Cycling Sydney to Brisbane: Detailed Route

Cycling Sydney to Brisbane: Detailed Route

Before I started riding, I had planned on cycling Sydney to Brisbane but in the end, I decided to only complete Sydney to Gold Coast. I did this because I found riding in and around major metro areas was not enjoyable for me due to the stoplights, crosswalks, and traffic. I wanted to cover distance and these things slowed me down a lot. Spending almost an hour a day sitting in traffic is not my idea of cycle touring! I also suggest starting from Newcastle, this will eliminate two days of metro riding out of Sydney. Below is the route that I took while cycling Sydney to Brisbane. For planning and preparation information check out my post here.

my surly long haul trucker in front of the sydney opera house day 1

Cycling Sydney to Brisbane starting at the Sydney Opera House

Day 1

Cycle Sydney to The Entrance
Departed: 11:30am
Manley Ferry: 12pm, $7
Palm Beach Ferry to Ettalong: 3pm, $11.30
Arrived at The Entrance: 7pm
Distance: 95km/59mi
Elevation: 493m gain, 503m loss
Hostel: The Entrance Backpackers
Cost: $30 for a 12 bed dorm
Very clean and modern facilities
Camping was more expensive than the hostel so it would only be cost effective with a group

The Ride:

The ride was mainly along very busy roads and highways but there was usually a bike path, bike lane or adequate shoulder. Some places there was very little space and riding in the lane with traffic was nerve wracking. There wasn’t much for views along the route although getting off the main roads would provide many beach lookouts if time permits. I spent about two hours riding in the dark which slowed my speeds considerably. I chose to ride mostly on the bike paths and sidewalks which required me to stop at a lot of crosswalks and waste time. This is also applicable to the route as a whole.

Day 2

Cycle The Entrance to Newcastle
Departed: 11:30am
Arrived at: 5:30pm
Distance: 70km/43mi
Elevation: 330m gain, 336m loss

Hostel: Newcastle Backpackers
Cost: $25 6 bed dorm

Camping: $31 per tent nonelectric

The Ride:

The ride was mainly along very busy roads and highways but there was usually a bike path, bike lane or adequate shoulder. Some places there was very little space and riding in the lane with 90kph traffic was nerve wracking. There wasn’t much for views along the route although getting off the main roads would provide many beach lookouts in time permits. I spent about two hours riding in the dark which slowed my speeds considerably. I chose to ride mostly on the bike paths and sidewalks which required me to stop at a lot of crosswalks and waste time. This is also applicable to the route as a whole.

Nelson Point Ferry With Bike

I was a but nervous at the Nelson Point Ferry

Day 3

Cycle Newcastle to Myall Lakes National Park
Departed: 10:30am
Murreys Brewery: 1pm
Nelson Point Ferry: 2pm, $10
Tea Gardens: 4:50pm
Arrived at Steward Lloyd Campground: 6:30pm
Distance: 62.5km/39mi
Elevation: 94m gain, 89m loss
Conditions: 28mhp winds out of the NW
Camping: Steward and Lloyd Campground. This campground was closed but I stayed anyway. Many others in the area that looked nice when I rode by the next day.

The Ride:

The winds were brutal and it made the ride very difficult to maintain any good speed. The roads today were the best yet and if I was to do this again I would begin in Newcastle. The ferry in Nelson Point only runs a c few times each day and I missed the early one so I had to wait until 3:30pm. Knowing this ahead of time, I stopped at Murreys Brewery about 10km outside of Nelson Point for a great beer. The ferry ride usually has dolphin sightings but I did not see any on this trip. The wind produced high waves and the ferry ride was extremely rough. The took about an hour and we arrived in Tea Gardens at 4:50pm. I rode to the Coles about 10 min from the pier to get food and then rode to the campground. The final 10km to the camp is flat and very easy to ride. The was no traffic on the road so night riding was actually nice!

Beach at Forester Cycle Sydney to Brisbane

Beach near Forester while Cycling Sydney to Gold Coast

Day 4

Cycle Myall Lakes National Park to Forester
Departed: 7:30am
Arrived: 3:30pm
Distance: 87km/54mi
Elevation: 289m gain, 299m loss
Conditions: Perfect

Camping: Lanis Holiday Island was $20 for a non-electric site. Bush style camping out on the island. There are electric plugins in the toilets and kitchen area. Fires permitted with free wood!

