Seven Day Coastal Drive Sydney to Melbourne
Sydney to Nowra
Leave Sydney, the Harbour City for the great surf and aquatic activities of Wollongong and Shellharbour, and continue to historic villages and lush country to Nowra.
It's an easy drive from Sydney, with lots to see along the way. Turn off into the Royal National Park - the world's second-oldest - which marks the beginning of Grand Pacific Drive, a spectacular stretch of coastal road that takes you through beautiful rainforests and impressive driving scenery with close proximity to sheer cliffs and the South Pacific Ocean. Here you can hire a row boat and take a picnic on the Port Hacking River, visit picturesque beaches or enjoy some of the many great walking trails. Exit the park at Bald Hill- a magnificent lookout and popular hang-gliding site and continue your journey across the Sea Cliff Bridge- the 665 metre over-the-ocean bridge.
Stop off and explore Northern Wollongong, famous for its unspoilt beaches and rock pools, unique art and crafts, fishing and surfing and many terrific cafes and restaurants. From hear make your way to Wollongong offering countless adventure activities, more great beaches, shopping and an array of local local cuisine. Wollongong is also a great place to stay with a huge mix of options including international hotel brands, quaint and unique B&B's and backpacker accommodation.
Shellharbour is popular with water sports enthusiasts and includes Lake Illawarra, plus the famous local surf spot The Farm in Killalea State Park. Further south is Kiama, a picturesque fishing village famous for its Blowhole; a natural spout fed from the sea below that can shoot a stream of water up to 60 metres high. Shoalhaven Heads is at the southern end of historic Seven Mile Beach, which was used as a runway for aviator Sir Charles Kingsford Smith on the first commercial flight from Australia to New Zealand in 1933. These days however, the beach is a favourite destination for sun-worshippers, surfers and beach fishing.
The nearby historic village of Berry offers fantastic shopping and is a great place for a pub lunch or Devonshire tea. Take a detour from Berry to view magnificent Kangaroo Valley, listed by the National Trust as the principal area of outstanding natural beauty in the region. It is also home to a historic village filled with art and craft shops selling local work, restaurants and the famous heritage listed Hampden Bridge, Australia's last surviving wooden suspension bridge. You can also enjoy canoeing on the river, horse treks or bush walks. Then return to Nowra via Cabewarra Lookout where you will find one of the longest panoramic vistas in Australia.
Nowra to Batemans Bay
Head out of Nowra to the marine wonderland that is Jervis Bay, continue south past Pigeon House Mountain, great beaches and into the busy holiday town of Batemans Bay, home of great seafood.
Jervis Bay is well-known for its national parks and the pod of dolphins that live in the bay year-round. It is popular with scuba divers and snorkellers, who explore the underwater caves. If you are in the areas between June and November, look out for migrating whales off the coast.
Huskisson is the gateway town for exploring Jervis Bay and nearby Hyams Beach, which is reputed to have the whitest sand in the world.Visit nearby Booderee National Park, a place full of culture and wildlife. Booderee has stunning white sandy beaches, three campgrounds with energy efficent amenities, many bushwalk options, an old lighthouse with shipwreck heritage and a Botanic Gardens full of bush foods and medecines. Further along the route, Mollymook is a popular seaside holiday spot for its golf courses and family beachesUlladulla is a larger centre and a well-known deep sea fishing area. Discover the local history on the ‘One Track For All' walk along the northern headland. Stop at Morton National Park and climb the steep Pigeon House Mountain for 360-degree views of the Pacific Ocean, the Budawang Mountains and the Clyde River. On hot days take a cooling dip at Pebbly Beach amidst the resident kangaroos.The rugged coastline at Murramarang National Park offers accommodation on the beachfront. Detour 10 minutes off the highway and discover the lake and beaches at beautiful South Durras.
Located at the mouth of the Clyde River, Batemans Bay is a bustling holiday township, known for its seafood, particularly oysters, which have a reputation for being some of Australia's best. Take a lunchtime river cruise or hire a boat and explore the scenic waterway.
Batemans Bay to Eden
The ocean meets dairy country along this leg of the journey. See marine creatures and lush scenery and sample some of Australia’s best cheeses.
Visit Mogo just south of Batemans Bay for boutique shops, cafes and Old Mogo Town, a re-creation of a working 19th century goldmining village. Not far from Mogo is Broulee where you can learn to surf with one of the experienced surf schools.’ ‘Join a fishing charter or hire a guide from Batemans Bay, Moruya, Tuross Head, Narooma or Bermagui. Go river, estuary, inlet or offshore for the thrill of a lifetime.
