Driving from Sydney to Byron Bay

Driving from Sydney to Byron Bay is about 800kms but should be done over a number of days to allow time to explore the many picturesque towns and cities along the way. We overnighted in Newcastle, Forster and Scott’s Head. During the drive, we stopped at Port Macquarie, Urunga, Coffs Harbour and Yamba.

The most awesome thing about Newcastle is to see the giant machines used for loading coal onto massive coal ships. Take a drive along Cormorant Road, Kooragang and you cannot miss them.

Coal ship at Newcastle

At the end of the point at Stockton, there is a breakwater which is called Shipwreck Walk. It was a turbulent and blustery evening when we walked here and it is easy to understand how so many ships came to trouble here.

The Adolphe, shipwrecked in 1904
Stockton Breakwater near Newcastle

Newcastle is a bustling big city with an affluent feel about it. It was a day of unusually big swells when we visited, much to the delight of amateur photographers hoping to get a shot of a large wave crashing down on the breakwater and for surfers, trying to catch the perfect wave.

Newcastle Breakwater
Bogey Hole, cut into the rock in 1819 for the personal bathing of the Commandant of Newcastle. Usually a clear, calm blue-green pool. Not today!! Today, it’s a churning, foam milkshake, not safe for bathing!

Forster and Tuncurry are two towns right next to each other, connected by a large bridge. Forster seems more affluent and gentrified than Tuncurry. The highlights of this area are the lakes and waterways. The Forster Bicentennial Walk was stunning.

Sunset at Tuncurry
Forster Bicentennial Walk
Forster Ocean Baths
Forster Bicentennial Walk
Port Macquarie

Just north of Port Macquarie is Ricardoes Tomatoes where you can pick your own hydroponic strawberries and lettuces and see tomatoes being grown hydroponically. Entry is free and its interesting to see the hydroponic setups.

Hydroponic lettuce
Hydroponic strawberries

Scott’s Head is a tiny town with a surprisingly large number of affluent looking new homes. It has a couple of beaches which are ideal for surfing.

South Beach at Scott’s Head
Sunset at South Beach, Scott’s Head

There is a lovely boardwalk in Urunga which makes it a lovely stop to stretch your legs on a roadtrip.

Urunga Boardwalk at low tide

Urunga Boardwalk

At Coffs Harbour, there is a walk that goes past the picturesque marina up to the highest point on the nearby Muttonbird Island. The views from the lookout are worth the uphill gradient to get there.

Coffs Harbour Marina from the top of Muttonbird Island
Forrest Sky Pier just north of Coffs Harbour

Along this stretch of coast, we have seen a quite a number of surfers. These are mostly young men. Considering the cool temperatures, large and turbulent waves and the abundance of rocks, it’s a hobby that seems foolhardy and dangerous.


Byron Bay is a town which is getting a lot of bad press these days. The traffic is quite crazy and this detracts from the peaceful serenity of this small town. It’s hard to understand why there should be so many cars in such a small town! Paid parking is the norm in the town centre area as well which is highly unusual for a small town! Nevertheless, the farmers market was fun, with many stalls selling local, organic produce, the lighthouse walk was spectacular, you can hike to the most easterly point of Australia, the beaches are expansive and perfect for surfing and there are plenty of cute shops and restaurants to explore. The day we were there was overcast and threatening so I can imagine that Byron can look much better than these pictures show.

Byron Bay Lighthouse
Cape Byron Lighthouse Walk
Most Easterly Point of Australia
Cape Byron Lighthouse Walk
Cape Byron Lighthouse Walk
Cape Byron Lighthouse Walk
Killen Falls – just south of Byron Bay
Downstream of Killen Falls

Love to hear what you think! Thanks!!