Bryon Bay, New South Wales, Australia at sunset with dense trees in the foreground looking down at the beach sweeping to the horizon.
Nick Brundle Photography/

Road Trip from Sydney to Brisbane

Updated by Dianne Titos on February 7 2023

A road trip from Sydney to Brisbane is one of Australia's quintessential driving experiences. Providing a great way to explore the beautiful coastline of the eastern seaboard, you get to enjoy areas of outstanding natural beauty, and could also visit some delightful rural towns and coastal cities as well.

The 940 km road trip from Sydney to Brisbane will take you 10 hours to drive. The highlights en route are Newcastle, Hallidays Point, Limeburners Creek National Park, Coffs Harbour, Yuraygir National Park, Byron Bay, Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise.

These are just a few of the many terrific landmarks and points of interest you can see on this fantastic excursion from Sydney to Brisbane. So you'll want to read on until the end to find out more about them.

How to drive from Sydney to Brisbane

The map below shows two great route options for your Sydney to Brisbane road trip. Click on the star icons for headline details, and scroll down for more information below.

* Always remember that drive times can be impacted by traffic, closures, weather and other conditions. It's best to double-check while planning and before starting out on your trip.

Table comparing route options between Sydney and Brisbane
RouteDistanceDriving Time
Pacific Highway Route940 km10 hours
Tamworth Route990 km11 hours 30 minutes

How far is Brisbane from Sydney and how long will the road trip take?

The most direct route between Sydney and Brisbane is via the Pacific Highway. All up it should take about 10 hours to drive the 940 km distance following the beautiful coastline.

An alternative drive will take you through the magnificent countryside along the Tamworth Route. This inland drive will take 11 hours and 30 minutes to cover the 990 km distance between Sydney and Brisbane.

To appreciate the beautiful sights on either of these routes and allow you to take adequate rests in between, we recommend putting aside at least 4 days to complete this scenic road trip.

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia at early evening with the city in the foreground and background and the river running between them.
After your scenic drive, Brisbane is a wonderful city to spend a few nights.
Martin Valigursky/

Best road trip route from Sydney to Brisbane

A road trip from Sydney to Brisbane is a long drive, so the route you take will depend on where you want to stop off and what type of scenic views you want to take in.

Our suggested two routes are fairly straightforward journeys. They provide different experiences and will regularly take you through towns with plenty of shops and petrol stations.

If you love coastlines the Pacific Highway Route will be the perfect adventure for you, as you will have the opportunity to visit a number of excellent beaches, and beautiful waterways, that you will probably want to spend a bit of time at.

Don't forget to take your paddleboards, jet skis or kayaks if you plan to go this way!

You will join the alternative Tamworth Route from just after Seahampton in New South Wales and take it all the way through the beautiful regions of the Hunter Valley, Tamworth, and Warwick before you reach Brisbane.

This route should appeal to oenophiles, as you will pass through a number of fantastic wineries. It also showcases some of the most historic buildings in Queensland.

The Pacific Highway Route

Also known as The Pacific Highway, the M1 and A1 are essentially the same road. So from downtown Sydney, you can take it up all the way to Brisbane.

If you love the sand and surf this route will give you the opportunity to visit some of Australia's most famous beaches including Palm Beach (which is where the popular TV show Home & Away is filmed), as well as Terrigal, Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay and Surfers Paradise.

En route to Brisbane, you'll definitely want to stop off at the latter two, to soak in their iconic laid back nature, and party vibe, respectively.

Table Top Mountain, Toowoomba, Australia at sunset looking down to the valley and mountains below.
The Pacific Highway Route will take you through Toowoomba which is has a fantastic National Park and stunning views.

The Tamworth Route

This route follows the coast briefly before heading inland past Seahampton near Newcastle. From here, you will drive through the wine country past Pokolbin, Muswellbrook, Murrurundi and Willow Tree on A15. Follow this road to Tamworth, a lovely town to take a break at.

It will take you through a number of charming regional cities including Armidale, which is known as the Cathedral City, and Tenterfield which is widely accepted as being ‘the birthplace of Australia' - where Sir Henry Parkes made his iconic speech calling for Australia to become a federation.

This route will also lead you to Warwick on A15 which is close to the birthplace of the author PL Travers in Allora. If you love her works, including that of Mary Poppins, you may well want to undertake a tour of her childhood home. After your visit, keep heading northeast to reach Brisbane.

Hunter Valley, Australia at sunrise overlooking the vineyards below with trees in the distance.
You will sample a bit of the beautiful Hunter Valley on this route, and get plenty of opportunities to make deeper detours if you have more time.

Best places to stop between Sydney and Brisbane

Irrespective of which route you take, we highly recommend you make at least one, if not two overnight stops on this Sydney to Brisbane road trip. There are a host of wonderful places you can stay at, but a couple we recommend are as follows:

Chill out in Byron Bay

Byron Bay, located about 8 hours and 30 minutes into the Pacific Highway Route, is one of the world's most famous coastal towns, so you'll definitely want to stop here to experience its unique laid back nature, spectacular beaches and lush hinterland.

