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Driving from Canberra to Sydney

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London, England
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Driving from Canberra to Sydney

Hi there, we are thinking of driving from Canberra to Sydney to spend a couple of nights before heading back to the UK on 30 December 07. Firstly, do you think driving is a good idea (we have an 8 year old son) and how easy and how long will it take and secondly are there any interesting places to stop off at on the way up? We have a hotel booked in Sydney for 2 nights but can't decide whether to fly (what we normally do!) or drive to see some sights. Thanks for your help.

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1. Re: Driving from Canberra to Sydney

driving can be done in one go (3hrs), although its just freeway all the way so not too much scenery. as you leave canberra though, you will see lake george which is a massive lake that is hardly ever full. there are lots of places where you can leave the freeway to go and see various towns, though i dont know which places are good

Gungahlin, Australia
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2. Re: Driving from Canberra to Sydney

Do you have to return a hire car? It's a short flight, something to be said for that option, but would you incur a penalty for returning the car in Canberra or something like that?

If you could spare the time I would suggest driving to Batemans Bay (2 hours) and spending the night there. A couple of places your son may enjoy are Mogo Zoo and Batehaven Animal Park. The road has a winding stretch down Clyde Mountain just before the coast. Very pretty with a towering canopy of gum trees over lush ferns, but it can cause discomfort in those prone to it. The road is much better than when I was a child though. Braidwood is a nice town to stop in for a snack and drink beforehand. That always helped me.


We always get fish and chips for lunch from the Innes Boatshed, they have their own fishing boats. If you are there early you might see the bridge being raised to let the tourist boats go up the river.

Just north of the town is a beach that has kangaroos. Apparently some people have seen them in the water.

Further north, and worth another overnight stop IMO, is Jervis Bay, but if you couldn't spare the time you can certainly drive straight to Sydney. Along the way you can stop at Kiama to see the Blowhole. Sorry I don't remember how long going up the coast takes, been quite a while and maybe the road has changed.

Oops, sorry, just noticed the time of year. School hols, very busy, though possibly worse after 1 Jan. What exact dates are you talking about? You should probably make a decision and book soon.

Arlington, Virginia
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3. Re: Driving from Canberra to Sydney

As aussieboy states, the drive from Canberra to Sydney is easy, straightforward, and relatively boring. If you just want to get there, this is the way to go.

However, if you want to take your time getting there and see some nice beach areas, do what MacKnee suggests. The beach north of Bateman's Bay with the kangaroos is called Pebbly Beach. Here's the link to a site that will give you a lot more info on it: theage.com.au/news/…1108500193510.html

When we lived in Canberra, we used to go there all the time with our kids and we loved it. While we never saw the kangaroos in the water, they are all over the grassy area adjoining the beach. You can get quite close to them (and even pet them), but please do not feed them! (You'll see signs asking you not to feed the kangaroos, but folks still do.) There are also LOTS of wild tropical birds there and they are likely to perch on you whether you feed them or not. (At the time we visited, there was no prohibition on feeding the birds, but there may be now.)

They've got some good waves at Pebbly Beach and we enjoyed boogieboarding there. There's also some rocky areas with tidepools and our kids loved looking to see what sorts of sealife they could find in the pools at low tide. (Take your watershoes for this!) We also found lots of seashells. We never found the beach to be crowded, even when we visited on weekends and around Christmas.

There's a nice bathhouse there with toilets and showers, but not much more in the way of amenities. So bring a picnic lunch along with beach chairs and umbrellas if you want any seating or shade.


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4. Re: Driving from Canberra to Sydney

Previous posts definitely seem to reflect the majority sentiment, and I going the coast route is an excellent suggestion.

However I don't agree that the drive Syd-Canberra via Hume Hwy doesn't have much scenery. My daughter and I think it's a lovely drive. Much of the way you pass through pastureland, sections through the southern highlands are forest. There are a numerous sections that have expansive vistas. The drive is only 3 hrs (roughly), but if you want to make a day of it, you can take some nice detours etc. Not a heck of a lot of places to stop off. There's the southern highlands villages eg Berrima Bundanoon or Bowral but I agree with others that the potential stops going the coast way would be more entertaining for you. You definitely need more than one day to go the coastal route though. Especially with an 8 yr old.

