Sydney One-Day One-Way
You’re selling your car in Sydney because it just doesn’t suit your lifestyle anymore, and you can almost feel the keys of your new vehicle in the palm of your hand. You can see yourself starting the ignition and heading off on a scenic adventure to…where? We’ve taken our readers on a few whirlwind tours already, and this month we’re heading nearly 400 kilometres up the shimmering North Coast to Port Macquarie. There will be a few stops along the way so it’s advised to leave around eight in the morning, and plan to be gone at least until tomorrow.
From the CBD, head up the M1for roughly 85 kilometres, it will take about an hour and twenty minutes. There are tolls on this road but it’s well worth it! Turn onto Wiseman’s Ferry road then take a left at the roundabout to head down Somersby Falls road all the way to the picnic area. Note that it doesn’t technically open until 9 am. You can treat this as a toilet stop if you’d like, as the area has many facilities provided, but most toilet stops along the way won’t be in the middle of dense rainforest.
Lounging and swimming at the bottom of Somersby Falls, Brisbane Water National Park.
The air here is crisp and refreshing and it will do you good to stretch your legs a little bit. From the information sign you can head along the pathway that passes by Side Falls, the smaller of the two waterfalls, and then to the top of Somersby Falls. You’ll hear the songs of rainforest birds and the rustling of brush turkeys as you wind your way down. The trail ends at the bottom of Somersby Falls and you are more than advised to take a dip in the cool, flowing waters. As you head back up, make sure to watch your step because the steep trail is often slippery from the splashing waters of the falls. The whole trail is only 500 metres return so you can take as long as you’d like to soak it in. This stop lies within the Brisbane Water National Park which has so many treasures that you may decide to make a day trip out of this first destination point. If you’re keen to carry on then head back to your car and head back to the highway.
The Warrah Lookout from Brisbane Waters National Park.
Continue going North until you see the A43 veer off on the right. Take this road all the way to the tip of Swansea. This leg of the trip will take another hour or so and is roughly 70 kilometres. Look for signs towards Caves Beach, there is usually ample parking even during the summer. At any given time this is a lovely and safe beach for all ages if you just want a driving break and some peaceful contemplation at the ocean’s edge. If you’re lucky enough to arrive during low tide however, then you’re in for a treat. You can wander down to the Southernmost aspect of the beach and weave your way through a series of enchanting caves. On weekdays you might even find yourself alone in one of these echoing abodes. If the timing isn’t right then make sure to look online for tide forecasts and plan to stop here on the way back home. If you are feeling hungry, there are plenty of local eateries in the Swansea town centre you can stop in on your way back to the main road.
The view from inside the deep peace of Caves Beach, Swansea.
Keep driving up the A43, merge onto the A1, and head north for about an hour and a half. Just after Buladelah, take a right onto The Lakes Way for 25 kilometres, then a second right onto Seal Rocks Road. Ten kilometres down this unassuming dirt road road will take you to Seal Rocks, the coastal edge of Myall Lakes National Park. Here you may feel rather isolated after meandering down an unsealed road, surrounded on all sides by National Park. The locals seem to like it this way and the vibe is just right for a small, sleepy, beachside town. Perhaps the lack of overdevelopment keeps some amount of tourists at bay, but don’t be fooled by the lacking swaths of tourists. There are beautiful and uncrowded surfing waves, quiet sandy beaches, diving and kayaking waters, and the nearby National Park with a maze of bushwalking trails. Take a walk out to the Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse, the town’s icon, and enjoy the views of the rocky waters from which the town gets it’s name.
On the way to the Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse, Seal Rocks.
You’re on the home stretch. Just head back up the slightly bumpy Seal Rocks Road, take a left on Lakes way and two rights on Wattley Hill then Wootton Way. From there you can follow the A1 all the way until you hit the B56 on the right, which takes you into the darling Port Macquarie. The drive will take about two hours, roughly 160 km. (If you want a quick inland stop for a break from coastal waters, take a dip in the Manning River from Dumaresq Island or Corki, both of which are roughly half-way along the last part of this journey).
The Manning River, near Corki on the way from Sydney to Port Macquarie.
Once you reach Port Macquarie, you’ve really just begun the adventure.The diversity of this place means that you can tailor your stay to suit who you are whether you’re more into nature walks and view-points, historical and cultural sight-seeing, or both. On the historical front, Port Macquarie is home to St.Thomas Anglican church, built in 1824 by the hands of convicts who moulded their own bricks and made mortar out of oyster shells. You’ll also find the Historical Cemetery, the Wesleyan Chapel, and the St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church.
Convict-built St. Thomas Anglican Church, Port Macquarie.
If all of that isn’t your cup of tea then get your walking shoes on and head into Sea Acres National Park. There are over 100 bird species in this massive expanse of coastal rainforest so you’ll likely see them fluttering and singing through the beautiful ferns and vines, and even out into the banksia woodland and the grassland. Amongst the flora you may even be able to spot the Sea Hibiscus growing. You are likely quite hungry by now so it’s a great time to head into the quaint little Rainforest Cafe, tucked away in the national park. They are open until 4pm, cater to gluten-free and vegetarian requests, and serve lovely organic teas and coffee.
The charming patio tucked between the trees at The Rainforest Cafe, Sea Acres National Park.
Spend time walking along the various beaches, up to the look-out point at Rocky Beach, and down along the Marina. If you happen to be there on a Sunday then you can catch the Art Society Markets on Hastings River Drive. There are several accommodation options in the area including holiday parks, farmstay, retreat centres, and campgrounds. If you’ve managed to bang out the whole journey before sundown and you want nothing more than to rest in your own bed, it’s a four hour straight shot back to Sydney down the Pacific Highway, just make sure to drive safely and watch out for wandering animals on the road.