Day 1: Morning
You don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to make this trip work, but generally speaking, the earlier you rise, the better, because you’ll have more time to see everything. So get up early, get some coffee, get some breaky and get going!
First Stop: Bald Hill
You don’t have to wait too long for the first stop of note. About an hour south Sydney you’ll find Bald Hill. With an elevation of about 300 meters above sea level, Bald Hill Lookout offers panoramic vistas across the Illawarra escarpment and over the Illawarra plain and the Tasman Sea. You’ll also get a stunning view of Stanwell Park and its beach. If you’ve left early enough in the morning, you might have some time for a swim, or if you’re very adventurous, hang gliding or paragliding. Look just past the beach and you’ll see your next stop....
Lawrence Hargrave Dr., Otford, New South Wales 2508, Australia. 1800 240 737
Second Stop: Sea Cliff Bridge
Sea Cliff Bridge is both an engineering marvel and scenic spot for breathtaking views. Completed in 2005, Sea Cliff Bridge is a balanced cantilever bridge that runs 665 meters, linking Coalcliff and Clinton. Looking at the bridge, one gets a sense of humanity's great accomplishments. Looking out at the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, one gets a sense of how small we really are.
Lawrence Hargrave Dr., Coalcliff, New South Wales 2508, Australia. 1800 240 737
Third Stop: Kiama Blowhole
About 60 kilometers down the coast is the quaint, idyllic township of Kiama. While the town itself is unassuming, it has a major attraction: the Kiama Blowhole. Blowholes are formed when sea caves grow landwards and upwards. Essentially, ocean water can be forced up between the crevices of rocks with such power that water shoots upward like a geyser, or a whale’s blowhole. Kiama actually has two — Big Blowhole and Little Blowhole.
Blowhole Point Headland, Blowhole Point Rd., Kiama, New South Wales 2533, Australia. (02) 4232 3322
Fourth Stop: Hyams Beach
After driving another 73 km, it might be nice to get out of the car and stretch a little bit. Fancy a swim? How about a swim on the beach with the whitest sand in the world, according to The Guinness Book of World Records? Then you need to visit the impossibly beautiful Hyams Beach, which offers views of Jervis Bay. It’s great for swimming, too, just be careful of that powerful riptide!
Hyams Beach, New South Wales 2540, Australia
Overnight in Eden
At this point, you’re probably pooped. You’ll need to find a place to spend the night. How about Eden? With a name like that, it must be gorgeous and tranquil (or else somebody named it ironically). Fear not: Eden’s name is as sincere as it is lovely. The town even has a Killer Whale Museum. Eden is about 300 km from Hyams Beach, mind you, but when you wake up and look out at the morning sun rising over the port, you’ll be glad you stayed there. Book an Airbnb or stay in one of the several cozy motels or inns. But remember, Eden is an unapologetically small town, so you’re unlikely to find restaurants open late. You may want to eat supper before you roll in at night.
Killer Whale Museum, Eden, New South Wales 2551, Australia. +61 2 6496 2094; killerwhalemuseum.com.au
After you’ve had your fill of the beautiful environs of Eden, it’s time to get going again. It’s a long drive to Melbourne and you don’t want to get there too late.
First Stop: Gippsland Lakes
I’ll admit, at six-plus hours of driving, Eden to Melbourne is a bit of a slog. There aren’t nearly as many conveniently lined up points of interests once you get into Victoria. Realistically, unless you’re down to leave Eden at the crack of dawn and get into Melbourne after dark, you really only have time for one major stop. I suggest the Gippsland Lakes. This destination a little bit out of the way, but it’s about as close to your route as you can hope. It’s also awesome.
Gippsland is a beautiful network of lakes, lagoons and marshes that cover more than 600 square km. You’ll probably want to do some boating while there, and after a short instructional lesson you can even skipper your own boat. There’s also bird watching and, if you’re lucky, dolphin spotting to be done.
On the Road Again
After the fun at Gippsland Lakes, it’s time to get back on the road for the home stretch. If you want a place to rest and maybe even picnic, Traralgon is a lovely little town. Other than that, it’s basically a peaceful drive until you finally see the bright lights of Melbourne.