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Start your amazing journey in the vibrant capital of Victoria, Melbourne; drive via the favorite holiday resort of the locals, the beautiful Mornington Peninsula; have a stroll on the beach; and continue to Phillip Island. Here, you can meet Australia's favorite furry animals, koalas, and adorable little penguins. The next day, start the breathtaking coastal drive along the Pacific Ocean. You will pass the spectacular Lakes Entrance, Batemans Bay, and visit the Australian capital, Canberra. Explore the Australian Parliament House, museums, and botanical gardens before continuing to vibrant Sydney.

Classic driving toursWildlife & nature
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Tour summary and feature

Self Drive Tour

This suggested tour costs from NZD$1,895 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Melbourne, finishes in Sydney

8 days/7 nights

Apartments

 Rental car included

 Viewed 5 times in the last 7 days

Tour full itinerary
ITINERARY
Capital City Classic Tour - Day 1
Melbourne

Melbourne is the coastal capital of the state of Victoria. At the city's centre is the modern Federation Square development, with shopping, bars, and restaurants by the Yarra River. In the Southbank area, the Melbourne Arts Precinct is the site of Arts Centre Melbourne and the National Gallery of Victoria, with modern and Indigenous Australian art. As a cultural capital of Australia, Melbourne has a hidden gem around every corner - Rich history, bustling laneways, rooftop bars and world-class restaurants are just the beginning!

Melbourne Highlights Tour with Melbourne River Cruises

Enjoy a complete cruising experience and combine both our Port & Docklands and the River Gardens sightseeing tours. View the contrasting scenery of Melbourne that has made it one of the most “Liveable Cities in the World”.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Melbourne Skydeck

At Melbourne Skydeck, the Southern Hemisphere’s highest viewing attraction, the city of Melbourne comes alive in front of your eyes when you take it all in from nearly 300 metres high. It’s Melbourne on another level. The Skydeck experience features Bar 88, in association with Bollinger, operated by the Eureka 89 team. With 360° panoramic views all day and night, you can relax and enjoy all of Melbourne’s legendary views with a delicious snack and cool drink.

Your accommodation: Hotel Grand Chancellor Melbourne

Offering easy access to vibrant theatres, Chinatown shopping, restaurants, nightlife, and esteemed businesses in the Melbourne CBD, Hotel Grand Chancellor offers infinite possibilities and is an ideal location for your Melbourne stay.

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Capital City Classic Tour - Day 2
Collect your rental car from the Melbourne City depot

Head to the Melbourne CBD depot today to collect your chosen rental car, and continue your journey.

Melbourne to Philip Island via Mornington Peninsula

Farewell, Melbourne, and set off on a journey to Phillip Island via the wonderful Mornington Peninsula. Take the scenic route and stop to see Brighton's brightly coloured bathing boxes on the way. These miniature beachfront cabins are unique to the beaches in Port Phillip Bay and are iconic to the region. Drive to Arthur's Seat Eagle Base Station and take a ride up to Arthur's Seat. Enjoy the breathtaking views of Port Phillip Bay and take a walk to Seawinds Gardens, where you can meet the local kangaroos, especially in the mornings or at dusk when they come to the gardens to feed. The Morninhgton Peninsula is also famous for its exceptional wine and food. Although famed for its Pinot Noir, the 50 plus wineries in the region produce over 200 different wines. Why not treat yourself to a bottle for later? From Mornington, it is another 1.5 hours drive alongside Western Port Bay via the San Remo Bridge to Phillip Island.

Return Gondola Ride with Arthurs Seat Eagle

Aboard the Gondola and experience the highest point overlooking Mornington Peninsula. As you ride the gondola you will glide smoothly over the forest and be greeted with stunning views of the ocean and Dromana township as you reach 314 meters above sea level and the summit of Arthurs seat. During your ride keep your eyes peeled for the kangaroos in their natural habitat and other wildlife in the area! As you reach the top there is the Eagle Cafe which offers spectacular views and serves delicious food or there are plenty of walks to explore within the Arthurs Seat State Park.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Penguins Plus - Viewing Experience with Philip Island Nature Parks

Phillip Island is home to the largest Little Penguin colony in the world. You will experience the magic of watching these amazing seabirds waddle home from the ocean. You will enjoy a seating viewing platform overlooking the stunning Summerland Beach or you can watch them from the boardwalks as well.

