If you're planning a holiday in Australia and want to get the most out of your time there, consider embarking on the road trip of a lifetime along the Pacific Motorway and Pacific Highway between Sydney and Brisbane, passing through the famous Gold Coast. This stunning journey makes for the ultimate road trip as it follows the coastline through serene bays, rainforest-covered hills and urban hotspots for a wealth of tantalising variety.
Flexible and Affordable
You can drive this stretch of around 940km (585 miles) of Australia's east coast in about twelve hours, so depending on your requirements you can tailor the trip to as short as a couple of days or make a full break of it over a week or more. Hiring a vehicle is the ideal way to enjoy the road trip, and you could opt for a budget family car or if making overnight stops en route, a camper van, which is a cost-effective alternative to hotels. Shop around for the best price and be sure to enquire how tolls are to be paid in case you travel on any toll roads during your holiday. If you are making a one-way journey you also need to enquire if it is possible to return the vehicle at the other end, and if there is an additional charge for this. Costs of car hire vary but you can expect to find approximate weekly rates as follows: budget car - £135, family car - £200, SUV - £260, executive - £300-£575, 2-berth camper-van with toilet and shower - £510, 12-seater - £720. A one-way fee could add a further £140 to the bill. Alternatively, if you don’t want the hassle or sorting all this out, there are a number of companies which offer packaged fly drive holidays which can be customised to your desires.
After setting off from Sydney, stretch your legs at Broken Bay, which is approximately 50km (30 miles) north of the city. This estuary is at the confluence of the Hawkesbury River, Pittwater and Brisbane Water and is where they meet the Tasman Sea. Broken Bay is nestled between three national parks, so if time permits take advantage of the walking or cycling trails, Aboriginal sites, fishing spots and spectacular views. A little way north of Broken Bay is the Australian Reptile Park which is well worth a visit for animal lovers of all ages, and there are cuddly creatures too for those not so fond of reptiles! Alternatively stick on the coast road from Broken Bay and head up to the town of Terrigal to try out various water-sports, or grab some food at one of the beach-front eateries.
The next stop is the large shipping and industrial town of Newcastle where you'll find plenty to do but if you're looking for somewhere to stay overnight at this stage it is worth heading just beyond Newcastle to the beautiful region of Port Stephens. Divided into the areas of the Tomaree Penbinsula, the Tilligerry Peninsula and the Golden Bight, in Port Stephens you will find volcanic peaks lining the coast and golden sandy bays. Popular pastimes are dolphin and whale watching and before continuing your journey you could set yourself up for the day by having some morning tea at the Inner Lighthouse.
Off The Beaten Track
As the journey progresses you will pass numerous national parks, nature reserves and places of interest so for those embarking on a longer road trip, don't set a hard and fast itinerary and don't be afraid to try taking interesting looking roads that lead off the highway to the east as you may get some pleasant surprises! Forster is another suitable destination for an overnight stay, or further along follow one of the interesting back roads to Laurieton and Port Macquarie – another great spot to stop over at. There is plenty on offer in the Greater Port Macquarie region, from horse riding and 4x4 tours to attractions like the Bago Vineyards and Maze and the Black Duck Brewery.
The Gold Coast Uncovered
The road trip continues through notable towns such as Nambucca Heads and Coffs Harbour but the most anticipated part of the journey will be the stretch of Gold Coast leading up to Brisbane. Before you get there stop at Byron Bay and Mullumbimby, and if time allows head inland to Nimbin to experience some alternative vibes in the town inhabited by numerous co-operative communities – there is even an alternative currency used here. It will be a bit of a culture shock leaving the area and passing through the urban sprawls of Tweed Heads South and Coolangatta but the Gold Coast is just beyond where you will be able to try your luck at Jupiters Casino at Broadbeach or dance the night away in nightclubs such as SkyPoint Bar, Platinum Nightclub and Ultra Lounge & Club. Make the most of your time in Surfers Paradise before traversing the last leg of the journey to Brisbane, where you can nurse your hangover relaxing by the river or with some retail therapy.
The Ultimate Road trip
Make the most of your time in Australia by hiring a vehicle and setting off on an amazing journey through beautiful scenery as you travel from Sydney to Brisbane. Spend as little as two days or as long as two weeks exploring the vibrant coastal regions and visiting exciting attractions before unwinding on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane. An economical holiday option, you could even hire a camper van to save on accommodation costs and to have a really flexible road trip.