G’day Travelers! A little while ago I put together blog post with the best places to stop on the Hume Highway. But I’ve also spent a lot of time over the last 10 years driving between Sydney and Brisbane. So I thought it would be an ideal time to put together my tips for the best places to stop on the Pacific Highway between Brisbane and Sydney.
The Pacific Highway has changed dramatically over the last 10 years. Most of the single lane sections are now multi-laned. A lot the small towns that made up a majority of the trip have now been bypassed.
As the project to widen the Pacific Highway continues over the next few years. More and more these slow sections will disappear. Speeding up the trip, but also reducing the opportunities to stop along the way.
In saying that the trip is now considerably quicker, and makes for very reasonable 9 hour drive between Brisbane and Sydney. Well, as long as your don’t get to caught up in the road works.
Now here are my tips for the best places to stop on the Pacific Highway between Brisbane and Sydney.
Gold Coast, Queensland
Ok, this one is probably more of a stop when making the trip the other way, Sydney to Brisbane. But the M1 Motorway (the last section of the Pacific Highway between Brisbane and the Queensland/NSW border) around the Gold Coast offers plenty of opportunities to stop and refuel (both the car and yourself).
Pro Tip: Traditionally petrol is a bit cheaper in Queensland than it is in NSW. Different state taxes and levies. I always try to make sure I fill up the car with full tank before crossing the border when heading south. When making the trip north, I try to schedule my stops so that I can cross the border before needing the fill up again.
As for exploring the Gold Coast, it’s a destination all to itself. I’ll put together another blog post with a bunch of suggestions of things to do there.
Byron Bay, NSW – The Most Eastern Point of Australia
Byron Bay, or more specifically Byron Bay Lighthouse is the most eastern point of mainland Australia. If you leave Brisbane early enough you could arrive at Byron Bay Lighthouse just in time for sunrise. Which is what I did last time I made the trip.
If you are planning on making the trip to arrive at Byron Bay for sunrise. Just keep in the mind that parking is limited as the road to the lighthouse is closed until after sunrise. It’s only a 10 to 15 minute walk to the the lighthouse from carparks that are open. But you’ll just need to keep that in mind if you are making the trip.
Make sure you give yourself a bit extra time to find a park and then make the walk up the hill.
Visit this page for more information about the Byron Bay Lighthouse.
Coffs Harbour, NSW – The Big Banana
Coffs Harbour marks the halfway point (roughly) of the trip between Brisbane and Sydney. Making it an ideal spot to stop and break up the drive. There is no better place to stop than the famous Big Banana.
The Big Banana has been setup specifically for tourists and really easy to access off the Pacific Highway. It’s a staple of the drive between the two cities, so you can take the typical tourist photo with the Big Banana, at least once. Alternatively you could pickup banana themed souvenirs.
If banana’s aren’t your thing the complex has a cafe for meal or just coffee. If you want to have a little fun you can try ice skating, mini golf, laser tag, tobogganing or the water park. Visit their website for more information about all the options at the Big Banana.
If you feel the need to break up the drive between Sydney and Brisbane over a couple of days. Then Coffs Harbour is an ideal spot to stop and stay overnight. There are plenty of things to do in Coffs Harbour, in fact I’ve stayed there a couple of times in the past. Check out these blog posts for my tips.
Port Macquarie, NSW
Once you get past Coffs Harbour, there isn’t many major stops on the Pacific Highway. You have to get off the main road to explore the towns along the old route. One stop I would recommend is Port Macquarie, because it has a lot to offer. Again it’s a destination all to itself.
If you are just looking for food and fuel. There is a service station just off the highway (BP) which also offers a few places to eat (a McDonalds, KFC and Subway at the time of writing this).
If you have a little more time you can head into town to explore its stunning beaches. There are all sorts of cafes and options once you get into town.
Or alternatively, if you’d like to do something a little different. Timbertown to the west (about a 20 minute drive from the Pacific Highway) offers a unique experience. To find out more head to the Timbertown website.
Newcastle, well Heatherbrae, is the last major stop before leaving the Pacific Highway and joining the M1 Motorway (formally the F3 Freeway) for the last of the run down to Sydney.
Again it offers a couple of service stations and several food options. For something unique to the area I recommend stopping in at Heatherbrae Pies. But it has all the usual service station and fast food options as well.
If you are looking to get out and stretch the legs properly. The Hunter Region Botanical Gardens or Fighterworld are just a short detour. I’d personally recommend Fighterworld, especially if you are making the trip during the week. You might be lucky enough to catch some RAAF (Airforce) aircraft taking off or landing.
That wraps up my picks for the best places to stop along the Pacific Highway between Brisbane and Sydney. Have driven along the Pacific Highway before? Have your own suggestions on good places to stop? Let me know with a comment below.
Planning on driving all the way to Melbourne? Make sure you check out my blog post about they Hume Highway as well.
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