Your accommodation: Phillip Island Apartments

Phillip Island Apartments are the ideal choice for a relaxed coastal holiday at Phillip Island. They are located just 5 minutes walk to shops, and cafes and the beach is just at the end of the street. Enjoy an Australian lifestyle experience with an outdoor swimming pool, heated spa, and BBQ area.
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 162 kms / 100 miles : 2.0 hours

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Capital City Classic Tour - Day 3
Koala Conservation with Philip Island Nature Parks

Wander tree-top boardwalks to watch koalas up close in their natural habitat. Take a walk through the woodlands, discover the range of trails and explore Australian bushland. You can also learn about amazing lives of koalas, and enjoy abundant colorful native birds, wallabies and echidnas.

Phillip Island to Lakes Entrance

Depart Phillip Island and head towards the town of Warragul, where you may like to stop for a morning tea at one of the hip cafes, bakeries, or local boutique wineries. From here you will continue east towards the historic town of Moe, home to beautiful 19th century buildings and heritage sites. For a deeper taste of the region's history visit Old Gippstown, an open-air museum and reconstructed pioneer township. Here you can stroll along its streets lined with historical buildings dating from the 1840s, horse-drawn carriages and displays of antiques, artefacts and agricultural machinery. Continuing on from Moe you will pass through Stratford, crossing the Avon River and taking the Princes Highway to Bairnsdale and on to Swan Reach. To stretch your legs before the final stint of your journey for today, stop at the Log Crossing Picnic Area in Colquhoun Regional Park and take a short walk along one of the many tracks that feed off the Gippsland Lakes Discovery Trail. This beautiful area is surrounded with lush rainforest and is a great place to relax and bird watch. Finally, head south towards the coast and arrive in the beautiful, small holiday town of Lakes Entrance.

Lakes Entrance

Lakes Entrance is a popular holiday spot on the coast of the Gippsland region. It is situated on the pristine Ninety Mile Beach which is popular for surfing, and has a large network of inland waterways for kayaking and other calm water activities. There are also beautiful campgrounds in the area showcasing the wild beauty and native fauna of the Gippsland coast. Lakes Entrance is renowned as a quality seafood hotspot that you can enjoy at a number of restaurants throughout town, or try your hand at catching your own on a fishing charter. If relaxation is high on your agenda, this quaint seaside village also offers cycling trails, guided nature walks, helicopter rides, wineries, a day spa and even mystery tours.

Your accommodation: Bellevue on the Lakes

Bellevue on the Lakes offers modern and comfortable accommodation in the heart of Lakes Entrance. You will enjoy views of North Arm Lake and Cunningham Arm Lake as well as a large fishing fleet. The accommodation is within a walking distance of quality restaurants, clubs, and other town facilities.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 315 kms / 195 miles : 3.9 hours

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Capital City Classic Tour - Day 4
Lakes Entrance to Merimbula, via Cape Conran

If you haven't ventured across the footbridge to the popular Ninety Mile Beach to watch for surfers yet, this morning is a great opportunity to do so with a hot coffee in hand. It is a good idea to depart Lakes Entrance early to ensure plenty of time to stop and see the many sights along the way today. When you reach Nowa Nowa on the Princes Highway, you may choose to take a detour to visit the Buchan Caves which is a highly significant area to the Gunaikurnai Traditional owners of Krauatungalung Country. This will be an extra 25 minutes driving time each way, but also allow time to enjoy the guided cave tour.
Continue along the Princes Highway and take a right onto Marlo Road just after crossing the Snowy River, which you will follow down through Marlo, where you may wish to stop for lunch, and on to Cape Conran. The Cape Conran Coastal Park is teeming with heathlands, wild beaches and banksia woodlands that are perfect for an abundance of water activities, including swimming, diving, boating and rock pooling. Experience the park by foot on the self-guided Nature Trail or Dock Inlet and Pearl Point day walks.
Head north out of Cape Conran on Cabbage Tree-Conran Road until you return to the Princes Highway and continue on through Cann River and Genoa before crossing the border into New South Wales. Wind your way along the beautifully scenic roads of the Sapphire Coast region, through Eden, home of the Killer Whale Museum and a popular place for spotting the thousands of whales travelling along the Humpback Highway between September and November. Heading north, continue on to Pambula where you will find award-winning oysters, and cross the bridge over Boggy Creek to your destination of Merimbula.

