Gillards Campground, Nelson, New South Wales © Destination NSW
5 days around Canberra and the Sapphire Coast
See the city sights, soak up the sun, and hit the surf on this five-day road trip of culture, wildlife and outdoor adventure.
Get a true mix of culture, art, nature and exercise with a couple of days exploring the Australian capital’s best experiences.
A foodie paradise, Canberra’s award-winning restaurants will take you on a gastronomic adventure. Stay the night up close and personal with wild animals and explore Canberra’s distinct precincts. Then, head to the south coast – less than a two-hour drive away. Here you can explore a natural wonderland of parks and beaches, while also chatting with the friendly locals. Finish your trip with a whale watching tour in the graceful mammals’ ocean playground.
Day 1: Discover Canberra's culture
The best place to kick-off your fun in Canberra is Lake Burley Griffin. You can ride, walk or e-scoot around it, marvel from above on a hot air balloon, or take a little longer to relax on a floating GoBoat. Whatever you do, make sure you experience it from different angles, and enjoy the many Australian national attractions dotted around the shores. Stop near Regatta Point for a coffee.
As part of your journey around the lake, you’ll come across the National Gallery of Australia and its impressive outdoor Sculpture Garden, which shows an extensive display of the Gallery’s collection. The design showcases 26 sculptures made by both international and Australian artists. Look for the fog sculpture by Fujiko Nakaya and the Pukumani burial poles nearby. Antony Gormley’s life-sized maquette for Angel of the North faces the lake.Show more
Day 2: Braddon and NewActon
Join a morning safari adventure after a lazy breakfast in your room with your zoo companions close by, then drive a few minutes to the National Arboretum Canberra for stunning views across the 250-hectare expanse and beyond. Spend some time walking the trails, or take a guided tour. The gift shop and Bonsai garden are also worth a look.
Drive back to the city and head into the buzzing Braddon precinct for lunch. For good times and delicious seasonal food, try Tipsy Bull (they also have an extraordinary gin collection) or eighttwenty for wholesome, divine dishes and terrific coffee.
Time for some retail therapy. Drive or walk the few minutes to the Canberra Centre in the heart of the city centre – home to speciality retailers including sass & bide and Mecca Maxima. For a fun-filled afternoon, try ten-pin bowling, gaming or an escape room at KingPin.Show more
Day 3: Canberra to Eurobodalla Coast
The Bodalla Dairy Shed churns its own ice cream from scratch, making fresh, creamy flavours you can sample or take home.
If you’re an early riser, book a magical hot air balloon flight with Balloon Aloft for breathtaking views of the nation’s capital. Come back to QT for breakfast in the Capitol Bar & Grill, then walk over to Mocan and Green Grout for a stylish coffee and crossword.
Grab a bicycle from the Share a Bike crew (swipe your credit card and you’re off) to take an easy ride around NewActon. You can also venture a little further across the pedestrian bridge into Commonwealth Park, home to Floriade each year.
Return your bike then pop into Bicicletta, within Peppers Gallery Hotel, for an Italian feast of home-made pizzas, fresh pasta and antipasti.Show more
Day 4: Eurobodalla Coast to the Sapphire Coast
Take an invigorating early morning swim at the beach, then wander into Narooma for breakfast at the gorgeous The View Coffee. This gem is brimming with character and flavour.
Take a tour from Narooma to Montague Island to explore the historic lighthouse, then swim or dive with friendly seals. Montague Island is only nine kilometres (5.5 miles) from Narooma, but is only accessible by charter boat. Known as Barunguba to local Aboriginal people, the island is steeped in history, having been home to ceremonies and a source of food over thousands of years. Look out for the large fur seal colony and the little penguins, though these guys spend most of their year at sea. You may be lucky enough to see humpback whales, as well as dolphins or even a green turtle.Show more
Day 5: Explore the Sapphire Coast
Awake to the birds and take a walk through the nearby eucalypt plantation, or drive to the Middle Lagoon Walking track for an easy trek.
Now it’s time to make your way towards Merimbula (about a 25-minute drive) for an incredible whale watching adventure. From mid-August through to the end of November, large numbers of humpback whales travel past Merimbula. These waters offer one of the few places in the world where humpbacks can be observed lateral lunge feeding. Book a tour with Merimbula Marina Ocean Adventure Tours.
With a camera full of whale and dolphin snaps, head into Pambula for a succulent seafood lunch at Wheelers Seafood Restaurant. You can even sit back in the alfresco oyster bar with a cold beer.Show more
This article was written by VisitCanberra. For more information about road trips in and around the Australian Capital Territory, go to visitcanberra.com.