The greatest southern Australian road trip is actually by boat

7 November 2018

Australia’s southern coast is one heck of a drive, especially when you consider that the whole continent of Europe could almost fit into Australia. For a better option than driving for days on end, take an 11 day cruise on the Sea Princess from Sydney to Fremantle to explore the stunning southern coastline. This cruise will show you a different side of Australia than most Kiwis see, the itinerary taking you places you never would have thought of visiting.

The cruise starts in Sydney, giving you the option to arrive a couple of days early to get your shopping fix, visit some of the world’s best restaurants, or catch up with some of the Kiwi diaspora. But once you leave the thrill of city and board the ship, it’s “me time”. The wonderful thing about a cruise is that all the hard work is done for you. All you have to do is unpack, settle into your cabin and let the crew do the rest.

The iconic and stunning Sydney harbour (Image: Getty Images)

Sydney Harbour is quite possibly the most iconic in the world, boasting both the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. You’ll be forgiven for standing with a huge grin, drink in hand, as you gently sail out of this picturesque harbour while ferries and pleasure boats zip by, gliding past beautiful bays and beaches, around Watsons Bay and down past Bondi Beach.

After you’ve taken in the view, it’s all about exploring the ship and getting ready for dinner. The Sea Princess has multiple dining options which are included in your fare. Anytime Dining means you can see how you feel on the day and wander in any time between 5.30pm and 10.30pm and sit with old friends, make new ones, or even just a table for yourself.

If you prefer the old days when set times ruled the waves – and you want to dine on time with the same group (who you may have just met on board) – then you also have the option of Traditional Dining at your chosen hour. Here, you’ll have the same waiter each night and the same group to spin yarns with from appetisers to dessert.

Award-winning Australian chef Curtis Stone has his own restaurant on three Princess ships, all offering a six-course dining experience. Stone thrives on producing meals with new techniques and ingredients to make delicious discoveries for his guests, adding personal recommendations through his ‘Crafted’ menu that ensures a unique culinary experience.

But what would an Australian cruise be without a grill? You’ll find burgers and other Aussie barbeque favourites from the Terrace Grill. Beyond that, you’ll never go hungry with a patisserie, café, chocolate shop and 24-hour room service onboard. Have lunch or dinner brought to you without even having to leave your balcony or put down that riveting book.

This 11-day cruise spends the first day at sea before stopping in Melbourne, giving you a chance to explore its famous laneways, bars and restaurants. Check out the city’s famous art galleries, like the National Gallery of Victoria on the Yarra river. Or chill out at eclectic St Kilda with its beautiful beach and people-watching.

After you’ve had dinner and perhaps even enjoyed a cultured Melbourne evening of theatre, music or comedy, you’ll be back on the boat. Overnight, the cruise heads across the Bass Strait for breakfast and a day out in Burnie on the northern coast of Tasmania. Burnie is famous for its seafood, cheese making and whiskey distillery.

The view of Hobart from the summit of Mt Wellington (Image: Viktor Posov/Getty Images).

The next morning you’ll arrive in Hobart, set under the shadow of mighty Mt Wellington. This is the original British penal colony in Australia, packed with historic sites and heritage buildings to explore. Visit the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park and meet other Aussie wildlife, or head to Salamanca Place to browse the galleries in 19th century warehouses on the harbour’s edge.

Another sea day gives you plenty of time for on board activities, ranging from spa treatments, to swimming pools, to a flutter at the casino. There’s an art auction, a sports court as well as theatre shows, outdoor movies under the stars and live music dotted throughout the itinerary.

Adelaide’s famous St Peter's Anglican Cathedral (Image: Craig Jewell/Getty Images).

Adelaide is your next port, where you can tour surrounding wineries such as the famous Grange vineyards. Lunch in the Barossa needs to be on your to-do list, as is hopping over to Kangaroo Island to get up close with koalas, kangaroos and emus. Adelaide has lovely historic buildings along the river as well as Australia’s most exciting hospitality scene.

By now you’ve cruised around the Great Australian Bight and you’ll arrive at Albany, a port you may not know about. It’s located at the southern tip of West Australia and is the last stop before you get to the Indian Ocean. It’s known for its secluded beaches surrounding the harbour and a historic whaling station – now a museum.

Kangaroos at Margaret River looking like a postcard - (Image: Jade and Bertrand Maitre/Getty Images)

The next day at Margaret River should be all about its 140 wineries, several with fantastic restaurants and gardens to while away an afternoon. The town itself may be small, but it’s a favourite for Aussie superstar Hugh Jackman. Between June and August, you can take an excursion to see the 35,000 migrating whales who commute through these waters.


On the eleventh and final day you’ll arrive in Fremantle, the gateway to Perth, and a very cute town to explore on its own. There are cafes interspersed with boutiques filled with wares from young designers, and historical buildings abound. Don’t miss the stunning beach where you can dive with dolphins or just enjoy a beer in the waterfront brew bar.

Fremantle Harbour the gateway to Western Australia - (Neal Pritchard/ Getty Images).

 

 

 

Megan Singleton

Megan Singleton is an award-winning Auckland-based freelance travel writer and founder of Blogger at Large. Her site is listed in the Top 50 travel blogs in the world.