Merimbula

Merimbula is a seaside town on the Sapphire Coast of New South Wales that offers a vibrant village centre set alongside forest, pristine beaches and tranquil coastal lakes. The area was originally inhabited by the Yuin Aboriginal people, and eventually became a bustling cargo and transport wharf. It became a popular tourist destination in the 1960's, and remains so today.

In both winter and spring it is a great spot for watching the whale migration along the 'humpback highway' of the east coast, either from one of the many lookout points or a guided cruise. Stroll along the boardwalk and up the esplanade to stop in the village for lunch at a waterfront cafe, or walk over the bridge to relax at Main Beach. For the nature enthusiasts, visit the Potoroo Palace wildlife sanctuary or discover the lagoons and walking trails in Bournda National Park.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Buchan Caves Reserve - suggestion

This highly significant area on Krauatungalung Country has remarkable cultural heritage and is Victoria's largest cave system. The spectacular limestone formations were carved by an underground river nearly 400 million years ago. Today, they can only be seen on a guided tour. Following this ancient watercourse, you can descend into the Fairy Cave and Royal Cave to witness the breathtaking caverns and calcite-rimmed pools. Bookings are essential and must be made at least 24 hours in advance. After seeing the caves, take some time to explore the reserve, which is home to a number of walking trails through the gorgeous, temperate rainforest. Keep an eye out for the King Parrots and Currawongs which call the area home, and listen for the Bellbirds and Lyrebirds near the entrance to the Fairy Cave!
Note: Visitors must arrive 30-45 minutes prior to their tour commencing to check in and collect tickets.

Your accommodation: Comfort Inn Merimbula

The Comfort Inn offers a 3.5-star motel accommodation in the center of Merimbula. There are range of room options, including queen, family units or corporate suites. It provides a good base for exploring natural beauty of Sapphire Coast.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 284 kms / 177 miles : 3.4 hours

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Capital City Classic Tour - Day 5
Merimbula to Bateman's Bay

Depart Merimbula to the north on Sapphire Coast Drive for a stunning journey through the Bournda National Park. At the road end, take a right into the town of Tathra. Here you can also visit the heritage-listed Tathra Wharf, which is prime whale-spotting location in the spring months. This is also a good opportunity to have a look around the Tathra Wharf Museum, and grab a delicious coffee from the cafe next door. Back on Tathra-Bermagui Road, continue north over the Bega River as you enter into the stunning Mimosa Rocks National Park full old growth trees, rocky coves and crystal clear lagoons.
Pass the stunning Cuttagee surf beach before arriving in the small village of Bermagui. Well worth a stop is the Blue Pool, where you can swim in a man-made pool next to the ocean that fills with fresh sea water. The waters are crystal clear and are perfect for snorkelling to look for marine life that has made itself at home. Grab a fish and chip lunch on the Bermagui Wharf before returning to the road, and continuing on past the Bermagui River. As you reach the Wallaga Lake township, you may wish to stop at the Camel Rock Beach Carpark and take the walk down to the shore to see the striking, photographer's dream rock formation 'Horse Head Rock' which, as you may have guessed, looks like a towering horse head over the ocean. Continue over the Wallaga Lake causeway and keep an eye out for the black swans dancing on the water. Turn onto the Princes Highway at the road end until you reach the turnoff to Central Tilba, where you may wish to take a detour to visit a gourmet cheese factory, and walk up to the start of the Bellbrook Loop Track for an awe-inspiring view of Gualaga, the Mother Mountain (Mt Dromedary), an important ceremonial site for the women of the Yuin people.
20 minutes on from Tilba, you will come to the town of Narooma on the Wagonga Inlet. Here you can jump on a wildlife watching cruise that takes you over to Montague Island conservation area 11 kilometres offshore, or simply take a stroll along the Mill Bay Boardwalk to look out over Bar Beach.
Finally, continue north through Bodalla State Forest, crossing the Moruya River, through the small artsy settlement of Mogo, and on to the beach resort town of Bateman's Bay.

