People don’t get labelled a legend for no reason, and the Legendary Pacific Coast in NSW has more than earned its name too. Driving the 766km stretch of ocean-edged land between Sydney and Byron Bay grants you access to a smorgasbord of activities that will satisfy your hungry adventure taste buds, with plenty of leftovers for next time!
Microadventure Marathon — Sydney To Byron Bay
If long sandy beaches, endless green hills, charming wineries, lush rainforests or camel riding have grabbed your attention, fasten your boardshorts and come along for the ride.
In late autumn this year I decided to do a microadventure marathon up this famous coastline. 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?
The Best Of The Best — Road Trip Stop Offs
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.
Worimi Conservation Park / Stockton Dunes
Just 30 minutes north of Newcastle lie the unforgettable Stockton sand dunes in the Worimi Conservation Lands, they’re 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 $10 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.
Port Stephens / Tomaree Head
Located just 2.5 hours north of Sydney, Tomaree Head is the perfect place to stretch the legs. Alongside the teaming wildlife and sparking blue water at Port Stephens, the Tomaree Head summit walk would have to be a favourite of ours. 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 suffice) and witness the sun sink below the horizon — it’s magical stuff!
The Hunter Valley
If you’ve got time for a cheeky detour on your coastal road trip, make sure you include the famous Hunter Valley. You can sample some of the world-class wine produced in the region and check out some other mini adventures while you’re at it.
We visited Blueberry Hill Vineyard on our trip 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!
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.
Port Macquarie Camel Rides
Who would’ve thought you’d find camels just 4 hours north of Sydney? What’s more you and your mates can enjoy a ride on these superb animals right on the beach! As a bonus extra, 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.”
Essential Gear: Don’t forget the camera for this one!
Stay: BIG4 Bonny Hills (has a jumping pillow!)
Hat Head National Park
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.
Stay: Smoky Cape Campground
If you need a shower: Hat Head Holiday Park
Bellingen, Dorrigo National Park And Waterfall Way
Why would you do the cliché and stop at the Big Banana when you would’ve zoomed right past some of the most breathtaking waterfalls in the state? Turn around and get to Bellingen — a quaint little town 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! Jump back in the car and head up to Dorrigo National Park just 30 minutes along the Waterfall Way.
Stay: Dorrigo Mountain Resort
Eat: Components café in Dorrigo, great coffee and food, welcoming staff, cute décor.
The Skywalk is a 70m National Parks boardwalk that gives you views of the rich rainforest that is the Bellinger Valley and the Rosewood Rainforest. Easy for everyone to enjoy, do not pass this up.
Dangar Falls is a charismatically huge waterfall — it’s 80ft 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 the most beautiful waterfalls in NSW. The walk to the falls 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.
Never Never River
Never Never River is a hidden wonder in Bellingen’s Promised Land. The river offers crystal clear fresh water for you to play in and rope swings can be found hanging in different spots all along the river. Keep your eyes peeled!
Yamba / Angourie
After pumping some old school bangers for the 2 hour trip back to the coast, we pulled up at Yamba and got in some beauty sleep. In the wee hours of the morning we set out for 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!
Angourie Blue Pools is also located within a short walk of Spooky Beach. It’s 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.
Grab a coffee and bite to eat at Café Angouriethere are refreshing acai bowls and plenty of other mouth-watering options. The staff make you feel as if you’re a local.
If you need a shower: Blue Dolphin Mountain Resort
The wonderful world of Byron Bay! There are so many things to see and do here that the list could go on and on. My picks are:
- Surf at Broken Head
- Explore the caves at Whites Beach
- Walk to the lighthouse — the most eastern point of Australia
- Eat at Light Years a new vibey restaurant in town. The food is fun and fresh Vietnamese fusion. I quote Pat (one of the boys from the road trip): “I’ve never had all these amazing flavours in my mouth before!”
Sydney To Byron – 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!
- Car / Campervan
- Can-do attitude
Time Taken & Distance Travelled
6 days / approximately 750km
Start And End Point
Sydney to Byron Bay. See here for more info on the Legendary Pacific Coast Road Trip.
Why wait? Start planning your NSW Road Trip.
Photos by @patsuraseang
Get a NEW view on New South Wales…