Perhaps the best thing about this region is the easy coastal access. The drive from Brisbane to Sydney covers 575 miles (around 975 kilometers), with hundreds of named waves and thousands of empty sandbar setups waiting a few short minutes off the highway. The Queensland/New South Wales coastline is just begging to be road tripped, and doesn’t require much more than a semi-dependable car, a handful of boards, a couple pairs of shorts and a 3/2 full suit.
It is entirely possible to score epic waves without stopping at any of the region’s best-known spots, but for those in search of the classic Australian east coast road trip, we have outlined a half-dozen of the country’s most famous surf towns from north to south, complete with their marquee surf breaks. Enjoy!
- Noosa Heads: Start in Brisbane and make the short drive north to Noosa Heads, a bustling Sunshine Coast town with five storied sand-bottom points and numerous beach break setups. Regional classics include Tea Trees, First Point, and Sunshine Beach.
- Gold Coast: From Noosa, head south three hours to the Gold Coast—the heart of the Australian surf industry. Stretching from Surfer’s Paradise to Coolangatta, the “Goldie” has more epic righthand points per square mile than just about anywhere else in the world—and a raging party scene to boot. Make sure to check out the pumping beach break peaks at South Straddie, the classic point break at Burleigh Heads, and the endless sand-bottom perfection of the Superbank, which stretches from Snapper Rocks through Greenmount and all the way up to Kirra.
- Byron Bay: Only an hour’s drive south, the hippie haven of Byron Bay is a world away from the big-city opulence of the Gold Coast. Full of tie-dyed throwbacks and dreadlocked tokers, Byron and the surrounding area are a peaceful respite from the clubs and bars up north—although the town does have a thriving backpacker scene, so you won’t exactly be living the life of a hermit. Regional classics include The Pass, The Wreck, and Wategoes.
- Yamba: A few hours south of Byron Bay is another little town with a big history. Ground zero for the seminal opus Morning of the Earth, Yamba epitomizes the Australian country/surf lifestyle, and is the perfect place to play out your 1970s retro fantasy. Alby Falzon captivated the surf world with his footage of Angourie, and forty years later the point is as good as it’s ever been. Other options include centrally located Turner Beach, nearby Iluka, and any number of national park beach breaks to the north and south.
- Newcastle: Eight hours south of Yamba and home to local legends like Mark Richards and Luke Egan, Newcastle is a large city a few hours north of Sydney, with all of the amenities of modern life but not quite as much of a crowd. Local standout spots include Merewether Beach and Newie Harbor.
- Sydney: Australia’s largest city, Sydney houses the famous Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge—in addition to dozens of the country’s most sought-after waves. Fairy Bower, Narrabeen, Cronulla, Ours, and Shark Island are just a few of the city’s myriad spots.
- South Coast: Although Sydney will mark the end of the road for most travelers, intrepid seekers would do well to head down to the beautiful national parks of the South Coast, with their pristine beaches and semi-secret slabs. Black Rock (also called Aussie Pipe) is one of the best-known waves in the region, and is surely worth the extra drive.