Things to see and do on the coastal road from Melbourne to Sydney
(Nan Tien Buddhist Temple)
The Princes Highway Melbourne to Sydney
You can bomb up the Hume Highway to Sydney in nine hours or so, but to put the fun back into that Melbourne-Sydney commute, try the coast road and turn your trip into a three-day holiday.
From Melbourne, the first few hours pass through lush farmlands – gourmet deli country. Try some famous Jindi or Tarrago cheese at Yarragon (ABOVE), then head inland to Sale and across to Bairnsdale to explore the Gippsland Lakes, Australia’s largest waterway system. Spend the night at Paynesville (RIGHT) and take the ferry out to Raymond Island, home to a large koala colony.
At Lakes Entrance cast a line from a jetty, riverbank or beach, and then head to the historic timber town of Orbost and on across the border into NSW.
Eden, on the shores of Twofold Bay, is one on the best places to watch whales – the Eden Killer Whale Museum is a must. Stop at the Bega Cheese Factory and wander through the twin villages of Central Tilba and Tilba Tilba; both are heritage-listed and look much as they would have a century ago. Stay the night at beachside Narooma and take the evening penguin watching tour out to Montague Island, every bit as good as the Phillip Island penguin parade but without the crowds.
The highway spears north to Sydney. Check out the surfing kangaroos at Pebbly Beach (RIGHT), stop at Ulladulla for great fish and chips, browse the boutiques in Berry, catch a wave whooshing thorough the Blowhole at Kiama and stockpile some inner harmony at Nan Tien Buddhist Temple, the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.
You can burn the last leg up the freeway or take your time along the Grand Pacific Drive, aka Sir Lawrence Hargrave Drive, crossing the new Sea Cliff Bridge, a 665m multi-span balanced cantilever bridge that curves around the cliffs 50m out to sea – and the only way to avoid the falling rocks that once tumbled down the cliffs.
If you want one last look at the coast, pull into Stanwell Tops for the big view south, then wind your way through the world’s second oldest national park, the Royal, on the southern outskirts of Sydney. Beats nine boring hours on the Hume any day.
Length: around 1130km, depending on detours