The best scenic drives take you on road trips of sheer pleasure and discovery. In New South Wales, there are tourist drives and scenic road trips that let you explore at your own pace, spend time with the whole family on a new adventure or meet new friends in a holiday park.
Some of the most popular NSW drives include the Greater Blue Mountains Drive, the Legendary Pacific Coast along the North Coast of NSW, the Grand Pacific Drive from Sydney to Wollongong and the spectacular Kosciuszko Alpine Way in the Snowy Mountains.
Other scenic drives are along the Waterfall Way on the northern tablelands of NSW, the Poacher’s Way, a food and wine trail with gourmet offerings along the way and the historic Long Paddock drive that follows the old stock routes of Country NSW. The Darling River Run takes you on a great journey into Outback NSW, travelling from Walgett in north-western NSW to Wentworth on the Victorian border. Before you travel, find out about current road conditions across New South Wales. Below are a couple of road trips to get you started!
Grand Pacific Drive
Nothing beats a great road trip and the Grand Pacific Drive is one of Australia’s spectacular driving routes. Highlights along the way include Stanwell Tops and Bald Hill Lookout, Sea Cliff Bridge and a string of quiet golden beaches.
Day 1: Depart Sydney / Arrive Wollongong
Sydney to the Royal National Park: Head south out of Sydney on the Princes Highway, and weave through the beautiful Royal National Park – the world’s second-oldest. Stop at Garie Beach, located within the Park for a quick surf or to simply take in its stunning scenery.
Royal National Park
Royal National Park to Helensburgh: Head to Helensburgh, on the National Park border, and make a beeline for Symbio Wildlife Gardens, where you can pat, cuddle or feed a host of furry, finned and feathered friends.
Helensburgh to Stanwell Park: Continue a few minutes south to Stanwell Park, set in pristine bushland overlooking the sea. Visit the Laurence Hargrave Memorial of Flight before making your way to nearby Bald Hill, which offers incredible ocean views and is internationally renowned as a hang gliding mecca. Give it a try if you’re game; or simply enjoy the 360 degree views from the lookout.
Stanwell Park to Austinmer: Drive another 20 minutes, taking Grand Pacific Drive and the majestic Sea Cliff Bridge, which hugs the coastline between Coalcliff and Clifton. The bridge’s design – which projects it out over the ocean – rewards you with spectacular sea views. Next it’s on to Austinmer, ideal for lunch in a cosy cafe. Walk barefoot along Austinmer Beach and check out the lovely ocean baths, first built in 1914.
Austinmer to Wollongong: Proceed through Thirroul and Bulli and into the northern stretches of Wollongong. Drop your bags at your accommodation – there is plenty to choose from, including some with fantastic sea views – then head out to enjoy some of The Gong’s nightlife. A laidback university town, Wollongong has plenty of pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes to choose from – all enhanced by fresh sea air.
Day 2: Depart Wollongong / Arrive Kiama or Nowra, or head back to Sydney
Blow Hole Kiama
Wollongong: Begin with a swim at one of Wollongong’s great beaches, before tucking into breakfast at a waterfront cafe. Next, some leisurely sightseeing is on the agenda: take a trip to Nan Tien Temple – the largest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere – or walk to one of Wollongong’s two lighthouses. Enjoy more gorgeous vistas from the Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk or tour the Port Kembla steelworks at Australia’s Industry World before returning to the road.
Wollongong to Jamberoo: Drive south for half an hour to beautiful Jamberoo, stopping first at historic Shellharbour for a coffee, followed by a stroll along one of the many coastal walking tracks or a tour of the town’s heritage buildings. Drive on to Budderoo National Park’s Minnamurra Rainforest where you may be lucky enough to spot a lyrebird. If aquatic action is more your style, book a canoeing tour in the Minnamurra River or drive to Jamberoo Action Park where you’ll find waterslides galore.
Convict Wall Jamberoo
Jamberoo to Kiama, Nowra or Sydney: Drive to the Kiama town centre for afternoon tea. Pay a visit to the local lighthouse and, of course, the Kiama Blowhole before hitting the road once more. Continue this stunning drive through the lush 160km arc of the Shoalhaven with its exquisite beaches and sparkling bays. Stop to taste fresh seafood and explore the laidback beauty of the region. Peruse the beach and delightful cafes in Gerringong, visit the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Nowra or, alternatively, begin the two hour* drive back to Sydney.
