North Coast NSW Road Trip
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North Coast NSW is one of my favourite areas in Australia. It’s lush, hilly, filled with ancient rainforests, magnificent views, stunning coastline and beaches, and alternative lifestyles.
It’s where my soul comes to breathe and just be.
Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast
The best way to take in all the beauty and serenity of this region is on a NSW road trip from Lennox Head to the Gold Coast.
It passes through the hinterland and also vast stretches of coast, as well as stops through sleepy towns where you can kick off your shoes and let your worries slip away.
There are so many beautiful places to enjoy on this drive, that we felt it was only right to share them with you. In this guide, we’ll be sharing the ultimate New South Wales road trip itinerary from Lennox Head to Gold Coast and all the top spots to check out along the way.
Go take a look!
What Is the Drive from Lennox Head to Gold Coast?
The Lennox Head to Gold Coast road trip is a scenic drive that takes you along the coast of New South Wales, Australia. The whole drive takes only an hour and 30 minutes, but you will want to stop off at several locations along the way.
We recommend you start from Lennox Head and head north towards the Gold Coast, but you can easily reverse this itinerary and drive the other way, extending the trip on to Yamba, South West Rocks and even on to Sydney.
How Long Do You Need For a North Coast NSW Road Trip?
How long you spend doing this road trip will largely depend on how much time you have available, as some stops can be skipped if you’re short on time.
However, if time is at your disposal, we recommend you spend at least 3-4 days to a week driving from Lennox Head to Gold Coast.
If you have longer, then you can easily use it. It’s worth spending a day or two at each destination we mention in the below itinerary so you can really explore the area, although we don’t recommend anywhere that you could would need to spend over a week at.
NSW Road Trip Itinerary
Now you know how long to set aside for your trip, it’s time to show you a few of our favourite spots on the North Coast of NSW to include in your Lennox Head to Gold Coast road trip.
We’ve incorporated places to stay at each stop on the trip. But you can easily base yourself in central Byron Bay area and explore from there if you did not want to move around too much.
Stop 1: Lennox Head
The first stop is of course, Lennox Head. You could easily spend a day or two enjoying this town and all it has to offer before heading out on the road trip.
If you’re a keen surfer, the long right-hand break at Lennox is pretty famous. Rumour has it Jack Johnson and Ben Harper like to surf here!
After a day out on the waves, drive up to the headland to the Port Morton Lookout for some stunning views back down the Lennox Coastline and Seven Mile Beach.
Cliff top walk to Boulders Beach
Take the stairs at the top and turn right. Follow the track through the farmland and along the cliffs top and you’ll be met with stunning views – it’s a stunning and peaceful walk.
If you enjoy a peaceful and scenic walk, you can walk all the way around to Skennars Head, we made it just to Boulders Beach.
Where to stay in Lennox Head
Stop 2: Broken Head
Broken Head is only a 10-minute drive from Lennox Head, which makes it the perfect place to camp if you want a holiday focused on relaxing on the beach.
There are several really beautiful and secluded beaches near Broken Head, such as Whites Beach and Brays Beach, which are accessible via a dirt track and require a bit of hiking to get to.
For that reason, not many people go there, which means you can (most likely) have the beach to yourself!
You should aim to spend a day or so in Broken Head and explore all the beautiful beaches in the area.
It’s only about 7kms from Byron Bay, so if you don’t want to hang around at the beaches you can continue on. It also means you can stay in Byron Bay and have a bit of vibrancy, but there isn’t much else to do at Broken Head but chill out at the pretty beach areas.
Where to stay in Broken Head
Broken Head Holiday Park has air-conditioned guest accommodations a few steps from Broken Head Beach and 1.8 miles from Tallow Beach
A Perfect Stay – Tidemark is a self-catered vacation home with a private pool and garden only a 3-minute walk from Broken Head Beach.
Stop 3: Tallows Beach
The mighty Tallows
I love watching the surf at Tallows Beach from the Byron Bay Lighthouse. Tallows is a huge stretch of white sand and thunderous surf at the northern end of Seven Mile Beach.
We actually watched a surfer rescued by Jet Ski who was caught in a rip and taken way out around the lighthouse headland.
It’s the surfing place for those who know what they are doing. If you don’t, just get a cold bevvy and sit back and watch like we did.
Where to stay near Tallows Beach
You can’t go past this luxurious escape. Iluka Pavilion 5 is nestled among rainforest tea trees and features direct access to Tallow Beach. The villa offers 2 large luxurious bedrooms, 1 smaller bedroom, 3 bathrooms and a central living/lounge area separated in the center of the villa complex. The house is decorated with aboriginal art and textiles. See rates and availability here.
