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The Pacific Highway (A1) and Pacific Motorway (M1) is a highway running between the Australian cities of Sydney and Brisbane, up the north coast of New South Wales.


The Pacific Highway is the major road link between Sydney and Brisbane. Additionally, it passes through a populous area of New South Wales, connecting you with many of the state's major cities and towns. The Pacific Highway is 800 km long. It is possible to drive up the highway in a single day, but this is a six-segment itinerary with several shorter drives and a number of stops in New South Wales cities.


When planning a trip up the Pacific Highway, the major consideration is holidays. The Pacific Highway links several large Australian cities and also passes through major beach holiday areas close to Sydney. Thus traffic is absolutely nightmarish at either end of a holiday period; it's not unheard of for trip times to be four times as long. The worst times to be traveling north are the afternoon and evening of Christmas Eve (or of the day before if Christmas Eve is a Sunday), the afternoon and evening of the day before the Good Friday holiday and the night before and morning of the first day of any long weekend. When traveling south, the end of holiday periods are the peak time. Since Australians take summer holidays in January, you will also want to avoid traveling north on the Friday or Saturday of any weekend in January, and likewise avoid traveling south on Sundays in January.

As the Pacific Highway is a major road passing through a populated area, there's no need to take special precautions as you might when driving through a remote area. It might be a good idea, as with all car trips, to make sure that you have food, water and warm enough clothing so that having to sleep in the car for a night wouldn't be a disaster. However, you will have ample opportunity to purchase all food and drink along the way.

See also: Tips for road trips and Driving in Australia.

Get in[edit]

Map of Overland travel between Sydney and Brisbane

You can start from either end of the road, or from many points along its length. To the south, Sydney is a major gateway, and to the north Brisbane and the Gold Coast both have many transport options. You can hire a car at either end, shop around for a good one way deal if you need one.

Upper North Shore to the Central Coast[edit]

Speed Limit: 80-110

This section of the drive offers drives through national parks, bushland and small townships and communities. It is easy to stop and take advantage of bushwalking opportunities, coffee shops and views, and beaches.

This section of the road can be used as an alternate solution if you want to bypass the Pacific Motorway, and is pleasant a quiet driving if you are not in a hurry.

Central Coast to Port Macquarie[edit]

Speed Limit: 70-110

The road is a fully 4-lane motorway with exceptions in Newcastle.

Port Macquarie to Coffs Harbour[edit]

Speed Limit: 110

Starting from a junction with the Pacific Highway at Raleigh, midway between Urunga and Coffs Harbour, Waterfall Way travels westward to Armidale. This route has been voted the best tourist drive in NSW and in the top 3 of Australia. The old highway has also been renamed as Macleay Valley Way and Giinagay Way, with the new highway being named the M1 Pacific Motorway.

Coffs Harbour to Ballina[edit]

Speed limit: 110

The highway is four lane motorway

Ballina to the Gold Coast[edit]

Speed Limit: 110

The highway is four to six lane motorway

Gold Coast to Brisbane[edit]

Speed limit: 100

The highway is an eight-lane motorway.

Stay safe[edit]

Go next[edit]

Go along M1/A1 Bruce Highway

This itinerary to Overland travel between Sydney and Brisbane is a usable article. It explains how to get there and touches on all the major points along the way. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.