It’s time to plan your holidays – and since we service along the Sydney to Brisbane trail, we thought we could recommend some of our favourite places to stop along the way if you’re planning a Sydney to Brisbane road trip!
The coastal drive from Sydney to Brisbane is quite popular and for good reasons. It spans 1000km and full of endless beaches, breath-taking national parks, lush green landscapes and small towns that have a lot to offer. But don’t be discouraged from the distance – we feel that it’s a great way to bond with the kids and create memories without sitting still for hours on a plane!
The time frame is really up to you. You can have quick stop offs to see the juicy parts of each place, or take your time to immerse yourself in the environment. We would consider ‘quick’ to be a few days and ‘long’ to be a few weeks to complete the trip. Either way, there’s plenty to do for both adults and kids!
Let’s start with SYDNEY.
Some travellers may say “avoid the tourist traps!” but luckily for Sydney, it keeps its Australian culture true and not too washed out. Before you head off we recommend visiting the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Darling Harbour, Opera House and good ol’ Bondi Beach. It’s a unique feeling to be able to compare these iconic Sydney destinations before you head off up the coast! But most importantly, it’s a great way to help the kids release some energy and be nap ready for the drive ahead.
2 hrs from Sydney – we hope you have your playlist ready!
Boasting Australia’s largest coastal saltwater lagoon, you’ll definitely experience a different vibe compared to Sydney. It’s more relaxed and everyone here is focused on having a good time. People are friendly and the scene of the calm water is beautiful. It’s a great place to go back to basics with your kids, have conversations, make sand castles, and detox from technology for a short while.
There are a lot of towns you can dwell in if you’d like – with plenty of cabins, cottages, hotels to choose from based on your taste!
45 min from Lake Macquarie, perfect for a nap zzZ…
Neighbouring Lake Macquarie is Newcastle. This is the perfect place to settle your café and coffee cravings, and has an amazing coastal view. If you need to stock up on supplies it’s a good idea to do so! We recommend doing the Anzac Memorial walk and get your Instagram game on! You’ll notice grandparents, parents and kids mingling together here having a lovely time.
45 min from Newcastle – thats just two Peppa Pig episodes!
If you’ve got a couple days, Port Stephens has a large number of beaches as well as adventure activities. Some beaches we like to visit are Anna Bay, Shoal Bay and Fingal Bay. The kids will love the space to run in the soft sand and build more sand castles while you sit back and soak up the sun.
Are you ready for some action? Take your pick of sand dune quad bike safaris, sand boarding tours, skydiving or whale watching cruises. Or visit the Oak Vale Farm if you want to turn the excitement down a notch. The next drive is a little longer so we recommend getting some snacks, a fresh playlist and a charged iPad!
2 hrs 15 min from Port Stephens.
Another gorgeous beach town is Port Macquarie that’s home to Australia’s annual Ironman Triathlon Championship. You’ll see the locals doing the coastal walk which is very popular. Billabong Zoo is also a fun place for the kids to see the Australian wildlife! Port Macquarie is a big Koala lover so be sure to take pictures with the Koala sculptures or the real ones at the zoo.
The unique thing about this town is the Breakwall Holiday Park– you can paint on their rocks! Be sure to take lots of photos and videos and go silly with the paint! You’ll see from the dates written on the rocks and realise that some are over a decade old! A lovely tale your kids can remember forever.
RICARDOES TOMATOES & STRAWBERRIES
Just 15 minutes from Port Macquarie is a family favourite, a little place called Ricardoes Tomatoes & Strawberries where you can go tomato and strawberry picking. Make sure you refuel yourself at their café with their fresh country-side produce. But the best part is, you can snack on your pickings as you go to your next destination!
1hr and 30 minutes from Port Macquarie and approximately 10kms travelling west off the Pacific Highway is the town of Bellingen, known by the locals as “Bello”. Bellingen is a quaint, picturesque heritage town surrounded by stunning bushland and next to the beautiful Bellinger River. Bello is an awesome place to stop and experience nature and relax. The town has a number of café’s and restaurants serving awesome food and boasts its own brewery – be sure to check out The Bellingen Brewery & Co.
The river is popular for kayaking and canoeing but one of our all time favourite experiences was spending half a day simply drifting down the river in tractor tyre tubes. Ask the locals about the best places to swim and enjoy the river. The town is on Waterfall Way, a lovely driving route that winds past UNESCO World Heritage-listed rainforest, dramatic waterfalls, sweeping valleys and granite peaks.
1 hr 45 min from Port Macquarie, either two episodes or even a movie should keep them occupied – if you’re lucky they may snooze the whole way!
It’s one of the most popular holiday destinations along the pacific coast with plenty of places to visit and things to do. Kids and adults love visiting the Big Banana Amusement Park (be sure to get a snap of the Big Banana!), and the Pet Porpoise Pool to interact with marine life. There’s also beautiful beaches to visit, try the camel ride whilst here, the kids would be ecstatic!
3 hrs from Coffs Harbour – you should be car trip pros by now! This truly is a beautiful drive along the Pacific Coast. If the kids don’t enjoy the magnificent view you surely will!
Byron Bay is one of Australia’s favourite holiday destinations, so much so it can get very busy during peak seasons so think ahead and book accommodation if you intend to stay in Byron or the surrounds. It happens to be home to many famous Australian independent brewers and by now you deserve a cold beer… or 6. Byron has a relaxed atmosphere and might even be the best beach town in the country (we think so). It’s the perfect place to stay a few days and chill at the beach, eat great food and relax… did we mention beer? Oh, and a trip to Watego Beach is a must!
1 hr 45 min from Byron Bay, the kid’s anticipation will kick in as you cross the State border!
Who hasn’t heard of the Gold Coast? It’s super popular for both Australian and international tourists. There are a few tourist traps like Surfer’s Paradise and the amusement parks but they are still great fun for all and can be very entertaining and memorable to visit. We can imagine the kids can’t wait to see Batman and get on those rides!
There’s plenty of places to go and things to do if you want to avoid the crowd. Go a little south of Surfers Paradise and you’ll meet Burleigh Heads and Coolangatta. Soak up the sun at the beaches and stroll through the neighbourhood to grab a bite. It’s good to get away from McDonalds and get proper nutrition and here you are spoiled for choice!
There is also plenty of nature in the nearby National Parks such as Springbrook and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, so make sure everyone has a sturdy pair of walking shoes and enjoy some time here too.
Before you drive off to your next destination, we recommend going to Q1 – Australia’s tallest building where you can see the beautiful view at the Skydeck. The kids will be amazed at how high up they are from the ground!
1 hour, easy peasy by now! Most likely after the amusement parks the little ones will surely be exhausted and ready to nap.
Brisbane… You’ve finally made it (alive and maybe sunburnt by now)! We recommend spending a few days here because there’s quite a bit to cover.
If you’re looking for activity and adventure, try: Brisbane River, Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park, hike at Mt Coot-tha, visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. If you’re wondering where the locals go, visit South Bank Parklands and West End to experience Brisbane’s culture and food. It’s a great place to do family activities and share memories together. The vibe here is relaxed so it’s time for you to pat yourself and each other’s back and stretch your legs.
What are your favourite stops? We’d love to hear your experience and hopefully share those again in the future! Share the photos and funny stories with us on Facebook – can’t wait to hear them!