Family road tripping on the South Coast of New South Wales
Touring a dazzling coastline and looping back through bush-edged hinterland towns, this New South Wales South Coast itinerary has a little something for every family member – even the furry ones.
By Lara Picone
A perennial favourite with summer holidaymakers, the stunning South Coast of New South Wales is as famous for the open-hearted welcome extended by locals as it is for its beaches.
Here, yawning stretches of white sands and glittering gem-like waters meet verdant hills and pretty native bushland. The South Coast extends as far as the Victorian border and has vast areas to explore. But if you don’t have time to see it all in one go, try a long weekend sampling of coast and countryside.
Pack the car, keeping space for local purchases, and get set to reinvigorate yourself and the family with a trip southward.
Day 1: Sydney to Shoalhaven Heads via Kiama
- Drive time: about 2 hours
Navigate your way to the Grand Pacific Drive from Sydney and let the city disappear behind you. This mini-break is designed to elicit an exhale as the road unfurls before you, so wind down a window and let the fresh, coastal air rush in.
As you follow the curling coast, make a stop at Kiama to marvel at the famous blowhole, whose daily show never fails to draw squeals of delight from the kids. Once properly awed, head to nearby Diggies for a prawn roll before you return to the road.
Day 2: Shoalhaven Heads to Jervis Bay
- Drive time: about 1 hour
Hop back in the car to reach the nature-filled wonderland of Jervis Bay. This coastal oasis has long been loved as an easy escape for Sydneysiders and Canberrans. Stepping barefoot onto the soft, near-pure-white sands of the area’s beaches, you can’t help but feel thankful for this accessible treasure on our doorstep.
Jervis Bay encompasses Jervis Bay Marine Park, Jervis Bay National Park and Booderee National Park, making it a haven for all types of creatures, from dolphins and fur seals to penguins and whales. Get out on the water with Dolphin Watch Cruises for a chance to spot some of these oceanic friends.
Day 3: Jervis Bay to Bawley Point
- Drive time: 1.5 hours
Today you’re headed to the little hamlet of Bawley Point, possessing an almost-ethereal beauty with its cliff-shouldered beaches and serene Termeil Lake. A lesser-known gem of the Shoalhaven region, it’s imbued with the aura of a closely guarded secret. Spend your time here simply enjoying the clear waters, fishing, surfing, swimming and snorkelling.
Take a drive 30 minutes north to the town of Ulladulla for lunch at Cupitt’s Estate's award-winning restaurant. After lunch, check out the local beach before heading back to Bawley Point.
Day 4: Bawley Point to Kangaroo Valley
- Drive time: 1.5 hours
It’s time to head back north for a change of scenery from coastal calm to inland country charm. The idyllic village of Kangaroo Valley is often touted as a romantic couples’ retreat, but it’s just as welcoming to families.
Take a stroll through the historic 1870-built main street for a poke around cutely curated stores and cafés. Don’t expect to leave town without a parent-sanctioned sugar rush at Kangaroo Valley Fudge House and Ice Creamery.
Day 5: Kangaroo Valley to Sydney via Berry
- Drive time: 2.5 hours
There’s no sense in rushing your return to the city when there are ample opportunities to stretch your legs on the way back. One of those must-stops is the lovely town of Berry. This area has lured many a city-dweller to drop anchor here, and its charms are instantly apparent.
An adorable main street with a collection of stylish boutiques and antiques, a rich food culture, and lush landscapes make Berry a land of milk and honey. But it’s also a land of wine, so fill your tasting cup at nearby Two Figs Winery and buy the kids’ patience with the promise of a sweet treat from Milkwood Bakery or the iconic Berry Donut Van for the trip back to Sydney.