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Nowra on the Sydney Melbourne Coastal Drive

Nowra, with its population of 32,000 is the busy commercial hub of the Shoalhaven. It is located on the banks of the majestic Shoalhaven River and is a service centre for commerce and industry for a large surrounding area. Taking its name from the Aboriginal word meaning “black cockatoo”, it was only after drastic floods in the nearby township of Terara in 1870 that Nowra became well established in its own right. Its distinctive bridge and elevated helicopter herald the entry to this thriving cultural and business centre.

Pretty landscaped gardens and parks make a great stop for travellers looking for a drive-revive “cuppa and cake” and a good selection of restaurants, cafés and fast food outlets are located in the main centre and points of entry.

The Fleet Air Arm Museum

It has several Air Shows each year, when aircraft from the golden days of aviation take to the skies.

Meroogal Garden Fair in November

A gardening expo set against the backdrop of the fine garden of the old home in all its spring glory.

Don’t miss Sunday amongst the art at Bundanon. The walking trails of Morton National Park. Greenwell Point oysters, fresh from the shell. Nowra Markets on the fourth Sunday of each month. There’s plenty of accommodation and lots to do and see in the local area.

The Shoalhaven City Arts Centre houses ever-changing exhibitions of works by local, national and international artists. Nearby is the gracious Meroogal, a Historic Houses Trust property, its contents a tribute to the four generations of Australian women who lived there. A short drive from the city centre is the Fleet Air Arm Museum – the largest aviation museum in Australia. Housing innovative displays of military aircraft, engines, weapons, uniforms and equipment this is a must-see for anyone remotely interested in flight.

It is located adjacent to HMAS Albatross, Australia’s home of naval aviation. Surprising to many is Nowra’s growing list of local wineries, now winning awards nationally and producing excellent vintages. Most have cellar doors and also house local art in the tasting areas, while on weekends jazz-style entertainment is becoming popular.

The Shoalhaven has well established and colourful weekend markets and Nowra is no exception. The local area grows bountiful produce, with commercial vegetable gardens adjoining the city and hard-to-beat local seafood available in town. Nowra has a strong sports orientation so there’s plenty to do whatever your interest. Aside from the many water sports (including a 50m Olympic sized pool and waterslide), there are playing fields for many team sports, a skate park and rifle club.

For the more leisurely inclined, local river cruises offer a balmy relaxed style of activity. There are some good local bushwalks within the Nowra district, notably Bens Walk which is an easy, shady and well-graded riverbank walk winding beside the Shoalhaven River, affording excellent views of the local district. Nowra has come a long way in recent years, and we invite you to explore its many attractions.

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Sydney Melbourne Coastal Drive Route Information

The magnificent stretch of coastline between Sydney and Melbourne is one of Australia’s most dramatic and naturally beautiful self-drive experiences. Along its length, the great waters of the Pacific Ocean, Tasman Sea and Bass Strait have carved out dramatic headlands and created beautiful coves and beaches. The ancient ranges that follow it inland are covered in vast expanses of national parks and forests protecting pristine lakes and rivers. Nestled amongst these natural wonders are dozens of quaint fishing villages, tiny colonial hamlets and thriving rural towns built by the country’s most adventurous settlers.

The coast provides you with the whole range of sensory experiences. You can surf the big Tasman swells, dive the many wrecks, do some blue water sailing, go whale spotting or share the beach with seals, dolphins and sea birds. Or take time out to enjoy the delights of its famous seafood.

As you move along it, the landscape constantly changes its character and moods – from the placid blues and pastoral greens of the NSW coast, to the brilliant white sands of Jervis Bay. Immerse yourself in Coastal Wilderness of Sapphire Coast. Experience a lush network of National Parks, dotted with heritage sites, dramatic mountains and waters that team with life.  Visit the coastal town of Eden and follow Australia's most significant whale story as you travel on the fringes of a destination rich in culture and nature so precious parts have been declared a UNESCO world biosphere res. The massive, unspoiled wilderness of the Croajingolong National Park and the awesome breadth of Ninety Mile Beach and the Gippsland Lakes, Australia’s largest inland waterway.

The journey climaxes at Wilsons Promontory, the southern most point of mainland Australia, where you can explore small, hidden bays, see wildlife in its natural habitat, and visit the historic lighthouse. Then you gently wind your way to Melbourne via Phillip Island where you can see the famously cute little penguins parading along the beach. Moonlit Sanctuary if one of the many wildlife highlights between Phillip Island and Geelong and the Bellarine as you continue the drive along Victoira's coastline. 

Drive the alternative inland route from Lakes Entrance to Melbourne via Walhalla taking in the beautiful green countryside, magnificent vistas, mountain scenery and historic villages. Walhalla became one of Australia's richest gold towns following the discovery of gold in 1863. Today, strolling past its lovingly restored period buildings provides you with an authentic experience of that golden era. Frozen in time, Walhalla is home to only to 20 people.

Phillip Island Penguins

Sydney Melbourne Coastal Drive

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Shoalhaven South Coast NSW

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