The ultimate Sydney to Byron Bay road trip Itinerary
THANKS SO MUCH FOR JOINING US TODAY GIRLS! TELL US, WHERE DID YOUR EPIC ROAD TRIP START?
We started our road trip on Eora Country, in Sydney, and to be honest, we’re both not really big city people. But just like when you run into someone from high school years after finishing and they turn out to be a 10/10 (heyyyy Jarrod), we were super surprised at the vibe in Bondi! Being able to wake up and #winthemorningwintheday with a rooftop gym sesh at Wake Up! Hostel and then close out the day with a ripper sunset at North Bondi was a little treat.
WHAT DID YOU GET UP TO WHILE YOU WERE IN SYDNEY?
They say you haven’t been to Sydney if you haven’t been to The Grounds of Alexandria anddddd we can see why. If you’re a bit of a foodie, can’t function without the golden elixir of life (aka coffee), and want something more from your morning cafe, then The Grounds has you covered. We’re talking a florist, a cafe, restaurant & bar, garden, bakery & patisserie and even resident farm animals (shoutout to the goats Lady Baba and Selina Goatmez). The Grounds isn’t just a place to eat and drink (although you should definitely do that), it’s a full-blown experience. Highly recommend.
ANY HOT TIPS FOR WHAT TO DO IN BONDI AND SURROUNDS?
- Bondi Sunset. Take a picnic rug, some drinks, chippies and your iPhone (maybe a jumper in winter) and set up on the rocks at North Bondi near Ray O’Keefe Reserve for sunset. Absolutely epic.
- Wake Up! Bondi Beach. We stayed at Wake Up! which was (very-conveniently) opposite the stunning Bondi Beach. With a rooftop, ocean views, surfboard rentals and heaps more, it was the perfect location without the exxy price tag. Check it out here.
- Hornby Lighthouse. If you’ve got a car (or a finely tuned cardiovascular system), it is a stunning red and white lighthouse at South Head (near Watsons Bay). To get there you’ll need to walk the South Head Heritage trail from Bondi (only about a 1km loop). We went at sunset (with the rest of Sydney) and there were some pretty crazy sunset pastels. But to miss the crowds we would probably recommend visiting at sunrise.
- Dudley Page Reserve is a green space in Dover Heights perfect for a picnic with a next level view of the Harbour Bridge. To top it off, it’s got a little swing set for that perfect Insta pic with the Harbour Bridge in the background (check out our Instas for some inspo).
WHERE WAS THE NEXT STOP ON YOUR TRIP?
STOP 1 – PORT STEPHENS
After leaving Sydney our first overnight stay on Worimi Country in Fingal Bay, Port Stephens.
Home to Tomaree National Park, Fingal Bay was a beautiful small coastal town with so much untouched beauty. We hiked the 2.2km return Tomaree Head Summit at Shoal Bay which provides incredible views of Port Stephens where the mountains meet the ocean (and epic spots to take a quick Insta story). Just around the corner is Anna Bay, home to Australia’s equivalent of Egypt. Maybe a slight exaggeration, but the undulating sand dunes and camel rides were something out of Aladdin. A 25-minute camel ride will set you back $35 big ones but you can also steal as many camel kisses as you dare to pucker up for and they’re freeeeeee!
HOT TIPS FOR PORT STEPHENS?
- Tomaree Head Summit! Whilst not impossible, maybe mentally prepare for the uphill climb – it’s pretty much 1.1km uphill the whole way. View the trail.
- The Little Nel in Nelsons Bay – if you’re looking for good brekky and coffee, can vouch! View website.
- Seal Rocks. While it’s bit further north of Port Stephens, would definitely recommend. It’s a small coastal town with that Byron Bay hippie charm complete with peace signs painted on the road (P.s. a drone comes in handy here!). View in maps.
AMAZING! WHERE TO FROM HERE?
STOP 2 – CRESCENT HEAD + SOUTH WEST ROCKS
For those looking to do a Port Macquarie to Byron Bay road trip, we recommend starting your itinerary here!
From Port Stephens, we ventured north to Crescent Head, on Dunghutti Country. If we had our time again though we’d definitely squeeze in another night to stay along this stretch and spend some more time at Seal Rocks, Booti Booti National Park and Pacific Palms.
It seems like Crescent Head is where it’s at for those living the van life. There’s a caravan park right on the beach and the main car park looks out onto a pretty decent right-hand point break – perfect for you to live out all your ‘Blue Crush’ surfing fantasies (BYO surfboard).
If you’re more likely to find yourself featuring on @kookslams than in a barrel, the headland at Crescent Head is an awesome spot to sit back with a coffee, relax and watch the surfers do their thing.
