Legendary Pacific Coast Drive Sydney to Brisbane Australia

The Legendary Pacific Coast is the popular tourism drive stretching 900kms along the Pacific Coast from Sydney to Brisbane.

For any backpacker coming to Australia, it is really worth hiring or buying a vehicle and spending a good month or more exploring the rolling green hill and coastal bushlands and hinterlands, visiting spectacular beaches, surfing some incredible waves, and experiencing the local people in small beach communities.

We spent six weeks camping along the Pacific Coast from our home town Woy Woy to Byron Bay. It was such a relaxing way to see more of this beautiful Australian region.

Some highlights along the drive and places worth spending time in are

Central Coast

Terrigal Lagoon and Beach
The Lagoon with views of Wamberal Beach

Only an hour north of Sydney, most traveller’s remain on the freeway and by-pass this beautiful region. Of course I have to include it as it is where Craig and I grew up and are currently living.

Bouddi National Park creates some dramatic coastal views with its rainforest fringed sandstone cliffs. There are plenty of hikes and beach camping to be done here.

Terrigal is the most trendy and upmarket beach area, but if you are looking for something quieter with better surf check out McMasters Beach. Don’t forget to stop in at Woy Woy for a coffee with us or perhaps some fishing on this peninsula region.

Newcastle/ Hunter Valley/ Port Stephens

Merewether Beach Newcastle
Merewether Beach Newcastle

We have been exploring more of this region recently. Newcastle was voted as one of Lonely Planet’s must see destinations for 2011 and it is where Kalyra met her idol surfer girl at the LPC Pro surfing event.

Port Stephens is a water lovers dream destination with fantastic fishing, beautiful beaches, opportunities for snorkelling and diving and for whale and dolphin watching. Nelsons Bay is the main town in this area.

The Hunter Valley is the place you want to go to sample some of Australia’s best wines.

There is a reason why we win many international wine making awards. Why not incorporate a hot air balloon ride over the valley while you are there? We sure did, followed by a delicious lunch at the popular Harrigans restaurant.

Port Macquarie

Port Macquarie at sunset
Port Macquarie at sunset Photo: T gerus

The place of Craig’s infamous bucks weekend, Port Macquarie is a vibrant and un-spoilt town sitting at the estuary of the Hastings River.

The stunning coastline of the rocky headlands makes it a great place to spend a few quiet days enjoying the pleasurable coastal ambiance. Calm waterways, bountiful fishing, gogeous National Parks and beaches are just some of the reasons why so many visitors return to Port Macquarie again and again.

Coffs Harbour

Back Sandy Beach at dawn
Coffs Harbour Coast Photo Pip Wilson

Coffs Harbour is a popular half way stopping point for those doing the long drive straight up to Queensland from Sydney.

Coffs is where you will discover Australia’s love for all things big, with a visit to the Big Banana (which now looks incredibly small compared to when I was ten). The drive into Coffs is just gorgeous with its rolling emerald green hills.

carnival Bellingen
Bellingen Photo: Lawson Matthews

We camped just north of Coffs at the pretty Emerald Beach. Goannas roamed freely around our campsite and we were only a few steps walk it the shores of the beautiful beach.

While here take a drive to the cute forest town of Bellingen and appreciate the artistic lifestyle and cafes. World Heritage listed Dorrigo National Park is also worth spending some time to take in the lush rainforest and waterfalls from the tree top walk.


Yamba sunrise Photo: Lina Hayes

Yamba lies at the mouth of the Clarence River and has excellent beaches for swimming, and surfing with an ocean pool built into the rocks. Yamba has recently won a lot of awards including Best Town in Australia.

There is a less known, yet fantastic walk you can go on through the National Park here to the small secluded Shelley’s Beach. The walk takes about four hours return and is pretty flat and gentle. It gives you spectacular views of the Coastline. It is the most memorable experience we had while at Yamba.

Angourie, Australia’s first surfing reserve and the “home of soul surfing” is only a short drive away.

Lennox Head

Lennox Head
Lennox - What a coastal drive

Take the scenically beautiful coastal drive between Ballina and Byron Bay and visit the small surfing town of Lennox Head.

Lennox Point is noted as being one of the top ten surfing breaks in Australia and for that reason is a mecca for surfers. It is a pretty laid back and funky place to hang out too with boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. Just down the road you will find the tea tree-stained fresh waters of Lake Ainsworth.

Byron Bay

Wategos Beach one of my Australian favourites

One of the more popular Australian destinations, Byron Bay is famous for its alternative laid back lifestyle, surf and stunning sheltered beaches.

The Cape Byron lighthouse is the furthest Easterly point of Australia and can be reached by a beautiful coastal cliff walk. We will be in Byron in a couple of weeks time for the very popular Easter Byron Bay Bluesfest. Byron Bay is also a popular place to be on New Years Eve.