The Ride:

The ride from Steward & Lloyd Campground is flat and quick moving until I arrived at the dirt road shortcut. No water is available unless you cross by ferry to the café. The dirt road bypasses the highway and is a good shortcut. The 20km service road is quite rocky for the first couple of km then turns to a mix of gravel and packed ground. I got a flat tire after hitting a sizable rock too hard and took it slow after that. Not advisable for standard road bikes. Once you get back on the pavement there is a small convenience store and bottle shop at the top of the hill that makes for a great stop. The ride to Forester has a couple of hills and the occasional slim shoulder but quick moving.  I got a second flat tire at the campground right as I pulled up to my site and it appeared to be a faulty tube.

Day 5

Cycle Forester to Laurieton
Departed: 9:00am
Arrived: 4:50pm
Distance: 90km/56mi
Elevation: m gain, m loss
Conditions: Perfect
Camping: Diamond Head Camp Area near Indian head camp. Great place with close access to the beach and plenty of kangaroos bouncing around.

The Ride: The ride out of town is a quick 20-25km with a few rolling hills but a good ride. There is a gas station to stop at in Rainbow Flats right before the highway junction that has cold drinks before hitting the highway. You will miss it if you’re not looking, I did! I turned off of the highway toward Harrington and rode through Crowdy Bay National Park where I found a really nice camp.

Google Maps Cycling were Wrong

Google Maps Cycling directions were wrong, 4WD only!

Day 6

Cycle Laurieton to Crescent Head
Departed: 10am
Arrived: 5pm
Distance: 82km/51mi
Elevation: m gain, m loss
Conditions: Perfect

Camping: Crescent Head Holiday Park $25. Typical caravan park but they don’t have grassy areas to set up the tent so I had to set up on a hard surface.

The Ride: The ride out of Diamond Head Campground was great. The dirt road eventually turned into pavement and I took Ocean Road all the way to Port Maquire. The ferry is free for cycles and runs all day, every day.  On the other side of the river, take the route to the left. The coastal route to the right turns to a 4wd road until you reach Plomers Point. I made this mistake and found myself pushing through sand for about an hour before a truck offered me a lift to Plomers Point. There is a great camp area here but I needed to get supplies so I rode on to Crescent Head. The remaining road to crescent head was graded gravel that was bumpy as hell but passable.

Day 7

Cycle Crescent Head to Nambucca Head
Departed: 10am
Arrived: 4:45pm
Distance: 83km/51mi
Elevation: m gain, m loss
Conditions: Very cool morning but eventually got hot

Camping: Big4 Nambucca Beach Holiday Park $25 for a simple tent site. No fires as listed on WikiCamps which is pretty much the only reason I chose this place. The campground is at the bottom of a big hill so the start of the day was a climb out.

The Ride: The ride out of Crescent head is really nice, some of the most relaxing riding so far. The road follows a winding river surrounded by fields and there was no traffic at all.  There is a small grocery/café in Smithtown with good food, made for a nice stop. After Smithtown the highway riding begins. The shoulder varies but gets quite narrow at times. The new highway is being built so this stretch won’t be as busy once the new highway opens.

Coffs Harbour Sunset Mutton Bird Island

Coffs Harbour Sunset Mutton Bird Island

Day 8

Cycle Nambucca Head to Coffs Harbour
Departed: 9:30am
Arrived: 1:30pm
Distance: 53km/33mi
Elevation: 360m gain, 370m loss
Conditions: Slight head wind all day

Hostel: Aussitel Hostel $27. Having real bed and a nice shower really made me feel better! Go to Mutton Bird Island for the sunset!

The Ride: The highway directly after Nambucca Heads was under heavy construction and at times no shoulder was available. Eventually, there was a nice bike lane that leads to the town of Toormina. From Toormina there is a bike path that leads all the way to Coffs Harbour. Alternatively, I could have continued riding to Woolgoolga but I wanted to stop in Coffs Harbuor for some sightseeing and good rest.

