Sydney - Brisbane via Pacific Highway (Hwy 1)
Total Distance 1036km.
All distances measured from Sydney.
You will need your Sydney Suburbs map to guide you on to the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway at Hornsby and from here you will be travelling on a magnificent three-lane highway that cuts through solid rock and soars over valleys to give fantastic views on both sides as it heads northwards. If negotiating Sydney's suburban roads has given you a thirst or worked up an appetite, there is a lovely little park, ideal for a rest stop, on the waters edge after you cross the mighty Hawkesbury River. The turn off is just after the bridge and it's easy to rejoin the freeway after your break.
Watch out for strong, gusty side-winds along this road if you are towing - although the road is wide you can still get into trouble if the wind is rough and catches you unawares.
Old Sydney Town - a working replica of how life was lived in the early days of the colony - is worth a visit if you have time and after Gosford (102km) a number of roads turn off to the beautiful Central Coast and its lakes including Tuggerah Lake, Lake Munmorah and Lake Macquarie.
The freeway by-passes the large harbour city of Newcastle and continues on to a 'T' junction with the left option taking you to Maitland and the Hunter Valley and our route continuing north after a right turn. Not long after this there is a tricky left turn to cross over the Hunter River and if you happen to miss the turn watch for the next place to do a U-turn as, if you don't, you will have to drive a fair way for the next opportunity to retrace your steps.
Although the road is often divided, it does pass right through Karuah (195km) with a delightful caravan park on the water's edge with what is claimed to be the longest, privately owned jetty in New South Wales. A nice little park on the left as you leave town is ideal for a rest stop.
Don't think you have had a nap and finished up in Central Australia when you see Ayers Rock on the right just north of Karuah - it's just a replica advertising a restaurant!
All the way along the drive north there are delightful and enticing places on the coast to temp you from your journey. They have intriguing names like Lemon Tree Passage, Hawks Nest, Blueys Beach, Green Point, Diamond Beach, Old Bar and Crowdy Head. There are a number of National Parks with camping areas along this coast just a reasonable drive from the main road.
The excellent Pacific Highway, although no longer a freeway, is wide and mostly divided in this area as it passes by the large, well-serviced city of Taree (318km) with it lovely grassed parkland on the banks of the broad Manning River ó a good spot for a lunch break. If you do turn off into the town, the road continues to re-join the highway a little further on.
Port Macquarie (398km) is just a few kilometres from the highway but is a centre worth some time. The Hastings River flows majestically past the town and a number of caravan parks are found along the bank. Needless to say, these parks are very popular with fishermen.
The turn off on to the Oxley Highway (Hwy 34) that heads through Wauchope and over the Great Dividing Range to link up with the New England Highway (Hwy 15) between Tamworth and Armidale is opposite the turn to Port Macquarie.
Another sizeable town as we travel north is Kempsey (453km) the commercial centre for the Macleay Valley and home of Akubra hats.
This is big river country and we travel alongside a number of beautiful, wide, sparkling rivers surrounded by lush, green vegetation including countless hectares of sugar cane.
These include the Nambucca River that makes it way into the Pacific Ocean at Nambucca Heads ó a short way off the highway.
Just after Urunga (538km) the Waterfall Highway (Hwy 78) heads inland over the mountains to Dorrigo and Armidale.
Bananas are starting to appear on the hillsides as we approach Coffs Harbour (566km) and after we pass through the town we come to the landmark tourist attraction ëBig Bananaí with its plantation tours and shop.
Popular caravan parks and resorts are found all along the highway as we pass through Woolgoolga (593km) with its outstanding Sikh Temple on the approach to the town, and head towards Grafton (647km). The town itself is found across the wide Clarence River via a narrow bridge and is famous for its Jacaranda Festival.
A worthwhile detour would take you off the main road to the town of Maclean with its strong Scottish heritage. A drive up to the lookout gives access to a broad panorama of the countryside right out to the Pacific Ocean. The road back to the highway runs alongside the wide Clarence River and a further detour would take you to its mouth ó either on the south side at Yamba or on the northern side at Iluka.
The Richmond is yet another of the mighty rivers we will see in this part of New South Wales as we continue past Broadwater (754km) to Ballina (779km). There is no longer a need to drive through the centre of the town unless you have time for shopping or sight-seeing as the highway skirts the business centre.
Just after Bangalow (804km) and just before the turn-off to Byron Bay we come to the brow of a hill with a wonderful vista spread before us. Fortunately a lookout complete with tables, seats and shade has been created and this is a great place for a break. An interesting alternative route is to head for the coast about 14km after Brunswick Heads and travel though the seaside resort towns of Pottsville, Hastings Point and Kingscliff.
After Murwillumbah (861km) we come to the twin towns of Tweed Heads and Coolangatta (893km) straddling the New South Wales/Queensland border and marking the beginning of the fabled Gold Coast.
If you want to avoid the bustle of the Gold Coast, the Pacific Highway continues a little inland through Nerang (932km) and Beenleigh (960km) right into the city of Brisbane. To head westwards you can turn off at the excellent Logan Motorway (a toll road) and for travellers wanting to go north, watch for the turn-off for the Gateway Bridge (also a toll facility).
Your Brisbane suburbs map will help you find your way to your destination and around the city if you plan to stay a few days.