Discover NSW at your own pace on the Legendary Pacific Coast Drive. You’ll see spectacular scenery along the way, from rolling green hinterland, dotted with macadamia farms and banana plantations, to rugged national parks and great surf beaches.
The Central Coast and Port Stephens regions are known for wonderful beaches and beautiful sheltered bays, perfect for families as well as swimming, snorkeling and kayaking. The ocean beaches here are sublime and great for surfing and beach walks.
This beautiful Northern Rivers region is also acclaimed for its natural beauty, as well as its creative communities and fresh produce. For those seeking respite in nature, meditative renewal or surfing paradise, the region is a marvellous destination.
The drive, best divided into four days, takes in the Central Coast, Lake Macquarie, Port Stephens, Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay and the Tweed area. When you are finished you can return and explore further attractions and detours along the way.
Drive north on the M1 about 92km to the NSW Central Coast. Beautiful villages on the Central Coast, such as Pearl Beach, Ettalong Beach, Patonga, Avoca and Terrigal, offer a range of opportunities to stop and refresh. Swimming, fishing and surfing are always popular.
You can also visit The Entrance, 98km from Sydney, where pelicans are fed by hand and you can enjoy a variety of water sports, including sailing. The Entrance, which is surrounded by lagoons, lakes and beaches, is less than two hours’ drive from Sydney.
Continuing north, don’t miss a detour to Newcastle, Australia’s second-oldest city. Newcastle is a vibrant cosmopolitan city with a rich maritime history and a world-famous surfing destination, Merewether Beach. If you haven't had time to stop today you can take a refreshing dip in the ocean pool, known locally as the bogey hole.
There are many harbourside restaurants and bars at Honeysuckle or head for Beaumont Street in Hamilton for more outdoor cafés. Just half an hour’s drive from Newcastle, the TreeTops Adventure Park will thrill kids with its flying foxes, suspension bridges and many other exciting activities.
Port Stephens is 40 minutes’ drive from Newcastle and a great place to see dolphins in the wild. With 26 golden beaches, a vast blue bay and many beautiful inlets, Port Stephens is an idyllic beach getaway. Freshly caught seafood, local winery and alfresco waterside dining are all available at cafes and restaurants in Nelson Bay and Shoal Bay.
ArriveSouth West Rocks
The drive from Port Stephens to South West Rocks covers spectacular beaches, beautiful lakes, tranquil rivers, verdant hinterland and beautiful wilderness. You can also take a scenic route through the Great Lakes region, following The Lakes Way past Myall Lake.
The Port Macquarie region is teeming with attractions. One of the most popular is the Koala Hospital, which conducts daily tours at 3pm. Billabong Koala and Wildlife Park is also popular, and home to a giant saltwater crocodile named Shrek. You can also enjoy a seaside lunch and walk along the colourfully painted breakwater.
Visit the historic ruins of Trial Bay Gaol, on the cliffs above the sea. Taking 13 years to build, it opened in 1886 and was an internment camp in the First World War for people of German descent living in Australia.
For spectacular views visit the Smoky Cape Lighthouse, one of the oldest and tallest lighthouses in Australia. Smoky Cape is a great vantage point for whale watching between May and November. The Smoky Cape walking track begins at Captain Cook’s lookout and meanders through one of Australia’s largest remnant littoral rainforest, home to wallabies and swallow-tailed butterflies.
DepartSouth West Rocks
This drive winds through spectacular scenery. Along the way you can make a detour to Dorrigo; home of magnificent rainforest in the Dorrigo National Park. Just an hour west of Coffs Harbour along the delightful Waterfall Way driving route, enjoy spectacular lookouts and enchanting waterfalls. Walk the Skywalk, a 70m elevated boardwalk, or stop for a coffee in the Canopy Cafe.
Natural beauty and fun attractions draw families and adventurers to Coffs Harbour, a coastal city 106km from South West Rocks. The kids will love the amusement rides at the Big Banana Fun Park, including water slides and a tobogganing ride.
Amble along the Jetty Strip at the bottom of Harbour Drive and choose from a delicious range of restaurants and cafes. You can walk across a marina breakwater to Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve for spectacular views.
The Solitary Islands Marine Park is a haven for marine creatures, including whales during their annual migration between May and November. This beautiful marine park includes scenic estuaries, beaches and headlands.
At Solitary Islands Aquarium, marvel at colourful clownfish and venomous lionfish. In the Butterfly House, you can walk among hundreds of butterflies. You can also explore the amazing underwater world with Jetty Dive and during whale-watching season, take a cruise boat to see majestic humpbacks at play.
There are many options on this drive, which winds past quiet estuaries, charming villages, gorgeous beaches and World Heritage wilderness of the Byron Bay and Tweed regions.
The scenic 240km drive from Coffs Harbour takes you into the Byron Bay area. From a lush hinterland to a spectacular coast, this region is acclaimed for its natural beauty, creative communities and fresh produce. For those seeking respite in nature, meditative renewal or surfing paradise, the region is a marvellous destination.
Impeccable natural attractions are a drawcard, withCape Byron Marine Park extending from Brunswick Heads in the north to Lennox Head in the south. Walk in rainforest in national parks including Bundjalung, near Ballina, and visit the magnificent Minyon Falls, near Byron Bay.Take the kids to The Macadamia Castle for native furry friends and cuddly nursery animals, mini golf, train rides, playgrounds and barbecues.
Further north, with uncrowded beaches, the beautiful Tweed River and World Heritage rainforest, the Tweed region is a marvellous destination. Relax on soft white sands, enjoy surfing, kayaking, diving and fishing, and climb Mount Warning in a World Heritage-listed national park.
The main town is Tweed Heads, where you’ll find fishing charters, river cruises, houseboats and barbecue boats for hire, and underwater tours. From Point Danger, you will often see dolphins out to sea, and on a fine day there are views from Surfers Paradise to Byron Bay.
The Legendary Pacific Drive concludes in this beautiful region, but the drive back is a good opportunity to explore attractions and detours you may have missed along the way. Accommodation options range from rustic hideaways in the hills to world-class beachfront resorts to friendly budget hostels.
Driving tired is the second biggest killer on NSW roads after speeding, so it's important to stop, revive, survive. See tips and advice for planning and taking your trip, so that you arrive safely at your holiday destination.
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