12 Awesome Road Trips from Sydney (That Anyone Can Do)

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When you are feeling like you need to do either a short or longer road trip from Sydney to get back to nature, you should check out our recommended road trip itineraries below. There are so many amazing places to visit within a reasonable drive from Sydney!

Options we recommend include the South Coast, North Coast as well as inland options like Canberra, Waterfall Way, Outback NSW and many more NSW road trip options! Each itinerary includes a road trip itinerary map which you can open in Google Maps to then make it your own!

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Really Short Mini Road Trips in Sydney

1. Sydney to North Narrabeen

Dusk over North Narrabeen Beach, New South Wales, Australia
Dusk over North Narrabeen Beach, New South Wales, Australia

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

Fitzroy Falls in the Southern Highlands, Australia
Fitzroy Falls in the Southern Highlands, Australia
Sea Cliff Bridge near Sydney Australia
Sea Cliff Bridge near Sydney Australia

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

The Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains near Sydney
The Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains near Sydney
View over the Blue Mountains
View over the Blue Mountains

Another great option for a short scenic drive from Sydney 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

Hunter Valley Vineyards
Hunter Valley Vineyards

You can drive the short road trip from Sydney, a 406km loop to explore the Central 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.

NSW Road Trips from Sydney

5. Sydney to Dubbo, Parkes and Orange

CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope
CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope

A great 871km road 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.

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 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

Via from Mt Ainslie over Canberra, with the Australian War Memorial and Parliment House
Via from Mt Ainslie over Canberra, with the Australian War Memorial and Parliment House
Floriade Flower Festival Collage
Floriade Flower Festival Collage
Views from the top of Thredbo in the Snowy Mountains Australia
Views from the top of Thredbo in the Snowy Mountains Australia
Watching the Campfire in the Snowy Mountains
Watching the Campfire in the Snowy Mountains

If you are looking to head further afield a great holiday road trip 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 are 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.  You can either go skiing or during the other seasons you can also catch the ski lift at Thredbo all year round to get to a snow play area or to climb to the top of Mt Kosciusko.

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

Ebor Falls on Waterfall Way in Australia
Ebor Falls on Waterfall Way in Australia

Another great longer 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.

The route consists of a 1193km round trip from Sydney on good roads.  If you like you can easily add on a visit to either Barrington Tops National Park or the Hunter Valley wine region.

Longer Road Trips from Sydney

8.      Sydney to Narrabri, Moree, Lightening Ridge and Dubbo

Relaxing in the hot springs pool at the Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre, NSW Australia
Relaxing in the hot springs pool at the Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre, NSW Australia
Sawn Rocks in Mount Kaputar National Park, near Narrabri NSW Australia
Sawn Rocks in Mount Kaputar National Park, near Narrabri NSW Australia

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

The View Over the Northern Gold Coast from the Q1 Skypoint Observation Deck
The View Over the Northern Gold Coast from the Q1 Skypoint Observation Deck

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

Views over Melbourne, Australia
Views over Melbourne, Australia
Penguins on Phillip Island
Penguins on Phillip Island

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

The Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road
The Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road
Grampians National Park in Australia
Grampians National Park in Australia

A different road trip which is a great option 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

White Cliffs, Outback Australia
Spectacular Sunrise Over White Cliffs in Outback Australia
Line of Lode, Broken Hill, Outback Outback
View over Broken Hill. You can see what was the ‘Line of Lode’ where the whole mountain has now been mined and only the tailings have been left behind to form a new mountain.
Mungo National Park, Walls of China, Outback Australia
Walls of China in Mungo National Park in Outback Australia

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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Join the Getaways from Sydney Facebook Group!

You are welcome to join the Getaways from Sydney Facebook Group – you will receive regular inspiration to help you plan your overnighters, weekenders and longer getaways from Sydney!

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links.  That means that if you make a booking after clicking on a link it may mean that we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Thank you!

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24 thoughts on “12 Awesome Road Trips from Sydney (That Anyone Can Do)”

  1. This is a terrific resource for locals and visitors alike! If anything, it gives an idea of the vast distances available to road trip in Australia, something which we were amazed by. Excellent information and your photos are breathtaking.

    Reply
  2. Australia has always been an enigmatic place for me. I visited when I was young, had very little money and no travel experience so I saw very little. Your trips out of Sydney sound really great and I wish I had done more. Lets see I was in Sydney, Melbourne and Jervis Bay. Jervis Bay was amazing!

    Reply
  3. I really enjoyed your post. I’ve been to Sydney once and did some hiking. I’ll bookmark your post as some of the areas you suggest look like they would be fantastic. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Jennifer, thank you for your comment. As this is now my 7th year in total living in Sydney, along with 13 years in Melbourne and 8 years in Brisbane I feel like I have covered a vast number of road trip options on the East Coast of Australia, and there are so many great options out there.

      Reply
  4. I haven’t made it to Australia yet but it’s very high on my list and I hope to visit it very soon! I’m bookmarking this article for future as all of these places sound amazing and I definitely would love to go for all of these roadtrips!! Thank you!

    Reply
  5. This is great and very informative! I haven’t been to Australia but I have been wanting to go there. Depending on the time if I do visit, I wouldn’t mind checking out all these different road trips and seeing all that Australia have to offer 🙂

    Reply
  6. A great list of ideas – and its often a few ideas that are needed to spark inspiration to get on out there – Its often all too easy to get blasé and complacent about some the wonderful places on our ‘doorstep’ –
    As a nature lover – I’m like Noel – a post about NPs accessible by 2WD from Sydney would be another great post topic! 🙂

    Reply
  7. There is some great inspiration here for Sydneysiders to get out there and enjoy their wonderland of beauty that surrounds them. I haven’t been to many of these places but would certainly like to. Maybe on my next trip to Sydney I will hire a car and take a few drives.

    Reply
  8. I’m almost tempted to come to Sydney so I can turn around and take a few of these awesome Road trips!! You’ve really got the east coast covered! Looking forward to hearing more about your trip to Japan too!

    Reply
    • Red, thank you for your comment. Over the years I have lived in all of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne and in each place we have tried to get out and about to explore the area, so this article is the sum of those years exploring!

      Reply

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