Holiday based in Sydney, Australia. Head N or S?

Off to Australia at the weekend for a holiday - I posted a month or two back about the wisdom of flying to Oz from the UK with a baby long haul, and have decided to go ahead with my wife and 4 month old bairn. Wish us luck :slight_smile:

We have a week in Sydney for a wedding, catching up with friends, then we’re hiring a camper van for two weeks. We have no idea where to go right now with it, it’s basically a toss up between north up the coast to Byron bay, Brisbane way, or maybe through the Blue Mountains then South towards Melbourne. What do Aussie dopers think to this simple north v south idea?

We both love hiking, the outdoors etc, but with the wee man in tow we’ll probably be happy just driving through the national parks and camping. We both appreciate the beauty of the sea, beaches and the coast, but neither of us would really enjoy a day at the beach, unless it was a hike along the coast.
A last point is that we’ve heard Sydney is a very baby-friendly city, which is great. We’re wondering about the wisdom of really hitting the road properly as there might not be a lot to do with a baby in some of the smaller towns. Maybe making it a more urban holiday might be a good idea.

It’s early spring, and relatively cool, so I’d suggest driving north rather than south. There are school holidays for two weeks coming up (Monday, 29 September 2008 - Friday, 10 October 2008) – the popular places will be busier than usual during those two week, but not as crowded as during the December-January break.

What you could do is go one way up the coast, along the Pacific Highway (Highway 1), and the other way through the tablelands, along the New England Highway (Highway 15). There are plenty of places to hike along both roads, though generally the coast is more scenic.

A 4-month-old isn’t really go to care much where he/she is, but won’t stop you going to most of the places in the smaller towns. It really depends on where you want to go. And all the towns of any size will sell all the baby supplies (e.g., baby food, disposable nappies*) that you need.

  • Called “diapers” in the US.

I’d agree with Giles- North. There’s not much to see between Sydney and Melbourne. (well, there’s Canberra :))

I spent a month on the north coast of NSW a few years ago - there are lots of really nice little coastal towns, many of them fairly far off the tourist radar - well, compared with Byron Bay and the Gold Coast! Nelson Bay springs to mind, and Forster. Then bigger centres like Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour (amazing snorkelling at Solitary Islands!) are also really nice to visit, and have all the amenities you need.

If you go inland a bit, there’s the Barrington Tops national park, and the lovely town of Maitland, and the fantastic Hunter Valley wine region…

I’m so jealous!

The road between Brizzie and Sydney is meant to be beautiful, lots of little beaches and towns to stop at along the way. Very laid back - no huge sights to see though (excepting the Ballina Prawn :D). I have some friends who moved back to Melbourne from Brizzie and came back via a roadtrip - they still rave about how lovely the NSW coastline is.

Weatherwise it’s still iffy here in Melbourne - 25 today, but down to 15 next week - so you could be lucky and get some warmth, but it’s more likely to be consistently warmer if you head north. But you get to see Melbourne if you come south, which may have more appeal than Brisbane, depending on your interests.

The Hume Highway to Melbourne is really only used by people who need to get there in a hurry, otherwise you used the coastal Princes Highway. To Brisbane, it’s the Pacific Highway. Both these latter two have lots and lots of pretty fishing villages, pretty lookouts, pretty bush areas, and… well, lots and lots of “pretty”. And since you’re from the UK, which seems to be - outside the big cities - wall to wall “pretty”, are you sure you want more of the same? Why not head WEST for some insanely far away horizons, red dirt, and big sky?

Thanks for the replies, leaving later today so plenty of food for thought. We have a guide book so we’ll check out all the places mentioned.

North or south would be pretty much equivalent, I reckon. You could hike your arses off for two weeks just by doing day trips around Sydney, without the camper. Sydney is largely surrounded by National Parks. The Blue Mountains are certainly worth a look.

Going south, the coast road through the northern suburbs of Wollongong is pretty senic, but twisty. You’ll want caravan parks for the camper van, and there’s plenty of them as you head down the coast. Sydney heads down the coast on weekends and holidays, so there’s lots of facilities, but try to go during the week. Kiama might be worth a stop, then somewhere around Jervis Bay. It’s all seaside towns as you head down the coastline. The Princes Highway isn’t a great road, undivided, twisty, not many overtaking opportunities, so take it easy.

You could either head down as far as Batemans Bay, and then cut inland to Canberra, or keep going down to Bega, and come back via the Snowy Mountains and Cooma. You could spend a week doing that, head back up to Sydney, and then go North for the second week.