Enjoy the road less travelled from Canberra to the Coast
Did you know that Jervis Bay isn't actually part of NSW? All the way back in 1915, the Australian government wanted to have a national port. So with Jervis Bay Peninsula being the closest ocean to Canberra, this stretch of coastline was officially handed to the Commonwealth. It is essentially Australia's national sea and affectionately called Canberra's Coast, although technically not part of the ACT! Recently upgraded & fully sealed, Main Road 92 is now the shortest route from Canberra to the white sand beaches of Jervis Bay. The 2.5 hour drive isn't windy like the alternate routes and takes travellers through quaint country towns, Morton National Park’s breathtaking sandstone escarpments and the nation's convict history before arriving at the unspoilt shoreline. Although this is the quickest road from the capital to the coast, it's also a great route for an extended road trip. For those who have the time to take it slow and be inspired by the spirit of adventure, here's a little guide to all the things to see and do along Main Rd 92.
Canberra to Tarago
Venture out along Kings Highway, also known as National Route 52, and make your way towards Tarago. This road is a refreshing alternative to a mundane Federal Highway drive as it can get quite remote in parts and exposes visitors to snapshots of real Australian countryside. Just 40 minutes out of Canberra, you can stop for a coffee and quick peruse of Bungendore Wood Works Gallery before you move onwards to Tarago. Here, you can settle in at the popular stopping point of the Loaded Dog Hotel in the town centre. It's a great local haunt that serves up traditional burgers and cold beers to help keep the fuel going for your adventure. Named after the humorous short story by famous Australian writer Henry Lawson, this pub also has historic significance as an old safe house for bushrangers such as Frank Gardiner and Ben Hall in the 1860s. A stop in Tarago is also a great opportunity to load up on some essential supplies like petrol, snacks and water as you continue along the Main Rd 92 drive. As you venture along Tarago Rd from Bungendore, make sure to keep an eye out for the captivating Woodlawn Wind Farm on your right, which overlooks picturesque Lake George.
Tarago to Windellama
For the next part of the journey, take Lumley Rd out of Tarago, which continues on through a line of imposing pine trees and becomes Cullulla Road. Turn left at the t-intersection onto Sandy Point Rd and then, after a few kilometres, a right turn will lead you onto Oallen Ford Road, near Windellama. This road crosses the Shoalhaven River at the new Oallen Ford Bridge and there's a little rest stop here to take a break and stretch your legs. From this vantage point, you can see remnants of the old bridge where heavy duty bullock drays used to transport goods during the pioneer era. Take a paddle in the river and channel the lives of our very first settlers. Keep an eye on the date that you're planning your road trip, as the village of Windellama hosts country markets on the third Sunday of each month and the town hosts the Windellama Small Farms Field Day and Windellama Country Fair in November every year.
Windellama to Nerriga
Continuing along Oallen Ford Rd will lead you to a t-intersection with Nerriga Rd. Make a left turn here to take you through to Nerriga, a small country village located on the edge of Morton National Park. In the 1850s, the discovery of gold in the Shoalhaven River attracted a lot of interest to this small town and this plays a huge role in the area's history. An excellent pit stop is the iconic Nerriga Hotel, where you can grab light refreshments or a hearty pub lunch, accompanied by live music on the last Sunday of each month. Along this road trip itinerary, Nerriga is the last port of call before visitors enter into the Shoalhaven local government area - the drive from the pub into the Shoalhaven is just 5 minutes!
Nerriga to Sassafras
Hoorah, you've made it to the Shoalhaven! The route through the bush at the western stretch of Morton National Park has never been easier to drive. No more bumpy paths as it's now sealed, smooth and a great way to adventure through the wilderness in comfort. Continue along Nerriga Rd, following the signs to Nowra, and then at Endrick River crossing, wind your way past the beautiful sandstone cliffs at Bulee Gap. It is still possible in places to view the original road built by convicts all the way back in 1841! An absolute must visit along this leg if you're travelling during March and April is the Sassafras Nut Farm on Braidwood Rd. The owners offer a pick your own chestnut adventure during this harvest period and you can also buy pre-packed chestnuts and walnuts direct from the farm. Make sure to book your visit in advance, though, to save you from any disappointment!
Sassafras to Tianjara Falls
It wouldn't be a road trip if you didn't stop at a lookout for a spectacular view, right? An easy place to pull over and be captivated by the expanse of Morton National Park is at Tianjara Falls. Located just off Braidwood Rd the waterfall is clearly sign-posted and the perfect place to stop for a happy holiday snap. From the car park, it's just a short 50-metre walk to the viewing platform where you can stand in awe of falling water which plunges 64 metres from the top of the escarpment. If you're travelling in a 4WD or feeling a bit adventurous in your 2WD, take a slight detour off Braidwood Rd and drive towards Jerrawangala Lookout. The viewpoint provides stunning vistas of the Shoalhaven Peninsula, all the way out to the coast. With the waters of Jervis Bay in clear sight, it's a sign that you are just a stone's throw away from your final destination.
Tianjara Falls to Jervis Bay
Another half an hour's drive will have you in the heart of Jervis Bay, at the seaside towns of Huskisson and Vincentia. When leaving Tianjara Falls turn right from Braidwood Rd at Turpentine Rd in the direction of Tomerong. Once you reach Princes Highway, turn left and look for signs to Jervis Bay. For anyone who'd like to explore the coastal towns of Mollymook and Ulladulla can make a right turn here instead and venture further south. This last stretch of road is steeped in history as Main Rd 92 was once known as the famous "Wool Road". Back in the 1800s, wool farmers in Goulburn and around Canberra used to transport their fleeces along this route all the way to the Holden St Boat Ramp in Vincentia. The goods would then head out to market via steamboat which brought a great level of prosperity to the surrounding towns. To learn a little bit more about the history of the Wool Road and the regions naval heritage, pay a visit to the Jervis Bay Maritime Museum while you're in town.
Road trip checklist
A few things to keep in mind to ensure you can enjoy the road less travelled!
Check your vehicle and fill the tank before you leave.
Plan to travel during daylight hours for safety and spotting wildlife.
Carry drinking water and snacks. You can stop to buy refreshments at Nerriga and Tarago during opening hours.
Use your mobile phone’s map facility if needed, however, mobile reception may be patchy at certain points. Make sure to download our guide below which includes an easy to follow map.
Main Road 92 Bucket List
- Bungendore Wood Works, Bungendore
Loaded Dog Hotel, Tarago
Oallen Ford Bridge, Windellama
Nerriga Hotel, Nerriga
Sassafras Nut Farm, Braidwood
Tianjara Falls, Morton National Park