I'm hoping this is a constrained enough question to not produce either long lists, or lots of subjective answers, so here goes...
In December I'm going to want to get from Sydney to Brisbane. I won't have a car, and it's just a one way trip, so the obvious choices would seem to be either fly, or take the train. (Well, train then bus from Casino!) While the train looks to be slightly cheaper, when luggage fees are included, I've noticed that a CountryLink East Coast Discover Pass is about the same price as the flight + bag fees.
If I was to get a CountryLink East Coast Discover Pass, then I'd be able to make my way from Sydney up to Brisbane by train + bus, stopping as often as I like (as long as I don't backtrack). My idea was to maybe take something like 3-4 days to do the trip, stopping at a couple of places along the way (plus charging my gadgets up too - one snag I hit last time with the train is the lack of power points!)
What I'm not sure on is where along the North Coast that's served by CountryLink is worth stopping at for a day? I won't have a car with me, nor will I have that long, so visiting some of the more far-flung beaches is out. Between Sydney and Grafton I'm largely limited to two trains a day (I don't think I'll want to take the overnight one), and for the Garfton to Brisbane leg I've no real choice (XPT to Casino then bus looks the only sensible bet). The timetable listing is here, and this is the current timetable
For places to stop off at, they'd need sensibly priced accommodation near the station, as I'll likely not be packed for long walks with everything. I wouldn't mind a stop that would allow for some scuba diving, but otherwise places with one of interesting walking, a nice beach or a museum would be good. Oh, and I probably wouldn't stop at Surfers or anywhere north of there, as I can pop back to them from Brisbane later! I guess in addition to a whole day stop, I could always get the earlier Casino XPT, hop off for a couple of hours and see somewhere, then take the later Grafton XPT on to where I'm staying, so suggestions for somewhere for a museum / quick walk / etc might also be good!
So, along the route covered by the discovery pass, are there any places that would be recommended for a 1 day stop? And anywhere that might be interesting for a few hours?