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5. Re: Driving from Canberra to Sydney

As others have said the direct drive to Canberra is an easy drive the whole way. It is freeway all the way but depending on your starting point in Sydney the early part may be toll roads. Certainly if you are returning direct to Sydney Airport the latter part will be a toll road so take some change to pay the toll. The are not expensive for a once only trip.

Bowral is an interseting town for crafts and antiques. If you are travelling Thursday to Sunday there is an excellent eating place for lunch called the Lynwood Cafe in Collector. Both place are a short distance off the Highway.

I don't necessarily agree with flying from Sydney to Canberra because of the time to get to the airport, check in, clear security etc will take a good amount of time, again depending on your starting point in Sydney. It is only about a 3hour drive to Canberra.

For things to do and see in Canberra have a look at


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6. Re: Driving from Canberra to Sydney


While I agree the coastal road south of Sydney is beautiful - the lookout from the escarpment across to the beaches & the rolling green hills are a contrast to Lake George, I would wonder how much time in ONE day you will have to enjoy it all. Most of the holiday traffic will be heading out of Sydney after (& on) Christmas day and the beach areas are the number 1 destination. The traffic on the Princes Highway can be rather slow in places where it is still only one lane each way.

If you decide to take the Federal Highway Goulburn is just over 100ks away. Goulburn was Australia's first inland city & as such has many historic sites. There's a great tourist office there where you can pick up a walking trail booklet which details all the main sites. The Goulburn area is an agricultural centre - mainly sheep & wool. On the outskirts of Goulburn you will find Rambo - the Big Merino. Around April/May of this year he was moved to the Hume Highway where it is hoped more people will stop & be in awe of him (a bypass road was completed several years ago which now means one has to turn off the highway to get into Goulburn - poor old Rambo just wasn't pulling the crowds like he use to where he was & was moved) He's having a major overhaul and whilst you can still stop & look at him he's scheduled for opening in November this year. Your son may like to climb up inside to look out of Rambo's eyes. Sounds revolting but he'll like it.

check out the tourist office info http://www.igoulburn.com/

Having had your fill of historical buildings & big sheep I suggest you stock up on picnic supplies & head towards the Southern Highlands.

see http://www.highlandsnsw.com.au/

You will be driving through picturesque country steeped in history & sprinkled with art & craft stores. You can make up stories about the bushrangers to liven things up for your son!


You will find lots of places along the way where you can stop for your picnic or if you prefer you can call into a cafe (I normally like picnics when travelling with my sons). Stop off at Fitzroy Falls - here you can do some bushwalking & depending upon your luck see some wildlife. Nearby there is a lake which feeds the falls with a picnic ground.


And you must, must, must call into the Bradman Museum at Bowral. You couldn't possibly call yourself truly English unless you loved the game! Here you'll experience Cricket History - Australian style! :)

bradman museum: www.bradman.org.au/html/s01_home/home.asp

If you enjoy gardens you may prefer to call into the botanical gardens near Camden - Mount Annan.


The good thing about this route is that any deviation off the highway is not far & although you can amble along & become 'lost in your travels' in won't take much to get back on track.

Well... that's probably enough confusion from me.

Enjoy your travels.

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7. Re: Driving from Canberra to Sydney

drive it its very easy! Just becareful staying in Sydney the parking is very expensive.

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8. Re: Driving from Canberra to Sydney

Lots and lots of excellent info by previous posters so I'll just mention that if you decide to take the coastal route it can be done 'comfortably' (though without doing any of the places you pass any justice however :-) in about 13-14 hours, including brief stops along the way.

Pebbly Beach, Kiama blowhole and town and Seven Mile Beach are lovely places to stop along the way.

Oh, and do try and stay off the Princes Highway as much as possible and hug the coastline as much as you can. To achhieve this to maximum effect you can get maps from the NRMA (free if you go with a member. At a price if not) and some pretty handy brochures which include maps and site info from the Tourism NSW info offices.....assuming you have access to them prior to your drive.

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9. Re: Driving from Canberra to Sydney

thanks for all your replies. We have booked a hotel in Sydney that has parking facilities. We will be leaving Canberra on 28th December and then flying home from Sydney late afternoon on 30th December.

We have been to pebbly beach before and found it to be fantastic, I think our son would really love it (we did not have him last time we visited there). He has been to oz a few times before and has seen kangaroos anyway but never on the beach.

thanks a lot, we will give it some thought!

10. Re: Driving from Canberra to Sydney

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