The dramatic coast between Sydney and Melbourne is one of Australia's best kept secrets and takes in National Parks, beautiful surf beaches and pristine lakes along the way. Call in at historic towns and quiet fishing villages where you'll always find seafood and local produce on the menu. Surf the breaks, dive wrecks and set sail on the way. You may even spot migrating whales, seals, sea birds and dolphins.
As you go, the landscape changes from the lush green of the NSW south coast to the white sands of Jervis Bay, the pristine wilderness of the Croajingolong National Park , the long expanse that is Ninety Mile Beach and the Gippsland Lakes, Australia's largest waterway system.
Down south, walk to the southern most trip of the Australian mainland at Wilsons Promontory, and see koalas in the trees and watch little penguins parade up the beach at Phillip Island.
Travel south via the Royal National Park, the worlds second oldest to Bald Hill lookout. Enjoy the breathtaking coastal scenery of Grand Pacific Drive, cross Sea Cliff Bridge and stop off at a delightful coastal village or the bustling coastal city of Wollongong. Take the highway inland to Berry and detour to Kangeroo Valley or continue hugging the coastline to Shoalhaven. Follow the Crookhaven River, stopping at Coolangatta Estate to pick up some award-winning wines before taking the turnoff to Jervis Bay.
Jervis Bay is well known for its resident dolphin population, which can be seen on a morning cruise with Dolphin Watch. The local beaches along the bay are famous for their white sand and turquoise waters. Travel south stopping for lunch at Ulladulla Harbour or Batemans Bay where you can enjoy fish and chips on the dock of the bay. Visit the well preserved villages of Central Tilba and Tilba Tilba, shop for high quality local arts and crafts, food and wine.
Head to Bermangui and the coast road to Mimosa Rocks National Park for a picnic lunch and swim in the lagoons or continue on to surf Tathra beach. Alternatively follow the highway inland via Cobargo and Bega, the famous cheese town. Stop off in Merimbula for fresh oysters. Visit the Eden Killer Wahle Museum then continue on across the border into Victoria, to Malacoota and Gipsy Point. Hire a boat and tie up at one of the barbecue jetties in the magnificent Croajingolong National Park.
Travel south to Cape Conran Coastal Park for a picnic lunch. Continue to Lakes Entrance known as the seafood capital of Australia. Cross the footbridge and explore Ninety Mile Beach or take a lake cruise and winery tour before enjoying a scrumptious seafood platter. Or visit the stylish, lakeside village of Metung. Enjoy dinner at one of the town's fine restaurants or on the water at Metung Hotel.
Follow the South Gippsland Highway to Wilsons Promontory National Park, home to great scenery and abundant wildlife. Stay overnight close to Tidal River and enjoy as many walks through eucalypt forests and wildflowers to secluded coves, white sand beaches and granite mountains. See kangaroos, wombats and emus in the wild.
Stop for coffee at quirky Fish Creek, a tiny township alive with arts, crafts, books and cafes. Or stop at one of the great restaurants in Inverloch for lunch. Cross the bridge onto Phillip Island, a popular family holiday destination. See Australias second largest fur seal colony at The Nobbies Centre and don't miss the daily dusk parade of little penguins as they parade up the beach.
Visit the famous Grand Prix circuit or experience early pioneer life on Churchill Island, a working heritage farm. Get up close to Australia's favourite furry friends at the Koala Conservation Centre before making your way onto the highway towards Melbourne.