bicycle touring newcastle to Gold Coast

Newcastle to Gold Coast on a bicycle

From Newcastle to Gold Coast on a push bike

I will give my day to day bicycle route from Newcastle in New South Wales up to the Gold Coast in Queensland. A nice little bit of bicycle touring on the east coast of Australia, done in august 2017. I’ve included the info on what I paid for campgrounds and ferries. If I don’t mention the accommodation I probably stayed with a Warmshowers host. Some of the highlights of the trip hands down. 

Check out my exact route at the bottom of this page, done in Google Maps.

Day 1
Newcastle to Mungo Brush
You start by taking the ferry ($ 3,- with the Opal public transport card) across the water in Newcastle.
All together this day is a lovely start of the trip that has a nice break in the middle on the ferry from Nelson Bay to Tea Gardens ($ 13,- single trip + $ 3,- for the bike).
Good roads all the way, pretty flat and a night of camping at Dee’s Campground ($ 8,- but I was up and away before the owners came to charge.. so free!), bring your own water.

Tip: cute little 1,2km rainforest walk that connects this campground to the slightly bigger one before.

Day 2
Mungo Brush to Red Head
If you have the set-up for gravel roads, take the Old Gibber Road in the direction of Seal Rocks, it’s really pretty – but a bumpy road if you don’t have the suspention/tyres.

The Lakes Way is probably the prettiest road on the trip. Massive lakes and windy roads, a few hills.
I had a big break at Forster, not really any cafes to recommend (ridiculous that some cafes just give out take away cups, even if you’re sitting down). From there to Red Head I recommend taking the Lakes Way again, don’t listen to Google Maps about The Pines Road, it’s a 4×4 track.

Red Head has a great view out on the ocean, but I arrived right after sunset, so didn’t have a lot of time to enjoy it.

Day 3
Red Head to Taree
Tiny tiny day with a pretty but again bumpy gravel road, take the Old Soldiers road if you’ve got the set-up. Lots of trees and not a single passing car. Taree is a cute little town with a Coles and Woolworths if you need to stock up.

Tip: Find Jacob on Warmshowers. He tha best.

Day 4
Taree to Port Macquarie
I took the highway, which has enough space for us cyclists, to Coopernook, from there a good enough road to Harrington and the pretty view of Crowdy Bay. After that a pretty straight road up to Port. Right before this small city with a thousand hills, you will find a few camels across from the golf club.
I arrived right before sunset and the boardwalk is a beautiful place to spend some golden hour time.

Tip: Blackfish cafe. Lovely Swedish lady owns it, she’s planning on cycling through Italy next year.

Day 5
Port Macquarie to Hat Head
After getting a coffee at the Blackfish Cafe I got offered a ride to Crescent Head #cheating. So I’ve only seen the highway, but I heard the direct road is offroad, so you might want to take the highway anyways. From Crescent Head (another lovely bay) karma got to me, fine start, but after a few kilometers there was a 10km 4×4 road. So I had to drag/push my bike through soft sand for 2 hours.

The campsite Hangry Gate was well worth the effort (but please take another road)! There were only 2 other campers at this – surrounded by pinetrees and dunes – campsite so close to the ocean. After arriving I ran up to the dune to be right in time to watch the sun set behind the mountains. The campsite costs $ 6,- but on top of that you pay a $ 8,- park entree fee, there is no water.

Tip: Don’t take Russels Trail. Do wake up before sunrise and walk out onto the beach.

Day 6
Hat Head to Scotts Head
Best start ever with an ocean bath and a nice soy latte at the cute Mad Art Cafe and it’s super friendly owner. She let me charge my phone, use her space to store the bike + bags for a bit and gave me lots of tips on the area. Ask her to tell you the Aboriginal story of Hat Head. If I would have had more time I would have spend 2 nights here.
No gravel roads today! Yay! But at the end a few hills. I stopped in Stuarts Point for lunch ($ 3,- fries, yay).

Tip: Excellent coffee & hipster tumeric lattes at Mad Art Cafe

Day 7
Scotts Head to Bellingen
Great view from the steep hill in Scotts Head with a pleasant ride through Macksville and a very cute café on the road nearby Urunga (Liberty Providores), another cycling tourist practising for her ride through Europe showed me the nicer route to Bellingen. Take the N Bank Road. A bit hilly, but pretty pretty and very little traffic.
Bellingen is an arty town with heaps of nice cafés and well worth the detour.

Tip: 5 star gelato at the Gelato Bar in Bellingen.

Day 8
Bellingen to Kungala
I took the same hilly route out of town, passed a few cows and cycled along the highway for quite a few km. There is a cycle path for most of it and a nice enough alternative road called the Pine Creek Way. Stopped for my daily coffee in Sawtell, a bicycle loving spot called The Split.

The nicest things happend in Coramba. The shop owner of the cute Eco-giftshop (with yummy cakes and a nice terrace out the back) Me-Healthy Living, gave me a free jar of the best peanut butter on the trip! I asked her to throw my empty plastic container in the recycling bin and she felt like helping out a sweaty Dutchy. Lovely lady.

I couldn’t really find an affordable to stay in Grafton, plus it was a big enough day already, so I found a campsite on route 30km south of Grafton, a tiny town called Kungala. Only $ 6,- with bathrooms, a big patch of grass and most of all.. they have alpacas. The campsite is called 3 Creeks Campground.

