Melbourne and Sydney via the Princes Highway

Melbourne and Sydney are two world-famous locations within the island nation of Australia. Millions fly to these cities yearly to enjoy the metropolitan lifestyle, fantastic weather, and famous tourist spots littered throughout each destination. Sydney is a Harbour City filled with glitz and glamour. With endless golden sand beaches lining the city outskirts, from Bondi Beach to Palm Beach, there’s simply no end to the beauty here. Melbourne is filled with culture and vibrancy, with an events calendar that is never-ending, with fantastic galleries, museums, restaurants, and more. 

Many visitors to Australia choose to road trip between the cities, heading directly up the Hume Highway and visiting the inland country towns along the way. However, you may wish to choose the alternative route, following the Princes Highway and exploring the coast. Hire a car from Melbourne and read on to learn more about the Princes Highway route, and the beautiful coastal destinations along the way. 

Phillip Island

Located 136 kilometres from Melbourne, Phillip Island is your first stop off - though you need to detour from the Princes Highway, it is a must-visit, particularly if you’re visiting from overseas. Head down the highway towards Pakenham, then take the C422 exit and you’ll be well on your way. Phillip Island is a place filled with natural beauty: from the sandy beaches to the stunning wetlands. You’ll experience plenty of unique, natural wonders while visiting here. We recommend visiting the mighty Cape Woolamai, as it is home to one of the most popular walks on the island, the Cape Woolamai Circuit Walk. It’s also where you’ll see beautiful wild animals, from fur seals to penguins, and you can even spot a koala in the world - a rare sight. We recommend at least staying the night on Phillip Island so that you can witness the penguins begin their nightly trek back to their homes in the sand dunes from the water - it’s magical. 

Scenic view on the Wilsons Promontory Natural Park.
Wilsons Promontory

Covering 50 thousand hectares, Wilsons Promontory National Park is as vast as it is beautiful. Filled with eucalyptus forests, white sand beaches, and secluded coves, this national park is filled with endless wonderful landscapes. Wilsons Promontory, or Wilsons Prom as it’s known to locals, is a 1-and-a-half hour drive from Phillip Island, and another must-visit on your coastal trip. We recommend hiking up Mount Oberon to witness the rugged coastline in all its glory, before descending into the Lilly Pilly Gully rainforest. Drive the lengths of the park and simply explore; this national park marks the southernmost point of mainland Australia, and is a natural wonderland.

Gippsland Lakes

From Wilsons Prom, drive approximately 1-and-a-half hours up to Morwell, putting you back on the Princes Highway. From here, it’s a further 1 hour and 20 minute drive to the Gippsland Lakes region. The lakes are the largest inland network of waterways in Australia. Explore the lakes, rivers, and more; the Gippsland Lakes is where the inland rivers meet the Southern Ocean. You’ll witness this geographical wonder at Ninety Mile Beach surf beach, an incredibly popular stretch of shore that’s impressive to look at. 

Mallacoota

Once you’ve explored the Gippsland Lakes and all of the towns that call the region home, drive a further four or so hours (depending on which town you’re driving from), and head to Mallacoota. The town, located in northern Victoria is a small coastal town that is renowned for its mesmerising sunsets. With many activities at your disposal, you may wish to stay a while in this peaceful area. Explore the inlet by boat, kayak, or bike, and visit the Secret Beach or Betka Beach while staying here. If you have the time, maybe venture to Gabo Island, which is a 13-kilometre boat trip offshore. It’ll be worth the visit. 

Mallacoota to Jervis Bay

The drive up to Jervis Bay from Mallacoota is filled with natural beauty spots, so be prepared to spend time in Batemans Bay, Pebbly Beach, and Ulladulla. Each is renowned for its serene landscapes and abundant nature, so it’s worth trying to break the trip up and see these places if you can. Then, the magnificent Jervis Bay awaits. Regularly listed as one of the best locations to visit in Australia, Jervis Bay is home to some incredible stretches of shore. From Hyams Beach to Murrays Beach, expect tranquil blue waters and white, soft sand. 

Kiama

The coast south of Sydney is fantastic, and Kiama just adds to this impressive list. The famous Kiama Blowhole, the largest blowhole in the world, attracts thousands of tourists each year. From Kiama, pass through Wollongong, drive the Grand Pacific Drive and witness spectacular views from your car. Drive the Sea Cliff Bridge, through the Royal National Park, and along the rugged landscape. It’s the perfect way to end a remarkable road trip before arriving in Sydney. 

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