Slow travelers and working holiday visa holders based in Sydney might have both the time and desire to explore the state of New South Wales a bit more, which is where this 7 day itinerary will come in handy. I call this route the Sydney South Coast Circle as it ventures first down through the Royal National Park to the Grand Pacific Drive, which provides for amazing views of Sydney’s southern beaches. Once down in the Bega area, it then circles around with stops in Cooma, Canberra and the Blue Mountains before coming back to Sydney.
I was able to experience this week-long excursion with my boyfriend, Patrick. We were also given the pleasure of driving in one of these fancy Jucy campervans. If it weren’t for all the rain and weird weather, I would probably have a lot more good photos to show for the adventure!
>> You may want a Sydney & New South Wales guidebook for the journey.
Day 1: Royal National Park, Grand Pacific Drive, Wollongong, Kiama
Starting in Sydney, we headed south towards Kiama, but instead of taking the fastest way we enjoyed the glorious views provided by a drive through the Royal National Park and the Grand Pacific Drive. Even with these added turns, the drive direct to Kiama can take as little as 3 hours. Along the way, you can stop off at a number lookouts, beaches and small towns for a rest. Or, you can make it all the way to Wollongong and enjoy the best chai latte at the Lee and Me cafe. Once in Kiama, the famous blowholes near the lighthouse are a must-see.
Day 2: Kiama, Berry, Ulla Dulla, Bateman’s Bay
If the weather is warm enough, there are some cute beaches in Kiama to check out. Besides that, grab a coffee on the main square, or in the cafe up on the lighthouse hill. By mid-day, you’ll want to head out on the road, either following more of the Grand Pacific Drive (signs are clearly marked), or heading inland if encountering monstrous winds as we did on our trip. If going inland, be sure to stop off for an afternoon stroll around the cute little country town of Berry. Here you can stop at the Berry Bon Bon Sweet Shop, have a quick lunch or browse the antique shops. Continue on to Bateman’s Bay, but if you want a rest, Ulla Dulla is along the way. You’ll definitely want to get a place in Bateman’s Bay right on the Clyde River.
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Day 3: Bateman’s Bay, Lake Wallaga, Bega
Bateman’s Bay is a lovely little nook to spend time in whether it be relaxing on a boat on the river or fishing from the banks. After a nice morning, head further south towards Bermagui and Lake Wallaga where you can have a picnic lunch, or even a hike up Mount Gulaga. At 2pm every day, there is a $5 walking tour of the Montreal Goldfields, which is a nice break in the day (and educational). Finally, make your way down to Bega to settle in to a nice pub dinner and relax for the night.
Day 4: Bega to Cooma
Start your morning off in Bega by exploring the Bega cheese factory, where you can also get free samples and learn about the history of cheese-making in the region. If your timing is right, why not pick up some cheese and then head on to a local winery for the perfect tasting experience. In the early afternoon, drive up to Cooma, the city hub for the Snowy Mountains. This is a great place to hang-out and head off to the snow if you enjoy winter sports. Otherwise, shopping, cafes and picnics are options in this lazy town.
Day 5: Cooma to Canberra
If you’ve decided not to head to the snow, grab a great coffee at The Lott before heading out on the road towards Canberra. There will be plenty of hills to drive through on the way (and plenty of kangaroos to watch out for, so be careful) to the ACT. Once in Canberra, you can check out Questacon, the national monuments and museums, or head to The Wig & Pen for some awesome beer tasting.
Day 6: Canberra to Katoomba
Because of road conditions, the fastest route to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains is almost heading back to Sydney. Katoomba is an alternative sort of town with heaps of restaurants and cafes lining the city streets. If you stay for dinner, you MUST eat at Gustissimo, which is a small North Italian restaurant where the server’s Italian mother is found in the back making the family favorites. From here you can access the Jenolan Caves, either by a 45 minute drive or by catching a tour bus from Katoomba.
Day 7: Katoomba to Sydney
Take your time driving back to Sydney on the final day by stopping off at any of the other mountain towns in the area. Once in Sydney, drop off your campervan and look back on a great trip.