The coastal route from Sydney to Brisbane is not only picturesque; it also passes through some of the most popular tourist destinations in Australia. Taking your time to meander up the coast, exploring the townships, beaches and attractions along the way is a worthy adventure. Allowing a minimum of 10 days to complete the journey will ensure there is time to explore and relax along the way. Start planning your unique road trip right here!
Day 1 & 2 – Sydney to Hunter Valley
The Hunter Valley is only three hours North West of Sydney, but a world away from the hustle and bustle. A renowned wine making region, the Hunter Valley is famous for its world class restaurants, beautiful accommodation, championship golf courses and luxury day spas. There is a variety of accommodation in the Hunter Valley, ranging from budget motels to luxury resorts, suitable for families, couples and business travellers. Visit some of the many cellar doors for wine tasting, wander through the beautiful gardens, or play a round of golf.
Day 3 & 4 – Hunter Valley to Newcastle
Only two hours from the Hunter Valley, Newcastle offers a wonderful contrast to the slow pace of the Hunter wine region. Newcastle is a cosmopolitan, bustling coastal city boasting chic eateries, quirky culture and a rich history combined with beautiful beaches and tranquil parks and gardens.
Some Newcastle highlights include breakfast and boutique shopping on Darby Street, visiting the Newcastle art gallery and the spectacular coastal walk from Nobbys to Merewether. Choice Hotels has a range of accommodation in Newcastle, offering a variety of room styles to suit all budgets and needs. Click here to find out where the best beaches are in Newy.
Day 5 & 6 – Newcastle to Port Macquarie
Port Macquarie is home to some of the most beautiful coastline on the Eastern Seaboard. A three hour drive from Newcastle, Port Macquarie is a holiday destination on its own. Catering widely to families, Port Macquarie has a temperate climate so can be visited all year round. The many beaches and coves of Port Macquarie are wonderful places to explore, and boast a diverse range of flora and fauna.
The coastal walk around the headlands provides spectacular views and is a great way to spend a couple of hours. Choice Hotels has two four star hotels offering Port Macquarie accommodation catering to all styles of travellers and families.
Day 7 & 8 – Port Macquarie to Coffs Harbour
The drive from Port Macquarie to Coffs Harbour should take just under two and a half hours and with snippets to see on the way, is easy to do in one stint. Here’s a guide to Coffs that’ll have you stopping in no time! A favourite family destination, Coffs Harbour has a number of great attractions including the Pet Porpoise Pool, where you can swim with the dolphins.
Make sure you book ahead during school holidays and peak periods as this is a very popular activity and can be booked out for days in advance. The ‘Big Banana’ and Coffs Harbour Zoo are also worth a visit, particularly for families. Choice has the Quality Inn City Centre which is the perfect place to stay.
Day 9 – Coffs Harbour to Grafton
Grafton is where you will immerse yourself in nature and be embraced by the vibrant and striking Jacaranda Trees at See Park. It’s the perfect place for picnics and day strolls, as the atmosphere is simply magical. Grafton is filled with many amazing parks and nature trails, including Washpool National Park and Yuraygir National Park. We have an superb accommodation option for you to rest up at after a long day of exploring in Quality Inn Grafton.
Day 10 – Grafton to Ballina
The next stop on your trip is the lovely coastal town of Ballina, close to the popular Byron Bay but without the masses of tourists. Here’s 5 top things to see and do in the area! Halfway between Coffs Harbour and Ballina, the town of Yamba is worthy of a pit stop, particularly if you like to surf.
Yamba is a sleepy little seaside town boasting beautiful beaches and great surf breaks and a great place to stop for fish and chips. Ballina is the home of ‘Thursday Plantation’ (Australia’s original tea tree plantation) and has a wide range of activities including game fishing, water skiing and golf. The Comfort Inn All Seasons is a four star hotel close to Ballina attractions.
Day 11 & 12 – Ballina to Gold Coast
With only an hour and a half’s driving to do, there is plenty of time for a stop at famous Byron Bay, Australia’s most Eastern point. The beaches are superb and the eclectic mix of cultures makes Byron an exciting destination. The Gold Coast with its glitzy nightlife, towering sky scrapers and sparkling blue water has something for everyone.
Ever heard of Mermaid Waters? It’s as pretty as it sounds! Lie on a beach, surf, shop, dine out or visit one of the many nearby theme parks including Movie World, Sea World and Wet’n’Wild. There are three Choice Hotels offering good quality Gold Coast accommodation in Surfers Paradise, Mermaid Waters and Tweed Heads.
Day 13 – Gold Coast to Brisbane
Brisbane, with its relaxed way of life, has a wide range of things to do and see. Take a City Cat ride along the Brisbane River, stroll around Southbank, visit the market stalls or take a day trip to the Glass House Mountains or Stradbroke Island. You might need a cold beer after that drive – here’s Brisbane’s top spots for a bevvy! There are seven Choice hotels in Brisbane to choose from, offering a wide variety of room styles, services and facilities.
The drive from Sydney can be done in 2 easy days if needed, but taking your time to stop along the way can be a holiday in itself. The above suggested itinerary is only one of many. Do some research and plan ahead, or take your time and play it by ear, stopping wherever takes your fancy.