Embrace the Coast

Melbourne to Sydney

Total Distance: 1230km
16hr 30min

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Linking the two biggest cities in Australia, this touring route incorporates a huge stretch of sparkling coastline, leading national parks, and some of the most-loved holiday spots in the country. 


  • Marvel at Phillip Island’s little penguins
  • Indulge in myriad water activity at Lakes Entrance 
  • Visit Montague Island Nature Reserve near Narooma
  • Take a houseboat ride at Batemans Bay
  • Be dazzled along the Kiama Coast Walk
Towering rocks, Kiama

Towering rocks, Kiama

Sunset, Phillip Island

Sunset, Phillip Island

Pebbly Beach, South Coast

Pebbly Beach, South Coast



This touring route begins in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city. The Victorian capital leads the way when it comes to art and culture, events, shopping, dining, and so much more.  

Begin the coastal theme by enjoying short escapes from the city centre. Head to the seaside suburb of St Kilda and entertain the family at Luna Park or visit Williamstown and soak up the maritime vibe.

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Melbourne to Mornington Peninsula (Dromana)

85km (1hr)

Depart from Melbourne and slice through suburbs and follow freeways for easy access to the prized Mornington Peninsula.

The seaside suburb of Dromana is a superb base for exploring the Mornington Peninsula. This spectacular region shines when it comes to beaches, gardens, golf, and wineries, and Dromana provides easy access to it all.

Nearby Safety Beach suits families, Heronswood is a prized garden, and superb golf courses and wineries are scattered around Dromana. Take advantage of the proximity to Arthurs Seat State Park, which delivers outstanding views that stretch as far as Melbourne’s skyline.

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Mornington Peninsula (Dromana) to Phillip Island (Newhaven)

105km (1hr 15min)

Venture back up the Mornington Peninsula and head in an almost-circular fashion to reach your next stop. 

Break the journey at Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park, which has a host of native wildlife in expansive surrounds.

From here, hug the edges of Western Port before reaching the crowd-pulling destination of Phillip Island.

Phillip Island is crammed with goodies, providing incredible wildlife experiences – led by little penguins – and a string of glorious beaches and breathtaking coastal views. 

Engrossing family-friendly attractions include A Maze ‘N Things and Phillip Island Chocolate Factory. Located at Newhaven, the chocolate factory offers much more than the opportunity to sample its delicious hand-crafted chocolates.

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Phillip Island (Newhaven) to Inverloch

40km (0hr 30min)

When departing Phillip Island, travel along the Bass Highway and begin your journey through the Gippsland region.

Stop at Wonthaggi for an underground tour of the State Coal Mine and then head for the coast. 

The seaside resort of Inverloch is perfectly positioned at the mouth of Anderson Inlet in Venus Bay. Not surprisingly, this spot lends itself to supreme swimming and surfing opportunities. 

While here, take the 14km Bunurong Coastal Drive that leads to Cape Paterson. It reveals dramatic views of rock formations and secluded beaches.

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Inverloch to Bairnsdale

215km (2hr 50min)

There are two main routes that lead to Bairnsdale. One stays within close reach of the coast and follows the South Gippsland Highway. Along this path near Toora is Agnes Falls Scenic Reserve, home to the state’s highest single span waterfall. 

The alternative route heads further inland along the Strzelecki Highway and includes great finds like the Morwell Centenary Rose Garden and striking heritage buildings in Traralgon.

Whatever path you’ve chosen, they meet on the fringes of Sale. The picturesque Port of Sale precinct, which houses the Gippsland Art Gallery, is a great spot for a picnic.

Visit the Stratford Courthouse complex while at Stratford. It is a hub for art and culture.

Bairnsdale makes a fine base for extended exploration. It emits a part-city, part-country vibe and is within close range of lakes, rivers, mountains, and forests.

Stroll around town to admire its many grand buildings or visit the Krowathunkooloong Keeping Place museum to indulge in local indigenous culture.

Bairnsdale to Lakes Entrance

35km (0hr 30min)

A short stretch leads to another destination where an extended stay is an extremely tempting proposition.

Lakes Entrance has long been a crowd favourite and it’s not difficult to see why: the town is perched on the edge of Ninety Mile Beach where Gippsland Lakes merges with the Southern Ocean.

Gippsland Lakes is a vast network of inland waterways. Combine it with Ninety Mile Beach and you have an area that suits bountiful water recreation. Seafood lovers will be impressed when visiting Lakes Entrance, too. Nearby, Lake Tyers is also worth checking out.

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Lakes Entrance to Eden

240km (2hr 50min)

Depart Lakes Entrance and continue the path eastwards where you will reach Orbost. This town is home to the Orbost Exhibition Centre, which houses the National Collection of Wood Design.

