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Overview

Melbourne to Sydney Coast Drive - coastal route

1384 km/859 miles, about 19 hours

Take the coastal route for fine food and wine, fabulous beaches and charming beachside towns.

Sample the region's finest at the wineries dotted along the Mornington Peninsula. Drive on to Phillip Island to spot koalas in the trees, watch seals at play and see the little penguins come in after a day in the ocean.

Travel east, taking in dramatic landscapes, deserted surf beaches and the pristine waterways of the Gippsland Lakes along the way. Go slow and spend some quality time unwinding amid the stunning natural surrounds of the Wilsons Promontory and Croajingolong national parks, and stop off in Narooma for a day of whale watching out on the Tasman Sea.

Soak up the coastal vibe, enjoy a variety of watersports, and dine on ocean fresh seafood at resort towns like Merimbula, Batemans Bay and Lakes Entrance as well as smaller, quieter communities in Metung, Mallacoota and Paynesville.

Highlights

Day one

Melbourne to Sydney Coastal Drive

Day 1: Melbourne to Phillip Island

197 km/122 miles, about 2.5 hours

Head southeast from the heart of vibrant Melbourne and within an hour the wide sandy beaches and charming coastal towns of the Mornington Peninsula will stretch out before you.

Take a swim alongside dolphins and seals on tranquil Port Phillip Bay with award winning Moonraker Charters, or challenge yourself further by climbing into a kayak for an open water experience to remember with Bayplay.

An easy half hour's drive inland will bring you to the famous Mornington Peninsula Hot Springs. Reward yourself with a relaxing soak in the thermal pools, or head north to get up close to iconic Australian wildlife on a tour of the Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park.

Continue your hinterland cruise with a short drive to the Peninsula's world-class vineyards. Stop by the village of Red Hill and visit Montalto Winery, regarded as one of the region's finest. From here it is a picturesque drive through the vines of Ten Minutes By Tractor, home to one of Victoria's top regional restaurants. Sample the afternoon away with cool climate varietals like pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, pinot gris and tempranillo.

Now that you're suitably relaxed and at one with the sea, hit the road eastbound towards an island of great beauty. Phillip Island is a destination for lovers of Australian wildlife and home to famous little penguins, cavorting fur seals and a large population of koalas that can be viewed at close range.

Check in for a dose of luxury at Silverwater Resort in San Remo, a gorgeous fishing village and gateway to the island, and then make your way to Summerland Beach for the nightly penguin parade. Heighten your experience with an Ultimate Penguin Tour including front row seats, extensive commentary from experienced rangers and the latest night vision technology.

Day two

Melbourne to Sydney Coastal Drive

Day 2: Phillip Island to Wilsons Promontory

123 km/76 miles, about 1.75 hours

Wake up early and join the popular Wildlife Coast Cruises to Seal Rocks for a barking conversation with the local seals and then spend a few hours in the peaceful surrounds of the Koala Conservation Centre. Walk the boardwalks and get up close with Australia's cuddliest animal.

Explore the island's tranquil wetlands, flush with migratory birds, before journeying to the imposing granite cliffs and golden beaches of Cape Woolamai. Stop for refreshments at any one of the coastal villages dotted around Phillip Island, all within striking distance of each other.

Take in the iconic sights of the island from great heights with Phillip Island Helicopters. Look down over the moored fishing fleet of San Remo, the historic Churchill Island Homestead and the powerful surf beaches of the Cape.

After some memorable sightseeing, stop to feed the pelicans at San Remo on your way to Inverloch, an easy 40 kilometres away. Dig into a sumptuous feast of fresh fish and chips while you take in the spectacular coastline of this seaside town, a popular stopover on the drive to Wilsons Promontory. Visit the local butcher, baker and cake maker to stock up on the freshest supplies before heading into the remote, incredible 'Prom'.

Within in an hour you will enter one of Australia's most picturesque national parks. A visit to this much-loved coastal wilderness will leave a lasting impression. Set up in luxury accommodation at Limosa Rise, just outside the park, or stay inside the park grounds in a high comfort, low impact safari-style tent with Wilderness Retreats. Before turning in, indulge in a gourmet DIY barbecue dinner in unsurpassable natural surrounds.

