Explore the magnificent stretch of coastline between Melbourne and Sydney, one of Australia’s most dramatic and naturally beautiful self-drive experiences.
By Visit Victoria and Destination New South Wales
What to expect
- Scenic coastal drive between two of Australia's major cities
- Get close to nature and native animals
- Fresh local produce
- Time: 7 days
- Distance: 1,325 kilometres
- Transport: car
- Nearest major city: Sydney and Melbourne
- Price: $$$ - $$$$
Day 1: Melbourne to Phillip Island
Begin your coastal cruise at Phillip Island - one of Australia's natural playgrounds. Go on the steepest vertical slide at A Maze’N Things, see Australia's largest Australian fur seal colony on a boat trip with Wildlife Coast Cruises or come face to face with koalas at Koala Conservation Centre. Have your lunch at Panny’s Café at Phillip Island Chocolate Factory, which serves Halal meats and a menu of Indian and Malaysian flavours. Order from the variety of superb curries and satay wraps before rounding off your meal with rich hot or iced chocolate.
If you have extra time, catch the spectacular sunset at The Nobbies, a coastal viewing area. Arrive before dusk to watch the parade of little penguins as they return to their burrows at Summerland Beach each evening.
Though there isn't any Halal certified establishments on Phillip Island, one dinner option worth exploring is Rusty Water Restaurant & Bar, which offers live music and tasty dishes using locally sourced ingredients. Though this restaurant serves alcoholic drinks as part of their menu, they have vegetarian options for travellers with strict diet concerns.
Day 2: Phillip Island to Wilsons Promontory
After you’ve explored Phillip Island on the ground, take in the sights from the sky aboard a Phillip Island Helicopters flight. Stop for a cup of tea at quirky Fish Creek, a tiny township alive with arts, crafts and cafes.
Next, grab a bite at The Local. Inverloch before arriving at Wilsons Promontory National Park in Gippsland (known to locals as 'The Prom'). Located near Inverloch’s Visitor Information Centre, this Australian café serves vegetarian and vegan-friendly dishes.
After arriving at Tidal River (the only township within Wilsons Promontory), explore the national park, which covers the southernmost point of mainland Australia. Here, you will see breathtaking natural scenery, from wild ocean coastline to lush rainforests, as well as local wildlife such as kangaroos, wombats and emus. Take nature walks through eucalypt forests and wildflowers to secluded coves, white sandy beaches and granite mountains.
Day 3: Wilson's Promontory to Metung
Before you leave Wilsons Promontory National Park, have a morning stroll and swim. If you’re craving more of the park’s natural beauty, take a wilderness cruise.
Book in advance for the world-class wilderness cruise operated by Pennicott Wilderness Journeys. The cruise starts from Wilson’s Promontory and allows visitors to explore the waterways and the region’s flora and fauna. During the whale watching season in winter, join Wildlife Coast Cruises departing from Port Welshpool to see the spectacular coastal formations and remote bays, including Rabbit Island, Sealers Cove, Refuge Cove and the Prom Lighthouse. Enjoy sights of diverse marine wildlife and seabirds, with regular sightings of the shy albatrosses, Australian fur seals, common dolphins and the very special humpback whales.
When you’ve finished your wilderness cruise, take a leisurely drive to Metung, a picturesque fishing township located at the end of the Great Alpine Road. Explore the array of boutique shops, stroll on boardwalks along the lake and indulge in a sunset dinner to complete your day.
Day 4: Metung to Merimbula
Get an early start for the short drive to Lakes Entrance, where you can take a morning stroll along the beautiful Ninety Mile Beach – a 144-kilometre (90 mile) long stretch of golden sand that separates the Gippsland Lakes from Bass Strait. Though there are no known Halal establishments, have a fish and chips at Wild Catch Fish and Chips before driving on Princes Highway to the scenic Croajingolong National Park.
Turn off to Gipsy Point and Mallacoota for a cup of tea or coffee while enjoying the magnificent water view. Continue back onto Princes Highway and travel to Eden to visit the Killer Whale Museum, before arriving in Merimbula along the Sapphire Coast for a relaxing dinner at one of the many waterfront restaurants. While there are no known Halal eateries in Merimbula, the Merimbula Wharf Restaurant and Aquarium has stunning 180-degree ocean views, and serves up local seafood, oysters, cold drinks and ice creams and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Day 5: Merimbula to Narooma
Depart Merimbula and continue down Princes Highway for an hour and a half to Narooma. Stroll along the Mill Bay Boardwalk where you can view the rugged coastline, see schools of fish or spot a stingray in the water. Peer out from Bar Rock Lookout to see Australia Rock, a rock formation featuring a hole shaped like Australia. While there are no known Halal eateries in Narooma, Quarterdeck offers locally-sourced oysters along with vegetarian and vegan meals.
In the afternoon, discover Montague Island, just nine kilometres (5.6 miles) offshore from Narooma. The island is a whale-watching hotspot and home to hundreds of seals. Cruise with Island Charters to take a guided walk on the island, or hop into the water to snorkel, scuba dive and swim with the seals. Head back to Narooma and have a scrumptious seafood dinner at The Whale Restaurant. The restaurant offers plenty of vegetarian and vegan options for those with strict diet requirements.
Day 6: Narooma to Wollongong
Bateman’s Bay, a one-hour drive north of Narooma, sits at the heart of Australia’s Oyster Coast. Taste succulent Clyde River oysters from the farm gates of Pearly Oyster Bar and Farm and the Oyster Shed on Wray Street. While there are no entirely Halal eateries in Bateman's Bay, Kohli’s Indian Restaurant, on the waterfront, serves up contemporary Indian cuisine.
After you’ve had a bite to eat, follow the Grand Pacific Drive along the spectacular Sea Cliff Bridge, which extends over the ocean as it hugs the coast on the way to Wollongong.
For the adrenaline junkies, tick off your bucket list with a beach sky dive in Wollongong, where you take in stunning views as you free fall over the beach at 14,000 feet. Closer to earth, climb and weave through the gum trees at Australia’s premier treetop walk and zipline experience with Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures.
For a Halal-friendly meal, family-owned Samaras Restaurant in Wollongong serves traditional Lebanese and Mediterranean food, and nearby you can visit the Omar Mosque for worship and prayer in North Wollongong.
Day 7: Wollongong to Sydney
As you make your way from Wollongong to Sydney, drop by the Apple Shack at Glenbernie Orchard for seasonal fruit picking. Picking season can be busy, so don’t forget to book ahead. Next, head to Symbio Wildlife Park to befriend Australia’s unique wildlife. Cuddle or feed a host of furry and feathered friends such as kangaroos and echidnas.
After departing from Symbio, drive toward the coast to Illawarra’s Bald Hill Lookout, an acclaimed hang-gliding destination with panoramic views of the South Coast and Pacific Ocean.
Continue on through the gum forests of the oldest nature reserve in Australia, the Royal National Park, before arriving into Sydney. After exploring the harbour and surrounds, visit Zaaffran for water views with your meal. This vast Indian restaurant sits at the top of the Harbourside Shopping Centre, right in the heart of Darling Harbour. Do note this restaurant serves alcohol as part of their beverage menu.
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