Our Doggy Road Trip Around NSW

We recently embarked on our first family holiday since our dog Sprocket walked into our lives. Not knowing how Sprocket would handle travelling, we decided to start small and took off on a road trip from the Central Coast, north to Byron Bay and back south through New England. In total we spent one week on the road, staying in motels, camping beneath the stars and running along the white sandy beaches of the north coast.  

*Scroll to the bottom to see the full photo gallery

Dog road trip Sprocket
Let the road trip begin!

Getting around

We drove David’s car for the duration of the trip and used Sprocket’s seatbelt harness to keep him secured in the back seat. When we got to our destinations, we did a lot of running and walking to try and keep the driving to a minimum.


We stayed in a combination of Stayz, dog-friendly motels, AirBNBs and caravan parks. It was the first time we’d ever been camping, for us and Sprocket, so there was a lot of preparation for camping with a dog.

Planning the trip

We made sure we took the time to properly plan the trip to cater for our dog. We also went on a day trip to Maitland to celebrate Sprocket’s first birthday in August and get a good idea of how he’d deal with a road trip, eating out and exploring new spaces.

Our itinerary

ForsterDay one: Central Coast – Forster – Port Macquarie
Total drive time: four hours

On Saturday morning, we got up nice and early (at around 7am), and took Sprocket for a run down to our local dog park to get rid of any of his excess energy. Then we had breakfast and left the house at around 9am, destination: Forster on the mid north coast of NSW. There we enjoyed a splash in the water at the dogs off leash area at Sirius Keys, had lunch by the beach at Beach Bums Cafe, and walked around the town.

After lunch we drove north to Old Bottlebutt Tree for a small bushwalk through Burrawan State Forest to stretch our legs before continuing on to Port Macquarie where we walked along the boardwalk and checked into our dog friendly accommodation, Major Innes Motel.

Coffs harbour big banana park
The Big Banana

Day two: Port Macquarie – Coffs Harbour – Woolgoolga – Grafton
Total drive time: three hours

Day two was a very big day. After breakfast at our motel, we went for a walk along the dog-friendly Lighthouse Beach before leaving Port Macquarie and heading north to the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour where we enjoyed morning tea. We drove through Orara East State Forest to Sealy Lookout before heading to a friend’s house for lunch in Woolgoolga.

After a run in with a very, VERY, big kangaroo and a smelly swim in the creek, we went to the Woolgoolga Lookout and the dog-friendly stretch of beach behind it to wash the horrid-smelling creek water off Sprocket. Then we continued north and checked into our Airbnb in Grafton and settled in to watch the Roosters win the NRL grand final.

Grafton Clarence river
Early morning by Clarence River in Grafton

Day three: Grafton – Ballina – Byron Bay
Total drive time: three hours

On day three, we were up bright and early for a run along the Clarence River. Then, we treated ourselves to breakfast out at Heart & Soul Wholefood Cafe in Grafton before getting back in the car and driving north to Ballina. There, we took Sprocket to see the big prawn before finally making it to Byron Bay.

Our first stop in Byron Bay was The Farm where we enjoyed lunch before heading to Belongil Beach for a run along the sand. After a quick walk around town and a pit stop in Woolworths, we headed to our accommodation for the night, Wooyung Beach Holiday Park, to set up the tent and run along yet another beach.  

Day four: Byron Bay – Yamba – Glen Innes
Total drive time: five hours

Day four was our biggest day of driving yet! We left the holiday park in Wooyung, but not after a quick walk along the beach, to enjoy breakfast at Twisted Sista Cafe in Byron Bay. Then, we drove south to Yamba where we spent the rest of the morning at Dolphin Park and Beach and Yamba Lighthouse. We grabbed a quick bite to eat in town before heading west to Glen Innes through Gibraltar Range National Park. Once we arrived we checked into our accommodation for the night at Jillaroo Motel.

Tamworth big golden guitar
Big smiles at the Golden Guitar

Day five: Glen Innes – Armidale – Tamworth
Total drive time: three hours

Our first stop on day five was the Australian Standing Stones where there’s an off-leash dog park. From here, we drove to Stonehenge for a quick photo stop and on to Armidale where we walked around town. Then we drove to Uralla for lunch at Top Pub and scenic views at Mount Mutton Lookout. Then we continued the drive on to Tamworth where we saw the Big Golden Guitar and checked into Mortabelle Motel.

Day six: Tamworth – Gunnedah – Dubbo
Total drive time: four hours

To kick off day six, we took Sprocket to a fully fenced agility dog park in Tamworth. From here we drove straight to Gunnedah where we stopped for some morning tea. Then it was on to Dubbo for lunch at Church Street Cafe before the rain settled in. After spending the afternoon catching up with a friend at Old Bank Restaurant and Bar, we checked into our accommodation at Westview Caravan Park.

Day seven: Dubbo – Hunter Valley – Central Coast (home)
Total drive time: six hours

The final day of our trip was a total wash out with the rain following us from Dubbo the whole way home. That didn’t stop us from making all the stops we wanted to make though. From Dubbo we drove east to Dunedoo for our morning tea stop then through Merriwa and the Hunter Valley where we enjoyed a late lunch at Hope Estate. From here it was one-hour home through Cessnock and on the freeway.

We had a great time travelling with Sprocket but there was no denying we all needed a shower and a nap (or ten) when we got home!

Where should we take Sprocket next? Let us know in the comments below!

Ash, Dave and Sprocket


4 thoughts on “Our Doggy Road Trip Around NSW

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