Why choose between Sydney and Melbourne? Grab some wheels and hit the road this coming holiday. You’ll be amazed by the secret gems there are to uncover along the way!
Grand Pacific Drive
Drive along cliffs, beaches and escarpments while taking in the magnificent ocean views and the rugged, untainted beauty of the Royal National Park to begin the cliff-hugging Grand Pacific Drive.
Covering 16,00 hectares of spectacular scenery, which is a riot of colours in summer with more than 700 species of flowering plants, the National Park is the second oldest in the world. While on the drive, stop to swim, surf or picnic at Stanwell Tops, where you can also take in stunning coastal views from the cliff-tops.
This particular lookout is one of f Illawarra, Australia's most well known and most popular lookouts situated atop Bald Hill. Overlooking the dramatic 665-m Sea Cliff Bridge - a cantilevered marvel perched 41 meters above sea level -, be prepared to be whisked away by the magical sunsets and gorgeous countryside view of Hill End.
Not only are the views stunning here, the area is also internationally known as a major hang gliding spot.
End the Grand Pacific Drive with a bang at Shoalhaven, a magnificent region with a lush 160km arc of beaches and bays that range from a jewel-coloured coast to a rich luminescent green.
For a real taste of a road trip, spend a night at Shoalhaven Heads Tourist Park, which is ideal for families, groups or couples regardless. Situated on the northern shores of the glittering Shoalhaven River, the Caravan Park has direct access to the famous Seven Mile Beach that plates one of the best surf on this end of the country all year round.
For more information, visit http://www.shoalhaventouristpark.com.au/
With its vintage buildings and leafy surroundings, Berry is a delightful town to visit year-round. Nestled in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales and set amongst the rolling green hills of Cambewarra range, this charming town has managed to maintain the atmosphere of an untainted rural township with a population of less than 2,000.
Full of interesting scenes and buildings filled with rustic appeal , Berry makes for a photographer’s paradise. If the weather permits, take a slow stroll down from Princess Hwy and Prince Alfred Street intersection to Queen Street.
You will find a number of notable NSW public buildings including the former English Scottish & Australian Chartered Bank, the Berry Bank and the Post Office. Take a short detour off the main streets to find lanes of quaint little houses that look like a page taken off a fairytale book.
From a good cappuccino to a three course meal, there are plenty of choices for maintain your energy. My favourite would have to be the Berry Sourdough Bakery and Café where all the food is freshly and deliciously prepared in a cosy barn-like building.
As the name suggests, the café is famous for their artisans of handcrafted and organic sourdough. With locals popping in every now and then for freshly baked breads, don’t be surprised to find the shelves almost bare by lunchtime.
Berry Sourdough Bakery and Café 23
Prince Alfred Street Berry NSW 2535, Australia
Open Wed to Sun: 8am - 3pm
After a good rest at Berry, take a short curve drive towards the coast and you will find Coolangatta Estate, an award winning winery. Spend an afternoon here at the first European settlement on the South Coast of NSW, refurbished into a historic precinct with fascinating remnants of the original convict-built cottages. Combining old world charm with modern facilities, the estate is surrounded by landscaped grounds, sprawling vineyards, a 9 hole golf course, heritage accommodation and an elegant restaurant that sets the tone of the evening.
In between wine tastings, history buffs should definitely sign up for a self-guided historic village tour to find out how Coolangatta Estate came about.
There are plenty to do here at Jervis Bay but beach walks make it to the top of my must-do list. The White Sands Walk from Greenfield Beach to Hyams Beach in particular is truly noteworthy. The main town of Jervis Bay is also the perfect launching point to hop on the dolphin watching cruises, fishing trips and sailing excursions. If you’re planning to have a last minute nightcap here, do not worry about accommodation as there are plenty amongst these small picturesque townships along the way.
Head to Huskisson in Jervis Bay, where you can cruise next to dolphin pods or burrow your feet in some of the world’s whitest sand at Hyams Beach. This national treasure is a unique combination of coastal, marine and hinterland landscapes offering fantastic bushwalking, cycling, camping and indigenous cultural experiences.
While Batemans Bay is the largest on the coast south of Nowra, it retains its small town atmosphere and continues to welcome visitors with its surreal setting, country hospitality and charm of an unspoilt natural environment. Cruise the pristine Clyde River, famous for its oysters, or explore the Bay’s coastline of beaches and river estuaries.
