Ultimate Sydney to Brisbane Road Trip Itinerary

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A classic east coast driving itinerary, the Sydney to Brisbane drive is packed full of fantastic stops and beautiful scenery.

Follow the highway north as you travel from New South Wales to Queensland, making the epic journey between two of Australia’s most iconic cities.

This great road trip takes you along the coast. Departing Sydney, you’ll call in at small towns and legendary beaches – from Coffs Harbor to Byron Bay.

You can surf, hike, and enjoy the drive as you travel over 500 miles to Brisbane.

To inspire your next east coast adventure, here’s our guide to planning a Sydney to Brisbane road trip!

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Australia (Travel Guide)

Sydney to Brisbane Drive: Ultimate Road Trip Guide

How Long is a Sydney to Brisbane Road Trip?

Campervan with a sunset while driving from Sydney to Brisbane.

The quickest route from Sydney to Brisbane is just over 500 miles from city to city.

This takes you directly north, mostly sticking to the highway that follows the east coast all the way up through New South Wales and into Queensland.

Our Sydney to Brisbane road trip itinerary takes a few detours inland, to the Blue Mountains, for instance, which adds a few miles to the total.

As you travel north, you will find that while most of the best stops are on the coast, you might want to make a few additional detours!

While you could technically make the drive from Sydney to Brisbane in just ten hours, we’d recommend trying to keep a whole week available for the journey.

That way, you can keep driving time each day down to around two hours or less, with plenty of time to actually enjoy the places you are visiting.

Quick Info:

  • Sydney to Brisbane: 900 kilometers or 570 miles.
  • How long is a Sydney to Brisbane road trip: It takes about 10 and a half hours to drive from Sydney to Brisbane.
  • How many days should a road trip from Sydney to Brisbane take? It is best to break it up into 1-2 hour driving blocks over one or two weeks, you’ll see some of the best coastline and towns that New South Wales has to offer.
  • What is the halfway point between Brisbane and Sydney? Coffs Harbour is the halfway point between Brisbane and Sydney.

Need to book a car for your road trip adventure? We use Discover Car Hire for comparing car prices to find the best deal. They search both local & international rental companies.

Best Stops Along the Sydney to Brisbane Drive

Town Beach at Port Macquarie. Australia.

There’s a lot to see on a Sydney to Brisbane road trip. We suggest using the itinerary below as an outline because there are so many more stops you can plan into the journey!


The classic view of Sydney from the Sydney Gardens while road tripping from Brisbane to Sydney.

Your road trip starts in Sydney, a classic Aussie destination for travelers. There’s a lot to see and do in Sydney, and that’s before you start heading north, so take a few days to explore the city!

Start by visiting the Sydney Opera House and the harbor area, where you can find classic views over the city from the epic Sydney Harbor Bridge climb.

Visit a few museums, have a few drinks at The Rocks or Darling Harbor, and take the ferry downriver to Manly Beach.

You can’t leave without seeing the famous Bondi Beach either, which is perhaps the most legendary beach on the east coast of Australia!

Stay awhile and truly feel the Sydney area:

Top 5 things to do in Sydney:

Blue Mountains

The Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains along the road trip route from Sydney to Brisbane.

The first stop on your Sydney to Brisbane road trip will be the Blue Mountains.

This spectacular area of natural beauty is located just an hour away from the city, so you can always make this a day trip from Sydney before setting off north.

The Blue Mountains National Park is a spectacular place for hiking. Visit Katoomba, where you’ll be greeted by epic clifftop walks and unique rock formations, such as the Three Sisters.

There are small mountain towns, a scenic cable car ride, and plenty more outdoor sights!

Stay awhile and truly feel the Blue Mountains area:

Top 5 things to do in the Blue Mountains:


Aerial shot of sun rising over the Newcastle Ocean Baths, NSW, Australia.

From the Blue Mountains, head to the coast north of Sydney, where you can visit the second-largest city in New South Wales – Newcastle.

This charming city is located right on the beach and is a great place to enjoy the east coastline!

From Newcastle, you can drive inland to visit the beautiful Hunter Valley, one of the most famous wine-producing regions in Australia. 

Stay awhile and truly feel the Newcastle area:

Top 5 things to do in Newcastle, Australia:

Port Macquarie

Clear blue sky morning sunrise at Lighthouse Beach port Macquarie Australia.popular travel destination.

Head north from Newcastle, and your next stop will be the popular coastal town of Port Macquarie, one of New South Wales’ premier tourist destinations.

As well as great beaches and lookouts over the Pacific Ocean, Port Macquarie is famous for the local koala hospital, which has been rehabilitating injured koalas for years.

You can join a tour of the koala hospital to see these furry little animals as they are being cared for and learn more about the dangers they face in the wild (many of which are directly related to human activity in Australia).

It’s a fascinating place where you can learn about the fragile yet unique ecosystem of Australia.

Stay awhile and truly feel the Port Macquarie area:

Nambucca Heads

River outfall into the ocean Nambucca River, Warrell Creek, Nambucca Heads Captain Cook Lookout - Australia.

From Port Macquarie, start your drive north to Brisbane, but call in at the laid-back seaside town of Nambucca Heads.

There’s not a whole lot going on here, but that’s part of the reason to visit because it makes for a great place to break up the journey.

Enjoy the fantastic beaches, the magnificent views from Captain Cook lookout, and wander along the local sea wall, which has been taken over by artists and graffiti.

Stay awhile and truly feel the Nambucca Heads area:

Coffs Harbor

Lina Stock of Divergent Travelers adventure travel blog at The Big Banana - Coffs Harbour.

Your next stop on your Sydney to Brisbane road trip is Coffs Harbor, a small coastal community that’s big on conservation.

