Awesome Australian 2WD Road Trips: Coffs Harbour to Brisbane on the Pacific Highway

Gold Coast, Australia
Gold Coast, Australia
The drive between Sydney and Brisbane is fittingly one of the most popular in Australia. The combination of beautiful beaches, national parks, Australian history and gourmet food and wine experiences make the drive an attractive option for many visitors.
Gold Coast, Queensland Australia
Gold Coast, Queensland Australia

The road trip between Sydney and Brisbane on the Pacific Highway is fittingly one of the most popular in Australia.  The combination of beautiful beaches, national parks, Australian history and gourmet food and wine experiences make the Sydney to Brisbane road trip an attractive option for many visitors.

Part 1 covers the road trip from Sydney to Coffs Harbour.  This article covers the road trip from Coffs Harbour to Brisbane on the Pacific Highway.

2WD Road Trip from Coffs Harbour to Brisbane, Australia

The road trip from Coffs Harbour to Brisbane is the second half of the road trip from Sydney to Brisbane.  The route from Coffs Harbour to Brisbane is 393 km, 244 mi, 4:23 hrs.

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2WD Pacific Highway Road Trip – Coffs Harbour to Grafton and Harwood, New South Wales Australia

North of Coffs Harbour the Pacific Highway initially winds attractively beside the Pacific Ocean and there are many places to stop and enjoy the beach.

The inland town of Grafton is 84 km, 52 mi, 1:10 hrs north of Coffs Harbour.  Grafton is the start of the Northern Rivers section of the road trip.  The Clarence River is the centrepiece of Grafton and the broad river parallels the Pacific Highway for the first 50 km, 31 mi, 0:41 hrs to the distinctive sugar mill town of Harwood.

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Side 2WD Road Trip Option – Yamba, New South Wales Australia

Yamba, New South Wales, Australia
Yamba, New South Wales, Australia

From Harwood there is a worthwhile short side trip to the popular beachside town of Yamba, which sits at the beautiful junction of the mouth of the Clarence River and the Pacific Ocean.  Yamba is only a short 15 km, 9 mi, 0:16 hrs detour from the Pacific Highway at Harwood.

2WD Pacific Highway Road Trip – Harwood to Ballina, New South Wales Australia

The road trip along the Pacific Highway from Harwood to Ballina is a lovely 82 km, 51 mi, 1:08 hr drive where the large rivers are a consistent feature of the landscape.  This is sugar cane country, so you will see many sugar cane farms along the way which are centred on the sugar mill towns of Harwood and Broadwater.  There are many bridges to cross and you will also regularly observe the bridges which raise up across major rivers to enable larger water vessels to access further inland.

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Side 2WD Road Trip Option – Nimbin, Mt Warning and Rainforest Scenic Road Trip, New South Wales Australia

A lovely side trip to take is the windy road trip through the rainforest and mountains near Mt Warning (Wollumbin).  If you wish to bypass Ballina you can turn off much earlier at the town of Woodburn and head towards Lismore.  From either Ballina or Byron Bay you can head west towards Nimbin (73 km, 45 mi, 1:22 hrs), Australia’s ‘Alternative Lifestyle Capital’.

Rainforest, Border Ranges National Park, New South Wales, Australia
Rainforest, Border Ranges National Park, New South Wales, Australia

There are many scenic road trip options through the area and the Minyon Falls Scenic Route (78 km, 49 mi, 4:00 hrs Lismore to Nimbin) is definitely worth a look, as you can see the spectacular over 100m high Minyon Falls.

After exploring Nimbin you can continue on to Nightcap National Park (38 km, 23 mi, 0:54 hrs) which has spectacular views of Mt Warning and is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area.

Alternatively you can choose to drive a circle route through the Tweed Range Scenic Drive (90 km, 56 mi, 4:00 hrs), which goes around a mammoth ancient volcano caldera.

