Not sure where to stop on your NSW coastal road trip? Here are the 10 best detours…
1. Bamboo Buddha
A little piece of Bali hidden in the ’burbs of the Central Coast, this tranquil oasis quadruples as a bamboo nursery, vegetarian café, wellness centre and art gallery in one. We’re assured even meat-eaters will enjoy the menu, while weary drivers can get a hit of organic coffee in the exotic tea gardens.
2. Taste Around Hermitage
See the Hunter Valley in half a day with a ‘Taste Around Hermitage’ tour, which takes in part of the Hermitage Food and Wine Trail. As well as postcard-perfect vineyards, a visit to some of the region’s most awarded wineries and restaurants, and rare only-at-the-cellar-door drops, you can also meet with winemakers, all the while being chauffeured in a Mercedes Benz.
3. Newcastle Ocean Baths
Beside an art deco pavilion built in the early 1900s, the Newcastle Ocean Baths are an iconic landmark of the city. With front row views of the beach, it’s an ideal stop for a driver reviver, followed by a short 10-minute stroll to Watt Street for the daily light show on buildings from 5pm.
4. Surfing Sand Dunes
Just south of Port Stephens is the largest sand dune system in the country. With a 32-kilometre beach and sand dunes up to 40 metres high, it’s prime territory for sand boarding. There are a host of guided tours too, so you can explore the dunes on foot, 4WD, quad bike, horse or camel.
5. Bent on Food Café
Specialising in sustainable local produce from around the Mid North Coast, this award-winning café in Wingham has launched a range of cooking classes to break up the drive. From cheesemaking and barista skills to Vietnamese and barbecue workshops, there are classes for all tastes.
6. Eltham Valley Pantry
If you still have belly space, take a detour to this pecan farm halfway between Lismore and Byron Bay. Sit on the shady verandahs or in the garden under pecan trees and indulge in house-made treats. We’re not the only ones who love this little gem – it’s been named in the Good Food Guide for five years.
7. The Byron at Byron
Break up the drive with an indulgent stay at our favourite halfway hotel, The Byron at Bryon Resort & Spa. Set on 45 acres of sub-tropical rainforest, there are 92 luxurious one-bedroom suites, each with freestanding bathtubs, private balconies and other modern comforts, as well as a luscious spa and cracking restaurant.
8. The Green Bank
An hour’s drive inland to nearby Nimbin hides this new health and lifestyle store. In true Nimbin style, it focuses on alternative approaches to wellness using ethical and sustainable products, as well as ‘healing arts’ – it’s worth a look.
9. Green Cauldron Tours
Journey into the untouched corners of the Green Cauldron region, encompassing Wollumbin, Mt Warning and Caldera. On this new tour, explore rich volcanic earth, deep rainforests, pristine waterways and rare prehistoric wildlife. Guests can plant a native tree and sample local products. Tours depart from Byron Bay, The Tweed and the Gold Coast.
10. Flutterbies Café
In the charming village of Tyalgum is this café serving the quaintest high tea. Sip a flute of bubbles on arrival (with rose-flavoured Persian fairy floss, no less) and indulge in three tiers of sweet and savoury morsels, followed by a selection of cuppas.