AUSTRALIA is the kind of country that begs you to take a road trip; the cues are everywhere. From Highway 1, the longest national highway in the world, to iconic drives through the NSW outback to Broken Hill, a road trip is an Aussie rite of passage; Myles Stedman explores one of the best routes in NSW, from Sydney to Merimbula over four days.
Pack your bags and empty esky for a trip down the south coast. Starting from Sydney, head south, passing through the National Park, to where you will find your first notable monument and photo opportunity, the Sea Cliff Bridge — New South Wales’ answer to California’s Bixby Creek Bridge. Be sure to savour your traversing of this bridge, as you are travelling one of only seven off-shore parallel-to-coast bridges in the world.
From there, follow Lawrence Hargrave Drive to Wollongong, and stop for a coffee on the beach, preferably from local institution Buck’s Caf. If coffee on the beach is not Australian enough for you, consider a surf lesson with Australian Surf Tours, which offers learn to surf programs for all levels and abilities. The company has a range of lessons, from one day to 12 weeks, and their progams also include delicious food, beautiful scenery and wildlife experiences, allowing travellers to experience much more than just the waves if they want.
A little further down the coast is the famous Kiama Blowhole, which under certain conditions, can spray 50 litres of water up to 25 metres in the air, more than enough to thoroughly soak you and any travelling companion you may have brought.
After Kiama, your next stop is Jervis Bay, where you can take the White Sand Walk which winds through the coastal forest of Jervis Bay National Park and past some of the purest sands in the world. Make sure you take your swimmers as well — after a brisk bushwalk the blue of the water coupled with the stunning white sands is so enticing it will be hard to resist a dip.
Jervis Bay is also a marine sanctuary and the wildlife in the area has increased dramatically in the past 20 years since it was created. Dolphin Watch Cruises is one of the most experienced operators in the bay, and will take cruisers to drop in on up to 120 bottlenose dolphins in the region. For those after food and wine experiences, head to Cupitt’s Estate, a family run boutique combination winery, cellar door, restaurant, bar, microbrewery and fromagerie set in the coastal countryside between Ulladulla and Milton. If you’re looking for a place to rest your head, try Bangalay Luxury Villas, located on Seven Mile Beach at Shoalhaven Heads. There are 16 fully self-contained villas and the onsite restaurant Bangalay Dining offers quality food from local producers.
Next up is the coastal town of Narooma, the gateway to Montague Island — one of New South Wales’ best-kept secrets. It is here you can take in a wide array of animals, such as the native colony of seals and sea lions, and more than 90 bird species. If you prefer to stay on shore, Narooma is at the heart of the Oyster Coast, and there are no shortage of locations at which you can sample this Australian delicacy. The Sydney rock oyster, still heavily farmed in this area, is one of the local favourites. If you want to take in Narooma from the sky, South Coast Seaplanes offers a range of tour packages, or if they don’t suit they can arrange a bespoke adventure.
Soon after departing Narooma, you will arrive on the Sapphire Coast. Merimbula makes a great base to visit and take in some of Australia’s best produce including wine, meat, oysters, seafood, olives, dairy, fruit & vegetables, honey, herbs, jams and eggs. Captain Sponge’s Magical Oyster Tour is a great way to taste the locally farmed oysters, with a two-hour on the water experience run by owner and Captain Brett Weingarth AKA “Sponge”. Make sure you take your time in this region to satisfy your tastebuds as well as enjoy the area’s stunning natural scenery. Soak up some of the outdoors when you stay at Tanja Lagoon Camp in Mimosa Rocks National Park. There are four luxurious self-contained safari tents at the camp, which overlook a coastal lagoon. Bushwalk, kayak, stargaze or simply sit back and relax in your queen-size bed.
Travellers can easily do this road trip in four days one way. There’s so much to see and do that you’ll have to miss things on the way down — luckily you can take in some of what you’ve missed on the way back.
Luckily, selling NSW is even easier now, with many of the experiences featured ready to work with the trade. For full details of experiences, see Destination NSW’s Trade Toolkit, which includes on-demand trade training tools and resources. Travel distributors based in Australia and overseas are invited to access this free resource via Destination NSW’s dedicated landing page for the trade. CLICK HERE to access the toolkit.