Several national parks are presented along this stretch of the Embrace the Coast touring route. The premier pick is Croajingolong National Park, accessed from various points along Princes Highway once past Cann River. Highlights include Genoa Falls and Genoa Peak.

After this point, you’ll depart Victoria and enter New South Wales, passing through abundant forest before being introduced to the South Coast region.

At its southern end is Eden, spotted on the glistening waters of Twofold Bay.

Like much of the South Coast, Eden reveals glorious beaches and is a whale-watching hotspot in season. Take a cruise for close-up views of these incredible creatures and visit the Eden Killer Whale Museum to uncover the town’s whaling history. Alternatively, the Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre focuses on local marine life. 

Afterwards, head to a restaurant or cafe along Eden Wharf and soak up the holiday vibe. Nature lovers should note that Eden is an access point to Ben Boyd National Park, which delivers a wealth of spectacular coastal scenery.

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Eden to Pambula Beach

20km (0hr 20min)

A short drive up the Princes Highway leads to the charming village of Pambula, just a few kilometres from the coast. Wander through its boutiques and art and craft stores or try canoeing or fishing on Pambula Lake.

Just minutes from here is magnificent Pambula Beach, the perfect spot to unwind. It is spotted at the point where Pambula River meets the sea and, naturally, this is a superb place to indulge in abundant water activities. Pambula Beach is an attractive option for surfing and swimming, while Pambula River mouth is nicely sheltered and has more family appeal.

Younger ones will take particular delight from spotting the many kangaroos that frequent the area around Pambula Beach. 

Pambula Beach to Merimbula

10km (0hr 10min)

Only a stone’s throw from Pambula Beach is Merimbula, which brilliantly captures the South Coast holiday vibe. Glittering beaches surround this idyllic town and combine with expansive Merimbula Lake to offer a feast of water-related fun.

Merimbula’s main beach lures surfers but swimming, scuba diving, canoeing, and fishing all excel here.

A standout feature is the Merimbula Boardwalk, a 3.4km path that provides wonderful lake views and opportunities to glimpse marine life.

To unearth the history of Merimbula, visit the Old School Museum, or enjoy a host of rides and other attractions at Magic Mountain.

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Merimbula to Tathra

25km (0hr 20min)

Continue north along Sapphire Coast Drive and you’re likely to be drawn to explore Bournda National Park, where supreme beaches and dramatic cliffs dominate. Wallagoot Lake is prime for water sports and a picnic.

Just past here is Tathra, a delightful township built around an old steam wharf. Wander around Tathra Wharf and feel the historical vibe or take advantage of more sparkling coastline at Tathra Beach.

Seafood lovers must call into Tathra Oysters to sample its delicious products, or enjoy a range of fresh produce at restaurants and cafes.

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Tathra to Narooma

75km (1hr 10min)

The road north of Tathra cuts through Mimosa Rocks National Park, where treasure gushes. View offshore stacks, headlands, sea caves, lagoons, rainforest, beaches, heritage sites, and much more.

Wind your way to Bermagui, an inviting town built on a harbour that shares its name. Bermagui is highly regarded for its fishing and Bermagui Fishermen’s Wharf is the place to go, providing delicious seafood and waterfront views.

Not far from town is the Montreal Goldfield. This is the only seaside goldfield in Australia and a tour of it will compel. Neighbouring Wallaga Lake suits all manner of water sports.

Rejoin Princes Highway, passing the wonderfully charming historical villages of Tilba Tilba and Central Tilba before greeting a cluster of lakes on your way to Narooma.

The aqua waters of Wagonga Inlet and the magnificent beaches at Narooma are sure to create a feeling of love at first sight. With this much liquid it should not surprise that water-based leisure is incredibly popular. 

Have the camera handy to photograph the imposing Glass House Rocks and be prepared to click away while wandering along the Mill Bay Boardwalk.

A visit to Montague Island Nature Reserve is essential. Just 9km offshore from Narooma, this is a wildlife wonderland with its colony of fur seals, little penguins, whales (seasonal), and extensive bird life. Diving here is an unforgettable experience.

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Narooma to Moruya Heads

50km (0hr 40min)

Continue along the Princes Highway, perhaps stopping at Eurobodalla National Park where several lookouts serve up breathtaking views.

Steer past a collection of lakes near Tuross Heads before reaching Moruya. Spotted on the Moruya River, the town is dotted with striking heritage buildings and allows a comprehensive look into its past at the Moruya museum.

Moruya is the gateway to Deua National Park where the sight of the Big Hole will have you transfixed.

Nearby Moruya Heads has claimed a glittering patch of turf, spotted at the mouth of the Moruya River as it empties out to the sea. Make a beeline for Shelly Beach; this enticing stretch of sand is ideal for swimming.

