Melbourne and Sydney are notorious rivals; to such a degree that in 1901 when the Commonwealth of Australia was established, competition was fierce to be named the new capital. Eventually the decision was made to create a new city specifically to become the seat of the national Government, and Canberra was created, almost equidistant between Sydney and Melbourne.
Regardless of which city has the best sporting team, nightlife, weather or quality of living, visiting both Melbourne and Sydney provides a great opportunity to explore the coastal or heritage drive between the two cities. Allow at least 5 days to fully explore the regions.
The Coastal Drive
The magnificent stretch of coastline between Sydney and Melbourne is one of Australia’s most dramatic and naturally beautiful self-drive experiences. Departing Sydney, journey south through the placid blues and pastoral greens of the coast, to the brilliant white
sands of Jervis B ay. This is a great place to stop for the first night, and take a cruise with the dolphins.
Just a short drive south is the town of Ulladulla, where you can learn about local Aboriginal history on the “One Track For All” walk along the northern headland before continuing south to enjoy a swim at Pebbly B each with the resident kangaroos. End your day in the
vibrant holiday town of Batemans Bay, where you can feast on fresh oysters.
All along the coast are opportunities for bushwalking and exploring. Villages include Mogo, where you can experience life in a 19th century gold mining village. Then visit the pretty National Trust-listed village of Central Tilba and see traditional craftspeople at work. At
the whale watching town of Eden, you will be located on a part of the coast for easy access to seaside villages where you can watch majestic southern right and humpback
whales make their annual migration between May and November.
Merimbula is only a short drive from Eden, or head inland and discover some of Australia’s most pristine national parks with spectacular lookouts, abundant wildlife and many walking tracks and trails to explore. Continue on across the border into Victoria to Gipsy Point, where you can picnic with kangaroos and feed sea eagles. See one of the world’s largest known colonies of little penguins at Gabo Island, only a short boat ride from the seaside
town of Mallacoota. Travel on towards Metung past Lakes Entrance for great fish and chips, easy walks along the lakes or beaches and the many photo opportunities.
Further on at Metung, you can sail or cruise the Gippsland Lakes, Australia’s largest inland
waterway. You can even stop and snorkel or dive the granite cliffs, bright fish and multi-coloured seaweed of Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park before arriving into Melbourne. Those with a little more time may decide to detour via Phillip Island to see
koalas in the wild and watch fairy penguins waddle home at dusk on Summerland Beach. There’s also an option to cruise past Australia’s largest seal colony of fur seals at Seal Rocks. On the way back to Melbourne, take the time to explore the Mornington Peninsula with many wineries offering cellar door tastings and excellent restaurants.
The Heritage Drive
The inland self-drive route from Sydney to Melbourne brings to life the pioneer spirit in the villages and towns built by the early settlers, the river traders and gold miners. You can stroll down old cobbled streets lined with beautifully preserved buildings, and moments of the gold rush years and the elegant Victorian era that followed. Then enjoy uncovering the stories of colonial men and women in the towns’ museums, book shops and galleries and their historical sites.
The route takes in the capital of Canberra, where you can visit national institutions, museums and galleries that present Australia’s unique history, country,
people and culture. Leaving Canberra behind, cross the border into Victoria at Albury-Wodonga and head for Rutherglen, home to the premier fortiﬁed wine producing area in Australia. European history in the area goes back over 180 years, when explorers Hume
and Hovell crossed the Murray River in 1824.
Continue to follow the Murray River through the dual townships of Yarrawonga Mulwala and Echuca Moama. Ride the historic paddle steamers that used to operate between these border towns and South Australia, where the Murray River meets the Ocean.
Travelling south into Melbourne, pass through Bendigo, where more gold was found between 1850 and 1900 than anywhere else in the world, towards Mount Macedon
and through Victoria’s apple region Harcourt Valley.