Your east-coast road trip holiday guide road tripping from Sydney to Hervey Bay

America has Route 66, Italy has Stelvio Pass and Australia has the Pacific Coast Way – a fully tarmacked highway that hugs the Pacific Ocean on one side and some of Australia’s best regional towns on the other. And good news for budget-conscious travellers, this iconic drive doesn’t need a passport to discover, even though it connects such varied scenery that in other parts of the world would require border control to travel between. It’s time to buckle up, the open road (aka coastline) is calling with this drive from Sydney to Hervey Bay.

 

Leg 1: Sydney to Bonny Hills, 377km

Your road trip begins in the shadow of Sydney’s CBD, packing the car and supplies for 1284km of adventure. Your first stop, the sleepy beachside town of Bonny Hills, whose great outdoors provides the antidote to CBD living. Bonny Hills couldn’t be more of a juxtaposition to Sydney’s inner city, made up of only a service station, local tavern, BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Bonny Hills, post office and fire station. With Rainbow Beach on your front doorstep, the beach holiday you’ve been craving for so long is about to be sated. 

Recommended stay: One night

 

Leg 2: Bonny Hills to South West Rocks, 95km

Make your beach experience progressive, as you start your migration further north to Ingenia Holidays South West Rocks. It’s South West Rocks beaches that attract the majority of visitors to this part of the mid-north coastline, backed up by the promise of historical attractions such as Trial Bay Gaol and Smoky Cape Lighthouse. Smoky Cape Lighthouse is one of the oldest lighthouses in the country (built-in 1891 in fact) and if you happen to be visiting between June and August, you may be lucky enough to catch the whales as they migrate north towards warmer waters and September to November as they head south. Lace-up your hiking boots, there’s exploring to be done. The South West Rocks region is home to Arakoon National Park (where you’ll find Trial Bay Gaol). Make a day of it and take advantage of the walking tracks in the area such as Monument Hill, before enjoying a picnic lunch at Little Bay picnic area.

Recommended Stay: Two nights

 

Leg 3: South West Rocks to Nambucca Heads, 62km

Today’s road trip might be short between South West Rocks and Nambucca Heads but it’s big on scenery. The road deviates from the coastline, inland though farmland and small country towns which make where you’re staying next, Nambucca Heads, seem like a bustling metropolis. After an hour in the car, you’ll find Ingenia Holidays White Albatross set on the headland, with unrivalled access to a trilogy of nature experiences - the beach, Nambucca River and Gordon Park Rainforest. Throw your line in or take the boat out on the Nambucca River to try your luck at catching your dinner (think flathead, bream and whiting).

Recommended Stay: Two nights

 

Leg 4: Nambucca Heads to Byron Bay, 284km

Put four hours behind the wheel today, hugging the coastline towards the north coast, before checking into Ingenia Holidays Byron Bay. You’ll pass iconic coastal destinations along the way like Coffs Harbour, Yamba and Iluka, which are all worth an exit off the A1 for an extra taste of Australian beach culture. Allocate at least four days in Byron Bay if you want to really explore this famous stretch of sand and the hinterland that sits behind it, but if you really want to live like a local, you will find it very easy to spend at least one week exploring the area. With Tallow Beach right on your doorstep, we’d recommend spending your days recharging your batteries on Byron’s most famous beach. Even better, if you’re travelling with your pooch, Tallow has an off-leash section, adjacent to Jarman Street, Suffolk Park, extending north to Arakwal National Park, which is accessed directly from Ingenia Holidays Byron Bay.

Recommended stay: Three nights, but we recommend you stay and play a little longer.

 

Leg 5: Byron Bay to Noosa, 309km

Go from blues territory to maroon, crossing the border, driving from Byron Bay to Noosa along Queensland’s Bruce Highway. To truly feel Noosa’s calming effect, you’ll want to dedicate three days to the area – and that’ll only really see you scratch the surface of Noosa Main Beach, the full coastal walk through Noosa National Park and the hinterland that sits behind this famous coastline.

Base your adventure at BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Noosa, where you’re only a short drive from Hastings Street where you’ll find a bevy of bars, cafes and boutiques.

Recommended stay: Two nights

 

Leg 6: Noosa to Hervey Bay, 187km

Noosa and Hervey Bay might feel worlds apart, but truth is, they kind of are – with a UNESCO-worthy biosphere sitting between the two of them.

Put 187km on the odometer on the Bruce Highway to find yourself in the sleepy coastal town of Hervey Bay.

For your final pitstop on this road trip, check into Ingenia Holidays Hervey Bay. You may be lucky enough to check into one of the parks newly refurbished cabins or ensuite sites. .

Hervey Bay’s people population might be relatively small, but for three months of the year, it’s wildly outnumbered by the famous marine mammals who migrate here.

Replace watching animal documentaries on TV with the real deal, joining a whale-watching cruise through the warm waters of Hervey Bay (in season).It seems fitting that Hervey Bay should be the end of this road trip up the east coast, as we suspect you might take a leaf out of the ocean mammals’ playbook and decide to stay and play a while too.

Recommended stay: Two nights

 

Got more time up your sleeve and don’t want to turn around just yet? Put another 1440km worth of tyre-tracks along the east coast to Cairns, where you’ll find Ingenia Holidays Cairns Coconut.