5 Day Family Road-Trip | Brisbane to Sydney | Part 1

by | Australia, Family, Featured, New South Wales, Queensland, Travel

Howard Smith Wharves Brisbane

The Pacific Coast of Australia in 5 Days – Part 1

Pack the car and your sense of adventure, drive the kids into the sunset and experience one of the best family-friendly road trips in Australia.

The scenic Pacific Coast of Australia is arguably the most beautiful route to explore with kids. The Brisbane Sydney drive route includes the best NSW beaches, charming small towns, plenty of roadhouses, unlimited adventure experiences and eating options.

Must-Do Brisbane to Sydney Road Trip

The Brisbane to Sydney 5-day road trip is broken down into two separate posts (see Part 2 here) because there’s a LOT to cover! I took tons of photographs, so think of these pics as the ‘highlight reel’ as it is impossible to include all of them. Parts 1 and 2 are a glimpse of each destination with a guide to where to eat, stay, and activities for the whole family.

Family road trip

Howard Smith Wharves | Brisbane’s New Entertainment Precinct

Before we get into it, I want to tell you about a couple of great places you must visit in Brisbane. For decades, Howard Smith Wharves under the Brisbane Story Bridge precinct has been an abandoned eyesore. At the beginning of 2019, Howard Smith Wharves was given new life, and Brisbane rejoiced.

Brisbanites and visitors are enjoying the new outdoor space and entertainment precinct that is buzzing with a new boutique hotel, restaurants, bars and glorious skyline and waterfront views.

Brisbane’s Newest Restaurants

Mr Percival’s is the latest venture of head chef Damien Styles of Melbourne’s Federation Square ‘Taxi Dining Room’. The great restaurant’s name comes from the 1976 Australian film Storm Boy. A story about an Australian pelican ‘Mr Percival’ and a lonely young boy called Mike, who lives in a coastal wilderness with his reclusive father. If you haven’t seen the film or read the Storm Boy book, check it out.

Greca, a contemporary Greek Taverna, serves generous plates of delicious Mediterranean cuisine beneath the metal structure of the Story Bridge. Next door, Felons Brewery Co. is packed both day and night with thirsty tourists and lovers of craft beer and wood-fired pizza. You must also try Felons Sonny Cider Aperol Spritz; it is so refreshing and sitting outside looking upriver is a magical Brisbane experience.

Brisbane Art Series Hotel

The new boutique Fantauzzo Hotel which opened in March 2019, had everyone talking. It brings a new dimension of fine design to Brisbane’s River precinct. Part of the Art Series Hotels and named after four-time Archibald People’s Choice winner Vincent Fantauzzo, the interior showcases a vast selection of his works.

Crystalbrook Vincent

In September 2020, Syrian billionaire Ghassan Aboud of the Crystalbrook Collection Group bought into Brisbane – snapping up The Fantauzzo Brisbane Art Series Hotel from the Deague’s, a Melbourne development family. Rebadging the luxury hotel to Crystalbrook Vincent.

CrystalBrook Vincent

Adina Apartment Hotel | Brisbane CBD | Family Accommodation

Experience the best of Brisbane with a focus on family-friendly accommodations at Adina Apartment Hotel Brisbane. Located in the heart of the Central Business District (CBD), this hotel is your gateway to all the city has to offer while providing a comfortable and welcoming environment for families. After a day of exploration, return to the hotel’s welcoming embrace, complete with a range of amenities suitable for both adults and children, including a refreshing swimming pool, a well-equipped fitness centre, a delightful restaurant, and a stylish bar.

Choose from a variety of spacious family-friendly accommodation options, including studios and one or two-bedroom apartments. Just a short 2-minute stroll from the Brisbane River and a quick 5-minute walk to the Queensland Art Gallery, This hotel’s prime location makes it easy to access some of the city’s top family attractions. Plus, the iconic Wheel of Brisbane is just a 6-minute walk providing panoramic views that both kids and adults will enjoy.

Each accommodation option boasts a private bathroom stocked with complimentary toiletries and a hairdryer for your convenience. You can unwind with entertainment on the flat-screen TV provided in every room. For families who prefer to dine in, all apartments are equipped with fully-furnished kitchens, complete with a dishwasher, making mealtime a breeze. Parking is also available nearby on 20 Charlotte Street.. 

Adina Apartment Hotel Brisbane is ideally situated, with the Treasury Building – Casino a mere 100 meters away and Queen Street Mall just 600 meters from your doorstep. Nature-loving families will appreciate the proximity to the City Botanical Gardens, a scenic 9-minute walk from the accommodation.

