- Sip and slurp your way around a few of the excellent vineyards in the Shoalhaven area.
- Join a local Aboriginal guide for an insightful look into the lives of the local Yuin people.
- See kangaroos playing in the waves at Pebbly Beach.
- Explore incredible exhibits at MAMA – Murray Arts Museum Albury.
- Discover the gentle, laid back charms of Sun Country on Murray.
- Indulge the taste buds on a food fossicking tour in Bendigo.
- Time: 6 days
- Distance: 1,630 kilometres (1013 miles)
- Transport: car, caravan
- Nearest major city: Sydney, Melbourne
Day 1: Sydney – Jervis Bay
Exchange urban views for the natural wonders of the coast as you begin the drive south to Melbourne. The route takes you over the Sea Cliff Bridge which curves around the cliffs, floating 665 metres above the ocean waves. Pause for a while to watch the hang gliders floating from the cliffs at Stanwell Tops then refuel with a coffee from one of the breezy beach front cafes in Wollongong. Stretch your legs in Kiama, with the gentle amble to the famed blow hole before turning inland for a treetop meander through the rainforest canopy at the Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk.
Back behind the wheel continue south to Jervis Bay. Here, you’ll find glorious white sandy beaches lapped by clear, turquoise waves, bushwalk and cycling trails galore plus a mischievous pod of resident dolphins that play in the bay all year round. Hyams Beach is arguably the most famous of the Jervis Bay beaches but delve a little deeper and you’ll find plenty of other tranquil spots including the remote sands of Hare Bay.
You’ll find plenty of excellent spots for dinner in Huskisson, or maybe just grab fish and chips and sit by the sea as the sun sinks below the horizon.
Day 2: Jervis Bay – Merimbula
Take your time as you head onwards today, there are plenty of intriguing places to break your journey, refresh and refuel. Ulladulla is only a short drive from Jervis Bay but packed with art galleries and treasured curio shops. A slight detour to Pebbly Beach should definitely on the agenda, here you’ll find a mob of resident kangaroos playing on the shoreline, usually surrounded by vocal lorikeets. Seafood lovers should check out the Oyster Shed on Wray Street as you pass through Bateman’s Bay.
This whole region is blessed with more than 100 kilometres of beautiful coastline and pristine hinterland and the charming villages of Broulee, Narooma and Moryua are delightful places to pause. Narooma is also the perfect spot to gain a deeper understanding about the local Yuin culture. Take a tour with a local guide from Ngaran Ngaran Culture Awareness for an insightful and rare, first-hand experience. If you so choose the Eurobadalla region is where you can learn the secrets of the oldest living culture on earth.
Meandering ever southwards the quaint settlements of Tilba Tilba and Central Tilba are perfectly preserved, heritage villages set idyllically within the rich emerald-green hills and deep valleys that this enviable area is renowned for.
Bermagui is a pretty, coastal village famed for the crystalline blue waters that surround it and the Blue Pool, regarded one of the finest ocean rock pools on earth. From here the road takes you through the Mimosa National Park, a sanctuary for koala’s and swamp wallabies to name just some of the native wildlife that makes its home here. From this charming spot continue to Merimbula.
Day 3: Merimbula – Albury/Wodonga
Today is a real road-trip. The route takes you deep into the legendary Snowy Mountains passing Lake Jindabyne and Mt Kosciuszko as you follow the Kosciuszko Alpine Way.
Your destination is the twin cities of Albury Wodonga, straddling the Murray River. The opportunities for outdoor adventure and exploration here are endless. With every kind of nature-based experience at your fingertips, the Snowy Mountains are on the doorstep and you can swim, kayak, or paddle at Noreuil Park, hire a canoe and paddle the Murray River or spend time with the locals at Lake Hume.
This is also a place with a deep and varied history. Discover a rich Indigenous culture and the pioneering and immigration stories that shaped Albury Wodonga with visits to the Bonegilla Migrant Experience, where you can learn of the journeys made by some 330,00 immigrants who made their way to Australia in search of a better life after World War II. Plus, explorations of the Wagirra Trail and Wonga Wetlands.
Those with a passion for the arts should not miss MAMA – Murray Art Museum Albury. With a focus on living artists and ideals which resonate strongly today, this exceptional place is home to an extensive art collection and is one of the most visited art spaces outside of Sydney.
Day 4: Albury/Wodonga – Yarrawonga/Mulwala
After the couple of big driving days this one takes next to no time. Here, you’ll unwind and slow to a more peaceful pace of life, dictated by the rhythmic ebb and flow of the Murray River.
Enveloping the Murray, Oven and Goulburn rivers as well as Lake Mulwala, this lesser known but beautiful region is blessed with plentiful amounts of sunshine year-round and is affectionately known as Sun Country on Murray.
Central to this region is of course the Murray River and no stay in Sun Country would be complete without experiencing this waterway first-hand. Whether you want to sit back and relax, whilst enjoying the atmospheric bygone times of a red-gum fuelled paddle steamer, take a luxurious catamaran cruise or a nature-focused experience to discover the remarkable flora and fauna found here, your choices are endless.
There are national parks and rugged bush, woodlands, and wetlands to explore. Whilst for food and drink lovers there is a plethora of exceptional local produce waiting to be sampled on the Murray Farm Gate Trail.
Day 5: Yarrawonga/Mulwala – Echuca/Moama
Today you’re heading for Echuca Moama, so named after the Aboriginal word for ‘meeting of the waters,’ Echuca was once one of the busiest ports on the Murray River. Now, the twin towns of Echuca Moama are steeped in history. As you stroll along Murray Esplanade, where heritage buildings now house vibrant shops and cafes the atmosphere of a bygone age is almost tangible. Those who like to delve a little deeper into the history should head for the Echuca Port and Discovery Centre.
This is a vibrant outdoor world where you’ll find music festivals set against a living backdrop of ancient river gums and flowing waters, fine regional dining, and the largest fleet of paddle steamers in the world. Picture the river bustling with traders as you take a cruise on the historic PS Emmy Lou, PS Canberra, or the Pride of the Murray. Choose from day cruises or if you have the luxury of time why not spend a little longer with an overnight experience.
If you prefer to keep your feet on dry land, there’s a multitude of trails and bushwalks including three excellent walks within the Barmah National Park plus the Echuca Heritage Walk.
Day 6: Echuca/Moama – Melbourne
As you begin the final leg of your drive to Melbourne the lure of gold-rich Bendigo is too much to resist. Just an hour’s drive from Echuca this is a place of vibrant arts and culture, stunning gardens and winding laneways adorned with colourful murals, trendy cafes, and unusual boutiques. Bendigo is also UNESCO City of Gastronomy so the perfect place for a little gourmet indulgence. Depending on when you visit you can even join a food fossicking tour and get to know the fabulous places the locals inhabit as well as meet the passionate food heroes.
Bendigo was once home to the second highest producing gold field in Australia and the rich legacy of the Victorian gold rush is evident across the city. The streets are wide and graceful and lined with outstanding architecture and impressive buildings and it remains a thriving and lively city to explore. Those with a love of history can hop on the vintage Bendigo talking tram and trundle through the past, then don overalls and a hard hat to head underground in the Central Deborah Gold Mine. While creative souls can try their hand at the potter’s wheel in Australia’s oldest working pottery.
From Bendigo it’s just a short drive into Melbourne.