Take the Sydney Melbourne Heritage Drive via Canberra, travelling through historic gold rush towns, and wine country. With your Sydney Airport car rental from Hertz, this is the ideal route for sightseeing that fits in some of Australia’s top cities.
Take the Hume Motorway southwest from Sydney, heading inland. Call in at Berrima, a town of antique and craft stores, for a lunch stop. As you approach Canberra, the Australian capital, you’ll see Parliament House’s flagpole atop Capital Hill. Around Lake Burley Griffin are a number of iconic national institutions and attractions. Visit the Australian War Memorial and the National Gallery of Australia.
Take the Barton Highway north until you rejoin the Hume Motorway at Yass – today a base for rural and adventure activities. Then head further west to Albury Wodonga, twin cities on either side of the Murray River set to a backdrop of rolling valleys, hills and farmland. The visual arts are big here, as are restaurants and cafes. There is something for everyone from historic architecture and stately gardens to golf, fishing and cycling.
Follow the Hume Highway to Echuca-Moama, the paddle steamer capital of Australia. The nearby Barmah Wetlands and their river red gums are best explored by boat while nearby Lake Hume is ideal for sunbathing and fishing. Then turn onto the Northern Highway heading south for Bendigo. Bendigo once outnumbered Melbourne thanks to the 1800s gold rush. Grand Victoria sandstone buildings and gardens live on today. Be sure to visit the Golden Dragon Museum and the Joss House temple. You can journey underground at the Central Deborah Gold Mine or take the Bendigo Heritage Tram from the mine for a moving commentary of Bendigo’s major sights.
The Calder Freeway will lead you to Melbourne, but the many towns on the way are full of antique treasures if that’s your kind of thing. Castlemaine and Maldon are bursting with old world charm. About an hour north of Melbourne, stop at dramatic Hanging Rock.