Grand Pacific Drive
The Grand Pacific Drive is a particularly spectacular 85-mile stretch of highway at the start of the Sydney to Melbourne touring route. The drive itself can be done in a matter of hours, but it’s worth taking your time to explore Royal National Park – the second oldest National Park in the world, the Sea Cliff Bridge – an engineering marvel that winds around the coastline providing spectacular views of the Tasman Sea, Minnamurra Rainforest Reserve, and a string of golden beaches.
One of the most popular destinations along the Sydney to Melbourne coastal drive, this is a beautiful unique area of coastal, marine and hinterland landscapes. It also boasts a dazzling beach – the Guinness Book of Records reports Hyams Beach as having the whitest sand in the world. The turquoise waters here are pretty special, too. Jervis Bay is bordered by Booderee National Park – an area rich in Aboriginal heritage and teeming with native Australian wildlife from wombats and wallabies to whales (June to November).
East of Melbourne in a mountain valley at the edge of the Victorian Alps, Walhalla was once one of Australia’s richest towns. Founded as a gold-mining community in 1862, at its peak it was home to over 4000 gold seekers. Today, it’s a sleepy mountainside town in Gippsland’s alpine wilderness and home to just 20 residents. Further along the route, the tranquil Gippsland Lakes are a huge inland network of lakes, marshes and lagoons.
A halfway point between Sydney and Melbourne, Eden is a sleepy coastal town found at the edge of the magnificent Twofold Bay. With its origins a whaling town, today the town is one of the best whale-watching locations in Australia. Self-proclaimed as the ‘humpback highway’, every year between September and November, you should be able to spot migrating humpback whales passing close to the beach as they make their way home to Antarctica.
Australia’s national capital is a small but creative cosmopolitan hub of world-class museums, renowned art galleries, prestigious universities and an exciting food and wine scene. Founded after the Australian Federation of 1901, this young city was purpose-built to be the nation’s capital, and is today an exciting display of modernist architecture and wide, open spaces. Between pretty tree-lined avenues, highlights include the iconic Parliament House on Capital Hill, and the National Gallery of Australia, home to an extraordinary collection of more than 100,000 works of art.
Just an hour’s drive from Melbourne, Bendigo was once one of the wealthiest cities in the world. Thanks to the gold rush of the 1850s, the city is today a vibrant legacy of decadent architecture and a rich Victorian heritage. Between grand buildings and magnificent gardens, it’s well worth taking some to explore this historic city. The former post office and ornate Alexandra Fountain are worth a visit, as are the art galleries and workshops – Bendigo has a thriving arts scene, and is home to one of the best regional art galleries in the whole of Australia.