Sydney is not officially the capital of Australia, but it could definitely be considered number one when it comes to tourism. The harbour and its iconic bridge, the Opera House, and a wealth of magnificent beaches make Sydney a top tourist destination. With so many hot spots to add to your Sydney road trip itinerary, it can be hard to choose which ones to visit. However, the harbour city boasts a whole swathe of world-class natural attractions and man-made allures right on its doorstep. As well as our existing Sydney road trip recommendations, we have compiled another 3 lesser travelled routes that you really should add to your Sydney road trip. These three self-drive itineraries cover a great selection of the areas around Sydney, to ensure you can experience what we feel are the best Sydney road trip destinations.
5 - 8 DAYS
Sydney to Sydney
Best Time of the Year
- Blue Mountains
- Nelson Bay
- Hunter Valley
- Jervis Bay
Sydney Opera House
Route 1: Blue Mountains and beyond
This is a Sydney road trip is for the adventurous traveller looking to explore the best of the west. Experience the fresh mountain air of the Blue Mountains, taking in all the picturesque view points along the way, including the Scenic Skyway cable car and Lithgow, soaking up the best that NSW has to offer. The Blue Mountains is an ideal place for a couples or a family escape.
Blue Mountains, Scenic Skyway
Sydney to Blue Mountains
Your journey begins after picking up your maui rental campervan from the Sydney branch. Once you’re ready, hit the M4 motorway towards Penrith, the last suburban frontier before climbing up into the iconic Blue Mountains. Enjoy the serenity of Kings Tablelands with its rocky outcrops and dramatic views to hidden valleys below. Lookouts at Wentworth Falls, Govetts Leap and Echo Point at Katoomba will leave you equally breathless. See the mountains from the sky via Scenic World’s Cableway down to the Jamison Valley, or the 270m high Skyway (a glass-bottomed cable car) or on board the Scenic Railway, the world’s steepest railway.
Food week in Orange - Credit Taste Orange
Blue Mountains to Orange
Head west toward the mountain town of Lithgow where you can check out Hassan’s Walls Lookout, the highest in the area, and make a 100km beeline for Bathurst. Rev heads will love visiting the iconic Mount Panorama race track, home of the Bathurst 1000, and check out a T-Rex skeleton and dinosaur eggs at the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum. A further 50km is the town of Orange where imbibers can park the motorhome for an escorted tour of local wineries or, for a fun physical challenge, tackle the 8km Mt Murga round-trip walking track.
Credit - Taronga Western Plains Zoo
Day 3 & 4
Orange to Dubbo
Head 50km northwest through the old goldrush epicentre of Stuart Town, once known as Ironbark on account of the ironbark gum trees which surround it, and which was made famous in Banjo Paterson’s poem, The Man from Ironbark.
A further 90km northwest is the iconic NSW town of Dubbo with its famed Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo. Here you can hire bikes or a golf cart to explore the huge area housing animals of all shapes and sizes. Go on your birthday and you’ll only pay $1! Visit the Old Dubbo Gaol and explore the aviation history of nearby Narromine.
Day 5 & 6
Dubbo to Sydney via Parkes
Meander your way back to Sydney with a stop at Parkes. It’s famous not only for hosting the CSIRO Parkes Observatory (the inspiration behind the 2000 film, The Dish) but if you’re there in January you’ll be overrun by blue suede shoes thanks to the Parkes Elvis Festival.
Take an extra day to retrace your steps back to Sydney through Orange and Bathurst with perhaps a side trip to Jenolan Caves, via Oberon from Bathurst. Explore nine magnificent limestone caves with underground rivers and, for something different, try the Legends, Mysteries and Ghosts tour.
Couple enjoying a wine tasting
Route 2: North to Nelson Bay
Head north of Sydney to soak up the magical coastline and bays north of the city. Adventure lovers will be catered for exploring a heritage listed national park and wine lovers too with a drop into the Hunter Valley and the multitude of wineries that frequent the area.
Palm Beach Lookout
Day 1 & 2
Sydney to Palm Beach
Day one of your Northern Sydney road trip itinerary covers a range of iconic locations that will be familiar to TV lovers and nature lovers alike. Diehard fans of TV soap drama Home and Away will love the first stop at Summer Bay, or Palm Beach as it’s actually called, on Sydney’s northern fringe. Take a kayak tour here or grab a coffee at one of many beachside cafes and quote the show’s well known character Alf by exclaiming “Flamin’ galahs..!” to your heart’s content.
