Travelling Brisbane to Byron Bay? Try These Family-Friendly Stop Offs
Road trips make for fun family memories, especially if you can extend them and see sights along the way to your final destination. The drive from Brisbane to Byron Bay only takes about two hours, but with so much to see along the way, wouldn’t it be more fun to stretch it out and take in the sights between the two locations? When you land in Byron Bay, plan to stay a few days so you can soak up the culture there as well (we’ve put a section at the end of this post for ideas on activities you can do in Byron Bay.)
The great part about a road trip from Brisbane to Byron Bay is that the return trip can be done quickly so you’re not stuck in the car all day! Here are our suggestions on where to stop off along the way.
Just one hour down the Pacific Highway you’ll find the Gold Coast—a must-stop area for anyone who loves gorgeous beaches (including excellent surfing!), tons of land- and water-based activities and excellent dining. And, oh, don’t forget about the awesome theme parks!
It is certainly worth your while to opt to stay here for at least 24 hours. An average of 12 million visitors per year can’t be wrong, right? And may we suggest some of our favorite activities:
- Log some beach time (obviously). Whether it’s at popular Surfers Paradise or one of the quieter ones such as Budds Beach, you will put yourself in the right frame of mind for your holiday.
- Visit the Skypoint Deck at the top of the Q1 Building for amazing views of the area.
- Experience the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. A family-fun option that gives you lots of up close and personal time with Aussie animals.
- Pick one of the theme parks—Movie World, DreamWorld, Sea World or Wet ’n Wild— and spend at least an afternoon there. You’ll be glad you did!
- Dine out at one of excellent restaurants.
This short stop only covers the tip of the iceberg for things you can do here, so remind yourself you can always come back!
Yes, we realize you’ll only be driving about 30 minutes from your previous location, but this border town (between Queensland and New South Wales) merits a look. After the busy Gold Coast, this quiet seaside town will provide a peaceful break along your Australian road trip.
Depending on whether you spend the day, or just a morning or afternoon, will decide how many of these activities you can do. You can pick which ones sound best for you and your crew, but here are our suggestions.
- Can’t miss the gorgeous Coolangatta Beach. Relax on the beach, take a swim or surf (if that’s your thing). If you need lessons, head down to Greenmount Beach, just down from Coolangatta, and hook up with Walkin’ on Water for a surf lesson.
- An option for the whole family, Catch a Crab half day tours are a fun way to spend a morning by feeding fish, hand feeding friendly pelicans, catching mud crabs and more. All equipment provided as well as morning tea. Tours leave at 9am daily.
- If you don’t have the kids with you and are travelling with friends or older family or just you and your partner, then consider heading over to the Cellar Door at Coolangatta Estate where you can taste excellent local wines and even add in your own platters of fish, meat, cheese and olives.
- Stop by Earth ‘n’ Sea Pizza and Pasta for a delicious pizza and perhaps a beer to end your trip to Coolangatta. Voted the Best Pizza Restaurant on the Gold Coast, Earth ‘n’ Sea lists 20 gourmet pizzas on its menu (as well as a half and half where you can combine two of them) in addition to pasta, burgers and salads.
Head on to Tweed Heads where you can combine a day trip to both since they are only a few minutes apart.
Just three or four minutes by car from Coolangatta, Tweed Heads is the twin town to Coolangatta and is considered a suburb of the Gold Coast. Of course, it has beaches, but it also offers some great nature walks.
- From Tweed Heads, you may travel by boat and experience some amazing snorkelling at the Cook Island Marine Reserve, a small island that features a large population of sea turtles. Book your trip with Cooly Dive and after a 20 minute boat ride, you’ll soon find yourself snorkeling among coral and tons of fish life such as lionfish and clown fish in addition to turtles.
- Make sure to head to Razorback Lookout, 47 Charles St., where you’ll find awe-inspiring views of the surrounding area. The backdrop isn’t your usual lookout either; instead it features a small plateau of lush green grass with gardens and benches and picnic tables set up to stay and relax in the quiet. A great place to have a picnic!
- Located a short drive from Razorback, Fingal Head sits south of Tweed Heads proper. Here you’ll find a lighthouse that has been there since 1872 after a short walk through coastal rainforest. The view from the lighthouse area will provide you with a look out at Cook Island, a mere 600 meters off shore.
