We left Brisbane early deciding to stop in Coolangatta on our journey down to Byron Bay.
Coolangatta is the most Southernly point of the Gold Coast and is home to the official border between Queensland and New South Wales – Point Danger. We parked up near the border, where there is a Captain Cook Memorial and lighthouse, which he named Point Danger on his voyage around Australia. It was quite a strange monument but the lookout point was great and we had some fun crossing over the border line and changing time zones, adding one hour. We had officially crossed over into New South Wales.
After looking around the area for a little bit, we hit the road again making our way to Byron Bay. We had heard lots of great things about the place and had also been told it was where ‘Thor’ (Chris Hemsworth) owned a house and could regularly be seen surfing. Unfortunately (for Lauren) we didn’t spot him during our time!
We were slightly underwhelmed first arriving in Byron Bay, walking along the coast and main street but it definitely grew on us over the two days we spent there and we ended up loving it like everyone else by the second day. It felt like a real relaxed hippy town with lots of campervans around, people playing guitars on the streets and groups selling crystals and jewellery – that sort of thing.
We covered approximately 173km from Brisbane to Byron Bay.
On our second day there we were up early to walk the Cape Byron Conservation Area track to the Byron Lighthouse. It was another pretty steep walk, but some cool views and a nice way to wake ourselves up after our early start. The route also took us to the most Easterly point of mainland Australia.
Then we were both very excited to be doing something we never had before – hang gliding. It was an amazing experience soaring into the air feeling weightless like a bird. It was brilliant to fly around Byron Bay and we both had a lot of responsibility with steering the glider, which was awesome. Something we would both do again in the future!
For the rest of the day we went to the beach and then out for a Mexican dinner. While we were out walking that evening we saw so many musicians on the streets, some sounding really good and gathering a little crowd. It was like one big free music festival in the town. We stopped at a popular pub for a few drinks to enjoy some more live music, including a man with a guitar, violin and the unconventional instrument of spoons, which was interesting to say the least, and was actually pretty good. We ended our second day definitely feeling the ‘magic’ of Byron Bay.
We ended up feeling quite sad to be leaving Byron Bay but it was time to continue our journey South onto Coffs Harbour.
We hit the road and within just over three and a half hours we were in Coffs Harbour. Before getting to our motel, we decided to be big kids and headed for The Big Banana Fun Park. We bought tickets for Laser Tag, Tobogganing and the Giant Slide – it was great fun!
Once we had checked into our motel we walked along the seafront and to the marina and jetty. It was a beautiful place. Then we had a delicious Italian dinner before the nice evening stroll back to our place and turning in for the night.
Today we covered approximately 239km.
Another early start hitting the road at 6.30am, we made our way to Port Macquarie. We arrived, found somewhere for breakfast and had a nice walk along the harbour where we found a display of decorated rocks stretching along the edge of the water that had been painted in interesting designs by people who visited the area. We also met someone as we were standing looking out along the water who introduced himself and was very impressed to find out that we came from the apparently ‘very famous’ place of Bedford known for John Pilgrim and the Pilgrim’s Progress – first time we’d heard that!
Next on our stop was Newcastle, where we had planned to go to The Memorial Walk, as somewhere interesting to walk as a pit stop. However, when inputting ‘Newcastle Memorial’ into Google Maps, choosing the first option from the drop down wasn’t actually the Memorial Walk but Newcastle Memorial…a cemetery. We didn’t realise this until we drove in and saw all the graves and a gathering for a funeral taking place. So, very abruptly we turned down our music, which was blaring out of the windows and tried to drive past as respectfully as we could before looping back out of the cemetery and continuing on our way. Not Lauren’s best directions. Instead, as the actual walk was another 30 minutes away and off route, we found a very boring, empty park to stretch our legs and decided to continue onto Sydney.
We arrived around 4.00pm and met our Airbnb host, who welcomed us in and showed us around their very impressive house. One of the first things she did say to us was, “You’re not terrified of spiders are you?”, to which we responded, “not exactly terrified…” We found out that the Huntsman spiders are common here and may come into the house, so we’ll have to see if after our couple of months in Australia so far, we end up coming face to face with a ‘scary’ Australian spider, whilst here in Sydney.
On our final day we covered approximately 525km – it felt like a long drive.
We were glad that we had a shorter distance to cover compared to our previous road trip from Cairns to Brisbane. This meant we were a bit more relaxed than last time and had more time to stay in places, such as Byron Bay. Thankfully long stretches of the highway were 110kmh (68mph) which helped cut our travel time down too.
Overall this was another great road trip experience travelling down the East Coast of Australia. There is just so much to see and do!
Lauren’s favourite thing – Hang gliding in Byron Bay
Daniel’s favourite thing – Changing time zones from Queensland to New South Wales, within the same country