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South Coast Explorer

7 days 6 nights
Sydney to Melbourne
from AUD$2,455pp
Tour summary and feature with map

This one-week driving tour takes you to discover wonderful coastlines and beaches, meet Australia's most favourite animals, and relax in stunning bays. You will explore beautiful Jervis Bay and white sand beaches, enjoy a dolphin cruise, and appreciate breathtaking views of this area. You will then continue to the so-called Oyster Coast. You can surf, swim, paddle board, and have an underwater adventure on Bateman's Bay Snorkelling Trail. Your drive will continue to the Sapphire Coast, where you will kayak the amazing Pambula River in Merimbula, and admire stunning coastline and lakes in Lakes Entrance. Last stop on the journey will be on Phillip Island, which is famous for the Little Penguin Parade, Koala Sanctuary, wild beaches, and Seal Rocks. You will end your ride in Melbourne, the capital and cultural hub of Victoria. 

Classic driving toursWildlife & nature
Tour full itinerary
South Coast Explorer - Day 1
Collect your rental car from the Sydney City depot

Head to the Sydney CBD depot today to collect your chosen rental car, and continue your journey.

Sydney to Jervis Bay

Escape the hustle and bustle of Sydney as you head south through Royal National Park, the beginning of the Grand Pacific Drive. Drive over the iconic Sea Cliff Bridge and continue south to Kiama. Stop off at the Kiama Blowhole, the largest blowhole in the world, shooting water up to 60 metres (200 feet) up into the air.
Drive another hour and a half south to reach your destination, Jervis Bay.

Explore Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay is known for its stunning beaches, mild temperatures, and generally sunny climate. But like anywhere, they occasionally get a bit of rain. One of Australia’s best-kept secrets, at its heart is Huskisson, a vibrant seaside town with plenty to see and do. There is a pathway that goes all the way from the Huskisson and it extends to the Greenfield beach there is a nice little scenic bush track that takes you to Hyams beach and you might spot some raccoons. Get out and explore the bay and the white sand beaches and the breathtaking views of the area. Whether you like to swim, surf or snorkel. You can’t visit Jervis Bay without spending time on and in the water.
There are also neighborhoods to explore and you might spot a kangaroo or many! Whether beach hopping, hiking, or kangaroo spotting, you’re bound to have a great time on this slice of Aboriginal land. Take the path to the plantation point or all the way to Huskisson.
If you fancy time on the beach Collingwood beach offers a nice little place to explore with calm waters it is the perfect place to relax. There is even an opportunity to check out a bit of oceanic history on a bush walk at the Governor's Head Lookout.

Your accommodation: Paperbark Camp

Paperbark Camp combines premium tent accommodation with food and warm hospitality to create a unique, lush bush experience in Jervis Bay. Immerse yourself among the eucalyptus and paperbarks in a canvas safari-style tent perched above the ground on Wandra Wandian country.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 165 kms / 102 miles : 2.4 hours

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South Coast Explorer - Day 2
Dolphin Cruise

Jervis Bay has been a Marine Park for 20 years and is now one of the most unique and healthy ecosystems in Australia. The crystal clear waters of Jervis Bay are home to over 100 Bottlenose Dolphins. Enjoy commentary on the Marine Park as a knowledgeable guide searches for these majestic creatures.

Your accommodation: Paperbark Camp

Paperbark Camp combines premium tent accommodation with food and warm hospitality to create a unique, lush bush experience in Jervis Bay. Immerse yourself among the eucalyptus and paperbarks in a canvas safari-style tent perched above the ground on Wandra Wandian country.

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South Coast Explorer - Day 3
Jervis Bay to Batemans Bay

Embarking on a 2-hour journey along the coast Leaving Jervis bay and heading north towards Batemans Bay. To break up the journey and stretch the legs we recommend the Moruya heads lookout, if you're lucky you might even spot a whale here. Passing through Narooma Make sure to stop and grab an iconic photo with the 'Australia' rock situated on the oceanfront. Carrying on you will reach Burrill Lake, the home of the iconic Burrill lake fish and chip shop so if you haven't had your seafood fix perhaps stop here and try it for yourself. The remainder of the journey follows the coast to reach your destination of Batemans Bay, excellent base for exploring all the wonders and natural beauty, and magnificent beaches of this area.  

