Driving from Sydney to Byron
For the next 6 week leg of our trip, we are travelling in a 4 person campervan From Sydney up to Cairns. We thought it'd be fun to try something totally different, and the freedom of having our own van was really appealing. Although the drive to Byron it is do-able in a single journey, (it takes about 9 hours door to door), you most definitely should stop off at all these fab places on the way. What we learned very quickly was that by following Google Maps you are taken along the free way the entire way, which despite being the quickest, is definitely not the most scenic route. So, we decided to try to get off the free way as much as possible, and here are some amazing places we found by doing so.
The first stop after Sydney was a couple of hours away in Newcastle, where we spent two nights with some of my friends I already knew who live there.
After Newcastle, it's worth getting off at Bouddi National Park and driving through Avoca beach and Lake Macquaire. Then following on from there you pass Port Stephens and Fingal Bay which are also really pretty. If we can recommend one place you absolutely MUST hit the coastal road, it is a tiny secluded beach called Seal Rocks. It is well off the beaten track, and seriously beautiful. The white sand squeaks under your feet as you walk because it really is that fine and soft. There’s a lighthouse and you can often see dolphins swimming in the ocean. From there, continue on the coastal road through Booti Booti National Park along to Forster.
Another nice beach is Crowdy Head, and you can even drive the car straight on to the beach. Basically just make sure you always go down the small roads if you have the time. From here you can skip a bit and then go to Coffs Harbour, a nice beach and an ideal place to spend a night between Sydney and Byron because it’s just about half way.
We had been so excited to come to Byron, having heard so much about it from other travellers. It is a backpackers haven, camper vans are literally everywhere and the majority of people wandering around are either young travellers or travellers who have fallen for Byron and never left. After a few days here we can totally understand why! We stayed at The Arts Factory - a hostel which allows you to pay to park your camper in their car park, and make use of the hostel facilities. It was an extremely chilled vibe, everyone was super friendly and welcoming. It worked well as it was cheap for us to sleep in the van and we got hot showers, kitchen etc.
Byron main beach is really cool, we spent a couple of evenings here as the sun goes down watching the surfers catch the waves, wondering how on earth they make it look so easy. All around the beach are little surf shops and clothing stores, where we spent many evenings and probably spent a bit too much of our budgets.
Living with four girls in one van sure is cosy, and the downside of it is that if one person wants to do something or go somewhere specific, everyone has to be on board. I had heard about the lighthouse walk on Byron Bay and was desperate to go for sunrise to catch the amazing view, however I was unsure of what the reaction would be when I told them I wanted to drive the van and wake them all up at 5.30am. I somehow managed to persuade everyone that it was a good idea, and so off we set on day 2. Unfortunately it was pretty cloudy, but it still looked pretty. If you’re there on a morning where there is guaranteed sun, we would definitely recommend the trip!
Our favourite beach on Byron was Watego’s, which is at the end of the island round by the lighthouse - interestingly the most Easternly point of the Aussie mainland. It’s a tiny beach which is a little quieter, and in our opinion just that extra bit more special.
Our time in Byron also fell on a weekend, which was great as that’s when it really comes to life. We went to a local bar called The Rails which has live music and was full of people, then we went on to the Beach Hotel, The Northern, and finished up at Woody’s for a bit of a dance. Safe to say we went to anywhere and everywhere we could find that was open, and it was a great fun evening.
Byron Bay market runs every Sunday which is definitely worth checking out. We had a wander round before hitting the road again prepared for the next adventure.