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Fastest driving route from Canberra to Surfers paradise?

By 13 December 2012 37

Wanting to hear from anyone who has driven from Canberra to Goldcoast, or vice versa, within the last few months. I haven’t driven the coastal route for a couple of years and am wondering if it is faster than going inland nowadays?

All advice welcome!

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37 Responses to Fastest driving route from Canberra to Surfers paradise?
#1
ML-5852:08 pm, 13 Dec 12

“Coastal route” always has been and always will be the fastest way to Gold Coast from Canberra. Watch out for roadworks from about Port Macquarie to north of Kempsey for the Kempsey bypass. And if you’re planning on going during the holiday season, take your time – better to arrive late than not at all.

#2
switch2:11 pm, 13 Dec 12

Google Maps reckons the coastal route is faster by a couple of hours.

#3
enrique2:25 pm, 13 Dec 12

Coastal route for sure.

Do yourself (and your friends/family) a favour also… give yourself enough spare time to take good long breaks along the way including staying somewhere overnight. Don’t rush it… you may shave off a few hours by pushing yourself but if you have an accident you’re a long time dead.

#4
Grail2:25 pm, 13 Dec 12

TomTom says the coast route is also the most economical.

#5
p12:30 pm, 13 Dec 12

ML-585 said :

And if you’re planning on going during the holiday season, take your time – better to arrive late than not at all.

I would suggest that from a few days before Christmas, until a few days after, the inland route might well be faster. I have lost a couple hours to traffic jams before…

#6
shirty_bear2:30 pm, 13 Dec 12

I drove to the Gold Coast (and back) in winter ’10 and ’11; both times went one leg on the coast road and one inland.

Both times I found the coast road to be shorter and faster (by about an hour, mainly because the connection from the inland route to the Coast is clunky – it’s a much better option for BrisVegas/ further north than it is for the Coast).

Having said that, I prefer the inland run; easier roads, less roadwork, *much* less traffic, and gives Sydney traffic & tolls the swerve. It’s a better run unless time is really important to you. And the coast road is being improved all the time, but it’ll be a while yet before it’s up to spec all the way.

#7
Trimega2:33 pm, 13 Dec 12

I’ll be doing Bris-Can early next year with a stopover in Port Mac.

#8
Rollersk8r2:40 pm, 13 Dec 12

Definitely coastal – although even if it was a couple of years ago the trouble spots remain the same my friend. Expect mammoth queues at Hexham, Buladelah and Kempsey over Christmas. I still have nightmares about the time it took me 12 hours to get from Sydney to Coffs.

The road improves incrementally each time we go up, although it will probably be another 20 to 30 years before they figure out what to do North and South of Grafton. Although I hear the new Ballina bypass is excellent. All clear sailing from there.

#9
Holden Caulfield2:42 pm, 13 Dec 12

Apple Maps says the inland route is better, now that all roads lead to Mildura. Really, it’s still a better option than going through Auckland on the coastal route.

#10
Weatherman3:09 pm, 13 Dec 12

The coastal route is quicker. However, there can be long delays on some days, which are caused by either roadworks or floods. In that case, the inland route is a better option when there are delays.

#11
mezza763:25 pm, 13 Dec 12

ML-585 said :

“Coastal route” always has been and always will be the fastest way to Gold Coast from Canberra. Watch out for roadworks from about Port Macquarie to north of Kempsey for the Kempsey bypass. And if you’re planning on going during the holiday season, take your time – better to arrive late than not at all.

+1 – done it a few times. More so that the New England route adds at least a couple of hours to the trip.

Dont forget to take the M7 to get around Sydney (you’ll need a toll pass). I’ve never found the roadworks to be an issue but it’s been a year since I’ve done it. Don’t consider speeding (except when you are in QLD where police never seem to exist) – there are numerous speed traps/cameras along the way.

#12
neanderthalsis3:31 pm, 13 Dec 12

Inland my friend. At this time of year the coast road will be packed with carloads of holidaying families, meandering geriatrics towing caravans and trucks. Inland is marginally longer, but I have always preferred it. Take the New England Highway to Tenterfield, turn coastwards and head through the mountains to Casino & Ballina or north up through Kyogle.

#13
Panhead3:32 pm, 13 Dec 12

Did the coastal route last new years in 12 hours even with delays around kempsy. Stopped for lunch, petrol and a toilet break. 3 grown men in a little car, we were keen to do it quickly. I used to do it at least once or twice a year till we started flying to the gold coast around 05. The road is sooooo much better, once that section coming out of Port Macquarie is done it will be even better.

The new part around ballina is gorgeous.

#14
Weatherman3:40 pm, 13 Dec 12

Sometimes, bushfires can also cause long delays, especially between Sydney and Newcastle. Even though the trip can be done from very early morning to late night. It’s better to take an overnight break. Last time, I stayed at Ballina. There are many accidents happening on both routes because of overtaking and concealed intersections. If you want to pay tolls, M7 is an okay bypass around Sydney, otherwise, Cumberland Highway is a good route without tolls, though can be busy during peak hours, as well as confusing if you don’t know which lanes to be in. During non-peak times, Cumberland Highway can be just as efficient as the M7 as an alternative route.

#15
voytek33:46 pm, 13 Dec 12

Its just so fitting. A Canberran asking the best way to drive to the only place in the country that has less culture and soul than Canberra itself. Seems to me that you shouldn’t be on the road to begin with but then again neither should 75% of Canberrans.

#16
thebrownstreak694:09 pm, 13 Dec 12

shirty_bear said :

Having said that, I prefer the inland run; easier roads, less roadwork, *much* less traffic, and gives Sydney traffic & tolls the swerve. It’s a better run unless time is really important to you. And the coast road is being improved all the time, but it’ll be a while yet before it’s up to spec all the way.