‘Narooma is an Aboriginal name meaning 'clear blue water' and it's easy to see why upon first sighting the stunning aquamarine waters of Wagonga Inlet. Join a charter to Montague Island and discover Australian & New Zealand Fur Seals, little penguin breeding sites and a wide variety of birds. Dive with the seals at the Island for the ultimate experience. See migrating whales at play from September to November.
Stop at Central Tilba, the National Trust-listed village where you can see a wood turner, cobbler, baker and leather-maker at work. Visit the art and craft shops and taste famous Tilba Club Cheese at the ABC Cheese Factory.
Try throwing a spear or boomerang at Umbarra Cultural Centre, or join a 4WD tour to the sacred sites at Gulaga (Mt Dromedary).
Wander along the art, food and wine trail between Bermagui and Tathra to see artists at work, and view their creations. Alternatively, follow the highway to the village of Cobargo, where craftspeople sell a range of unique goods from woodcrafts and pottery to leather and art works, and then continue on to the rich dairy farming land of Bega, home of some of the best cheeses in Australia.
Take the kids to Magic Mountain theme park at Merimbula, and ride the roller coaster and drive a mini grand prix track. At the Merimbula Marina, you can hire a fishing boat, take a sunset cruise or go scuba diving.
Eden is an old whaling town located on beautiful Twofold Bay. Today whales are only watched, and boat charters offer the chance to see these marine creatures as they migrate along the coast. Find out more at The Killer Whale Museum.
Eden to Bairnsdale
Discover pristine coastal environments, National Parks and the Gippsland Lakes as you follow the route along the Victorian coastline.
Just across the border into Victoria is Croajingolong National Park, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve that is home to diverse eco systems and magnificent scenery, including secluded beaches, dramatic rocky coastlines as well as a wonderful array of flora and fauna.
The charming town of Mallacoota is surrounded by the national park. Soak up the beauty and peace of the Mallacoota Inlet, with its shimmering lakes, rivers, forests and quiet beaches. From Cann River, make your way to Point Hicks to see sand dunes and the lighthouse, and make the most of walks and camping areas. Tamboon Inlet and Wingan Inlet, with its secluded estuary for small boats or canoes, are also popular with campers.
Try your luck fishing from the beach at Marlo, a quiet holiday village, or explore miles of sandy beaches, rock pools, boardwalks, bushwalks and lookouts at Cape Conran Coastal Park. Keep an eye out for dolphins and seals in the ocean.
Head inland from Nowa Nowa and visit Buchan Caves, raft down or horse ridealong the Snowy River.At Lakes Entrance, Victoria’s fishing capital, cast a line from a jetty, riverbank or beach. The lakes are the largest inland waterway system in the southern hemisphere, with four rivers feeding the five main lakes of the system. Sheltered from the rough ocean seas by Ninety Mile Beach, the Gippsland Lakes are a centre for water-based recreation and fishing.
In the picturesque holiday village of Metung you can sail across broad Bancroft Bay. Book a table at one of Metung’s fine restaurants or enjoy a pub meal on the waterfront.
Spot koalas in gum trees on Raymond Island, as well as other wildlife, including kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas and lizards.
Bairnsdale to Phillip Island via Wilsons Promontory
Drive the slow scenic route along the Victorian coast. Along the way call in at historic port towns, see the seal and koala colonies and the daily Penguin Parade on Phillip Island.
A short drive from Bairnsdale, Yarram is an Aboriginal word for ‘plenty of water’. Wander around the many interesting old buildings in town, including the old Court House, an architectural gem now serving as an information centre.
The oldest settlements in Victoria, Alberton and Tarraville, are a short drive from Bairnsdale, as is Tarra Bulga National Park, a cool climate rainforest with scenic walks and picnic facilities.
Discover the well-kept secret that is Port Albert, Victoria’s first established port and home to more than 40 Georgian and Victorian buildings. Ships from Europe and America carrying thousands of hopeful Chinese people on their way to the goldfi elds berthed here.
Follow the coastline to Wilsons Promontory National Park, located at the Australian mainland’s southernmost point and famous for its flora and fauna, wild ocean beaches and mountain views. Set up camp or book into accommodation. Choose from the many walks, including the trail to Squeaky Beach with its pure white quartz sand or the walk up Mt Oberon for a great panoramic view. Set out on an overnight hike with all your gear and walk into one of the 11 campsites around the park, or hike the 20 kilometres along Telegraph Saddle to the light station, where you can stay in the original lighthouse keeper’s cottage. As you move around the park look out for kangaroos, birds, echidnas, wombats and other wildlife.