Stop 4: Byron Bay Lighthouse
Byron Bay Lighthouse at sunset
Sunset is the time to visit the Byron lighthouse. It sit on top of a cliff looking over the ocean, which if you visit during June to November, is usually filled with dolphins and humpback whales on their annual migration. It’s the perfect spot for whale watching from the shore.
Here’s a tip – don’t park in the lighthouse car park. They close it right on sunset, so you miss the afterglow of colours. Park just below, or walk up from Wategos Beach.
The lighthouse is good at any time to visit, but sunset is especially beautiful.
Views on the Byron Lighthouse walk
We also highly recommend walking from Byron Bay to the lighthouse. It’s only a short 3.7 km loop, but the views are beautiful and it’s easy to do – we’ve done it twice with the kids.
(Just bribe them with an ice-cream at the Lighthouse Cafe.)
Stop 5: Byron Bay
I could easily never leave Byron. It’s one of the most iconic destinations in Australia, and for good reason.
It has this wonderful Asian feel to the energy and lifestyle – it’s eclectic, alternative, accepting and slow pace. There’s also a bit of an “up-market vibe” if that’s what you like.
It’s on a crystal bed AND has been a sacred healing ground for over 20,000 years. It has always been a place for ceremony, dancing circles, birthing rituals and spiritual respite and dreaming.
Sunset at Byron Bay Beach
Can you see the effect this place has on people then?
We love Byron, as you can see from the many guides we have on Bryon Bay, so for now all we recommend you do is enjoy the beach lifestyle, try out some of the amazing cafes, do a little shopping, and soak up every magnificent sunset on the beach.
We recommend you stay at least 3 days enjoying all the attractions that Byron has to offer. Check out these top Byron Bay beaches and things to do with kids in Byron Bay.
Where to stay in Byron Bay
Victoria at Wategos offers accommodation with views over the garden, outdoor pool or Cape Byron Lighthouse. Providing surfing amenities, it is just 350 feet from Wategos Beach in Byron Bay. Read more reviews and book your stay here.
Elements of Byron Nestled on 50 acres of absolute beachfront, Elements Of Byron Resort & Spa features private villas with exclusive beachfront and a lagoon pool. Read more reviews and book your stay here.
Beach Hotel Resort Just 150 feet from Byron Bay’s Main Beach and surrounded by lush tropical gardens, this resort offers free WiFi, a luxurious swimming pool and a hot tub Read more reviews and book your stay here.
We’ve camped at Reflections Holiday Park before. While small, it has an unbeatable location righ ton Clarkes Beach.
Stop 6: Belongil Beach
Credit: Destination NSW
The next beach from Byron is Belongil, which we only discovered on the day we left. We got a hot tip from a local who said stop for breakfast at Belongil Bistro.
In all honesty, there’s not much here in this charming one street village, which is all the more reason to soak up the serenity.
This is a quick coffee or breakfast stop on the way to the next destination on this NSW road trip, which is somewhere you’re going to want to give plenty of time…
Where to stay in Belongil Beach
You could have a quieter experience staying at Belongil Beach rather than Byron. They are quite close to each other.
3 Salty Sisters is a 3-bedroom vacation home with a balcony and pretty garden. It’s only a 2-minute walk from Belongil Beach.
Swell Byron Bay is opposite Belongil Beach and has beachfront accommodations with swimming pool and gardens.
The stunning 4-bedroom vacation home, Belongil Beachfront Pavilion is only steps away from Belongil Beach.
Stop 7: The Byron Bay Hinterland
Take a detour into the sub-tropical hinterland in the Northern Rivers, where you’ll find rolling hills, pristine rainforest, secluded waterfalls and spectacular views.
The Byron Bay hinterland a stunning area to visit. It’s a huge area of 12,406 km² and is well known for its stunning natural beauty, making it the perfect place to do some hiking or soak up the energy of the rainforests and waterfalls.
Our top tips are head to the Crystal Castle at Mullumbimby where you’ll get beautiful views, awesome food, and some crystal healing.
Tell me you don’t walk out of here feeling calm and happy…
Also visit Bangalow, a small town outside Byron Bay for lunch, or when the Sunday market is on (fourth Sunday of every month).
Stop 8: Cabarita Beach
Cabarita is a place I want to return to explore more. We only stopped in on a short morning drive but we could see it had so much more to offer.
