Wave Chasin’ & Waterfall Hunting on the Legendary Pacific Coast.
People don’t get labelled a legend for no reason and that’s exactly why the Legendary Pacific Coast in NSW has its acclaimed name. Driving the stretch from Sydney to Byron Bay is roughly 766km and grants you access to a smorgasbord of activities that will satisfy your hungry adventure taste buds with plenty of leftovers.
If long sandy beaches, endless green hills, charming wineries, lush rainforests or even camel riding has grabbed your attention, fasten your board-shorts and come along for the ride.
In late autumn this year, I decided to do a micro adventure marathon up the famous coastline. I jumped into a campervan with some of the best lads around, a full tank of petrol, a case of beer with a severe thirst to explore. Did someone say road trip?
Sydney to Byron Bay is jam packed full of fascinating places to visit. There’s so much on offer though that Google search can be a bit overwhelming. We’ve made this handy list of some of the best stop-offs — it’ll make your road trip one to remember.
Worimi Conservation Park/ Stockton Dunes.
Just 30 minutes north of Newcastle is the unforgettable Stockton dunes…a photographer’s dream. The dunes sprawl over 32km and are the largest of their kind in Australia.
If you’re equipped with a 4WD then I suggest grab a permit for $10 and get rip in! There is something about watching the sand tear up from underneath your car that gets the blood pumping. However if you’re travelling in a campervan like I was, it’s a short walk to the dunes where you can experience it all on foot or bike. The dunes can be as high as 40m and the ocean paints a surreal backdrop to the scene.
If you’re after more action amongst thus unique terrain; quad bikes and sand boarding are also of offer to help you meet your daily adrenaline quota.
Port Stephens/ Tomaree Head
Located just 2.5 hours north of Sydney, it’s the perfect place to stretch the legs. Among the teaming wildlife and sparking blue water at Port Stephens, the Tomaree Head summit walk would have to be a favourite of ours. The best part is, you don’t have to hike all day to do it!! It’s only a 2.2km walk, yet it allows you to see vast panoramic views of the coastline. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll get a free dolphin and whale show!
Hot tip? Pack a few cold brews, a head torch (or an IPhone will suffice) and witness the sun sink below the horizon- it’s magical stuff!
The Hunter Valley
If you’ve got time for a cheeky detour on your coastal trip, make sure you include the famous Hunter Valley. You can sample some of the world-class wine produced in the region and check out some other mini adventures while you’re at it.
We visited Blueberry Hill Vineyard on our trip and it became a fast favorite!. It is a boutique winery with a point of difference… yep, puppies and kittens free to roam around your ankles. Sit all afternoon with a wine in hand, grab a cheese board and bobs your animal loving uncle!
Hot Air Ballooning is an awe-inspiring experience we found nearby. Check out Balloon Aloft in the Hunter Valley and before you know it, you will be standing in basket floating in the beautiful morning sky. Not to mention be nourished by a wonderful breakfast paired with champagne upon your return.
Stay :Wine Country Tourist Park
Port Macquarie Camel Rides.
Who would’ve thought you’d find camels just 4 hours Nth of Sydney? You and your mates can enjoy a ride on these superb animals on the beach! As a bonus extra, John who leads you on the camels supply’s you with some of the best one-liners around town.
“ if you see any dolphins out there, it’s $20 extra for the dolphin tour!”
Essential gear :Don’t forget the camera for this one!
Stay:BIG4 Bonny Hills (has a jumping pillow!)
Hat Head National Park
Hat Head is a natural nirvana. To fully enjoy the experience, bring a floaty toy a fishing rod and some cold refreshments and head out on one of the many headland walks or get salty and float from the bridge along the river. Grab a cold one and watch on as the water reflects the colours of the sunset.
Stay:Hat Head Holiday Park
Bellingen, Dorrigo, Waterfall way
Why would you do the cliché and stop at the Big Banana when you have zoomed right past some of the most breathtaking waterfalls in the state? Turn around and get to Bellingen- a quaint little town with a laid-back atmosphere.
Grab some tucker at the chilled out Bellingen Brewery or satisfy your hunger with a scrumptious pie from Hearthfire- honestly best pies ever! Jump back in the car and head up to Dorrigo National Park just 30 minutes on the Waterfall Way.
Stay:Dorrigo Mountain Resort
Eat:Components café in Dorrigo, great coffee & food, welcoming staff, cute décor.
The Sky Walk is a short 70m-board walk that gives you views of the rich rainforest that is the Bellinger Valley and the Rosewood Rainforest. Easy for everyone to enjoy, do not pass this up.
- Dangar Falls
Dangar falls is a charismatic waterfall- 80ft tall to be exact. The roar from the falling water makes you feel its presence. You can take the short walk through the trees to the base of the falls. If you’re desperate enough ( like one of the boys I was with) you can climb around on the rocks to get a closer look. Be careful of the moss- it’s slippery!
-Crystal Shower Falls
In my opinion- Crystal Showers is one the most beautiful waterfalls in NSW! The walk to the falls is enchanting with tall tree’s bursting with greenery and the sounds of the Eastern Whipbirds. If you visit early enough, you may get to experience low fog, bringing even more mysteriousness. The best part? You get to go behind the falls, or experiences all it’s wonder from a stunning suspended bridge.
- Never Never River
Never Never River is a hidden wonder in the Bellingen’s Promised Land. The river offers crystal clear fresh water for you to play in. For the thrill seekers out there, rope swings can be found hanging in different spots all up the river. Keep your eyes peeled!
After pumping some old school bangers for the 2hr trip back to the coast, we pulled up at Yamba and got in some beauty sleep. In the wee hours of the morning we set out for sunrise surf at Spooky Beach. This beach and point break is renowned for great surf, and even though Mother Nature didn’t quite turn it on for me, I still had fun!
Angourie Blue Pools is also located within a short walk of Spooky Beach. It’s a great spot to have a picnic, go for a swim or relax in the sun. Make sure you read signs and reports about pools before entering.
Grab a coffee and bite to eat at ‘Angourie Café ‘ serving you refreshing Acai bowls and mouth-watering food! The staff make you feel as if you’re a local!
Stay :Blue Dolphin Mountain Resort
The wonderful world of Byron Bay! There are so many things to see and do here, the list could go on and on. My picks are:
- Surf at Broken Head
- Explore the caves at Whites Beach
- Walk to the most eastern point of Australia; the lighthouse
- Eat at ‘Light Years’ a new vibey restaurant in town. The food is fun and fresh with Vietnamese fusion.
These are just some places that are waiting for you outside the car door. Commit to the road trip, appreciate the good vibes it brings, breathe in the scenery and relish in the impromptu sing-alongs. Give the lollypop man a beer and thank him for all his hard work. The coast of NSW is nothing short of legendary, thanks for having us!