Hemp Embassy Nimbim
The Hemp Museum Nimbin Photo: Nicky Fern

While there make sure you drive to nearby hippy enclave Nimbin, nestled at the foothills of an extinct volcano.

Nimbin is a close knit, organic community and and a real eye-opener into some alternative lifestyles. The Hemp museum is a fascinating place to spend an hour or so. Just be prepared for multiple offers to purchase some home-grown weed.



Coolangatta Beach
Coolangatta Beach

Coolangatta is the gateway to the Gold Coast and Queensland. It is one of our favourite Australian beach towns and is poised to be the next Byron Bay.

Coolangatta has everything you would want in a great beach community, amazing beaches, world-class surfing breaks, restaurants and cafes, chilled out lifestyle, easy access to the theme parks of Surfers and the hinterlands, and a warm climate.

I would choose it over the more popular Surfers Paradise for your Gold Coast experience. We have our eye set on Coolangatta as a possible place in Australia to live.

There is a Legendary Pacific Coast App that you can now download from your iPhone that you can used to see a number of places in your current area along the drive, where you can eat, sleep and explore.

The app can help you find the nearest Visitor Information Centres as ell as upload a “My Legendary Adventure’ itinerary.

Caz Makepeace is the co-founder of y Travel Blog and has been traveling the world since 1997, first solo, then with her husband, and now with her two daughters. Get her free email series on the 4 best ways to reduce travel costs. Follow her on Google+

29 Comments on “Legendary Pacific Coast Drive Sydney to Brisbane Australia”

  1. What a great area to camp away for 6 weels

  2. Your photos are stunning! I would love to experience those views! Great piece!

  3. Are all the pictures taken by you? or istockphotos? or someone elses? They are incredible

  4. Gorgeous! That’s the kind of scenery that you just don’t get tired of. The drive down our side of the Pacific coast here in California is pretty spectacular too. But all places have their distinctive characteristics and I would love to discover those on Australia’s Pacific coast.

  5. What a great post! And just at the right time too, we are starting to plan the reverse journey, heading out in a couple weeks.

    Do you have any recommendations for camper van hires? We’ve heard horror stories about Wicked, but they are significantly cheaper. Or, would a car rental and tent be a much better option?

  6. They all seems like lovely and wonderful places to go but Port Macquarie stood out for me. I got the impression it would be the place that artists needing inspiration go to.

  7. Wow, I can see why it is a very popular tourist drive. Stunning pictures. None like the other, it’s all very diverse. I’d love to take a road trip there one day!

  8. Looks amazing – can’t believe I’ve never been to Australia!

    • Brenna,

      We are not as far away as you think. Really hope you get to experience everything we have to offer sooner rather than later.

  9. Ah, just gorgeous! Obviously, Australia has so many treasures…

  10. Looks like a spectacular stretch of coast with some very interesting stop-offs.

  11. WOW !! thanks for those amazing pictures !!! OZ is next on my places to visit !! And those pictures, breath taking !!!

    • Glad you like the pics. They even inspire us to do it all again, and we will :)

  12. Stunning scenery like this makes me wish we had seen Australia this last time around. The hike to Shelley’s Beach sounds right up my alley!

    • Hi Jillian,

      yep, we have some great hikes to go along with everything else. We are spoilt for nature choices here in OZ. Hope you can make it soon.

  13. The sky really lights up in that last photo! Great tips.

  14. SO want to do this! One of the many parts of Australia we still have yet to see properly

    • You should definitely do the drive, and spend at least a week or two if you have the time.

  15. Love your photo of Coolangatta beach! And now I just want to come back to Sydney and take more time meandering this coast than I did in 04. sigh…

  16. I definitely want to take a trip up the coast again, since when I traveled it was more about hopping around and attempting to save time and money (neither of which we did).

    I want to download that app when we get back to Australia! How cool!

    • Yeah the app is pretty cool, makes the travelling easier. Do you guys know where you will be staying when you get back here?

  17. It’s not just swimming, surfing and sand! One of my favorite place is Byron Bay. It’s also surrounded with rain forest which adds more attraction which is overlooked by tourists. I like mountain biking and this provided my excitement. I had a lot of fun and and recommend this to everybody.

  18. I also did this drive, though went further south to Melbourne. Coffs Harbour was a fantastic spot, and we loved Coolies! Did you surf anywhere?

    • No. I’m not a surfer. Although I have had a lesson at Coolangatta where I did stand up for 3 seconds. Yeah!

  19. You have some fabulous collection of pictures.

  20. I have not been in Coffs Harbour. Do you think there is worth to visit?

    • Maybe. It depends on what your travel plans and how much time you have. If you have a lot of time, there are some pretty beaches to go to and the hinterland area is beautiful, but if your time is stretched, I think there are much nicer and more memorable places to go.

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