The North Coast of New South Wales brings the perfect mix of incredible national parks, marine life and the World Heritage Gondwana Rainforests. Its rich natural beauty will reward you with uncrowded beaches an iconic surfing spots.
Depending on your travel style, the area is best navigated by road or rail however you can also fly directly into Newcastle. The road trip along the coastline gives you the freedom to go from national park to surfing all in the same day, and the Legendary Pacific Coast drive is a popular touring route running from Sydney to Tweed Heads. For a dedicated surf trip, follow the Pacific Coast driving route and stop through National Surfing Reserves located in Newcastle, Crescent Head, Lennox Head, Angourie (south of Yamba). The beauty of this road trip is that each day you can go from one world-class surf beach to the next all within 10 hours of each other.
Outdoor adventures are plentiful along this coastline, from bushwalks to diving with grey nurse sharks. Start your adventure in Newcastle, which is the second biggest city in NSW and two hours north of Sydney. Newcastle is a harbour city surrounded by eight beaches including Nobbys Beach and Stockton Beach - which is known for being the longest beach in NSW. Newcastle acts as a gateway to world-class wineries in the Hunter Valley too.
Next continue to Port Macquarie, set in the mid-north coast and located at the mouth of Hastings River. Here you’ll find even more picturesque coastline along with beachside reserves and picnic spots. Port Macquarie has 17 beaches and an incredible year-round climate. This coastal town is home to Billabong Zoo, a koala-breeding centre and is the perfect place for a koala encounter.
All along the seaside, you’ll find many vantage points for whale watching, so keep an eye out as they begin to migrate from May to November.
The North Coast is also home to South West Rocks, which is a hub for scuba divers. It is known as one of the world’s best dive sites with travellers flocking from all over the globe to experience the colourful marine life and shark encounters. Outside of the water, the Smoky Cape Lighthouse showcases views across the sea, and you can explore the areas colonial heritage at the 1886 Trial Bay Gaol too.
Continue your road trip north, and it just keeps getting better, leading you into the Northern Rivers, home to Byron Bay; the most easterly point of Australia. Renowned for its surf culture and unique laid-back vibe, it’s no wonder why Byron Bay is at the top of most travellers bucket list. Make the most of the many waterfalls across the hinterland and quirky surrounding towns like Bangalow and Brunswick Heads perfect for a day trip.
North Coast of NSW is indeed a beach lovers dream, whether it’s surfing or swimming or late afternoon walks on the beach, whatever your preference is, this stunning coastline is not one to be missed.
Sitting at the most Easterly point of Australia’s mainland, Cape Byron Lighthouse is one of the most iconic and most visited attractions in the area for several reasons. Some visitors are interested in the history, whilst others flock here for the breathtaking views, or to spot ocean life. For some, it’s more about the scenic walk to the top than the destination itself.
Construction of the lighthouse was completed in 1901, with a goal of reducing the number of shipping hazards along the stretch of coastline below. As the headland is so high above sea level, it didn’t need to be particularly tall, which is why it stands at just 22-metres. The lighthouse was operated by live-in keepers until the final one retired in 1989, and it is now an automated light maintained by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
The original lighthouse keeper’s office has now been turned into the Cape Byron Lighthouse Maritime Museum, allowing visitors to step inside and gain a unique insight into the history and significance of the lighthouse and of Byron Bay. Learn local stories and tales of shipwrecks as you wander through. The museum is open daily from 10am-4pm. You may also opt to embark on a guided volunteer-led 20-minute tour of the lighthouse in exchange for a gold coin donation. Tours run from 10am-3pm every day.
One of the most impressive things about the lighthouse is the incredible view from outside it – think stunning beaches, rolling hinterland, and the spectacular Pacific Ocean. Look out for turtles and dolphins playing in the waves down below, and migrating humpback whales between June-November.
Cape Byron Lighthouse is located just 2KM east of Byron Bay town centre. It can be reached by car although an entry fee applies, however walking is highly recommended. The lighthouse trail takes you on a 3.7KM loop walk with fantastic scenery ranging from lush rainforest to the beautiful coastline, ending up at the lighthouse. Rest your legs at the lighthouse cafe when you reach the top, to enjoy coffee and cake with unrivalled views of Byron Bay and the gorgeous surrounding scenery.
Located close to the CBD, Newcastle Beach is popular with locals and visitors alike. Newcastle is known for its beautiful beaches with excellent surfing and Newcastle Beach does not disappoint. Overlooked by high-rise buildings, this is a true city beach.
Take in the sensational scenery on a leisurely walk, catch a wave off Newcastle Point, or enjoy a swim in the sparkling ocean. The beach is patrolled during the summer months, making it a safe place to enjoy the water, and it is also home to Newcastle Surf Life Saving Club. Due to the flawless waves, this is a popular spot with surfers. Volleyball courts are also available for those who are feeling energetic. Buy lunch or snacks from the kiosk across the street to enjoy in the shaded picnic area, or make use of the proximity to the CBD and visit one of the many wonderful eateries close by.
No visit to Coffs Harbour is complete without a visit to the Big Banana, one of Australia’s most iconic ‘big things’. The 13-metre long Banana was built in 1964 to promote the sale of bananas in the area, which is home to several banana plantations. However, today the Big Banana does so much more than that, offering an array of exciting banana-related activities.
The Big Banana Fun Park promises a full day of family fun with nine thrilling attractions. Entry is free with rides priced individually. Glide down the largest giant slide in Australia, and embark on a 600-metre Toboggan ride. Play laser tag in the state-of-the-art arena, slide along the ice at the skating rink, and pot some balls at the mini-golf course. The water park is home to four exciting slides and an aqua play area for little ones. You can also enjoy some games in the fun zone whilst younger children play in the free toddler area. Learn about the intriguing history of bananas on the theatre and plantation tour, complete with memorabilia and interactive displays. Don’t miss the latest addition to the park, a 4D ride simulator, featuring four incredible ride simulator games.
Indulge in banana pancakes or banana split in the cafe, but don’t fill up before visiting the enchanting candy kitchen and the fascinating cheese making workshop. You can’t leave without buying a banana-themed souvenir from the unique gift shop. For a non-banana-related purchase, visit the opal centre to treat yourself to some gemstones.