Whether you’re planning a future trip to Australia, or have already landed and are searching for adventure then look no further. There is no better way to explore Australia than from the freedom of a campervan (and yes we’re biased, but we promise we’re not just saying that!)

An east coast road trip in Australia with your mates is a sure fire way to create memories and share experiences that you’ll be talking about for years to come. The wide open never-ending landscapes, the stunning sunsets and the unique wildlife all make taking a road trip a must!

east australia road trips

We’ve put this guide together to help you make a start on planning and preparing for your trip in East Australia. Read on for the best road trips in east Australia, must see stops, things to do and helpful tips on driving a campervan.

Here what you can find in the guide:

  1. Classic East Coast: Sydney to Byron Bay
  2. City to City: Sydney to Melbourne
  3. Beach Lovers Paradise: Brisbane to Airlie Beach
  4. Top Tips for Driving a Campervan in Australia
  5. Five unique things you have to see on the East Coast

Classic East Coast: Sydney to Byron Bay

Total estimated driving time: 9 hours (without stops)

Number of Kilometers: 800km

Recommended days needed: 4 – 5 days

Roadtrip Highlights:

  • Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
  • Classic Aussie beach towns on the Central Coast
  • The Big Banana at Coff’s Harbour
  • Whale watching in Port Stephens

Magnificent coastline, beautiful beaches and a laidback hippy vibe make Byron an absolute must do for anyone travelling Australia.

At only 10 hours, Sydney to Byron is a relatively scenic drive up the east coast of Australia, but if you did the whole thing in one day then we think you’d be missing out on loads of great stuff to see and do. Make sure you allow yourself enough time to make the most of this east coast road trip by reading our top recommendations below:

First Leg: Sydney to The Central Coast

The pick up for your campervan hire is in Banksmeadow, Sydney. Drive north towards the Central Coast and up through the beautiful Ku-ring-gai National Park. This is one of the oldest National Parks in Australia, so we recommend that you pull off the highway and take the time to do one of the many hiking trails on offer.

kuringai national park drive

You’ll arrive in the Central Coast about 1.5 – 2.5 hours after leaving Sydney, and if you’re done with driving for the day then we recommend parking up the campervan at one of the great east coast beach towns nearby; Terrigal, The Entrance, Avoca.

Second Leg: The Central Coast to Port Macquarie (via Port Stephens).

The second leg of this road trip up the east coast of Australia takes you from the Central Coast up to Port Macquarie. This drive is only about 3.5 hours, but if you have time then definitely swing by Port Stephens, well known by the locals for its whale watching and dolphin tours.

Third Leg: Port Macquarie to Byron Bay (via Coffs Harbour).

The third and final leg of this short road trip sees you travel up to Byron Bay via Coffs Harbour. Now, there’s one thing you won’t’ want to miss on this leg and that’s the giant banana.

east coast road trip australia

The famous big banana even has its own theme park with waterslides, ice skating, mini golf & laser tag.

From here you’re only another 3 hours away from surfing, swimming and sunbathing on the famous Byron beach.

City to City: Sydney to Melbourne Roadtrip

Total estimated driving time: 8 – 9 hours (without stops)

Number of Kilometers: 878km

Recommended days needed: 2 – 5 days

This well travelled Australian road trip is popular with backpackers, travellers and locals alike! The journey along the coast from Sydney in New South Wales, to Victoria’s largest city, Melbourne is filled with rainforests, stunning ocean views and laid back beach towns. If you go at the right time of year you might even spot a whale or two!

To help you plan your trip here is some of our favourite stop-offs.

 1. Kiama

Kiama is a small town famous for its ‘blowhole’. It’s also a great place to capture a few shots of the local pelicans #pelicanselfie. If you want to stop off for some beach time, the 7-mile long beach makes this a great spot.

central coast drive

2. Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay is known for having the whitest sand in. the. world…. we’re not joking! This place is beautiful and the crystal clear waters can easily make you think you’ve been transported to an exotic beach overseas. If you’re feeling energetic then plan in some time to make the most of the local hiking trails, rock climbing and canoeing.

3. Batemans Bay

From here it’s a couple of hours drive from Jervis Bay is Batemans Bay. Great restaurants and bars make this a good place to pull up, rest up and refuel. If you’re spending a day or two here then we recommend taking the trip to the Tuross, Durras or Colia, some local lakes with great landscapes.

4. Lakes Entrance

On the approach to Melbourne don’t forget to make a stop at Lakes Entrance. This vibrant fishing town is a popular destination for Victorians at weekends and holiday time. If you plan on staying over summer then make sure you’ve booked a space for your campervan in advance.

If you’re up for getting out and about and exploring all the best this amazing continent has to offer then the best way to do this is by hiring a campervan. Being out on the open road, having complete freedom over the route you take and things you see is liberating, and the best way to experience Australia in its true glory.

If you’ve never hired a campervan before, or are about to plan for an upcoming trip then make sure you don’t miss some of our recommended routes, things to see, and top tips on how to get the most out of your trip.

Aussie driving rules and regulations

Driving license requirements

The good news is that you are able to hire and drive a campervan using a foreign license, as long it’s current. If you plan on staying in Australia for longer then you might want to consider applying for an international driving license, before you leave.

When you come to pick up your campervan hire you’ll need to provide proof of a valid driving license, so don’t forget to pack it.

Drive on the left

Aussies drive on the left so you’re used to driving on the right, so if you’ve travelled from Europe or the USA make sure that you take it slow to begin with! Most accidents happen on more isolated roads – so make sure you always stay alert, even if you’ve been driving in the outback and haven’t seen another car for the past two hours.

If you’re driving on the highway don’t forget to pass on the right, but stay on the left!

Keep an eye on the speed

Australian authorities keep a keen eye out for speeders, so make sure you keep an eye on the speedometer, especially if you’re travelling on a public holiday. As a rule of thumb urban areas normally have a limit of around 60 kph and highway normally limit to 110 kph speeds.

Koala crossing signs are not a joke!

whale watching west australia (3)

When you’re on your Aussie road trip be vigilant for Australian wildlife at all times, particularly at dawn, dusk, or in the dark. Many of Australia’s most famous animals, koalas, kangaroos, wallabies and emu’s are nocturnal and are more likely to be out and about on the roads at night. For more top tips check out our post on Driving in Australia 101: How to drive in Australia.

To put it simply, a campervan road trip is the only way to see Australia. Speak to the team at Travellers Autobarn for more information and to book your campervan today

Or, if you want to read more of our exciting Guides by Travellers Autobarn, come and hear what we’re talking about!