When it’s time to depart, Brisbane Airport is conveniently located just 13 kilometres from Adina Apartment Hotel Brisbane, ensuring a hassle-free journey for your family as you bid farewell to your urban oasis in the heart of the city.

Day 1 – Brisbane Qld – Byron Bay NSW

Getting To Byron Bay NSW | Brisbane – Byron Bay Map

Take the M1 south towards the Gold Coast. Take the exit towards Ewingsdale Rd / Byron Bay / from A1 and follow towards the roundabout. At the roundabout, take the first exit onto Woodford Lane. In 200m, turn right at The Farm.

Discovery Parks Byron Bay Camping
large group accommodation Byron Bay NSW

Where To Stay In Byron Bay?

Best Family Accommodation in Byron Bay

Discovery Parks Byron Bay is 2 kilometres from the chic town centre. The park has a wide range of accommodation styles, from 3-bedroom houses, deluxe 2-bedroom cabins, single cabins, safari tents, powered and unpowered sites and camping area.

For the kids, there are playgrounds, pool, waterpark, tennis court and free WiFi. The park is the perfect base for families with accommodation to suit every budget. Discovery Parks Map

Byron Bay Accommodation For Groups

Although the purpose of this article was to create the ultimate family road trip, this family road trip itinerary is ideal for those travelling in a group.

Group and family accommodation can be found at Oasis Apartments and Treetop Houses. Apartments are located just 400 metres from Tallow Beach, Byron Bay and a 5-minutes’ drive away from the Byron Bay restaurants, bars, shopping precinct and main beach.

Oasis Apartments and Treetop Houses are set on 6 acres of natural bushland. Guests can relax beside the heated swimming pool, play some tennis or unwind in the sauna. The poolside BBQ pool is perfect for socialising with friends and family.

Apartments sleep 5 and Treetop Houses sleep, 8-10 guests. Accommodation is air-conditioned with fully equipped kitchen, laundry facilities, lounge area, free internet and cable TV. There is on-site parking for 1 vehicle per room, and bike and surfboard rental service.

Byron Fork Talk

The Farm is set of an 80-acre farm in Ewingsdale, 10k from the heart of Byron Bay NSW. ‘Three Blue Ducks’ restaurant works closely with the community and the ethical producers and local growers to create tasty and interesting dishes that reflect the goodness of the produce they source.

Picnic hampers consist of house-made goods of locally sourced cheeses, charcuterie, parfaits, dips, fresh and dried fruits, sweets, nuts, berries, and bread from the onsite bakery, ‘The Bread Social’.

The Farm caters for kids with a children’s’ playground, animal farm and farm trail. Bring your own picnic blanket and wander along the farm trail past the pigs in their mud bath, the large brood of happy chickens that lay the hundreds of eggs used each day, past the macadamia orchard and the fields planted with produce that are served in the restaurant.

  • Download The Farm Map here and for What’s On at The Farm click here.
  • 11 Ewingsdale Road, Ewingsdale, NSW Australia – The Farm

There are literally dozens of eating places in Byron Bay to suit every taste and budget. Favourite restaurants with ocean views are The Beach Hotel and Fishmongers. For an extensive list of places to eat and drink check out ‘A Food Guide to Byron Bay’ 

The Farm Byron Bay
Cape Byron Lighthouse Walk

The World’s First Solar Train | Byron Bay Train

Most people are familiar with Byron Bay, the tourist destination. But did you know that the  Byron Bay Train is home to the first solar train in the world? The solar train was officially launched on 16 December 2017. For $4-million, the project was another success story for multi-millionaire businessman Brian Flannery and wife Peggy, who also own Elements of Byron resort in the area.

The train runs a return shuttle service for the 3-kilometre journey between North Beach Station at Sunrise Beach and the Byron Beach Platform in Byron Bay township. Both stations have seating, shelter and bicycle racks. 

Ride in Style, lunch deals start from $28 and include a return train ticket, lunch and a Byron Bay Stone & Wood beer or glass of wine at The Sun Bistro, a 5-minute walk from North Beach Station. Click here for the Byron Bay Solar Train Timetable.

Byron Bay Horse Riding | How Does Equine Therapy Work?

Zephyr Horses at Elements of Byron resort caters to all levels of horse-riding abilities. They offer both beach rides and rainforest rides. Elements horse ranch is located north of the resort and at the end of Bayshore Drive.

Horses Helping Humans | Horse Therapy

The therapy organisation ‘Horses Helping Humans‘ is run by horse whisperer Sue Spence based in Byron Bay. Sue runs an underprivileged Youth Program using the principles of natural horsemanship to help young people who have experienced bullying or have poor boundary skills.

