I still vividly remember my first trip to the Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road. At the time I was living in Melbourne as a university student and had recently purchased my first car. One beautiful blue sky day I was feeling restless and I was suddenly inspired to go for a solo drive down the Great Ocean Road to see the Twelve Apostles.
I hit the road just before lunchtime, spent all afternoon driving with only a few short stops along the way. I arrived at the viewing point for the Twelve Apostles just before sunset and had a magical experience watching the sun go down with beautiful colours in the sky. And then I had to drive straight back to Melbourne along the pitch black dark country roads… Since then I have visited the Twelve Apostles on three other occasions but that first trip remains a treasured memory.
- 12 Mini Road Trip Options From Sydney
- Really Short 2WD Mini Road Trips from Sydney
- Medium 2WD Mini Road Trips from Sydney
- Longer 2WD Mini Road Trips from Sydney
12 Mini Road Trip Options From Sydney
You want to get out of Sydney this spring school holidays but you want to go somewhere new. A mini 2WD road trip is a great option to explore the region around Sydney, and depending on how far you feel like driving there are a great range of road trips both short and long which fit perfectly into the two week school holiday period.
Here is my recommended list of 12 great road trips, ranging from really short to much longer to get away during the spring school holidays.
You may be interested to note that I have personally visited almost all of these places, courtesy of having lived in all of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne for many years and having made the effort to explore each area over time. The only place on these routes which I have not been to is Lightening Ridge – but it is definitely on my list… Please let me know what route takes your fancy in the comments below!
Really Short 2WD Mini Road Trips from Sydney
1. Sydney to North Narrabeen
Would you believe that you can have a great holiday away from home and only have to drive less than one hour from home? And you can definitely avoid the usual school holiday traffic with this option.
North Narrabeen is located a mere 27km from central Sydney, and is a perfect option to get away from home during the spring school holidays. Even if it is not great swimming weather in September there is still heaps to do around the area. Check out my article about the North Narrabeen area to get a better feel for the options.
2. Sydney to Southern Highlands
There is a great 319km loop you can take to explore the Southern Highlands – I suggest that you drive the longest distance to Bowral first and then take your time to progressively work your way back along the Grand Pacific Drive coastal route to Sydney via the Sea Cliff Bridge and Royal National Park – there are so many great views and activities along the way!
3. Sydney to Blue Mountains
Another great option for a mini road trip is to head to the Blue Mountains. You can drive a great 383km loop direct to Katoomba, out to Jenolan Caves, then return via the apple orchards of Bilpin and Kurrajong. There are a heap of options around the area to take advantage of in the warmer spring weather. Check out the official Blue Mountains Tourism Website for options to shop, eat, ride, bush walk and take advantage of this great area.
4. Sydney to Central Coast
You can drive the 406km loop from Sydney to explore the Southern Coast, and stop in at places such as the pelican feeding at the Entrance and through to Newcastle before heading inland to enjoy the Hunter Valley wine region. Once you have sated your desire for wine and gourmet food you can take the historic back road through to Wiseman’s Ferry before heading back to Sydney. As you know alcohol and driving do not combine well, so if you plan to do a wine tasting tour I suggest you check out this great article on options to take wine tours across many wine regions in Australia.
If this route is too long for you it is very easy at multiple points to leave the suggested route and head to the M1 Pacific Highway to take the shortest route back to Sydney. My article on the road trip from Sydney to Coffs Harbour has lots of information to help you plan your trip.
Medium 2WD Mini Road Trips from Sydney
5. Sydney to Dubbo, Parkes and Orange
A great road 871km trip loop is to head from Sydney, over the Blue Mountains to the wine region in Mudgee, through to Dubbo, south to Parkes and then return to Sydney via Orange and Bathurst.
In Dubbo you can visit the Taronga Western Plains Zoo which has great options to either drive, bike or walk through the park. Heading south to Parkes you can stop off at the CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope (famous for being the place where the movie ‘The Dish’ was filmed) before arriving in Parkes.
You can then head for Orange, and I recommend a short stop in at Mt Canobolas, which is an extinct volcano with a height of 1397m above sea level. From Mt Canobolas you can see a great 360 degree view of the area, but in Spring make sure you take your winter woollies as if it is windy you will definitely feel it.