Mainland Wonthaggi is home to Victoria's black coal industry. Visit the State Coal Mine and the Coal Creek Heritage Village. Or get out into the open air and pedal or walk the 16-kilometre Bass Coast Rail Trail from Wonthaggi to Anderson.
Fishing enthusiasts can find excellent surf and estuary fi shing around Venus Bay and Tarwin Lower, and at Coal Creek Heritage Village in Korumburra you can experience the life and times of a 19th century coal mining village. While in the area, taste a wide variety of premium cool climate wines at the cellar door or sample quality meats, fine cheeses and fresh local produce in the cafes and stores of Koonwarra.
Surrounded by some of the best surf and swimming beaches in Victoria, Phillip Island is a popular family coastal getaway. Don’t miss the nightly parade of hundreds of little penguins at Phillip Island Nature Park.
The island is also home to Australia’s largest colony of Australian fur seals and a healthy population of koalas that you can see from treetop boardwalks at the Koala Conservation Centre. Each October the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix comes to the island for a three day festival of high speed racing on two wheels.
Accommodation choices are abundant and the island is home to several seaside villages to explore. Take in the breathtaking beauty of the coastline which features north facing beaches and cliff top ocean vistas. There is an endless array of attractions for you to explore.
Phillip Island to Melbourne via Mornington Peninsula
Three beautiful coastlines, indulgent spas and hot springs, and a generous sprinkling of seaside and country villages. Just take your time, because you’ll also find some of Victoria’s most inspiring nature walks, fine boutique accommodation, more than 50 cellar doors and excellent restaurants featuring regional produce and wine.
Only an hour’s drive from Phillip Island, the Mornington Peninsula packs an amazing diversity of attractions into a famously beautiful and very compact region. It’s been a favourite holiday spot for Victorians for generations – and you’re about to find out why.
It takes only about 30 minutes to travel the Peninsula top to toe, and 10 to 15 minutes to drive from one coast to the other through green hillsides laced with vines and dotted with olive groves, orchards and produce farms.
You can easily criss-cross back and forth, exploring peaceful beaches and villages on Western Port Bay, busier villages and beaches along Port Phillip Bay, and the wild Bass Strait coast.
Your first stops should be the award-winning Australian Garden in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Cranbourne, then Moonlit Sanctuary where you can meet Australia’s wildlife, including intriguing nocturnal creatures on lantern-lit tours.
Then travel through the hinterland to Red Hill, where you’ll fi nd much of the Peninsula’s celebrated food and wine culture. Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove and Max’s at Red Hill Estate are two outstanding wineries with restaurants, and you can pick your own berries at Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm during summer. All year round, the farm’s busy retail outlet sells every imaginable kind of strawberry flavoured treats.
Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Gardens has Australia’s oldest and largest hedge maze and the world’s first circular rose maze, along with a garden café where you can enjoy morning or afternoon tea with a touch of lavender.
Now it’s off to the wild Bass Strait and Cape Schanck Lighthouse, where you can visit the lighthouse museum and stay overnight in historic cottages.
Then cross the hinterland to Rye, where Peninsula Hot Springs boasts Victoria’s only naturally heated mineral waters, with private indoor and outdoor pools and a tempting menu of spa treatments.
A little further down the coast is Sorrento, known for mellow old limestone buildings and excellent shopping. Its pier is the starting point for seal and dolphin swims operated by Moonraker and Polperro. Bayplay Adventure Tours adds to the options with sea kayaking, snorkelling and horseriding.
Continue through Portsea’s “millionaires’ row” to Point Nepean, famous for its historic wartime fortifi cations from the 1800s to World War II and extraordinary coastal views. Point Nepean had a colonial cemetery and quarantine station in the 1850s, and was closed to the public for 100 years.
Then head back up the Port Phillip coast, stopping at Heronswood in Dromana. Here you’ll find an historic bluestone mansion, thatched roof cafe and two hectares of exquisite landscaping and vegetable gardens. Heronswood is also home to the Digger’s Club, which is famous for its heirloom and organic seeds.
Drive along the rest of the coast, exploring more seaside villages en route to Melbourne and enjoying their cafés, local produce stores, art galleries and boutiques.