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Famous Australian Road Trips: Sydney to Byron Bay in 10 Days Itinerary

Wednesday 4th April 2018
By Dave Eddy
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By Dave Eddy
Byron Bay is deservedly an Aussie holiday favourite. With its chilled vibe, friendly locals and pristine beaches, it’s easy to understand why. In addition to being family-friendly, thousands of festival-goers flock to Byron in July for Splendour in the Grass and over New Year’s Eve for Falls Festival.

Whether you’re planning a romantic escape, a festival camping adventure with mates, or just want to chase the sun a little further north, road-tripping is the best way to get there.

Even if you read no further, we have one tip – don’t rush it.

Thanks to Campstay for writing this article. 

Do you own an RV? Interested in learning how Camplify can help you turn your caravan, camper or motorhome into $5000 - $35,000 per year? Learn more about how Camplify works for owners

Day 1 - Sydney

After collecting your rental van, don’t leave straight away – it’s time to explore Sydney. Visit Bondi and take an Instagram pic at the Icebergs Club, view the iconic Harbour Bridge (and climb it if you’re brave enough), or say hello to the wild animals at Taronga Zoo. Once you’ve checked ‘must-do’ experiences off your list, head north.


Day 2 -  Northern Beaches

Directions: CBD to Manly (17km, 33min) via A8; Manly to Dee Why (8.4km, 20min)

The next destination is just a short drive from central Sydney. Stop at Dee Why and Manly’s picturesque beaches north of Sydney. Grab your surfboard and catch a wave, hire a paddleboard and test your balance, or head to Shelley Beach with a snorkel to explore the underwater oasis. If you prefer dry land, the Manly to Split Bridge coastal walk is sure to tickle your fancy. The complete track is about 10km long, broken into short 1-2km segments; this leaves plenty of time to stop for a scenic snapshot.

How long you stick around Sydney is up to you. It’s impossible to see the whole city in a day, so we recommend staying at least three.


Day 3 - Central Coast

Directions: Dee Why to Avoca Beach (90.4km, 1.5hrs) via M1

By now, you’ve probably noticed this road trip involves hopping from one beach to another.  We hope you’re not complaining! The Central Coast isn’t lacking pretty, coastal towns to explore. Avoca Beach offers a 2km stretch of shoreline perfect for fishing, boating, kayaking, and just about any other water sport. There are plenty of little rock pools to explore here as well. If you’re a true surfer, you’ll love the beaches at Terrigal, Soldiers Beach, and Norah Head. To escape the beach scene, head to Bouddi National Park, south of Avoca Beach.

In the late afternoon, around 3.30pm, visit The Entrance (northmost point on the Central Coast) to watch the famous pelican feeding. This is the perfect spot for a family picnic to top off a busy day of sight-seeing. You’ll need to spend at least one night on the Central Coast to see everything on offer.


Day 4 - Newcastle

Directions: The Entrance to Newcastle (65km, 1h 11min) via Pacific Highway

Today you’re going to Newcastle, Australia’s second-oldest city. Newcastle has grown substantially in recent years. Originally a coal and steel port, the city now has a thriving culinary, cultural and art scene. When driving into Newcastle, we recommend stopping at Honeysuckle Wharf for brunch ahead of your big day of exploring. Visit the famous Nobbys Beach and cool off in its refreshing waters. Make a stop at the historic Merewether Ocean Baths, which opened in 1935.

Amble along Newcastle Memorial Walk, built to commemorate the ANZACs and the beginning of Newcastle’s steel industry. This 450m long path offers breathtaking panoramic views of Newcastle’s beaches and city.

If you fancy a drop of wine, you’re in luck. Newcastle borders the best grape-growing regions in Australia; the Hunter Valley is home to over 150 vineyards.  You won’t run out of things to do in and around Newcastle. But if you do here's our favourite Kids Camping Games The Entire Family Can Play This Holidays.


