Sydney to Melbourne; driving the coastal route + Video

The coastal stretch from Sydney to Melbourne is often overlooked by travellers and backpackers as 'there's nothing there', much like Western Australia apparently
But this is wrong god dammit!
This is a great potential road trip and one I encourage you to take instead of flying, getting the train or cutting inland from Sydney to Melbourne or vice versa. 

Me & my friend Emily who was in Australia visiting needed to fill some time with fun activities between Sydney & Melbourne. 

Renting a car:
It may seem daunting using a rental, and often they come with hefty $$$ bonds but please do not let this put you off. 
We used a number of different comparison websites to look for our rental and ended up booking through DriveNow and found a car, which we later fell in love with for $350 for 6 days from Hertz
We collected the car at their Sydney Williams St office and the process was very quick and simple. The bond was only $100 and no payment was taken until we returned the car in Melbourne. 
& the car was beautiful which was an added bonus!

Day 1: Sydney to Conjola 

"Soooo .... how do we get out of Sydney?"
Good question! 
It actually took us a couple of wrong turns to navigate our way from the Hertz office to the road we needed to be on but we got there in the end. 
& because I cannot drive, Emily had the lovely task of driving the entire road trip, but this meant I was in charge of navigation.
The best part of the drive from Sydney to Melbourne is driving on the "Grand Pacific Drive" which is completely sign-posted from the Royal National Park. 
Take a turn into the Royal National Park and here you will notice the GPD signs. 
If you want to simply enjoy the drive through without stopping in the park, its free, but if you want to park up and enjoy a hike, swim or beach visit then the $12 per vehicle charge will apply to you. 
Follow the glorious winding road through the park and enjoy the dramatic scenery before getting your first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean as the road hugs the cliffs near Stanwell Tops

Take a pit stop at the Boyd Hill lookout and prepare to be blown away by the beautiful oceans views and the stunning Sea Cliff Bridge in the distance. 
Continue on to drive over the dramatic Sea Cliff Bridge which spans 455m over the ocean. There are spaces to pull-in and park at the end of the bridge if you want to get out and have a walk over. 
Continue onto Wollongong, which was the perfect lunch stop spot for us; follow the beach road to Flagstaff Park Lighthouse where you can park up and enjoy many of the picnic or grass spots to dig into your lunch.
Further South, make sure to stop at Kiama to visit the famous Blowhole which shoots water up to 60m in the air. 
Drive along towards Shoalhaven Heads and follow the seven mile beach before heading inland following the Grand Pacific Drive towards Huskisson and Jervis Bay. 
Now I must warn you, Huskisson is absolutely beautiful so be prepared to be mind-blown by the absolutely stunning views out to Jervis Bay and Point Perpendicular Lighthouse waaaaay into the distance. I would move and live to Huskisson in a heart beat. 
The GPD travels onto Vincentia and back round towards the A1 but make sure you do not miss a stop to Hyams Beach, home to the world's whitest sand, literally. 
No joke. Its blinding. 
We parked up and sunbathed on the beach for a while just taking in the beach and the perfect turquoise waters. It was the perfect way to unwind at the end of the first day on our road trip. 

Now its not a true backpacker road trip without some complications; we hadn't booked or found any available camping sites or spots for the night so we drove along the A1 whilst I desperately tried to search for campsites that were still open using WikiCamps - no luck. 
So we ended up pulling in to a rest-stop at Conjola and set up camp on the grass area next to the highway pitstop. I mean it wasn't the worst, there were toilets, benches and other people camping there too so we weren't alone. We just didn't get the best sleep because being next to the highway ya know! 

Day 2: Mollymook to Pambula 

After zero sleep we packed up and headed back on the road around 7am to grab some much needed coffee! We turned off towards Mollymook to make ourselves a fry-up breakfast on the beach & stock up on coffee for the road. 

Continue on the A1 towards Bateman's Bay, but not without a visit to Murramarang National park first.
Head there early to start one of the hikes before the crowds get there, we opted to hike to Pebbly Beach and were joined by a resident kangaroo and then onto the clifftop lookout before turning back. Take in the rugged coastline of Murramarang National Park and the lakes and beaches of South Durras as you get closer to Bateman's Bay, Casey's Beach in particular is especially pretty. 
Join back onto the GPD at Bateman's Bay and follow the coastal drive through to Moruya, stopping as you want on the way. 
It shouldn't take you more than an hour to reach your next destination; Narooma. 
Another place I am going to move and live happily ever after. 
No adjectives do this place justice so you'll just have to enjoy the photos and see for yourself, or better still - GO yourself ;) 
This was our designated lunch-stop for the day and relaxed next to the river eating our salads and just smiled. 
Its 100% worth a quick drive down to the south end of the beach to visit Australia Rock and some local fur seals on the nearby boulders. 

A short drive down the coast through Eurobodalla National Park you will reach Mystery Bay which is absolutely beautiful. Explore the rocks and pools or just relax on the beach and soak up the sun. Back onto the A1 but not for long as you can turn off back onto the GPD and follow the road from Wallaga Lake Heights all the way along the coast through Bermagui, Tathra & Merimbula. 
We actually found a campsite for our 2nd night, but at a cost. Because it was during peak season summer holidays it was $80 for one night for a tent. Shocking! 
But it was better than sleeping at the side of the road I guess. 
We stayed at Discovery Parks; Pambula Beach - they had all the facilities you could have asked for (& better had at that price) to make your stay comfortable and the whole site was located a 10m walk from the beach.