If you fancy staying overnight, one of the best places you can book is The Villas of Byron, which just screams luxury and style. Conveniently situated near the iconic Main Beach, it is also a stone's throw away from the central drag of bars and cafes in the area.

The famous Byron Bay Lighthouse, which is the first place in Australia to see the sunrise every morning, is also just round the corner. So you'll be able to catch the magnificence of it, should you get up early enough.

Equipped with a private pool and hot tub, as an extra nice touch these luxury, 5 star villas also have an on-site chef who can prepare fantastic 3-course meals for you, as well as top notch seafood and Japanese sushi platters.

Surfers Paradise, Australia at sunrise with reflections of Queensland's Gold Coast and city buildings in the wet sand in the foreground.
If you choose the coastal route, you'll be spoilt with beaches like Surfer's Paradise, only an hour from Brisbane.
Darren Tierney/


Tamworth, located about 5 hours into the route that shares its name, is known as the country music capital of Australia and it is renowned for its yearly Country Music Festival, which draws thousands of visitors from all corners of the globe.

When in Tamworth, there are two must-visit places that you shouldn't miss. First is the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame, celebrating the nation's country music history Secondly, the Oxley Scenic Lookout offers breathtaking panoramic views of Tamworth and the surrounding countryside.

Golden guitar statue outside an information center in Australia on a sunny day
Welcome to Tamworth, the country music capital of Australia!

For a luxurious place to stay in Tamworth, we highly recommend the Powerhouse Hotel Tamworth by Rydges. As a 5-star hotel situated at the very heart of Tamworth, it boasts beautifully designed rooms, complemented by a full-service spa.

Make sure to book a table at the on-site Workshop Kitchen, featuring a menu that highlights regional produce and features wood-fired options. Another, perhaps surprising, place to visit on this property is the Powerhouse Motorcycle Museum.

For those keen on exploring the surroundings, the hotel is conveniently located near several key attractions. The Australian Country Music Hall of Fame is just a 10-minute walk away, while the Oxley Scenic Lookout, Tamworth Water Tank Art, and Flagstaff Mountain Lookout are all within a short drive.

Where to stay when you reach Brisbane

As you reach Brisbane, the final destination of your road trip, the perfect place to stay is Hotel X Brisbane Fortitude Valley, part of the Vignette Collection by IHG. Situated in the heart of Brisbane's bustling fashion, nightlife, and dining epicenter, this hotel boasts a stellar location.

With a chic in-house bistro offering the culinary delights of France, and a sought-after Spanish Rooftop Bar & Restaurant, it provides the perfect setting for dining and socialising.

After your long drive, bask in the sunshine, soak up panoramic city views, and enjoy poolside cocktails after a refreshing dip at the beautiful rooftop pool.

Strategically located near Howard Smith Wharves, James Street boutiques, and the top dining and nightlife spots in Brisbane, Hotel X serves as your gateway to the city's finest.

Things to see on a road trip from Sydney to Brisbane

When planning out all the places you can visit on a road trip from Sydney to Brisbane, you'll soon discover there are plenty of options available to you.

Outlined below is a list we have put together of some of the main highlights. Granted you won't have time to check them all out, but we do recommend you see as many of them as you can.

Both routes

  1. Terrigal - Charming coastal town with a long, broad, golden sandy beach and a wonderful esplanade lined with Norfolk pines.
  2. Lake Macquarie - Enjoy swimming, fishing and kayaking at the largest coastal saltwater lake in the Southern Hemisphere.
  3. Newcastle - Explore this lovely harbour city in the central-eastern part of the Sydney Basin. Check out Nobbys Beach and take a walk along the breakwater

