You can easily get to Byron Bay via road; it takes about 9 hours but there are lots of sights to see along the way. There are essentially two ways you can go – the longer inland route which will take you along the Great Dividing Range, or the quicker coastal route along the Pacific Highway. Both of these ways have slightly different offerings for a nice day’s driving, with the inland quieter and more rural, and the coastal road a bit busier and lined with beachside towns.
Preparing Your Car and Accommodation Before You Go
Depending on when you are going to visit Byron Bay, you will need to organise accommodation. In the busy summer season (particularly around New Year’s Eve) the whole town will be booked out. There are a number of ways to get there, but if you are a tourist look at car rental in Sydney, fly, or catch the train.
Before you head off (if you are taking your own car) make sure that your car insurance and roadside assistance is up to date. While the drive is not too long, you may be driving on some hilly roads near Byron or coming off the inland road. In summer it is also quite hot so cars are more likely to overheat during the trip.
The Coast Road
The Coast Road is a great way to spend a couple of extra days getting to Byron Bay. You may want to stop and see the sights around bigger centres like Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie. Coffs Harbour is famous for its Big Banana and a great place to let the kids out for a rest. If you are going north of Byron, you can also go to see the Big Prawn!
The Pacific Highway has been plagued with road fatalities but government has helped to improve a lot of the road safety. It is still important to be safe while driving and rest at least every two hours to avoid driver fatigue.
The inland road takes you up onto the top of the Great Dividing Range which is worth the extra time as you can travel down the steep side of this mountain range. You can get across to the coast from inland NSW via Armidale (Waterfall Way), Glen Innes (Grafton Road) or Tenterfield (Bruxner Highway). While the Tenterfield Road route is the most direct, it is also not as good a road as the one to Grafton which will come out south of Byron.
Places to Stop
Both roads to the Byron Bay area are packed with national parks, and all of them are worth a visit. However, due to the number, you should plan before you go which ones you will stop at. Some of the places you might want to pop into are: Ballina, Evans Head and the beautiful Maclean Valley.
Enjoy your Byron Bay holiday! Remember to check for bookings before you go, as events like ‘Schoolies’ are very popular and there are infrequent music festivals on as well.