The 766km Sydney to Byron Bay drive along the legendary Pacific Coast grants you access to a smorgasbord of activities that will satisfy your adventure cravings, with plenty of leftovers for next time. That’s right, it’s time for a Byron Bay road trip!


We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Country on which this adventure takes place who have occupied and cared for this land and water for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.


Sydney to Byron Bay // Regional NSW Road Trips


The Byron Bay road trip is a rite of passage for any local explorer who calls NSW home. The Sydney to Byron Bay drive is an absolute belter and really an obligation if you want to experience some of the best coastline along the east coast of Australia.

What about other road trips in NSW? Read on my amigo.

Byron Bay Road Trip

If long sandy beaches, hidden caves, endless green hills, charming wineries, lush rainforests or camel riding have grabbed your attention, fasten your boardshorts and come along for the ride.

Earlier in the year, I decided to do a microadventure marathon from Sydney to Byron Bay. I jumped into a campervan with some of the best lads around, a full tank of petrol, a case or two of beer and a severe thirst to explore. Did someone say road trip?


Where should I stop between Byron Bay and Sydney?

A road trip from Sydney to Byron Bay is jam-packed full of fascinating places to visit and fun stuff to do. There’s so much on offer though that a Google search can be a bit overwhelming. We’ve made this handy list of some of the best stop-offs — it’ll make your road trip one to remember.

Munmorah State Conservation Area

Before you get too comfortable and settle into your classic road trip playlist, you’ll be making one necessary stop on the Central Coast. Just an hour and a half north of Sydney, the underrated Munmorah State Conservation Area has one ripsnorter natural attraction that you’ll get your Byron Road road trip off to a killer start.

The Cotton Candy Caves or Pink Caves in the historic beachside town of Catherine Hill Bay are a series of otherwordly sea caves hidden north of Moonee Beach. With tide allowing, you can follow the huge rocky shoreline and find the mesmerising natural ocean pools and pink-coloured rocks.

Read more: Cotton Candy Caves – Exploring The Pink Caves of The Central Coast

Lake Macquarie

Before you bomb on to Newcastle, why not spend some more time in Lake Macquarie? We know you’re not too far out of Sydney yet (approx 1.5 hours), but Byron Bay isn’t going anywhere! Being the largest saltwater lake in the Southern Hemisphere, Lake Macquarie is the ideal place to jet boat, kayak or paddleboad.

And if one cave isn’t enough, there’s also the impressive Caves Beach to check out. Ask our feature explorer Dan – he loved it so much, he and his wife Beck decided to get married there!

But, we understand if the Pink Caves has already filled your cave quota for the trip. Maybe, you’re pining for a hike. As you approach Newy, you should seriously consider stopping to do the Yuelarbah Track in the Glenrock State Conservation Area. There’s jungle, cascades and stunning beaches along the trail.


The Newcastle Memorial Walk is a solid option for your Sydney to Byron Bay drive. A couple of hours north of Sydney, this 450 metre bridge and boardwalk opened in 2015 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landing in Gallipolli. You can also include the Newcastle Memorial Walk as part of the 6km one-way Bathers Way coastal walk.

Stretching from Nobbys Lighthouse to the Mereweather Ocean Baths, you’ll have no less than four ocean rock pools and seven beaches to froth over. A massive shout out to the incredible Shallow Pool – an amazing natural ocean pool that is always a stunning blue. Let’s hope you didn’t forget your cossies!

Stockton Sand Dunes

Just 30 minutes north of Newcastle lie the unforgettable Stockton Sand Dunes in the Worimi Conservation Lands. The stunning scenery on display is a photographer’s dream. The dunes sprawl over 32km and are the largest of their kind in Australia.

If you’re equipped with a 4WD then I suggest grabbing a permit for and rippin’ it up! There is something about watching the sand fly up from underneath your car that gets the blood pumping. However, if you’re travelling in a campervan like I was, it’s a short walk to the dunes where you can experience it all on foot (or bike). The dunes can be as high as 40m and the ocean paints a surreal and beautiful backdrop to the scene.

If you’re after more action on this unique terrain, Aboriginal-guided quad bike tours and sandboarding are also on offer to help you meet your daily adrenaline quota.