Day 3: Pambula to Sale 

Leaving our luxury and expensive patch of grass by 10am we hit the road and continued onto Eden, the famous whale watching town where you can watch majestic southern right and humpback whales between May & November. We walked to Lookout Point and had a spectacular view over Twofold Bay. 

Continue south and if you desire take a turn towards Green Cape Lighthouse, but be warned there is a 30 minute drive on winding gravel tracks to the end of the road which we weren't aware of. The views and walk at the end are totally worth a shed-load of dirt and dust on your car. 
You can also stop off at the lookout over Disaster Bay on your bay back up the gravel road, and tbh it doesn't look so disastrous to me! 
After lots of bumps in the road you'll find yourself back on the A1 (maybe set aside 2 hours for the trip to Green Cape) and from here its a long drive through the mountains and over the state boarder into Victoria. 
Todays lunch-stop was at Cann River which fell host to a lot of cafes and food outlets so we tucked into our pies and solos before hitting the road. Today was a very long driving day but its not as if the views weren't great!
Shortly after Cann River you can either continue on the A1 towards Orbost or take the tourist GPD route down to Cape Conran and along the water to Marlo and back up to Orbost. 

The drive onto Lakes Entrance will give you a great view of the Gippsland Lakes and waterways. Stop off here to take a stroll across to Ninety Mile beach. Be careful if you choose to swim, we arrived as the sea was being evacuated because of sharks!!
After an extremely long driving day for Emily we choose to stop at Sale for the evening and stayed at Sale Motor Village which cost $22 for us to camp there. It was a nice yet simple camp and lodge site but perfect for what we needed and close enough to Wilson's Prom for the following day. 

Day 4: Sale to Wilsons Prom 

Just an hour and half south from Sale is the absolutely stunning Wilsons Prom, or The Prom; the most southern part of mainland Australia and let me tell you now you have to add it to your bucket list! 
The dive into and through the national park is beautiful, from the wildlife, to the mountain backdrop, its all very picturesque. 
Head to Tidal River where you can park up for the day and head off to one of the local beaches, go on a trail or catch the shuttle bus to the base of Mt Oberon and take a trek to the summit (7km). The views from the top of Mt Oberon blew me away, they offer the best panoramic views in Victoria. The hike up was tough in the heat and theres bugs everywhere but the end view is 100% worth it! 
My phone actually completely died at the summit of Mt Oberon so my photos after there were limited! 

Squeaky Beach is a popular one for tourists to see its pure white sand but it was too full when we arrived so no one else was allowed to go. Just driving through the eucalyptus forests and stopping at different viewpoints over the ocean was fantastic. As you go through the park keep a lookout for wildlife such as kangaroos, echidnas and wombats. 

We stopped off at a quieter beach and relaxed for a couple hours soaking up the sun & risking the huge crashing waves for a dip in the ocean. 

Usually we would have stayed longer here but it was so busy we couldn't park anywhere so had to leave and head off towards Inverloch and through the fishing haven of San Remo before crossing the bridge over to Phillip Island. As it was nearing towards dusk we had one stop in mind; the Penguin Parade. Every night you can watch fairy penguins return to shore and waddle up the beach and into the bush and back to their nests to feed their chicks. You have to pay for this experience but i'd actually recommend it, the penguins are adorable and so funny to see them waiting in groups at the shore and start creeping up the beach but as soon as they get frightened they all run back into the sea. It lasts for hours watching hundreds of them return to the beach. We were lucky enough to see a kangaroo bouncing along the beach at the same time, which made it even funnier because the penguins kept running back into the sea away from it. Its a very educational experience and not one to be missed during a visit to Phillip Island. 
I would highly recommend 

Again, we hadn't booked anywhere to stay so we drove aimlessly round Philip Island until eventually we found a camp site & took their very last tent spot! I can't for the life of me remember where it was, what it was called or how much we paid - it was very dark & late! But nevertheless we set up camp and had a decent nights sleep wherever it was. 

Day 5. Philip Island & The Great Ocean Road 

After a hearty breakfast we headed back out in the car in search of things to do on Philip Island. 

Our first point of call was to visit The Nobbies; which tbh I'm still not entirely sure what they are but the whole area was lovely! We strolled over the boardwalks and took in the ocean views and made use of the wind for more fabulous selfies! You get views here over to Seal Island and Pyramid Rock in the distance. 
A drop in to the Koala sanctuary was good fun, it did bring out our competitive side trying to beat the other visitors in spotting all the koalas. 

Now as we were leaving Philip Island we had the choice to spend the day driving along the Mornington Peninsular back to Melbourne, or go all-out-cray and bomb it to the start of the Great Ocean Road. 
We bombed it.

It didn't take long before the skyscrapers of Melbourne were looming in the distance and I could show-off the place I now called home to Emily. 
The weather was perfect and it looked so pretty all the glass skyscrapers sparkling in the sun. 

I am going to save all the deets about Great Ocean Road for a new post because frankly this is already quite long and i'd be surprised if anyone has actually made it to the end! 

BUT if you want to see what we got up to on the road trip from Sydney to Melbourne check out my video below:
G Goes Global - Australia #14 Sydney to Melbourne Road Trip from G Goes Global on Vimeo.

Similar posts you might enjoy: 

- My Top 10 Things to do in Sydney - CLICK HERE
- My Guide to Travelling the East Coast - Cairns to Sydney - CLICK HERE 
- Vising The Blue Mountains - CLICK HERE

Thanks for reading & happy travels 
♡ G

Join me on Instagram @gemwills 

& follow me on my current Australian Adventure! 

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