Additional Info – I’ve been asked a few times about where to stop if you are heading to Brisbane and not Byron Bay so I’ve added an extra stop to the end of the post to get you all the way to Brisbane. Post updated and current as of Oct 2018.
So, you’re thinking you want to head off from Sydney and drive to Byron Bay. Or Byron Bay to Sydney maybe? Well, you are in the right spot, this post is gonna make it so so much easier!
These are the actual timings and places that I stop between Sydney and Byron Bay when I have the kids in the car, as discussed in the family road trip survival guide.
The stops are set up so that you are getting the kids out of the car on the two and a half hour mark the whole way.
It’s geared to work for me when I do it solo with the two kids but it also makes for an easy drive when you have multiple parents too.
The pic below is an example of how it looks in my calendar. Having the addresses in the calendar let’s me work out timings between places and gives me easy access to directions once I get close. You can do it in a day if you choose, I leave at about 5.30/6.00am and it takes about twelve hours.
Otherwise, Kempsey is pretty much bang on halfway if you want to split it over two days.
When I split it into two days and we are not sleeping in the van we stay at a motel called Major Innes Motel. It’s right near the Port Macquarie turn off and it’s super close to the highway so it doesn’t add much drive time to the trip.
I like it because it’s clean, safe and cheap. Not flash at all but perfect for a sleep before jumping in the car first thing in the morning.
There are more step by step details about how I plan out our trips in the family road trip survival guide.
Also, if you want to change it up a bit and need ideas for good stops along the way check out my favourite parks and play areas on the East Coast.
If you tap the adress links below you’ll be taken straight to each place in Google maps, I figured that would make it nice and easy to navigate your way straight from this post if you need to.
Hungry Jacks Raymond Terrace –
This is the best choice out of a bad bunch as you head North out of Sydney. There’s really not much between here and Sydney in the way of kid friendly stops close to the highway.
This is the best fenced playground at the 2 hour mark though and is well suited to toddlers who need to run off some steam.In saying that though, I stopped by the other day with a 7 year old and she had a ball for twenty minutes or so.
While the playground isn’t really big it’s better than a herding them around a service station carpark.
I buy a coffee to justify the use of the playground and let the kids burn around for half an hour.
Kempsey Riverside Park –
This one is cool in any weather but really great for those hot days. It’s on the river, has plenty of parking and heaps of shade.
It’s almost bang on the halfway mark between Sydney and Byron and there is a flying fox, a small water play area, swings, heaps of grassy area and lots of things to climb.
There is also a whole lot of gorgeous white geese who will come and hang out with you and be pretty stoked to score a bit of a feed! It makes Max and Ivy’s trip every time.
Grafton Jungle Gym –
This one is an indoor play centre with big kids arcade games and a massive climbing structure.
There is a babies area with soft play, a café that serves a pretty decent fruit platter and toilets with change tables. There is also plenty of parking.
From Grafton the drive to Byron Bay will take about two hours, or just under two and a half to Brunswick heads.
If you run out of food midway or you just don’t want to have to take too much, there is an Oliver’s Real Food take away at Wyong (about an hour North of Sydney) and another at Coffs Harbour.
They have great snack trays with veggies and hummus, organic nuts, the best cups of steamed beans which are masquerading as chips and a heap of other quick and healthy take away food. You can check out the Oliver’s website here.
New ones are popping up all along the highway which is awesome, it’s so good that we are finally getting healthy options.
Well there you go, that’s how we tackle driving to Byron Bay with kids. Good luck, I hope the small humans are kind to you! 🙂
Additional Info – I’ve been asked a few times about where to stop if you are heading to Brisbane and not stopping in Byron Bay so I thought I would add that onto the end here.
I would stop at Brunswick Heads after Grafton. It is close to the Highway and just under two hours to Brisbane.
Brunswick Heads Hotel has a new kids playground, great food and sits right on the river which, at high tide is the most fantastic spot to swim.
The beach is over the road and there is a little bay called Torakina that is perfect for little kids if you decide you want to chuck them in the water before the last leg to Brisbane.
Check out 10 ways to entertain your kids on a road trip or apps for road tripping with kids (that don’t involve screens) for some ideas to keep the wee humans happy along the way.
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