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Bucket List 12 Day Sydney To Gold Coast Itinerary

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There is 838.3 km between Sydney and the Gold Coast, leaving campervan travellers with plenty of options on what to do in order to make the most of the locations and scenes on the way. If you read on, you’ll find travel tips and a ‘bucket list’ of some of the best places to stop for the night and the activities and sights they have to offer you. From wine tasting, to surfing to whale watching, it’s all there. Think of it as a personal road trip itinerary planner for the mesmerising drive between Sydney and the Gold Coast. There’s no better way to experience this side of Australia than van travel.

Travel

12 days


Route

Sydney to Gold Coast

1184km


Best Time of the Year

All year round

Highlights

  • Katoomba Falls
  • Hunter Valley
  • Bundjalung National Park

The Journey

Days

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

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Day 1
Sydney to Blue Mountains

Distance 62km - Driving Time 1 hour

There’s plenty of things to do in Sydney before heading to maui Sydney, picking up your campervan and preparing to hit the road. The team at maui Sydney will give you a rundown on how everything works and some safety tips. Then before you know it you’re on your way north.

The Blue Mountains are renowned for being outdoors based, with sensational scenery, nature and wildlife to be seen. They’re easily recognisable by the sheer sandstone ridges covered in Australian native bushland. Scattered through the wilderness are quaint mountain towns, ancient Aboriginal rock art and, of course, Scenic World. Scenic World is a great activity to do during your time in the Blue Mountains. Home to the world’s steepest passenger train going over some of Australia’s most stunning natural landscapes, it’s a memory you won’t soon forget. If heights aren’t your thing, then perhaps the Three Sisters walk might suit you better. It’s a much shorter activity than Scenic World, giving you more time to find a cafe or restaurant to grab a bite to eat. It’s a 800-metre walk that should take you around 30 minutes return. The lookout points at the top make it all worth your while.

When it comes to parking your campervan and staying for the night, Katoomba Falls is a great campground. This spot is well immersed in the natural action around you. There are bushwalk entry and exit points surrounding the campground, giving you immediate access for a stroll into nature whenever it pleases. There are 25 powered camping sites and 21 unpowered camping sites in this peaceful location. Make sure to book so you spend more time enjoying what is around you.

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Day 2
Blue Mountains to Newcastle

Distance 198km - Driving Time 2 hours 20 minutes

The next stop of the trip is Newcastle. Upon arrival, relaxation might be the first thing on your mind after the drive and bushwhacking in the Blue Mountains for a day. Take a dip at the Mereweather Baths that sit right on the coastline of Newcastle. These ocean baths are an awesome way to relax and wind down, or perhaps prepare you for the day at Blackbutt Reserve. On 182 hectares of natural landscapes and 10 kilometres of walking trails, Blackbutt Reserve is a great place for the whole family. Alongside the bush walks is free entry to the wildlife exhibits, getting you up close and personal with the animals. You’ll find out about their diets, breeding, habitats and the conservation strategies put in place to protect them.

A great place to park your campervan is at Stockton Beach. The NRMA Stockton Beach Holiday Park is located 30 minutes from Newcastle and is a beach lover’s paradise. When on a beachfront campsite, there’s no greater wake-up than the sound of crashing waves and the song of native birds. The campground provides a massive kitchen area, perfect for cooking a meal as if you were at home, powered campsites and unpowered campsites. There’s also easy access back to Newcastle via ferry if you’re looking at heading into town for a bite.

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Day 3
Newcastle to Port Stephens

Distance 32km - Driving Time 35 minutes

The best place to park your campervan is the Port Stephens - BIG4 Holiday Park, based around the huge bay, boasting brilliant beaches and inviting inlets, Port Stephens sparkles. BIG4 Holiday Park offers family-friendly accommodation, caravan sites and campsites, making it the perfect place to stay in Port Stephens while you enjoy the rest of the sights.

Gan Gan Hill Lookout offers spectacular views of the stunning Port Stephens from above. The short walk to the lookout is along a flat concrete path (with wheelchair access) and up to a viewing platform that takes in the scenic views over the bays, framed by the vibrant Gymea Lilies. You’ll see the blue waters, Tomaree National Park and the Stockton Sand Dunes. The sand dunes themselves are a huge attraction for tourists in New South Wales, going on quad bike tours through exclusive Aboriginal land, owned by the Worimi people. Sand Dune Adventures take you over the largest coastal sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere, while sharing the cultural significance of this part of the land to the Worimi people.