If rock pools are more your thing then both Crescent Head and South West Rocks can deliver. Mannnnn, South West Rocks definitely fed our rockpool obsession. We’re talking multiple rockpools (depending on the tide and swell size) with our favourite being the Mermaid Pools in Arakoon National Park. BUT fair warning this spot is known to be pretty sketchy at times so if you’re heading there always check out the tide/swell conditions and go with a friend. We were lucky to get the pools on the incoming tide and all to ourselves. During winter, this place is a pretty good spot to check out the migrating whales too! We’ll definitely be back.
TIPS FOR CRESCENT HEAD AND SOUTH WEST ROCKS?
- Trial Bay Gaol campground is one that we didn’t stay at but one we wish we could have. Situated right on the beach with some resident kangaroos, it’s pretty picturesque and so close to the Mermaid Pools. Check it out here.
- Crescent Head Coffee. The little coffee shop on the side of the Crescent Head Surf Club makes a decent coffee and feed, perfect for those post-surf hunger pangs.
- Hidden Beaches. As you leave Crescent Head, the coast road towards South West Rocks has some unsealed roads which lead to the open beach. If you’re like us and like deserted beaches, one of these tracks is your best bet. *Only for those confident in the ocean, otherwise, probably best to stick to patrolled beaches*
YOUR NEXT STOP WAS YAMBA, TELL US ABOUT WHAT YOU GOT UP TO HERE!
STOP 3 – YAMBA
When we got to Yamba, on Yaegl Country, the sun decided it didn’t want a bar of us anymore and it pretty much hid the whole time.
Despite our luck with the weather, you always need coffee. If you’re in town, would recommend Beachwood Cafe, tucked away off the main street and sporting an organic menu coloured with a Mediterranean and middle-eastern flare.
If you fancy yourself as a surfer, you’re spoilt for choice of breaks at Yamba, from open beach breaks, point breaks like Angourie or protected spots like Spookies and Main Beach there’s likely to be a wave somewhere. If you’re not surfing, the blue pool near Angourie is an epic rockpool to swim or even spot some dolphins cruising by.
HOT TIPS FOR YAMBA
- Main Beach Yamba has an ocean pool, much like the ones you see in Sydney. So if swimming’s your thing, roll the arms over in the ocean pool for a change of scenery. If you’re a surfer, make sure you respect the surfing etiquette. No one likes a blow-in (out of town surfer) at the best of times so be respectful. Get directions.
- Cafe Angourie is a winner if you’re starvin’ like Marvin. With lounging bean bags out the front, a hop skip and a jump from the beach and good food to chow down on, it’s definitely somewhere you could live your best life bloggin’ and eatin’ watching the world go by. Stalk their Insta.
AND FOR THE FINAL STOP OF YOUR TRIP, TELL US ABOUT BYRON BAY!
If your road trip bucket list includes meeting as many new people as possible then Wake Up! in Belongil is the place to stay. With open-plan common areas, perfect for mingling with new friends, as well as being situated right next to The Treehouse cafe/restaurant (which has banging live music), Wake Up! has all your socialising needs covered.
It is literally a hop, skip and a jump from Belongil Beach and offers complimentary bike hire if you fancy yourself a bit of a Tour De France athlete (or just like pretty pastel-coloured bikes). The town centre is an easy 5kms away, easily doable on these bikes and a chilled way to get that daily exercise in.
If you’re looking for something a bit more central, The Surf House is a pretty good bet as it’s located smack bang in the middle of town. Housed in the heritage-listed Byron Council Chambers building, this one was a personal favourite of ours. Only 50m from the beach, sporting Byron’s only rooftop bar and $10 pizzas, how could anyone say no??
Many of our days were spent strolling around the main streets of Byron, shopping in the boutiques, hitting the beach with the complimentary surfboards and cooling off with an afternoon rosè (or lemonade for Elise #lightweight) at The Rooftop Bar. We are already planning our run up the Pacific Highway to get back to this little beauty. (Check it out on the gram – @surfhousebyronbay!)
WOULD YOU CHANGE ANYTHING IF YOU WERE TO DO IT AGAIN?
If we had our time again we’d definitely squeeze in another night to stay along the Crescent Head and South West Rocks stretch to spend some more time at Seal Rocks, Booti Booti National Park and Pacific Palms. Other than this, be sure to head over to check out our Roadtripping Tips Tricks & Advice Q&A for the full run down!
Have a best mate you’re keen to explore our Aussie backyard with and create killer content along the way? Let’s see if we can help make it happen. Get in touch and tell us more about you!
About Elise and Marikki
Self-professed ocean enthusiasts, adventure seekers and recent #vanlife east coast road trippers. We play touch football together, having both represented Australia in our respective divisions but in our spare time we love surfing, snorkeling and adventuring to find all the secret spots Australia has to offer. Follow our adventures on @_elisewilson + @marikkiw