* All driving times are approximate
The food and wine of Central NSW
Badlands Brewery Orange
The Central NSW towns of Orange, Cowra, Dubbo and Mudgee produce some of the most enticing produce in NSW. This enjoyable drive is a great way to taste the best wines from the celar door, fresh farm produce at the farmgate or from a market and creative cuisine in cafes, pubs and restaurants. Check out this four-day itinerary.
Best food and wine experiences in Central NSW
If you love good food and wine, then make your way to Country NSW to enjoy some of the best produce, wines and dining in the State. There’s no better way to explore this bounty than on a 100 Mile Diet tour of the region, eating food that’s locally grown and produced.
Orange is known as a high quality source of rare and exotic produce while Mudgee has many established vineyards, and Dubbo, Bathurst and Cowra have a reputation for fine food and wine.
Hoskins Church Lithgow
Day 1: Depart Lithgow / Arrive Orange
Lithgow to Lidsdale: Drive to Lidsdale, just outside Lithgow, to taste fresh goat cheese at the Jannei Goat Dairy.
Agrestic Grocer, Orange
Lidsdale to Orange: Continue west through Bathurst to Orange where you’ll find great cafes on Summer Street; many showcasing regional produce, including cheeses, wines, oils and more. The region hosts great food and wine events all year round. Visit in late October, for example, to enjoy Orange Wine Week, which focuses on local wines and produce.
Orange: Relax with a massage at Duntryleague Guesthouse’s Wellness Sanctuary or play a round of golf at the property’s championship course. For dinner, Racine Restaurant’s combination of locally-sourced wine and produce ensures you’ll return to your accommodation happy and well fed.
Day 2: Depart Orange / Arrive Cowra
Japanese Gardens Cowra
Orange: Browse the town’s gourmet food stores, including The Essential Ingredient and A Slice of Orange. If it happens to be the second Saturday of the month, treat your tastebuds at the Farmer’s Market. Or, if you have the time, why not take part in a dog-led truffle hunt in nearby Millthorpe.
Orange to Borenore: Drive west to rural Borenore for a coffee at the Borenore General Store. Borenore Caves Reserve is a great place to enjoy an outdoor picnic with the local produce you have bought. Alternatively, visit some cellar doors or drop into the fig orchard or local berry farm to pick your own fruit.
Printhie Wines Orange
Borenore to Canowindra: Drive 50 minutes through gorgeous scenery, olive groves and orchards and visit any of countless vineyards before stopping in Canowindra . Stroll the heritage-listed main street, visit The Age of Fishes Museum – they have fossils up to 360 million years old there – and enjoy lunch at the Taste Canowindra tourist centre.
Canowindra to Cowra: Drive south to Cowra to fill your car with treats from the Cowra Smokehouse and numerous vineyards. In spring, the cherry blossom is out and you can stroll through the Japanese Garden to make room for dinner, made with local produce at the ever popular Nelia Restaurant. Spend the night in a luxury cottage at Everview Retreat.
Day 3: Depart Cowra / Arrive Dubbo
Taronga Western Plains Zoo
Cowra to Parkes: Drive to Parkes to tour the famous ‘Dish’ telescope and pop into The Dish Cafe for some regional goodies.
Parkes to Dubbo: Next, head north to Dubbo and proceed to the cafe at Lazy River Estate for lunch followed by locally made gelato. See over 1,500 animals from all over the world at Taronga Western Plains Zoo before dropping your bags at your accommodation – there is plenty to choose from in this popular stopover town. Dubbo also boasts a variety of clubs, cafes and restaurants serving delicious dinners.
Day 4: Depart Dubbo / Arrive Lithgow
Dubbo to Gulgong: Sample Macquarie Valley wines and then drive to historic Gulgong, once home to Henry Lawson, a well known Australian writer and poet. Stop for a walk and coffee on Mayne Street.
Gulong to Mudgee: Continue to Mudgee, a gourmet haven famous for its wine and honey production. Begin at Leaning Oak Winery and Dairy, where you can milk a goat, then create your own vintage at a cheese-making workshop. Next is the Mudgee Brewing Company – a constant favourite specialising in handcrafted beers distilled with local water. It also has a great restaurant for lunch, dinner or even a quick snack.
If you’re there on the third Sunday of the month, try a Mudgee Farm Walk through local working farms highlighting Mudgee’s free-range, organic and home-grown produce, or visit in September to experience Mudgee Wine Month.
Mudgee to Lithgow: Finally, make the 90 minute drive back to Lithgow. This suggested itinerary concludes here. But if you’re still hungry for more, remember there is so much of this abundant region to taste and explore.