Narooma and Bermagui road trip; lighthouses of South coast NSW

The ultimate road trip on the east coast of Australia

The road trip along the east coast of Australia is one of the most amazing things to do. The coastal route and the coastal towns/ cities are extremely pretty and is definitely a memorable trip. One passes through many towns that are cute and have their unique character.

Note: I have done the road trip along the east coast in bits and pieces. I have not done this trip at one go.

Narooma and Bermagui road trip; lighthouses of South coast NSW

PIN for later reference

PIN for later reference - The ultimate road trip on the east coast of Australia
PIN for later reference – The ultimate road trip on the east coast of Australia
Please note: This post may contain affiliate links which means I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link on this post. This will be at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links help me keep this website up and running. Thank you for your support.

East coast road trip route

The route starts from down south in Victoria and then heads up to the north in Queensland. It touches the three states, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. I have divided the road trip into two parts – first from Lakes Entrance to Sydney and second from Sydney to Cairns.

A few things to note:

  • Australia is huge and the distance for the road trip from Lakes Entrance to Cairns is approximately 3400 kilometres.
  • There are toll roads along the way.
  • The time zones change between Victoria/ New South Wales and Queensland.
  • The highways are very well maintained but can get monotonous.
  • Beware of the kangaroos especially at dawn and dusk.
  • There are shell and BP petrol stations along the way.
  • There is good mobile coverage in all the towns and cities I have mentioned in this post.
  • To visit all the places listed, I would suggest spending at least 2 to 3 weeks.

For fun big things to see on the way, read 11 big things to see in NSW.

Part 1 – Lakes Entrance to Sydney

Part 1 of this road trip is from Lakes Entrance to Sydney.

  • The distance covered is around 750 kilometres.
  • There are two paths, one is inland and the other is more scenic which is the coastal route. Either way, the roads are very well maintained and a 2WD is sufficient for the drive.

My friends and I had traveled Sydney to Lakes Entrance one time and I have listed the detailed itinerary and expenses in my post.

Towns and cities between Lakes Entrance and Sydney

There are many beautiful coastal towns and cities between Lakes Entrance and Sydney. But I have listed the ones that I have been to and have loved them.

Victoria

One can also start the road trip from Melbourne. The distance between Melbourne and Lakes Entrance is about 320 kilometres (4 hours drive). Refer my post things to do in Melbourne for the guide to traveling in Melbourne.

Lakes Entrance

Lakes Entrance is a coastal town in the state of Victoria. The town is located at the edge of the Nintey Mile beach and is famous for its beaches and wildlife.

Starting point of the road trip - Lakes Entrance.
Things to do
  • Griffiths Shell Museum – A small museum with a collection of seashells and preserved marine life. The entry fee to the museum is AUD 9 per person and can be purchased at the entrance.
  • Cunninghame Arm Foot bridge – A beautiful foot bridge to see spectacular sunsets. There is no entry fee to the bridge.
  • Reeve Landing jetty – A relaxing walk by the jetty is amazing way to spend an evening.
Sydney to Lakes Entrance

New South Wales

Eden

A great place to spot humpback whales during the whale migratory season is Eden, a beautiful coastal town on the Sapphire coast of New South Wales (NSW). It is also known as a humpback highway and has a tale of wild killer whales who hunted with the Yuin people. Eden is a place that is straight out of a fairy tale. It has breathtaking sunrises and sunsets.

Distance between Lakes Entrance and Eden - 242 kilometres.
Things to do
  • Eden Killer Whale Museum – A museum dedicated to killer whales. The entry fee is AUD 12 per person and can be purchased at the entrance.
  • Watching sunrise – A great spot to watch sunrises at any beach in Eden.
  • Light to light walk – Absolutely stunning 3 days of hike is the light to light walk. The walk starts at Boyd’s Tower and ends at Green Cape lighthouse in the Ben Boyd National Park.
Sydney to Lakes Entrance
Narooma

One of my most favourite places along the coast in NSW is Narooma. Narooma is the most charming city along the East coast, which has very pretty beaches and Narooma name is derived from an aboriginal word that means “clear blue waters”.

