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10 hour drive to Coolgta + Q's

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    Hi All,

    We have holiday time coming up toward the end of the month and a friend has offered their place in Coolangatta for us to stay in (Sunday to Friday).

    I have an EXTREMELY active almost a 3 year old and an 8month old baby.

    We’ve never done a long car trip and I could do with as many tips and ideas as possible to be prepared.

    Also, some good suggestions for little breaks to stop off along the way. We’ll have to overnight somewhere, and on the way back I wouldn’t mind stopping a night in Byron.

    I haven’t seen much of Australia and not been north of Maitland before so I’m looking forward to it. We may even find a nice place to move to 😉

    Anyhoo, car trip ideas and stop off suggestions please 😀


    Hi Suzi,

    I live at Lorne, 16kl of sealed road off the highway at Kew which is located between Taree and Port Macquarie. We have 50 acres and lots of animals (alpacas, cattle, a dog, chooks, ducks, guinea fowl and a horse) so I am offering a great place to stop off for a meal and let the little one do something different for a while or even a stop off for the night I have spare bedrooms all ready for guests but no cot as my youngest grandson has just gone into a big bed so I got rid of the folding cot. If you are interested send me a PM and I will give you more detailed directions eyc.




    Having Children in Sydney and Brisbane we do this trip all the time. With your littlies tho leave really really early like 5 am then drive as far as possible before they wake up for breakfast, also beats traffic. Now that the Freeway by-passes most of the towns a much quicker trip, we sometimes picnic or Macdonalds for coffee or breakfast, but anyway this is a rough stopping /Macdonalds or go thru a town( not bypassed yet) trip. Often diversions to town take a while getting in and then out again also.

    From approx. Hornsby, 1 1/2 hrs. first Macdonalds is Raymond Terrace,divert off and there is a spitfire plane park with toilets, another 1/2 hr. to Karuah which you by pass but go in 10 – 15 k there is a lake and park, but on the highway is Ayers Rock big Petrol and Cafe/toilets and grass spot, then another 3/4 hr thru the actual town of Bullahdelah nice spot park on river opposite little cafe but toilet park CWA down that street and round the cnr. but no Macdonalds, another 1 hr is Taree has a new highway service on the LHS at the bridge, Port Macquarie is about 1 hr after that, (plus big roadworks) long way in to town but service area on highway, another 50 mins is Kempsey goes thru town and another Macdonald not much playing outside then 1 hr =Coffs goes thru town Macdonalds first up or parks, beach, everything you could want might be a good place to stop if left early. ( I could have put you up but will be in Tassie) 1 hr to Grafton again Tourist park opposite Maccas, 1 3/4 hr Ballina, all the facilities, 1 hr. is then Coolangatta, with lots of little cutesy towns by passed.

    This all depends on the children but if you roughly know whats coming up makes a difference, also if you want long stops or not. There is also a few council toilet/ picnic spots on the highway as well in between. You will notice quite a bit of roadworks as well.Stop at everything and it could take a week to get up so plan carefully.

    Hope this gives you a start.:tup:


    Im my experience, I’d leave and drive at night. Their little bodies are relaxed, and into the “sleep” mode, so they would be able to do the long run in the car, without much stopping, and the traffic is better at night not to mention the heat of being in the car all day. If you can, get as much sleep in as possible during the day and if you both drive, then share the driving. Take all you need in requirements such as drinks and food. You will find along the way some truck stops and all night petrol stations, so you will be able to fill your needs there too. Maybe not as comfy? but at least it won’t impact on the children quite as much :shrug: (truck stops offer awesome food!!! like homecooked meals!) :tup:


    We just did this same trip in the school hols just gone with 3 kids ( 5,7, 8 &3/4) . western sydney to kirra beach( coolangatta). We did it strait thru, but our kids do travel quite well nowadays.

    HATED all the road works , we seemed to cop them all the way up the coast(50 k’s on a 100 k stretch 🙁 ). made a 9/10 hr drive into 13 hrs with the kids.

    Have you got a car dvd player? we got 1 for the trip and it was a godsend. ( i am not a fan of them as i would love the kids to pay attention to the surrounding country , but on such a long trip it was bliss to have them watch a dvd and there was no * are we there yet? * every 5 miles 😆

    Pack 3 yr old a refillable drink bottle so’s not pestering u for a drink every other moment. and make up 2 *lunch bags * ( i used my kids school lunch bags) for the trip with nibblies and finger foods so anytime they were hungry they could get themselves something to eat, but obvoiusly for the little 1 u will be giving the snacks.