Day 9

Cycle Coffs Harbour to Tyndale Road House
Departed: 8:30am
Arrived: 5pm
Distance: 110km/68mi
Elevation: 519m gain, 511m loss
Conditions: Clear and calm with headwinds in the late afternoon
Camping: Tyndale Road House Fuel Station $10 for a campsite. Power available in the toilets. Should have stayed at the Bushgrove Hotel.

The Ride: All highway riding today, nothing too exciting. Google suggested some shortcuts but it was unclear if they were sealed roads so I decided to stay on the highway. I stopped in Brushgrove to have a drink at the Brushgrove hotel before heading to camp. The locals were welcoming and suggested I set up camp in the city park out front but I desired a shower so I pushed on the Tyndale Road House.

Day 10

Cycle Tyndale to Broadwater
Departed: 8:30am
Arrived: 4pm
Distance: 76km/47mi
Elevation: 197m gain, 187m loss

Camping: Broadwater Sunrise Caravan Park $10

The Ride: The ride was once again all highway and had a lot of construction. I managed to get two punctures and one failed patch throughout the day due to truck tires and other construction debris. I stopped in Maclean to get spare tubes and patches. No free fresh water until Woodburn so it’s best to stock up. The Aboriginal Museum makes for good stop and has food and drink but again, no free water. In Broadwater there is pub/restaurant at the end of town and a fuel station to get food or other supplies.

Catching Tail Wind Cycling Sydney to Brisbane

Catching Tail Wind Cycling Sydney to Brisbane

Day 11

Cycle Broadwater to Byron Bay
Departed: 10am
Arrived: 2pm
Distance: 59km/37mi
Elevation: 127m gain, 122m loss
Hostel: Backpackers Inn by the Beach $30

The Ride: had a puncture right outside of town to start the day but quickly patched it and kept moving. Made it to a bike shop in Ballina to pick up another spare tube. I made the mistake of assuming the shop owner gave me the right tube, but he didn’t, good thing I didn’t need to use it. Made a stop at the Big Prawn, it is quite big! We had a nice pie for lunch in Lennox Head before finishing up the ride into Byron Bay. I ended up staying for a week in Byron Bay, could have stayed longer.

Day 12

Cycle Byron Bay to Gold Coast
Departed: 10am
Arrived: 7pm
Distance: 92km/57mi
Elevation: 197m gain, 187m loss

The Ride: The ride from Byron Bay to Gold Coast was long and exhausting. There was strong headwind that really slowed me down. I also managed to get another puncture just off the highway as I made my way to Wooyung. I took Tweed Coast Road all the way to Tweed Heads which was a really nice ride.  The patch failed on my tube and my tire went flat again but a quick patch job got me moving again. The last 20km seemed endless as I rode through all of the small towns along the coast. Probably spent a solid hour or more just waiting for stop lights and traffic. The bike paths were nice though.

Optional Day

Cycling Gold Coast to Brisbane

Distance: 82km/51mi
Elevation: 399m gain, 378m loss

The Ride: This would mostly be on the highway although it would be possible to take a longer inland route. After the previous day of city riding, I decided to skip this part of the ride due to time constraints and overall lack of interest.


Tips for Cycling Sydney to Brisbane:

Take a train to Newcastle and start there. I spent two days riding out of Sydney and surrounding metro areas. It wasn’t very enjoyable to be in the traffic all day, save yourself time if you want.

Get WikiCamps app to find the best campsites and hostels in the area. It is pretty much how I planned my stops along the ride.

Campsites within the national parks often have to be reserved ahead of time online in NSW and all the time in QLD.
NSW National Parks Camp Reservations
QLD National Parks Camp Reservations is great for finding your way when you do not have 3G. also, it has different routes and sometimes can help find a better route than Google maps alone.

Only carry the food you need at the time. All of my camping areas were pretty close to a grocery store for a quick resupply. Save the weight and only take what you need!

When cycling Sydney to Brisbane, or cycling anywhere in a foreign country, it is very important to have travel insurance. I recommend World Nomads because they cover sports accidents such as cycling which some other companies might not.


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