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The best places to stop on a Sydney to Brisbane drive

The best places to stop on a Sydney to Brisbane drive - Australia

The iconic Sydney to Brisbane drive is a breathtaking 920km, or 10 hour, road trip past some of the most beautiful towns and peaceful beaches Australia’s coastline has to offer. While you can do the drive in a single day, why not spread it out over a few days or even weeks, and soak up the pristine beaches, delectable cafes and fascinating history that is on offer throughout the Sydney to Brisbane road trip.

The best places to stop on a Sydney to Brisbane drive

Main Beach, Byron Bay

Central Coast

Avoca, NSW, Australia

The Central Coast is only an hours drive north of Sydney, and is home to beautiful beaches and delightful cafes. Set aside a few days if you can to visit beaches and seaside towns like Copacabana, Macmasters Beach, Terrigal and Avoca Beach. We loved visiting the Australian Reptile Park in Gosford, and have often enjoyed the daily pelican feeding at The Entrance.

Read more about things to do on the Central Coast here.

Newcastle

For Scratchley, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

The industrial and coastal city has so much to offer. We love Newcastle’s gorgeous beaches, delicious cafes and stunning ocean baths. You can also visit historic Fort Scratchley, the Newcastle Museum and Nobbys Lighthouse.

Read more about things to do in Newcastle here.

Port Stephens

Mount Tomaree, Port Stephens, NSW, Australia

Located 2 1/2 hours drive north of Sydney, the area has a stunning 26 beautiful beaches and bays to explore. Port Stephens is renowned for whale and dolphin watching, sand dunes and gourmet restaurants.

Read more about things to do in Port Stephens here.

Port Macquarie

Port Macquarie, NSW, Australia

Located four hours drive north of Sydney and six hours south of Brisbane, Port Macquarie is a seaside town at the mouth of the Hastings River. It’s a gorgeous spot to spend a few days enjoying the beaches, wildlife and penal colony history.

Port Macquarie, NSW, Australia

Visit the Port Macquarie’s Historic Courthouse that was built in 1869 and is located in the town centre. Read more about historic and cultural attractions in Port Macquarie here.

We loved the colourful graffiti rocks on the break wall that stretches down to the very popular Town Beach. Along the walk we spotted plenty of dolphins frolicking in the bay.

Port Macquarie, NSW, Australia

Town Beach has modern bathroom and shower facilities, grassy areas, picnic facilities, a skate park, kiosk, an outdoor gym and a modern playground.

We also loved Mrs York’s Garden, a peaceful spot with lovely water views. Read more about Mrs York’s Garden here.

Port Macquarie, NSW, Australia

Other popular attractions in the area include the 19th-century Tacking Point Lighthouse, whale watching, Billabong Zoo, the Koala Hospital and the hand-painted giant koala sculptures on the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail.

Port Macquarie, NSW, Australia

Dining at the Pancake Place is an absolute must. They serve up delicious pancakes and crepes for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Coffs Harbour

Coffs Harbour

Coffs Harbour is halfway between Sydney and Brisbane, making it a popular stop on the quintessential coastal road trip. While the mid north coast town might be just a convenient place to stay a night or two for those making the longer journey, we were pleasantly surprised to find so many things to do in Coffs Harbour, and would recommend it for a holiday destination.

Read more about things to do in Coffs Harbour here.

Yamba

Yamba, NSW, Australia

Around 7.5 hours north of Sydney and 3 1/4 hours south of Brisbane, Yamba is a quiet little gem with beautiful beaches, fresh seafood and stunning national parks surrounding it. We loved the chilled out vibe in this little seaside town and its excellent cafes.

Yamba, NSW, Australia

Take a dip in the usually calm waters of Main Beach, or try the ocean pool at its south end if the waves are choppy.

Yamba, NSW, Australia

Stroll up a bit further to Turner’s Beach where you’ll find a rock shelf and the South Break Wall, plus a path and steps that lead up to the Lighthouse. We spotted pods of dolphins in the water from the break wall.

Yamba, NSW, Australia

The Lighthouse, built in 1955, offers gorgeous views up and down the coast.

Ballina

Ballina, Big Prawn, NSW, Australia

Located roughly 8.5 hours north of Sydney and 2 hours south of Brisbane, Ballina is an old school seaside town that’s a great base for exploring the local attractions. Check out the local beaches, take a river cruise or enjoy a kayaking tour if you like being on the water. The town is close to Broadwater and Bunjalong National Parks for nature-lovers.

We highly enjoyed Ballina’s Big Prawn, which was built in 1989 and given a $400,000 makeover in 2013. It’s located adjacent to Bunnings Warehouse in River Street.