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Moruya Heads to Broulee

20km (0hr 20min)

Not far from Moruya Heads is the tranquil seaside spot of Broulee. Its beach is sheltered by Broulee Island, making it a magnet for water lovers. As well as swimming and surfing, these waters are ideal for snorkelling and diving. Explore Broulee Island Nature Reserve, which is connected to the mainland by a sandbar.

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Broulee to Batemans Bay

20km (0hr 20min)

Continue your journey along this touring route and you will be greeted by the charming old gold-mining village of Mogo. Visit Mogo Zoo, which has rare animals among its collection.

Perched on the Clyde River’s broad estuary is attention-grabbing Batemans Bay. Beautiful beaches again feature and Batemans Marine Park ensures divers are in their element. However, the opportunity to indulge in a different type of water leisure ensures more appeal – houseboating along the Clyde River.  

On dry land, be thrilled by up-close encounters with native wildlife at Birdland Animal Park and embrace nature at Murramarang National Park.

BIG4 Holiday Parks in Batemans Bay

Batemans Bay to Burrill Lake

45km (0hr 40min)

Pass through bountiful state forest and Meroo National Park on this stretch of the Princes Highway before rejoining the coast at the township of Burrill Lake.

This quiet, picturesque area is just a few minutes south of Ulladulla and the lake itself suits ample water activities such as swimming, windsurfing, canoeing, waterskiing, boating, and fishing. Surrounded by bushland, the lake provides a stunning setting. 

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Burrill Lake to Lake Conjola

25km (0hr 25min)

Nearby Ulladulla is yet another welcoming coastal town, situated on Ulladulla Harbour. Children’s eyes will light up at the sight of Funland, which features three floors of captivating amusements.

Neighbouring Mollymook has a highly-rated beach and further on is the National Trust town of Milton where art and craft thrives. The Saturday night lantern-lit walks include a series of gripping and spooky yarns. 

Lake Conjola occupies another prime piece of real estate. The township is placed on the southern edge of Lake Conjola, where more water leisure abounds. A boardwalk leads to the beach and viewing platforms allow for majestic vistas of both the lake and the coast.

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Lake Conjola to Gerroa

85km (1hr 10min)

Forest engulfs you along a portion of this next stretch, which points inland for much of the way. Yet water again takes centre stage.

The busy city of Nowra is on the Shoalhaven River, which is well suited to a cruise. The Fleet Air Arm Museum – tracing Australia’s naval aviation history – is a leading attraction.

Follow the Shoalhaven River along Bolong Road before making your way up the coast, where you’ll be accompanied by Seven Mile Beach. This glistening stretch of sand is enticing and at its northern end is Gerroa.

Spotted along Crooked River, Gerroa appeals for its relaxing vibe and easy access to Seven Mile Beach. Walk to the Sir Charles Kingsford Smith Memorial Lookout for sensational coastal views.

Gerroa to Kiama

15km (0hr 20min)

Hug the coast for this next short stretch of the touring route. While at Gerringong, call in to its heritage museum.

Kiama is yet another captivating coastal town albeit with a water feature unique to this touring route. The Kiama Blowhole showcases the fury of the ocean as water is chucked high into the air. View it along the Kiama Coast Walk, a 22km trail that highlights just how dazzling this area is.

For more spectacular sights, take the short drive to Budderoo National Park and experience the Minnamurra Rainforest attraction.

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Kiama to Sydney

120km (1hr 40min)

The final component of this drive serves up more gems that ensure this an unforgettable touring route.

Pass Lake Illawarra before reaching the booming city of Wollongong. It has its own collection of sparkling beaches and is also home to Nan Tien Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere.

From here, continue north before reaching Sydney. It’s apt that water has been the key feature of this touring route because Sydney embraces it with ease. Take a cruise along magnificent Sydney Harbour, dine in style at Darling Harbour, or visit world-famous beaches like Bondi and Manly.

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Extend the journey: Sydney to Penrith

75km (0hr 55min)

The gateway to the Blue Mountains, Penrith is an action-packed destination reached from the heart of Sydney in an hour.

Penrith’s positioning on the Nepean River is not its sole association with water – the city is an aquatic wonderland.

Two Penrith venues hosted water-based events during the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and you can relive these unforgettable days. Penrith Whitewater Stadium provides kayaking and white-water rafting as well as guided venue tours, or head to the Sydney International Regatta Centre, which hosts regular events.

Alternatively, enjoy thrilling water recreation at Cables Wake Park or take a paddlewheeler cruise along the aforementioned Nepean River.

In stark contrast to all this water is the Museum of Fire. This red-hot Penrith attraction has a massive fire-fighting-themed collection, including fire vehicles, tools, and uniforms.

BIG4 Holiday Parks in Extend the journey: Penrith

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