The kids and I have just recently driven the coast road from Sydney to Melbourne in our campervan.
There was a bit of a weather hiccup, to put it mildly, which threw our plans a little (you can read about that here – A giant roo, sideways rain and a leaky coffee cup) and we missed some places we really wanted to stop between Kioloa and Eden.
I definately want to go back and see Narooma, Bermagui, Merimbula and Pambula, stay tuned, story to be continued!
We did however find some great spots on the way which were easy to do with little kids (mine are 2 and 3).
It took us four nights and five days to do the drive which meant we were only doing about 3 to 3.5 hours a day in the car, totally doable.
There were a few places I would have happily stayed for a few nights though, I think I could have easily spent two weeks cruising down.
Being solo really impacted my choices about where to stay. There were some great campsites a little off the beaten track that would usually be my thing but while I was by myself I found that I was gravitating towards caravan parks.
Having the dog was also a little trickier as our usual habit of heading to National Parks was not as easy.
Here are the places we stopped that I would recommend and would do again myself on the next trip down.
Kiama Lighthouse and Blowhole
Our first stop after leaving Sydney. Kiama is beautiful, there is a really cute little village near the beach where you can get a great coffee and something to eat. Plenty of shops to cruise around although with littles you are probably going to do what I did and skip that bit! The blowhole kept the kids enthralled for quite a while, I was surprised. They were happy to stand there for forty minutes and wait for the waves to come up through the blowhole. It’s only a short distance from the carpark so you’re not having to drag kids up and down a steep track or anything like that. Plenty of grassy areas and shade to eat lunch, toilets nearby and when I went there was ample parking.
Kioloa – Merry Beach Caravan Resort
This place is amazing. Right on the beach and absolutely packed with kangaroos, lorikeets and ducks. The kids were in heaven as the animals were completely unperturbed by them getting really close which totally blew their minds.
There is a fenced playground at one end which saved me while I set up and plenty of beach to run around on.
You can also have open fires, I believe someone cruises around in the afternoons and hires out fire pits to anyone who didn’t come prepared.
Mogo – Mogo Zoo
We didn’t stop here this time but we did on the last trip down and it was a great stop over. It’s good for little ones as it’s not that big so they can walk around the whole thing without keeling over. Our kids are still talking about getting to feed giraffes and the deers.
“Mogo Zoo is a privately owned zoo that supports an amazing collection of endangered and exotic animal species. Nestled close to the Princess Hwy and just 10 mins south of the popular coastal town of Batemans Bay, the zoo is spread over many acres of beautifully landscaped gardens. Mogo Zoo proudly boasts the largest collection of primates in Australia. Our zebras and Southern White Rhinos wander the Savannah plains alongside our majestic Giraffes. Visitors to Mogo Zoo can experience our animals Up Close and Personal including meerkats, feeding a lion or tiger, or simply enjoying our affectionate red pandas.” mogozoo.com.au
Eden – Garden of Eden Caravan Park
We ended up here after we fled Merry Beach in the torrential rain that smashed us up north. This was a last minute get outta the rain decision and it turned out being a really lovely spot. The whole place was imaculate and has lots of beautiful and well established trees.
The managers were awesome and very welcoming and they have a great pool with a slide and a mini golf course that would have been great for the kids if it wasn’t still raining.
It’s not right on the beach but that worked in our favour as I was really keen to get out of the weather by this point and it was nice and sheltered. It just has a good feel about it with all the green and makes for a relaxing base while you check out Eden during the day. It’s also pet friendly if you have a well behaved pet who isn’t going to be a pain.
This has gotta be one of my new most favourite places. I made a last minute decision and pulled off the highway to do the tourist drive along the coast at the Cape Conran turn off, and I’m so glad I did!
We found the most beautiful beach in the National Park with nobody around and spent half a day exploring. There was no camping in the places we ended up but it is so worth stopping in and having a lunch and a swim.
Salmon Rocks is just south of Cape Conran and it is also beautiful and, like the beaches just north was surprisingly quiet when we were there.
Bairnsdale – Bairnsdale Riverside Holiday Park
This was purely a sleep over stop before heading off again early but I tell you what, if you are driving with young kids you couldn’t get a better stop over. There is a massive playground literally across the road from the caravan park where they can burn off some steam after being in the car. It is set up for all ages and has a huge skate park adjacent to it as well so the older ones will be well and truly catered for.
About a hundred metres down the road there is a pub where you can get a meal if you don’t fancy cooking, but if you do they have a great camp kitchen with everything you need. It’s just a really handy, practical stop over when you have kids with you.
We stopped in here to check out the Long Jetty which was built in 1938 and piqued my curiosity.
Welshpool itself is only tiny but beautiful in a windswept kinda way, there were heaps of pink flowers along the edge of the water while we were there.
The beaches are really safe for the kids if you are there in warm weather. There’s a little shop and cafe where you can grab a snack or a cuppa.
Just a nice little spot to get out of the car and stretch your legs for a bit.
Phillip Island – Amaroo Caravan Park (Cowes)
I could have stayed on the island longer but after the first night the pop top on the campervan carked it and I had to drive to Melbourne to try and get it fixed.
Amaroo is handy as it’s right near the centre of Cowes, walking distance to Woolies, The Esplanade, the beach and plenty of cafes and restaurants.
We managed to get to the Phillip Island Wildlife Sanctuary which the kids loved but we missed the penguins this time. You definitely need a few days to see it all.
I changed tactics a bit on this trip and it really worked for the better. To read about what was different this time check out how I manage drive and set up time on the road with kids.
It impacted the choices I was making about places to stay overnight and made for a much more relaxing trip.
If you want to head home via the inland road check out Sydney to Melbourne as the crow flies.
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