General Admission to Mogo Wildlife Park

Mogo boasts Australia’s largest private collection of exotic animals and primates. Located just 10 minutes south of stunning Batemans Bay. You will get a close-up look at animals including tigers, lions, and meerkats. Also, for an additional cost there is the opportunity to feed Giraffe, which is interactive and fun.  Free, informative keeper talks are held throughout the day.

Batemans Bay

At the beginning of the Eurobdalla region, and at the heart of the Oyster Coast, lays the township of Batemans Bay. Settled on the banks of the Clyde River, Bateman's Bay offers a beautiful varied coastline of river, estuarine & ocean waterways. The Clyde boasts the cleanest water of any river in Eastern Australia, making this area a hot spot for fresh sea food & fishing.
An array of water based activities are on offer from surfing, charter house boats, stand up paddle boarding, kite surfing or find an underwater adventure on Bateman's Bay Snorkelling Trail. Check out the view at Burrewurra Point, or take a nice and easy cycle trip along the waterfront.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Pambula River Kayak Tour with Navigate Expeditions

Paddle out of Pambula Lake to the breathtaking Pambula River Mouth in this exciting 3 hour River Kayak Tour. As you float past the banks of Beowa National Park, keep eye out for the wildlife which resides while your professional kayak guide shares ecological and historical information of the land. Potential wildlife encounters include Eastern Grey Kangaroos, white-bellied sea eagles, herons, egrets and oyster catchers. After paddling to a secluded beach, there will be an opportunity to stretch your legs and enjoy a swim in the picturesque turquoise waters before indulging in a morning tea consisting of coffee, tea, juice, fruit and locally make treats.

Your accommodation: Bay Breeze Boutique Motel

Bay Breeze Boutique Motel is situated right on the promenade in a quiet and wonderful setting on the waterfront. It offers stunning views and comfortable accommodations. It is just a stroll to many attractions, including shopping, cinema, great restaurants, and amazing beaches.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 170 kms / 105 miles : 2.4 hours

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Capital City Classic Tour - Day 6
Bateman's Bay to Canberra

Your drive to Canberra today is a short 2 hour journey, so you may like to have a slow start to the day with a coffee and walk along the waterfront of the Clyde River. If you are in town on the first or third Sunday of the month, here you'll find the Bateman's Bay Sunday Market. The first part of your drive takes you up into the Southern Tablelands through several national parks and state forests, bursting with lush flora and trickling creeks. The town of Braidwood marks a great half way point for a rest stop and some cafe treats. Braidwood is a National Trust-classified town with charming colonial buildings, rustic streetscapes and perhaps most notably, incredible antique stores. If you prefer to get some fresh air amongst nature, Deua National Park has picnic tables and bushwalks through beautiful forest, limestone caves and waterfalls. Cross the Great Dividing Range and between Bungendore and Queanbeyan, you will find yourself amongst an abundance of cool climate wineries boasting fantastic restaurants and cellar doors. Cross the border into the Australian Capital Territory and keep an eye out for Parliament House before crossing the bridge over Lake Burley Griffin into the CBD.

Canberra

Canberra was purpose-built in 1913 as the capital city of Australia. During the formation of the Australian Federation, Melbourne and Sydney were both bidding to be the new capital city. As a compromise, a new territory was sliced from the state of New South Wales. Within this new territory, known as Australian Capital Territory (or ACT), Canberra was built.
Canberra's original design was created by the American architect - Walter Burley Griffin (whom the lake in the middle of the city is now named after). His design focused on large areas of gardens and natural vegetation and can easily be seen as you drive through the central city. For a birds-eye view, drive up to Mount Ainslie Lookout and gaze down upon Kings Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue to see the geometric patterns that he created through the city.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Australian National Botanic Gardens - suggestion

Spend the day exploring the world's most comprehensive display of living Australian native plants at the Australian National Botanic Gardens. With over 4,500 species, these gardens are the perfect location to breath in the fresh air, listen to birds and disconnect from the rush of city life. The Australian National Botanic Gardens cultivates threatened plants to create a tranquil environment which is both enjoyable and educational to wander through.

