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South East Coastal Highlights (Sydney to Melbourne) 5 nights

6 days/ 5 nights Sydney - Batemans Bay - Merimbula - Lakes Entrance - Mornington Peninsula - Melbourne.

Price from £471 per person

A chance to visit two great cities with plenty to see in between. Your self-drive tour includes 6 days car rental with Hertz Australia, 5 nights standard accommodation, meals indicated and daily driving notes. Price includes car pick up from downtown depot - supplements may apply from airport.

Sydney – Batemans Bay – Merimbula – Lakes Entrance – Mornington Peninsula - Melbourne

Prices depend on seasonality and based on twin share accommodation.

DAY 1 SYDNEY – BATEMANS BAY (NM)

Pick up your HERTZ STANDARD AUTOMATIC rental car at the Sydney City Depot or Sydney Airport Depot. Depart Sydney and travel south on the Princes Highway through the city of Wollongong to reach the pretty coastal town of Kiama. A stop here is worthwhile to view the Blow Hole. A stop is also suggested at the delightful little town of Berry, further south of Kiama. From Berry you may wish to make a short detour inland to view scenic Minnamurra Falls and take a stroll through the rainforest here. Departing Berry, continue south on the Princes Highway through the town of Nowra. From Nowra a detour to the coast to visit beautiful Jervis Bay is recommended. Departing Nowra, continue through the township of Ulladulla to reach Batemans Bay.

WOLLONGONG is colloquially known as ‘the Gong’ and was Australia’s first country municipality and is now the third largest city in New South Wales. Wollongong has a reputation of being ‘smog city’, largely due to the proximity of Port Kembla – a steel producing centre since 1928. The local lighthouse was built in 1872, the Illawarra Historical Society Museum has a Victorian parlour, Mount Kembla Village has a pioneer kitchen, blacksmith’s shop, original miners’ huts and a reconstruction of a tragic mining disaster in 1902.

KIAMA’s name is thought to derive from the Aboriginal “kiaram-a” (meaning ‘where the sea makes a noise’). Tourists flock to see the blowhole, which shoots water into the air up to a height of 60 metres. Also popular, are the National Trust-classified row of restored timber terrace cottages in Collins Street, which now house craft and antique shops.

BERRY is a historic town, which occupies part of what was a 28,300 hectare property owned by Alexander Berry in the early nineteenth century. The National Trust has classified many of Berry’s buildings, including the Bunyip Inn, a historic guesthouse that dates from 1889, when it was a bank building. The Coolangatta Historic Village Resort is housed in cottages once used by convicts. Berry has many antique shops, a museum, art galleries and good restaurants which draw people in to town.

NOWRA is a bustling centre for the Shoalhaven district, an area given to dairying, vegetable growing and timber milling. Nowra has a lot to offer the visitor including surfing, tranquil lakeside beaches, offshore and river fishing and Meroogal, an historic home built in 1886 which is open for public inspection. Nowra also has an excellent historic museum.

ULLADULLA is a major tourist centre of the south coast. There is much to see around the harbour and wharf where trawlers of the fishing fleet are anchored in the harbour. Each Easter Sunday, the traditional Blessing of the Fleet Ceremony is conducted on the harbour breakwater. This is a religious custom, which has been performed by the Italian fisherman for many generations, and there is a great carnival atmosphere around this time. There are also many great diving locations around the area, and typical of resort towns along the South Coast, Ulladulla is surrounded by many beautiful beaches - Mollymook, Lake Conjola and Bendalong.

BATEMANS BAY is situated on the mouth of the Clyde River, which boasts very pure water – the local oysters are excellent, as is the fishing. The local lakes of Durras, Coila and Tuross are popular for aquatic activities. Lake Coila is also famous for its prawns. Nearby Pigeon House Mountain in Morton National Park is renowned among bushwalkers, and there are walking trails like the Corn Trail, which follows the route down the Clyde Mountain used by the early settlers to bring produce to the coast.

OVERNIGHT: Choice – Comfort Inn Lincoln Downs, Batemans Bay

DAY 2 BATEMANS BAY - MERIMBULA (NM)

Depart Batemans Bay and continue travelling south along the Princes Highway, passing through the pretty coastal resort town of Narooma. At the town of Tilba Tilba (just south of Narooma), a short detour to the pretty holiday and fishing township of Bermagui is suggested. Returning to the Princes Highway, pass through the town of Bega to arrive at Merimbula.

BERMAGUI is an angler’s paradise. The reason why those looking for black marlin and yellow fin tuna are almost invariably successful is because the continental shelf is closes to the mainland here, so there is great fishing just off the shoreline. Bushwalking is also a favourite pastime at nearby Wallaga Lake – the biggest in New South Wales and a significant breeding area for black swans.

BEGA is set in a valley at the junction of the Bega and Brogo Rivers and surrounded by rich dairy country. Bega is a handsome, historic town with a proud tradition of cheese making. Over the past 100 years, Bega Cheese has come to dominate the Australian cheese market, and the Bega Cheese Heritage Centre tells the story of the cheese-manufacturing process and the company’s growth. It's housed in a faithful reproduction of the original factory. The stunning, sculpted coastline of Mimosa Rocks National Park is close by.

MERIMBULA is the holiday 'resort' of the Sapphire Coast. Situated between Tathra and Pambula on the coast, Merimbula welcomes many thousands of tourists throughout the year. The town has a population of around 4,000 (and far more in summer) and is situated around the beautiful coastal waterways of Merimbula, Top and Back Lakes. These clean tidal lakes provide the perfect site for this holiday town. Their changing parade of blues each day and the many water sports that can be enjoyed on the lakes make Merimbula's waterways a major attraction for visitors.