Tip: Bring enough water if you’re staying at this campground, they have 1 tab (no shower) to wash your hands/brush your teeth, but not really drinking water.

Day 9
Kungala to Grafton
Ok. This is a tiny day I know, but the weirdest thing happend sitting at the café Heart & Soul in Grafton…  Coming from NL I don’t really expect to run into anybody I know anywhere in this country, let alone in metropole Grafton. But as I was sitting there doing some graphic design work I hear “..Gunbritt?”. And there I see 2 friends from Brisbane, having coffee with her parents. These lovely people invited me over for lunch which turned into a sleep over party. Lucky me!

Tip: Heart & Soul café is nice, they also let me park my bike out the back.

Day 10
Grafton to (close to) Maclean
From here on I found it more difficult to find affordable campsites. I’ve stayed with multiple Warmshowers hosts on this trip and if you’re on a budget I recommend the same (or wild camp), also because the hosts are all really awesome, generous, funny, lovely people.

Today however, I found this 1 campsite close-ish to Yamba (which I wanted to visit) and is really really worth a stop! Michael’s Clarence Valley Retreat is tucked away next to a river. It has a real bush camp feel but the comfort of an outdoor kitchen, free use of kayaks, toilets and even a shower! It was $ 15,- for just me and Truckie (my bicycle).
I took the road north of the river and crossed by ferry (free) right after the town Lawrence.

Tip: Go to Michaels campsite. During the week you’ll most likely have the entire place to yourself.

Day 11
Maclean to Yamba
As I was running ahead of schedule I decided on a very short ride to Yamba, and stay there for 2 nights. Unless you’re into surfing I wouldn’t perse recommend staying here for more than 1 night. Get out around sunset and have a stroll along the hilly boulevard around the entire town. You can watch the sunset over the water and the sailing boats in the northern part of town. Angourie a few km south of Yamba is worth a visit!

Tip: as campgrounds are not cheap here, I stayed in the (only) youth hostel for $ 25,-. Pretty good kitchen and a table tennis table.

Day 12
Yamba to Ballina
This is about a 100km cycle. I could have split this day up into 2 days, but didn’t feel much for staying in Evans head or bushcamping, so just did it in one. The second bit is the best, where you cycle on a very quiet road next to the river and end at a tiny ferry into Ballina. Evans Head is, as almost every town between Newcastle and Ballina, a little village loved by senior campervan folk.

Tip: Bring you fishing rod and make some friends!

Day 13
Ballina to Lennox
From here on it’s all tiny tiny days. I’ve met up with friends whom cycled down from the Gold Coast to join me for the last days of the trip and enjoyed these pretty bits of coastline. These are all very nice towns, worth a visit, but easy enough to do a breakfast break in Lennox, lunch in Byron and stay the night in Brunswick or even further up.

There is a great cycle path along the coast running from Flat Rock campground ($ 28,- for 1 person) into Lennox Head. In Lennox go for a quick dip into the Lake, surrounded by healing Tea Trees.  

Day 14
Lennox Head to Byron Bay
Byron is the most touristy place on this route, very pretty and lots of hippies. Just smile and wave and try to stay away from the radiation coming from all the crystals. The walk up to the Lighthouse is a big recommendation and treat yourself on a dinner in one of the yummy restaurants. I ate a great beef rendang at this Malaysian restaurant.

Tip: The Farm is a really cool (and very hipster) restaurant with lots of space, cows and green, a few km out of town.

Day 15
Byron Bay to Brunswick
A few hills, pretty roads and a coffee stop (Rock & Roll Coffee Company) in another lovely little town -> Mullumbimby.
In Brunswick my favourite spot in the entire town is the Brunswick Picture House. They have live music on sunday mornings from 9am and yummy food. Check out if there is any cabaret or interesting documentary on when you’re around.

Tip: Mullumbimby has a local farmers market on friday mornings that is worth a visit for sure.

Day 16
Brunswick to Pottsville
After a sleep-and-run stay at the campsite in Brunswick and an enjoyable breakfast at the picknicktables along the river in Banner Park the road was calling.. For another 30km day haha! A little bit of mainroad along the highway, but then a straight and green road through Wooyung, which takes you into Pottsville. 
Many public BBQ’s around and a good bakery with yumm sourdough bread. 

Tip: You can very easily get onto the long stretch of beach from that road through Wooyung. There are few people around.

Day 17
Pottsville to Burleigh Heads/Gold Coast
Another free stay at a campsite in Pottsville and another loaf of sourdough bread, we cycled up to Bogangar (8km) and grabbed a coffee from the nice Blue Rose Cafe and watched some people do yoga on the beach around Norries Head. From Bogangar there is a very nice cycle path along the coastline (although you can’t see the beach for most of it, because of the trees in between). Taking it extremely slow this last day of the trip, we treated ourselfs on another coffee at the hip Cafe Dbar in Coolangetta. Great viewpoint!!

From there just a little cycle home to the hipsters, hippies & bogans of the Gold Coast.

Tip: Share your trips on  the supportive Facebook community groups like Bicycle Touring & Bikepacking and Australia and New Zealand bicycle touring.

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