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Day 4
Port Stephens to Hunter Valley

Distance 87km - Driving Time 1 hour 25 minutes

Hunter Valley is well regarded for being wine country, full of top-class wineries. It’s the perfect place to relax and embrace serenity. Upon arrival, take a wine tour with Hunter Valley Wine Tasting Tours around the local wineries. For a full-day tour, visit four wineries/cellar doors with all wine tasting fees included in the tour price of A$120.00 per person. But if you feel just a half a day tour, visit three wineries for A$80.00 per person. Alongside the wine will be a cheese pairing, bringing your tastebuds and palate up to scratch and delighted. If a winery tour is quite your thing, then perhaps soaking in the sights from above is in a hot air balloon. Beyond Ballooning is a family owned and operated business based in the Hunter Valley, offering a unique opportunity to float over New South Wales’ beautiful wine country. The smallest balloon can accommodate two people, whereas their largest can take up to 24, including the pilot. The flight is an hour and gives you a once in a lifetime opportunity to see and take in New South Wales from above.

A great place to park the campervan in the Hunter Valley is at the Wine Country Tourist Park. It is the closest caravan park to the vineyards, meaning you’ll waste little time travelling between the vineyards while visiting them in your own time. Feel free to hire a bike while here to navigate your way through the vines. One thing you’ll be sure to enjoy about the Hunter Valley, is it’s one of the best places to avoid the crowds in New South Wales.

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Day 5
Hunter Valley to Forster

Distance 161km - Driving Time 2 hours and 30 minutes

Forster is well regarded for its multiple nearby beaches, including Forster Main Beach, Burgess Beach and One Mile Beach. All of these beaches are watched over by the Forster and Cape Hawke Surf Lifesaving Clubs. Forster Main Beach is a great place to recline for the day, with the beach stretching over 563 metres from the Forster Breakwall to the ocean baths. It’s well protected from large wells, making it a great place for the entire family to enjoy stress-free. The beach is also close to the local cafes and shops to grab a refreshment midway through beaching.

If you’re looking for a wind down at the end of the day with a cool beverage, look no further than The Coastal Brewing Company, a microbrewery based in Forster. They go by their motto of ‘enjoying L.I.F.E’, meaning ‘local, independent, fresh, every time’. It’s a true staple of Forster and definitely worth popping in. It’s also family-friendly, so no need to worry about leaving the kids anywhere!

Forster Beach Holiday Park is a good spot to put the campervan for the night. It has a laundry, barbecue spots and is very close to the beach. Campervans and RVs are well looked after at Forster Beach Holiday Park, with plenty of flat powered sites to park on for your stay. You have the option of a powered site on grass or slab, an elevated site with views of Wallis Lake or one of the extra-large sites.

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Day 6
Forster to Port Macquarie

Distance 110km - Driving Time 1 hour and 20 minutes

Perhaps one of the most interesting attractions of Port Macquarie is the Koala Hospital, a licenced wildlife rehabilitation facility. The hospital was established in 1973 and has been caring for and rehabilitating injured koalas ever since. It’s become a top tourist attraction over the years, allowing visitors a look into the care and rehabilitation process. At the same time, you’ll also learn about the koala’s habits and biology at the Koalaseum. The Sea Acres Rainforest Centre is home to an amazing rainforest experience, just out of Port Macquarie. Alongside the 1.3-kilometre boardwalk through the rainforest is a cafe to grab some lunch and often displays of art from local artists to gaze upon. Eco-displays provide information about the local Aboriginal culture and the surrounding rainforest environment and wildlife.

The Port Macquarie Holiday Park is a ‘slice of paradise’. Situated by the mouth of the Hastings River, right next to the beach, this spot is perfect for an early morning swim. The campground has a Kids Club, swimming pool, free wifi and easy access to some of Port Macquarie’s best breakwall fishing spots. The entire campground and experience make it feel as if you’re staying in a resort, with the pool and beachside location.

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Day 7
Port Macquarie to Coffs Harbour

Distance 159km - Driving Time 1 hour and 45 minutes

Coffs Harbour is home to the biggest theme park between Sydney and the Gold Coast, The Big Banana Fun Park, which originated back in 1964. The theme park boasts a massive waterpark, a laser tag arena, an ice skating rink, a 36-hole mini golf course, and so much more. It’s the perfect place to take the family and keep everyone entertained all day. The locality and community based feel of the park helps it to rival the Gold Coast theme parks.

