Clocking in at just over eight-and-a-half hours, the road trip from Sydney to Byron Bay isn’t exactly a leisurely Sunday drive. It is, however, home to some of the most stunning scenery on the east coast. We’ve pulled together an itinerary of the best pit stops en route.
The Butcher's Block
15 Redleaf Ave, Wahroonga, NSW
You’ve got quite a trip ahead of you, so pick up breakfast before you leave the city limits. Wahroonga locals swear by the pesto eggs, plus it’s only two minutes from the highway.
One Penny Black
196 Hunter Street, Newcastle, NSW
This Newcastle cafe would feel right at home in Sydney’s inner west. There’s filter and cold-drip coffee, plus great sandwiches if you want to grab something for the road.
Shop 17, 200–212 Hunter Street, Newcastle, NSW
A Newcastle institution, Doughheads serves some of the best doughnuts on the east coast. Get in early though, they often sell out before noon.
Shortland Esplanade, Newcastle East, NSW
If you’re keen to really pace yourself, check out the baths in town. The ocean pools are perfect if you need a pick-me-up after the early start.
Just outside Newcastle, this area is a favourite for Sydney stylists, who scour the town’s famed vintage street for props. Despite its popularity, there's still a bargain or two to be found.
Ambleside Antiques Cottage
108 Maitland Road, Islington, NSW
The owner, Gayle Williams, will help you find what you’re looking for, including working film cameras.
Auld and Grey
92 Maitland Road, Islington, NSW
Less antiques and more mid-century vintage and industrial. This place also takes a decidedly modern approach to promotion, with a follow-worthy Instagram account.
Yardsale Trading Co.
94 Maitland Road, Islington, NSW
Worth a stop if you’ve forgotten anything camping related for Bluesfest – sleeping bag, flask etc.
The Salty Dog Seafood Cafe and Gallery
25 Bengal Street, Coolongolook, NSW
You don’t even need to get off the highway to get freshly caught fish for lunch. Grab a table out on the grass area and enjoy seafood straight from the bay nearby.
Ringed by state forest, lush Bellingen feels almost tropical. The abundant local produce fills the area’s many great cafes and restaurants.
Bellingen Artist Retreat
Not an artist? Not to worry. This quiet farmhouse, set on 25 acres just outside of town, sleeps four people and can be rented even by those without an artistic bone in their body.
You also get private access to Never Never Creek.
The Federal Hotel
77 Hyde Street Bellingen
This Bellingen local has the look and feel of many pubs around the country but the food is on another level. The offering is pretty standard pub fare – lamb cutlets with mash, for example – but you’ll certainly taste the difference.
58–60 Hyde St, Bellingen NSW
A great place to pick up snacks for the road, with a bonus smoothie and juice bar.
5 Church Street Bellingen, NSW
Right near the Bellinger River, this sprawling cafe is definitely the best breakfast spot in town. You can’t go past the bagel with smoked ham, tomato and cream cheese.
Bellopy Organic Market
Bellingen Showgrounds, Black Street, Bellingen, NSW
This small market runs on the first, third and fifth Friday of each month. A lot of locals turn up to sell fruit and vegetables straight from their farms. Keep an eye out for the champagne watermelon with its distinctive golden flesh.
The Big Banana
351 Pacific Highway, Coffs Harbour, NSW
Go big or go home. Get that touristy photo you’ve always wanted in front of the iconic Big Banana. On a practical note, if you haven't booked anywhere to stay, there’s a whole road of motels nearby.
Ulmarra Commercial Hotel
2 Coldstream Street, Ulmarra, between Ballina and Grafton, NSW
Just past Grafton, you’ll find Ulmarra, home to one of the most scenic beer gardens in New South Wales. The hotel overlooks the Clarence River and serves a solid coffee.
7/23 Jonson Street, Byron Bay NSW
There’s no shortage of choices for a light lunch in Byron, but Kinoko does standout tempura veggies.
Bay Street, Byron Bay, NSW
Comfortable rooms overlooking Byron’s main beach, plus there’s pool. The hotel is also home to Top Pub – a local favourite and the only place in town you can have a beer and watch sunset over the main beach.
2 Jonson Street, Byron Bay, NSW
One of the most popular restaurants in Byron, there will be a bit of a wait but the food is certainly worth it. The crispy fish tacos and chipotle chicken nachos are a must.
It’s worth making the drive over early for Wategos because this side of the point gets sunrise first. This popular beach can get pretty busy during the day, but in the morning you’re likely to be sharing the waves with just a couple of surfers.
Cape Byron Lighthouse
1 Lighthouse Road, Byron Bay NSW
There’s a bit of a hike to get to the lighthouse, but you can drive some of the way. Once you get to the top, make sure you take in the view from Clarkes Beach lookout.
18 Old Pacific Highway, Newrybar Village, NSW
Twenty minutes outside of Byron on the Old Pacific Highway, the much-acclaimed Harvest is a destination in itself. Set in an old Queenslander, there’s a bakery and produce store, as well as the cafe. Come coffee time, forget about soy or almond, and get your flat white with the house-made coconut milk.
Spell and the Gypsy Collective
1/1 Marvell Street, Byron Bay, NSW
A Byron institution, worth a stop if you think the clothes you’ve packed might not be festival-ready. Definitely with a hippie aesthetic, the label is known for it’s flares, jumpsuits and kimonos.
Naked Treaties Raw Bar
2/3 Marvell Street, Byron Bay NSW
Serving raw cakes and superfood smoothies with names such as “I Radiate Health” and “I am Love”, a stop here will help get you into the right frame of mind.
6/142 Bangalow Road, Byron Bay
Keep an eye out for this place if you come into town via Bangelow Road, right near the Bluesfest ticket office. The Indian-influenced menu has a standout curry and good kombucha.