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The drive from Sydney to Canberra is often a chore for most people, but it doesn’t have to be. Go via the South Coast and you’ll get great views of the Pacific Ocean and the chance for a beach stop. There’s also bushwalks with waterfalls and glow worms to discover. There’s a renewed youthful energy beating through the city, and this can be seen in the food trucks, galleries and boutique bars. We’ve created a 3-day road trip to switch things up.
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Leave Sydney in the morning via the M1; just be aware that between the hours of 7 and 9 am peak hour may slow down your departure from the city. We recommend a bit of a sleep in and a nice breakfast before hopping into the car after 9 am.
Your first stop will be in Wollongong, the unofficial capital of the Sapphire Coast. Spend the morning relaxing on the beach, strolling through the city centre or exploring the Nan Tien Temple.
Wollongong has 17(!) patrolled beaches, giving you lots of options for a paddle. If shopping is more your style, head to Crown Street Mall where you’ll have hundreds of shops and cafes to choose from. For a more spiritual journey, the Nan Tien Temple can’t be missed. As the largest Buddhist Temple in the southern hemisphere, you could spend hours here.
After lunch, hop back in the car and travel on to Kiama, a 30-minute drive south of Wollongong. Kiama is a creative and laidback seaside town best known for its famous blowhole and nearby rainforest.
The Kiama Blowhole is one of the largest ‘ocean fountains’ in the world. It regularly sprays seawater over 20 metres into the air. While you’re there, check out the Kiama Lighthouse, conveniently located nearby. Back inland is the Minnamurra Rainforest Centre – located in the Budderoo National Park, visitors can learn about the unique ecosystem and see Aboriginal artefacts. After stopping by the visitor centre, walk on elevated walkways to the sound of birdsong. See if you can spot a shy lyrebird or water dragon near one of the waterfalls.
In the evening, walk along Collins Street - known for the historic Terrace Houses that line the street. The terraces have been converted to boutique shops and eateries and are perfect for a wander.
Finish the night by grabbing dinner at either the Olive and Vine or Hanoi on Manning. Tip; book in advance, especially on weekends and during school holidays! Stay at a local bed and breakfast because the Kiama locals are good at making guests feel welcome.
Pro tip: When driving from Sydney to Wollongong, get off the M1 at Lawrence Hargrave Drive and head towards the coastline. You’ll get sweeping views of the ocean as you drive over the Sea Cliff Bridge.
Credit: Destination NSW
After a relaxing morning in Kiama get back on to the Princes Highway until you take the Queen Street exit to Berry.
You’ll be visiting Berry for its charming town, but more importantly – its deliciously good donuts. You can find these special treats at the Famous Berry Donut Van. This local fav has been around for over 55 years so you can bet your cinnamon tooth that they’re good.
Head east to your next stop, Bundanoon. This small Southern Highlands town is close to a couple of beautiful natural spots. The top two to visit are the Fairy Bower Falls and the Glow Worm Glen.
Located in the Morton National Park, the Fairy Bower Falls are worth a visit. Cascading down a rock face, covered by moss and surrounded by ferns; this ethereal setting certainly earns the falls its mythical name. Park at Fairy Bower car park and you should see signs pointing to where the walking track starts. Wear appropriate shoes, the walk is one hour return with a steep incline on the way back.
Also in the Morton National Park is the Glow Worm Glen. Here you’ll be able to see luminescent larvae and fungus light up the night. Park at the top of William Street in Bundanoon and find the walking track sign. The best time to visit is from December through to February, we also recommend you start the walk at dusk and to bring a torch. Please note, as you get close to the glen, be very quiet and turn off any light to avoid startling the shy critters.
If you don’t want to drive on to Canberra in the dark you can skip the glen or stay the night in Bundanoon. The drive from Bundanoon to Canberra is about an hour and a half.
Credit: Tourism Southern Highlands
Canberra is a laid back administrative city with galleries and trendy bars popping up all over the place.
Start the day with breakfast at The Cupping Room, where you’ll find Canberra’s finest coffee and French toast. After a feed, head on over to the National Museum of Australia for a cultural fix, or take the kids to Questacon, where they can spend hours running around learning about science.
For lunch drive to The Hamlet, an urban village home to a range of food trucks and cute market stalls. In the afternoon visit the Australian War Memorial, an impressive art deco homage to Australia’s current and past military activity.
In the same suburb as The Hamlet, there lies the fab brewpub, BentSpoke Brewing Co. Here you can expect fresh locally-made craft beer and delicious pub-grub. Try their citrus ‘Crankshaft’ IPA with the chicken burger for dinner. Finish the night either staying at BentSpoke or discovering one of the trendy bars, check out The Highball Express, open ‘til late most nights.
There are lots of options for a good night’s rest; you could stay in one of the many hotels or a local bed and breakfast.
If you would like to book car hire or motorhome rental in Australia, simply use our online booking engine above or contact our friendly reservations staff.