The road trip to Wollumbin National Park (formerly Mt Warning National Park) (34 km, 21 mi, 0:54 hrs) which is also part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area will take you close up with the remnants of an ancient volcano.  The peak of Mt Warning is 1157 m (3795 ft) above sea level, and is the tallest peak in the area.  If you have more time available you can drive on the Mt Warning Viewing Circuit (95 km, 59 mi, 4:00 hrs full circle) which will take you on a circular route around Mt Warning with many viewing options.

The drive from Mt Warning National Park direct to Coolangatta via Murwillumbah is 47 km, 30 mi, 0:53 hrs.

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2WD Pacific Highway Road Trip – Ballina, new South Wales to Gold Coast, Queensland Australia

North of Ballina on the Pacific Highway the terrain changes to a mountainous forested region of which the centrepiece is the fabulous Mt Warning.  The drive from Ballina to the Gold Coast (91 km, 57 mi, 1:13 hrs) on the Pacific Highway is a progressive vista of mountains interspersed with periodic views of the Pacific Ocean.  You will cross the New South Wales and Queensland State border at Coolangatta.

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2WD Side Road Trip Option – Lennox Heads and Byron Bay, New South Wales Australia

Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia
Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia

A short but worthwhile side trip is the road trip on the coastal drive north of Ballina to explore the beachside towns of Lennox Heads and the well-known tourist destination of Byron Bay before progressing to Coolangatta (98 km, 61 mi, 1:26 hrs).

Byron Bay has a vast range of tourist activities available centred around the beautiful crescent bay.  Activities include all varieties of beach and water sports, whale watching, fantastic local markets and the individual Byron Bay beach culture.

Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia
Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia
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2WD Side Road Trip Option – Gold Coast, Queensland Australia

A visit to the Gold Coast is on many visitors list of places to visit.  Coolangatta to Brisbane via Surfers Paradise and Hope Island is a trip of 105 km, 66 mi, 1:05 hr.

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Gold Coast Beaches

Looking at Surfers Paradise across the Broadwater, Gold Coast, Queensland Australia
Looking at Surfers Paradise across the Broadwater, Gold Coast, Queensland Australia

Gold Coast beaches are justifiably famous.  The Gold Coast itself consists of a 70km coastline of beautiful soft sandy beach with options for every swimmer, family and surfer.  The southern section of the Gold Coast between Surfers Paradise and Coolangatta consists of many surf beaches.  The northern section of the Gold Coast between Southport and Paradise Point provides still water swimming in the Broadwater, which is protected from the ocean by South Stradbroke Island.

Gold Coast Theme Parks

The Gold Coast is well-known in Australia for being the home of the four major theme parks which each include a variety of themed shows and rides.  A variety of ticket package options to Seaworld, Movieworld, Wet’n’Wild and the Australian Outback Spectacular show are all available through themeparks.com.au.  A variety of ticket package options to Dreamworld and White Water World are available via shop.dreamworld.com.au.

Another great theme park is the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary which has a great range of Australian animals on display, along with the opportunity for visitors to participate in the famous lorikeet feeding.  The Green Challenge provides an exciting treetops ropes course which includes a flying fox.

South Stradbroke Island

For an off the beaten track option a visit to South Stradbroke Island is worth considering.  The island is 23 km long and 2.5km wide at the widest point and has surf beaches on the eastern side and protected still water beaches on the western side.  There are many camping and holiday homes options available on the island.  South Stradbroke Island is a vehicle free zone.

2WD Pacific Highway Road Trip – Coolangatta to Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

The Pacific Highway enables you to bypass the Gold Coast and travel direct to Brisbane CBD along a bland multi-lane highway (104 km, 65 mi, 1:14 hrs).

Brisbane, Queensland Australia

Storey Bridge, Brisbane, Queensland Australia
Storey Bridge, Brisbane, Queensland Australia

Upon arrival into Brisbane you will have completed the road trip from Sydney to Brisbane along the Pacific Highway, a trip of 918 kms  or 517 mi direct.  If you have chosen to take any of the recommended side trips you will have travelled a much greater distance.

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Have you experienced or are planning to do the Sydney to Brisbane road trip?  Share your experience in the comments below.

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