If you’re wanting to camp near the sand dunes, make sure to park your bum and stay the night at Worimi Conservation Lands. Book ahead to avoid missing out!


Port Stephens

Located just 2.5 hours north of Sydney, Tomaree Head is the perfect place to stretch the legs. Alongside the teeming wildlife and sparkling blue water at Port Stephens, the Tomaree Head Summit Walk would have to be my favourite.

The best part is, you don’t have to hike all day to do it! It’s only a 2.2km round trip, yet it allows you to see vast panoramic views of the coastline. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll get a free dolphin and whale show as they play about in their natural habitat.

Hot tip: Pack a few cold brews, a head torch (or an iPhone will do the trick) and witness the sun sink below the horizon — it’s magical stuff!

Read more: Plan Port Stephens for Your Next Adventure Weekender


Plan Port Stephens for Your Next Adventure Weekender, photos by DNSW, Mt Tomaree, people, drone shot, lookout, ocean, beach, headlands

Nelson Bay

If you can’t get enough of Port Stephens, hang around a bit longer and have a gander around Nelson Bay. Alongside Tomaree Head, there are splendid views to enjoy from Gan Gan Lookout. The Nelson Head Heritage Lighthouse and Reserve isn’t a bad shout either.

If you’re on the hunt for the best beaches around Nelson Bay, I’ve got to agree with our founder Henry on this one, and not recommend Nelson Bay Beach for a swim. A far better option is the serene One Mile Beach, or for something a bit more off the beaten track, head to Zenith or Wreck Beach.

Read more: Finding Serenity on Wreck Beach

The Hunter Valley

If you’ve got time for a cheeky detour on your coastal road trip (approx. 2 hours inland from Port Stephens), make sure you include the famous Hunter Valley. You can sample some of the world-class wine produced in the region.

We visited Blueberry Hill Vineyard and it became a fast favourite! It’s a boutique winery with an extremely cute point of difference — resident puppies and kittens which are free to roam around your ankles. Sit all afternoon with a wine in hand, grab a cheese board and Bob’s your animal-loving uncle!

But, if you’re wanting to dodge the cat and dog poop, there definitely isn’t a shortage of wineries in the area. Head to Pokolbin or another great inland town in the Hunter region to sample the good stuff on offer.

After a day on the vino, sober up at the quaint Wine Country Tourist Park.


Hunter Hot Air Ballooning

Hot air ballooning was another awe-inspiring experience we found nearby. Check out Balloon Aloft in the Hunter Valley. Before you know it, you’ll be standing in a floating basket right up in the beautiful morning sky! Not to mention being nourished by a wonderful breakfast paired with champagne upon your return.

Myall Lakes National Park

If you’ve turned your nose up at the wine country option and are serious about sticking to the coast, the next stop on your Byron Bay road trip should be Myall Lakes National Park. Located in the spectacular Great Lakes Region on the Barrington Coast, Myall Lakes is about 3.5 hours north of Sydney.

Facing opposite Tomaree Head, on the other side of Karuhar River, Yacaaba Head is waiting to be climbed. With views of Tomaree Head and Hawks Nest, I reckon the views were even better from Yacaaba Head than Tomaree Head (sorry Tomaree, we still love you).

Whilst you’re pottering along Lakes Way, be sure to also check out Seal Rocks, Smiths Lake and Celito Beach. Or, if you’re looking for another trail to explore, the Dark Point Walking Track is a winner.

Stewart and Llyods Campground is a great place to pitch a tent in the area. Here, you’ll be hanging out with chilled dingoes!

Pacific Palms

You’d be crazy to not spend more time in the Great Lakes region as part of your Sydney to Byron Bay drive. The Barrington Coast is chockablock full of beautiful beaches, some of the best on the Mid North Coast of NSW.

Nicole was right on the money when she recommended Pacific Palms as the perfect beach hopping destination. You’ll be spoilt for choice with the glimmering turquoise waters of Elizabeth, Shelly, Boomerang, and Blueys Beaches. Surfs up!