- Depending on how long you stay, if you want to grab a meal, try out Blue Owl Café and Restaurant, rated #1 of restaurants in Tweed Heads on TripAdvisor. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and serves “food for the modern Australian.”
Head 15 minutes more down the Pacific Highway, you’ll find yourself in Kingscliff. A sleepy seaside town, Kingscliff is small enough to only have one main street but luckily it’s packed with cafes and restaurants. Plus a great place to swim and enjoy the outdoors.
- Visit Cudgen Creek where you’ll find the perfect spot for swimming, canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding. With its shallow water and sandy beach, it’s a great place to bring the kids. As a bonus, there’s a playground not far from the creek in case the kids need a break. If you want to join in on a watersport but don’t have the gear with you, check out Watersports Guru and hire your equipment needs (or feel free to join in on a lesson!).
- Walk from Cudgen Creek to the main street in Kingscliff. Along the boardwalk at the creek, you can sometimes catch glimpses of Mt. Warning in the distance. Once you hit Kingscliff, you can check out all the boutique stores and unique shops in between the cafes.
- Across the road from the main strip is Kingscliff Beach. This pretty beach has a great sand area for building sandcastles and also is a good place to hang ten.
- For a cheap eat during your Byron Bay road trip, check out the Kingscliff Beach Bowling Club. With good food, cheap drinks and kid-friendly food, you will save money and catch views of the beach.
A bit off the beaten path of the Pacific Highway, Nimbin’s famous laid-back, hippie culture is something to experience while on your Byron Bay road trip. Nimbin features lots of fun shops and cafes as well as many ways to channel your alternative side.
Here are some suggestions on places to check during a morning or afternoon spent here:
- Check out one of the many funky local cafes and take your time with coffee, lunch or snack (or all three!).
- See the awesome and super colorful candles made at the Nimbin Candle Factory (all non-toxic, hand dipped, traditionally made candles, of course!).
- Stroll through the Nimbin Craft Gallery where you can find such art and craft such as pottery, wood pieces, clothing, jewellery, toys, shoes and much more.
The last stop before your destination, Bangalow comes highly recommended as a day trip from Byron Bay so, instead of doing it after you get to Byron Bay, hit it up ahead of arrival. This charming small town features a beautiful and historic streetscape lined with great shops and restaurants as well as an excellent farmers market.
- Start your day visit with a cup Zentveld’s locally produced coffee at the Bangalow Espresso Pizza Bar, located at 3/46 Byron St.
- Then browse the eclectic selection of fun local shops including: Island Luxe (upscale boutique), Don’t Tell Mama (eco conscious clothing), Lazybones (bedding, clothing and sleepwear line) and Heath’s Old Wares (antiques, collectibles and other secondhand items).
- If you can time your visit for a Saturday, then be sure to stop by the farmers market on Bangalow’s Byron Street, which runs from 8 to 11am every Saturday.
- Make a point to see the 1940s-built Bangalow Hotel where sipping on a drink in its enclosed deck is delightful. If you have time and opt to stay for the evening before heading Byron Bay proper, take part in the trivia night or pool competitions during the week or kick back and listen to live music on Friday or Saturday.
Final destination: Byron Bay
Don’t forget to leave plenty of energy for the final destination on your Australian road trip: Byron Bay. There’s so much to see and do in this area that you’ll want to spend a few days here relaxing before you make the two-hour drive back to Brisbane at the end of your holiday. We have plenty of recommendations, so many that we can’t possibly list them. Instead, we’ll direct you to our blog where you can read our previous posts, here are a few to get you started.
End your trip with a few relaxing days at Broken Head
We suggest you spend your final days of your holiday relaxing at one of Broken Head Holiday Park’s accommodation options, whether that’s the campsites, beach shacks or beach cabins. You’ll savour the quiet location that Broken Head offers, but at a convenient spot for heading into town for any of the many activities you might want to try out. In addition to being a great holiday park, Broken Head will help you save on the cost of the overall road trip from Brisbane to Byron Bay, making it easier to indulge on more of the many things to do here. So plan a Byron Bay road trip soon!