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.