Congratulations! You’ve booked a motorhome or campervan through Salamanda Travel and are looking forward to a self-drive holiday from Sydney to Brisbane (or Brisbane to Sydney). So the next thing is to find out what to do along the way. We will try and help you with that here.
The legendary Pacific Coast road is Australia’s national highway number one, stretches for approximately 1 000 km and is arguably Australia’s top tourist drive. On the way you will spot some signs showing the brown-coded scenic tourist route which points the way to some of the best beaches and most picturesque towns. It can be an adventure just to follow any of the Scenic Route drives without knowing where you will end up. Once there, you can visit local pubs and cafés – you never know who or what you’ll find. However, we also recommend planning some activities and places to visit before you start out on your road trip. Here is our list of some highlights along the way.
The Blue Mountains National Park is one of the most popular national parks in Australia and just a short trip west of Sydney. The most famous attraction in the park is the ‘Three Sisters’ rock formation. It’s a spectacular landmark, and highly recommended. Explore The Blue Mountains Bushwalks which are extensive and impressive. If you are looking for a more adventurous way to see the ‘Three Sisters’, you could ride the steepest passenger skyway in the world, the Scenic Skyway. Glide between clifftops and gaze at the rainforest canopy through the glass floor of the Scenic Skyway! Or go horse riding, and take one of the segway tours where you can discover the spectacular beauty of riding in the Blue Mountains in a different way.
A few hours drive north of Sydney, Newcastle is located in the heart of the Hunter Region and bordered by a stunning coastline with beautiful beaches. Take a dip in the “Bogey Hole” which was hacked out by convict labour in 1819. Once you see the Bogey Hole in real life you will realise what an achievement this was by the convicts. It was constructed by order of a commandant for his own personal bathing use.
Further north again, Port Stephens offers a unique diversity of activities, especially for tourists. It is well worth discovering the ‘Great Lake Marine Park’, which is a 98,000-hectare marine reserve. You can also enjoy other water-related activities. The marine park was established by the NSW Government in December 2005, and has since developed into a stunning habitat full of diverse wildlife thanks to its rich variety of ecosystems. Go on a camel riding tour or a quad tour and experience the thrill of riding over the vast sand dunes of Port Stephens.
Further north from there, Port Macquarie is a bustling town with stunning beaches. Port Macquarie is known as the “Koala Capital” of Australia. Visit the Koala Hospital and Wildlife Park. There is a free Koala Hospital tour at 3pm every day.
Heading towards the northern part of NSW is Coffs Harbour. No matter in what time of year you visit Coffs harbour, the area won’t fail to entertain and delight. Did you always want to travel to Holland and see how clogs are built? You don’t have to travel to the other side of the world – visit the Clog Barn to find a little piece of Holland in Australia. Take a leisurely walk around the model Dutch village with its miniature working windmills and working miniature railway. All the models are replicas of actual buildings in Holland. Visit Big Oma’s Coffee House, and taste some of the Dutch specialties, like croquettes, frikendellen and poffertjes.
Coffs Harbour has more to offer than just clogs. “Coffs” has some outstanding beaches, such as Gallows, Park Beach, Diggers, Sapphire, Emerald, Sawtell, Sandy and more. A popular attraction is the Big Banana, one of the most photographed objects in Australia. Other attractions include a downhill taboggan ride, an ice skating rink and a waterslide.
On the way from Coffs Harbour to Byron Bay, make sure you visit South West Rocks and Scott’s Head along the way. They both have a caravan park overlooking beautiful beaches. Byron Bay iself is recognized as one of the homes of alternative lifestyle culture in Australia. Make a short scenic journey into Byron’s hinterland to Crystal Castle to see a slice of the alternative lifestyle. In Byron Bay itself, you can hike to Cape Byron Lighthouse, the most easterly point in mainland Australia. It is definitely worth the walk for the amazing view. Don’t forget to try ‘Stand Up Paddling, it’s one of the fastest growing sports, and there is no better place to try stand up paddling then in Byron!
The Gold Coast is THE holiday destination for a lot of Aussies and tourists as well, due to the sunny subtropical climate, surfing beaches and plenty of nightlife, family entertainment, shopping and hotels. Apart from this, the Gold Coast has a lot of different theme parks, such as Dream World, Warner Bros Movie World, Sea World. Another popular attraction is the Tamborine rainforest skywalk. The skywalk is a great way of exploring the rainforest – during your walk you will be able to observe the diverse flora and fauna the rainforest has to offer from a birds eye view.
Your final destination is Brisbane – a town that offers plenty of things to do. At the Cultural Precinct at South Bank, visit the Gallery of Modern Art, the Queensland Museum, take the family for a swim at the “City Beach” at South Bank, or cruise over the river on the frequent ferries. Plan a trip down the Brisbane River on the special ‘Bat Cruise” to observe the flying foxes that take off each sunset to go foraging for fruit across Brisbane. There is also Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary at Fig Tree Pocket, just a short trip downriver by ferry where besides koalas you will see plenty of other Australian wildlife. The city itself offers plenty of shopping and historic buildings such as the Brisbane City Hall at King George Square, and then in the city on the river’s edge is the Brisbane Botanic Gardens. For more information, check out the Visit Brisbane website.