Sydney to Brisbane 3 day roadtrip

Treasure Island Holiday Park
  • Day 1: Sydney to Coffs Harbour
  • Day 2: Coffs Harbour to Gold Coast
  • Day 3: Brisbane

Here’s the ultimate Sydney to Brisbane roadtrip itinerary, taking in Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay and the Gold Coast. 

Day 1: Sydney to Coffs Harbour

In just under six hours you can have a refreshing sea change from Sydney’s sprawl by hitting the Pacific Highway for the banana tropics of Coffs Harbour. Aim to head off before peak hour though.

Stretch your legs… Ocean Beach, Umina

An easy 1.5 hours’ drive north of Sydney, NRMA Ocean Beach Holiday Park is well worth checking out for another weekend away. The resort is ideal for families craving a mix of relaxation and adventure. After you’ve visited the café for a snack and toilet break, stroll along the beach while kids bounce on the jumping pillows.

Detour to refuel… Raymond Terrace

If you’d prefer something more scenic than a highway view at the main fuel stops, divert west a few minutes at Raymond Terrace to visit King Street, which was transformed into Main Street, Wirrawee, for the filming of John Marsden’s Tomorrow, When the War Began.  There’s also a great variety of cafés, shops and petrol stations in the main shopping area along the river.

Toilet break… Kew

Two hours up the road from Raymond Terrace is a little town that was bypassed a decade ago, but doesn’t seem to mind. Head along Nancy Bird Walton Drive (named after the pioneering aviator, who was born here) to the Visitor Information Centre, for a rest and photo under the Big Axe.

Afternoon tea and a swim… Valla Beach

A skip north of Nambucca Heads, the Headland Café & General Store on Valla Beach Road is internet-famous for its food, coffee and live music on weekends. If the weather is kind, a quick dip at the beach is definitely in order.

Stay… Darlington Beach, just north of Coffs Harbour

Near Coffs is NRMA Darlington Beach Resort & Holiday Park set among some 45 hectares of lush forest at Arrawarra where wallabies, ducks and possums mingle with guests. Kidz Korner offers loads of fun activities from BMX to art lessons all year round, while parents can relax in a pool, take a hike in nature or play a few games of golf, tennis or bowls. Ask at the front office about Coffs dining such as Carney & Earl’s for American-style burgers, Edelweiss Bavarian for well, German and European dining or Shearwater for seafood and Modern Australian.

Stay 7 nights at our holiday parks and get one free

Day 2: Darlington Beach to Gold Coast

Head up the A1 as it curves inland to Grafton, bends East to Byron Bay and traces the coast up to Brisbane.

Coffee… Yamba

Before you hit Grafton, the A1 follows the Clarence River on a broad sweep to meet the South Pacific Ocean. There are several excellent cafés in this cute coastal town famous for prawns, dolphins and whales (May to October is typically whale-watching season), including Uptown Cafe & Bar , Latitude 29 and Bean Scene

Detour for a swim… Lake Ainsworth, Lennox Head

Set at the north end of the main beach at Lennox Head, this beautiful lake gets its caramel colour from the tea trees growing along its shores. The Bundjalung people discovered the healing wonders of tea tree in this area millennia ago and have been using the oil to treat skin ailments ever since. The water looks murky, but it’s remarkably clean and revitalising.

Lunch… Byron Bay

Our most eastern town is a hotbed of artists, musicians, philosophers, healers, farmers and fashion designers, attracted by the weather and incredible landscapes… plus a dash of counterculture. These days it’s more chichi than hippie, with plenty of gorgeous eateries such as Bay Leaf CaféTop Shop, and Targa Restaurant.

Afternoon adventure… Cape Byron State Conservation Area

After lunch, pay the small National Parks entry fee and take a walk from Wategos Beach to Cape Byron Lighthouse. If you have a few hours, get a ticket for an educational tour ($35 each) of Walgun from an Arakwal Aboriginal National Parks guide.

Stay… Gold Coast

1.5 hours north of Byron and an hour south of Brisbane is the super-family-friendly Treasure Island Holiday Park. It’s the perfect base in the middle of the biggest theme parks (Dreamworld, Movie World, Sea World and Wet‘n’Wild), beaches and national parks. It’s also an adventure land in its own right with a pirate-themed water park, several pools and mini golf. Eat at the onsite Galleons Bistro & Bar or head to one of the many beachside cafés nearby.

Day 3: Brisbane

Detour… Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Drive 12km from Brisbane City to visit the world’s oldest and largest koala sanctuary. Set up in 1927 to give the popular little marsupials a new home as the city expanded, Lone Pine is also home to lots of other native animals of the flying, hopping and waddling variety.

Picnic… Botanic Gardens

Brisbane’s City Botanic Gardens regularly hosts concerts at its Riverstage and weddings all year round, although on any day the real stars are natural beauties like the weeping figs, the bamboo grove and local wildlife.

Culture… South Bank

South Bank is home to Brisbane’s Cultural Precinct, including the Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern ArtQueensland Museum and Queensland Performing Arts Centre. Of course, there are plenty of amazing places to dine nearby from fast and casual to leisurely fine dining.

Other great places to stay

Port Macquarie Breakwall Holiday Park

Breakwall is at the mouth of the Hastings River where it meets the Pacific in Port Macquarie. Two minutes to the beach and an easy five-minute walk to CBD, it offers mostly cottage accommodation including bayside, riverside and ocean view settings, plus cabins, powered sites and pet-friendly sites (if you’re bringing your own sleeping quarters).

Lake Somerset Holiday Park

1.5 hours north of Brisbane and about the same distance south-west of the Sunshine Coast, Lake Somerset Holiday Park is a water adventurer’s paradise on the shores of Somerset Dam. There are plenty of watercraft for hire, from stand-up paddleboards to kayaks and fishing runabouts – and if you do want to fish here, buy or renew your licence online first.

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