Sydney to Brisbane Road Trip | Things to do with Kids Along the Way!

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Taking a road-trip with your kids can be a bit daunting. But it really doesn’t have to be. Teaching your children that the journey is often better than the destination is an important life lesson. And what better way to teach it than by taking a road trip from Sydney, NSW to Brisbane.

While vivid imagery may pop to mind of your kids feeling restless, and the endless drones of “are we nearly there yet” piercing your ears – this is not what road trips are all about. But, make sure you drive safely.

On the drive to Brisbane from Sydney, there are countless family adventures to be had. This is, in fact, one of the most beautiful road trips in Australia. Stopping off to take in a site or indulge in a fun activity takes the monotony out of driving for hours, and makes it a pleasant experience for all.

As a parent, you know that creating an incredible experience for your kids is all about being prepared. So here’s everything you need to know about your upcoming escapade.

Sydney to Brisbane drive time 

The time it takes to drive from Sydney to Brisbane by car is highly dependent on how often and for how long you stop along the way. The Brisbane to Sydney distance is around 915km.  If you’re looking to drive there without any stops, it would take you just over 10 hours – but we don’t recommend this.

Take your time to have fun along the way, preferably stopping over at a few places to spend the night. This will increase your Sydney to Brisbane driving time, but turn it into an enjoyable experience for the whole family, rather than a chore.

Sydney to Brisbane road trip map

With Google Maps on hand, it’s easy to forget that forward planning for a drive isn’t completely a thing of the past. Be sure to plan out your route in advance. This way you’ll know the activities that lie ahead, and you’ll be able to better plan out meal times and the best viewing locations. You are, after all, driving along a gorgeous road with ocean views.

Here’s a map of the Sydney to Brisbane drive so you can get a better understanding of where exactly you’re headed.


The above is a map of the most basic route from Sydney to Brisbane. 

Sydney to Brisbane road trip itinerary

If you’re going to make the absolute most of your road trip from Sydney to Brisbane, you’ll need to fill your itinerary with some exciting things to do. If done right, these things should not only provide entertainment for the kids but for the adults too. 

Taking the Pacific Coastal route will ensure that you see magnificent views along the way. There are also plenty of great spots to stop off as you drive. Here’s what you should be getting up to with your family along the way.

Avoca Beach

Avoca Beach is just a 90-minute drive from Sydney. There isn’t an abundance of things to do in the area, but it’s a great stop-off point to catch a breath of fresh air. 

Check out a local waterpark

There are so many waterparks in Sydney, and you can see them all on our list here.

Stretch Your Legs at North Avoca Beach

Let the whole family stretch their legs as you all walk along the yellow sands. Prepare to take in the picturesque surroundings and the gentle sound of waves breaking along the shoreline. If you’re passing through on a Sunday, take a stroll around their local market which takes place along the beachfront.

Lake Macquarie

Lake Macquarie lies just a 1 hour and 40-minute drive outside of Sydney and is the country’s largest coastal saltwater lagoon. It’s a very impressive size, covering an area of 68.3 square miles.

We highly recommend choosing this area to stay the night as there’ll be plenty of activities to keep you busy during the day. 

Find Hidden Gems at Caves Beach

While in the area, it’s imperative that you visit at least one of the gorgeous beaches in Lake Macquarie. Caves Beach, as the name suggests, features a series of sea caves, rock pools, and absolutely stunning views. If your kids are a little older, it’s also a great place for them to try their hand at surfing.

Enjoy Watersports on the Lake

You can spend the day on the water, taking part in all the water sporting fun there is to be had. Think jet-skiing, kayaking, speed-boat riding, and paddle-boarding. It’ll bring out the adventurous side of any family.

If you’re in the mood to treat your family to an experience of a lifetime, why not take them on a helicopter ride over Lake Macquarie? 


Stunning view at a beach in Newcastle

Newcastle is just shy of a 40-minute drive from Lake Macquarie. With so much to do in this underrated town, your family will more than likely want to splurge a little and spend an extra night. It means keeping the driving for the day to an absolute minimum, which we’re sure the kids will appreciate. 

Walk Along Newcastle Esplanade

The beaches are absolutely stunning and the whole town boasts an artistic atmosphere. This gives it a rather unique edge. Take your family for a stroll along the Esplanade in the early evening to catch the sunset from the clifftop.Spend time exploring the harbor and interesting storefronts, and dine at one of the local restaurants to get a taste of the Newcastle cooking flare. 

Explore the Newcastle Museum

Take the kids to the Newcastle Museum; the town is one of Australia’s first settlements which means it has a long and fascinating history.

FIND OUT MORE: Check out the Australian Reptile Park on your way up from Sydney!

