Take your next escape by car, from Sydney to Mudgee.Credit:Ford
Driving doesn’t have to just be about the destination. With so many unexplored roads so close to Australia’s two biggest cities you can make a long weekend of it. So grab your loved one, the dog, a weekend bag and get behind the wheel to experience the thrill of these drives.
Sydney – Mudgee
Meandering through the north-western Sydney towns of Windsor and Richmond gives little inkling of what’s ahead for those who appreciate great driving.
Instead of taking the well-trodden path up the highway we’re heading for Bells Line of Road. The steep, twisting rise through Bellbird is the first sense of excitement.
Bells Line is one of those diverse roads; narrow pinches between sandstone cliffs, sharp undulations and broader sections with wonderful flowing bends interspersed with vast Blue Mountains views.
The Botanic Gardens at Mount Tomah make for the perfect stopover before heading south at Bell towards Mount Victoria, one of the many beautiful towns through the mountains; stop for coffee and admire the period architecture.
Back in the seat, there’s more to come down the writhing McKanes Falls Road, an entrée to a world of often poorly maintained B-roads that puts suspension to the test.
With some unexpected turns off the main road, it pays to use your satellite navigation system to ensure you head towards Oberon.
The seemingly never-ending selection of rises, dips and curves ensures you’ll always have two hands on the wheel, the thrill of linking multiple corners as much a part of the experience as punching hard out of uphill sections.
While Oberon is a tempting pit stop, linger a little longer behind the wheel until you arrive at Mayfield Garden, a former sheep farm transformed into a nursery and garden that provides superb produce for the café.
Heading north there’s less intensity to the road, perfect for digesting the stark country backdrop.
Rolling into Bathurst is like temporarily hitting the big smoke, the sizeable town home to some terrific overnight options; the cosy Bishop’s Court B&B perfectly fits the bill.
No point driving through Bathurst without a lap of Mount Panorama, 6.2 kilometres of the most famous bitumen in Australia. Don’t be tempted to play Supercars driver, though, because the local constabulary regularly enforce the 60km/h limit.
Continuing north towards Sofala takes the wheels through spectacular farmland interspersed with bridges, where lane markings are casual at best.
The sleepy town is nothing like its gold rush peak of the 1800s, the innovative café fare at the Painted Horse a prime example.
Take the back roads for the gold mining tour into Mudgee, known for its honey and vineyards.
The cellar doors dotted around town are home to some interesting varieties guaranteed to soak up a (slow) tasting day.
There’s all manner of accommodation, from the luxury of Evanslea or Perry Street to the adventure of Peppertree Hill.
By which time you’ll be ready to hang up the driving gloves – until tomorrow that is.
Melbourne – Yarra Valley
Journey from the Morning Peninsula to the Yarra Valley and take in the idyllic sceneryCredit:Ford
The eastern side of Melbourne is a mecca for twisting mountain roads and our trip begins clinging to the bayside roads towards the Mornington Peninsula, a reminder of how close one of Australia’s premiere wine regions is to a major city.
It’s worth a diversion up Arthurs Seat, not only for the fantastic collection of corners that’ll delight any driving enthusiast, but also the stunning bay views.
You could amble for days here soaking up the wineries or settling in to explore the architectural wonder of Jackelope.
Or tuck into a woodfired pizza at T’Gallant before a feast at Red Gum BBQ.
Because things get serious from here…
Some freeway running heads to the edge of Gippsland, where it’s time to leave the sanctity of dual carriageway to explore lush rolling hills.
Half the fun is the town names: Mirboo, Kongwak, Archies Creek, Bena, some with great antique stores and quaint cafes that make a great pit stop.
Loch is a good starting point before carving an undulating course through Glen Alvie, often narrow, bumpy surfaces focusing your attention.
Continue on to Cape Paterson for the short seaside hop to Inverloch and coffee at The Bayside Lady. The RACV Resort is an obvious overnighter before an early start.
While you can’t hug the coast, the meandering road to Walkerville traverses rich bushland on the way to secluded Waratah Bay.
Fish Creek has its fair share of fashionable cafes for brunch, then it’s worth a diversion to the Pandesal Bakery in Meeniyan to top up for a picnic lunch.
All of which is enroute to The Grand Ridge Road. The 135km mix of bitumen and gravel rewards accurate steering. While regular cars are fine, an all-wheel drive makes the most of slippery sections.
Stop at the Tarra Bulga National Park for that picnic before motoring on to Toms Cap vineyard among the Strzelecki Ranges.
Then it’s on to Mount Baw Baw. Sure, it’s a dead-end, but the stunning selection of corners is worth the diversion.
If you want to continue the theme, make your way back to Warburton to tackle the Reefton Spur, a favourite with motorcyclists on a sunny Sunday.
Past Marysville the pace lightens and traffic thickens. The towering mountain ash trees along the Black Spur make cars look like toys.
At Healesville you’ll be ready for a glass of vino at Giant Steps.
Then again, you’re on the edge of the Yarra Valley, home to some of Australia’s best cool climate vineyards.
And the perfect place to extend your stay.
Sound good? Let’s go. The perfect long weekend awaits in the new Ford Endura. This luxurious SUV is made for idyllic road trips and endless adventures. Just slide into the leather-accented seats*, set your voice-activated Spotify to your favourite playlist, and let the GPS be your guide.
The Endura is not just another SUV. It’s the premium 5 seater that loves getting away as much as you do. Discover it for yourself at ford.com.au/suv/endura
*Available on ST-Line and Titanium models.
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