Federal Highway Road Trip – The Road to Canberra

by | Sep 7, 2023 | ACT, Discover Australia Now, Road Trips | 0 comments

When you see the Black Mountain Telstra Tower in the distance along the Federal Highway road trip – you know you aren’t far from Canberra.


The Federal Highway is the highway you take when you are driving to Canberra ACT from Sydney. It is a mere 80 km long and takes just under 40 minutes to drive and in my opinion, it is not that scenic or interesting. So why would you make this a road trip? Well, it was constructed in the 1930s as the way to reach Canberra when driving from Sydney. So if you are heading to Canberra from Sydney, you will be taking a Sydney to Canberra road trip along the Federal Highway.


Federal Highway FAQs 


Where Does the Federal Highway Start and End?


The Federal Highway stars just after the city of Goulburn on the Hume Highway which is the major road that links Melbourne to Sydney. It ends at the junction with the Barton Highway in Canberra. Shortly after this, its name changes to Northbourne Street which takes you into Canberra.


Best time to go on a road trip to Canberra


You can undertake a road trip along the Federal Highway to Canberra all throughout the year. It’s not a long drive and you’re unlikely to hit major disruption on the way, unless there is road works. The highway may be busier than usual during Floriade, a flower and entertainment festival which occurs annually in Canberra in September. If lucky enough to be in Canberra at this time, you will be treated to extensive displays of flowers and artistic features and sculptures.


Can You Stop Along the Federal Highway?


The Federal Highway has a number of rest areas to stop. Some have toilets and tables and chairs while some don’t and others have great views over Lake George too.


What to See Along the Federal Highway?


Having grown up in the southern suburbs of Sydney, every few years or so, my family would have a holiday in Canberra. This meant driving down the Hume Highway and onto the Federal Highway. This last trip reminded me that I find the drive along the Federal Highway pretty boring and not overly scenic. The countryside is quite flat with a few small mountains, probably call them hills, with some vegetation. It does become scenic when you start driving along side Lake George. 


Lake George


Stop at Lake George on a Federal Highway Road Trip to Canberra.

Lake George is an interesting lake. Thought to be over a million years old, Lake George is an endorheic lake, meaning the water does not flow into rivers or oceans. It just stays in the lake. And how large Lake George is varies as to rainfall. The last time I drove past it was quite full. There are a number of rest stops where you can stop to get great views over the lake or you can stop at the Weereewa Lookout providing a good view.


Historic Towns and Wineries


The rest of the drive along the Federal Highway into Canberra is pretty soulless unless you detour off the Federal Highway and visit some of the small outlying towns such as Bungendore. Established in 1837 this historic little town has many preserved old buildings. Nearby are some of Canberra’s cold climate wineries if you are looking to sample some wines – as long as they are open!  Then suddenly you see the Black Mountain Telstra Tower in the distance and then you are in Canberra. The Federal Highway becomes Northbourne Avenue which takes you into the centre of Canberra.


How Many Lanes Does the Federal Highway Have?


The Federal Highway is a dual carriageway. There are two lanes each way.


How Fast Can You Travel Along the Federal Highway?


In the NSW section of the Federal Highway the speed limit you can travel at is 110km per hour. Once in the ACT, the kilometres speed limit reduce to 100, then to 80. After that, follow the signage as to how fast you can go.


Where to Stay along the Federal Highway?


There is not much accommodation available along the Federal Highway. Near Collector you will find the Bushranger Hotel. Most of the accommodation you will start to see is once you hit the outskirts of Canberra. Most accommodation is found within Canberra.


Is Canberra Worth Visiting?


Yes, Canberra is worth visiting. It is Australia’s capital city and has many interesting buildings to visit including Parliament House and the National War Memorial. Depending on how close you are to Canberra, you could visit for a day. Perhaps a weekend or maybe 5-7 days Canberra itinerary.


What Other Roads Get You to Canberra


  • Many Sydney siders make the road trip from Sydney to Canberra regularly. They will drive down the Hume Highway that links Sydney to Melbourne and maybe stop in the Southern Highlands for breakfast or lunch before veering off the Hume Highway and onto the Federal Highway for the last leg to Canberra.
  • From Batemans Bay via Kings Highway brings you to Bungendore then join the Federal Highway.
  • From Yass take the Barton Highway.
  • From Cooma via the Monaro Highway which links to/from other roads through the Snowy Mountains.
  • There are some smaller country roads that link to Canberra.


Are You Ready for a Federal Highway Road Trip?


The Federal Highway may be short but it is necessary to drive if you want to visit Canberra. And don’t forget to check your car before leaving. There are 8 quick car checks I always do. Have you been to Canberra on a road trip along the Federal Highway? I’d love to hear.


Federal Highway Road Trip - The Road to Canberra to Parliament House PIN.


Here are my favourite go to sites to get great deals to live, work and play in Australia. They help me Discover Australia Now.

Please note, this post contains affiliate links. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

  • ✅ Need a bed in a hostel, hotel or resort, then get pricing and check availability at Booking.com.
  • ✅ Get free accommodation when you house and pet sit with Aussie House Sitters.
  • ✅ Rent a vehicle through DiscoverCars.
  • ✅ If you are from overseas don’t forget travel insurance with World Nomads.
  • ✅ Get a ticket for museums, activities and tourist attractions and jump the queue with a pre-purchased ticket from GetYourGuide.
  • ✅ Transfer money with Wise.




Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About Me

Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve Sign shaped like a big white wave with Sharyn McCullum On the Great Ocean Road.

G’Day! Sharyn here, an Aussie who loves discovering Australia. Let me show you around so you can discover Australia now too.  Read more about me here.

Follow along on Facebook


Caravan RV Camping