While in Ballina we stayed at the Ballina Homestead Motel and highly recommend it.

Read more about things to do in Ballina here.

Lennox Head

Lennox Heads, NSW, Australia

A 10 minute drive north from Ballina is Lennox Head, a charming little seaside village with oodles of charm. We loved the beautiful 7 Mile Beach and strolling the main street with its boutiques and cafes. There’s a great playground for kids in the park near the beach.

Lennox Heads, NSW, Australia
We enjoyed the most delicious Italian dinner at the supremely kid-friendly Quattro Classic Lennox Head and homemade gelato from gelato from Lennox Gelato & Coffee Co. They had chilli gelato on the menu but we weren’t game to try it!

Byron Bay

Cape Byron

8.5 hours north of Sydney and 2 hours south of Brisbane lies the ever-popular Byron Bay. Once a hippy town Byron has of late attracted more of an upmarket, hipster clientele, and the hotels, restaurants and shops have started to reflect the new visitors. The vibe is still relaxed, but the town has started to get a whole lot trendier!

Main Beach, Byron Bay

Byron Bay has plenty of natural attractions on offer, including stunning beaches included Main Beach, Clarkes, Wategoes and Little Wategoes. The later is Australia’s easternmost beach. Main Beach has an excellent playground for kids.

Wategoes Beach, Byron Bay

There are also plenty of bushwalks in hinterland rainforest, coastal trails and loads of wildlife to spot.

Byron bay Hinterland

We love visiting Cape Byron, the easternmost point of the mainland of Australia and home to Australia’s most powerful lighthouse.

Byron Bay, NSW, Australia

Take the easy 4km Byron Bay Lighthouse walk (parking is available if you prefer to drive) and look out for marine life in the Cape Byron Marine Park below. Dolphins, turtles, rays and whales can all be spotted – we were lucky enough to see a few whales.

Cape Byron

The Cape Byron Lighthouse and lighthouse keepers cottages were built in 1901. Light food and drinks are available.

Byron Bay, NSW, Australia

We highly enjoyed dining at Bayleaf Cafe, which really embodies how far Byron has come and what its future might hold. Delicious, fresh food, beautifully prepared and creatively presented, in a buzzy cafe with open windows and tables spilling out onto the footpath.

Crystal Castle, Byron, NSW, Australia

To get a real feel for the spiritual side of Byron Bay, visit the Crystal Castle and Shambhala Gardens. The gardens are speckled with the beautiful crystals and statues that pay tribute to various spiritualities around the world, including the largest stone Blessing Buddha in Australia. Our daughter loves crystals, so we visited to see the world’s tallest geode pair. We really enjoyed the gardens but thought it was an extremely expensive outing for what it was.

We found the accommodation in Byron Bay to be double the price of neighbouring towns, so opted to stay in nearby Coolangatta instead.

Gold Coast

Queensland’s Gold Coast is a family-friendly stretch of coast lined with spectacular beaches, famous theme parks and lush hinterland rainforests.

Coolangatta

9 hours north of Sydney and 1 1/4 hour south of Brisbane, Coolangatta is the southernmost suburb of the Gold Coast, just over the NSW border. It was named after the schooner Coolangatta, which in 1846 was wrecked there.

Coolangatta is only a short drive from Surfers Paradise but it feels like a different world. The town has a relaxed vibe to it and a stunning beach so that when combined with its excellent restaurants and hotels, makes for the perfect Gold Coast destination in our opinion.

Kids will love the excellent, shaded playground just across from the main strip of restaurants and the wide path that runs along the beach for scooting.

Sunset at Snapper Rocks is incredible. If you visit during winter you might see whales passing by like we did.

We dined at O Sushi which had a huge variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes including haloumi skewers. Gelato Messina is not to be missed.

While in Coolangatta we stayed at the Greenmount Beach Hotel, which was an excellent budget find.

Currumbin

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, QLD, Australia

Currumbin is famous for the beautiful Currumbin Creek waterway that offers sheltered conditions for swimming and watersports –  Tallebudgera Creek is particularly popular with the locals.

You’ll also find the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in this peaceful beach suburb. Arrive at8am to participate in their daily free lorikeet feeding.

Read more about visiting Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary here.

Burleigh Heads

Burleigh Heads, Qld, Australia

The relaxed vibe in Burleigh, as the locals call it, gives it an entirely different feel to its neighbouring beaches to the north. While you can see the Surfers Paradise high rises in the distance, it feels like a whole world away.

Burleigh Heads, Qld, Australia

The beach is protected and calm, making it popular with families. We loved climbing rocks and trees at the south end and sitting on the headland and watching surfers showing off their moves.

