Top five road trips in New South Wales
Take a road trip down south to News South Wales and explore its winter charms.
1. Far South Coast
(Batemans Bay to Eden)
To most Sydneysiders the south coast stops at Batemans Bay, but pressing on from there can be rewarding, especially during the cooler months. Whether you opt for the Princes Motorway route all the way or veer off at Bermagui to follow the coast road, this 200km stretch is a quiet but entertaining drive with countless beautiful beaches and myriad of attractions. Mogo Zoo, Narooma’s Mill Bay Boardwalk, the Bega Cheese Heritage Centre, Oaklands Barn in Pambula and the Eden Whaling Museum are just a few highlights.
2. The Darling River Run
(Lightning Ridge to Mildura)
If you have romantic notions about life in the outback, the Darling River Run will confirm them for you. Kicking off in the quirky mining town of Lightning Ridge, this road trip follows the Barwon River out to historic Bourke where it meets the Darling River, then follows its squiggly south-eastern journey down to Wentworth and its confluence with the mighty Murray River. Sights along the way include the stunning Menindee Lakes wetlands and the natural light show in Mungo National Park at sunset. There are always plenty of outback characters to be found in tiny towns along the way like Louth, which is home to a pub, a horse racing track and not much else.
3. New England
(Tamworth to Gunnedah)
If history combined with scenery sounds like your dream road trip, then the New South Wales New England region is the stuff of dreams. Tamworth is best known for its music festival, while Armidale is home to the historic Saumarez Homestead and New England Regional Art Museum. Celtic heritage is rich in Glen Innes, sapphire mining is an unexpected highlight in Inverell, and Moree is renowned for its natural artesian springs. Between Moree and Narrabri is a spectacular formation called Sawn Rocks, while Gunnedah contains yet more history, including a memorial to famed Aussie poet Dorothea Mackellar.
4. The Hawkesbury
(Mount Tomah to St Albans)
Not every great road trip has to run for a thousand kms - sometimes it pays to drive less and explore more. A good example is the Hawkesbury region north of Sydney. Commencing at Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens (home to unique flora and a café with extraordinary views and the world’s best scones), the road heads east through alpaca farms, a string of orchards that sell to the public, an historic church, boutique vineyards and restaurants serving food as good as, or better than, at the snobbiest venues in Sydney. Crossing the Hawkesbury River on a punt at Wisemans Ferry is a fun blast from the past followed by a beer and a bite to eat at the Settlers Arms Inn makes the perfect end to this 100km country drive.
5. The Cave Crawl
(Jenolan Caves, Wombean Caves to Yarrangobilly Caves)
Not only does New South Wales enjoy some of the best-known cave systems in the nation, they’re all located within a few hours’ drive of one another and set in wonderful hilly countryside. Jenolan Caves, about two and a half hours west of Sydney, is the grand old dame of cave systems and tourists have been exploring its chambers since the 19th Century. A little further south is Wombeyan Caves, whose star attraction is Wollondilly Cave. Its entrance is like a hobbit hole and inside is like the set of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom with rusty ladders to climb and tight passages to duck through. For beauty, nothing beats Yarrangobilly Caves south of Tumut - its concentration of colours and formations, it almost feels man-made.