This road trip begins at Sydney and takes you along the NSW South Coast, offering spectacular views and hotspots to stop at along the way. From a cultural stop at the majestic Sri Venkateswara Temple, to a walk at Murramarang National Park, there is plenty to do.
Image credit: Destination NSW
Day 1: Sydney to South Durras
4hr 22min | 300km
Take the coast road from Sydney near Wollongong and explore the beautiful NSW South Coast on a leisurely four hour drive.
About an hour from Sydney’s CBD the Princes Highway skirts the edge of Royal National Park to arrive at Heathcote. It was briefly known as Bottle Forest until 1835 when the Surveyor General Sir Thomas Mitchell named it after a soldier who fought with him against Napoleon. Good place to get a full tank before heading south.
Go left on the Princes Motorway when it forks East from the Princes Highway, then take the Helensburgh exit about 12 minutes later to visit its majestic Sri Venkateswara Temple. Built on bushland in the late 1970s, the Hindu temple is especially breathtaking at the end of the week when the statues of deities are decorated with fresh flowers. The Nan Tien Buddhist Temple is another 30 minutes south in Berkeley.
Try to get to Berry as early as possible for lunch because its roadside cafes are often busy. You’ll find an incredible range of locally made sourdough and European pastries from Flour Water Salt (the only three ingredients you really need for sourdough) and Berry Sourdough Cafe, delicious European cuisine at South on Albany. For something sweet, line up for doughnuts at the Berry Donut Van on Queen Street (you can’t miss them), indulge with handmade chocolates at The Berry Chocolatier or reconnect with your childhood at The Berry Bon Bon Sweet Shop.
If you’re craving a romantic sojourn only a few hours from Sydney, the locally-sourced seafood by Rick Stein at Bannisters is worth booking ahead for. Meanwhile, families with kids older than five can build up an appetite for local fish and chips learning to surf together. Book at Mollymook Beach Surf School or get special coaching from former world champion Pam Burridge when she’s in town.
Or stretch your legs in the National Park, the Murramarang Aboriginal Area contains ancient middens built up by the Aboriginal people who lived here for thousands of years. Its short (2.2km) walking track is easy for most ages and finishes with a rewarding swim near Bull Pup Point.
15 minutes before Bateman’s Bay is the very family friendly NRMA Murramarang Beachfront Holiday Resort with breathtaking water views from many of its villas and camping sites. It offers lots of fun activities for kids and adults alike including water park, swimming pool, bikes and go-karts for hire and the Umbarra (little black duck) Kids’ Club. Eat on site at the beach bistro, get takeaway from Skippy’s or swim up to the Wasphead Pool Bar for a snack.
Day 2: South Durras to Lakes Entrance
5hr 42min | 421km
Cruise into Victoria along the far south coast, eating local produce all the way.
Once colloquially known as “the muffin shop”, The Mossy Cafe (half an hour south of South Durras) still serves the warm sweet or savoury muffins generations of locals and visitors have flocked here for, plus fresh rolls, burgers and Moruya-roasted coffee.
In the heart of River Cottage country are some amazing treats including the ABC Cheese Factory, Mrs Jamieson’s 117 varieties of Tilba Fudge made by hand with local butter and cream and the dazzling array of old-fashioned sweets from Tilba Sweet Spot.
The Princes Highway kinks down through a few mountain ranges before aiming straight at NSW’s southernmost town. As Eden is home to the state’s largest fishing port, fresh seafood is in abundance. Watch the boats come in at Drift as you tuck into delicacies from Sapphire Coast Wilderness Oysters and Eden Smokehouse. If you don’t want fish, Sprout caters to vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike with a highly regarded menu using local produce.
An hour and a bit into Victoria along the A1 is an ol- fashioned country general store in Cabbage Tree Creek called the Bushware Cafe. It’s a well-positioned pit stop selling homemade pies, burgers, sauces and cordials alongside steak sandwiches and bushies’ cooking gear.
At Nowa Nowa the A1 drops south through Lake Tyers to meet the ocean at Lakes Entrance where you’ll find the NRMA Eastern Beach Holiday Park. Its villas and camping sites are close to lake and sea water, making it an excellent spot for adventurers young and old. You could kayak across Cunninghame Arm, explore Flagstaff Hill, dive into the ocean at Ninety Mile Beach, leap onto a jumping pillow or race each other in pedal karts. Or you could relax by the solar heated pool. Buy some local seafood and produce at the shops nearby and enjoy a meal in the BBQ area or large camp kitchen.
Day 3: Lakes Entrance to Melbourne
4hr 18min | 327km
This little Gippsland country town serves up lots of interesting experiences for families of all ages, from sampling handmade Maffra Cheese, to bird watching in the Macalister Wetlands Reserve and driving through time at the Gippsland Vehicle Collection Motor Museum.
Heading towards the Great Dividing Range you’ll come to the mid-sized town of Warragul, famous for supplying milk to Peters Ice Cream, although becoming more renowned for gourmet destinations including the nationally connected Bean Scene coffee studio and e-commerce hub and traditional Italian plus gourmet burgers at 3 Brothers And An Oven.
An hour before you get to Melbourne make a pit stop at Nar Nar Goon off the C433 to view this little town’s public murals depicting country town life a century ago. They’re as impressive in size as some of the laneway art you’ll encounter in the big city, though with their own gentler charm.
Positioned in the southern heart of Melbourne’s CBD near Southern Cross Station, Travelodge Docklands is a modern and family-friendly hotel in easy walking distance or tram ride to many of the city’s best shops, cafes and entertainment and, and less than a block from the Etihad Stadium if you’ve booked for an AFL match or concert.
Alternatively, you can stay at Travelodge Hotel Melbourne Southbank, which is close to restaurants and transport or Adina Apartment Hotel Melbourne offers services apartments and penthouses in the CBD.