With Booti Booti and Wallingat National Parks surrounding Pacific Palms, there are countless rainforest trails, lookouts, coves and beaches to sink your teeth into. And if you’re already buggered from the Sydney to Byron Bay drive, there are plenty of fab cafes in the area to sort out your much needed caffeine hit.

Crowdy Bay National Park

After gallivanting around the Great Lakes, most coastal hoppers will kick on to Port Macquarie. But, if you want bragging rights that your Byron Bay road trip wasn’t as basic as all your other mates’ trips, get your butt to Crowdy Bay National Park. Often overlooked, Crowdy Bay is a hidden gem about 4 hours north of Sydney.

Known for its epic beach camping, you should make Diamond Head Campground your humble abode for an evening. There are picturesque beachside picnic areas and a few great spots for fishing.

Before you shoot off to Port Macquarie the next day, head to Diamond Head Beach for a majestic sunrise. It’s only a short walk from the campground and one of the best beach sunrises I’ve ever experienced. You should then hike the Diamond Headland Loop Walk, which is the best trail in Crowdy Bay. Keep an eye out for the epic Natural Arch along the way!

Port Macquarie

Who would’ve thought you’d find camels just 4.5 hours north of Sydney? What’s more, you and your mates can enjoy a ride on these superb animals right on Lighthouse Beach! Don’t forget your camera for this one!

As a bonus, John, who leads you on the camels, supplies you with some of the best one-liners in town. My personal favourite: ‘If you see any dolphins out there, it’s $20 extra for the dolphin tour.’


Port Macquarie Coastal Walk

After a bumpy and potentially chafing camel ride (all in the name of adventure), maybe it’s time for a relaxing swim at one of the many stunning beaches in Port Macquarie. Not sure which beach to dip your toe in? No problemo! Follow the sensational Port Macquarie Coastal Walk and find a beach that suits you. Or, go for a beach hopping swimming extravaganza at each of the beaches along the trail.

If Port Mac is your base for a night, I recommend BIG4 Bonny Hills. Why? Well, it has a fricken jumping pillow!

Hat Head National Park

After passing the Hastings River, your Byron Bay road trip will lead you deeper into the Mid North Coast of NSW. Next up, Hat Head National Park. It’s around 5 hours north of Sydney and to put it simply, Hat Head is a natural nirvana.

To fully enjoy the experience, bring a floaty toy, a fishing rod and some cold refreshments and head out on one of the many headland walks or get salty and float from the bridge along the river. Grab a cold one and watch on as the water reflects the colours of the sunset.

Hat Head Camping

After sunset, it’s time for stargazing and milky way chasing. Hungry Gate Campground is the ideal place to bask in the night stars. Admittedly though, if your Byron Bay road trip falls in the school holidays, expect this campground to be booked out well in advance.

You better keep Smoky Cape Campground as a backup option. Or, if your mates can’t handle your deteriorating BO, head to Hat Head Holiday Park, which has hot showers.

Read more: Set Your Sights on NSW’s Highest Lighthouse at Smoky Cape

South West Rocks

If you’ve taken my word as Gospel and already scoped out Smoky Cape Campground as part of your Sydney to Byron Bay drive, chances are you’re already familiar with the charming town of South West Rocks. With many beautiful beaches and a genuine all-round laid back vibe, South West Rocks is the perfect place to unwind and chill out. If you’ve been busy hiking and natural wonder seeking, use South West Rocks as your half-time break.

Just make sure to pop in at Arakoon National Park and visit the historic Trial Bay Gaol. It’s easily one of the most fascinating historical sites on the east coast of Australia.

Nambucca Heads

We reckon Nambucca Heads should be an absolute shoo-in for your Byron Bay road trip itinerary. Nambucca Heads is a lazy beach side town that’s much quieter than Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour. But, that’s not to say there isn’t much to do.

Spend an afternoon scoping out the best viewpoints. There’s Pilot Lookout, Rotary Lookout and Captain Cook Lookout, just to name a few. Whilst you’re at it, walk along the iconic V wall outdoor gallery and become well acquainted with the stunning Nambucca River and the neighbouring ocean.