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is heritage listed, and combines scenic beauty with cultural significance thanks to its roots in indigenous history. Here the coast meets the bush with rocky cliffs, mangroves and idyllic stretches of riverbank for bushwalks.
Kayaking in Nelson Bay
Palm Beach to Nelson Bay
Next, deviate toward the Central Coast area and take a break at the delightful town of Terrigal with its long stretches of white sand beach, two picturesque lagoons and cycling trails. Follow your compass east toward Nelson Bay, a picturesque jumping off point for all manner of water activities such as scuba diving, angling and dolphin-watching tours.
Hunter Valley wine region
Day 4 & 5
Nelson Bay to Hunter Valley & back to Sydney
Ensure you visit the Hunter Valley wine region on your return journey — it’s a must for foodies and wine-lovers. Townships include Pokolbin, Cessnock, Mount View and Lovedale for sweeping vineyards, gourmet lunches (and takeaway gourmet treats), plus cellar doors galore. Pop in your way through or really invest in your tipple-tasting by spending a night in the region before heading south to Sydney with a slight detour to see the sand dunes of Stockton Beach and drink in the views of pretty Anna Bay before heading back to Sydney.
Maui River coastal ride
Route 3: Southern Coastlines
Travel along the south coast of Australia in a winding loop, experiencing the best of both worlds, from the rainforests of Illawarra Fly to the coastal splendor of 7 Mile Beach. Tick off those must visit locations such as Kiama Blowhole and Jervis Bay, taking the time to relax and unwind on this 5 day mini getaway.
Sydney to Kiama
One of the oldest national parks in the world, Royal National Park is just south of Sydney near Sutherland, and offers beautiful beaches, wonderful bushwalking trails, rainforests, abundant wildlife and ancient Aboriginal heritage. Hire row boats on the Hacking River and revel in coastal views at Wottamolla Beach.
En-route towards Stanwell Tops via Helensburgh, stop in at Symbio Wildlife Park for a personal greeting from red pandas, ring tailed lemurs, meerkats, monkeys and koalas. Or take Sir Lawrence Hargrave Drive for a spectacular view of the escarpment from Stanwell Tops through Coal Cliff, over the Sea Cliff Bridge toward seaside suburbs of Austinmer and Coledale. Meander past Wollongong to the sweet coastal town of Kiama with its famous Kiama Blowhole, where water ‘blows’ up through a narrow gap in a rocky headland in big swells.
Paperbark Camp, Jervis Bay - Credit Hutchings Camps Pty Ltd
Kiama to Huskisson
From Kiama head 65km south to the town of Huskisson at Jervis Bay. En route stop in at Gerringong for a roll-up at the bowling club or a curry chicken pie at the bakery (highly recommended by locals), then marvel at the expanse of Seven Mile Beach at Gerroa before exploring the antique-laden town of Berry. When you reach Nowra you’ll cross the mighty Shoalhaven River and from here it’s a short 25km drive to Huskisson and the Jervis Bay region brimming with coastal attractions.
Hyams Beach - Credit Tourism Australia
Jervis Bay Area
Spend the day exploring the picturesque Jervis Bay area with its remarkable beaches, said to have the whitest and softest powder-fine sand in the world, and the well renowned Hyams Beach - known as the most beautiful in the area. Go snorkelling in the Jervis Bay Marine Park where if you’re lucky you might see a pod of dolphins, although for your best opportunity, jump on a guided boat tour to see the porpoises. Take a bushwalk in Booderee National Park and grab a top campsite at Green Patch within the park. You can also explore the stunning coastline of the White Sands Walk which is an easy 2.5km loop that goes along Chinamans, Hyams and Seamans beaches.
Maui Beach parked at the beach front
Day 4 & 5
Huskisson to Kangaroo Valley & back to Sydney
From Huskisson it’s a short jaunt north to quaint Kangaroo Valley, known for its romantic Hampden Bridge over the Kangaroo River. The town is a renowned foodie stopover with its lively farmers’ market. While you’re still on the coast, take a trip to the Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk, a 1.5km return walk with views to die for among native rainforest trees 710m above sea level.
Return to Sydney the same way or take the winding route up to Southern Highlands towns of Moss Vale and Bowral by jumping on the Hume Highway. You could visit Fitzroy Falls, Bradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame (celebrating legendary player Don Bradman), as well as cooler climate wineries. From here it’s an easy run up the Hume Motorway and back to the bright lights of the city, although you may want to take a side trip to Wombeyan Caves, within the Wombeyan Karst Conservation Reserve.