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My (Almost) Free Australian East Coast Road Trip

Surfing in Byron Bay

Surfing in Byron Bay

[T]hat’s right! A free road trip down Australia’s stunning east coast!

It sounds too good to be true right? Well in a sense, yes.

But that’s why I said almost. My friend and I were discussing what we could do for the Christmas break and we thought we would go on a road trip.

We didn’t want to do anything too extravagant. We wanted to go down to Sydney for the weekend anyway but we had a few days to kill.

I was browsing the net for the best places to visit on a road trip down to Sydney and came across a DriveNow in a forum post.

DriveNow are an Australian car and campervan hire company – which at first I thought… big deal. But the post suggested trying DriveNow’s relocation services, a service where you book a car or caravan on a specific date and drive it to a location specified on the website.

In our case it was Brisbane to Sydney – Perfect! Now it’s not completely free. DriveNow charge you $5 per day to hire the campervan, which in our case added up to a total of $15 for 3 days.

We also had $50 of free fuel which would cover majority of the highway drive, but if you want to go exploring in those 3 days… you best be prepared to pay for a full tank.

Finally, we were given a 1,512 kilometers (940 miles for those in the states) allowance, which is fine as the distance between the two cities is only 900 odd kilometers.

So where did we go in our campervan?

Well, as we started driving south of Brisbane through Surfers Paradise we decided to do a quick stop for supplies.

As we passed through the New South Wales border slowly getting closer to our destination, we decided to stop at Byron Bay for a quick surf and bite to eat.

If you have never been to Byron Bay, I highly recommended it. It is home to great people, great food and most importantly great waves.

Big Banana at Coffs Harbour

Big Banana at Coffs Harbour

However, we had a schedule to follow. We drove further down to Coffs Harbour, home of the infamous Big Banana.

We parked our campervan at Park Beach Holiday Park just in time for dinner. At roughly $30 per night, the camping grounds is a steal.

We had a barbecue and socialized with the other campers, who were more than happy to have a beer (or 4) with us. The next day we woke up nice and early for a quick dip at Jetty Beach, and then it was off to check out the Big Banana.

The region is well-known for its banana plantation so the Big Banana is a monument and tourist attraction in its own right.

From there it was off to Newcastle. We were making great time so we decided to stop off a Forster, a large coastal town in the Mid North Coast of New South Wales.

Beach Bums Cafe

Beach Bums Cafe

We grabbed lunch at Beach Bums Café perfectly located on the main beach. Their lunch menu had everything you would expect for a beach front café.

Everyone but me went for the ‘works burger’ which had everything under the moon nested between the two toasted buns. I am a traditionalist, so I went for the seafood basket.

After a quick sun baking session it was time to hit the road again, to reach our final destination of the day, Newcastle. We set up a camp in a small campground just south of ‘Newy’ and had an early night.

The next morning involved much of the same – food, surf and good company. However, our trip was coming to an end. We packed and finished of the 2 hour trip down to Sydney to drop off the campervan and get ready for our weekend in Sydney.

All in all we were out-of-pocket roughly $100 each (this includes splitting the fuel, camping ground fees, and initial supplies we got at the beginning of our journey).

Not a bad price for a 2 night coastal road trip. I definitely recommend it not only to families, but couples and friends who want to discover more of our beautiful country at a minimal cost!

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:

Samantha Clarke

Thursday 11th of December 2014


It just found your blog online and absolutely love it! For those people who take the step to come over to Australia to travel, it is very informative and interesting to read.

I would like to let you know about a really good website for people planning to travel to Fraser Island on the East Coast of Australia! has insider information and great travel options for Fraser Island holidays! The live chat function gets you to speak to a travel expert right away to answer any of those burning questions!

You should check it out!


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