Greenfield Beach, South Coast, New South Wales © Destination NSW
Sydney to the Sapphire Coast: a 6-day road trip
With pockets of paradise like Eden and Merimbula, the Sapphire Coast in New South Wales is so much more than just a whale-watching mecca.
By Steve Madgwick
If you have happy memories of an idyllic coastline, breathing in ocean spray, wandering through teeming bush-scapes, and eating and drinking without consequence, then this road trip is for you.
The Sapphire Coast is all these things and more, equally refined and wild, and agreeably positioned halfway between Sydney and Melbourne on New South Wales’ south coast.
Explore uncrowded coves both by land and sea, then reward yourself with the finest seafood fare served in ocean-front restaurants on this six-day round road trip from Sydney.
Day 1: Sydney to Jervis Bay or Mollymook
- Drive time: about 3.5 hours
Take your sweet time and break up the drive from Sydney to make the most of the scenery and the laidback pace of life along the New South Wales’ south coast. After two hours driving, stop to stretch your legs, grab a coffee and browse the shops in the lovely town of Berry.
Then continue on to spend the afternoon relaxing in one of the area’s refined overnight options. Opt for ‘camping for grown ups’ at premium glampsite Paperbark Camp. Just outside of Jervis Bay’s Huskisson. Or carry on for another 45 minutes and treat yourself to luxury digs (with spa options) at Bannisters by the Sea in quaint Mollymook, where you can sample Rick Stein’s fresh seafood creations on site. Save the one you don’t do for the return journey.
Day 2: Mollymook to Bermagui
- Drive time: about two hours
If you have restless kids in tow or you just want to indulge your own inner-child, make a pit stop at Mogo Wildlife Park (a one-hour drive from Mollymook) for surreal glimpses of giraffes and lions in an Aussie bush locale.
Once you’ve had your animal fix, continue south to today’s end destination. With epic vistas across Horseshoe Bay, Bermagui Beach Hotel is a natural lunch spot, perfect for al fresco refreshments and organic oysters. Spend the afternoon indulging in some water activities: either dive into the waves at stunning Shelly Beach, stroll down to Blue Pool, or work your core while you explore the estuary by stand-up paddle board.
Day 3: Bermagui to Merimbula via Bega
- Drive time: about 1.5 hours
On your drive to Merimbula, head slightly inland (via Cobargo) to fill your dairy yearnings at Bega Cheese Heritage Centre. Then, suitably stuffed, walk off the fudge and vintage cheddar in the serene forest of Biamanga Cultural Area.
After about an hour of driving, you’ll arrive at the coastal town of Merimbula. Settle into Merimbula Wharf Aquarium & Restaurant for 180-degree bay vistas (keep your eyes peeled for humpback whales), sensational seafood linguini and an underwater-world for the Nemo-curious. Gorgeous Merimbula Lake awaits exploration by kayak or stand-up paddle board, which you can hire from Fishpen Charters. Or if you fancy a swim, try Merimbula Bar Beach.
Day 4: Merimbula to Eden
The popular 30-kilometre (19-mile) Light to Light walk from Boyds Tower to Green Cape Lighthouse takes two to three days, but Light to Light Camps’ ‘quickie’ itinerary offers a fully supported taster.
- Drive time: 30 minutes
On your way to Eden, stop in for a kayaking tour of the forest-fringed turquoise waters of Pambula River with Navigate Expeditions; eyes open for beautiful sea birds and mouths open for morning tea of sweet treats and fresh fruit once you have finished (included in the tour).
Back onshore, head into Eden to share oven baked barramundi or crispy Japanese prawns and a classic cocktail at The Seahorse Inn Brasserie. Learn about Eden’s long-standing relationship with the whale on a Cat Balou Ocean Discovery Tour cruise in the afternoon. Hear about old Tom the killer whale while you try to catch magnificent humpbacks breaching and lunging in vast Twofold Bay.
Day 5: Eden to Tathra
- Drive time: one hour
Today you start your journey back up north. First stop is The Wharf Local atop heritage-listed Tathra Steamer Wharf, which is perhaps the best brunch spot on the coast. Think locally sourced light meals, delicious coffee and a quaint gallery full of local wares.
Tathra equals salt-water therapy, so a swim or surf at its three-kilometre (two-mile) beach is a must. Explore azure nooks like Kianinny Bay or frolic through the town’s book-ending national parks: Mimosa Rocks (north) and Bournda (south). Tathra Beach and Bike hires stand-up paddleboards and mountain bikes to explore the 90 kilometres (56 miles) of well-maintained bush trails nearby.
Day 6: Tathra to Sydney
- Drive time: about six hours
On your way back to Sydney, complete the loop north to Bermagui and up through the Shoalhaven’s sleepy seaside towns. If you have time, overnight at either Paperbark Camp or Bannisters by the Sea – whichever you missed on the way down – before winding back to Sydney.