For early morning swimmers, we have a plan for you. Pitch up at Reflections Holiday Parks and when morning hits, follow the beachside trail from the camp site to Main Beach.


Why would you do the cliché and stop at the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour when you would’ve zoomed right past some of the most breathtaking natural attractions in the state? Turn around and get to Bellingen — a quaint little town, about 6 hours north of Sydney, with a laid-back atmosphere somewhere between Olde Worlde and mildly hippie.

Grab some tucker at the chilled out Bellingen Brewery or satisfy your hunger with a scrumptious pie from Hearthfire — honestly, best pies ever!



Once you’ve been fed, head to Never Never River. It’s a hidden wonder in Bellingen’s Promised Land. The river offers crystal clear freshwater for you to play in and rope swings can be found hanging in different spots all along the river.



Dorrigo National Park

After checking out Bellingen, jump back in the car and head up to Dorrigo National Park just 30 minutes along the Waterfall Way. As one of the breathtaking Gondwana Rainforests of Australia, this inland oasis boasts world-class rainforest, mesmerising waterfalls and adventurous hiking trails.

Before we dive into the natural wonders at Dorrigo, let’s talk accommodation and food. If you’ve been camping a lot during your Byron Bay road trip, it might be time to spoil yourself with a cabin stay at the gorgeous Dorrigo Mountain Resort. After a few nights soldering on with basic facilities, Dorrigo Mountain Resort will feel like a boutique hotel!

Once you’re feeling pampered and refreshed, head to Components Café, where you’re assured of welcoming staff, great coffee and food, plus cute décor.


It’s no accident that Dorrigo National Park has Australia World Heritage Area status. Dorrigo offers stunning scenery and that’s perfectly shown off by the 70 metre high Skywalk. This boardwalk gives you views of the rich rainforest that is the Bellinger Valley and the Rosewood Rainforest. It’s easy for everyone to enjoy, do not pass this up.


Dangar Falls

Dangar Falls is a charismatically huge waterfall — it’s 30 metres tall to be exact. The roar from the falling water forces you to feel its presence. You can take the short walk through the trees to the base of the falls. If you’re desperate enough (like one of the boys I was with) you can climb around on the rocks to get a closer look. Be careful of the moss — it’s slippery!

Crystal Shower Falls

Crystal Shower Falls has to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls in NSW. The Crystal Showers Falls Walk is enchanting with tall trees bursting with greenery and the sounds of Eastern Whipbirds. If you visit early enough, you may get to experience low fog, which makes this spellbinding spot even more mysterious. The best part? You get to go behind the falls, or experience all its wonder from a stunning suspended bridge.


Waterfall Way

Will you explore the entire Waterfall Way from Bellingen to Armidale as part of your Byron Bay road trip? If you’re happy to steer well clear of the coast (Armidale is around 175km from the east coast) and have the time, we highly recommend road trippin’ Waterfall Way. It goes without saying, that there’ll be bucket loads of waterfall chasing going on.

In addition to the waterfalls at Dorrigo National Park, there’s the outstanding Ebor Falls at Guy Fawkes National Park, plus plenty of cheeky cascades and falls at New England and Oxley Wild Rivers National Parks.

We reckon if you give Waterfall Way a fair shake of the sauce bottle, the return journey from Bellingen or Coffs Harbour would take at least 5 days. So, if you don’t have the time, we’re sure cruisin’ along Waterfall Way will be on your to-do list after you smash out your Byron Bay road trip. There are just too many epic inland national parks in Northern NSW to check out.

Read more: Waterfall Way // Coffs Harbour to Armidale (NSW)

Coffs Harbour

There’s more to Coffs Harbour than just its beaches and the Big Banana! The Coffs Coast has so many microadventures up its sleeve, you’ll be spewing if you’re merely passing through for just an ocean swim and choc-coated banana!

Coffs Harbour has some of the most unique headlands that you’ll encounter on your Byron Bay road trip. Look At Me Now Headland is teeming with kangaroos, whilst Bonville Head Lookout, Macauley’s Headland and Green Bluff Headland, all provide exquisite views of the spectacular Coffs Harbour coastline. And don’t forget Sealy Lookout (Forest Sky Pier) or the Korora Lookout if you can’t get enough of superb vistas.

Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve

Perhaps the best Coffs Harbour attraction is Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve. Along the 2km walking track, you’ll have the pleasure of seeing thousands of wedge-tailed shearwaters, also known as muttonbirds. Plus, the end of the track is a fantastic spot for whale watching.

If you’re looking for a quiet beachside camp site just outside of town, head to Reflections Holidays Park in Melystom.


After pumping some old school bangers, we pulled up at Yamba. We’re not going to lie, Yamba had to be our favourite beach side town during our Byron Bay road trip. This gorgeous town has all the remnants of the chilled out vibes that Byron Bay used to possess before Zac Effron, Chris Hemsworth and the rest showed up.

Yamba will have some of the best surfing along your Sydney to Byron Bay drive. Why not head out for a sunrise surf at Spooky Beach? This beach and point break is renowned for great surf, and even though Mother Nature didn’t quite turn it on for us, we still had fun!

If surfing isn’t your thing, but you’re still craving a crackin’ sunrise, head to Yamba Ocean Pool. Right around the corner from the Yamba Surf Life Saving Club, this huge ocean pool will provide the goods for a stellar sunrise.

Before you set off, grab a bite to eat at Café Angourie. The joint sells delicious food. We threw down a few mouth-watering acai bowls and very decent coffee.


Yuraygir National Park

Home to an unbeatable coastal path, Yuraygir National Park is a solid choice for your Byron Bay road trip. Angourie Blue and Green Pools is a great spot to have a picnic, go for a swim or relax in the sun. Make sure you read signs and reports about pools before entering and learn how to swim safely.

Angourie would also be our launching pad for the roughly 15km return Angourie Walk to Shelley Caves. Unfortunately, with high tide, we weren’t able to enter the caves. But, even seeing the smaller caves and incredible scorched rocks beside it was still worth the walk.

Of course, you can’t leave Yuraygir National Park without exploring the incredible Red Cliffs. Located next to Lake Arragan and Red Cliff Campgrounds, you can check out the epic cliffs from the lookout or from Red Cliff Beach below, and then pitch up at the camp site.

Byron Bay

Final destination: Byron Bay. It’s what you’ve all been waiting for. Sure, this former sleepy beach town is a bit busier these days, but that’s not by chance. There are so many things to see and do here that the list could go on and on.

With so many gorgeous beaches, make sure to do the 20km Brunswick Heads Beach to Cape Byron Walk to tick as many beaches off the list as possible. Or, if you’re short on time, a jolly stroll around Cape Byron Lighthouse – the most eastern point of Australia and essential tourist attraction, will do the trick. Then, head to Broken Head for a surf or explore the caves at Whites Beach.

If you’re pining for a few bevvies, Stone & Wood Brewery is the perfect place for refreshments. While the Farm Byron Bay is a great place for ice cream or to try locally produced food. As far as restaurants go, we recommend eating at Light Years. The food is a fun and fresh Vietnamese fusion.

Sydney to Byron Bay Drive – Nothing Short Of Legendary

These are just some of the countless amazing places that are waiting for you outside the car door. Commit to the road trip, appreciate the good vibes it brings, breathe in the scenery and revel in the impromptu sing-alongs. Give the lollypop man a beer and thank him for all his hard work. The coast of NSW is nothing short of legendary — thanks for having us!


Essential Gear

  • Car / Campervan
  • Tent
  • Surfboard
  • Can-do attitude

Duration / Distance

6 days / approximately 750km

FAQs on Sydney to Byron Bay Drive


What is the halfway point between Sydney and Byron Bay?

Port Macquarie is more or less the halfway point between Sydney and Byron Bay.

How much does it cost to drive from Sydney to Byron Bay?

As for any road trip, the more mates you squeeze into your set of wheels, the cheaper it’ll be! Depending on how many extra micro’s and miles you add-on, how lavish your accommodation is and how long your road trippin’, will determine whether it’s cheapy or one to save up for. But, we reckon the main costs you’re going to be looking at is fuel ($100–200), accommodation ($100–300) and food/supplies ($100–200).


Photos by @patsuraseang