Day 5 - Port Stephens

Directions: Newcastle to Port Stephens (57.9km, 1hr) via Nelson Bay Rd

Wake up before dawn and make the hour drive to Nelson Bay – it’ll be worth it, we promise. Here you can take part in one of Port Stephens’ most popular activities, swimming with dolphins! This is the only place in New South Wales where you can swim with a wild dolphin pod. The swim goes for four hours, from 6 am to 10 am, so you’ll have plenty of time to play with these friendly creatures. If you prefer to stay high and dry, watch dolphins from aboard a cruise; dolphin-watching cruises are available all year round. There are also whale-watching cruises available between May and October each year.

While in Port Stephens, take a scenic drive through the Great Lakes region. From Nelson Bay, make your way along Foreshore Drive, passing through Dutchmans Beach, Salamander Bay and out to Soldiers Point. Keep your camera handy to capture the stunning scenery along the way.

Visit Tomaree National Park and take in views of the rocky headland, white sands, and rolling sand dunes. Check out nearby Fingal Bay, a charming little village perfect for an afternoon’s rest and stroll along the shoreline.

Undoubtedly, this region follows an aquatic theme. Its restaurants are renowned for fresh, local seafood. When you’re ready for a well-deserved meal, try Rock Lobster Restaurant, The Point or The Wharf.


Day 6 - Port Macquarie

Directions: Port Stephens to Port Macquarie (218.3km, 2h13m) via Pacific Highway

Rise bright and early to ensure you have a plenty of time to explore the next few destinations. Take a detour along the coastal road scenic drive to Bulahdelah. Visit Myall Lakes National Park, which offers great views along the walking tracks, as well as popular kayaking and fishing spots. Experience the chilled vibe at Blueys and Boomerang beach, or wander across the bridge at Wallis Lake and watch the action going on in the waterways below.

Continue north along the coastline, stopping next at Crowdy Head National Park. Local ‘roos like to chill on the beach, creating the perfect photo opportunity. Just remember to give them space!

Port Macquarie, the halfway point between Sydney and Byron Bay, has plenty on offer to keep you busy. The Koala Hospital is a must-visit, especially if you’re an animal lover. This volunteer-operated rehabilitation center is open from 8 am to 4.30 pm every day. If you fall in love with one of these little cuties, adopt one to continue supporting the rescue and treatment of these injured babies.

For an adrenaline rush, head to Bago Vineyards and Maze. Here you can indulge in nibbles and a glass or two of delicious wine. Decide for yourself if it’s a good idea to explore a maze after a couple glasses.


Day 7 - Coffs Harbour

Directions: Port Macquarie to Coffs Harbour (159.3km, 1h49m) via Pacific Highway

Head to LV’s on Clarence for a big breakfast and good coffee ahead of another adventure-filled day. Head towards Coffs Harbour; your first stop is South West Rocks, an hour north of Port Macquarie. South West Rocks is a charming seaside town located at the mouth of Macleay River. Spend the morning at one of the stunning, secluded beaches or explore nearby national parks. Little Bay Beach is a great spot to test your fishing skills. For picturesque, panoramic views, trek to Smokey Cape Lighthouse. This is one of Australia’s oldest and tallest lighthouses; if you’re travelling between May and November, it’s the perfect whale-watching spot.

South West Rocks isn’t just a sleepy seaside town; in fact, it’s home to one of the world’s best diving caves, Fish Rock Cave. Take a diving tour with an experienced instructor to explore this underwater world. History buffs (or those who prefer to stay on dry land) can take a step back in time on a guided tour of nearby Trial Bay Gaol.

There’s no doubt Coffs Harbour draws in families and tourists all year round. Not only is it home to the iconic Big Banana, it’s also a renowned location for whale sightings during the cooler months. Visit Solitary Island Marine Park to watch these majestic creatures during their annual migration aboard a day cruise or explore ocean depths with a jetty dive. To get even closer to nature, visit Butterfly House and surround yourself with over 400 butterfly species.

