7 DAY Self Drive Australia Sydney to Brisbane via Hunter Valley
DAY 1 SYDNEY - HUNTER VALLEY (175 kms) Pick up your INTERMEDIATE SEDAN rental car at the Sydney City Depot (or Sydney Airport Depot at additional cost) and commence drive to the Hunter Valley. Take the Harbour Bridge or Harbour Tunnel north following the signs to North Coast & Newcastle. At Wahroonga (Approx 30 minutes from Sydney), turn right onto the F1 Freeway heading for Newcastle. Follow the Freeway for approximately one hour, and then take the Cessnock exit (Road 82). Continue to follow the signs to Cessnock. CESSNOCK was named after Cessnock Castle in Scotland by pioneer Scots settler John Campbell, who received a land grant of 2560 acres in 1826 from Governor Darling. His estate was subdivided in 1853 and a village developed. In 1856 coal was discovered and by the turn of the century this had brought prosperity to the district and a security of employment. The Cessnock area, once a favourite haunt of bushrangers as it was close to Sydney but backed onto wild bush, now encompasses over 20 towns and villages. Now, while the coal is still important, local industries include dairying, cattle breeding, mixed farming, timber milling, pottery and clothing manufacture. HUNTER VALLEY - The Hunter Valley is the oldest wine producing area in New South Wales, with the first vines being brought here in the 1820's. It is one of Australia's more scenic wine growing areas, with the Hunter River winding its way lazily through the grapevine clad hills. Renowned for the production of top quality table wines, the Valley has wineries ranging from very large, more commercial estates to the smaller boutique style wineries.
DAY 2 HUNTER VALLEY - PORT MACQUARIE (269 kms) Today depart the Hunter Valley and travel through Cessnock, Kurri Kurri to Raymond Terrace where you join the Pacific Highway. Just north of Bulahdelah, there will be a turn-off to Forster and Tuncurry. This route is only slightly longer and the road is windier than the direct highway route, however, it is very scenic and we suggest that you take this option. On the way to Forster, you will pass Smiths Lake. The drive to Forster and Tuncurry is quite windy, but very pretty. FORSTER and its twin town of Tuncurry are linked by one of the longest pre-stressed concrete bridges in the southern hemisphere. Forster sits on a narrow strip of land between Wallis Lake and the Pacific Ocean. Forster is renowned for its great beaches and its fishing. Ten kilometres from the town is Booti Booti National Park, which offers a dramatic range of scenery from tropical rainforest to beaches. Forster also has a number of art and craft galleries. After leaving Forster/Tuncurry, continue driving north until you re-join the Pacific Highway and travel a little further into Taree. TAREE is located on the banks of the Manning River. Taree is the commercial and industrial centre of a district given chiefly to dairying, timber cutting, mixed farming and fishing. Boorganna Nature Reserve the second one in the state covers 396 hectares and is just over 6 km west of the town. It features a walking track through rainforest. Five kilometres south of town is Kiwarrack State Forest, perfect for car tourers, as it offers a magnificent scenic drive. The best spots are the Pines Picnic Area and Breakneck Lookout. All up, it is a 16km drive through the forest. Depart Taree and follow the Pacific Highway taking the Port Macquarie exit. PORT MACQUARIES golden beaches, marvellous national parks and the surrounding Hastings and Camden Haven Valleys are stunningly beautiful, natural assets. Port Macquarie, at the mouth of the Hastings River, has turned from trade and commerce to tourism and retirement with considerable success. St. Thomas' Church is a reminder of these early days; one of the very first churches to be built in Australia (1824), it has box pews and a view from its tower. The Hastings District Historical Museum has exceptionally good displays on the evolution of the tower and its hinterland, and nature is on show at Sea Acres Rainforest Centre, with a long boardwalk through the rainforest.
DAY 3 PORT MACQUARIE - COFFS HARBOUR (175 kms) Depart Port Macquarie and travel approximately 15kms until you join the Pacific Highway and travel north to Kempsey and Nambucca Heads to arrive at Coffs Harbour. A scenic detour can also be taken, by leaving the Pacific Highway at Kempsey and travelling towards the coast through the town of Gladstone to reach the quiet holiday town of Hat Head. Travel north along the coast through parts of Hat Head National Park to reach the popular fishing and holiday resort of South West Rocks, with its beautiful beaches. You may also wish to visit the ruins of Trial Bay Gaol here, which dates back to the early convict settlement days. Smoky Cape Lighthouse, the highest in New South Wales, has terrific views and is well worth seeing. From South West Rocks, return to the Pacific Highway and continue to Coffs Harbour. This detour would add approximately 55 kilometres to your journey today. COFFS HARBOUR is a popular year round tourist destination. The combination of golden sand, high mountains, dense luxuriant rainforests, steep banana plantations and clear streams make it a superb holiday area. Points of interest include the Big Banana where you will find an audio-visual theatrette, historic exhibits, hydroponics glasshouse and a banana packing shed. Coffs Promenade is a popular attraction, with many speciality shops and restaurants. Coffs Harbour has beautiful botanic gardens with a mangrove boardwalk; other enticements include art, crafts and antique shops. DORRIGO NATIONAL PARK - Within an hour's drive of Coffs Harbour is the hinterland town of Bellingen and the Dorrigo National Park, which has many walking trails. Dorrigo National Park is one of Australias most accessible rainforest areas. The Skywalk, Walk With Birds and other areas have been designed to provide easy access and impressive viewing points. The Rainforest Visitors Centre houses a 50-seat video theatrette featuring the history, ecology and beauty of rainforests in the state.