Batemans Bay

At the beginning of the Eurobdalla region, and at the heart of the Oyster Coast, lays the township of Batemans Bay. Settled on the banks of the Clyde River, Bateman's Bay offers a beautiful varied coastline of river, estuarine & ocean waterways. The Clyde boasts the cleanest water of any river in Eastern Australia, making this area a hot spot for fresh sea food & fishing. An array of water based activities are on offer from surfing, charter house boats, stand up paddle boarding, kite surfing or find an underwater adventure on Bateman's Bay Snorkelling Trail. Check out the view at Burrewurra Point, or take a nice and easy cycle trip along the waterfront.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - General Admission to Mogo Wildlife Park

Mogo boasts Australia’s largest private collection of exotic animals and primates. Located just 10 minutes south of stunning Batemans Bay. You will get a close-up look at animals including tigers, lions, and meerkats. Also, for an additional cost there is the opportunity to feed Giraffe, which is interactive and fun.  Free, informative keeper talks are held throughout the day.

Your accommodation: Bay Breeze Boutique Motel

Bay Breeze Boutique Motel is situated right on the promenade in a quiet and wonderful setting on the waterfront. It offers stunning views and comfortable accommodations. It is just a stroll to many attractions, including shopping, cinema, great restaurants, and amazing beaches.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 142 kms / 88 miles : 1.9 hours

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South Coast Explorer - Day 4
Batemans Bay to Merimbula

Depart Batemans Bay to the south for a stunning journey through Bournda National Park towards Merimbula. You will be crossing the Moruya River and passing the small, artistic settlement of Mogo. Continue driving towards the town of Narooma on the Wagonga Inlet. Here you can jump on a wildlife watching cruise that takes you over to Montague Island conservation area, 11 kilometres offshore, or simply take a stroll along the Mill Bay Boardwalk to look out over Bar Beach. After your stop, you will get to Central Tilba, where you may wish to take a detour to visit a gourmet cheese factory and walk up to the start of the Bellbrook Loop Track for an awe-inspiring view of Gualaga, the Mother Mountain (Mt. Dromedary), an important ceremonial site for the women of the Yuin people. Continue over the Wallaga Lake causeway and keep an eye out for the black swans dancing on the water. As you reach the Wallaga Lake township, you may wish to stop at the Camel Rock Beach Carpark and take the walk down to the shore to see the striking, photographer's dream rock formation 'Horse Head Rock, which, as you may have guessed, looks like a towering horse head over the ocean. Back on the road, you will be passing stunning surfing beaches and the small village of Bermagui. Well worth a stop is the Blue Pool, where you can swim in a man-made pool next to the ocean that fills with fresh sea water. The waters are crystal clear and are perfect for snorkelling to look for marine life that has made itself at home. Grab a fish and chip lunch on the Bermagui Wharf before returning to the road. Continue south over the Bega River towards the town of Tathra, here you can also visit the heritage-listed Tathra Wharf, which is a prime whale-spotting location in the spring months. This is also a good opportunity to have a look around the Tathra Wharf Museum and grab a delicious coffee from the cafe next door. Continue driving on Sapphire Coast Drive towards Merimbula. 


Merimbula is a seaside town on the Sapphire Coast of New South Wales that offers a vibrant village centre set alongside forest, pristine beaches and tranquil coastal lakes. The area was originally inhabited by the Yuin Aboriginal people, and eventually became a bustling cargo and transport wharf. It became a popular tourist destination in the 1960's, and remains so today.

In both winter and spring it is a great spot for watching the whale migration along the 'humpback highway' of the east coast, either from one of the many lookout points or a guided cruise. Stroll along the boardwalk and up the esplanade to stop in the village for lunch at a waterfront cafe, or walk over the bridge to relax at Main Beach. For the nature enthusiasts, visit the Potoroo Palace wildlife sanctuary or discover the lagoons and walking trails in Bournda National Park.

Your accommodation: Comfort Inn Merimbula

The Comfort Inn offers a 3.5-star motel accommodation in the center of Merimbula. There are range of room options, including queen, family units or corporate suites. It provides a good base for exploring natural beauty of Sapphire Coast.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 175 kms / 109 miles : 2.2 hours

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South Coast Explorer - Day 5
Pambula River Kayak Tour with Navigate Expeditions

Paddle out of Pambula Lake to the breathtaking Pambula River Mouth in this exciting 3 hour River Kayak Tour. As you float past the banks of Beowa National Park, keep eye out for the wildlife which resides while your professional kayak guide shares ecological and historical information of the land. Potential wildlife encounters include Eastern Grey Kangaroos, white-bellied sea eagles, herons, egrets and oyster catchers. After paddling to a secluded beach, there will be an opportunity to stretch your legs and enjoy a swim in the picturesque turquoise waters before indulging in a morning tea consisting of coffee, tea, juice, fruit and locally make treats.

