There are loads of road trips people take in Australia that look like a snap when looking at the map, but surprisingly translate into many hours when actually on the road.Sydney to Brisbane is one of those road trips. You could do it quickly – as long as you don’t mind strapping a brick on to your accelerator and spending the next 12 hours trying to avoid running into the other, more sedate drivers on the road.The other, more road-safe option, is to meander your way up the Pacific Highway, and stop off at your leisure. There’s all sorts of nooks and crannies dotted up the coast that you can drop in for a quick visit and wander.If you don’t have a car, you should think about booking a rental car online and saving yourself a bit of cash. Sites like www.vroomvroomvroom.com.au pool together all of the current prices and specials on offer from the most popular car rental companies in the country. You can directly compare all the prices available with one click of the button to make sure you get a brilliant car hire Sydney deal.Once you’ve piled into your motorised transport of choice, one of the first popular places for a stretch of the legs would be by the Hawkesbury River, which flows into Broken Bay, and is surrounded by, not one, but three national parks. If you only have time to tramp around one, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase is the most popular – plenty of lovely walks and interesting Aboriginal paintings scattered about at various sites. Or there’s always a spot of fishing and sailing to be had at Broken Bay itself.Just a little further up the road you’ll find the town of Terrigal. It has followed the tradition of the likes of Byron Bay where a residual alternative vibe has been frilled up to serve a relaxed and palatable mainstream holiday feel. Artsy-crafty shops and a good street-side cafÃ© culture.Newcastle will probably be your next stop – although if you’ve paid any attention to word of mouth, you may not be eager to stay very long. But that would be a shame – Newcastle has its attractions. Like what? Well, its got five beaches (try Nobbys Beach, it’s the most popular and it has a bad name – what else do you need?), a huge student population (ie: thriving music scene), some beautiful architecture lurking in colonial buildings and terraced housing – and after a long walk you can head to Darby street to satiate your food and coffee needs.Ever onwards and upwards will find you pulling in to Port Stephens, which is barely an hours drive away from Newcastle. If you’ve ever dreamt of dolphin spotting, then this is one of the places to do it. There’s a local population of bottle-nosed dolphins which play in the waves near the coast. You can grab any one of the innumerable charter vessels available to take you out.From here on in, there are plenty of little towns and laid-back cities – you’ll be passing by the beach-laden Port Macquarie, the tiny resort town of Nambucca Heads, the big banana near Coffs Harbour. But you’re now fast-approaching one of the most popular corners of NSW.The farmers came for the soil, the hippies turned up and hugged the trees, and the yuppies – well yuppies always follow the hippies and make everything fashionable and launch the careers of many hundreds of professional barristas.The north-east corner of NSW takes in the truly picturesque towns like Bangalow, Mullumbimby, and Byron Bay; the alternative vibes of Nimbin; and tiny villages like Mooball – where the telephone poles and local servo are painted in the pattern of dairy cows. There’s rolling hills, odd communes, pretty beaches, rainforest, spectacular bushwalks and enough chilled-out vibe to make you seriously consider investing in a comby and a didgeridoo.The local pub scene is fantastic – try to check out Byron Bay’s Beach Hotel, the Nimbin Hotel (in Nimbin of course), and the Tumbulgum Tavern (Riverside Drive in Tumbulgum – just outside of Murwillumbah), just to name a few.It’ll be a bit of a shock leaving the area and driving through Tweed Heads, Coolangatta and the Gold Coast. Don’t worry too much about the first two towns – not much personality – all fibre glass and concrete. But the beaches can be nice.The Gold Coast – Surfers Paradise – is where the well-off go to spend money in Jupiter’s Casino, and the young dress in sparse clothing so they can congregate in the loud, vibrating clubs that muscle up against each other in Orchid Ave. Spend a bit of time here, and you’ll eventually be making your sorry way up to Brisbane penniless or hung-over, or both.Don’t worry, laid-back Brisbane can soothe away your travel wrinkles. You’ve got Southbank, South Brisbane and West End to chill out in, watch the river and the traffic and the people roll on by (although you can’t see the river from West End – you’ll just have to content yourself with people watching).