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The best of both worlds on the Coast to Inland road trip

The best of both worlds on the Coast to Inland road trip

After a long, hot and humid summer, a road trip to the rolling pastures of the Hunter Valley and its peaceful surrounding towns is the perfect way to kick off the harvest season.

From the salty air and trendy beachside cafes of Newcastle, to the buzzing creative hub of Maitland, the Coast to Inland road trip lets you enjoy the best of both worlds. So, pack those bags, fill up the tank, and head out on a week-long trip from the coast to the outback.


Your journey begins in the historical city of Newcastle, just over two hours north (170 kilometres) of Sydney. Touted as Australia’s second-oldest city, Newcastle’s industrial roots as a coal- and steel-working town can still be seen today. Two great ways to explore the heritage highlights of the city include by foot and by bike. Check out the City of Newcastle website for a complete list of heritage walks and cycling trails, with free maps and information about the sites along each route. If you’re travelling with kids, check the website for maps of family-friendly scavenger hunts at different Newcastle locations – you can uncover some interesting facts and discover places off the beaten path.

Lake Macquarie

After exploring Newcastle, drive 31 kilometres south to Lake Macquarie, the Southern Hemisphere’s largest coastal saltwater lake. Surrounded by natural attractions, including an abundance of state conservation areas, state forests and national parks, Lake Macquarie is a bushwalker’s paradise. While you’re in the area, be sure to head to Moonee Beach and clamber over the steep sand dunes to discover the secluded Ghosties Beach, where you can explore colourful sea caves and pristine waters. If you do decide to check out the caves, make sure you check the tides first, as exploring at high tide could be dangerous.

Central Coast

The next destination on your journey is the cerulean waters of the Central Coast, 40 kilometres south of the Lake Macquarie region. This large coastal region is home to 49 beautiful beaches, including hotspots such as Terrigal and Avoca Beach, and the more secluded local secrets, such as Pelican Beach and Gravelly Beach. With so many beaches to choose from, it may seem overwhelming to decide where to start in the Central Coast. We recommend heading to Bouddi National Park and

tackling the Bouddi coastal walk, an 8.5-kilometre trail that runs from Putty Beach to MacMasters Beach, offering sweeping views of the coast, native flora and fauna, and plenty of spots to have a picnic.

Glenworth Valley

Just a 20-minute drive from Gosford lie the gorgeous green hills of the Glenworth Valley. A playground for every adventurer, Glenworth Valley Wilderness Adventures is a magnificent 3000-acre property where you can ride, paddle and camp in picturesque natural surrounds. Enjoy the views of the valley on horseback with an experienced guide, and marvel at the undisturbed beauty of the tranquil rainforests and gentle creeks.

Hunter Valley

From Glenworth Valley, take the scenic route along Tourist Drive 33 towards the famous Hunter Valley. This 105-kilometre drive will take a little longer than travelling along M1, but it’s worth the extra time for the scenery. When you arrive in the Hunter Valley, you’ll be spoilt for choice, as there are more than 150 wineries to choose from, all offering various wine-tasting and dining options.


Your journey comes to a close in the historical city of Maitland, around a 35-minute drive from the Hunter Valley. Maitland is a mecca for classic and contemporary art, and is home to the Maitland Regional Art Gallery (MRAG), which houses more than 7000 pieces by both Australian and international artists. Aside from its vibrant art displays, the gallery also holds numerous exhibitions and educational workshops throughout the year, and many are free.

Pictured: Bogey Hole, Newcastle. Image © Destination NSW

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