What is equine-assisted therapy?

Programs and workshops aimed at:

  • Build confidence & self-esteem
  • Develop emotional control & self-discipline
  • Anger management & impulse control
  • Developing healthy relationship skills and respect for others and yourself

The Equine-assisted therapy program works with young people who have been denied positive role models and who come from homes where trust levels are very low. It specifically helps young people to learn how to focus, display calm assertiveness, to have respect as well as empathy for others. No horse experience is needed as all interaction with horses is conducted on the ground.

The equine therapy benefits are truly amazing. The emotional benefits of equine therapy have been widely known in the US for some time. Australia may have been slow to get this type of therapy off the ground however more Australians today are looking to alternate therapies.

Sue is an incredible  Australian woman and winner of the 2016 and 2014 Gold Coast Business Woman of the Year Award. She is also the author of ‘Horses Who Heal’ available on Amazon. If you would like to help or become involved click here.

Byron Bay Lighthouse Walk

The Cape Byron walking track is a 3.7km loop that leads you across clifftops with outstanding views of the Pacific Ocean and hinterland. You will need to allow at least 2 hours to fully experience the Cape Byron walking track. It is one of the most beautiful stretches along the NSW coastline.

The pinnacle is reaching the Cape Byron Lighthouse with its breathtaking 360-degree views of picturesque beaches, mountain escarpments and lush rainforest. Keep an eye out over the water for dolphins, stingrays, turtles and, in season, whales. If you’d prefer an easier walk, the track can be accessed at numerous points and walked in shorter sections.

Take a Walk on Cumbebin Wetland Sanctuary Boardwalk

Cumbebin Swamp Nature Reserve is located adjacent to Byron Bay on the far north coast of New South Wales. It covers an area of 92.6 hectares and was established in March 1999 to protect a significant component of the Belongil-Cumbebin wetland.

Before it became a hippies paradise and playground for movie stars filled with funky cafes, restaurants and world-class accommodation, Byron Bay was a swamp.  A portion of this area has been preserved within the Cumbebin Wetland Sanctuary, and it’s well worth a walk along the boardwalk through this part of Bryon.  It’s flat and not a long walk, but it is wise to carry insect repellent to keep the mosquitos at bay as with all wetland areas.

Byron Bay Cumbebin Swamp

The Eastern long-earred bat plays a significate part in mosquito control. It’s a natural habitat for the microbat which is only 5cm long but eats hundreds of mosquitos every night.

Park in Somerset Street, behind the area where the Byron Bay markets are held and walk around the corner into Wordsworth Street.   This is where you’ll find the start of the walk and the only public access point. (Map).

Byron Bay Fact

Did you know that Byron Bay is the most Easterly point on Australia’s mainland? Situated in Northern New South Wales, 166km South of Brisbane & 772km North of Sydney.

Byron Bay sunset horse ride
Family road trip Byron Bay

Day 2 – Byron Bay – Emerald Beach NSW

Byron BayGraftonEmerald Beach

Getting There

Get back on the A1 and head South to Grafton NSW

Grafton Fork Talk

Stop for lunch at Heart & Soul Wholefood Café on Prince Street, but ensure you save room for dessert at I Scream before heading to your accommodation at Emerald Beach, one hour drive away.

Things to Do at Grafton NSW

Grafton sits on the banks of the Clarence River featuring Victorian and Edwardian architecture. The riverside city is famous in Australia for its 2,000 Jacaranda trees that bloom in spring creating a carpet of mauve. The Grafton Jacaranda Festival runs from the last weekend in October to the first weekend of November every year. It is the longest running floral festival in Australia with activities for the whole family.

Jacandra Trees Grafton NSW

You can explore the beautifully preserved sandstone commercial buildings around the CBD on the Grafton Heritage Trail. Over 25 historical sites including the Grafton Regional Gallery, Clarence River Historical Society, Schaeffer House Museum, a magnificent federation homestead, Fig Tree Avenue in Briemba Street and much more. Many buildings have been classified by the National Trust including the notorious Grafton Gaol and the Christ Church Cathedral.

See Park on Pound Street is one of Grafton’s premier parks with mature rare and exotic trees that provide ample shade and ideal for picnics. The park facilities include a water feature, children’s’ playground, public toilets, BBQs and access to power.

Useful Sites

Getting From See Park Grafton to Emerald Beach

Located 20 kilometres from Coffs Harbour, Emerald Beach is a great family holiday destination with plenty of options for swimming, water sports and picnicking. There are loads of nearby cafes and accommodation options to suit any budget.