STAY: Stay at the Blue Wren Lodge, or Serenity by the Sea.

EXPLORE: Check out Hogs Breath Newcastle for some hog-tastic food.

Nelson Bay

Nelson Bay is another unmissable stop on your Sydney to Brisbane trip itinerary. It’s just a 55-minute drive from Newcastle and is the perfect place to explore with your family. 

See Dolphins at Dutchmans Beach

It’s known as one of the best spots along the coast to see dolphins in the wild. So sticking to the beaches with your eyes glued to the water is a great idea, or simply take a dolphin discovery cruise.

Hike in Tomaree National Park

Visiting Tomaree National Park is also a must while you’re in the area. Take your family on a 1.5-hour hike to the Tomaree summit for picturesque views of Port Stephens and the surrounding coastline.

Go Sandboarding Stockton Sand Dunes

Just a 30-minute drive away you can enjoy a thrilling sandboarding experience on the Stockton Sand Dunes. You’ll get unlimited rides down the dune, which is sure to tire everyone out. It’s also a great place to get a few pictures of the adventure you’re having with your family.

FIND OUT MORE: Check out these dog friendly camping spots on your way up from Sydney!

STAY: Stay at the Hotel Nelson, or Anchorage Port Stephens.

EXPLORE: Check out Hogs Breath Nelson Bay for some hog-tastic food.

Hunter Valley 

Hunter Valley is slightly further inland, just a 1-hour and 50-minute drive from Newcastle, and is known for being a great wine region. But there’s more to do than just wine-tasting for the parents. 

Picnic Amongst the Vines

Enjoy a picnic with beautiful views over the vineyards, or indulge in a gourmet food experience if your kids have refined palates.

Take a Scenic Hot-Air Balloon Ride

If you arrive in Hunter Valley in the early morning, take the kids for an epic sunrise balloon flight. Watching the sunrise over the vineyards from a unique, elevated viewpoint is not an experience they’ll soon forget. It also acts as the perfect start to your day.

STAY: Stay at the The Remington Muswellbrook, or Leogate Estate Villas.

EXPLORE: Check out the best day trips from Sydney for families.

Myall Lakes National Park

Myall Lakes National Park is just over a 2-hour drive from Hunter Valley. It’s an absolutely stunning setting, and should you decide to stay over, it offers accommodation that’s a little more adventurous than the rest.

Have a Camping Adventure

Why not camp out for the night, and teach your kids how to ‘rough it’? There’s plenty of outdoor fun to be had during the day. Kayaking on the water, walking through the wilderness, and fishing off the jetty are all activities your adventure-loving kids will enjoy.

Port Macquarie

The sun setting behind Port Macquarie lighthouse

Port Macquarie is a 2-hour drive from Myall National Park, known for its wildlife, scenic coastal views, and its Bago Vineyard Maze. With stunning beaches wrapped in rainforests, there’s no better place to go on a photo-taking exploration.

Learn About the Animals at Billabong Zoo

If your kids love animals, then a visit to the Billabong Zoo is not only informative; you’ll get to meet some of the zoo’s permanent residents. 

Give Back at the Koala Hospital

Teach your kids how to give back by adopting a koala at the Koala Hospital. Not to take home of course, but to help with the costs of looking after these wonderful creatures.

STAY: Stay at the Waters Edge Port Macquarie, or Rydges Hotel Port Macquarie.

EXPLORE: Check out Hogs Breath Port Macquarie for some hog-tastic food.

Nambucca Heads

Nambucca Heads is just an hour’s drive from Port Macquarie and is a small town situated where the Nambucca River connects to the sea. The main reason you should stop off in Nambucca Heads is for the incredible views.

Spot Whales from Captain Cooks Lookout

Head to Captain Cook’s Lookout which is set on a high-ridge, making it the perfect vantage point for whale watching (if you’re there during the whale-watching season). However, if there aren’t whales passing by, it’s still worth the visit. You’ll see an array of gorgeous beaches that are all worth exploring. 

Have a Swim at Shelly Beach

After taking in the views, take a drive to Shelly Beach where your kids can investigate the tidal pools and cool off from the heat.

STAY: Stay at the The Beach Rooms, or Marcel Towers Holiday Apartments.

EXPLORE: Check out dog friendly camping places in NSW!

Coffs Harbor

Just half an hour to the North of Nambucca Heads you’ll come to Coffs Harbor. A popular holiday destination for many of the locals and just a short visit will make you realize why.

Get Your Heart Racing at Big Banana Fun Park

It’s home to the Big Banana Fun Park which contains a variety of fun activities. Toboggan rides, ice-skating, mini-golf, laser tag, and water slides will keep your family occupied all day long. For this reason, we recommend staying an extra night in Coffs Harbor.