Your accommodation: Nesuto Canberra Apartment Hotel

Nesuto Canberra Apartment Hotel offers a variety of fully self-contained apartments, including Studio Apartments, One Bedroom Apartments, One Bedroom and Office Apartments and Two Bedroom Apartments. Most of the spacious apartments have views overlooking Canberra CBD and some towards Black Mountain and Telstra Tower.
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 152 kms / 95 miles : 2.2 hours

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Capital City Classic Tour - Day 7
Explore Canberra

With museums and galleries for all tastes, it's easy to spend the day exploring Australian culture and history in Canberra. A fantastic place to start is the National Museum of Australia, which has interactive exhibits covering the history of Australia from its Indigenous peoples through to the present day.
Also highly recommended are the National Gallery, Old Parliament House, New Parliament House and the Australian War Memorial. If you'd like to head outdoors, you can take a stroll through the Botanic Gardens, or up to Red Hill or Mount Ainslie lookout for a birdseye view over the city.

Best of Parliament House Tour with Australian Parliament House

The Australian Parliament is designed to represent the character of Australia, its people, and its democratic spirit. This iconic building is best experienced with a knowledgeable guide. It provides the opportunity to understand a nation's history, symbolic architecture, contemporary art, and working parliament. During this tour, you will discover the must-see highlights within Parliament House, from the towering flagpole to the Great Hall Tapestry, the architecture, the chambers of the Senate and House of Representatives, art and craft, history and events, and some hidden surprises.

Canberra Triple Treat with Dave's Travel Group

Can’t decide on your favourite beverage or need a variety of tastes? Then this half-day brewery, winery & distillery discovery tour is for you! The Triple Treat Tour and your local guide take you to three great Canberra venues in one great afternoon as you visit a brewery, winery, and distillery with tastings and tours in each.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - National Museum of Australia

Australia's stories come alive at the National Museum of Australia, on the shores of Canberra’s Lake Burley Griffin. The Museum's stunning architecture provides an extraordinary place to explore the rich and diverse stories of Australia and its people. Take a guided tour or wander solo through the many exhibitions. Get to know the real, the treasured, the surprising and the inspirational objects from Australian history. Discover the stories and meanings hidden in the Museum building, design and landscapes on the 10 am or 2 pm daily Building and Architecture Guided Tour or join a Host Talk in the galleries, on the hour, between 10 am and 4 pm daily.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Australian War Memorial

The Australian War Memorial in Canberra combines a shrine, a world-class museum, and an extensive archive. It is widely recognised as one of the most significant museums in the world. Not just for its architectural magnificence or the millions of visitors it attracts, but because it is the soul of the nation and reveals the character of the Australian people. It is a place which will enhance your understanding of what it means to be Australian.
Within the galleries, the Memorial tells the stories of the men and women who serve and have served in Australia’s military forces and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in war, warlike operations, peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, connecting our visitors to Australia’s history and cultural identity.

Your accommodation: Nesuto Canberra Apartment Hotel

Nesuto Canberra Apartment Hotel offers a variety of fully self-contained apartments, including Studio Apartments, One Bedroom Apartments, One Bedroom and Office Apartments and Two Bedroom Apartments. Most of the spacious apartments have views overlooking Canberra CBD and some towards Black Mountain and Telstra Tower.

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Capital City Classic Tour - Day 8
Canberra to Sydney

Heading north out of Canberra, the capital city of Australia, on the M23 and passing Lake George on your right, join onto the M31 towards Campbelltown. When the M31 ends, join onto the M5 which later becomes the M1 by Sydney Airport. This road will then lead you into Sydney city centre. This drive should take you just over three hours if traffic is running smoothly.

Arrive into Sydney

Sydney is Australia's most famous city and with almost 20% of the country's population, is also Australia's largest city. Situated on the east coast of Australia it has beautiful white sand beaches, including the famous Bondi Beach and Manly Beach as well as the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and of course, the Sydney Opera House. Rich in history, art, and food Sydney has something for everyone.

Return your vehicle to Sydney Depot

Explore more of Sydney before dropping your rental car at the depot.


Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 294 kms / 182 miles : 3.2 hours

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