Emerald Beach is an excellent spot to learn to surf, fish, swim plus beach walks. It’s also a great place for whale watching in winter and bird watching in spring. Take the Solitary Islands Coastal Walk past superb beaches, rocky headlands and lush rainforest.Look At Me Now Headland’, (yes that’s its name) is part of the Moonee Beach Reserve. It is an easy walk with panoramic views of the ocean, South Solitary Island, village of Emerald Beach, Mount Coramba and Coffs Coast.

Other sites worth visiting nearby are Korora Lookout, Forest Sky Pier and the kids and dog will love the Carobana Confectionary outlet.

dog friendly beach

Where to Stay At Emerald Beach?

Discovery Parks Emerald Beach is an award-winning family-friendly holiday park with some of the best accommodation facilities around. Accommodation styles include villas, cabins, powered and unpowered sites plus large swimming pool and waterpark. For the kids, there are games and movie room, pedal kart hire, ‘Jungle Jive’ indoor soft play, baseball, tennis and beach volleyball courts.

Beautiful Emerald Beach is a stone’s throw to a perfect spot to swim, surf, snorkel and play in the ocean. Local rivers and creeks are popular SUP, kayaking and canoe locations. Or enjoy the simplicity of the green grass and shady trees that surround your accommodation

family road trip Australia

Emerald Beach Fork Talk

La Hacienda 101, Emerald Beach is a small Mexican family-friendly restaurant locally owned and operated. The restaurant is fully licenced and offers both eat-in and take away options. Open from 6pm Wednesday – Monday. Closed Tuesdays. 

Family road trip
Sydney Road trip from Brisbane

Day 3 – Emerald Beach – Old Bar NSW

Getting There

From Emerald Beach to Old Bar NSW

Located 12 kilometres from the Pacific Highway and 15 minutes east of Taree. The seaside town of Old Bar is a hidden gem boasting some of Australia’s best surf, kite boarding, swimming, fishing and National Park attractions. Golden beaches stretch along the gorgeous coastline of Manning Valley. It’s the idyllic base for families looking for a traditional coastal holiday. You can be as busy as you like or kick back and unwind on uncrowded beaches whilst enjoying the hospitality of the locals.

Old Bar Annual Event

Hundreds of Kombi van enthusiasts flock to the 2-day Old Bar Beach Festival held on the last weekend of September, with market and food stalls, local beers, wines, children’s activities and live music. 

The Manning Valley Summer Festival is held during the month of January, with Old Bar Beach the location for the popular sand-modelling competition. These and other fabulous events attract thousands of people every year who are able to experience what the Manning Valley has to offer during their stay.

family road trip

Things to Do at Old Bar NSW

Pick up some local produce and head to Saltwater Picnic Area. Take a walk along Five Islands Walking Track and keep your eyes open for the local wildlife, including carpet pythons, monitor lizards and red-neck wallabies.

The nearby, Headland Walking Track is a short stroll through rainforest to the headland with views out over Saltwater Beach, Khappinghat Creek and Pacific Ocean. You can swim, surf, relax and fish at the adjacent Saltwater beach, Khappinghat Creek or the nearby Wallabi Beach.

family road trip

Where to Stay at Old Bar NSW

Boogie Woogie Beach House is a boutique accommodation inspired by the world’s most initiative and influential musicians. Each unique guest room is individually styled and designed with modern amenities, free movies and a fully stocked minibar.

Situated 100 metres from the beach, inside a historic building, the Boogie Woogie Beach House offers a unique style developed by artists and designers. Blonde Family Room inspired by the great rock goddess ‘Blondie’ with bath, balcony, kitchenette and sofa. One queen bed and a bunk bed with two king single beds comfortably sleeps 4 people. Surf Shack Room inspired by sea-born adventures with balcony, kitchenette and sofa. One queen bed and two bunk beds each with two king single beds, comfortably sleeps 6 people.

Old Bar Folk Talk

Guests at the hotel can enjoy sundowners on the balcony or dine in the popular Flow Bar. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, barista coffee, a-la-carte and pizza menu and live music on weekends.

brisbane sydney drive

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See Part 2 | 5 Day Family Friendly Road-Trip | Brisbane To Sydney | Click Here

It’s an incredible road trip, and I highly recommend everyone sees this part of Australia at least once in their lives. Save your time and energy researching and planning, this itinerary won’t disappoint you or your family. It ticks all the holiday boxes! Click here to read Part 2

Brisbane Sydney Drive

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