Sydney Harbour cruise, Sydney Harbour, New South Wales
Expect to see some of Sydney’s icons, some of the best north-coast beaches, discover fascinating National Parks and wildlife and sample some of the best produce from the city to the hinterland to the ocean.
By Destination New South Wales
What to expect
- Fantastic beaches
- Wildlife watching
- Paddock-to-plate produce
- Time: 5 days
- Distance: 767 kilometres
- Transport: car
- Nearest major city: Sydney
- Price: $$$ - $$$$
This five day holiday begins with a sightseeing day in Sydney before embarking on a four day road trip up the picturesque north coast of New South Wales, taking in Port Stephens, South West Rocks, Coffs Harbour and finishing in Byron Bay.
Day 1: Sydney
Spend the morning taking in some of Sydney’s most iconic sights from the water on a Sydney Harbour cruise. Captain Cook cruises offers a two-hour morning Coffee Cruise, which takes you close to iconic landmarks such as Sydney Opera House, and Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Once you disembark at Circular Quay, explore The Rocks precinct—established in 1788 when convict-bearing ships came from England. Stop for lunch at Ipoh on York, a Halal-certified restaurant, and sample chef Jimmy Chong’s fresh take on tastes from his homeland, Malaysia.
There are a number of mosques to pray at across Sydney—in the city, The Sydney city centre Masjid has daily prayer in Erskine Street.
After lunch, drive to one of the world’s most iconic beaches, Bondi Beach, which is only 7 kilometres away from the city centre. If you’re game for a walk, take the 6 kilometre coastal walk from Bondi to Coogee and enjoy the stunning views of towering sandstone cliffs and beaches.
Finish the day with a unique dining experience at 100 per cent Halal restaurant La Qila, Darling Harbour. Situated on the bustling King Street Wharf on Lime Street, it’s famous for authentic Indian Pakistani delights such as Peshawari Lamb Boti and Goat Biryani and serves non-alcoholic beers and mocktails.
Day 2: Sydney to Port Stephens
After breakfast head north on the M1, about 92 kilometre to the Central Coast. Stop and refresh at one of the beautiful villages along the way, such as Pearl Beach, Ettalong Beach or Avoca.
Continue your journey to Lake Macquarie, and explore the sea caves at Caves Beach on a low tide or stop at the historic mining town of Catherine Hill Bay.
Don’t miss a detour to Newcastle, Australia’s second-oldest city. If time allows take the long walk along Newcastle Bathers Way from the Nobby’s headland lighthouse to Glenrock Reserve—signposts along the way tell the story of Newcastle’s past.
There are a few mosques in Newcastle to make Muslim visitors feel at home—the Newcastle Mosque in Metcalfe Street and the Sultan Fatih Mosque in Mayfield.
There are numerous kebab eateries in Newcastle and a handful of Halal-friendly restaurants - try local favourite Raj’s Corner for delicious curries. End your day at Port Stephens, which is 40 minutes’ drive from Newcastle for a good night rest.
Day 3: Port Stephens to South West Rocks
In Port Stephens, start the day at Little Nel café, which serves vegan breakfasts. For an action-packed morning, ride across the Worimi Sand Dunes on quad bikes, try sand boarding or take a 4WD Sand Dune Tour. For a gentler pace, enjoy a horse or camel-riding safari along the beach. Port Stephens is also home to pods of dolphins and whales - join the cruises and watch them upclose!
The Port Macquarie region is teeming with attractions. One of the most popular is the Koala Hospital, which conducts daily tours at 3pm. Billabong Koala and Wildlife Park is also interesting, and home to a giant saltwater crocodile named Shrek. You can also enjoy a seaside coffee and walk along the colourfully painted breakwater. For a casual Halal-friendly takeaway lunch, try Reyhana Turkish Restaurant.
South West Rocks is 85 kilometres from Port Macquarie. One of Australia's best beach towns, South West Rocks is a perfect escape for a family beach holiday, with bushwalking attractions and tranquil beaches in Arakoon National Park and Hat Head National Park. Have your meal at a locally-sourced vegetarian meal at Sixty Degrees.
Day 4: South West Rocks to Coffs Harbour
From South West Rocks, take a detour inland to World Heritage-listed rainforest Dorrigo National Park, situated about an hour and forty minutes away. Enjoy spectacular lookouts and enchanting waterfalls along the Waterfall Way, then walk the Skywalk, a 70 metre elevated boardwalk, or stop to refresh at the Canopy Cafe.
From there head to Coffs Harbour—about an hour away—where natural beauty and fun attractions entice families and adventurers. Children will love the amusement rides at the Big Banana Fun Park, including water slides and a tobogganing ride. There is a prayer option at Southern Cross University Musalla in the Coffs Harbour as well.
Though there may not have known Halal-certified establishments, the Twilight Markets open every Friday from October to April is a food-only market with diverse, multicultural cuisine.
Day 5: Coffs Harbour to Byron Bay
The scenic 282 kilometre drive from Coffs Harbour to Byron Bay takes you past quiet estuaries, charming villages, gorgeous beaches and World Heritage wilderness.
About an hour and forty minutes north of Coffs Harbour is Beachwood Café in the quaint town of Yamba, which serves Middle Eastern fare using fresh local produce and delicious organic juices. Though it is halal-friendly (non-pork menu), it serves alcohol.
Besides known for its picturesque beauty, Byron is also known for diverse range of cultural and countercultural activities, such as yoga classes and music festivals. Don't forget to visit the iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse which stands on Australia’s most easterly point—explore the headland or take the 3.7 kilometre Cape Byron loop walk for a sunset view.
Byron Bay has a handful of Halal-friendly options – you’ll find Turkish, Middle Eastern, Indian and vegetarian.
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