A short-10 minute drive from Coffs Harbour is the Forest Sky Pier - the place to go for one of the most awesome-looking platforms in Australia. Peaking out of the rainforest is the Sky Pier, showcasing the scenic coastal views and up and down the coastline. Throughout the forest below are walking tracks, perfect little picnic spots and facilities if needed. The Sky Pier is accessible from the carpark. and is a great basecamp to enjoy your day. You may want to grab a coffee from Nyanggan Gapi cafe, check out Coffs Treetops or walk the stunning Gumgali track. It is an unforgettable place.

The BIG4 Park Beach is a perfect place to take the campervan for the night. With a huge pool, waterslides, an 18-hole mini golf course and a jumping pillow, this resort is a parents paradise. The option of slab sites and grass sites are overshadowed by the ensuite sites: powered sites with a private bathroom, perfect for avoiding the communal facilities, and at an affordable price. The campground itself is in a very central location, with the Coffs Harbour township just a few hundred metres away. It’s the perfect balance between staying in town while still enjoying the peacefulness and outdoor vibe that camping offers.

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Day 8
Coffs Harbour to Chatsworth Island

Distance 132km - Driving Time 1 hour and 20 minutes

On the north arm of the Clarence River, this quaint, historic little town is perfect for relaxing and soaking in the serenity. A great way to embrace the serenity of Chatsworth Island is to immerse yourself in the nearby nature at Bundjalung National Park. The national park is home to great fishing spots, mountain biking trails, and mesmerising beach walks. You may also see some of Australia’s most interesting species like the emu, white-bellied sea eagle and so much more.

Fishing Haven Holiday Park is right on the shores of the Clarence River and is a stunning spot to take the campervan for the night. The campground is right on the waterfront, has free electric barbecues, powered campsites, unpowered campsites, picnic areas and access to ice, bait and tackle if you’re keen on a fish. You can also make use of the shaded and sheltered areas provided. With gazebos scattered throughout the park with chairs and tables, this is the perfect spot for a meal and to wind down.

Day 9
Chatsworth Island to Ballina

Distance 83km - Driving Time 1 hour

One sight you’re bound to see while in Ballina, is the Big Prawn. Built in 1989, this giant crustacean stands at 9 metres high and weighs 35 tonnes. It’s a massive tourist attraction and is hard to miss - grab some prawns from the local shops next to it and embrace Ballina’s culture. The Ballina Maritime Museum is another sight worth seeing while in Ballina. The museum tells stories and displays artefacts, all important and significant to Australia's maritime history. It is a volunteer-run museum, full of models of warships, historic sailing vessels and antique Naval memorabilia. Ballina’s naval and maritime history is significant, and the museum really speaks to that. Find the time to pop in, it’s only A$5.00 for adults and A$2.00 for children.

The Ballina Beach Village is a great place to stay while in Ballina. Offering both powered campsites and unpowered campsites, both spacious and within easy access to heated pools, laundry, barbecues and a bar and cafe, perfect for a hot beverage in the morning and a cold one at night. Spread out over 9 hectares, the campground is only 10 minutes out of town and tucked into the beautiful hinterlands among nature.

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Day 10
Ballina to Byron Bay

Distance 34km - Driving Time 30 minutes

Byron Bay is possibly one of the most exciting stops on this trip. While there, one of the best things to do is go whale watching. Since 2011, Blue Bay Whale Watching has had a 100% success rate when out looking for whales. The trip departs from their private jetty and takes you out into the Cape Byron Marine Park to enjoy an intimate encounter with the amazing Humpback Whales. While the end goal is to see a whale, the actual comforts of the 8.5-metre catamaran “Bay Warrior” are already money well spent.

Surfing is another activity Byron bay is well known for, and if you’re inexperienced, it’s a great place to learn. Let’s Go Surfing has been a surf school staple in Byron Bay since 1995 and has helped thousands of people from all around the world to be confident and able while surfing. The experienced instructors at Let’s Go Surfing all work towards the same vision, that every wave can change your life, and they love helping others to enjoy them.

The Ingenia Holidays Byron Bay campground is based on 28 acres of parklands, fronting onto the ever scenic Tallow Beach. With 155 campsites (both powered campsites and unpowered) and 52 cabins, there’s plenty of space for you and your travelling companions to set up for some quality holidaying time down on the beach and amongst the wildlife. The best part about Ingenia Holidays Byron Bay campground is it’s just a five-minute drive from downtown Byron, keeping you within arms reach of a barista-made coffee while still enjoying the natural beauty of the area.

