Sydney is a fantastic city to visit, and there are plenty of things to do in Sydney itself, but once you’re seen it all, and taken one or two day trips from Sydney, what next? For sights further a field, how about hiring a car in Sydney and embarking on one or two of these epic scenic road trips? Given the distances, you’ll want to rent from a reputable car hire company like Hertz, which offers competitive prices, online bookings and multiple pick up and drop off locations. There’s nothing more Australian than setting off on the open road; here’s three of the best Sydney road trips.
The South Coast Drive (Sydney to Eden, 4-5 days)
Start by getting on the Grand Pacific Drive from Sydney. Winding it’s way along the coast for 140km, this drive is the gateway to the South Coast drive, which will see you pass by the bustling town of Wollongong through to Eden. Along the way you’ll cross Sea Cliff Bridge, a dramatic bridge spanning over 600m that takes you right over the Pacific Ocean, with the surf thundering below, as well as the sleepy coastal villages of Berry and Kiama. Stop for the local weekend markets at the former, and the natural rock formations of the Blowhole and Cathedral Rocks at the latter. Keep heading south before making another break at Wollongong, where the highlight is the largest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere, Nan Tien temple.
Further south is the sparkling waters of Jervis Bay, home to dolphins and migrating whales. Watersports is the main draw here, and divers and snorkellers will find excellent wildlife under the waves. Located another 1.5 hours drive along the Princes Highway, Batemans Bay offers houseboat rentals for those who have time for a detour. Close by is Pebbly Beach, famed for its sunbaking, surf-loving kangaroos.
As you drive closer to the Victorian border, you’ll pass Narooma, an excellent base from which to explore the heritage town of Tilba. Finally, finish this 4 day road trip in Eden, located right next door to Ben Boyd National Park. The town itself has an interesting Killer Whale Museum, but the real attraction is the world class hikes and views in Ben Boyd, where you can fish, beach camp and whale watch.
Kozciuszko Alpine Way (Sydney to Thredbo, 3 days)
Australian beaches are usually the highlight of any trip Downunder, but the mountains here are pretty spectacular too. Starting from Sydney, take a drive to Canberra, Australia’s capital. The War Memorial is a moving tribute to the nation’s military sacrifice through the years. There’s also Parliament House to visit, and a walk along the Lake Burley Griffin, an artificial lake in the heart of Canberra, is a great way to see the sights.
From Canberra, it’s another 2 hours drive to Cooma, made famous as the site of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme. Railway buffs will love the town’s heritage railway. Lake Jindabyne is nearby, where anglers and water skiers can find plenty of distractions. Horse riding in the high country is also a popular pursuit here. From here, the drive is mostly within Kosciuszko National Park itself, with stunning alpine views, opportunities for skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer. Charlotte Pass is an excellent base for activities if you’re thinking of extending your stay here.
The easiest way of summiting Australia’s highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko, at 2,228m, is via cable car from Thredbo. The chairlift takes you up to the main station; from here it’s a mere 6km walk to the top of the mountain, where eagle eye views await.
The Pacific Coast Route (Sydney to Byron Bay, 4 days)
From Sydney, head north along the Pacific Highway to the lovely little town of Terrigal, then from here onwards for some dolphin watching at Port Stephens. Nelson Bay is the main town to base yourself from. South West Rocks is also nearby and boasts excellent dive sites, including a shark and cave dive. The Smokey Cape Lighthouse, located in Hat Head National Park, offers history buffs a chance to sleep in unique surrounds.
Another 3 hours drive north and the road takes you to Dorrigo National Park, where the 70m elevated Skywalk awaits. Visitors can explore the rainforest canopy or take a break in the Canopy Cafe. From Dorrigo, take the beautiful and aptly named Waterfall Way to Coffs Harbour, a scenic drive through the tablelands of NSW. You’ll pass sparkling waterfalls, lush subtropical rainforests, and wide open countryside along the way.
Vibrant Coffs Harbour is a perfect base for families to stop and explore the area for a day, or keep heading north to set up base at the Angourie Rainforest Resort instead, in Yamba. From Coffs, it’s another day’s drive to Byron Bay, with plenty of time to stop by attractive country towns such as Lismore, with it’s vibrant Regional Art Gallery and Richmond River Historical Museum. Take some time out once you get to Byron Bay, with its gorgeous beaches, laidback vibe and casual surf culture.