DAY 4 COFFS HARBOUR Enjoy a full day at your leisure in Coffs Harbour.
DAY 5 COFFS HARBOUR - BYRON BAY (240 kms) Depart Coffs Harbour via South Grafton and Maclean. At Maclean, an interesting detour to take is to join the coast road to Yamba. Yamba is a scenic and popular surfing/beach/fishing resort. Rejoin the Pacific Highway back at Maclean and travel via the town of Woodburn to Ballina. At Ballina, again leave the Pacific Highway and travel along the coast road through the pretty resort town of Lennox Head, to reach Byron Bay. LENNOX HEAD is one of those small townships which is characterised by a large and beautiful headland to the south and a long seven mile beach. The Pat Morton Lookout offers excellent views from Lennox Head across Seven Mile Beach and south to Rocky Point and Skenners Head. BYRON BAY is a mix of cultures (including the alternative) and lifestyles. Byron where the sun first hits the sand has a year-round subtropical climate, with summer temperatures dominated by a cooling offshore breeze. Its idyllic, which explains its burgeoning population, and its attractions as a holiday destination. Cape Byron is the most easterly point of Australia, and is topped by an extremely powerful lighthouse. Located only 300 metres south of Australias easternmost point, Cape Byron, the lighthouse was completed in 1901. Byron Bay has a number of surf beaches, and the breaks are famous all around the world. Wategos Beach, with its white sands and crystal waters, also has a break that is popular with bodysurfers and boogie boarders. It is just under the Cape Byron light. There are also some great drives in the Byron hinterland, with spectacular views of the coast.
DAY 6 BYRON BAY - GOLD COAST (105 kms) Leaving Byron Bay, rejoin the Pacific Highway and travel via Brunswick Heads and Murwillumbah, crossing the NSW/Queensland border at the twin border towns of Tweed Heads and Coolangatta. Here you join the Gold Coast Highway and travel through Burleigh Heads to arrive at Surfers Paradise A point of interest along the way is the Currumbin Sanctuary, a wildlife sanctuary about 4 km north of Coolangatta, where you can see a fine collection of Australian parrots, which come down to be hand-fed daily. BRUNSWICK HEADS maintains a maritime connection with the tidy commercial fishing fleet moored in the harbour. Brunswick is famous for its fishing many experts claim that the North Coasts best seafood is available at Fins, situated on the waterfront. Brunswick Heads Nature Reserve with local flora and fauna is well worth a look at. TWEED HEADS is bustling, busy, sometimes frantic, and is the northernmost town on the New South Wales Coast. Tweed Heads shares its main street with the Queensland town of Coolangatta they are in fact twin towns at the mouth of the Tweed River. SURFERS PARADISE is the centre of the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast region has one of the highest growth rates in Australia and lays claim to being the tourist capital of Australia. With a climate providing more than 300 days of sunshine per year, some of the best surfing and swimming beaches in Australia, patrolled by the largest body of lifesavers in the country, many exciting theme parks, and a lush hinterland of national parks, mountain hideaways and spectacular views, it is no wonder the area draws visitors like a magnet. Probably the greatest attraction, particularly for families, is the theme parks. You can visit Movie World for insights into movie-making, stunts and pyrotechnics; Sea World for sea lion and shark shows; Dreamworld for action rides and white tigers on Tiger Island and Wet n Wild for spectacular water rides and twisters.
LAMINGTON NATIONAL PARK is dominant on the skyline behind the Gold Coast beaches and is approximately a 1 hour drive from the Gold Coast. It gets its name from Lord Lamington who was the governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1902. A wide range of vegetation can be found within the park. Huge brush box, tulip oaks, giant stinging tees and buttress-rooted Moreton Bay figs are just a few of the many species which thrive here. One interesting way of viewing the parks many wonders from above is via the rainforest canopy walk. Here visitors can stroll across a suspension bridge dangling 15 metres above the forest floor. This provides hikers with a chance of coming face-to-face with some of the brilliant birds who live in the dense canopy.
DAY 7 GOLD COAST - BRISBANE (80 kms) Commence your drive from the Gold Coast to Brisbane via the Pacific Highway. Return your vehicle to the Brisbane Airport depot or Brisbane city Depot.
HUNTER VALLEY: PEPPERS GUEST HOUSE
WINGHAM: THE BANK GUEST HOUSE
SANTA FE LUXURY BED & BREAKFAST
BYRON BAY: THE BYRON AT BYRON
LAMINGTON NATIONAL PARK: OREILLYS GUESTHOUSE
Call 1-800-221-2474 9AM - 5PM Mon-Fri Eastern Time or (516) 248-2042 outside USA/Canada Although we have provided as much information as possible on our website, we are happy to answer your questions directly on the phone. Sometimes, it is just easier to speak to one of us. We are awaiting your call. or email