“THE ONLY BEAUTIFUL thing about the Pacific Highway is it’s name,” a Dutch guy told me in our hostel when I explained our planned route. “There is another way to Byron Bay, though.”
Cross the Hawkesbury River
From the Blue Mountains, head north to Wiseman’s Ferry — the historic point for crossing the Hawkesbury River. It was from here that Australia was first explored to the north, and it’s now the gateway to the Yengo National Park, the largest in New South Wales.
Although no bridge exists, free ferry service across the river is available. Once north of the Hawksebury, the Settler’s Arms in St. Albans makes for a good rest stop and a refreshment. The walls of this 170 year-old pub are covered with pictures of the village’s ancestors, smiling gamely from cricket pitches and village fetes.
St. Albans is on the Great North Road that follows the original convict road, parts of which can still be seen. The next town is 40 kms north down a dirt road.