Canberra to Sydney Coastal Road Trip – Part One

CANBERRA TO BERRY

I was born in Wollongong and later lived in Canberra for 36 years so became very familiar with the region in between.  I travelled up and down the Princes Highway countless times, as well as via the inland route, however my hubby, Max, had never undertaken the journey via the coastal highway so we decided it was time to finally do this road trip from Canberra to Sydney along the scenic highway.   It’s a very pretty part of Australia and highly recommended.  You can quite easily do it in 5 days, even longer if you wish – not including time spent in Sydney.

We left Canberra early and drove along the King’s Highway via Bungendore and Braidwood, passing through farmland and rolling hills.  Both historic towns were settled in the early 1800s and are worth a stop to have a look around.  The Bungendore railway station is heritage-listed and Braidwood also has a number of heritage-listed buildings, many of which were built by convicts and are still standing.  Gold was discovered around Braidwood in the 1850s and the population swelled to around 10,000 in it’s heyday.

Braidwood War Memorial

The landscape is quite picturesque from Braidwood to Clyde Mountain which is located in the Great Dividing Range.  You’ll be travelling down a steep, winding road until you reach the Princes Highway. As you travel down the mountain, you’ll see lush vegetation and beautiful tree ferns.  The distance from Canberra to the Princes Highway is about 150km.  Once you arrive at the bottom, turn left onto the Princes Highway to continue on to Berry.  We were on a timetable so decided to forgo a stop at Bateman’s Bay.

Countryside near Braidwood

There are many coastal hamlets, beaches, bays and lakes along the way and you could stop at Pebbly Beach for a dip or spend the night in the campground and wake up to kangaroos hopping about.  It’s about 30 minutes north of Bateman’s Bay.  If you prefer more civilised accommodation, the Murramarang Beachfront Holiday Resort is located at South Durras and is about 15 minutes north of Bateman’s Bay.  I first stayed there in the early 1990s and accommodation was fairly basic then however they now provide a number of different accommodation options including a luxury beach house, villas, safari tent and both powered and unpowered sites. 

We arrived at the pretty coastal village of Ulladulla with its bustling little harbour and decided to stop for a lunch of fish and chips.  It somehow always tastes better beside the seaside.  The village was once sustained by ship-building, timber, dairying and fishing, with the latter three still being carried on today. 

Ulladulla Harbour

From Ulladulla, you’ll pass through green pastures and state forests until you reach Nowra.  This is the main commercial and administrative centre of the Shoalhaven and is where the oyster industry was founded in 1883.   

If you have the time, before you get to Nowra, take a detour and head down to Jervis Bay.  The turn off is just before Wandandian and look for sign to Sussex Inlet.  Continue on to Hyams Beach, regarded as having the whitest sand in the world and then to Huskisson which sits on the shores of the spectacular Jervis Bay Marine Park.  You’ll see playful dolphins, seals and penguins and between May and November, you might see humpback and southern right whales.

Berry is a short 20 minute drive from Nowra.  We arrived in the afternoon and our first stop was to check-in at the Retrospect Bed and Breakfast.  We spent 2 nights in this charming 1920s cottage which is a short walk to the centre of Berry.  The next day, after a delicious breakfast, we set off for a day trip to Kangaroo Valley which is a 30 minute drive along a very picturesque country road.  After you pass Bellawongarah, the Kangaroo Valley Road winds its way down the mountain and will take you about 10 minutes to reach Moss Vale Road. Turn right and Kangaroo Valley is just down the road.

Kangaroo Valley

The historic village of Kangaroo Valley is nestled between the scenic Cambewarra and Barrengary Mountains and is a perfect-get-away-from-it-all rural retreat and one of Australia’s most beautiful valleys.  The countryside really is quite breathtaking.  You could easily spend a night or two here if you want to take the time to explore the area.  There are markets and festivals and a whole range of outdoor activities to enjoy. 

Kangaroo Valley is surrounded by beautiful vistas of rich green pastures, crystal clear rivers and creeks and pristine forests which are great for horse riding or bush walking.  Hampden Bridge is the oldest and only timber suspension bridge in Australia which is still used by vehicles. The medieval style towers were built from locally quarried standstone.  The original timber truss bridge was opened in 1879 but deteriorated due to decay and was replaced by a new bridge which opened in 1898. The bridge spans the Kangaroo River where you can take a refreshing dip or do some canoeing or kayaking.  Visit https://visitkangaroovalley.com.au to fill you in on where to stay and what to do.

The village itself has quaint historical buildings, art and craft shops, galleries and cafes.  We decided to browse at the Halcyon Bookshop where I came across a pictorial volume containing 10 parts entitled “Sixty Years A Queen” and is the story of Queen Victoria’s reign.  It was published in 1897.  Needless to say, I purchased all 10 as I’m a bit of a royalist at heart.  

On our way back to Berry, we took the route via Cambewarra Mountain and stopped at the lookout for spectacular views of the coast and Shoalhaven. 

Cambewarra Mountain Lookout

As it was still early when we arrived back at Berry, we decided to explore more of the town and shops.  Berry was first settled in the early 1820s and was considered to be the first truly rural town south of Sydney.  It has many heritage-listed buildings, award-winning restaurants and sophisticated shopping and is a favourite weekend getaway for Sydneyites.  Hop onto the Berry website at https://berry.org.au to discover all things Berry.

TO BE CONTINUED …

REFERENCE IMAGES

Image 1 – Maksym Kozlenko2013-12-24 Braidwood, New South Wales, AustraliaCC BY-SA 4.0

Image 2 – Nick-DBraidwood Hotel Feb 2013CC BY-SA 3.0

Image 3 – Maksym Kozlenko, Braidwood NSW 2622, Australia – panoramio (4)CC BY-SA 3.0

Image 4 – Sheba_Also 43,000 photosBraidwood Historical Church-1 (24837977308)CC BY-SA 2.0

Image 5 – Nick-DBraidwood War Memorial Feb 2013CC BY-SA 3.0

Image 6 – Countryside around Braidwood

Image 7 – Ulladulla – kelvincheongUlladulla beachCC BY-SA 2.0

Image 8 – Kangaroo Valley – [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

Image 9 – Cafe in village

Image 10 – Grahamec, Kangaroo Valley, Hampton Bridge-1CC BY 3.0

Image 11 – Canoeing/Kyaking

Image 12 – Zara603Cambewarra Mountain LookoutCC BY-SA 4.0

Image 13 – Retrospect B&B in Berry

Image 14 – Historic building Berry

Image 15 – Maksym Kozlenko, Berry – panoramio (20)CC BY-SA 3.0

Image 16 – Main Street Berry – Maksym Kozlenko, Berry – panoramio (12)CC BY-SA 3.0

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