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.
Day 1: Melbourne to Phillip Island
197 km/122 miles, about 2.5 hours
Head southeast from Melbourne and within an hour the sandy beaches and coastal towns of the Mornington Peninsula will stretch out before you.
Take a swim alongside dolphins and seals on tranquil Port Phillip Bay, or challenge yourself further by climbing into a kayak for an open water experience.
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 native wildlife on a tour of the Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park.
Continue your hinterland cruise with a short drive to the Peninsula's celebrated vineyards. Stop by Red Hill and visit Montalto Winery, regarded as one of the region's finest. From here it is a picturesque drive through the vines to Ten Minutes By Tractor, home to one of Victoria's top regional restaurants. Sample the afternoon away with cool climate varietals such as pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, pinot gris and tempranillo.
Hit the road eastbound towards Phillip Island, a destination for lovers of wildlife and home to 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 hotels in San Remo, gateway to the island, and then make your way to Summerland Beach for the nightly penguin parade.
HighlightsWildlife & zoosDolphinsWatch from the shore, or join an organised expedition to swim with or cruise alongside Port Phillip Bay's friendly bottlenose and common dolphins.Outdoor activitiesWater sportsLaunch yourself into Mornington Peninsula's welcoming waters with a range of aquatic activities for both adrenaline junkies and serenity seekers.Spa & wellbeingPeninsula Hot SpringsPamper yourself at Victoria's first natural thermal mineral springs and day spa, located just over an hour from Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula.Food & wineMornington Peninsula wine regionSample your way around Peninsula's boutique cellar doors for the region's renowned pinot noir, plus chardonnay, shiraz, pinot gris and pinot grigio.Wildlife, zoos & farmsPenguin ParadeWatch as little penguins emerge from the sea and waddle along the beach during sunset at Phillip Island Nature Park's Penguin Parade.Wildlife, zoos & farmsMoonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation ParkCuddle koalas, feed kangaroos and wallabies, and meet other endangered species at this award-winning ecotourism park set in beautiful bushland.
Day 2: Phillip Island to Wilsons Promontory
123 km/76 miles, about 1.75 hours
Jump aboard a wildlife cruise out to the Seal Rocks fur seal colony and greet the inquisitive creatures as they approach the boat or zoom in on the seals using the state-of-the-art cameras at Nobbies marine centre. Get up close with furry friends along the boardwalks of the Koala Conservation Centre.
Explore the island's tranquil wetlands, flush with migratory birds, before journeying to the imposing granite cliffs and golden beaches of Cape Woolamai.
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 'Prom'.
Within an hour you will enter one of Victoria's most picturesque national parks. Set up in luxury accommodation outside the park, or stay inside the park grounds in a low impact safari-style tent or set up your own camping gear. Before turning in, indulge in a gourmet DIY barbecue dinner in unsurpassable natural surrounds.
HighlightsMeet the koalasWander through the tree-top boardwalks and see koalas up close in their natural habitat at Phillip Island's Koala Conservation Centre.History & heritageChurchill IslandDiscover important Victorian history at Churchill Island and take home local delicacies from the thriving farmers' market.National parks & reservesWilsons Promontory Marine National ParkWilsons Promontory Marine National Park is a diver's paradise, featuring spectacular underwater scenery. Granite cliffs plunge below the surface and deep...Beaches & coastlinesCape WoolamaiCatch a wave against the backdrop of ancient pink granite at Cape Woolamai, one of Victoria's most popular surfing beaches and bird-spotting mecca.National parks & reservesWilsons PromontoryWilsons Promontory National Park sits at the southernmost tip of the Australian mainland, offering visitors stunning scenery and wildlife.Outdoor activitiesScenic flightsStrap yourself in and explore the spectacular coastline, picturesque towns and myriad attractions of Victoria's Phillip Island on a helicopter tour.
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 Victoria'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 indulge in a night of waterfront luxury accommodation.
HighlightsNational parks & reservesWilsons Promontory National ParkFondly known as ‘The Prom’, Wilsons Promontory is one of Victoria’s best loved national parks. Situated at the southernmost tip of mainland Australia,...Outdoor activitiesBoating and sailingWith the largest inland network of waterways at your disposal, Gippsland is the perfect location for a boating expedition.
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 Victoria'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 bush.
HighlightsNational parks & reservesCroajingolong National ParkOne of Australia's most spectacular parks, Croajingolong's landscapes are so valuable that UNESCO has nominated it a World Biosphere Reserve.Beaches & coastlineNinety Mile BeachOne of Gippsland's highlights, Ninety Mile Beach is one of the longest and most beautiful stretches of sand in the world offering a wealth of activities.Outdoor activitiesBoating and sailingWith the largest inland network of waterways at your disposal, Gippsland is the perfect location for a boating expedition.National parks & reservesCape Conran Coastal ParkWitness the wild beauty of the East Gippsland coast with a spot of surf fishing or a walk along ocean beaches, serene inlets and coastal heathlands.Outdoor activitiesFishingExplore Gippsland's great expanse of rivers, lakes and beaches for fishing aplenty. Reel in a selection worthy of a glorious gourmet barbecue.Nature and wildlifeGippsland LakesExperience the largest inland network of waterways in Australia, the Gippsland Lakes. Go on board a cruiser or enjoy a range of water-based activities.
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.
HighlightsDestinationsMallacootaMallacoota is one of Gippsland's great escapes, surrounded by the wilderness of Croajingolong National Park and set on the beautiful Mallacoota Inlet.National parks & reservesGabo IslandSpot whales, dolphins and seals from the historic pink granite lighthouse on Gabo Island and savour marvellous views of Croajingolong National Park.Nature & wildlifeBeaches and coastlinesGippsland boasts some of the state's most beautiful beaches, perfect for all types of visitors be they families, anglers or surfers.
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. Chances are you'll meet friendly kangaroos 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 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.