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.
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 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
Fingal Lighthouse. Photo: EA Photography
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.
Wollumbin (Mount Warning). Photo: Quentin Chester
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. Photo: Visit NSW
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. Photo: Destination NSW
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.
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: 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.
Heart of Reef Shuttles, 50-54 Carlo Drive, Cannonvale, Queensland 4802 Phone: 1800 216 223
40 French Street, Eagle Farm, Queensland 4009
Phone: 1800 216 223
440 Sheridan Street, Cairns,
Queensland 4870 Phone: 1800 216 223
2/11 Northview St, Mermaid Waters QLD 4218 Phone: 1800 216 223
273 Elizabeth Street, Coburg,
Victoria 3058 Phone: 1800 216 223
23-25 Erskine Rd, Caringbah,
Sydney, NSW 2229 Phone: 1800 216 223
167 Mount Low Parkway, Townsville,
Queensland 4814 Phone: 1800 216 223