Distance between Eden and Narooma - 134 kilometres.
Things to do
  • Horse Head Rock – A very unique rock formation in the shape of a horse head. There is no entrance fee to see the rock.
  • Australia Rock – There is a rock formation that is in the shape of Australia map. There is no entrance fee to see the rock.
  • Swimming with seals – Narooma is a great place to see and swim with wild seals. It is one of those most beautiful experiences where one can interact with the beautiful seals.
  • Read my detailed post about Narooma and Bermagui here.
Narooma and Bermagui road trip; lighthouses of South coast NSW
Batemans Bay

Batemans Bay is a popular spot for kayaking and snorkeling. The beaches are part of the Batemans Bay Snorkeling Trail, a 12 kilometres snorkeling trail between Batemans Bay and Maloneys Beach.

Distance between Narooma and Batemans Bay - 70 kilometres.
Things to do
  • Mogo Wildlife Park – This wildlife park has a wide variety of unique animals including the smallest monkey in the World. The entrance fee is AUD 38 per adult and the tickets can be purchased on their website.
  • Walk along the beach.
  • Snorkeling – As I mentioned above, Batemans Bay is part of Batemans Bay Snorkeling Trail.
Grumpy cat at Batemans Bay
A cat that I found at the Batemans Bay camping ground
Huskisson

Huskisson is a coastal town on the shores of Jervis Bay. Known for its white sand beaches with pristine blue waters, Huskisson is favourites among the locals.

Distance between Batemans Bay and Huskisson - 108 kilometres.
Things to do
  • Hyams beach – Watch the amazing moon rise at this white sand beach.
  • Point perpendicular lighthouse – Located on the Beecroft Peninsula, this lighthouse was first lit in the year 1899. There is no entrance fee.
  • Scuba divingJervis Bay is amazing for scuba diving with very beautiful dive sites.
Diving at the Docks, Jervis Bay
Nowra

Nowra is a cute little town which is known for its beautiful buildings and graffiti. And this town is a quiet town when compared to all other towns.

Distance between Huskisson and Nowra - 24 kilometres.
Things to do

Honestly speaking, Nowra is a small town and does not have much to do. I had done a separate road trip to Nowra, Huskisson and Fitzroy Falls.

  • Street art – Soak in the amazing and huge street art around the town.
  • Old buildings – Visit the old buildings.

I also suggest trying the authentic Kerala cuisine (from India) at Adithya Kerala Restaurant. Note: The food is pricey.

Berry

Berry is a beautiful village in the Shoalhaven region. This village is definitely a favorite to the Sydneysiders as it makes a perfect one day trip over the weekend.

Distance between Nowra and Berry - 19 kilometres.
Things to do
  • Donuts – Tasting the amazing donuts is a must in Berry.
  • Cafes and restaurants – Berry has a street of cafes and restaurants which are beautiful.
Kiama

Famous for its blowhole, Kiama is a famous coastal town for Sydneysiders as it provides a perfect one day getaway on a nice sunny day. The town as quaint cafes and restaurants.

Distance between Berry and Kiama - 24 kilometres.
Things to do
  • Kiama blowhole – The blowhole is where the sea water rushes through the gaps between the cliffs and makes a huge noise. There is no entrance fee.
  • Kiama lighthouse – A great spot to have a picnic or watch the sunset. There is no entrance fee.
  • Memorial arch – An arch in recognition of all those who sacrificed in the Great War between 1914 and 1918.
  • Bombo Quarry – An unusual place to see the basalt columns. There is no entrance fee.
    • Be careful while visiting this place as there are too many rocks and it can be dangerous with the waves.
  • Read my detailed post on Kiama here.
Kiama
Wollongong

Wollongong, adorably known as the Gongs, is a coastal city in NSW. Famous for its surfing beaches and rocky cliffs, Wollongong is an awesome place to spend a weekend.