Paddock Bakery, Gold Coast, Qld, Australia

We dined at the excellent Paddock Bakery in the neighbouring suburb of Miami. With its relaxed vibe and pretty, tasty food, it’s an iconic Gold Coast cafe well worth the visit.

Broadbeach

Gold Coast With Kids via christineknight.me

Getting further into the bustling centre of the Gold Coast, Broadbeach has a wide variety of cafes, restaurants, boutiques and accommodation choices, with a family-friendly vibe. It’s a great base for a Gold Coast holiday if you’re after plenty of things to do and see. Broadbeach also has a beautiful beach, large playground for kids, and the Pacific Fair Shopping Centre.

We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Surfer Paradise, which was located halfway between Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise.

Crowne Plaza, Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

Read more about our stay at the Crowne Plaza Surfers Paradise here.

Surfers Paradise

Crowne Plaza, Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

Surfers is a hotspot for tourists visiting the Gold Coast. The iconic Surfers Paradise Beach and its sign draw in overseas visitors while the nightlife attracts school leavers. There are loads of attractions in Surfers Paradise that make it a great spot to stay if you’re keen to do and see the sights, especially with older kids. Attractions include SkyPoint Observation Deck,  Infinity Attraction, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and Timezone.

Surfers Paradise is also where you’ll find all of the Gold Coast’s theme parks.

Read about things to do on the Gold Coast with kids here.

The Sydney to Gold Coast drive is one of our favourite holidays trips to make, and often we will stop here rather than proceeding on to Brisbane. The Sydney to Gold Coast road trip is around 9.5 hours drive, or 848km.

Brisbane

Brisbane

The capital city of Queensland, Brisbane is a 10 hour drive from Sydney. It’s a vibrant city, filled with art, music, restaurants, man-made beaches and the beautiful river that runs through the middle.

In Brisbane, we stayed at the Novotel Brisbane, which we highly recommend.

Read about our stay at the Novotel Brisbane here.

Read about things to do in Brisbane with kids here.

The best places to stop on a Sydney to Brisbane drive, Australia The best places to stop on a Sydney to Brisbane drive, Australia

The best places to stop on a Sydney to Brisbane drive, Australia

And thats it! The Sydney to Brisbane drive is an epic journey through some of Australia’s most beautiful scenery. I highly recommend taking your time to see the sights along the way.

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

8 Fun Things To Do In Newcastle, NSW

Things to do in Newcastle, NSW, Australia

8 Fun Things to do in Newcastle

Australia’s eight largest city is a coastal stunner, surrounded on both sides by beautiful beaches. Newcastle is also a city steeped in history and has becoming a gastronomical mecca of late, with a plethora of cute cafes to choose from. There are plenty of things to do in Newcastle, so plan to spend at least a few days in Steel City!

Fort Scratchley

For Scratchley, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Located in Newcastle East, Fort Scratchley was built in 1882 to defend the city against a potential attack from the Russians. Now a museum, Fort Scratchley is a popular spot to check out the old building which is now a museum and take in the spectacular view on all sides. Kids will love rolling down the hill to the playground below.

Nobbys Lighthouse

For Scratchley, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

A Newcastle icon, Nobbys Lighthouse was built in 1858. The grounds are open from 10am-4pm every Sunday, offering spectacular views of Newcastle, Stockton and beyond.

Get more information about Nobbys Lighthouse here.

Newcastle Memorial Walk

Newcastle Memorial Walk, Newcastle.

A picturesque 450m long boarwalk and bridge, the Newcastle Memorial Walk was built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli in 1915 which also coincided with the commencement of steel-making in Newcastle.

Image courtesy of Destination NSW.

Swim at the many beautiful beaches

Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Newcastle has plenty of beaches to choose from. Stockton Beach is the longest beach in NSW and has giant sand dunes that are popular for “surfing” down. Dixon Park Beach, Nobbys Beach, Newcastle Beach and Mereweather Beach are all beautiful options – you can’t go wrong with any of them!

Newcastle and Merewether Ocean Baths

Newcastle Baths, NSW, Australia

These popular swimming spots are also a piece of Newcastle history. Newcastle Ocean Baths was opened in 1922 and Merewether Baths in 1935. We particularly loved the Art Deco-style bathing pavilion at the iconic Newcastle Ocean Baths.

Newcastle Ocean Baths, Newcastle.

Families will love the large, shallow Canoe Pool that sits adjacent to the Newcastle Ocean Baths, on its southern side.

The baths are open year ’round.

Additional image courtesy of Destination NSW.

