Dream about the ultimate New South Wales road trip, exploring the breathtaking coastline from Sydney up to the buzzy beach town of Byron Bay on the far North Coast. Break up the 800km journey with stops in these picturesque coastal destinations along the way.
An hour’s drive north of Sydney, the NSW Central Coast makes a great first stop on your journey. Start your pit stop with a coastal walk in Bouddi National Park or for foodies, a little cheese tasting at Little Creek Cheese in Wyong, both just off the Pacific Motorway. Then make your way to the coast to explore the region’s beaches, perhaps bedding down at a romantic getaway such as Kim’s Beachside Retreat at Toowoon Bay for easy access to the sea.
Two-and-a half hours’ drive north from Sydney, the Port Stephens area is renowned for its sublime natural beauty. Here you can join a dolphin watching cruise in the Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park with Moonshadow-TQC Cruises. You can also indulge in freshly caught seafood at a charming local restaurant such as Nelson Bay’s Little Beach Boathouse. Or enjoy superb coastal views on the 2.2km-return Mt Tomaree Summit Walk in Tomaree National Park, and much more. Treat yourself to a luxe stay at The Anchorage in Corlette or Bannisters Port Stephens in Soldiers Point, both of which have fine-dining restaurants showcasing local produce and seafood.
Heading north again, turn off the Pacific Highway onto The Lakes Way and enjoy the scenic coastal drive through the stunning Great Lakes region en route to Port Macquarie, four hours’ north of Sydney. Pay a visit to the iconic Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, which rehabilitates sick and injured koalas for release back into the wild. Indulge in freshly shucked local oysters at the likes of Bills Fishhouse and Bar. And sample local wines at Cassegrain Wines and Bago Maze and Wine, which is home to one of the world’s largest hedge mazes.
Just 15 minutes north of town, Telegraph Retreat is a fine place to lay your head. Look out for kangaroos and wallabies as you relax in the outdoor tub of your studio cottage.
Five-and-a-half hours drive (or 530km) north of Sydney, Coffs Harbour is the main hub of the Coffs Coast, a nature lovers’ paradise encompassing a beautiful stretch of coastline backed by lush hinterland. Come in winter to spot and even swim with humpback whales during their annual migration with Jetty Dive. Or come in summer to beach-hop, and anytime of the year to explore Dorrigo National Park, part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforests of Australia. Linking idyllic beaches and emerald rainforest, the 60km Solitary Islands Coastal Walk is another great place to stretch your legs in nature, though you’ll have to set aside four or five days to tackle its entire length. Fifteen minutes north of central Coffs Harbour, Sensom Luxury Bed and Breakfast is the perfect adults-only escape for the night.
From Coffs Harbour, it’s just 2.5 hours’ drive (or 230km) to Byron Bay, although there are plenty more places to swim, camp, and eat along the way if you want to extend your journey. Angourie and Evans Head are just two popular spots.