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.
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 2 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 alfresco 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.Show more
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.Show more
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
Learn about Eden’s long-standing relationship with the whale on a Cat Balou Ocean Discovery Tour cruise today. Hear about old Tom the killer whale while you try to catch magnificent humpbacks breaching and lunging in vast Twofold Bay.
Back onshore, share a smoke-house or Tilba-cheese board and a Snoop Dogg cocktail at Drift Bar & Restaurant above Snug Cove. Next head 15 minutes south to Kiah to kayak the forest-fringed reflective waters of Towamba River with Kiah Wilderness Tours; eyes open for azure kingfishers and mouths open for morning tea of home-made muffins once you have finished (included in the tour).Show more
Day 5: Eden to Tathra
- Drive time: 1 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.Show more
Day 6: Tathra to Sydney
- Drive time: about 6 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.