Distance between Kiama and Wollongong - 36 kilometres.
Things to do
  • Lighthouses – There are two lighthouses at Wollongong which are gorgeous. There is no entrance fee.
  • Nan Tien Temple – A Buddhist temple that also offers retreats.
  • Sea Cliff Bridge – A famous touristy spot is the Sea Cliff bridge.
  • If you love visiting Hindu temples, then visit Helensburgh temple in the Royal National Park.
Wollongong

Part 2 – Sydney to Cairns

Part 2 of the road trip is from Sydney to Cairns.

  • The distance covered is around 2700 kilometres.
  • The roads are very well maintained and a 2WD is sufficient for the drive.

Towns and cities between Sydney and Cairns

New South Wales

Sydney

Sydney is one of the largest cities in Australia and is the capital city of NSW. Very famous for its Opera house, this city happens to be my home in Australia. For a detailed guide on Sydney, read my post Travel guide to Sydney.

Distance between Wollongong and Sydney - 95 kilometres.
Things to do

There are plenty of things to do in Sydney. One needs at least a week to just see the Central Business District (CBD).

  • Sydney Opera House – Visiting Sydney is incomplete without seeing the Sydney Opera House.
  • Bondi and Manly beaches – The two famous touristy beaches with lovely views of the ocean.
  • Coastal walks – Sydney is blessed with charming coastal walks.
  • Read my detailed post about the travel in Sydney here.
Sydney Opera House
Newcastle

Newcastle is a harbour city with a lot of beaches. It is the second most populated cities in NSW. It is one of my favourite cities in NSW.

Distance between Sydney and Newcastle - 170 kilometres.
Things to do
  • Beaches – It has quite a few beaches like Nobbys and Newcastle beaches.
  • Fort Scratchley – A historical site in Newcastle.
  • Read my detailed guide on things to do in Newcastle here.
Newcastle beach
Port Macquarie

Port Macquarie is special to me as it was one of the initial destinations I traveled to solo in Australia. It is a coastal town at the mouth of the Hastings River. An excellent destination for surfing and fishing.

Distance between Newcastle and Port Macquarie - 244 kilometres.
Things to do
  • Tracking Point lighthouse – An amazing lighthouse that gives great views of the ocean. Also, a great spot to see whales and dolphins. Read my personal story at the lighthouse here.
  • Surfing – The beaches are spectacular for surfing.
port macquarie
Tracking Point lighthouse
Coffs Harbour

Known for its Big Banana, Coffs Harbour is a city in the north coast of NSW. It is a great destination for family holidays.

Distance between Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour - 153 kilometres.
Things to do
  • The Big Banana – The Big Banana is one of the big structures that you can see in Australia.
  • Whale watching – Coffs Harbour is a great location to spot whales during the whale migratory season.
  • Dolphin Magic Marine Park – A place where you can get kissed by a dolphin and a seal.
  • Butterfly Park – This park is amazing where you can see so many types of butterflies.
Coffs Harbour
Byron Bay

A very vibrant town with lots of travelers and backpackers is Byron Bay. It is known for surfing and has one of the best dive sites in Australia.

Distance between Coffs Harbour and Byron Bay - 234 kilometres.
Things to do

If you are short on time and have only one day at Byron Bay, then read my post one day in Byron Bay.

  • Scuba diving – Julian Rocks dive site is one of the most famous dive sites in Australia. It has turtle nurseries and because of which there are higher chances of seeing turtles while diving.
  • Cape Byron Lighthouse – The most eastern point of Australia is where the Cape Byron lighthouse is located.
  • Walks – There are plenty of coastal walks one can do in Byron Bay.
  • Street art – There is so much of street art on the streets of Byron Bay. Definitely spend sometime walking around the town.
  • For a complete guide to Byron Bay, read my post travel guide to Byron Bay.
Street art at Byron Bay
Street art at Byron Bay

Queensland

Gold Coast

The Gold Coast is a coastal city in the state of Queensland. It is known for theme parks and is also a party city. The city is also famous for its sandy beaches and surfing spots.