Pacific Highway Route

  1. Barrington Tops National Park - Enjoy bushwalking, kayaking, abseiling and mountain biking in this fabulous Australia World Heritage Area.
  2. Bulahdelah Mountain Aboriginal Place - A sacred site offering stunning views and a deep connection to the cultural heritage of the local Aboriginal people.
  3. Crowdy Bay National Park - Take the opportunity to see kangaroos who regularly swim in the surf at daybreak.
  4. Wallingat National Park - A nature lover's paradise with lush forests, picturesque waterways, and diverse wildlife.
  5. Ricardoes Tomatoes & Strawberries - A family-run farm where visitors can pick their own strawberries and tomatoes and enjoy fresh local produce.
  6. Trial Bay Gaol - A historic prison set on the NSW coast, offering insights into Australia's colonial past and spectacular ocean views.
  7. The Big Banana Fun Park - An iconic tourist attraction in Coffs Harbour featuring a giant banana structure, water park, mini-golf, and more for family fun.
  8. The Forest Sky Pier - Offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Coffs Coast and hinterland from a dramatic cantilevered platform.
  9. Woolgoolga Beach - A serene beach known for its clear waters, excellent surfing, and the annual Bollywood Beach Bazaar.
  10. Bundjalung National Park - A coastal reserve famous for its pristine beaches, river estuaries, and traditional Aboriginal heritage.
  11. Cape Byron Lighthouse - Australia's most easterly point, providing stunning ocean vistas and a chance to spot migrating whales.
  12. Byron Bay – Chilled out coastal town with a great beach and art scene, fabulous cafes and bars, and the first glimpse every day of the sunrise in Australia.
  13. Torakina Beach - A tranquil beach in Brunswick Heads, ideal for swimming, with calm waters protected by breakwalls.
  14. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary - A conservation park offering close encounters with Australia's native wildlife, interactive shows, and treetop challenge courses.
  15. Palm Beach - Visit the iconic beachside setting of the TV show Home and Away and create some holiday drama of your own!
  16. Gold Coast Botanic Gardens - A peaceful retreat with native and exotic plants, lakeside walks, and birdwatching opportunities, nestled in the heart of the Gold Coast.
  17. Surfers Paradise – Enjoy the beach, cafes, attractions and nightclubs of this world famous coastal city. Be sure to take in the sensational 360° views from the impressive SkyPoint observation deck.
Coffs Harbour, Australia looking at the town from Muttonbird Island connected to shore by stone walls, protecting the marina and a sandy beach in the distance.
Another great highlight is a visit to Coffs Harbour, a beautiful setting to take in breathtaking views.
Taras Vyshnya/

Tamworth Route

  1. Hunter Valley - Check out some of Australia's most pre-eminent cellar doors in the heart of wine country. A personal favourite of ours is Pepper Tree Wines, not far from Pokolbin.
  2. Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre - A cultural hub showcasing a diverse range of visual arts, from local talent to nationally recognized artists.
  3. Towarri National Park - A rugged wilderness area featuring dramatic landscapes, indigenous rock art, and secluded swimming spots.
  4. Oxley Scenic Lookout - Offers expansive views of Tamworth and the surrounding countryside, perfect for sunset and sunrise watchers.
  5. Armidale, New South Wales - A charming city known for its rich history, beautiful autumn colors, and prestigious educational institutions.
  6. Australian Standing Stones - A unique monument celebrating the nation's Celtic heritage, located in the picturesque town of Glen Innes.
  7. Tenterfield Railway Museum - Preserves the history of rail in the region, housed in the original Tenterfield station with its collection of memorabilia.
  8. Ballandean Pyramid - An intriguing man-made structure in a vineyard, offering a quirky photo opportunity amidst the Granite Belt's wine country.
  9. Mount Marley Scenic Lookout - Provides panoramic views of Stanthorpe and the surrounding Granite Belt region, ideal for nature enthusiasts.
  10. Warwick Art Gallery - Features a dynamic range of exhibitions that celebrate local artists, craftspeople, and the wider artistic community.
  11. Main Range National Park - A World Heritage-listed site renowned for its ancient rainforests, dramatic escarpments, and unique wildlife.
  12. Ipswich Nature Centre - A free-access wildlife park offering close encounters with native Australian animals and a tranquil environment for families.
Sunset over Tamworth from the lookout
Enjoy the expansive views from Oxley Scenic Lookout on the inland Tamworth Route.
CJO Photography/

Best time to go on a road trip from Sydney to Brisbane

To put it simply, you can easily undertake your road trip from Sydney to Brisbane at any time of the year. You'll find that temperatures in Brisbane are beautiful all year round, with mild winters and warm, sometimes humid summers.

Summer sees average temperatures ranging from 21 to 30 degrees Celsius, perfect for beach visits and outdoor activities.

During the weekends, school holidays and summer months, however, you will find that hotel prices and traffic congestion will be much higher than other times of the year: especially around Sydney, Byron Bay, the Gold Coast and Brisbane.

Planning this road trip from Sydney to Brisbane in winter? You can expect winter in Brisbane to be mild and dry, with temperatures usually between 11 and 21 degrees Celsius.

If you are planning to visit lots of different beaches, the best time to go is between February and April or September to November, outside of winter and the storm season. Spring offers warm weather, with temperatures from 15 to 25 degrees Celsius.

If the wineries of Hunter Valley are a particular draw for you, then it makes sense to plan your trip for April or May. Autumn brings cooler, comfortable weather, with temperatures ranging between 15 and 25 degrees Celsius. Don't miss out on the Paniyiri Greek Festival if you are visiting Brisbane in May!

Autumn is said by many to be the best time to see the Hunter Valley - just after the harvest - with the changing leaves creating a stunning patchwork of yellow, green, orange, brown and red.

If you are following the inland Tamworth Route, you can enjoy Apple & Grape Harvest Festival between February and March in Stanthorpe, depending on when the harvest will be. It is a good idea to check ahead not to miss out.