Queensland’s biggest city has a range of sights and activities for all ages to enjoy. Apart from a multitude of both boutique and high-end Brisbane hotels you can relax at during your stay, the city is also home to a very popular Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA); the Queensland Museum; the iconic Suncorp Stadium where you can take in a game; and plenty of top restaurant and shopping strips.
Head to funky Fortitude Valley for hip bars and boutiques; quirky West End for vintage stores and vegetarian cafes; or the Eagle Street Pier in the CBD for a variety of top-notch eateries and stores.
Regardless of where you’re stopping or who you’re traveling with, be sure to drive safely and watch out for reckless drivers. According to DingGo, the #1 cause of road accidents is speeding.
Have you ever made the iconic Pacific Coast road trip in Australia? What were your favourite stops?