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Gold Coast to Byron Bay

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Gold Coast to Byron Bay Drive

Distance: 200 km | 3 hr 50 min drive time

Highlights of this drive include wildlife encounters at Coolangatta, river cruises at Tweed Heads, kayaking and paddle boarding in Tweed Valley, climbing Mt Warning, soaking in the hippie vibe of Nimbin, rainforest hikes at Nightcap National Park, Minyon Falls and Byron Bay. All highlights and the best camping is mapped at the end of the article.

Gold Coast

There's a lot do and see in and around the Gold Coast. Spend a few days here before beginning your road trip. We've written some articles to help you plan your time here.

Coolangatta/Tweed Heads

Coolangatta is a surf, dive and swimming mecca with an unpretentious beach culture. Kirra reef is just 300 metres off the shore and its aquatic life changes every time you visit - Manta rays, schools of fish, soft corals, octopus, and anemones are common sights. There are plenty of dive companies in Coolangatta and Tweed Heads that can take you even further afield. For wildlife lovers, a visit to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is a must. Here you can feed colorful Rainbow Lorikeets daily at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., and the bird feeding is free.

currumbin wildlife sanctuary
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

  • At Tweed Heads you can climb the headland to Fingal Lighthouse for a view of the coast. 
  • Visit the Tweed Heads Historical site to stroll the Walk on Water Walking Track, a boardwalk onto the water. 
  • Learn about Aboriginal culture at the Minjungbal Aboriginal Cultural Centre. It is a museum and art exhibit run by the area’s Aboriginal community who sometimes perform traditional dance in the performance area.

fingalhead eaphotography
Fingal Lighthouse. Photo: EA Photography

  • You can kayak or standup paddle board your way from Cudgen Creek to Cudgen Lake through the every changing landscapes of the Tweed valley. Watersports Guru at Kingscliff can provide you with the gear and even pick you up from Cudgen Lake if you want to make it a one way trip.

Mount Warning

40 minutes west of Duranbah, rainforest clad Mount Warning rises dramatically from the world heritage listed Wollumbin National Park. The mountain was the central vent of an ancient volcano.

MtWarning quentin chester
Wollumbin (Mount Warning). Photo: Quentin Chester

Nimbin

Nimbin is a colourful hippie town packed with vegetarian and organic food, psychedelic kombi vans, alternative healing, art, and everything intriguing and quirky. There is so much to see and do here. To help you out we’ve made a list of our top picks.

nimbin visitnsw
Nimbin. Photo: Visit NSW

Nightcap National Park

Nightcap National Park has great views of the region from Minyon Falls Lookout. There are also many beautiful walks and picnic areas here.

Camping

If you wish to spend more time exploring the national parks, or the towns of Nimbin and Lismore, you might like to stay at the Whian Whian State Conservation Area camping site, which is campervan friendly.

nightcap national park destinationnsw
Nightcap National Park. Photo: Destination NSW

Lismore

Lismore is a rural town with a creative spirit and you’ll find many galleries, theatres, and performing arts spaces to explore.

lismore
Lismore.

Byron Bay

Byron Bay has such a big reputation that when you get here you may wonder what all the fuss is about. Yes, the beaches are gorgeous, but so are many others. The thing that sets Byron Bay apart is its vibe. Surfers, hippies, artists, writers and socially responsible entrepreneurs merge into something rather unique and addictive.

Byron Bay is low-rise, funky, laid back – a far cry from the glitz and high-rise buildings of the Gold Coast. But it can get crowded at times. There’s plenty to do here. Everything you could possibly imagine – hot air ballooning, meditation retreats, horse riding, mountain biking, walking the Cape Byron track to the lighthouse, kayaking with dolphins, whale watching, yoga retreats, surf lessons, festivals and community markets. But you may find yourself whiling away the hours juggling fire on the beach at night, playing bongo drums, or lazing in a hammock.

Camping

There are quite a few campervan parks in Byron Bay. We recommend you book ahead so you can get the one you want. If you can't find vacancies in Byron Bay, the nearby coastal towns of Brunswick Heads and Ballina provide cheaper and quieter alternatives.

Gold Coast to Sydney Drive

Gold Coast to Sydney: an overview
Part 1: Brisbane - Gold Coast 
Part 2: Gold Coast - Byron Bay | 200 km 
Part 3: Byron Bay - Dorrigo National Park | 373 km 
Part 4: Dorrigo National Park - Myall Lakes | 362 km
Part 5: Myall Lakes - Hunter Valley | 208 km 
Part 6;Hunter Valley - Sydney | 165 km or 388 km

The Gold Coast to Sydney drive is just one of Australia's iconic road trips. For a complete list of road trips, see our Australia Road Trip guide. 

Next Step

  Hire a campervan in Gold Coast

  Hire a campervan in Sydney

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South Australia 5033 Phone: 1800 216 223

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Victoria 3058 Phone: 1800 216 223

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Queensland 4814 Phone: 1800 216 223

 

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