Note: The timezone changes from Byron Bay to Gold Coast.

Distance between Byron Bay and Gold Coast - 94 kilometres.
Things to do

For stay at Gold Coast, I definitely suggest staying at Monte Carlo Serviced apartment. The views from the balcony are amazing and the place is situated at a very convenient location.

  • Theme parks – One cannot miss going to a few, if not all, of the theme parks while visiting Gold Coast. The theme parks available are:
    • Sea World.
    • Warner Bros. Movie World.
    • Dreamworld.
    • Wet n Wild.
    • Ripley’s believe it or not.
  • Night life – Gold Coast is the most famous destination among Aussies for nightlife. The party life is absolutely amazing.
  • Ride in Quack boat – The Quack boat is a one hour bus/ boat ride. The bus actually turns into a boat in the water. The ticket for the ride can be purchased at one of the tourist shops in Gold Coast and the cost is AUD 38 per person.
  • Surfers Paradise Observation Deck – I have been to plenty of observation decks till date during my travels but I have never seen anything like the Surfers Paradise one. The views from the Surfers Paradise Observation Deck are mind blowing and totally worth the visit.
  • Read 7 things to do in Gold Coast for more details.
Surfers Paradise Observation Deck at Gold Coast
Brisbane

Brisbane is the capital city of Queensland and is one of the major cities in Australia. It is slowly becoming a very popular destination for locals to live and many argue that Brisbane is a better city to live in when compared to Sydney and Melbourne.

Distance between Gold Coast and Brisbane - 79 kilometres.
Things to do

Brisbane, as a city offers plenty of things to do. However, some of the things that I did and visited are:

  • Brisbane city botanical gardens.
  • Museum of Brisbane.
  • The Wheel of Brisbane.

I also visited the Stradbroke Island for one day when I was in Brisbane.

Hervey Bay

Hervey Bay is the whale watching capital of Australia. It is a great place for observing the humpback whales during the whale migratory season.

Distance between Brisbane and Hervey Bay - 286 kilometres.
Things to do
  • As I mentioned already, one cannot miss observing the whales in Hervey Bay.
  • Hervey Bay is the gateway to the Fraser Island.
Airlie Beach

Airlie beach is the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. The Whitsunday islands are a collection of around 74 islands. It lies between the central coast of Queensland, Australia, and the Great Barrier Reef. It is one of the most popular travel destinations in Australia with some of the really luxurious island resorts.

Distance between Hervey Bay and Airlie Beach - 863 kilometres.
Things to do
  • Scenic flight to see Heart Reef– The view of the Heart Reef is amazing and breathtaking. Heart Reef is a natural reef in the shape of a heart. One can only take a seaplane or a helicopter to go view this amazing natural wonder.
  • Whitehaven Beach – One of the top five spectacular beaches is Whitehaven beach. This is a protected 7 kilometres stretch that is famous for its blue crystal clear waters with white sand.
  • Sailing on Whitsundays – The trip to Whitsundays is not complete without sailing over the Whitsundays. A sailing experience – definitely a must-do!
  • Snorkeling – There are options to snorkel in the Whitsunday Islands. However, I wouldn’t recommend snorkeling in the Whitsunday Islands. But one can always enjoy the warm waters and go for a swim.
Whitsundays Islands
Townsville

Townsville is a coastal city in the state of Queensland in Australia. Popular for its beaches and the reef from the Great Barrier Reef, Townsville is a very beautiful city to visit in Queensland.

Distance between Airlie Beach and Townsville - 272 kilometres.
Things to do
  • Maritime museum – Visit the maritime museum in Townsville. The ticket can be purchased at the entrance.
  • Magnetic Island – Offshore from the city, Magnetic Island is an island with coral reefs and a national park full of wildlife. The Magnetic island is famous for its coral reefs and marine life. Ferries run very frequently between Townsville and Magnetic Island.
Cairns

Cairns is the gateway to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR). It is a laid back city in Queensland. And is best enjoyed outdoors. The city plays a huge role in Australia’s tourism economy and is one of the most popular destinations for all tourists.

