05 January, 2022
Last updated on 15 May, 2023
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Posted by Mike | Spaceships Crew
Discover the Legendary Pacific Coast from Sydney to Byron Bay. This is your guide to one of Australia’s most iconic road trips, a dramatic yet amazing road trip from Sydney to Byron Bay. We’ve picked out some of the highlights on this 768 kilometres coastal route.
It all starts in Sydney
Before you collect your Spaceships campervan from our Sydney depot, make sure you leave a couple of days to explore one of the world’s great cities.
You have to see the Sydney Opera House and Bondi Beach, but also check out the cool suburbs of Chippendale, for a taste of Sydney’s street food. Spice Alley is a collection of 4 kitchens in one lane, with an unmistakable south-east Asian atmosphere. Enjoy the smells and tastes of Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Hong Kong - all in one place.
Once you are heading northeast at the start of your road trip, you could book a kayak tour at Pittwater on Sydney’s northern beaches. With a choice of sunrise tours or morning tours, it’s a great way to enjoy the tranquillity of Pittwater.
Bouddi National Park: rainforests & secluded beaches
Get back aboard your Spaceship and head up to Bouddi National Park. It’s about 90 minutes north of Sydney near the city of Gosford in the Central Coast region. Discover rainforests and wild, secluded beaches, with camping close to the ocean.
A great way to explore the park is by bike, with 10km of mountain biking trails. Or, you can take the Bouddi coastal walk, 8.5km of pathways through the forest and over clifftop boardwalks between Putty Beach and Macmasters Way.
The harbour city of Newcastle is Australia’s second-oldest city. Once you’ve dropped into a café or bar and maybe done a little shopping, take a walk from Nobby’s Beach to Merewether Beach. Take a dip in the Merewether Ocean Baths, the largest open pool complex in the Southern Hemisphere.
Hike up to Fort Scratchley which dates back to the 1880s. This historic monument overlooking the ocean is a great place to spot migrating whales.
Pokolbin and Hunter Valley: taste incredible wines
2 hours from Sydney and an hour west of Newcastle is Pokolbin in the heart of the Lower Hunter Valley wine region. As well as tasting wines from some of Australia’s oldest grapes, you’ll find craft breweries and restaurants – for when you’ve finished driving for the day.
To get a different perspective on Hunter valley, book an early morning balloon flight over the vines.
Explore Hunter Valley by Spaceships campervan
Port Stephens: swim with dolphins
With no less than 26 sandy beaches and the spectacular Stockton sand dunes, a stop at Port Stephens on your road trip from Sydney to Byron Bay is not to be missed.
You can dive with Bottlenose Dolphins or take a quad bike over the dunes. Also recommended is the walk up to Tomaree Head with its spectacular views back over Port Stephens.
At the end of the day, enjoy freshly landed seafood at one of the many waterfront restaurants.
Port Macquarie: penal colony and lighthouse
Port Macquarie lies at the mouth of the Hastings River, just over 240km north of Newcastle on the A1 Pacific Highway. St Thomas’s Church represents Port Macquarie’s penal colony history, having been built by convicts in the 19th century.
The walk from the town centre up to Tacking Point Lighthouse is well worth the effort, particularly between May and November during the whale migrating season. You can also visit one of Australia’s major Koala breeding centres at Billabong Zoo.
Tacking Point Lighthouse - make sure to check it out on your road trip from Sydney to Byron Bay
Coffs Harbour: bananaaaaa
Head a further 150kms further north up the Pacific Highway and you’ll land at Coffs Harbour in your Spaceship. No visit would be complete without a trip to the Big Banana Amusement Park, and the obligatory photo below the iconic Big Banana. It is not just a random banana, it’s there in celebration of the region’s banana industry.
Solitary Islands Marine Park gives you the chance to take a snorkelling tour, with the chance of meeting turtles, dolphins and a wide variety of other marine life.
About an hour inland from Coffs Harbour, you can drive out to Dorrigo National Park and the heritage-listed Gondwana rainforest. Don’t miss its spectacular Skywalk, a 70m viewing platform over 20m above the rainforest. The Wonga walk takes you through a 600-year-old forest, and the Park is also home to breathtaking waterfalls, including the beautiful Crystal Showers falls.
Ballina: cycling paradise
The last stop on your road trip and the gateway to Byron Bay, Ballina is a quieter, lesser-known sister to its more famous neighbour.
It’s worth a visit though. There are 25km cycle paths to explore the coast and Richmond River, with River tours by boat also available. It’s another great whale watching destination too.
Talking of big things, there is another of Australia’s iconic “big things” at Ballina. This time it’s not a big banana, but a big prawn. Originally built in 1989, it weighs 35 tonnes and stands over 9m high. The Big Prawn is available to view (and for selfies) day and night.
Heaps of big things to see: Big Banana in Coffs Harbour and the Big Prawn in Ballina | photo: Matthijs
Surf's up at Byron Bay
You’ve made it! Cheer Up. Slow Down. Chill Out. That’s the message on the road sign on the way into Byron Bay. And this coastal resort, once home to hippies and surfers, certainly still enjoys a cool, chilled out vibe.
You’ll still see its surfing heritage and plenty of yoga retreats, but now the bohemian hippie culture has the addition of chic bars and restaurants. As well as the beaches, surfing, food and drink, adrenaline junkies can go sky-diving over Byron Bay. Or if you prefer something a little more “down to earth”, take a walk along the Cape Byron Lighthouse Trail to the Byron Bay Lighthouse, the most easterly point in Australia.
Sydney to Byron Bay is the road trip of a lifetime, with the Legendary Pacific Coast, rainforests, waterfalls, great food and drink along the way and a host of activities to fit in.
One-way trip or want to see even more?
You can do this #spaceshipsroadtrip from Sydney to Bryon Bay, but there is so much to see. You can easily turn around and head back south to Sydney, and catch up on all the things you missed on the way up.