One simply cannot visit the Batemans Bay area without trying the fresh, succulent oysters. I was lucky enough to embark on a small portion of the oyster trail and would definitely recommend the Pearly Oyster Bar and
The Oyster Shed at Batemans Bay.
Ambience and service-wise, I have to give a thumbs up to The Oyster Shed. Located on the banks of the gorgeous Clyde River, The Oyster Shed offers fresh oysters directly to public with no extra cost. The friendly owners Mark Ralston and Enola Rossiter are more than happy to share the history of oyster farming in Batemans Bay and even provide some hands-on training on the basics of opening oysters in the comfort of your home. So whether you choose to enjoy the oysters on the spot with the shed’s beautiful panoramic views, or bring them home unopened for extended shelf-life, this family-owned business is here to help.
Pearly Oyster Bar is one of the longest continuously owned and operated businesses in Batemans Bay. With more than 30 years of experience in the bag, Stefan and Kathy Paschalides continues farming and selling the popular ‘Sydney Rock Oyster and the ‘Angasi’s’, in the local Clyde River.
Pearly Oyster Bar
6 North St / Batemans Bay NSW 2536
Opening hours: Daily 9am – 5pm
The Oyster Shed
Last Shed on Wray St / Batemans Bay NSW 2536
Opening hours: Tue to Sun, 9am - 4pm
Set on the foreshores wrapped around the Wagonga River estuary, Narooma is made for the summer holidays. Littered with splendid beaches and abundant wildlife, the area has an embarrassment of good surf beaches. For a spectacular view of nature’s creation, head to the Glass House Rocks, which features a series of coastal landscapes just a short walk south of Narooma.
If you have an extra day to spare, head down to Montague Island, just 11km off Narooma. Once a hunting ground for the locals, the island is now a protected reserve teemed with marine life and a haven for sea birds and seals. Being the state’s only colony of Australian fur seals and numerous wildlife, book a slot and get ready to be enchanted by the wonders of Montague Island. One thing not to miss? The nightly parade of little penguins as they return to the island from their day of fishing.
Mt Dromedary is accessible from Tilba Tilba and if you do make it to the summit, you will find strangely-shaped granite outcrops and a sacred site for the Yuin people. Besides being surrounded by nature’s breathtaking works, Tilba Tilba is also known for its quirky timber buildings and fine Victorian houses, where almost every household has a gorgeous garden to flaunt. A little town armed with great character and a picturesque backdrop, you will also find numerous great shops and cafes along the way. Don’t forget to pop by Pam’s for a nice cottage brunch while you load up the gas tank.
Tilba Tilba offers a unique opportunity to step back in time and visit some of Australia’s well-preserved heritage villages. Like a scene taken from “The Lord of the Ring”, the scenic view of Gulaga (Mt Dromedary) – a spectacular forested mountain – dominates the region’s skyline.
Pam’s Store Tilba Tilba
266 Corkhill Dr
Tilba Tilba NSW 2546
Just a short drive from Tilba Tilba, the Wallaga Lake is the largest lake in southern New South Wales. Boasting an area of outstanding natural beauty with specific significance to the Aboriginal people of the area, the serenity of the area offers a good spot for swimming, boating, fishing, bird and wildlife watching. If you have some extra time, take a scenic coastal walk from Paynes Island (Wallaga Lake Bridge) to the Blue Pool bia Murunna Point, Camel Rock, Haywards Beach, Mooreheads Beach, Horseshoe Bay and Point Dickinson.
Perched on the edge of magnificent Twofold Bay – the third deepest natural harbor in the Southern hemisphere – Eden is truly a stunning location with a host of unique attractions for everyone. Rich in spectacular, natural beauty, Eden is filled with secluded beaches, serene lakes and vast abundance of rainforest. Most iconic of all, it was home to shore-based whaling stations that have now become a Killer Whale Museum.
Eden Killer Whale Museum
184 Imlay St
Eden NSW 2551
Learn the story of ‘Tom’ the Killer Whale, legendary Orca, who managed to lead a pack of killer whales in the hunt for baleen whales on their southward migration back in 1800s and early 1900s. Exhibitions at the museum also depict the pivotal role of the local fishing and timber industry, which continues to play an important part in the Eden community. For some live action, make sure you plan for a whale-watching trip out in the ocean.
While I haven’t managed to, many have reported sightings of whales, especially during whale-watching season between October to November.