The summer is upon us, Covid restrictions are being lifted, and the car is idle in the driveway. Covering 3 million square miles, Australia has a lot of roads. So maybe now is the time to take that road trip. Here are some suggestions:
New South Wales South-Coastal Drive
The South Coast goes all the way to the Victorian border and has vast areas of beauty to explore. You could do it over a weekend, sampling both the coast and the countryside.
As you follow the Grand Pacific Coast out of Sydney, stop at Kiama to see the famous blowhole and head to Diggies for a snack before you return to the road. Next, head onto Shoalhaven Heads, a picturesque town by a scenic river and its postcard-inspiring Seven Mile Beach. During the warmer months of the year, you may see even whales beyond the breakers [2.5 hours]
Next, head to Jervis Bay that encompasses Booderee National Park and Jervis Bay Marine National Park. There are Dolphin Watch Cruises for those on an excursion with a chance to see whales and dolphins. Finally, you could visit Huskisson, Callala Bay, Hyams and Vincentia Beach [1 – 2 hours].
Head for Bawley Point, a gem in the Shoalhaven region. Enjoy clear waters, surfing, swimming, and snorkelling. You can head onto the town of Ulladulla for lunch at Cupitt’s Estate and the nearby beach before heading back to Bawley Point. At dusk, visit Pebbly Beach to watch the Eastern Grey kangaroos in the wild [2 hours].
Next, head to the romantic village of Kangaroo Valley. The early settler’s town of 1870 has cutely preserved and curated shops and cafés. Drop into the Kangaroo Valley Fudge House and Ice Creamery before a paddle down the Kangaroo River or take a walk around nearby Morton National Park [2 hours].
Head back towards Sydney via the town of Berry. A town with a famous main street of stylish boutiques and antique stores, a foodie paradise amidst a lush landscape. Visit the Two Figs Winery, Milkwood Bakery, and the Berry Donut Van to stock up for the return journey [3 hours].
Hobart to Dover
This can be done in one day; everyone should sample the photographer’s dream of Huon Valley. Officially begin the trip at Willie Smith’s Apple Shed, where you can stock up on some of their famous cider and grab a bite to eat. When you drive onto Ranelagh, you could opt to taste and or buy pinots at Home Hill or Kate Hill Wines.
Then head east to Cygnet, a charming vista of eateries and boutiques. Nearby is the Farmhouse Kitchen, a reputable cooking school, or you could try the wood-fired pizzas at Port Cygnet Cannery. Many favour Cygnet’s Red Velvet Lounge and its free-range roasted chicken and Moroccan-inspired dishes. Afterwards, head south to Dover. Here you can visit the Hastings Caves that are hidden within the local forest. The caves have a stair that leads down into a bigger cave with beautiful thermal baths and dolomite formations, including columns and flowstones, stalagmites, and stalactites. If you have time, do the South Cape Bay Walk but allow fours to loop the wilderness, which passes through a tall eucalypt forest, ferny dells, and marshlands. After that, you arrive at the southernmost edge of Australia, where the Great Southern Ocean stands before you.
Melbourne to Swan Hill
A 400-mile round trip that is ideal for a long weekend. Start at the picturesque Daylesford amid the hills and nearby mineral baths at Hepburn Springs. The vibrant town has plenty of cafes and boutiques to enjoy but make sure to visit the Convent Gallery and antique lovers Found, Artedeco, and Brick Lane Bazaar.
Travel north to Bendigo with its vibrant food scene, including Harvest Food Wine Deli that boasts a Michelin-starred pastry chef. In addition, visit the acclaimed Ellis Winery and the Bendigo Art Gallery. Head north to Colbinabbin and Rochester that host artistic painted silos and some laneway murals. When you pass through Echuca, stop for a canoe trip along the waterways. Alternatively, hike through the Redgum Forests at Gunbower Island. Arriving at Swan Hill, visit Cafe 202 or FortyOne before exploring the Pioneer Settlement and the Heartbeat of the Murray. The latter is a laser light show projected onto the river. Finally, head to Lake Tyrrell, a salt-laden 20,000-hectare body that shimmers reflections and can glow with a pink hue.
The SouthWest Edge
The South West Edge traverses 745 miles from Perth to Esperance. This area can get cold and rainy in the winter, so you are better off exploring in the summer months. However, between June and October, the Southern Right Whales migrate along the Esperance coast and is a spectacle to behold.
One stop is Wave Rock, a massive granite rock shaped just like a wave. Also, Mulka’s Cave, just 10 miles further, hosts impressive Aboriginal rock art. Next, head to The Lake King Tavern, which is a great place to break up the journey where you can avail of a full menu of Australian pub eats such as roasted steak sandwiches. This area is famous for white salt lakes, a great photo opportunity.
After this, keep on until you hit Esperance. Once there, head out to Cape Le Grand National Park for excellent beaches and scenic landscapes. Over in Lucky Bay, you can hang out with lazing, sunbathing kangaroos. Further on is Lake Hillier that is located on Middle Island, within Esperance’s magnificent Recherche Archipelago. You can get up close and personal with whales with Esperance Island Cruises that offer a journey through the Recherche Archipelago, where the Southern Right Whales can be seen in all their might. After that, enjoy the evening in Esperance with its hive of bistros and taverns, and try not to think of the long journey home.