Highlights

Highlights

Day three

Melbourne to Sydney Coastal Drive

Day 3: Wilsons Promontory to Metung

264 km/164 miles, about 3.5 hours

Begin your day with a walk amid the natural beauty of the vast Wilsons Promontory National Park, which covers 50 thousand hectares. Follow one of the many walking tracks through eucalypt forests to secluded coves, white sand beaches and granite outcrops. Hike to the summit of Mt Oberon for views of the rugged coastline and distant hills or wander through the temperate rainforest of Lilly Pilly Gully.

Short drives and walks within the park lead to the many pristine beaches of this southern most tip of mainland Australia. Go for a stroll to Pillar Point for views of the offshore islands and then walk around to Squeaky Beach to experience the white quartz sand. Hear the sand squeak underfoot as you walk towards the maze of rock formations at the end of the beach.

Drive out of Wilsons Promontory and delight in the curving roads and emerging views of one of the country's most popular touring regions. Stop for a coffee in Foster, a small town cloaked in rolling hills, and then continue on for about 40 minutes to check out the heritage architecture in Yarram.

Travel through the lush farming landscapes for a couple of hours on your way to Metung, a gateway to the aquatic wonderland of the Gippsland Lakes. Close to the ocean, this vast expanse of safe, protected inland lakes and rivers is ideal for fishing, boating and all kinds of watersports.

Revel in the friendly village atmosphere of this coastal town and spoil yourself with dinner at the popular Metung Galley. Indulge in a night of waterfront luxury at The Moorings on Bancroft Bay or 5 Knots at Shaving Point and wake up refreshed with a view of the lakes.

 

Day four

Melbourne to Sydney Coastal Drive

Day 4: Metung to Mallacoota

226 km/140 miles, about 2.75 hours

Greet the Metung morning with a bayside cup of tea before setting sail around Australia's largest group of inland waterways. Take a cruise through myriad lakes and rivers and get close to native birds and kangaroos grazing by the water, or throw down your anchor a while and feed the local pelicans.

If you have a bit of the old seadog in you or just enjoy a spot of fishing, hire one of the small powered boats and take it for a spin. Cast a line at Metung's excellent fishing opportunities and try your hand at hooking some of the local species like bream, tailor, flathead and King George whiting.

Heading 20 kilometres east brings you to the popular holiday destination of Lakes Entrance, where the mighty Gippsland Lakes enters the Southern Ocean. Greet the local fishing boats and take a stroll along the magnificent Ninety Mile Beach.

From here, it's an hour's drive to Cape Conran Coastal Park, an ideal camping and bushwalking area and home to kangaroos, koalas and emus. Stop off for a picnic lunch and immerse yourself in nature's bounty.

Continue on towards Mallacoota and stop into the expansive Croajingolong National Park. Explore the diversity of one of Australia's most spectacular national parks, featuring a world famous eco-system brimming with over 1,000 native plants and more than 300 bird species. Set down your binoculars to embrace the abundant outdoor activities on offer, including kayaking, boating, sailing, fishing and cycling.

Spend the night within the tranquil surrounds of this stunning landscape at Gipsy Point Lakeside resort, located on the banks of the Mallacoota Inlet. Sit back, relax and listen to the sounds of the Australian bush.

Highlights

Day five

Melbourne to Sydney Coastal Drive

Day 5: Mallacoota to Narooma

214 km/133 miles, about 3 hours

In the morning, take your last swim in Victorian waters at Mallacoota's popular Betka Beach or peaceful Secret Beach. Prepare for the next leg of your journey by stretching your legs on the one-and-a-half-hour Narrows Walk along the stunning Mallacoota Inlet shoreline, or venture further out to Gabo Island, a 13-kilometre boat trip. Spy rare plants and animals and climb up for the views from the island's distinct pink granite lighthouse.

Back on land and on the road, it's a short drive north until you cross the border into New South Wales. Wind your way along the spectacular Sapphire Coast, taking a gourmet pit stop at Pambula to sample award-winning fresh oysters, or pressing on to surf some serious waves at Tathra Beach.