OVERNIGHT: Best Western Fairway Motor Inn, Merimbula

DAY 3 MERIMBULA - LAKES ENTRANCE (NM)

Depart Merimbula rejoining the Princes Highway and travel via the towns of Bellbird Creek, Orbost and Nowa Nowa to arrive at your overnight accommodation in Lakes Entrance.

ORBOST is a timber town which sits high in the forested mountains that support its main industry. Much of the area is protected as parkland and the Rainforest Centre run by the Conservation Department details the intrinsic value of the temperate rainforests found in the area. North of Orbost the Snowy River National Park offers excellent walking tracks and the Snowy River is popular with rafters and canoeists. Errinundra National Park further east is a plateau that is home to a magnificent cool temperate rainforest which features raised walking platforms and information boards. The Slab Hut Information Centre on the edge of town was built by John Moore in 1872 and provides a wealth of information on the township of Orbost and the surrounding area.

LAKES ENTRANCE is at the entrance to the Gippsland Lakes, Australia's largest inland water system. It is a popular holiday destination with wonderful beaches as well as a spectacular hinterland with mountains, rivers and forests. Wildlife in the area includes dolphins, water birds, kangaroos, wombats and koalas. The artificial entrance of the lakes to the ocean was completed in 1889, and there are still visible signs of the equipment used to bring logs and rocks from the inland for the construction. A short walk across the footbridge brings you to the Entrance and Bass Strait, with Ninety Mile Beach stretching away into the distance.

OVERNIGHT: Choice – Comfort Inn & Suites Emmanuel, Lakes Entrance (2 nights)

DAY 4 LAKES ENTRANCE

A full day to explore Lakes Entrance.

DAY 5 LAKES ENTRANCE - MORNINGTON PENINSULA (NM)

Depart Lakes Entrance today and travel via the Princes Highway through the towns of Bairnsdale, Sale and Traralgon to Morwell. At Morwell, join the Strzelecki Highway and travel to the town of Leongatha, where you join the South Gippsland Highway and travel to the town of Tooradin. At Tooradin, join the Baxter - Tooradin Road and travel to the town of Baxter. Turn left onto the Moorooduc Highway. Follow this road all the way towards Portsea and Sorrento.

BAIRNSDALE is the Gateway to Victoria's Gippsland Lakes District, a popular holiday resort for fishing and water sport enthusiasts. The town features galleries, craft shops and museums. The Hillmay House Antique Museum is an 1890’s furnished historic home, which contains a nursery with an excellent display of baby furniture and dolls. The Historical Museum and Resource Centre is a twostorey building housing memorabilia while the grounds are scattered with machinery from a bygone era. In the Main Street you will find St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, which was built in 1913 and is noted for its exquisite murals.

SALE is situated on the Melbourne side of the Lakes Entrance and is the operations centre for the nearby Bass Strait Oil Fields. The Sale Canal and port can be found just off the main highway at Cullen Park. Further along the canal is the swing bridge, built across the Latrobe River in 1883. The bridge provided a route across the river to Port Albert, the main port of entry to Gippsland in the mid-1800’s. There are many features of interest in this old town, including the ornate St. Paul’s Cathedral which was originally built in 1885; Bishops Court, resident of the Bishop of Gippsland, constructed in 1885; and the Our Lady of Sion Convent, built in 1892-1902.

TRARALGON has always been a stopping-off place on the way to somewhere else. In the early days, it was frequently used by either graziers on their way to the mountain country, or prospectors heading to the goldfields. While today the town itself has a large commercial base, with paper and power industries in the area, it is still used as a stopover on the way to the Alps or the lakelands of Gippsland. The Tambo Cheese Factory is based in Traralgon and offers a wide variety of Gippsland cheeses along with local crafts. Traralgon is close to the Moondara State Park and reservoir and Baw Baw National Park.

MORNINGTON PENINSULA is arguably Melbourne's best kept secret. Some of the highlights of the area include Art and craft markets, antique stores, coastal and bush walks, koala and penguin reserves enabling viewing in a natural environment. The region has much of Victoria's earliest history, excellent golf courses, great restaurants and one of Australia's finest wine producing regions. There are a number of good vineyards to explore such as Dromana Estate and Main Ridge Estate. Maybe visit Peninsula Hot Springs, the first natural hot springs and day spa centre in Victoria. Natural thermal mineral waters flow into the pools and private baths providing the idyllic setting for relaxation and rejuvenation. Peninsula Hot Springs makes it possible to bathe in the naturally healing waters of mineral rich thermal pools.

SORRENTO / PORTSEA – Attractions in Sorrento include the Marine Aquarium on St Albans Way where visitors can see the seals being fed, or take a cruise on Port Phillip Bay and swim with dolphins and seals. Sorrento Beach, along the Nepean Highway, is ideal for swimming in the safe waters while the back beach with its tall imposing cliffs, larges waves and strong cu rents, is favoured by surfers.

OVERNIGHT: Best Western – Brooklands of Mornington, Mornington Peninsula

DAY 6 MORNINGTON PENINSULA – MELBOURNE (NM)

There will be plenty of time this morning to explore the many fascinating attractions that abound on this scenic peninsula before heading to Melbourne. There are plenty of bush and coastal walks that can be taken. You may wish to visit one of the eighty vineyards and wineries here, enjoy a day on one of the beautiful surfing beaches at nearby Portsea and Sorrento. Return your vehicle to the Melbourne Airport depot or Melbourne city Hertz Depot.