Distance between Townsville and Cairns - 347 kilometres & Ending point of the road trip - Cairns.
Things to do
  • Scuba diving/ Snorkeling – Number one thing to do when in Cairns is to scuba dive or snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Daintree Rain Forest – The Daintree Rain Forest is the largest tropical rain forest in Australia and is around 1200 square kilometres. Visiting one of the oldest rain forests in the World is an amazing experience.
  • Port Douglas – The town is about 1-hour drive from Cairns and for scuba diving in Great Barrier Reef, I would definitely consider Port Douglas rather than Cairns.
  • Green or Fitzroy Island – There are daily day trips that run to both Green and Fitzroy Islands. Spending a day at these islands are an awesome way to get a taste of some more of Great Barrier Reef.
Scuba diving at Port Douglas
Scuba diving at Port Douglas

Safety for solo female travelers

Australia is very safe for solo female travelers. I have traveled to most of these places solo and have never had any issues whatsoever. However, like any other place in the World, be cautious and know your surroundings, especially at nights.

Narooma and Bermagui road trip; lighthouses of South coast NSW

Closing Notes

The road trip from Lakes Entrance to Cairns is one of the most epic adventures one can have along the east coast of Australia. If not at one go, I would recommend at least doing these in bits and pieces and visiting the astonishing towns and cities along the way.

PIN for later reference

PIN for later reference - The ultimate road trip on the east coast of Australia
PIN for later reference – The ultimate road trip on the east coast of Australia

14 comments

  1. A road trip is such a great way to explore the details of a country and the culture! Would love to do this East Coast Australia road trip, especially when all the stops are so coastal! Looks dreamy, and definitely saving for later.

  2. This would be a dream trip! Australia was my first international DIY trip and I have learned so much since then. I really want to return and this is the perfect guide to use. I missed Bryon Bay and the Whitsunday Islands on my first trip and have regretted it ever since. Great tip about the toll roads, always good to know that ahead of time

  3. We were sad when we had to cancel our Australia visit in 2020. We do love to road trip and this path along the East coast of Australia looks just like a perfect one for us. Living in Canada we are used to road trips that are very long. But we sure don’t have to watch for kangaroos at dawn and dusk! I love the variety of spots to stop along your route. And the chance to see much of the things we miss sheen we flew from Sydney to Cairns on our last trip.

  4. I’ve never been to Australia, so this is a great guide for first timers who like to incorporate a road trip into their travels. I like this approach because it allows you to see not only destination to destination, but to discover the hidden gems along the way. There appears to be many!

  5. The best part about road trip in Australia is that like India it is left side driving there and I can do that! Wait what! A road trip with the changing time zones? Wow. 2 to 3 weeks long trip sounds cool. Good to know that there’s good mobile coverage everywhere. I thought that rock looks like Durdle door in England, but I’m fascinated to know that its shape is like Australia. Wollongong looks incredibly picturesque.

  6. As world being closed for travel now, Australia seems so distant. But I love seeing all the photos as it looks so beautiful there! This is a great guide for road tripping there and I hope we get to visit soon. There is so many amazing places to see. I think we would love to see all the beaches and the lighthouse.

  7. What a cool set of pictures. It must be a trip of lifetime. I have been to all the continents except Australia and Antarctica. Australia is next on my list. Hopefully things will be better soon to travel again.

  8. A dream road trip really. The more I see about Australia from you, the more I am falling in love with the country. Wonderful pictures Raksha and seems such a happy trip.

  9. Wow! This is definitely an amazing experience. There is just so much to see and do. Thank you for the tips and the warning about the kangaroos. I love to visit the Dolphin Magic Marine Park and be kissed by a dolphin (that’s so cute!)

I would love to hear your thoughts, please drop a comment!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.