Leaving Sydney behind today was all about heading north through the forest before turning off the main highway for the coast and the Entrance. In the small village of Pelican we took a turn for a stop on Lake Macquarie and sit down for a while on the waterfront in Pelican. Rejoining the main highway we bypass Newcastle and head out onto the headland of Port Stephens. On the approach to Port Stephens we decide to turn left for Soliders Point as the is more chance for an overnight stay, the radio tells us the traffic is massing up in Nelsons Bay so we give this a miss. After parking up in the most expensive camping ground yet we wander over the road and down to the beach waterfront, where the missis jumps in for a quick swim long the shoreline. The view from here out over the bay is very scenic.

Nelsons Bay

In the morning we choose to drive around the Port Stephen headland  stopping off first in Nelsons Bay to take a walk around the Marina.The sea is very calm and it’s a good chance to capture some photographs of the vessels in the still waters of the harbour. Further around the coast we come across the busy Shoal Bay  and  Fingal Bay at the end of the road leading out to the headland.

The harbour in Port Stephens
Reflected light
Port Stephens harbour
Port Stephens harbour
Port Stephens harbour
Fuel Reflections
Fingal Bay

Crest Birubi Beach

The rather bizarre site of a camel train wandering over the sand dunes and down to the surfs edge greets us as we drive to  Crest Birubi beach.  It is a good place to stop for a while and gaze out over the beach whilst drinking a coffee. The white sands of the dunes stretch out into the distance.

Camel train over the sand
The dunes stretch out into the distance.

Port Macquarie

We leave Port Stephens around midday for the long dive up to our next stop over in Port Macquarie. The camping site is crowded and a little worse for wear but it is situated next to the harbour walls, where in the evening we can spot dolphins fishing in  Hastings River as we walk into the town. We spend the evening wandering around the town for a while before settling in at the Beach House Pub overlooking the river.


A Pelican stealing someones lunch

It was easy to reach the beaches from the campsite so we took a morning walk along the headland in Port Macquarie. The weather is still a bit unsettled, with forecasts for heavy rain tonight but we planned to more on north today anyway but the weather seems to be following us up the coast.

Flagstaff Lookout
Port Macquarie beach and river mouth entrance.
Port Macquarie Beach
Paddling in  the surf
View from Flagstaff Lookout

South West Rocks

We left Port Macquarie behind to head once more ups the Pacific Highway heading for Moonee Beach a small hamlet just north of Coffs Harbour, it’s another 250km up the coast so to make things interesting we again take the opportunity to dive off the Highway and head out to Souths West Rocks about half way into our journey. The detour take us out over the flat plain towards the coastline but for a long time we follow the winding route of the Maclean River. In the centre of South West Rocks we park up outside someones house (sorry about that) and walk back to the waterfront as the place is very busy. the place has a beautiful beach and surf with extensive views across the bay, we paddle our feet for a while and go find a suitable cafe for some breakfast/lunch combination at the Heritage seaside Cafe.  Our journey takes us back north through the city of Coffs Harbour and a further few kilometres to Moonee Beach a small community on the coastline.


The beach at South West Rocks
South West Rocks
South West Rocks
Across the bay from South West Rocks

Travelling Notes

Check out the visitors website : Pacific Highway if you plan to travel this popular route heres a bit of background information to get you going.

Where : Port Macquarie, NSW, Australia.

Travelling : leaving Sydney we journey 204 km on the M1 North through the forest, turning towards the coast at The Entrance which takes us past Tuggerah Lake and towards Norah Head. We pass by Newcastle and head for Nelson Bay but decide to turn off for Soldiers Point. The next day we travel 247 km further up the Pacific Highway from Soldiers Point to Port Macquarie along the trusted A1.

Camping or Campervan: Soldiers Point,  an Active Holiday Park on Nelson Bay. probably the most expensive stay we had up to now. Easy to walk to the beach on Soldiers Point.

Sundowner Holidays, Port Macquarie. Direct on the harbour breakwall, great for watching the dolphins in the bay and easy access to the beach around the headland.

Don’t tell anyone: Crest Birubi Beach near Fishermans Bay overlooking the beach and the long stretch of sand dunes.

The Beach House in the centre of Port Macquarie overlooking the sea, it’s a lively place for a good meal and a few Pale Ale beers.

Next up: Moonee Beach

pjbourne is a full time architect, urban masterplanner and sustainability designer. In his free time he’s outside with a camera, running, hiking or mountain biking through the Alps where he lives or indoors in front of the iMac planning another long road trip in a campervan to the other side of the world.

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