6 hours north of Sydney and 4 hours south of Brisbane, the hitherto attractive coastline now grows more bungalows and resort hotels than bananas, but still has good beaches. The town’s raison d’être however, is action sports, with white-water rafting (November-February), kayaking, abseiling, mountain biking, horse riding, parasailing, skydiving, jet skiing, fishing, whale watching (June, July, September, November) in addition to all the usual suspects.
Tallow beach, Byron Bay, 8 hours drive from Sydney, near Brisbane. Photo by Mike Lehmann
8 hours north of Sydney or 2 south of Brisbane, Byron Bay is a unique haven of stylish, relaxed, low-key living in a stunningly beautiful area, with superb beaches to match. Locals, though different in many ways are united in their liberal, ‘alternative’, anti-crass development view of the world and the town is all the better for that attitude.
The Bay beach is scenic and big enough for swimmers, early surfers and pro dudes to each find the kind of water they need to wag their tails, while white-water rafting (November-February), mountain biking, horse riding, skydiving among other alternatives are also on offer.
Gold coast, Surfers Paradise looking north. Photo greg miller
An hour from Brisbane the endless sand, terrific climate and entertainment 24/7 have made the Gold Coast a prime world holiday destination.
Surfer’s Paradise is at the core of this area, Australia’s answer to Miami – a long, skinny strip of glitz packed with bronzed buildings, theme parks in excess and a wild night life, but still sporting spectacular, soft sand beaches. Arguably the best beach is Main, soft, wide and backed by dunes, with perma-surf a short stagger away.
Surf at Main Beach is usually excellent for beginners and hosts a couple of good schools; surf freaks head south for the relative quiet and superb point breaks at Coolangatta/Tweed Heads. Needless to say rental boards are available all over.
North East Australian Coast
Best April – November, but OK (hot) all year round. Best scuba diving September-December