Merimbula to Lakes Entrance

The area around Lake Entrance is home to many beautiful drives, including the Great Alpine Road which takes you through the Victorian Alps and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The Great Alpine Road is a popular destination for those interested in scenic drives, with many winding roads and beautiful vistas along the way. The top stops along the way from Merimbula to Lakes Entrance (with short detours) are Killer Whale Museum, and Buchan Caves Reserve. Lake Entrance is known for its beautiful beaches, fishing, and outdoor recreational activities, such as swimming, surfing, and hiking. The town is situated on the lakeside and then, just a couple hundred meters over the sand dunes, the ocean waves beat at the shoreline.

Your accommodation: Bellevue on the Lakes

Bellevue on the Lakes offers modern and comfortable accommodation in the heart of Lakes Entrance. You will enjoy views of North Arm Lake and Cunningham Arm Lake as well as a large fishing fleet. The accommodation is within a walking distance of quality restaurants, clubs, and other town facilities.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 268 kms / 166 miles : 3.2 hours

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South Coast Explorer - Day 6
Lakes Entrance to Phillip Island

Today, you will drive from Lakes Entrance to Phillip Island, following Princess Hwy. We would recommend a few stops and short detours. Firstly, you might like to visit Raymond Island. The island mainly draws attention from nature lovers for koala sightseeing. You can jump on the ferry from Paynesville and hit the island's Koala Trail. After then, you will be passing Avon Ridge Vineyard on your way, where you can have a delicious lunch and a glass of wine. Keep on driving towards Phillip Island, and if you still have plenty of time, you can visit the glorious Wilsons Promontory National Park and enjoy the largest coastal wilderness in Victoria, including pristine beaches, mountains, forests, and gern gullies. After your stop, continue on to Inverloch. From here, it is an easy ride; just hug the coast, and you will get to Phillip Island via Bunurong Coastal Drive. While on Phillip Island, visit the world-famous Penguin Parade and the Seal Rocks. Here, some 20,000 fur seals congregate on the rocks just off the mainland, frolicking in the sun and doing all the rolling and tumbling that make these sea creatures so adorable. Take a pair of binoculars to the headland and gaze out at this awesome spectacle; it truly is one of Phillip Island's most magical sights. At Cape Woolamai, whether you're a surfer or someone who just loves checking out some enchanting scenery, Cape Woolamai is one of the best places to take your towel and indulge in Phillip Island's natural wonders.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Koala Conservation with Philip Island Nature Parks

Wander tree-top boardwalks to watch koalas up close in their natural habitat. Take a walk through the woodlands, discover the range of trails and explore Australian bushland. You can also learn about amazing lives of koalas, and enjoy abundant colorful native birds, wallabies and echidnas.

Penguins Plus - Viewing Experience with Philip Island Nature Parks

Phillip Island is home to the largest Little Penguin colony in the world. You will experience the magic of watching these amazing seabirds waddle home from the ocean. You will enjoy a seating viewing platform overlooking the stunning Summerland Beach or you can watch them from the boardwalks as well.

Your accommodation: Phillip Island Towers

Phillip Island Towers Spacious Apartment Accommodation is ideally located in the main seaside town on the island - Cowes. The central location provides easy access to local amenities, restaurants, cafes, and shops. It offers a modern apartments featuring bespoke furnishing and artwork.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 314 kms / 195 miles : 3.9 hours

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South Coast Explorer - Day 7
Phillip Island to Melbourne

Today's drive time is just under two hours a scenic journey following along the coastline out of Phillips Island heading towards Melbourne one of the most liveable cities on earth. Continuing along Gippsland Highway you will reach Koo Wee Rup, Australia's largest asparagus growing town, make sure to check the observation tower to see the panoramic 360 degree view of the swamp reserve. If you are up to a slight detour, Cranbourne is 20 minutes away and offers the Royal Botanic Gardens- home to 25 endangered species and native plants. Before carrying on the final stint of the drive into the bustling city of Melbourne, while you are here make sure to delve into the lively laneways filled with art, music and eateries a real foodies dream.

Discovery Tasting & Piazza Lunch at Montalto Winery

Montalto's Discovery Tasting offers all wine lovers from beginner to seasoned tasters alike a unique insight into roles played by variety, site, and winemaking in producing these world-class cool climate wines. Set in the breathtaking Alto wine room, surrounded by panoramic views of the Red Hill Vineyard, you will be guided through a seated tasting of wine from current releases and back vintages, as well as limited bottlings unique to the estate. After your guided tasting, you move into the beautiful Piazza. Enjoy a casual, shared lunch with a glass of Montalto wine.

Return Car to City Depot

Spend some time exploring before returning your rental car to the city depot.

Farewell from Melbourne

Your tour comes to an end today, but if you are itching to explore more amazing sights, we can customise your holiday to include more days or additional destinations. Our trusted travel specialists can book transfers to your onward flight, and even assist in booking these flights for you. Our team can't wait to help you design your ultimate getaway!

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 142 kms / 88 miles : 1.9 hours

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