Orange has a great range of activities, which you can back up with a stop in Bathhurst to see the National Motor Racing Museum and the Mount Panorama Motor Racing Circuit. The annual V8 Supercar Bathurst 1000 motor race usually occurs in early October so you can time your springtime road trip to align (or miss…) with the race before heading back to Sydney for some well earned rest…
6. Sydney to Canberra and Snowy Mountains
If you are looking to head further afield a great spring holiday option is to visit Canberra and the Snowy Mountains. Canberra is a surprisingly good tourist destination as a result of the great views, the amazing array of museums and galleries, and is also one of the great foodie destinations in Australia. In spring you have the added benefit of being able to visit the beautiful annual Floriade spring flower festival.
The Snowy Mountains is close by so if you are heading as far as Canberra it is a great add on option to make the most of your trip and have more of a back to nature experience. Spring is the tail end of the skiing season in the Snowy Mountains, so depending on how the snow has been going you may find (as we did last year) that the season can extend as far as the September school holidays. Expect that the top third of the mountains are likely to retain their snow cover at this time of year – which is still enough to indulge in some serious snow play! You can catch the ski lift at Thredbo all year round to get to a snow play area.
The route is reasonably direct from Sydney on good quality roads. The return trip to Canberra and Jindabyne is 924km in total. Check out my Canberra and Snowy Mountains road trip articles for more information.
7. Sydney to Waterfall Way
Another great longer spring holiday road trip option is to visit Waterfall Way, which is the east-west route which sits between Coffs Harbour and Armidale. We recently visited Waterfall Way and were amazed that we had never previously thought to visit this route. There is such an amazing number of waterfalls along the route with most waterfalls being easily accessible. There is also access to several Gondwana rainforest areas.
Longer 2WD Mini Road Trips from Sydney
8. Sydney to Narrabri, Moree, Lightening Ridge and Dubbo
Another great road trip loop is the 1637 km loop from Sydney to Narrabri, Moree, Lightening Ridge and Dubbo before returning to Sydney. Along the way there are great National Parks (my pick – Mt Kaputar National Park which is north of Narrabri) and you are headed into serious artesian hot spring territory – check out my artesian hot springs article to find out more about the great options available. The Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre is a must visit! I have also written an article which details the road trip between Moree, Narrabri and Sydney.
9. Sydney to Brisbane
If you feel like heading a bit further afield then a great option is the road trip to Brisbane. If you drive direct up the Pacific Highway with no side trips the round trip is 1,841km.
As frequent travellers to Brisbane to visit family I can confirm that we have done the road trip to Brisbane in a mind numbing single day – but you usually need 1-2 days to recover afterwards… There are so many great side trip options along the way so I strongly recommend that you plan to take more time. I have written about the trip and side trip options in detail across two articles, the first being the road trip from Sydney to Coffs Harbour, and the second being the road trip from Coffs Harbour to Brisbane.
10. Sydney to Melbourne
Driving between Sydney and Melbourne direct is also quite boring – but like the above trip to Brisbane there are alternative routes to make the trip much more interesting!
My favourite route option is the 2,339km loop which heads south from Sydney along the coastal road all the way through to Melbourne via Eden, Lakes Entrance, Wilson’s Promontory National Park and Phillip Island. On the return route there are great options to stop in at Bright and to take the ‘back route’ via Jindabyne in the Snowy Mountains before returning to Sydney via Canberra, or just cruise up the Hume Highway directly back to Sydney if you wish.
11. Sydney to the Great Ocean Road
A different road trip which would be a great spring break is the 2,480km loop from Sydney through the wine region of Rutherglen to river side town of Echuca, the mining town of Bendigo, Grampians National Park and through to Warrnambool. From there you can drive along the full length of the Great Ocean Road, stopping in at the 12 Apostles on the way to Melbourne, before returning to Sydney. A great website to better plan your trip to the Great Ocean Road is Explore the Great Ocean Road.
12. Sydney to Broken Hill and Mildura
If you feel like doing an even bigger road trip then I can definitely recommend heading out on the 3,100km loop to visit Dubbo, Cobar, White Cliffs, Broken Hill, Mungo National Park and Mildura. This road trip enables you to really get into outback New South Wales, and see a combination of Australia’s mining history and indigenous history as well as seeing some spectacular countryside. We did the suggested route in 10 days a few years ago with our children.
If you haven’t got enough time (like us…) to drive the 6,326km round trip to Uluru, Kings Canyon and Alice Springs then this is a great alternative option. White Cliffs is an underground opal mining town with some similarity to Coober Pedy, while you can see and appreciate indigenous history at both Mungo National Park near Mildura and the Mt Grenfell Historic Site near Cobar. Just do it, you won’t regret it.
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