There are several marine parks off the coast, and the area is known for its large populations of dolphins.

You can hike around Mutton Bird Island Nature Reserve for views over the ocean and a chance to see the area’s birdlife.

There are excellent coastal walks along the beaches, while inland, you can find waterfalls and hiking trails leading to beautiful scenery!

Lastly, you haven’t really been to Coffs Harbour unless you’ve visited The Big Banana! Grab a photo with the giant banana, then head inside and order their signature banana split.

Stay awhile and truly feel the Coffs Harbor area:

Top 5 things to do in Coffs Harbor:

Byron Bay

Byron Bay along the way to Sydney to Brisbane road trip.

One of east coast Australia’s most popular tourist destinations is Byron Bay, and it’s an integral stop on any Sydney to Brisbane road trip.

Byron Bay is known for its excellent beach and rough waves, which are perfect for surfing.

The small community is also known for its alternative culture and arts scene; it’s the sort of place where backpackers arrive and never leave.

Appreciate the laid back lifestyle, the quirky cafes, the great bars, and of course, the great surfing.

Byron Bay is the most easterly point in Australia. You can enjoy some of the best sunrises in the country.

Head to the famous Byron Bay Lighthouse, where you’ll have the best vistas over the ocean (especially if you get here early enough in the morning!).

Stay awhile and truly feel the Byron Bay:

Top 5 things to do in Byron Bay:

Gold Coast

The Gold Coast.

From Byron Bay, cross over the state border and into Queensland, but before you reach Brisbane, there’s one more great stop to enjoy – the Gold Coast.

This spectacular city is quintessential east coast Australia. On the Gold Coast, the skyscrapers are built right up to the beaches.

It’s a gorgeous skyline, and there’s a beautiful long boardwalk that runs alongside the beach.

This is one of Australia’s top surfing destinations. You’ll be able to have a go yourself or watch top surfers out on the water!

Stay awhile and truly feel the Gold Coast area:

Top things to do in the Gold Coast:


Brisbane cityscape

After 500 miles (or more!) of driving, you finally make it to the end of your Sydney to Brisbane drive. Now you can enjoy the sights and attractions this great city has to offer!

Take a few days at the end to relax and sightsee. Enjoy the Southbank, a vibrant walking route along the south side of the river. You’ll find bars, cafes, restaurants, and a public, outdoor swimming lagoon.

Visit the Museum of Queensland, see the koalas at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, or take a day trip to Moreton Island, just off the coast.

From Brisbane, you can carry on driving north to Cairns, if you have another few weeks left on your Aussie adventure.

Queensland is enormous, and you’re really only at the beginning of a new journey. Embarking on a Brisbane to Cairns road trip is an epic 1000 mile drive.

Along the way, you can explore the Great Barrier Reef, visit the Atherton Tablelands, explore the ancient Daintree Rainforest and see Cape Tribulation.

Stay awhile and truly feel the Brisbane area:

Top 5 things to do in Brisbane:

Doing A Brisbane to Sydney Drive Instead

Alternatively, it is possible to reverse this whole route by taking a Brisbane to Sydney road trip instead.

This will depend on if you can find cheap flights to Brisbane or Sydney when you arrive. There really is no right or wrong way to make this drive, so plan it in the direction that suits your plans best.

Road Safety in Australia

Campervan on the beach while road tripping from Sydney to Brisbane - road trip.

The first rule of driving in Australia is stick to the left-hand side of the road! The second rule is watch out for kangaroos!

You might be excited to see kangaroos in the wild if it’s your first time in Australia, but the kangaroos will quickly becoming tiring when you’re trying to dodge them on the roads.

Try to avoid driving at dusk and dawn, when kangaroos are most active. You’re fine in the cities and towns, but avoid rural areas at night if you don’t want a potentially dangerous run-in with wildlife.

For your Sydney to Brisbane road trip, you don’t need a fancy four by four as you’ll be following the coast, not heading into the outback.

You can make this drive any time of the year, but it’s best done in summer when the weather is finest!

Supplies and Accommodation Between Sydney and Brisbane

Campervan in the Blue Mountains while road tripping from Sydney to Brisbane - road trip.

Unlike other, more remote long-distance drives you can tackle in Australia, you’ll find that on a Sydney to Brisbane road trip, you can easily stay fueled up and stocked with supplies along the way.

Be careful not to underestimate the distances involved, though, and remember to keep your gas tank full when you have the opportunity.

This is a popular tourist route, so there’s lots of accommodation on the way north to Brisbane.

You can take a campervan, stay in campsites, or book accommodation in each destination on your Sydney to Brisbane road trip.

Read reviews and check prices with our Hotel Search Engine, that gives you the best hotel deals found on the web. Our search engine pulls results from all of the major booking places, including Expedia, Hotels, Booking and more. All the options, all the deals, all in one place and just for you.

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Looking to get started on your trip planning process? Let us help!

Travel Gear & Packing: Check out our packing lists and travel gear guide to ensure you're bringing the right items on your trip.

Book Your Flight: Ready to fly? Check out our tips for finding cheap flights.

Find A Car Rental:We use Discover Cars to compare car prices, find deals and book rentals.

Book Your Hotel: Compare prices and book with our recommended hotel search engine. You should also check out our tips for finding cheap accommodation.

Find Vacation Rentals: Search vacation rentals & apartments on VRBO for the best prices and options.

Protect Your Trip:Don’t forget your travel insurance! Protect your investment and yourself. Read Is Travel Insurance Worth It?

If you need more help planning your trip, be sure to check out our Step by Step Trip Planning Guide where we break down our process for getting the trip planning process right every single time.

About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA

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