Interstate Road Tripping - Sydney to Melbourne

One of the premier touring routes in Australia is the drive that follows the coast from Sydney down to Melbourne. The winding Princes Highway takes you through everchanging landscapes, from thick forest to open plains to hilly farmlands.

Charming coastal settlements entice you in, and stopovers can be spent exploring the numerous National Parks or swimming and surfing on the picture perfect beaches that line the coast like a string of pearls.

The drive is about 1100 kilometres long, and the many towns and attractions along the way mean there are a number of different itineraries that can be used. Here is one suggestion, a 6 day tour that takes in some stunning coastal feature.

Day 1: Sydney to Jervis Bay

The first leg of 180 kilometres takes two hours and forty five minutes, and brings you to reputedly the clearest, bluest waters in Australia. Four different pods of dolphins have lived in the waters of the bay for many generations, and are a staple favourite amongst visitors.

Its National Park status means nature lovers are extremely well catered towards here, with plenty of bushwalking routes and wildlife around. Beach lovers will be just as happy, as the white sands that surround the bay are perfect for all beach side activities, and the waves of Jervis Bay are a favourite amongst surfers.

There are plenty of accommodation options here too.

Day 2: Jervis Bay to Central Tilba

This 190 kilometre drive takes two and a half hours, and brings you to the Central Tilba Conservation Area, which is classified by the National Trust.

Central Tilba was initially a gold rush town, and today it has retained its quaint historical look and feel. With its smaller sister city of Tilba Tilba it gives you the chance to step into the past and visit a well preserved and maintained heritage village.

The town has grown into a cosy tourist attraction characterised by the timber buildings and old world feel, and there are plenty of restaurants, galleries and coffee shops. There are a host of beaches nearby and the surrounding environment is very peaceful and natural.

Day 3: Central Tilba to Mallacoota

Its a pleasant 206 kilometre drive across the state border to the Mallacoota Inlet, a water wonderland of lakes, rivers and ocean. This holiday village is perfect for families or fishermen, most of whom congregate near the mouth of the Betka River where there is safe swimming, good fishing and good facilities. Another popular attraction is the Croajingalong National Park, which covers over 100 kilometres of the shoreline and is home to am amazing amount of wild and birdlife.

Offshore lies Gabo Island, reached by boat or plane and popular amongst visitors wishing to visit its old lighthouse. Surfers are catered for in Mallacoota as well, with Bastion Point having one of the finest breaks in the region.

Day 4: Mallacoota to Metung

190 kilometres on from Mallacoota lies Metung, a tiny, classy village with a population of 700 people. Yachts and cruisers are docked at its public jetties, and can be viewed from the 1.5 kilometre boardwalk. Situated just behind Ninety Mile Beach and on the shores of Lake King, Metung is right in the heart of the Gippsland Lakes, and a stay here lets you enjoy this beautiful region.

A strong history of boats, fishing and easy living makes it a relaxing and very ocean oriented destination. There are plenty of accommodation options, and if the town is booked out then the larger settlement of Lakes Entrance is just 20 minutes away.

Day 5: Metung to Wilsons Promontory

Wilsons Promontory the southernmost peak of Australia, and the best loved National Park in Victoria. Granite headlands and forests characterise the 130 kilometres of coast, interspersed with stunning white beaches. 288 kilometres from Metung, this leg of the drive will take nearly four hours.

There is lots to see on the way though, and you end up in Tidal River, the main meeting point for tourists who are able to camp on one of the 450 spots available, or in the self contained flats and lodges. The nearby town of Foster has other types of accommodation.

Day 6: Wilsons Promontory to Melbourne

The contrast between the natural environment of Wilsons Promontory and the bustling metropolis is huge, but at least the 215 kilometre drive gives you some time to adapt to the city hustle ahead. As one of Australia's premier tourist destinations and a globally renowned city, you could fill a thousand holidays in Melbourne.

A few days here is a fitting finish to your touring holiday- a chance to step back into busy city life, yet still be on holiday. We hope youve enjoyed the trip!

Gavin Wyatt