Newcastle Museum

Newcastle Museum, NSW, Australia

A small museum excellently executed, the Newcastle Museum is a top spot to learn more about the local area through interactive and engaging exhibitions.

The Supenova Hands-on Science Centre including a Mininova area for kids under 115cm are particularly fun for families to drop in and see, as is the full-sized vintage tram that is just beckoning to be climbed.

Read more about our visit to the Newcastle Museum here.

Shop and eat on Darby Street

Napoli Centrale, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Darby Street is the place to shop, eat and people watch. The street contains cafes, restaurants, galleries and gift stores.

Blackbutt Reserve

Blackbutt Reserve Newcastle

A favourite with families, Blackbutt Reserve contains nature trails, playgrounds and wildlife exhibits. With plenty of barbecue and picnic facilities, it’s the perfect spot for a relaxing day in nature.

Entry to the park is free, and animal feedings run daily (except for Christmas Day, Anzac Day and Good Friday). The current schedule is 10.30am Wombats, 10.45am Lorikeets, 1.30pm Nocturnal Animals and 2pm Koalas, however please visit Blackbutt Reserve Facebook page for cancellations and changes. The new playground at Richley Reserve is also worth checking out.

Get more info on visiting Blackbutt Reserve here.

Image courtesy of the City of Newcastle. 

Where to eat in Newcastle

Napoli Centrale, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

While you are guaranteed a good meal trying any one of the many chic restaurants on Darby Street, we particularly enjoyed dining at Napoli Centrale Pizza Bar, a Newcastle pizza institution, and had excellent handmade gelato at Popolo Gelateria.

Popolo Gelateria, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

How to get to Newcastle from Sydney

We drove our own car from Sydney via the M1 and Pacific Highway. It takes about 2.5 hours (168km) to drive. You can catch the train to Hamilton or Broadmedow Stations and then hop on a connecting shuttle bus to central Newcastle until the light rail is complete. Regular Newcastle and Central Coast services depart from Central Station, Strathfield, Epping, Eastwood and Hornsby. Greyhound bus services also take passengers from Sydney’s Central Station. Get more info on taking public transport to Newcastle here.

Where to stay in Newcastle

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

We highly enjoyed our stay at the Novotel Newcastle Beach Hotel. It was in an excellent location, had extremely friendly staff, and the brekkie was fantastic!

Read more about our stay at the Novotel Newcastle Beach Hotel here.

Things to do in Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Newcastle Museum: Trams, trains and science, oh my!

Visiting the Newcastle Museum, NSW, Australia

A visit to Steel City isn’t complete without stopping by the excellent Newcastle Museum. The free museum highlights the city’s industrial past, cultural highlights and has an excellent hands-on science centre.

Newcastle Museum, NSW, Australia

The Newcastle Museum is a gem and not to be missed. It’s not too big, so you can easily drop by for an hour or two, and as it’s free there’s no reason not to! Inside the museum you’ll find excellent permanent exhibitions as well as new rotating ones depending when you go.

Newcastle Museum, NSW, Australia

The permanent exhibitions include Fire and Earth, exploring the industrial roots of the Hunter, A Newcastle Story, which focuses on the character of the city through featuring its beauty, character and the lives that have been led here, the Link Gallery, which sits between the Boilershop and Erecting Shed and houses a working 1890 pipe organ formerly installed in St Augustine’s Church, Merewether, and an 1870 J&A Brown Locomotive No4.

Newcastle Museum, NSW, Australia

It was fascinating to learn more about Newcastle’s history and some great inventions, businesses and citizens who hailed from this seaside town. Arnott’s, for example, opened as a small bakery in Newcastle in 1865 on Hunter St.

Newcastle Museum, NSW, Australia

We also loved the vintage tram that is just begging to be climbed on, with original ads that made us all laugh out loud when we read them.

Newcastle Museum, NSW, Australia

A big drawcard for families is the Supernova Hands-on Science Centre. Jam-packed with hands-on science experiments, it’s the perfect spot enjoy science in a safe and fun environment.

Newcastle Museum, NSW, Australia

Highlights of the Supernova include the lifting a car experiment, making your own tornado, playing with magnets and Mininova, the area where kids under 115cm can climb, solve puzzles and tunnel through a maze.

Newcastle Museum, NSW, Australia

There is a cafe at the exit where you can sit down and enjoy light snacks, and a really fun street art wall around the side that is just begging for selfies.

