Part 1 Go North: 3 Awesome Road Trip Itineraries For Your Northern Adventure

20 Dec 2023

With temperatures cooling off down south, there’s no better time than now to chase the sun and go north. 


Whether you’re starting your journey in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales or even heading across from Tassie, here are three road trip travel itineraries for this year’s northern adventure. 

3 Road trip itineraries to warm up your winter:

Part 1 - The Pacific Highway (Sydney to Townsville)
Part 2 - Savannah Way (Cairns to Darwin)
Part 3 - Red Centre (Alice Springs to Uluru to Kings Canyon)

Because each of these itineraries is huge, we've broken this down into three parts.
Welcome to Part 1 of Go North: 3 Awesome Road Trip Travel Itineraries - The Pacific Highway.

Part 1: The Pacific Highway

Sydney to Townsville via Port Macquarie/Byron Bay/Fraser Island/Airlie Beach

Distance: 2,226 km

Time: 21 days


This legendary trip offers so much to so many, it’s hard to put into words! 

From rugged coastlines and national parks to lush hinterlands and epic stretches of sand, Australia’s east coast remains one of the world’s most popular road trips.

Aside from being a natural wonderland, the Pacific Highway passes through some of Australia’s most popular destinations, each one offering a multitude of reasons to extend your stay.

Stop 1: 
Harrington Beach - Mid-North Coast

Distance from Sydney: 350 km


Credit: Barrington Coast - Cattai Wetlands

While there are several places worthy of stopping at before you reach Harrington, we think this 4-hour trip puts just enough space between you and the hustle of the city.

Only an hour north of the Great Lakes region and less than an hour south of Port Macquarie, Harrington itself is a sleepy fishing village that has grown in popularity over the last several years. 

Close to Crowdy Bay National Park and at the mouth of the Manning River, the Harrington area is a perfect coastal getaway with lots to see and do.

Diamond Head inside the national park is a must-see; Cattai Wetlands is an interesting escape only ten minutes drive away, while all around you are popular surf breaks that have long been a mecca for visitors from all over the world. 

Stop 2: 
Coffs Harbour: Coffs Coast

Distance from Harrington Beach: 215 km


Credit: National Parks NSW - Nymboi-Binderay National Park

The road from Harrington Beach to Coffs Harbour is breathtaking, with more pristine beaches, national parks and lakes to discover. 

The Waterfall Way is well worth the journey from the nearby town of Bellingen, to the Gondwana Rainforests of Dorrigo National Park. Nymboi-Binderay National Park is popular for white-water rafting and kayaking, while Sealy Lookout at Niigi Niigi offers amazing views up and down the coast. 

Book with Australia's largest network of holiday parks.

Stop 3: 
Byron Bay: NSW North Coast

Distance from Coffs Harbour: 232 km


Credit: Brunswick Heads - David Young

The popular tourist village of Byron Bay is your last stop in New South Wales before crossing the border into Queensland.

Known for beautiful surf beaches, an eclectic atmosphere and spectacular scenery, nature lovers enjoy the lush hinterland that surrounds the town, as well as the opportunity to spot dolphins and whales on a regular basis.

Byron Bay is also famous for its cafes, galleries and enthusiastic nightlife, which includes a vibrant bar and restaurant scene. Nearby towns worth discovering include Ballina, Brunswick Heads and Mullumbimby.

Stop 4: 
Hervey Bay: Fraser Coast

Distance from Byron Bay: 450 km


Welcome to Queensland! 

While we don’t have anything against the Gold Coast, Brisbane or the Sunshine Coast, we think you won’t miss them once you're relaxing along the Fraser Coast at Hervey Bay, far away from the hustle of these busier ports.

As one of Queensland’s best natural holiday destinations, opportunities for adventure are massive here. Famous for being one of the best places in the world to meet a whale, booking a boat tour is a must.

Fraser Island (K’gari) is another bucket list travel item, with a multitude of tours available to get you across the world’s biggest sand island! 

Stop 5: 
Yeppoon: Capricorn Coast

Distance from Hervey Bay: 420 km


Credit: Capricorn Caves - Cathedral Cave Tour

An exciting and diverse region, Yeppoon puts you on the doorstep of the Southern Great Barrier Reef and within spitting distance of the Keppel Islands. 

Hop on any number of day trips to this collection of private coves, coral reefs and aqua-blue beaches - you will not be disappointed!

The ancient limestone formations of the Capricorn Caves are definitely worth a look, while Koorana Crocodile Park is one of many unique wildlife experiences nearby. For incredible views of Keppel Bay Marina, you don’t want to miss the Bluff Point Walking Track. 

Stop 6: 
Airlie Beach: Whitsunday Islands

Distance from Yeppoon: 506 km


Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland 

Known as the gateway to the incredible Whitsundays, the list of things to do at Airlie Beach is endless.

Whitehaven Beach is world-famous for its stunning white sand and clear blue water, and once you’ve been you won’t be surprised to learn that it’s one of the most photographed locations in the world. 

You can also get close to the Great Barrier Reef from Airlie, with all manner of scuba diving and ocean-rafting opportunities. Conway National Park covers around 22,500 hectares and offers incredible views that will stay with you forever. 

Stop 7: 
Townsville: The Great Barrier Reef

Distance from Airlie Beach 275 km


Credit: Tourism Whitsundays

Your final stop along this fantastic east coast road trip is Townsville.  

Conclude your northern adventure with a Magnetic Island day trip, explore Paluma Range National Park and get close to Australia’s favourite furries at Billabong Sanctuary.

Reef HQ Aquarium lets you experience the Great Barrier reef without getting wet, but more than likely you’ll want to book any number of tours around one of the most famous natural wonders in the world

The Savannah Way


Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland - View from Atheron Tablelands

Road trip Outback Queensland all the way to Darwin and beyond!