We took our time travelling this iconic road trip from north to south along the Eastern coastline of Australia, with the blue horizon of the Pacific Ocean hovering out our window to the left for much of the journey from Brisbane to Sydney.
Day One: Brisbane - Emerald Beach:
The first leg of the journey took us two hours to reach Australia's most easterly point, Byron Bay. My favorite spot for a pit stop there is Byron Beach Cafe, with uninterrupted views out to sea and you'll get to see a few dolphins and whales jumping while you eat, if you're lucky.
We continued driving down the highway as the road followed the cane fields surrounding the Clarence River for several hours. Eventually, we stopped to stretch our legs and swim at Red Rock, a quiet seaside village north of Coffs Harbour, and spent one fantastic night at Big 4 Emerald Beach.
A highlight of staying at Emerald Beach was meeting the resident mob of kangaroos. It really was something to see them hopping along the beach at sunset. Our Mexican dinner at La Hacienda 101 was another Emerald Beach highlight and the chocolate nachos are especially recommended.
Next morning we hit the road for Nabiac, a convenient and interesting roadside town where we stopped off to rest for awhile. The Green Cafe had good food, Merlo coffee for the driver and plenty of nick nacks for me to browse around. Bellingen is another interesting town to to stop off along the way. Our favorite place there is the Old Butter Factory.
Further along the highway, we discovered Wangi Point, a small peninsular in the middle of Lake Macquarie, Australia's largest salt lake. We stayed at Wangi Point Holiday Park overlooking the lake and the kids enjoyed playing on the see saw and swings, while I walked in Wangi Point Flora and Fauna Reserve.
Waking up to the native birds and a sunny day over Lake Macquarie, made it very difficult to leave. However, we made a quick tour of nearby Dobell House, home (turned museum) of the late artist, also overlooking a peaceful bay within the lake. I had no doubts that it was indeed an inspiring place to live and paint.
The last leg of our 900 kilometer journey took us past Newcastle to Hunter Region Botanic Gardens. There is a cafe within the gardens which provides an excellent,excuse to stop, revive and survive before continuing on to Sydney. For the return journey (Sydney to Brisbane), we followed the advice of another excellent weekend notes article, Pacific Highway Pit Stops, alternatively, you could follow the inland route, via The New England Highway through Tamworth. Either way, safe driving and look out for those Humpback whales.