Newcastle Museum, NSW, Australia Newcastle Museum, NSW, Australia Newcastle Museum, NSW, Australia Newcastle Museum, NSW, Australia Newcastle Museum, NSW, Australia Newcastle Museum, NSW, Australia Newcastle Museum, NSW, Australia Newcastle Museum, NSW, Australia Newcastle Museum, NSW, Australia Newcastle Museum, NSW, Australia Newcastle Museum, NSW, Australia Newcastle Museum, NSW, Australia Newcastle, NSW, Australia Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Newcastle Museum
6 Workshop Way, Newcastle NSW
(02) 4974 1400

Hours: Tue-Sun 10am-5pm (open 7 days during the school holidays)
newcastlemuseum.com.au

 

Visiting the Newcastle Museum, NSW, Australia

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Hotel Review: Novotel Newcastle Beach Hotel, NSW, Australia

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia
The perfect Sydney weekend escape or stop on the Sydney to Queensland road trip, Newcastle is an historic city with stunning beaches and delicious food. With family in the area we spend a lot of time in Newcastle, and love staying at our fave hotel in the city, the Novotel Newcastle Beach Hotel.

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Built inside a new tower in East Newcastle, the Novotel Newcastle Beach Hotel is located near some of Australia’s most famous beaches and best surf breaks. With renowned restaurants, cafes and bars located just a few footsteps away, you really can’t beat the Novotel Newcastle Beach Hotel’s prime position.

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Also nearby are art galleries, shopping, coastal walks, museums and the historic Fort Scratchley, making the Novotel Newcastle Beach Hotel ideal for sightseeing.

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Inside the lobby, the hotel has a dedicated kids’ corner with work tables, toys and colouring in books and paper, plus sand buckets and spades which are free to loan and take to the beach.

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

The 88 contemporary, spacious guest rooms are all equipped with modern furnishings and guests’ comfort in mind. The rooms have an open layout, with plenty of natural lights, and many featuring an ocean view.

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

All rooms have a vibrant colour palette, Novotel’s exclusive Live N Dream bedding experience in a king bed (2 singles upon request) to ensure the perfect night’s sleep, TV with movies on-demand, digital free-to-air and Foxtel channels, high-speed internet access, spacious work station, air conditioning, in-room safe, tea & coffee making facilities, hair dryer and mini-bar.

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia
Rooms are available in the following categories: Standard Room, Superior Room, Superior Harbour,  Superior Balcony Room and Superior Family Room.

We stayed in a Superior Family Room, an extra-spacious room with one queen bed and two single beds. Some family rooms have a dining table for 4, and others have a bath in the en suite,(let the hotel know your preference at the time of booking). Interconnecting rooms are available upon request.

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Our beds were amazingly comfortable and the room was huge compared to most rooms that we stay in, including the massive bathroom. We loved all the little touches left for us by Novotel staff, such as the kids’ welcome pack with toys, kid-sized robe and kids’ restaurant and in-room dining menu, complete with activities sheet on the back.

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

The kids’ menu has a focus on fresh, healthy ingredients, created in collaboration with Sally Fitzgibbons. There are also new in-room fitness videos for the little ones presented by Sally Fitzgibbons and Playschool’s Rachael Coopes to keep them entertained throughout the stay.

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

The Novotel Newcastle Beach is home to a modern dining restaurant, Bistro Dalby, with a contemporary Australian menu. The Bistro offers local and seasonal dished, has a fully equipped bar, and also offers an in-room dining menu available 24-7.

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

For an additional fee breakfast is offered in the Bistro Dalby daily.  The breakfast features barista made coffee, T2 teas, eggs cooked to order, a hot buffet, cereals, breads, yogurt and fruits, with most organic food and juices on offer. I ordered an omelette and it came quickly and perfectly cooked. I also enjoyed placing my tea order and having a lovely pot of English breakfast delivered to me.

At time of writing, the Novotel has a special “Family & Novotel” offer, which includes accommodation and breakfast are free for 2 children under 16 who share a room with their parents or grand-parents. In addition, welcome gifts, facilities for babies and toddlers, play area, balanced menus, 50% off 2nd room, room available for late check-out on Sundays.

Also, between July 1 and September 30, Novotel hotels across the country will be decorated in Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation theme (for a limited number of families).

For these special guests, on entering the room, they will discover a space entirely designed based on the movie including bed linen, a throw blanket, novelty slippers, bath robes and toys.

Between July and September, selected hotels will also offer kids a Hotel Transylvania 3 welcome gift pack which includes selfie sticks, mini figurines, activity sets and movie posters.  The hotels will also surprise and delight families with family passes to see the movie.

We had the most welcoming, friendly stay at the Novotel Newcastle Beach and look forward to visiting again soon.

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Novotel Newcastle Beach
5 King St, Newcastle
Online

Parking is available in an underground car park for an additional fee. 

Thank you to the Novotel Newcastle Beach for hosting us! All opinions are my own.

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!