For thrill seekers, there are plenty of adrenaline-boosting activities available in Coffs. From wakeboarding and tubing to skydiving and scuba diving, you’re definitely in for an exciting time.


Day 8 - Yamba

Directions: Coffs Harbour to Yamba (138.1km, 1h40m) via Pacific Highway

Instead of heading north along the coastline today, we suggest taking a detour inland. Grafton is located about one hour north of Coffs Harbour via the Pacific Highway. Grafton is a picturesque town, with tree-lined streets and historic Victorian and Edwardian architecture. Located on the banks of the Clarence Valley river, Grafton will take you on a journey back in time. Visit Old Glen Innes Road and the historic tunnel, kayak along the Mann or Nymboida Rivers or escape to the tucked away haven that is Pebbly Beach.

After a relaxing morning in Grafton, jump back in your van and drive just 50 minutes north to Yamba, a sleepy little surf town. Many residents are former city-slickers who escaped to the seaside to simplify their lives and never looked back. Surfers will appreciate the break at Turners Beach, which also happens to be a favourite among dolphin pods that, if you’re lucky, will race you along the waves. The most iconic beach of all, however, is Angourie. This beach became internationally recognised in 1964 when world champions traveled there from Sydney following the World Titles in Manly, just to try out these breaks.

For something a little calmer, a walk along the pleasant Pippi Beach is a must-do. Make the trek to Yamba lighthouse and experience 360-degree views of the surrounding grassland and ocean. When the sun sets, a nice meal at Sassafras will be the perfect end to your day.


Day 9 - Ballina

Directions: Yamba to Ballina (99.3km, 1h22m) via Pacific Highway

Make an early start toward Ballina. If you’re in need of a coffee fix, stop at Beachwood café for a cuppa. Ballina is only an hour’s drive north of Yamba, so you will be there in no time. Once you arrive, check out the forest boardwalk in Victoria Park Nature Reserve, spot local wildlife and don’t forget to take snaps of the beautiful scenery! Ballina is a popular seaside town but is less crowded than Byron. Relax on sandy white beaches or spend a fun day out on the water with your surfboard. 

Make a trip to nearby Evans Head and explore more secluded beaches, or check out the Heritage Aviation Museum. If you’re a history buff, you’ll enjoy this one!

After a relaxing day in the sun and surf, head to Twenty Nine Restaurant and Bar for a delicious, affordable meal followed by a good night’s rest.


Day 10 - Byron Bay

Directions: Ballina to Byron Bay (37.1km, 36min) via Pacific Highway

Although Ballina and Byron Bay are quite close, there are plenty of spots along the coastline you must make time to see. Take the scenic route along Byron Bay Rd and Broken Head Rd along the coastline for stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. The first stop is the lovely coastal town of Lennox Head, a popular spot for surfers and whale watchers. Visit nearby Lake Ainsworth for a morning of kayaking and a riverside picnic.

Next, head north towards Broken Head Nature Reserve.  Take the coastal walk along the headland and stop at the lookout for the obligatory tourist photo. There is an information sign at the lookout detailing this region’s interesting history.

Travel 20 minutes north along Broken Head Rd to your final destination – Byron Bay. Explore this famous hippy town, browse boutique stores along the main street and take your pick from the vast selection of health food cafes for a delicious lunch. Head to the beach for an afternoon in the sun, visit the lighthouse, or browse local market stalls. After dark, head to Cheeky Monkey’s backpacker's bar, where you’re bound to meet some interesting characters.

Whatever the reason for your trip to Byron, whether it be a relaxing getaway, exciting music festival, or just passing through, it’s one you’ll never forget.


Confused about which RV to hire for your next road trip? Here's our RV Hiring Guide: A Comparison of RV Types in Australia to get you started in understanding the difference between the different types available to hire on Camplify. 

Do you own an RV? Interested in learning how Camplify can help you turn your caravan, camper or motorhome into $5000 - $35,000 per year? Learn more about how Camplify works for owners

To find out how Camplify can work with you and your RV, register today here.

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