Once refreshed, sit back for the awe-inspiring coastal strip of rocky coves, bluffs and inlets as you head into Mimosa Rocks National Park, just a few miles down the road. Take the opportunity to stop for another swim in the pure lagoons and then relax with a picnic in the early afternoon.

Continue along the coast for roughly an hour, heading into tiny Tilba Tilba, a heritage town that retains much of its character from 1890s gold rush era. Wander the town and its beaches to absorb the relaxed vibe and historical surrounds, and satisfy your taste buds with some of the region's delicious cheeses.

Head further north to the town of Narooma, which is perfect for an overnight stopover. Just 11 kilometres off-shore is Montague Island, a haven for wildlife and home to the state's only known colony of Australian fur seals. Take a cruise to the island for the chance to spot seals, sea eagles, little penguins, mutton birds, hawks, terns, silver gulls, harriers and peregrine falcons.

Once you've had your fill of wildlife viewing, cruise back into Narooma for the night. Check in at the hilltop Whale Motor Inn for four-star accommodation that will delight with panoramic views of the coast from your balcony.

Day six

Melbourne to Sydney Coastal Drive

Day 6: Narooma to Jervis Bay

175 km/109 miles, about 2.5 hours

Wake yourself up with a splash in the warm waters of Narooma's Surf Beach and charge up your camera for the ancient rock formations known as the Glasshouse Rocks located at the beach's southern end.

Head along the highway through lush forest until you hit the water again at the popular holiday spot of Batemans Bay, less than an hour away. The area is renowned for its sublime coast and immaculate waters. Head south of town along Beach Road and find a string of marvellous coves and gorgeous beaches to swim and enjoy a bit of sunbaking.

Roughly 14 kilometres north of Batemans Bay, take a detour onto Mt Agony Road for some wildlife spotting at Pebbly Beach, known as the home of the 'surfing kangaroos'. You won't spot a kangaroo on a surf board, but chances are you'll meet these friendly locals as they hop along the beach. Generally quite tame, they are happy to be patted and you might even get one to pose with you for a picture.

Back on the highway, a short drive leads on to the coastal town of Ulladulla with its pretty harbour, a perfect place for a late lunch stop.

Another hour north lie the calm waters and white sand of Jervis Bay. With Booderee National Park right on the doorstep, take some time to stretch your legs and wander along the walking tracks through the pristine coastal wilderness. Prefer to hit the water? Join a Dolphin Watch Cruise for a truly unforgettable experience. Mingle with dolphins, penguins and humpback whales within the protected waters of the Jervis Bay Marine Park.

Book in at Jervis Bay's Paperbark Camp Eco Resort and unwind in luxury tented accommodation in a peaceful bush setting.

Day seven

Melbourne to Sydney Coastal Drive

Day 7: Jervis Bay to Sydney

185 km/115 miles, about 2.75 hours

Emerge from your bush retreat accommodation and spend the morning amid nature's wonders in Jervis Bay National Park. Take in sensational coastal views and enjoy ample birdwatching opportunities along the White Sands Walk from Greenfield Beach to Hyams Beach, said to have the whitest sand in the world. The full loop is an easy 2.5 kilometres (roughly an hour).

From here, set your sights north to Sydney, heading through Nowra en route. Set on the banks of the majestic Shoalhaven River, the town's attractive parks, green spaces and cafes make it an ideal spot to revive with lunch or get a quick caffeine hit.

Drive on for about 40 minutes to the seaside town of Kiama and its famous blow hole. Feel nature's force on the cliffs at Blowhole Point, where waves surging into an underground cavity force themselves up and explode with great drama and noise into the air.

Consider an inland detour (approximately 25 minutes) to Kiama's award-winning Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk. This unbeatable experience leads you 1500 metres through lush, temperate rainforest at up to 30 metres above ground, culminating in a spiral tower that rises 45 metres above the forest floor.

Press on for the perfect final leg to the New South Wales capital along the winding and scenic Grand Pacific Drive. Take in gorgeous views of the rocky coastline, stunning beaches and rock pools. Drive along the winding Sea Cliff Bridge, which is suspended over the water alongside the cliffs, before heading inland for the highway trip into Sydney, Australia's largest city.