Dr Latitude: Swag of sights on the road to Gundagai

We are planning to travel from Sydney to Melbourne by road. What places of interest are there along the way and how many days would it be from point to point if we take in Canberra on the way south? After reaching Melbourne we believe a visit to Ballarat and Bendigo would be worthwhile. -Margaret and Richard Garnham

Drivers who are hell-bent on getting from Sydney to Melbourne as quickly as possible tend to follow the Hume Highway through Gundagai, Albury, Wangaratta and Seymour, a trip of about 10 hours, but there are other more leisurely, scenic routes if you have two or three days.

Sydney to Canberra is only three hours but it's worth detouring to meander through the Southern Highland towns of Mittagong, Berrima, Bowral, Moss Vale, Sutton Forest and Goulburn.

You could even drive down the south coast to Kiama, visit the inland antiques town of Berry, then head to Moss Vale and the Southern Highlands' rose gardens.

You'll find plenty to occupy you in Canberra, including the Parliament Houses, National Art Gallery and Australian Museum. The 1920s Olim Hotel (www.olimshotel.com) has a suitably august feel for the national capital, with doubles from $88.

From Canberra you have several choices. The Monaro Highway heads south to Cooma, hub of the Snowy Mountains' hydro-electric scheme in the 1950s.

From here you could continue east to Bega and the coast, southwest to Jindabyne and the Snowies or south to the border and Cann River.

Or you could head directly east from Canberra to Batemans Bay and follow the coast all the way to Melbourne. This route, along the Princes Highway, would take you through Narooma, Bega, Tathra, Merimbula, Eden, Cann River and Lakes Entrance, with perhaps a detour to tiny Mallacoota. However, as Ballarat and Bendigo are on your itinerary, why not drive from Albury along the mighty Murray River to Echuca (three hours), stopping at Rutherglen to sample the area's famous red wines.

While you're in the Goldfields region, you'll be well placed to visit the National Trust towns of Daylesford, Castlemaine and Maldon, Mt Macedon's cold-climate gardens and eerie Hanging Rock.

This region has some lovely B&Bs and guesthouses.

Echuca is a holiday hub for people keen on water activities, but if you don't want to get your feet wet then walking around the historic port and taking a ride on a paddle-steamer are popular attractions.

Hodgson House (www.hogdsonhouse.com.au) is right on the river and has romantic doubles with en-suites for $165 midweek.

Berndigo is filled with relics from its heady goldmining days, but it also has plenty of stunning boom-era architecture. Highlights include the Deborah Gold Mine, Chinese Museum and tourist tram. Butlers of Bendigo (www.butlersofbendigo.com.au) at Caradon House has sumptuous doubles from $160.

Castlemaine's renowned regional art gallery, museum, Buda homestead and old jail will keep you busy for a day, and the Victorian-era Wisteria House B&B (www.wisteriahouse.com.au; doubles $170) will ensure you have a restful night.

Go for a relaxing spa or massage while you're in Daylesford, and peruse the antique and bric-a-brac shops that line the main street.

Six-in-one odyssey

Three of us are leaving Rome by car in September and plan to go to Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Austria and Switzerland before we fly home from Geneva. We wish to keep off the main routes and see the countryside and small towns. What would be our best route?- Warren Taylor

Six countries in a month. Where else could you be but Europe. Unless you want to explore some of Italy, the quickest way to get to Croatia would be by car ferry from Ancona to Split or Zadar (4 hours), or from Pescara to Hvar island (3 hours) with SNAV ferries (www.snav.it)

Croatia has a wealth of wonderful coastline, dotted with Venetian towns, modern resorts and ancient ports. The drive down the Dalmatian coast from Split to Dubrovnik via Hvar, Korcula and other islands will be a highlight of your trip.

Despite the ravages of war, Bosnia's main attractions are Mostar and Sarajevo, along with the religious site of Medugorje.

If time is looking tight, take a ferry north from Dubrovnik to Rijeka and explore Opatija and Pula before heading into Slovenia to visit the Postojna caves and Ljubljana.

Once in Austria, head east into the Tirol and don't miss the chance to drive through the Hohe Tauern National Park, one of the world's most scenic journeys. Continue east through Innsbruck, St Anton, Appenzell and into Switzerland.

Your east-west drive across the breadth of Switzerland to Geneva could focus on the picture-book Alpine countryside around Interlaken and Lausanne.

You should be able to combine off-highway driving with get-there-quick expressways to make sure you see as much of the countryside and less-frequented villages as possible.

For driving and itinerary tips, have a chat to travellers on Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree travel forum (http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com) and have a look at Visit Europe (www.visiteurope.com), Europe for Visitors (http://goeurope.about.com), Auto Europe (www.autoeurope.com) and Michelin (www.viamichelin.com).

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