Day 11
Byron Bay to Pottsville

Distance 41km - Driving Time 40 minutes

After an action-packed day in Byron Bay surfing, Pottsville offers the relaxation you need. Pop in to Cosm Natural Health and unwind in peace. Have a massage, acupuncture or a sauna while being looked after by the friendly staff, all dedicated to ensuring you are relaxed and calm. Pottsville Beach is just another reminder of the consistent sheer beauty of the beaches in New South Wales. It’s a good spot to have a swim and cool off while enjoying a picnic with food bought from the local markets. It’s also home to Pipit, a headlining sustainable dining restaurant that is all about serving sustainable foods like its seafood.

Park your campervan at Tweed Holidays Parks Pottsville South for the night and gaze upon the calm waters of the Mooball Creek. The campground is just a short stroll down from Pottsville’s beaches and food and beverage scene. This makes it a great spot to both wind down while away from the hustle and bustle but still being within arms reach of it when need be. The campground is beachfront, with wifi, toilets and showers and direct creek access. It’s an idyllic spot, especially at sunset.

Matthew Taylor/TEQ Visual Gallery

Day 12
Pottsville to Advancetown

Distance 66km - Driving Time 1 hour

Advancetown is known for its surrounding mountainous terrain and the Hinze Dam. The dam is the main drinking water supply for the Gold Coast region and has been around since 1976. There is a visitors centre on hand when you arrive at the dam, sharing knowledge with tourists on the establishment of the dam and how much water it can hold at full capacity. If you’re looking for a walk to do while in Advancetown, Pages Pinnacle is your best option. It’s considered a moderately challenging route, with an average of 2 hours and 5 minutes to complete, but the view from the top makes it all worth it. This walk in nature is a nice way to finish up your road trip in nature, before the flurry of people and skyscrapers in the Gold Coast.

The Advancetown Caravan Park is a lovely spot to park your campervan. Set in a small park in the bush, nature fully surrounds you here while you’re only 7 kilometres away from a supermarket. They offer powered and unpowered sites, a laundry, barbecues and a swimming pool to cool off in after a long day hiking in the bush.

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Day 13
Advancetown to Gold Coast

Distance 19km - Driving Time 30 minutes

Finally, the destination has been reached, and there truly is no greater threat than a night on the Gold Coast. A tourist attraction in itself, there is no shortage of things to do, places to see and good food to eat. From the bush covered hinterlands of Advancetown to the beaming skyscrapers of the Gold Coast, you’re bound to be excited as soon as you lay eyes on it. A must-do while in the Gold Coast is to visit one of its world famous theme parks. From Dreamworld to Whitewater World to SeaWorld, they all offer something different from the last. SeaWorld for example, is not just entertaining shows and rides but also an informative place, teaching its visitors about marine research and rescue.

Another great thing to do in the Gold Coast is go for a jetski right offshore, with both no licence and no experience necessary. Jet Ski Safaris offer you the opportunity to explore the islands and blue waters off the coast of surfers paradise. You’ll be greeted by some of the Gold Coast’s local dolphins and turtles out there as you experience this once in a lifetime opportunity. Soak in the view of the shore from afar and the deep blue beyond. Of course, it's important to keep water safety a priority.

Broadwater campground has the relaxed atmosphere of a campground while also being so close to the rush of Surfers Paradise. The facilities are part of what make this campground so attractive, with a store, laundry, swimming pools and tennis courts, a waterfront location and a parents bathroom. They also have ensuite-powered sites, turning your camping trip into a luxurious beachfront getaway with private amenities.

If your trip is destined to stop at this point, the Brisbane maui Branch is just a short 1 hour and 17-minute drive away to drop off your campervan. But if you choose to continue, Broadwater is more than accommodating.

Time to book your road trip itinerary from Sydney?

There are countless sights to see and places to stay on this magnificent drive. And the beauty of this trip, is it can be stretched out into a longer trip or broken down into a shorter trip. The places to see that have been listed out in this blog are definitely worth your time, but there is no doubt that you’ll find attractions for yourself along the way. Whether you’re immersing yourself in Hunter Valley’s wine scene, gazing from above on the Sky Train or surfing in Byron Bay, the next activity you find yourself doing will be just as entertaining. This section of Australia is a popular drive, hence the many scattered campervan and camping sites with amazing facilities. You’ll be well looked after on this roadie.

Book your maui campervan online and pick it up from your nearest maui branch. Get ready for the trip of a lifetime.