+1. The coast road is hit and miss sometimes you get a good run sometimes you don’t. The inland route is easier with less traffic and more interesting.

#17
mezza764:12 pm, 13 Dec 12

neanderthalsis said :

Inland my friend. At this time of year the coast road will be packed with carloads of holidaying families, meandering geriatrics towing caravans and trucks. Inland is marginally longer, but I have always preferred it.

Take the New England Highway to Tenterfield, turn coastwards and head through the mountains to Casino & Ballina or north up through Kyogle.

Each to their own – but last time my driving stats were on the coast road (Canberra to Gold Coast)

1084kms. 68.52l of fuel. 6.25l/100kms. Cost:$106.98. Carbon footprint 159kg. 13hrs driving time.

I dont think you’re going to beat 13hrs on the New England…

#18
p14:16 pm, 13 Dec 12

Rollersk8r said :

Although I hear the new Ballina bypass is excellent. All clear sailing from there.

Couple of weeks ago it was looking pretty nice. When all the currently under construction bypasses are finished the road will be pretty nice. When all the scheduled to start by NSW has no money bypasses are built it will be excellent!

#19
Ate4:20 pm, 13 Dec 12

Rollersk8r said :

Definitely coastal – although even if it was a couple of years ago the trouble spots remain the same my friend. Expect mammoth queues at Hexham, Buladelah and Kempsey over Christmas. I still have nightmares about the time it took me 12 hours to get from Sydney to Coffs.

The road improves incrementally each time we go up, although it will probably be another 20 to 30 years before they figure out what to do North and South of Grafton. Although I hear the new Ballina bypass is excellent. All clear sailing from there.

I totally agree. Buladelah was meant to be finished before Christmas unfortunately it hasnt been. It took us 3hours to drive 12km at Easter 2yrs ago. I find if i leave a couple of days before the rush it isnt too bad at Hexam or Buladelah either that or get up at 3am and do the early morning drive. Much easier than putting up with the traffic.

#20
Chop714:31 pm, 13 Dec 12
#21
aevans5:17 pm, 13 Dec 12

The coastal route is such a pain at this time of the year. I suppose that it might be quicker, but is it really worth the aggravation?

#22
JC5:18 pm, 13 Dec 12

When your asking about the inland route, which inland route are you asking for. Reading the replies I’ve found at least one that says it’s good because it avoids Sydney so am assuming that person is talking about the inland route through places like Dubbo, Coonabarabran, Goondiwindi and Warwick and others talking about the inland route seem to be referring to the New England from Newcastle via Tamworth, Armidale etc.

So really there are 3 main routes from Canberra, two inland, one being through the mid west, the other the New England and the coastal up the Pacific Highway.

Interestingly if one were to take the inland route via Dubbo, what is the best way to get there from Cowra? Via Parkes (which is the way I was taken many years ago) or via Canowindra?

#23
Pork Hunt5:22 pm, 13 Dec 12

Another tip is to buy fuel at less busy times and not at knock off time on a Friday like I did in Maitland last year. Complete mayhem at the servo.

#24
bigred5:26 pm, 13 Dec 12

Great topic, very timely indeed. I am driving Canb-Gosford-Brisbane next week and wondering about best way to go.

#25
Evil_Kitten6:30 pm, 13 Dec 12

Go inland one way and coastal the other. Much more interesting trip!

#26
RedDogInCan8:30 pm, 13 Dec 12

I’ve done the trip about 10 times in the past year. The coastal route is much quicker – you can do the 1200km in about 13 hours. Using the toll roads to skirt around Sydney saves you a good hour. The bypasses at Ballina and Tweed Heads are now fully open. The New England route takes closer to 16 hours and is a crappy road – mostly single lane, travels through every little town, and has many hilly sections.

#27
bigred8:37 pm, 13 Dec 12

I was sceptical about the fuel consumption differences between the New England and Pacific Highways until I checked the records from my last trip. Sydney to Toowoomba, 958 kms, using 51.42litres equates to 5.37 litres/100km. Toowoomba to Sunshine Coast and onto Nambucca Hds, 1040kms, using 45.28 litres equates to 4.35 litres/100km. Nambucca to Sydney, 682 kms, using 31.78 litres equates to 4.66 litres/100km.

#28
MrPC8:13 am, 14 Dec 12

The only inland route I’m yet to try is The Northern Road and Putty Road.

I would not recommend Goulburn/Oberon/Bylong Valley as it’s surprisingly slow going, plus that hill at Abercrombie River is notorious for destroying engines.

I would not recommend Crookwell/Blayney as it’s got too much dirt, is slow, and while it looks direct, it’s a waste of time.

I would not recommend Yass/Cowra as it has too many Roos (one of which dented my bonnet a few months ago). Cowra is bad driving time for Roos any time of the day or night, not just Dawn and Dusk.

Take the coast road.

#29
thebrownstreak699:32 am, 14 Dec 12

bigred said :

I was sceptical about the fuel consumption differences between the New England and Pacific Highways until I checked the records from my last trip. Sydney to Toowoomba, 958 kms, using 51.42litres equates to 5.37 litres/100km. Toowoomba to Sunshine Coast and onto Nambucca Hds, 1040kms, using 45.28 litres equates to 4.35 litres/100km. Nambucca to Sydney, 682 kms, using 31.78 litres equates to 4.66 litres/100km.

What sort of vehicle? Small diesel?

#30
cubicle019:37 am, 14 Dec 12

MrPC said :

The only inland route I’m yet to try is The Northern Road and Putty Road.

RE: Putty Road
If you are heading for the Hunter valley and not in a rush its a scenic way to go but not good if your destination if further north. Though last time I did it southbound in the back of an ambulance and it was thoroughly unpleasant.

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