Sydney to Canberra Loop

Posted on 21 November 2012

If you're looking for a road trip departing from Sydney, why not try a loop through Canberra? It will take you through some great inland landscapes and also along the coast from Bateman's Bay to Sydney.

 Sydney
by Jimmy Harris Flickr Creative Commons

Day 1: Sydney to Canberra

 Leave Sydney and get into the southern highlands on National Highway 31, the area to the southwest of Sydney. In this genteel and picturesque area, you will drive through several small towns, and the natural attractions are somewhat off the main road- the Wombeyan Caves are accessed via the Old Hume Highway and Wombeyan Caves Road from Sydney. Views from the road are spectacular, and there is a camping area and other public facilities in the Reserve. There are several limestone caves to explore, so it is worth the trip off the beaten track if you fancy yourself a bit of a spelunker! The Fitzroy Falls are another beautiful natural feature of the area. To see them, get off the 31 and in to Mittagong and get on Bong Bong Road, go right onto Old South Road then left onto Range Road. Folllow signs to Glenquarry, Avoca and the Falls.

 Fitzroy Falls
by Flickr.Whisker Flickr Creative Commons

Further along the National Highway 31 is Gouldburn. This was Australia's first inland city, and is now a large provincial centre that services the surrounding agricultural region. Close to Canberra is the ancient Lake George, believed to be more than a million years old. The shallow lake is prone to short and long term episodes of filling and drying, and sheep are sometimes grazed in the lake bed when it is dry or nearly dry! It is a very interesting natural phenomena to check out on your way through.

Canberra in Australian Capital Territory is the nation's Capital. It is set on the shores of another lake, Burley Griffin, and is set out in an orderly and symmetrical fashion befitting the political centre of a country. It is full of  holiday parks, so there will be no worries finding somewhere to stay!

 Canberra
by Richard Gifford Flickr Creative Commons

Day 2: Canberra and surrounds

Canberra and the surrounding area is worth a day for exploring. Some of the most significant cultural institutions of the nation are situated in the central city. The National Gallery of Australia is one impressive art gallery, and includes a huge collection of aboriginal art. The Australian War Memorial includes a very extensive military museum, a Commemorative Area with the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier, a sculpture garden and a research centre. The history of a nation is housed here, and it is a great place to visit, learn a little and reflect on the cost of war. Other cultural hotspots in the city include Parliament House, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Museum of Australia and the National Library of Australia.

 Australian War Memorial
by Lee Hopkins Flickr Creative Commons

Away from the central city, nature abounds. The Canberra Nature Park infiltrates the area with 33 separate areas of park, ranging from bush-covered hills to grassland. When in Canberra, you are never far from a piece of the Nature Park! There are numerous other National Parks, State Forests and Nature Reserves surrounding the city- one of these is Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. Tidbinbilla offers great wildlife watching, bushwalking and even has a Discovery Playground for kids. You can also take ranger-guided tours and overnight discovery tours, an amazing way to experience some of Australia's unique wildlife and landscape.



Day 3: Canberra to Sydney via the Coast

This is a 6-hour drive, so split it over two days if you are feeling leisurely! Leaving Canberra, get on State Route 52 and head to Batemans Bay. Have a look at the historic town of Braidwood on the way through. The King's Highway section of State Route 52 between Braidwood and Nelligen has particularly amazing views, with glimpses of the ocean through dense forest.

 Batemans Bay
by pennyryder Flickr Creative Commons

Batemans Bay is a popular holiday destination for Canberra residents and is situated on the Clyde estuary. A very pretty beach town! From there, get on National Route 1 heading north. There are a multitude of towns and beaches along here. If you are really in the mood for exercise, try the 4-hour return hike to the top of Pigeon House Mountain which includes steel ladders. This will require venturing from the National Route, so you would probably need the extra day in your trip! There are numerous Holiday and campervan parks along this coast.  Jervis Bay further north is a beautiful part of the coastline known for white sand and crystal water.

Jervis Bay
by Steve Shattuck Flickr Creative Commons


Continue up through Nowra, Kiama and Wollongong. The Kiama Blowhole is an amazing thing to see when seas are running, and is floodlit at night for even more spectacular viewing. To hug the coast a bit more, take State Route 151 around the outer edge of Lake Illawara before rejoining the main road and continuing on to the big smoke!


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Author: Doug Brown+

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