NSW Ultimate Coastal Road Trip: Batemans Bay to Kingscliff
There’s never been a better time to explore the NSW coastline. Follow the beaches from south to north, finding foodie gems, delicious wine and wonderful wildlife.
Start: Batemans Bay, 2 nights
Start your adventure with a two-night stay at Lincoln Downs Resort. The coast-meets-country retreat is just eight minutes from the beach and set on 11 acres of gardens and private lakes, creating the perfect backdrop to enjoy your welcome bottle of wine and cheese platter.
On your day of departure, enjoy a complimentary breakfast before hitting the northbound Princes Hwy. After 2 hours or so, turn off the highway to find Jervis Bay, home of some of Australia’s whitest sand.
Stretch your legs with a wander along Hyams Beach, or take a longer break in Huskisson, where you can fish, sail or hop on a dolphin cruise. Where you stop next depends on your culinary preferences – seafood lovers should detour to Greenwell Point to Jim Wild’s Oyster Service, where local rock oysters are shucked while you wait. If you have a sweet tooth, stop at Berry’s Famous Donut Van – the doughy delights are dusted with cinnamon and sugar and fresh out of the fryer. After a quick swim at Werri Beach in Gerringong (weather permitting), it’s a straight shot to Sydney’s CBD.
Distance to Sydney: 280km, 4 hours
Stop 1: Sydney, 2 nights
Once you arrive in the heart of the CBD head straight to the Harbour Rocks Hotel. Don’t worry about finding a parking spot – the hotel has designated off-site parking so you can wander worry-free.
Settle in for two nights in the Heritage Room before spending the day admiring the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and other iconic landmarks. Stop for a pub lunch and a refreshing drink on the rooftop of The Glenmore Hotel, or check out the huge variety of restaurants and bars at Barangaroo Reserve.
There are over 100 beaches in Sydney alone, so you’d be remiss not to check at least one out. The next day, wander down to Circular Quay and hop on the iconic Manly Ferry. You’ll be able to admire the harbour from the sea, before disembarking and making your way to the shores of Manly Beach.
Stop for a coffee at Little Belgrave Cartel or Silo Espresso along the way – both deal in specialty brews. After refueling, hop back in the car and cross the Bridge – it’s time to head to your next stop.
Distance to the Entrance: 105km, 1.5 hours
Stop 2: The Entrance, 2 nights
As you head out of the city and make your way through lush greenery, consider stopping for some outdoor adventure in Glenworth Valley, one of Australia's largest horse riding centres. Weather permitting, head to one of the bustling beach towns — Avoca Beach, Terrigal or Ettalong Beach — for a swim and some lunch before continuing on to Tuggerah Lake and Pullman Magenta Shores.
The 52-acre resort has everything you need – a welcome drink on arrival, three swimming pools, an indulgent spa, a golf course and a beautiful restaurant. Should you wish to explore the town, the main street is just minutes away.
On your second day, hire bicycles from the Visitor Information Centre and follow the Tuggerah Lakes Cycleway for a gentle 12km ride between Chittaway Bay and Magenta (keep your eyes peeled for pelicans), or hit the championship golf course for 18 holes. The next morning, enjoy a complimentary breakfast before setting off – Nelson Bay is calling.
Distance to Nelson Bay: 110km, 1hr 40mins
Stop 3: Nelson Bay, 2 nights
On your way you'll pass the state’s second largest city, Newcastle. It is home to growing gourmet scene, so stop by Suspension or Good Brother Espresso for a carefully crafted cup of coffee, or Sprout Dining for lunch. After a post-lunch swim at Stockton Beach, it’s time to continue onto your next stop, Nelson Bay.
Drop your bags off at Mantra Nelson Bay before walking into town – you’ll find a host of restaurants and bars, as well as a range of beaches for an afternoon swim. Just up the road sits Port Stephens, where bottlenose dolphins are almost a permanent fixture. To increase your chances of seeing them, book onto one of the daily cruises.
One afternoon, pop by the award-winning Murray’s Brewery and Port Stephens winery for a brewery tour and wine tasting. After your second night, it’s time to continue north, with a two-hour drive to the green palms and blue waters of Blueys Beach.
Distance to Bluey's Beach: 140km, 1hr 45m
Stop 4: Bluey’s Beach, 3 nights
Blueys Retreat is your home away from home, offering boutique architect-designed villas that overlook spectacular native rainforest. Wander down to Blueys Beach (just a stone’s throw away), or head to the on-site tennis court with the complimentary racket and ball hire. Adventure lovers can take on the Booti Booti walk from Elizabeth Beach to Seven Mile Beach, taking in the spectacular views of the ocean along the way.
On your second day, venture to the nearby Seal Rocks to find Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse, where 180-degree views of the coastline await. Surfers can also explore Boomerang Beach, known for its spectacular waves.
On your final morning here, pack the car and make your way to your second last stop. Less than 90 minutes north of Bluey’s Beach sits Port Macquarie, a haven for animal lovers.
Distance to Port Macquarie: 135km, 1h 45m
Stop 5: Port Macquarie, 2 nights
In Port Macquarie you can visit furry friends at the Koala Hospital; get up close and personal with over 80 species of mammals, reptiles and birds at Billabong Zoo, or meander along the area’s golden sands on a camel. Foodies can visit a strawberry farm to pick the ripest produce or sample oysters direct from the estuaries. A collection of wineries and breweries are also on hand to make sure you never go thirsty!
When it comes to resting your head, you’ll be spoilt for choice – from boutique boltholes to larger resorts, there’s a spot for every type of traveller.
Up and at ‘em – today is the longest day of driving, but there is a lot more to explore. Leave Port Macquarie early to make your way to Coffs Harbour. Stop for a coffee at Old Johns before waving to the Big Banana on your way out of town. Rest for a late lunch just outside Byron Bay at Three Blue Ducks, popping down the road to pick up a six-pack of Stone and Wood beer from their brewery.
Distance to Kingscliff: 430km, 4h 45 min
Final Stop: Kingscliff, 3 nights
It’s onto the final stretch – finish your epic coastal adventure in Kingscliff, collapsing into one of the king-sized beds at Oaks Santai. The Balinese-inspired resort is in the heart of the Tweed Coast and is perfectly placed for you to explore the surrounding beaches.
Watersports are dime a dozen here, with the chance to go surfing, snorkeling, kayaking and fishing to your heart’s content. Go snorkelling with turtles less than 1km off Fingal Headland (with the Sports Guru) or go for a river cruise with Tweed Valley Cruises or Mount Warning Tours. The proximity to the water also means sensational seafood, served at restaurants like Fins, Taverna, Spice Den and Paper Daisy.
During your stay, be sure to stop in to see where Ink Gin is made at Husk Distillers and tour the 200-acre farm at Tropical Fruit World.
While regional NSW will welcome visitors with open arms from 1 June 2020, travellers must maintain physical distancing and good hygiene. Travellers from interstate will be able to visit NSW for a holiday but will need to comply with the rules of their home state when returning. Before embarking on a trip, travellers should call their planned accommodation venues,attractions and tourism operators to ensure they will be open and confirm bookings before travelling. Go to visitnsw.com for the latest travel advice.