If you’re planning a road trip around Australia, I would highly recommend driving from Melbourne to the Gold Coast. There are a couple of different routes you can take, so we opted to ditch the coastal road and hit the Snowy Mountains! It might not be all sunshine and beaches, but there are many impressive spots worth visiting. In total, it takes around 18hours, not including stops. This was over 2000km we were about to drive in a questionable KIA Sportage. Our route looked a little like this:
Melbourne-Yarrangobilly-Snowy Mountains-Canberra-Sydney-Blue Mountains-Port Macquarie-Gold Coast.
The Snowy Mountains
Our first night was spent in a quiet town called Talbingo, a six-hour drive North East of Melbourne. Unfortunately, there was torrential rain from around 6 pm, so an Aussie BBQ was well out of the question! Our plan was to stay here a night, before exploring Yarrangobilly, a town in the northern part of Kosciuszko National Park. We planned to visit the Yarrangobilly Caves and the Yarrongbilly Thermal Pool. Unfortunately, our visit was short and sweet due to the weather.
So, we left for Canberra via the Snowy Mountains. We drove through rain, snow, hail, sleet, and glorious sunshine—all within 24 hours. The Snowy Mountains are the highest mountain range in Australia and are located in Southern New South Wales. We have met so many Australian’s that have never seen snow before. Being from the UK, that sounds pretty crazy. But I have to admit, seeing a mountain range of this size covered in snow is probably the most impressive I’ve ever seen.
Spending just a day was nowhere near enough time to really see what the Snowy Mountains have to offer. We drove through the heart of the mountain range but stopped at various lookout points along the way. If we were staying longer, it would have been amazing to do one of the many hikes or bushwalks in the area. I really wanted to hike to the summit of Mount Kosciusko, Australia’s highest peak, but annoyingly we were on a time frame.
Even though Canberra is the capital of Australia, I imagined a quiet city. (Yes, this was because I hadn’t been told any different, and we have a tendency not to plan or research our trips). Canberra is definitely not the biggest city in the world, but there are a lot more bars and restaurants than I expected. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t exactly bustling, but it’s easy to spend a few days here.
Our itinerary involved going to the Parliamentary House, The Australian War Memorial, The National Gallery of Australia and The National Museum of Australia. We strolled around the beautiful Lake Burley Griffin, the Telstra Tower, and visited the Old Parliament House.
The following day we drove around three and a half hours to Sydney- cue inevitable picture of me and James in front of the Opera House. Reruns of The Sleepover Club and Finding Nemo aside, Sydney was probably the main reason I wanted to travel Australia when I was younger. I imagined a magical Australian city on the other side of the world, packed with impressive architecture and stereotypical “Aussie surfers” at every turn. On reflection, how embarrassing.
The Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge are obviously worth a visit, but inevitably, they are absolutely packed with tourists. (I can’t speak, I was one of them). I don’t know if it was because the weather wasn’t the best (again!), but our visit to Bondi Beach was a little disappointing. In my opinion, it’s one of those places that it’s good to say you have been, but it isn’t actually that impressive. After our time on Kangaroo Island, I feel like i’m a little biased when it comes to beaches, as I’m yet to find a place as beautiful.
Darling Harbour, however, I loved. The atmosphere of the whole area is great. There are lots of fancy bars and restaurants overlooking the many luxurious boats sailing in and out of the harbour—what a life. In true Leanne and James fashion, we took advantage of a happy hour and toasted to the next part of our adventure.
If there is one thing I love about exploring new cities, it’s market stalls. I love how you find so much weird and wonderful stuff! Luckily for me, Sydney Harbour Markets did not disappoint. People from all over the world sell home-ware, soaps, body lotions, jewelry, artwork, ornaments and much more. The food selection is pretty impressive too. The smells from all the different food stalls fill the air; Asian, Italian, Greek. I opted for a tasty octopus skewer.
If you’re wondering about nightlife in Sydney, we ventured out into Newtown, a bustling suburb south-west of the CBD. A number of bars, pubs, and clubs are scattered around the area, so you’ll be spoiled for choice.
The Blue Mountains
We definitely brought the English weather with us on this road trip because it was raining and foggy the whole time. If you’re thinking of visiting, 100% check the weather beforehand. We didn’t and it was a big mistake. The roads in this area have lots of sharp bends, and because of the rain, the roads are extremely slippery.
Umbrella in hand, we went to explore the town to see what it had to offer. In one word? Adorable. Katoomba village is home to a number of cute vintage furniture shops, all independently ran. It is an extremely welcoming village, and all the locals are very friendly. All of the shops have a cosy, warm feeling, similar to when you walk into your grandma’s house. It took me about 5 minutes of being in Katoomba to realise—I liked being in the mountains.
The next morning, we drove to The Three Sisters, a breathtaking rock formation located at Echo Point, Katoomba. According to aboriginal legend, they are three sisters who turned to stone and have stood there ever since. Luckily, the weather cleared up so we managed to get some better photos of the view. The iconic landmark stands nearly one kilometre above sea level and you can literally see for miles around. Afterwards, we embarked on a short walk to Katoomba Falls, a stunning waterfall in the heart of the Blue Mountains.
Just a short 4 and a half hour drive away is Port Macquarie, our next stop. It is a small coastal town that is great for fishing and beautiful beaches. We visited the Tacking Point Lighthouse before enjoying a delicious picnic on the beach. It was during our lovely lunch that we were rudely interrupted by a huge Goanna. Friendly they may be, they definitely don’t look it. We had seen a few of these during our time on Kangaroo Island, but that didn’t stop me shitting myself because I thought it was a snake.
Whilst I enjoyed our time in Port Macquarie, our stay was unintentionally extended as our car radiator blew up. Our trusty Kia Sportage has made it from Perth, and it was the stop before our final destination that it breaks down.