The Cudgen Nature Reserve is one of the top attractions in Cabarita (aside from the beach of course) and is the perfect place to take a kayak or canoe out onto the lake.
The surf here was amazing and there is a lovely short walk to Norries Headland for spectacular views of Diamond Beach.
Cabarita is a 40-minute drive from Byron Bay, passing through Brunswick Heads (a place you should stop for a day if you have extra time to use) and Hastings Point.
Where to stay in Cabarita Beach
I would probably stay in Kingscliff and visit Cabarita from there.
Stop 9: Salt Beach, Kingscliff
Sunrise at Salt
Salt Beach is only an 8-minute drive from Cabarita.
We love Salt Beach and always stay at the Mantra when we visit. We could easily spend a couple of weeks relaxing here. The sunrises are some of the best I’ve seen.
We definitely recommend walking from Salt Beach around to Kingscliff through the bush track and around the creek. It only took us 40 minutes with the girls.
Stop 10: Kingscliff
Kingscliff is another sleepy town that you could find yourself kicking back in for a while. It has only one main street, but you wouldn’t think it because there’s quite a vibrant atmosphere here.
As all beaches along the East Coast, Kingscliff attracts a surfer crowd, and is a great place to do some watersports such as kayaking, snorkelling or scuba diving.
Cudgen Creek is the highlight of this lovely small town close to the border.
The water is crystal clear and perfect for stand up paddle boarding, kayaking and swimming, especially for families. You’ll find there are so many things to do in Kingscliff, you’ll want to stay for a couple of days.
Where to stay in Kingscliff
If you didn’t want to stay at the Mantra on Salt, here are some other places in Kingscliff.
Stop 11: Fingal Head
Fingall Head is only a 15-minute drive from Kingscliff and is the perfect stop off point on the way to the Gold Coast.
There’s a short walk-through remnant coastal rainforest to the headland and lighthouse in Fingal. Here you’ll find some great views of Fingal Beach and Dreamtime Beach.
You can also take a river cruise along the Tweed River, or take a boat tour over to Cook Island to snorkel with turtles.
After a day at Fingal Beach, you’re crossing over the border into Queensland.
Where to stay in Fingal Head
The Seaside Holiday Resort is located opposite Fingal Beach, and features a children’s playground, BBQ facilities, and a picnic area. They have self-contained apartments with a private patio.
Stop 12: The Gold Coast
The last stop is the Gold Coast. It’s famous for its long, sandy beaches, epic surf and the Lamington National Park, which is home to mountains, valleys, rainforest and plenty of wildlife.
It’s also the theme park capital of Australia, so if you’re travelling with kids, you had better make sure to stop off at Wet ‘n’ Wild or DreamWorld!
There are so many things to do in the Gold Coast for families, you could easily spend a full week here at the end of your trip. But if you’re not blessed with time, we recommend staying at least 3 days. Here is our 48-hour itinerary for the Gold Coast and here are some top free things to do on the Gold Coast.
Where to stay on the Gold Coast
We recommend staying in the southern part of the Gold Coast (or even the hinterland) instead of the Surfers Paradise region.
How to Extend this NSW Road Trip
Wategos Beach, seen from the coastal lighthouse walk
If you have more time at your disposal and want to see more of New South Wales, you could turn this itinerary on it’s head and drive from the Gold Coast to Sydney.
To drive from the Gold Coast to Sydney, we would say you need to allocate 2 weeks (including the stops to Lennox Head above).
The entire drive is 526 mi (847 km), which takes 8 hrs and 21 mins. You could easily skip some places and keep going if time is of the essence, or stop and spend longer.
Here are the stops we recommend you stop off at for a day or two:
If you want to extend it even further, head down towards Royal National Park and take the Grand Pacific Highway past Sea Cliff Bridge, Wollongong, Kiama Blowhole, and the Shoalhaven.
NSW Road Trip Map
To help you navigate this itinerary, see the below map which has routes for Lennox Head to the Gold Coast, plus an additional route which extends from Lennox Head down towards Sydney.
Final Thoughts on This NSW Road Trip
Whites Beach, Byron Bay. Credit: Destination NSW
We love this route from Lennox Head to the Gold Coast, it has everything you could possibly want and more.
Beaches? Check, Check!
Serenity? Check, check and check!
We hope this guide helped you plan your route and gave you some ideas for what to see and do. The North Coast NSW region is spectacular and deserves a devotion of your time exploring!
What places do you recommend seeing on this North Coast NSW road trip? Let us know in the comments.