On a road trip from the Blue Mountains to Gold Coast, an inland drive is a great alternative to the well-known Pacific Highway.
Leaving behind Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, instead of merging back on the M1 and A1, we continued on A32 and followed B55 and A15. Soon, we were one of the lone cars on the road enjoying the rugged scenery. As the day came to an end, we headed for the coast again on B78 until we reached our destination for the day, a little town of Dorrigo about 130 kilometres past Armidale.
We arrived at the property of our homestay after dark driving less than 10 km/h on the last 5 kilometres because forest kangaroos kept jumping in front of our car. The next morning, we realised, we spent a night on a lovely farm.
A word of advice: Because of our tight time schedule, we arrived at Dorrigo pretty late, and the few restaurants in town didn’t serve food anymore. Therefore, we had no choice but to grab a questionable seafood takeout. If you arrive late, think about it beforehand. Maybe make a short grocery stop in Armidale.
Before heading back on the road, we spent our morning in Dorrigo National Park.
The park’s rainforest is a part of Gondwana Rainforests of Australia – a World Heritage Site. Inside you’ll find vegetation, that has stayed relatively unchanged for about 100 million years according to fossil finds. The forests provide a unique direct living link to the evolution of Australian plants. Take a short hike among world’s oldest ferns and conifers. We felt like walking in a scene from Jurassic Park. Just without dinosaurs. Although, cockatoos sometimes sounded like velociraptors.
After having admired the giant trees and plants from the ground, take a walk above the treetops on Dorrigo Skywalk, which is directly connected to Dorrigo Rainforest Centre. Don’t forget your binoculars. The superb view reaches the Pacific Ocean – your afternoon destination.
Get some refreshments at Canopy Café on the edge of the Skywalk and head back to the road. We followed the Armidale Road to Nymboida and Grafton passing some beautiful creeks and sceneries before joining The Pacific Highway just before Grafton.
We arrived in Surfers Paradise in time for dinner and a twilight walk along the beach.
If you don’t fancy long drives, an alternative route towards the inland would be through Tamworth or Gunnedah, where you can call it a night and continue to Dorrigo the next day. In Tamworth, the biggest country festival in Australia takes place. The Big Golden Guitar reminds visitors of the musical tradition.
Tamworth’s Oxley lookout provides you with a view over the infinite agricultural land and cotton fields in the area.
Gunnedah is famous for its rich koala population. The endangered Australian mammals are often seen opposite the Information Centre. Until recently you could pet the furry wombat relatives in Gunnedah’s Wildlife Park. But it was forced to shut down the public exhibition a few weeks ago. If you go, check their website. Maybe they’ll be able to get on their feet soon.
We enjoyed the sceneries and landscapes of our inland road-trip very much. The many kangaroo photo-stops on side of the road were amazing. Of course, we didn’t miss highlights of the Pacific Highway. We spared the trip along the coast for our way back to Sydney. More on that later. Stay tuned!