The Great Australian Road Trip - Sydney to Brisbane
The Australian road trip has become something of a rite of passage for visitors to this vast land. Year upon year sees backpackers, families, couples and tour groups get into their various forms of transport and set off through the countryside, leisurely taking in beaches, cities, mountains and towns as they go. Its a great way to widen your Australian experience because it provides a real feel for the country- you see the beautiful as well as the ugly, the boring with the interesting, which you can then amalgmate in your mind to form a true opinion of Australia. There is something adventurous and spine tingling about the whole concept as well, you just cant help but feel like intrepid explorers setting off to conquer foreign lands!

There are literally thousands of road trips you can take in Australia, ranging from a few hours to a days driving to a few days driving... you could drive forever if you wanted to! One of the most common is the drive from Sydney in New South Wales up to Brisbane in Queensland (or vice versa of course). 930 kilometres long, this takes about 12 hours if you drive solidly with just a short stop or two. But that would be a waste- the highway takes you adjacent to the coastline the majority of the distance, so just a short distance of the road there are numerous seaside gems where you can break up the drive and take in the beautiful scenery... after all thats what a road trip is about!

85 kilometres north of Sydney lies the up market and ritzy town of Terrigal. Positioned right on a surf beach, this is a great place to stop for a sandwich or a coffee overlooking the water. The north easterly aspect means it captures the sun all day, and there is a fresh and vibrant feel to this town. As the drive here is not far most people won't stay overnight, but this popular holiday resort is a refreshing place for a pit stop.

150 kilometres out of Sydney lies Newcastle, the large harbour city that has some stunning beaches and is located close to the lush and fertile Hunter valley. Many people will tell you to give it a skip, but Newcastle actually has a lot going for it and is becoming more of a feature on the tourist calendar. A mecca for surfers, it is home to the famous Nobbys Beach and has a thriving beach culture. A large student population means there is a thriving nightlife with a strong focus on live music and entertainment. This is a worthy place to stop over for a night!

Further on up the coast, 380 kilometres out of Sydney, lies the watersport wonderland of Port Macquaire. Located on the Hastings River and surrounded by pristine beaches, this is a paradise for anyone interested in jet skiing, wind surfing, surfing, fishing, or the new craze that seems to be sweeping the globe, kite surfing. Fans of the environment will love the gardens and areas of bushland throughout the town, and the variety of bushwalks through places like Kooloonbung Creek Nature Park.

160 kilometres on from Port Macquarie is Coffs Harbour, a prominent tourist destination and a vibrant little holiday town. Coffs is famous as the home of the Big Banana, a much-photographed tribute to the banana growing history of the region. It is also home to spectacular surf beaches, large tracts of natural bushland and a thriving tourism industry that will cater to your every need.

North of Coffs it only gets better, as you venture into the most popular corner of New South Wales. The tourist showpiece here is Byron Bay, the bohemian style resort town that started off as a hippie stronghold and developed into an internationally renowned destination famous for embracing alternative lifestyles. The serenely beautiful bay, lorded over by the lighthouse on the headland, provides great swimming, surfing and scuba diving. There are other smaller towns nearby that are just as beautiful, such as Ballina and Lennox Heads, where you are able to escape the tourists for a while.

Continuing on and once you cross the border into Queensland you reach the glitz and glamour of the inimitable Gold Coast. You cannot drive past the iconic Surgfers Paradise without poppping in for a look, and there are a number of other surf beaches along this stretch of coast that are quieter yet just as beautiful, such as Burleigh Heads. The Gold Coast is party central- the hordes of tourists ensure there is a thumping night life, so if you stick around for a couple of nights expect to leave with a bit of a sore head!

From here its only an hours or so drive to your final destination of Brisbane. Brisbane is the perfect place to relax and refresh yourself after the arduous journey (and a great antidote to that Gold Coast headache)! Sun yourself at the artificial beach in Southbank Parklands, soak up the cafe culture in Fortitude Valley, visit a museum at the Cultural Centre and watch the sun set over the city from Mt Coot-tha. Above all take the time to reflect on your time on the road. Road trips are all about the memories, so savour them while they are still fresh. And when they start to fade... well then its time for your next road trip!

Gavin Wyatt