    Take a couple picture books/ crayons/easy game things for 3 yr old.

    We have also travelled from west syd to Alice Springs and around the territory,and then to brissy and back home when my oldest was only 9 months old :confused: .. boy was that an experience… (screaming , projectile vommiting baby for 8000 km trip :rip:.. i just wish i knew about her food issues back then it would have made it a LOT more pleasant in car..nowadays its a breeze)

    Good luck, its really fun to take your kids places, breaking it up into smaller sections does help and hopefully they sleep for a great deal of the travelling.

    cheers Kate

    Penny APenny A

    DH recomendation is if you decide to travel at night, go up the new England not the Pacific. Hes a truckie and says there tend to be too many cowboys on the Pacific at night. The road wasnt designed to take the amount of traffic it has to.

    Are you able to do

    I second the dvd player its a great sanity saver. When on long trips we try to keep sweet(sticky) or salty snacks to a minimum. We all carry waterbottles.

    We have a surprise box for those climbing the wall moments. I have bits and pieces to be brought out only when really needed, a small toy, book, puzzle, fancy pencil, patterned paper,small puzzle anything I think they might like and is good for confined spaces. I keep an eye out at the op shop for ideas:)

    Most of all enjoy the time together :metal:


    Thanks everyone! I’ll PM you soon Stephanie – how exciting!!!

    Just having a meltdown… hopefully be right soon

    boy wranglerboy wrangler

    i too recommend to do a big chuck of the drive at night. we’ve got an active 2 year old DS and a 5 month old DS and do the 3.5 hr trip to Brisbane from here every weekend (we’ve got a rental we’re working on). The drive is much calmer as we sing songs etc til the big one goes to sleep and the its a peaceful drive. When we leave earlier it’s a drive full of the little one screaming, and the big one asking to get out, go to the toilet, have something to eat etc etc. If we leave after he’s bathed and fed, he knows its sleep time.

    I too would stop at MacDonalds. they generally have clean loos and a safe place to play. i don’t feel bad about not buying anything, and sometimes say that DH has just gone through the drivethrough! Sometimes we just buy a coffee to get around it too.

    Good luck and enjoy!


    when we did long trips we planned to start early as say around 3am (go to sleep earlier the night before the trip the more sleep you get before midnight the better) as the early morning highway traffic was easier to handle, planned to stop every at least 2 hours for 15 min’s or so, if driving after dark reckon on bunking down before or around midnight that is the danger period when the brain wants to go to sleep( as soon as yu detect any fatigue), so a 3 or 4 hour kip then is best, any cheap motel of overnite van will do if car is suitable there are lots of sleep over stops that truckies an travellers use free. feed the brain with food and maybe coffee before stating off.

    out on the open road use flow through air with your air con’, fresher air always.

    have a safe journey and happy holidays.



    I regularly do a 4 hour drive to mums. Definitely pick your drive times, if you don’t want to do all the driving at night, if the kids still have an afternoon nap plan to leave then. Do whatever you do before their nap and take of then my kids would often then go to sleep and also sleep longer in the car. Don’t stop for anything they usually wake up on you then.

    These days as they are older I tend to have an early tea and head off then they don’t always sleep but it isn’t their busy time of the day either

    Take books (new ones they haven’t seen op-shop is good for this), if you have them the little magnetic drawing boards (magnadoodle type) are good they are easy to handle in the car, favorite teddies (don’t forget the security blanket if you have one). What ever your 3 yo would fiddle with for a while at home. I try to find a local takeaway and the playground to stop at, but if it is raining it is Maccas (about the only time they get to go) the indoor playground is an absolute must for the kids to use up some energy.

    Good luck


    If you come up the New England, I really liked Tamworth as a stop over last time – big country town, some parks, a nice RSL/Services club to eat dinner and plenty of choice of accomodation.

    While in Sunny Qld, Dreamworld is better than any of the other ‘worlds’ if you have little ones – more ride choices and a easier to supervise water park. Vouchers from the internet will help the cost.

    Also – Kirra beach is lovely – just up the road from C/Gatta and family friendly with a nice surf club, patrolled beach, etc.

    Avoid Surfers Paradise – so many more places on the coast that are much less touristy.

    Have fun!


    Thanks everyone! sounds like great advice and tips.

    After lots of thinking I’ve decided to take the two littlies on the plane and DH will drive up and meet us there.

    He’s off flying and I’m off driving 😀

    I’m writing him a whole list of what you’ve all said so he can’t go wrong. Lots less stress for me – I hope! Getting a whack of post natal doesn’t help.


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