Summer and road trips are synonymous. Windows down, tunes blasting, sunnies on, mango Weis bar in one hand, coconut water in the other. Yeah, you know what we’re talkin’ about.
The big question, however, is always where to actually go? So here’s our roundup of awesome road trips you should take from the Gold Coast this summer.
Warning: this road trip isn’t exactly on the road. First you must head up to Tewantin near the Sunshine Coast, then you cross the river on the car ferry, and commence a stunning, albeit slightly bumpy drive up the beach. Yes, you need a 4WD and yes, it’s totally worth it if you have to hire one or put in a big IOU to borrow one. Make sure to pack a picnic (and a few cold ones), as there isn’t really anything in the way of shops at Teewah beach—just sand, ocean, an epic lighthouse walk and absolute serenity.
Oh sweet Yamba. This little seaside town in northern NSW will capture your heart. It’s like going back in time to how the southern Gold Coast was 20 years ago. There’s a tiny handful of shops (including the fab Leche Cafe), a surf club with a view that will keep you sipping those G&T’s for waaayy too long, and some damn fine beaches. Everything is walkable once you get there, so you can ditch the car and get a good day (or two) of rest before the drive home.
Dubbed “the arty town on the river”, Bellingen is a sweet little bohemian town in the Coffs Coast hinterland that has all the goods. This alternative-style village is lined with preserved shop fronts, century old homes, restaurants boasting local biodynamic produce, and live music. It’s set alongside the Bellinger River which offers a healthy abundance of magical waterholes and waterfalls. Perfect, right?! Wait, we’re not done yet. Bellingen borders the Dorrigo National Park home to towering rainforests, an incredible skywalk, and loads of forest hikes to fill your days.
Feel like an adventure? Coonabarabran (called Coona by the locals) is the star-gazing capital of Australia. This small country town may not have much, but what it does have— pristine air, a high altitude, and low humidity—is the precise recipe for superb star-gazing. Coona’s skies are so clear that the Australian National University set up the Siding Spring Observatory (home of the largest optical telescope in Australia) just outside the town —so yeah, it’s the real deal. Heads up, the drive is a ginormo 8-hour trip each way, but for that kinda star gazing… worth it.
You know how Byron gets uber busy pretty much every weekend of the entire year now? Well, Bangalow is the Byron Shire town that somehow doesn’t. It might not be a secret anymore, but it’s a boatload quieter than Byron and cute as a darn button. If you time it right (which you should definitely try to do), on the 4th Sunday of every month is the Bangalow Market and it is seriously one of the best markets you’ll hit up in Aus. If you miss the market you needn’t worry though, the Bangalow town is lined with boutiques, interesting homewares stores, and cafes that sprawl onto footpaths. Dreamy.
Once you arrive on the Sunhsine Coast, the drive to Maleny is stupidly stunning and you can extend it slightly with optional pit stops on the upward journey at Palmwoods, Mapleton, Montville as well as breathtaking roadside lookouts. Once you actually get there you can take your pick… Waterhole swimming at Gardners Falls? Lunch at the weekend food market? Colin James Gelato? Antique shopping? Afternoon tea at one of the delightful cafes or delis? Our advice: do it ALL.
More of an island-style vacationer? Check out these 5 island escapes for your next weekend.
Photo Credit: Australian Traveller