|Sydney to Brisbane (via Pacific Highway)|
|A journey with great variety - from Newcastle’s museums, galleries and historic buildings to Coffs Harbour with its resorts, theme parks and wide range of attractions. And as the Pacific Highway winds its way towards Queensland, the scene becomes more sub-tropical. This far north coast region is particularly attractive, with beautiful beaches backed by cane fields and lush rainforested hills.|
Head north from Sydney on the Pacific Highway and, if you have time, take a detour to the Gosford area to explore the waterways and beaches of the Central Coast and Lake Macquarie. And then continue on to Newcastle, the state’s second city, there’s everything from interesting museums to beautiful beaches and the best way to see it all is on board the ‘Famous Tram’.
Further north, Myall Lakes National Park features a seductive blend of ocean, bushland and lakes where you can walk, canoe, fish and swim in glorious natural surroundings. The park can be accessed from both Tea Gardens and Hawks Nest in the south or from inland Bulahdelah. From the latter, take the scenic Lakes Way to Forster-Tuncurry, heart of the Great Lakes region, passing waterways and Booti Booti National Park en route. Further north Taree offers fishing and boating on the Manning River and a side trip to Crowdy Head for great views of the coastline.
Port Macquarie is worth the detour off the Pacific Highway and once there, you’ll be spoiled for choice! There are fine beaches, Hastings River cruises, camel safaris and a winery. The kids will love the fun at Fantasy Glades and Peppermint Park. Don’t miss a visit to Sea Acres Rainforest Centre and either the Koala Hospital or the Billabong Koala and Wildlife Park to meet some of Port Macquarie’s most adorable residents.
From here take the highway north through Kempsey (home of the Akubra hat), and continue on to Nambucca Heads - the fishing is great and the beaches irresistible. Then it’s just an easy drive into Coffs Harbour.
Lively Coffs provides a very different experience. In addition to cruises, fishing and hanging out at the beach (particularly north of town), this resort centre offers many attractions. The Big Banana Leisure Park is a must as are the Pet Porpoise Pool, the Zoo and the Aquajet Leisure Park (perfect for kids). Quieter activities include visiting Muttonbird Island and the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden. Coffs Harbour is also the perfect base for a variety of excursions - one of the most enjoyable is a trip inland to the attractive town of Bellingen, famed for its arts and crafts and World Heritage listed Dorrigo National Park.
North of Coffs Harbour, the highway sweeps inland to Grafton - the ‘City of Jacarandas’ on the Clarence River. Large rivers around Grafton set the pace for focus on water activities with everything from flatwater canoeing to the most challenging whitewater rafting. Beyond Grafton lies the gentler paced beach and fishing resort of Yamba.
Further north you then reach Ballina on the Richmond River and another popular holiday resort. There are great beaches in the area, you can surf, fish and visit the Big Prawn, located beside the highway. Just out of town, the Thursday Tea Tree Oil Plantation is worth a visit.
If you have the time, turn off the highway beyond Ballina and take the coast road to the small surfing village of Lennox Head, then continue to Byron Bay. Alternative-lifestyle Byron is deservedly famous for its beautiful beaches and excellent surf. There are some wonderful cafes and restaurants, a good range of crafts shops, plenty of walks and a host of outdoor adventures - the diving here is particularly good.
The highway then passes the fishing centre of Brunswick Heads before turning inland to the sugar cane country around Murwillumbah and crossing the border into Queensland and onto the Gold Coast. This exciting area offers golden beaches, great dining and adrenalin producing theme parks (Sea World, Warner Bros. Movieworld, Wet’n’Wild Water World). Also this area has a wide array of shops, restaurants and nightclubs galore. From here it’s a short drive into the heart of Brisbane.
Where to Stay
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