Narooma and Bermagui road trip; lighthouses of South coast NSW

Ultimate Road Trip on the East Coast of Australia (2024)

Embark on an unforgettable road trip along the mesmerising East Coast of Australia, where every stretch of highway unfolds a new chapter of scenic wonders. From the vibrant cityscape of Sydney to the tropical paradise of Cairns, this journey is a kaleidoscope of diverse landscapes and experiences.

Going on a road trip along the East Coast of Australia is truly a remarkable experience. The coastal route unveils breathtaking scenery, adorned with picturesque towns and cities that add a layer of beauty to this unforgettable journey. Each town possesses its charm, making the entire trip a collection of memorable moments. Travelers will find themselves traversing through not just roads but also through the unique characters of charming and adorable towns along the way.

Narooma and Bermagui road trip; lighthouses of South coast NSW

PIN for later reference – Ultimate Road Trip on the East Coast of Australia

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PIN for later reference – Ultimate Road Trip on the East Coast of Australia

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East Coast Road Trip Route and Important Information

The journey kicks off from the southern region of Victoria, gradually making its way northward towards Queensland. This route spans three distinct states: Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland. To enhance the travel experience, I have segmented the road trip into two parts. The first leg stretches from Lakes Entrance to Sydney, while the second leg takes you from Sydney to the tropical destination of Cairns.

Important considerations for your road trip:

  • Vast Distance: Australia’s sheer size makes the road trip from Lakes Entrance to Cairns cover approximately 3400 kilometres.
  • Toll Roads: Be aware of toll roads along the route that may impact travel expenses.
  • Time Zone Changes: Note the time zone differences between Victoria/New South Wales and Queensland as you journey through diverse regions.
  • Highway Conditions: While the highways are well-maintained, the long stretches can become monotonous, so plan for breaks to stay refreshed.
  • Wildlife Caution: Exercise caution regarding kangaroos, especially during dawn and dusk when they are more active.
  • Petrol Stations: Shell and BP petrol stations are conveniently located along the route for fueling up.
  • Mobile Coverage: Enjoy good mobile coverage in all the towns and cities mentioned in this post, ensuring connectivity throughout your journey.
  • Time Investment: To fully explore all the recommended destinations, allocate at least 2 to 3 weeks for the road trip.
  • Optimal Seasons: The ideal time for this road trip is spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) when the weather is pleasant. Summers (December to February) bring warmth, especially as you head north, while winters (June to August) may limit water activities due to freezing temperatures. For a winter road trip, refer to the provided winter packing list for a comfortable journey.

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

Section 1 – Lakes Entrance to Sydney

Section one of this road expedition spans from Lakes Entrance to Sydney, covering a distance of approximately 750 kilometres. Travellers have two options: a more inland path and a scenic coastal route. Regardless of the chosen path, both roads are excellently maintained, and a 2WD vehicle is adequate for a smooth and enjoyable drive.

During a previous adventure, my friends and I embarked on a journey from Sydney to Lakes Entrance. In my post, I have meticulously outlined the comprehensive itinerary and documented the associated expenses.

Towns and cities between Lakes Entrance and Sydney

While there are numerous charming coastal towns and cities scattered between Lakes Entrance and Sydney, I have curated a list of the ones I personally explored and found to be particularly enchanting.

For an alternative starting point, consider commencing the road trip from Melbourne. Covering a distance of approximately 320 kilometres (a 4-hour drive) to Lakes Entrance, this route offers a different perspective. Consult my post on things to do in Melbourne for a comprehensive guide to navigating the city before embarking on your journey.


Starting point of the road trip – Lakes Entrance.

Lakes Entrance

Situated in the state of Victoria, Lakes Entrance is a captivating coastal town nestled at the edge of Ninety Mile Beach. Renowned for its pristine beaches and abundant wildlife, this town offers a scenic blend of natural beauty and biodiversity.

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 Footbridge – A beautiful footbridge where you can see spectacular sunsets. There is no entry fee to the bridge.
  • Reeve Landing jetty – A relaxing walk by the jetty is a fantastic way to spend an evening.
Sydney to Lakes Entrance

New South Wales


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. You can also follow the Killer Whale Trail to learn more about how killer whales worked with sailors to catch the humpback whales.
  • Watching sunrise – A great spot to watch sunrises at any beach in Eden.
  • Light-to-Light Walk – A stunning 3-day hike is a 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

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.

Corymbia Batemans Bay is one of the best NSW beach resorts and you could look up staying at one of these to get spectacular views of the ocean.


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 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 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.

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.
Kiama coastline

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.

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 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.
Sydney Opera House

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.
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.
  • Surfing – The beaches are spectacular for surfing.
Sunset at 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


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

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 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 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 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.

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