The Ultimate Guide To Australia’s East Coast

By Ellie Schneider
21st Dec 2013

A haven for devotees of white sandy beaches, sleepy seaside towns, gourmet food and wineries—we take you on the road, up and down our glorious East Coast.

Whether you're hitting the road on the Melbourne to Sydney coastal drive, or journeying to the Sunshine State along the Pacific, here's our itinerary of places you should not miss.

Melbourne to Sydney

Mornington Peninsula
A short drive from Melbourne you'll find the undulating hills, wild surf, orchards, and more than 50 cellar doors of Victoria's Mornington Peninsula. It's a food lover's retreat—with many of the vineyards clustered around Red Hill, Merricks, Balnarring, and Shoreham. Pinot noir and chardonnay are the hallmark varieties of the region.

Phillip Island
Famed for its little penguins parading along the beach, Phillip Island boasts an abundance of natural beauty with sandy beaches and serene wetlands. Stroll the Nobbies boardwalk to view the magnificent jagged southern coast and blowhole.

Lakes Entrance
Situated on the edge of Ninety Mile Beach where the Gippsland Lakes meet the Southern Ocean, Lakes Entrance claims Australia's largest inland network of waterways and is a paradise for keen boaties and fishing enthusiasts. There is plenty of accommodation here, including caravan and camping grounds.

This pristine coastal town is renowned for its bush and wildlife, walking trails and overall tranquility. Experience the diverse landscapes of the UNESCO-listed Croajingolong National Park, with its pure white sandy beaches, granite peaks and heathland.

Central Tilba
Travel along the beach road to Mimosa Rocks National Park, where you can swim and snorkel in the lagoons, surf at the ocean beaches and trek the jagged coastline. Stop at the picture-perfect village of Central Tilba, step back in time and explore local artisans, such as cheesemakers, wood-turners, glassworkers, jewellers, artists and winemakers.

Batemans Bay
An unspoiled coastline of sparkling beaches, river estuaries and steep headlands, Batemans Bay is an idyllic stopover. Start your day surfing, snorkeling or diving, and finish off browsing through an impressive array of galleries showcasing local art.

Jervis Bay
Famed for possessing the whitest sand in Australia and turquoise waters to rival those of any, Jervis Bay offers a wealth of swimming, kayaking, boating, fishing, standup paddle boarding and surfing activities. The coastal, marine, and hinterland National Parks offer excellent bushwalking and cycling tracks.

Sydney to Brisbane

Central Coast
From bushwalking in Bouddi National Park, to surfing in North Avoca, there's no shortage of activities on the Central Coast. Soak up the sun whilst canoeing, waterskiing, sailing, rowing or sailboarding on Tuggerah Lake, or take the walk from Macmasters Beach to Terrigal for the unmissable 5 Lands Coastal Walkway. Take a dip and a walk around Pearl Beach Rockpool.

Hunter Valley
With more than 120 wineries, including established names like McGuigan, Tyrrell, Tulloch and Drayton, the Hunter Valley is a must for any vino connoisseur. Indulge in wine tours or cooking classes, treat yourself at a day spa, or take a stroll through the boutique Handmade in the Hunter Market, featuring locally produced, handmade craft and foods.

Port Stephens
Spanning 26 crystal-clear beaches, Port Stephens is the perfect holiday destination. Head up to the Nelson Head Lighthouse and have coffee with panoramic views over the bay, then hit the water at Fly Point Park to discover sea caves, sponge gardens and shipwrecks.

Coffs Harbour
The beachside city of Coffs Harbour is surrounded by national parks and uncrowded beaches. From scuba diving to sky diving, surf rafting and whale watching, there is plenty to keep you entertained. The Solitary Islands Marine Park is a highlight, and encompasses estuaries, sandy beaches and sub-tidal reefs. The park is home to a vast diversity of marine life.

Port Macquarie
Port Macquarie offers a plethora of activities to get the adrenalin pumping—from 4WD tours and horse riding, to tandem skydiving, paragliding, water skiing, kayaking and wake boarding. At the end of the day call into the Little Brewing Company cellar door and sample some of their award-winning beers.

Byron Bay
This beachside paradise offers a wide range of things to do and see, but you can't go past the shopping and dining scene. You'll find a wide range of delicious cafes and the Bryon Bay Farmers' Markets every Thursday and Saturday. Don't miss a stroll along Cape Byron to the Byron Bay lighthouse on Australia's most easterly point.

Gold Coast
Offering a full spectrum of entertainment for little and big kids, the Gold Coast is home to exhilarating rides, exotic animals and endless waterslides to keep you cool. Relax and rejuvenate at one of the city's luxurious spas or sample some of the region's finest wines at a local vineyard.

Image credit: Den of Opulence

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