Travelling up Australia’s east coast is one of the most quintessential and beautiful trips you can make.
And it’s hard to pick a better section, especially if you’re short on time, than the route from Coffs Harbour in New South Wales to Brisbane, the capital of Queensland.
From the fabulous wonders of Byron Bay to the excitement and entertainment of the Gold Coast, this stretch of stunning coastline captures it all and is a great way to grab a snapshot of some of Australia’s best bits.
I’ve made this road trip more than a few times myself, so here is my perfect travel itinerary from Coffs Harbour to Brisbane.
I’ve pitched it as a week, because this is easy to do, but have also included several side trips which are definitely worth taking if you’ve got the time.
So here goes …
- Brisbane to Cairns: The Perfect Itinerary
- Cairns to Darwin: Best 14 Day Itinerary
- The Ultimate Darwin to Broome Itinerary
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Day 1: Coffs Harbour
Starting in Coffs Harbour, take a stroll along the jetty foreshore and enjoy the marina views, while you take in the perfect setting of this cute little city.
Next, wander into town and treat yourself at one of the delightful cafes, before taking the requisite selfie with Coffs most famous attraction – the Big Banana!
In the afternoon, enjoy a short drive out of the city and through banana plantations to enjoy Sealy Lookout.
Free to enter and set within the beautiful Orara East State Forest, the sweeping views here are fantastic.
There’s also a number of sublime rainforest walks to enjoy which are a great way to explore Coffs excellent location between the forested green foothills and the sparkling ocean waters.
With an Extra Day
Head inland from Coffs to check out the gorgeous and slightly alternative town of Bellingen.
From here make your way to Dorrigo National Park and check out the Skywalk Lookout and Rainforest Centre.
If you still have some time, then the incredible Waterfall Way is one of the best scenic drives in Australia, taking you out through the windy hills to the New England tablelands area.
Discover pouring waterfalls, quiet country towns and incredible national parks.
Day 2: Yamba
The cute little seaside town of Yamba is well worth a stop for one night as you make your way north from Coffs Harbour to Brisbane.
A popular fishing spot and sleepy holiday village, relaxing and unwinding come top of the list here, ideally on a stretch of sand.
In fact, Yamba boasts 11 different beaches, so there’s plenty to choose from!
In addition, surfing, swimming, snorkelling, kite surfing or rock pooling opportunities should keep you busy enough!
5 ESSENTIAL PACKING ITEMS FOR AUSTRALIA
#1 Good Camera – You will be pretty much snapping non-stop in Australia and will need a good camera to do this gorgeous country justice. I highly recommend the Sony A6000, which I use for all my travels and love, not least because it’s light, compact and robust!
#2 Good Walking Shoes – There will be a lot of walking in Australia – from cities to national parks! Make sure your feet are comfortable therefore with a pair of New Balance Trainers. Perfect for stylish strolling, I love mine.
#3 Good Guidebook – I’m still a massive fan of the Lonely Planet Guidebooks and do think their Australia edition is well put together.
#4 Good Water Bottle – Travelling in hot old Australia can be thirsty work, so make sure you have a metal water bottle that you can refill as you go, because tap water is drinkable… and free!
#5 Good Sun Hat – And there’s no denying you’ll need a good sun hat for protection in Australia too. In my opinion you can’t go past this Hello Sunshine one, which is both gorgeous and ideal for keeping the rays off your face.
Day 3-4: Byron Bay
Once a sleepy hippy town, Byron Bay is now full of bustling, bohemian crew and plenty of backpackers looking to keep the party going.
As such, it is a must-see spot on your Coffs Harbour to Brisbane journey.
A small village, with a big city atmosphere, there’s plenty of delightful cafes, interesting shops, yummy restaurants and pubs with live music to keep you amused for at least a day or 2 in Byron.
On top of all this, the 2 beaches right by town, and a little further on at Suffolk Park, are delightful and spending some time here soaking up some rays or learning to surf is a must.
Don’t miss the fabulous boardwalk to the lighthouse and a chance to see the sun rise of Australia’s most eastern point.
You can also check out more ideas for free things to do in Byron Bay here.
With an Extra Day
The beauty around Byron Bay is also hard to beat so, with an extra day up your sleeve as you travel from Coffs Harbour to Brisbane, my advice would be to spend it in the Byron hinterland.
Here, the great little towns of Bangalow and Nimbin are worth exploring and a trip to Minyon Falls in Nightcap National Park is an absolute must.
Day 5-6: Gold Coast
The Gold Coast area is all about letting your hair down and having fun, so be it cocktails by the pool, dancing all night or taking your chances at the casino, this is the place to indulge as you make your way from Coffs harbour to Brisbane.
Surfers Paradise is the capital of the area and here there’s a huge selection of restaurants, as well as shops, theme parks and adrenaline sports like indoor skydiving or extreme jet boating to keep you amused.
Then, of course, there’s the surfing to enjoy, the stand-up paddle boarding and the beach walking.
If you rather enjoy somewhere a bit quieter, then maybe give Surfers Paradise a miss and head to Burleigh Heads instead.
The beautiful national park here, stunning beach and great café atmosphere makes it one of the cutest enclaves to on the Gold Coast to check out.
Stay: BUNK Surfers Paradise
With an Extra Day
Head out into the more rural areas behind the Gold Coast to explore stunning subtropical rainforests.
Tallebudgera Creek is a popular kayaking spot and the gorgeous area of Mount Tamborine and its neighbouring village makes for the perfect day trip for hiking or gallery shopping.
Day 7-8: Brisbane
The final leg of your journey from Coffs Harbour to Brisbane will see you land in the Queensland capital in only a few hours.
This fantastic city is fairly small on a world scale, with just over 2 million people, but there is an amazing amount to see and do here.
Along with a large number of galleries, museums, exhibitions spaces and theatres on South Bank, this area of Brisbane is also home to the epic Street Beach, where you can enjoy a swim and the sun beneath views of the city’s glittering skyscrapers.
Brisbane also has a burgeoning music scene, centred around Fortitude Valley.
Wander down here to check out some great craft beers and eclectic food menus, as well as Sunday markets and Chinatown.
Otherwise, in the centre of town, the Botanic Gardens make for a wonderful respite and delightful stroll.
Take the City Cat here and enjoy cruising up the river feeling the wind in your hair!
Stay: Brisbane YHA
With an Extra Day
There’s a delightful array of different suburbs in Brisbane offering some great world cuisine and wonderfully tucked away markets.
West End, a rather more eclectic and alternative place is full of quirky cafes and characters.
Otherwise, head to Bulimba or New Farm instead.
Or try your hand at abseiling at Kangaroo Point.
This 20m high cliff will certainly give you the best views of Brisbane … if you can bear to look at it that is!
PIN IT TO PINTEREST!
So that’s my perfect travel itinerary from Coffs Harbour to Brisbane.
Have you visited this part of Australia’s east coast?
What was your favourite spot and what did you enjoy doing there?
If you’re continuing your journey north from Brisbane, then why not check out my Awesome 20 Day Road Trip Itinerary from Brisbane to Cairns.