Interact with Marine Wildlife at the Dolphin Marine Conservation Park

Dolphin Marine Conservation Park is another attraction your kids will love. They give children of all ages the opportunity to interact with marine wildlife and learn about the conservation of these creatures.

STAY: Stay at the Country 2 Coast Motor Inn Coffs Harbour, or Quality Hotel City Centre.

EXPLORE: Check out Hogs Breath Coffs Harbour for some hog-tastic food.


Early morning views at the Yamba Ocean Pools

Yamba is a sleepy fisherman’s town just an hour and 40-minute drive from Coffs Harbor. It has a laid-back atmosphere that makes you feel like there’s no need to rush, which is just what you need on a road trip.

Spend the Day at Yamba Beach

Quaint beaches and alcoves are the perfect places to relax for the day. Or pick up a surfboard and hang ten to fit in with the locals. 

Take a Dip in the Natural Pools

If you’re not up for a surf but still want to hop in the water, visit Angourie Pools. These are natural rock pools with a beautiful picnic area and a cliff jump for the adrenaline junkies.

STAY: Stay at the Yamba Central, or Pacific Hotel Yamba.

EXPLORE: Check out the Leche Cafe Yamba for some delicious food and coffee.

Byron Bay

Byron Bay is just an hour and 40 minutes from Yamba and is probably the most well-known destination on your Sydney to Brisbane drive. It has an incredibly laid-back atmosphere, and everywhere you go you’ll find boutiques, restaurants, and organic food stores, while surrounded by serene beaches. Some people just do a Sydney to Byron Bat road trip and call it a day once they get here!

Be Guided by a Local

One of the best ways to experience this beachside town is to have a local surfer give you a guided tour. You can spend the first hour of your morning learning to surf, before heading for a bite to eat. Spend the rest of the day lounging on the beaches, taking walks through the town and swimming in the tidal pools.

Wander Around a Shambhala Garden

Be sure to head to the Crystal Castle while you’re in the area. It’s a private Shambhala Garden containing a variety of sculptures, fossils, and crystals. It also contains the largest stone Blessing Buddha in the country. 

STAY: Stay at the Lord Byron, or Waves Byron Bay.

EXPLORE: Check out Hogs Breath Byron Bay for some hog-tastic food.


Kingscliff is under an hour’s drive from Byron Bay, and a great stop-off point along the Gold Coast. There’s only one main street in the town, but it’s filled with cute cafes and restaurants serving tasty food. Almost all essentials are within walking distance, so if you decide to stay the night, you’ll be giving your car a much-needed rest.

Cool-Off in Cudgen Creek

Cudgen Creek is popular for adults who are wanting to paddle-board while their kids swim. The shallow, still waters, along with the playground close to the water is what draws families from around the area. 

Stroll Along the Walkway

There’s a lovely walkway that runs from Salt Beach all the way to Kingscliff Beach. It’s shrouded in luscious greenery and takes around 40 minutes to walk. If you’re wanting to take in the scenery but make it a shorter excursion, then cycling the pathway is also a breeze. 

STAY: Stay at the Mantra on Salt Beach, or Oaks Casuarina Santai Resort.

EXPLORE: Check out the Salt Bar Kingscliff for a stellar Beach Bar and Bistro.


The Brisbane River at sunset

From Kingscliff, Brisbane is just an hour and twenty-minutes drive away. Once in Brisbane, you’ll have reached your destination safely. Settle in for a meal at the Victoria Park Bistro after a long road trip.

Tour Your Beautiful Destination

Be sure to take an exciting tour of the city, or give your kids memories that’ll last a lifetime with an adventurous guided tour up Story Bridge.

FIND OUT MORE: Check out these fun things to do in Southbank Brisbane with kids!

STAY: Stay at the Meriton Suites Adelaide Street, or Royal On The Park.

EXPLORE: Check out this list of the best water parks in Brisbane for a splashing good time!

Sydney to Brisbane Road Trip

Taking a road trip from Sydney to Brisbane is something your kids will never forget, especially if they’re having a whole lot of fun along the way. Be sure to plan your route beforehand, and then sit back and take in the gorgeous coastal views along the way.

There are not many drives that are quite as beautiful as the road from Sydney to Brisbane. We’re quite sure your family will feel the same.

Here are our other wonderful road trip articles you can check out!

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Rain Voicu

Growing up bilingual, Rain has had the privilege of living in more than three countries. Reading novels of far away fantasy worlds where fairies and princesses teamed up with soldiers and talking horses at a young age has inspired Rain to work towards one day getting a job in the editing industry. They hope to further study writing at University after graduating. Rain loves animals and is our resident animal expert.

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