The coast from Sydney north to Queensland is more densely populated and much more touristy than its southern counterpart, with popular holiday destinations such as Port Stephens, Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour strung along the coast north of Newcastle. Since the 1970s, the area around Byron Bay has been a favoured destination for people seeking an alternative lifestyle; this movement has left in its wake not only disillusioned hippie farmers (as well as a few who’ve survived with their illusions intact), but also a firmly established artistic and alternative scene.

As in the south, the coastline consists of myriad inlets, bays and coastal lakes, interspersed with white, sandy beaches and rocky promontories. Parallel to the coast are the rocky plateaus of the Great Dividing Range, whose national parks provide bushwalkers with remote, rugged terrain to explore. Numerous streams tumble down from the escarpment in mighty waterfalls, creating fertile river valleys where the predominant agricultural activity is cattle breeding; in the north, subtropical and tropical agriculture takes over, especially the cultivation of bananas. In essence, the further you go, the better this coast gets.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Australia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

12 tips for backpacking Australia

12 tips for backpacking Australia

Backpacking Australia will almost certainly exceed your expectations. It’s not just that the places you’ll see will be more stunning than you had imagine…

09 Mar 2017 • Ros Walford insert_drive_file Article
26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

From ancient temples to hyper-modern skyscrapers, these are just a few of the world's most incredible architectural wonders. Whether you're looking to wander l…

01 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
Solo travel in Australia: everything you need to know

Solo travel in Australia: everything you need to know

Australia remains a classic travel destination. A steady stream of gap-year backpackers, career breakers and round-the-world-trippers head down under to sample …

22 Nov 2016 • Shafik Meghji insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month