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Discovering Australia South East Coast

Travelling from Sydney to Melbourne

If you visit Sydney and want to travel to New South Wales and head to Melbourne, I can recommend a road trip along the South East Coast of Australia. With over 1000 km of stunning coastal scenery, pristine beaches, ancient national parks, bays and villages, the Sydney to Melbourne drive along the south east coast is the perfect trip itinerary if you want to see natural coastal attractions.

If you haven’t booked your accommodation, check out these places below, we stayed in and can recommend for your stay.

Best Places to Stay:

➡️ Star Hotel
➡️ Sapphire Motor Inn
➡️ Sunseeker Motor Inn

Kiama South East Coast
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Beautiful Kiama on the South East Coats

How to explore the South East Coast of Australia

On my first trips, I used a combination of Australian public transport, from trains to buses. While you can certainly explore the main coastal attractions by bus and train, most bus routes will not access the inland regions and places off the main highways.

As I mentioned before, driving is the best way to explore Australia. Here below a box with the company we use and recommend to book the best deals from car rentals companies in Australia.

In the grey box below, you can find the link to the best car rental deals website in Australia.

Find The best deals:

➡️ Car Rentals

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Merimbula on the South East Coast Australia

From Sydney to Melbourne – What to see on the South East Coast

Here are all places to see on your road trip from Sydney to Melbourne. If you start your trip from Sydney to Melbourne, one must-see stop is the Royal National Park. However, since it’s only 30 minutes from the city, you can add it to your favourite day trips from Sydney.

Here are the attractions and best stopover spots on the South East Coast.

Find The best deals:

➡️ Car Rentals

WOLLONGONG

80 km south of Sydney lies Wollongong, a beautiful coastal town known for its surf beaches and stunning hinterland. The Illawarra Escarpment is a vast region ideal for bushwalking, offering fantastic ocean views from the hill. You can spend a whole day visiting Wollongong and ideally staying overnight if you plan the walks.

KIAMA

Kiama is a charming little seaside town with a famous blowhole and excellent surf beaches. You can reach Kiama from Sydney by public transport. Trains run daily, but you will be more flexible with your explorations if you drive. It’s worth taking a short detour from Kiama to Gerringong, a little village known for its long and isolated beaches. Don’t miss out on the walk along the beautiful Seven Mile Beach, a vast sand beach stretching between Kiama and Gerringong, bounded by bush and forest.

JERVIS BAY

Jervis Bay is the pearl of Australia’s South East Coast with its beautiful white sandy beaches, forest and bush. It’s home to some of the most famous Australian beaches, and Hyams beach is said to have Australia’s whitest sands. You can enjoy all water sports throughout the year, and kayaking is especially popular. Next to being a top whale-watching location, it offers tours and daily cruises. If you don’t fancy driving, you can choose a time. There are many guided day trips and tours from Sydney to Jervis Bay, but these are primarily available in the summer.

Read more ➡️ plan a three days road trip to Jervis Bay

BATESMAN BAY

This area is one of my favourite places for a stop along the south east coast. Ulladulla is a small village nearby with idyllic beaches, lagoons and lakes.  I stayed overnight in the fishing port of Batemans Bay, one of the major centres along the coast. I took a long walk to Pebble Beach in the Murramarang National Park. This is a popular place in Eastern Australia where you can experience hand-feeding wild kangaroos and lorikeets. Beware, there are many hungry kangaroos around jumping all over the sites. I’d recommend a day trip to Mogo, a historic gold mining village 10km south of Batemans Bay.

NAROOMA

It is a great town on the south coast of Australia. I’d dare say the most picturesque coastal village I have seen in Australia. With its peculiar inlets and lakes, the forest, the lovely singing of the bellbirds, the unique crab soldiers you get to see on the shore, it’s a fairy-tale place. If you crave a peaceful holiday, Narooma is a unique spot of pristine nature where you can fill up with relaxation and tranquillity. A full day is good for visiting Narooma on a drive-through.

MERIMBULA

It is located further south of the coast, close to the border with Victoria. Merimbula is a busy holiday resort during summer, popular with families with kids and retired people. The place has a picturesque inlet and lakes on one side, red rocky cliffs and lovely sandy beaches peppered by dense forests like Pambula beach. Outside the village, you can play golf with wild kangaroos grazing undisturbed on the golf course. I would plan one day here.

EDEN

This little place has a great charm with a double bay and a beautiful spot for watching humpback whales when resting and feeding before migrating to the Antarctic waters. Do not miss a visit to the Killer Whale Museum, where you can learn about the fascinating history of whale hunters and killer whales and the whaling industry.

LAKES ENTRANCE

We have now entered the state of Victoria. Lakes Entrance is the gateway to 400km² huge lakes. A trendy holiday region which offers fantastic sand beaches and access to the Ninety-Mile-Beach. A vast stretch of pristine beach backed by dunes, lagoons and swamplands. This is a popular area for camping lovers as it offers many campsites.

The National Parks of Australia South East Coast

The beauty of the South East Coast is the variety of the landscape. Most of the coast is bounded by national parks, offering many driving and bushwalking tracks. Moreover, there are plenty of activities that you can do, including fishing, surfing, birdwatching and whale-watching in season (June-October).

Below, I have picked three from the New South Wales National Parks.

  • THE BOODEREE NATIONAL PARK

    Located south of Jervis Bay, the Booderee National Park is bounded by the ocean with rugged cliffs. What I love is the top location is the diversity: the rough sea on one side and gentle, calm water on the other. You can enjoy cliff beaches, heathland, dune lakes, rainforest, botanic gardens.

    The Booderee National Park offers a good range of beachfront camping site facilities. An excellent place for getting active in the forest with walking tracks. A true paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The park has an entry fee of around 15 AUD.
  • THE MURRAMARANG NATIONAL PARK

    If you plan an overnight stay in Batesman Bay, it could be an excellent occasion to take a walk in the Murramarang National Park. I did this walk because I wanted to reach Pebbly Beach, which you can access through this park or directly from Ulladulla.

    Get ready for a 3-hour hike along a stretch of dense forest and woodlands, mostly skirting the coast. At Pebbly Beach, storms of lorikeets and hungry Kangaroos are there to welcome your hand-feed.
  • THE BEN BOYD NATIONAL PARK

    You should not miss this National Park if you stop in Eden. Just 15 km outside the little village, the Ben Boyd National Park has good beaches and campsites. There are several Aboriginal heritage sites and an impressive lighthouse. If in season, go on a whale-watching tour; it’s one of the top places on the coast for spotting whales and dolphins. It’s a popular destination for Australians in the summer holidays.

Read more what to see on the coastal drive from Melbourne to Sydney.

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A Guide to the South East Coast of Australia
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First published in 2015, last updated in Jan 2023

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