Overview

Melbourne to Sydney Coastal Drive

1432km, 20 hours

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

Spot koalas in the trees on to Phillip Island, watch seals at play and see the little penguins come in after a day in the ocean.

Travel east, taking in dramatic landscapes, sweeping surf beaches and the pristine waterways of the Gippsland Lakes along the way. Go slow and spend some quality time unwinding in the stunning natural surrounds of Wilsons Promontory, 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 villages in Metung, Mallacoota and Paynesville.

Further information:

Sydney Melbourne Touring

  • Melbourne to Phillip Island

    136km, 1.75 hours

    Head southeast from Melbourne towards Phillip Island, a place of natural beauty, sandy beaches, tranquil wetlands and unique wildlife experiences on Western Port Bay.

    Break your journey at Moonlit Wildlife Sanctuary where you'll feed kangaroos and wallabies, pat friendly koalas and enjoy encounters with colourful birds, reptiles, dingoes and many other animals. The sanctuary really comes alive at night. You'll get up close to pythons, potoroos, tiny feathertail gliders, rare quolls, pademelons and many other animals in their natural nocturnal environment. Add an extra night to your penguin pilgrimage and squeeze in twice as much after dark fun.

    Heading east, you'll approach Phillip Island, home to little penguins, fur seals and a large population of koalas that can be viewed at close range.

    As the sun goes down, Phillip Island's famous little penguins waddle up the beach to the safety of their homes in the sand dunes. Stay overnight on the island to witness this magical procession.

    Check into your San Remo hotel and make your way to Summerlands 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.

  • Phillip Island to Wilsons Promontory

    198km, about 3.5 hours

    Start the day with a visit to the Nobbies Centre and a walk along the boardwalks on the western tip of the island. Treat yourself to a cruise to Seal Rocks fur seal colony with Wildlife Coast Cruises, then get up close with furry friends at the Koala Conservation Centre - or take a gentle stroll through Oswin Roberts Reserve to spot snoozing koalas in the treetops.

    Pick one of the easy access nature trails, boardwalks or beach rambles across the island. Explore tranquil wetlands for some excellent bird watching, and visit the imposing granite cliffs and golden beaches of Cape Woolamai.

    Take in the iconic sights of the island from a great height 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.

    Back on the ground, a visit to Churchill Island offers a look back in time, with Highland cattle, sheep, ducks, chickens and Clydesdale horse tending a working farm. Grab morning tea at the cafe on site.

    After some memorable sightseeing, stop for lunch in San Remo. Dig into fresh fish and chips and enjoy the coastal views from this seaside town. Gather some groceries for a self-catering stay and wave goodbye to the pelicans, as you hit the road again bound for Wilsons Promontory, less than a two hour drive away.

    Your day ends in one of Victoria's most picturesque national parks. 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. Cook up your own gourmet barbecue dinner in total tranquility and turn in for the night.

  • Wilsons Promontory to Metung

    280km, 3.5 hours

    'The Prom' to Yarram

    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.

    From Tidal River, join Pennicott Wilderness Journeys on a 2.5 hour Wilsons Promontory Cruise to discover the beautiful granite coastline and unique wilderness of Wilsons Promontory National Park.

    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 pause for a coffee in Foster, a small town cloaked in rolling hills. About 40 minutes further along, check out the heritage architecture and street art in Yarram.

    Tall timbers detour

    Tarra Bulga National Park offers a variety of lovely walks and spectacular views. Add half a day for this optional detour.

    At Yarram you pass the turn off to the Tarra Valley in the Strzelecki Ranges. A detour there to Tarra-Bulga National Park takes in giant mountain ash and myrtle beech forest, ferns and waterfalls. Visitors enjoy a walk over the suspension bridge, strung through the rainforest canopy, and spectacular views of the fern-filled gully. Forest walks here are easy and accessible, with the chance of spotting a Lyrebird. Visit Tom's Cap Winery while you're in the area.

    Yarram to Metung

    Travel through the lush farming landscapes 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.

    Enjoy the friendly village atmosphere of this coastal town and spoil yourself with a seafood dinner by the water. 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.

  • Metung to Mallacoota

    240km, about 3.25 hours

    Metung

    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 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.

    Raymond Island side trip

    Add a short ferry ride from nearby Paynesville to Raymond Island, free of charge as a foot passenger. See koalas, kangaroos and echidnas and walk the 20 minute Koala Trail. Allow at least three hours (includes drive from Metung to Paynesville return, ferry and sightseeing on Raymond Island).

    Lakes Entrance to Mallacoota

    Heading 20 kilometres east brings you to the popular holiday destination of Lakes Entrance, where the mighty Gippsland Lakes enters the Southern Ocean. Here you'll find Australia's largest inland network of waterways. Cross the footbridge to the popular Ninety Mile Beach surf beach, patrolled by lifesavers during the summer months, or take a walk to the entrance of the Gippsland Lakes. Enjoy a boat cruise on the lakes or hire a paddleboat or catamaran. Keen birdwatchers should visit scenic Lake Tyers nearby.

    From here, it's an hour's drive to Cape Conran Coastal Park. Visit the East Cape day visitor area and Yeerung River where you can stroll on the beach and fossick in rockpools.

    Continue on towards Mallacoota, a pretty coastal town blessed with Victoria's warmest winter temperatures and renowned for its beautiful sunsets. Spend the night within the tranquil surrounds of this stunning landscape at Gipsy Point Lakeside resort, located on the banks of the Mallacoota Inlet. The locals at Origami Coffee, Lucy's and Mallacoota Hotel will be happy to see you. Count kangaroos and lorikeets or swim and snorkel at nearby beaches. Rent a bike, boat or kayak to enjoy the inlet and surrounds. Sit back, relax and listen to the sounds of the Australian bush.

  • Mallacoota to Narooma

    218km, about 2.75 hours

    In the morning, take a swim at Mallacoota's popular Betka Beach or peaceful Secret Beach. Prepare for the next leg of your journey with a 300 metre stroll along the Narrows Walk on 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 add a side trip to Tathra Beach and surf some waves.

    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.

  • Narooma to Jervis Bay

    175km, 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.

  • Jervis Bay to Sydney

    185km, 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.