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Published June 29th 2017
Enjoy the journey, not just the destination
Every school holidays and public holiday weekends throughout the year, the highway between Canberra and Sydney is a road well travelled. Some cars are full of families visiting each other for Christmas and others are taking a drive to the other city for concerts, weekends away or party celebrations. Often people travelling between Melbourne and Sydney, or vice versa, stop in at Canberra to break up the trip, so the highway is a busy trail of cars heading in both directions.
Although it is a good highway, I'm sure I am not alone in saying that the scenery is uneventful - the word "boring" has been mentioned in our car more than once. Although the few hours of this road trip isn't too far for some, for those who have young children or passengers with sore backs or dodgy knees, then it is handy to know where the good places are to stop along the way - other than the usual roadhouses and McDonalds. Depending which way you are travelling, scroll through this list and see which places you will stop off at on your next trip up the highway. It may just save your sanity!
The beauty and colour of Tulip Top Gardens, open in Spring only
Tulip Top Gardens (25 minutes from Canberra) is only open in the Spring months of September and October, the same dates of Floriade in Canberra. This private property is run by a family who spends all year preparing for Spring, with tulips for as far as the eye can see and blossoming cherry trees overhead. There is an entry fee to get in, however if you visit over lunch time this also includes a free sausage sizzle and unlimited tea and coffee. See here for Google map and website. For a full article of Tulip Tops Gardens from 2016, see here.
Lake George (30 minutes from Canberra) is an ancient lake which has been dry for decades, so grass now grows on the lake bed for cattle to graze. Interestingly, as the area received record breaking rainfall in Winter 2016, the lake filled up - much to the delight of locals and travellers on the highway. There is a Lookout to view the "lake", dry or with water - see here for Google map. For a full article of Lake George, see here.
View of the dry Lake George plateau in the distance, from Lerida Estate Winery
Lerida Estate Winery (40 minutes from Canberra) is located just off the highway and up a hill which overlooks Lake George. This scenic winery is open all week for wine tastings at their Cellar Door and Café Lerida is open on weekends. Throughout the year they also have live music, jazz afternoons and events so visitors can sit back and relax and enjoy the food, wine and views. See here for Google map and website. For a full article on Café Lerida, see here.
Lake George Winery (40 minutes from Canberra) is located just further along the road from Lerida Estate Winery above. This is a more exclusive winery with tastings, fine dining restaurant and it is often has weddings on their beautiful grounds. See here for a Google map and website.
Bushranger Hotel (40 minutes from Canberra) is a historic pub and as the name suggests, it has seen some bushranger action in the late 1800's. Located just over 5 minutes off the highway, this pub has generous sized pub meals and provides an authentic country pub experience - with a side of history. In 1865, Ben Hall and his gang entered the town after a day of mischief and mayhem on the surrounding travelling routes out of Goulburn. Local police soon heard of their arrival, took chase and a gunfight ensued. The Bushranger Hotel was the site of the shooting of Constable Samuel Nelson by John Dunn, a member of Ben Hall's gang. See here for Google map and Facebook.
Grandma's at the Farm (45 minutes from Canberra) is a quaint café, bakery and gourmet food outlet with views over olive groves and rural scenery. It is a pleasant stop for a coffee and cake before hitting the road again. Why not buy some tasty supplies with you to enjoy along the way. Be aware, however, that the road in can get quite bumpy. See here for Google map and website.
Cafe and olive groves at Grandma's at the Farm. Source: Original images from Grandma's at the Farm Facebook
The Big Merino (1 hour from Canberra) is situated just a few minutes off the highway. After you have viewed the large scale sheep and visited the gift shop underneath, why not try a pie from the popular Trappers Bakery nearby. Another popular place to visit is McDonalds, with a tall multi level playground for kids to stretch their legs and wear off some energy. See here for Google map and website.
Berrima (1 hour 45 minutes from both Canberra and Sydney) is a historical town half way along the highway. The town dates back to 1831 and was a popular stop for travellers until the highway bypassed it in 1989. Now it is just 5 minutes off the highway and is a quiet and quaint town with cafes, shops, history and good old country hospitality. See here for Google map and here for details of the village.
Wollongong (2.5 hours from Canberra and 1 hour/ 20 minutes from Sydney) is a city by the coast with beautiful beaches, lighthouses, cafes, playgrounds and shopping. It is also renowned for its heavy industry at its many ports. The fastest route from the highway into Wollongong is on the B88 (Picton road), which is a 25 - 40 minute drive (depending on traffic) down to Wollongong's North Beach. This is the most scenic area to stop and enjoy the beaches, lighthouses and café strip. If you are on your way to Sydney, you can always then drive the coastal route between Wollongong and Sydney. See here for Google map for North Beach, Wollongong. For a full article on North Wollongong, see here.
You made your destination! Sometimes it is all about the fun of the journey, not just the destination. Stay safe on the roads and enjoy them both this weekend.