Last Summer, my partner and I embarked on a road trip along the south east coast of Australia. Starting in Sydney, we drove along the gorgeous coast of New South Wales into Victoria, making our way through Melbourne and then along the Great Ocean Road. We had no plan, no accomodation and no idea where we were, but this is my favourite way to travel! Here are the highlights.
Grand Pacific Drive: Sydney to Wollongong
We left Sydney in the wee hours of the morning, driving through the Royal National Park and on the Grand Pacific Drive towards Wollongong. There are so many gorgeous views on this drive. It really is a must-do, especially for Sydney-Siders.
The Sea Cliff Bridge
Nan Tien Temple
Wollongong to Shellharbour
From Wollongong, we ventured through the many coastal towns that speckle the New South Wales coastline. No matter where you stop along this route, you are sure to find somewhere lovely to cool down in the water. I highly recommend Bushranger’s Bay for a serene snorkelling experience.
Jervis Bay, Australian Capital Territory
Once we had thoroughly explored Shellharbour and experienced the Kiama blowhole, we then followed the highway through to the gorgeous Jervis Bay. Only a few hours drive from Sydney, Jervis Bay is nestled within lush, green national parklands. Technically part of the Australian Capital Territory, the crystal clear waters and milky white beaches of Jervis Bay make for a postcard-perfect holiday destination.
Cool, clear water at Green Patch
White sand, blue water, green bushland
Crossing the Victorian Border, Arriving in Lakes Entrance
With sand in our hair and our bodies happily salted, the heavy driving section of our trip began. We drove through the national park forests to cross into the state of Victoria. We drove and we drove and we drove, until we reached our next port of call – Lakes Entrance. This was where we had our first shower in three days… an icy cold, outdoor shower at Main Beach.
Setting up camp at a rest stop
Lake’s Entrance – Bridge to Main Beach
The time had finally come to make our arrival into Melbourne. It was New Years Eve and we were in desperate need of a hot shower and a cold beer. Luckily, an old friend from High School had recently moved to St. Kilda and he was kind enough to provide us with both. We spent the next few days exploring the sights of Melbourne.
Hipster Coffee in the CBD
Hosier Lane Street Art
St. Kilda Beach
After a few days exploring Melbourne (and sleeping in a bed) it was time for us to move along. We drove south west towards Geelong, a place very close to my heart. My Father grew up in Geelong and we spent many Summers exploring the parks and swimming at Eastern Beach. We then decided to detour to Queenscliff, another Summer escape for my family, and admire the gorgeous blue green waters of the Bass Straight.
Eastern Beach, Geelong
The Great Ocean Road
Finally, it was time to embark on the last leg of our journey along the South East, the world famous Great Ocean Road. We had the car packed with supplies, our cameras at the ready and our swimmers on…. Unfortunately, the Great Ocean Road was a little bit on fire. The road was closed from Lorne and we had no idea how safe it would be to travel. Nevertheless, were determined to experience as much of the drive as we could. So, with a great deal of detouring and hours of driving through endless Victorian farmland, we finally arrived at Warnambool and drove the Great Ocean Road backwards. We saw all the major sights – The Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge and (most importantly) the lighthouse from ‘Round The Twist’. This is definitely a drive that you should do at least once in your lifetime.
Freezing cold water at Loch Ard Gorge
The Twelve (?) Apostles
HAVE YOU EVER, EVER FELT LIKE THIS?
The Road Home
By the time we had driven the length of the Great Ocean Road, we were ready to make our way home. So we drove back towards Sydney, through the rain and the increasingly lush countryside towns of Albury and Gundagai. But, having never visited the capital city of Australia, we decided one last stop was in order. It turns out Canberra is not as boring as one would think, hosting some of the best museums in Australia. We paid our respects at the War Memorial and rolled our eyes at the extravagance of Parliament House. The calm, cool city was the perfect way to unwind and complete our adventure of the great South East.
Australian War Memorial and Museum, Canberra