A family road trip is not only a great way to see the countryside, but can also be a great bonding experience. Spending part of each day confined in the car provides lots of opportunities for conversation, therefore, the fastest route is not always the best. There are two ways to drive to Melbourne, you can take the more direct inland highway, or the scenic route along the coast. Although each has its upside, taking the coastal route, if time allows, has more options for families with young children. Allowing a minimum of ten days to complete the trip will give you plenty of time to explore local attractions along the way, and keep long day drives to a minimum.
Day 1 – Sydney to Wollongong, 85km
Starting the trip with a short drive means you can take your time leaving – there’s nothing more stressful than packing the car with time constraints. The Sydney to Wollongong drive should only take a maximum of two hours, depending on where you are leaving from in Sydney. Aim to arrive before lunch if possible, to allow time to explore. Wollongong city, set on a hill, boasts stunning views of the coast and is a hub of culture, entertainment, and excellent food. The surrounding beaches and parklands are ideal for fishing, boating and swimming. Choice has two hotels in the Wollongong area, Quality Suites Pioneer Sands – an ideally located four and a half star hotel, and Comfort Inn Fairways – a four star hotel close to the city’s centre. Only a short drive away is Kiama, famous for its ‘blowhole’, a natural rock formation that forces wave into an impressive fountain like display of water.
Days 2 & 3 – Wollongong to Batemans Bay, 196km
The drive to Batemans bay should take roughly three and a half hours in total. Along the way, there are plenty of lovely places to stop, with some spectacular coastal walks including the historic Corn Trail. Batemans Bay is home to Mogo Zoo and the Birdland Animal Park, where you can get up close and personal with a range of exotic species – a visit to either or both of these parks is a great family day out. The Comfort Inn Bay Waterfront is close to all Bateman’s Bay attractions and offers three and a half star accommodation suitable for families. Set on 10 acres of English style gardens, the Comfort Inn Lincoln Downs is ideal if you’re looking for a bit of peace and quiet.
Day 4 – Batemans Bay to Eden, 220km
The trip to Eden should take you less than three hours and passes through some lovely coastal and inland towns such as Bega and Pambula, worthy of a stop. Eden is a scenic coastal town with beautiful beaches and an amazing harbour. The harbour and beaches are a playground for a variety of water sports and the surrounding National Parks and State Forests provide bush walking, scenic drives and a range of native flora and fauna. The Econo Lodge Bayview in Eden is located close to national parks, beaches and Twofold Bay and is the ideal base to explore the area.
Days 5 & 6 – Eden to Lakes Entrance, 240km
Lakes Entrance, approximately three hours from Eden, is as its name suggests, is the gateway to an extensive salt water lake system. Again, water sports and fishing are popular activities in this holiday town. The nearby Buchan Caves, with their magnificent stalagmites and stalactites, are also worthy of a visit. Econo Lodge Absolute Lakes Entrance is ideally located for a stopover in Lakes Entrance. There are also four Choice Hotels in nearby Bairnsdale offering good value accommodation close to Lakes Entrance.
Day 7 – Lakes Entrance to Foster, 235km
The three hour drive to Foster takes you through the town of Sale, a great place for a rest stop. Foster is the closest town to Wilsons Promontory National Park, the most southern part of mainland Australia. This area is known for its huge variety of birds, native wildlife and its natural beauty. It is a great place for all ages with plenty of activities including swimming, bushwalking, rock-climbing, sailing and fishing. The Comfort Inn Foster is close to local attractions and is only a short drive from the beach.
Day 8, 9 & 10 – Foster to Melbourne, 170km
The two and a half hour drive to Melbourne takes you past Phillip Island. A one night side trip to the island famous for its fairy penguin colony is worthwhile, or you can choose to base yourself in one of the many Choice hotels in Melbourne and take a day trip to the island. Major attractions in Melbourne include Federation Square, Eureka Observation Deck, Crown Entertainment Complex, Southgate River Precinct, Melbourne Cricket Ground and many beautiful parks and gardens. Melbourne’s surrounds are also worthy of exploration with the natural beauty of the Dandenongs, Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula all within easy reach. It is easy to fill a few days in this area and you will find Choice Hotels’ range of hotels suitable for all travellers and budgets.
Booking your accommodation ahead is always advisable, particularly during peak periods and school holidays, and saves time searching out hotels which may eat into your precious exploration time.