Sydney to Melbourne Drive Itinerary | 2023 Road Trip Guide

Connecting two of Australia’s biggest cities, a Sydney to Melbourne road trip is an amazing way to journey the far south coast. While many opt for the shorter inland route on Hume Highway through Canberra, a coastal drive from Sydney to Melbourne is well worth the extra kilometres.

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Lined by turquoise waters and charming seaside towns, the Princes Highway rivals the beauty and diversity of Great Ocean Road. But despite being far lesser-known, it is loaded with hidden gems that are sure to make for a memorable road trip. This coastal route spans over 1,000 km of white sand beaches, untouched wilderness, and even penguins!

We recently travelled from Sydney to Melbourne along the Coastal Discovery Drive and would easily put this trip on our list of the best road trips in Australia! It’s an amazing way to get from Sydney to Melbourne—or vice versa—without the need to fly.

Even if you only have a few days to get from Sydney to Melbourne by car, these coastal highlights are surely worth a stop. This Sydney to Melbourne road trip itinerary is best enjoyed over 2 weeks but can be adjusted to suit any schedule.

troopy campervan
Roadtrip with Troopy the Campervan
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Sydney to Melbourne Drive: Suggested Road Trip Stops 

With so many unique places to explore, you’ll have no shortage of great stopovers on your drive. So, if you’re wondering where to stop on a Sydney to Melbourne itinerary, here’s how to make the most of your inland road trip.

Sydney – 3-4 Days

Visiting Sydney is a given on many Australian trips, whether internationally or within the country. Its bustling food scene and an endless list of city ongoings make it a vibrant destination for travelers from all walks of life. The city is jam-packed with beaches, art galleries, and restaurants that put Sydney on the map as a top travel destination in Australia.

Sydney to Melbourne drive
Scenic views of Sydney Harbour from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, Sydney.

Things To Do In Sydney

  • For day 1, go for a 3-hour cruise around Sydney Harbour for a panoramic view of the city. This dinner cruise includes a 3-course meal of delicious local fare to enjoy at sunset. 
  • Alternatively, you can enjoy a lavish 8-course meal amid lush greenery at Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens for your day 1 activity. Marvel at the vibrant foliage while indulging in some of the city’s finest cuisine.
  • Hop into a see-through kayak and explore the crystal clear waters of the Pacific on a Kayak Hire. Glide through Manly Cove and go for a snorkel or lay back on the boat-in-only beaches. 
  • Visit Sydney’s main attractions like Sydney Harbour and Bondi Beach on this Highlights of Sydney Half-Day City Tour. It takes the guesswork out of planning – ideal for those on a tight schedule. 
  • Join the 2.5-hour guided Pub tour to sip on drinks at four historic pubs in The Rocks Sydney and relish the wild tales and colourful characters that figured in it.
The Calyx, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney
The Calyx, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney

READ NEXT: Best Day Trips From Sydney

Where To Stay In Sydney

Sydney hosts thousands of hotels, hostels, and stunning vacation rentals. If you’re new to navigating the city, our guide to Sydney neighbourhoods is a great place to start. Here are a few of our top picks for hotels in Sydney.

  • Sir Stamford HotelThis luxury 5-star hotel is the perfect launch point to Sydney Harbour. There are plenty of enjoyable activities for both kids and adults, such as water sports, a swimming pool, and biking. It’s close to the heart of the action in downtown Sydney and boasts a Gold Level status as a TripAdvisor GreenLeader.
  • Crystalbrook Albion: Located within a heritage building, this hotel offers a blend of heritage and modern details. The hotel is very eco-friendly, using tech to cut down on paper and plastics and teaming up with groups like TerraCycle, OzHarvest, and Containers for Change for sustainability.
  • Sydney Harbour YHA: A sustainable, budget hostel in the historic The Rocks district. It is solar-powered, with an open-plan design for sustainability. Don’t miss the rooftop terrace for amazing Sydney views.

Jervis Bay – 2-3 Days

Sydney to Jervis Bay: 198 km // 2 hours 40 minutes 

With the metropolitan views of Sydney in your rear window, head south to Jervis Bay for gorgeous waterfront scenery. Jervis Bay is a popular destination for whale watching, scuba diving, and bushwalking. The area is home to white-sand beaches and crystal clear waters that play host to dolphins and whales. 

The drive from Sydney to Jervis encompasses one of the region’s most popular road trips and passes by the magnificent Royal National Park.

To take in some amazing coastal landscapes, consider hopping on the Grand Pacific Drive, which is a 140 km stretch spanning from the Royal National Park to Shoalhaven. 

Enjoy the sweeping ocean views while driving through farmland, coastal towns, and national parks. This stretch of sun-soaked highway is sure to be a highlight on your Sydney to Melbourne drive. 

Stops on a Sydney to Jervis Bay Road Trip 

  • Take in Views at Bald Hill Lookout: Pack a picnic and enjoy the sweeping views over the hills and rugged coastline. This is a popular spot for hang gliders that overlooks the Sea Cliff Bridge. 
  • Drive the Sea Cliff Bridge: This winding bridge is iconic to New South Wales. The bridge is perched above the rocky cliffs of the NSW south coast and offers incredible views of birds, sea life, and surrounding national parks!
  • Feel the Mist of the Kiama Blowhole: Stop in the charming seaside town of Kiama to feel the mist of a blowhole formed by lava flows. With the right conditions, the blowhole can shoot 25 metres in the air!
  • Visit Wollongong: Just over an hour’s drive south of Sydney, Wollongong is a dynamic city full of activities. Scope out the surfing beaches and rock pools that line the coast road while hang-gliders launch from Bald Hill.
  • Walk the Blue Mile Pathway: Stroll on this much-loved 500m path in the heart of Wollongong. Take in coastal views while walking, cycling, and dining along the way.
  • Get your adrenaline pumping with a 15,000 ft Skydive over Wollongong. This thrilling adventure promises some of the best views of the city and coastline. 
  • Surf at Werri Beach: Consistent surf breaks are the norm as waves crawl across the headlands. Werri Beach is a great place to spend a day with some fish and chips from the local fish shop. 
Sydney to Melbourne drive
Scenic coastal views of Hyams Beach in Jervis Bay.

Things to Do in Jervis Bay

  • Snorkel in the protected waters of Plantation Point: This beautifully secluded point in Vincentia is the perfect foray into the marine world of Jervis Bay. With its crystal clear waters, the visibility for seeing colourful fish and vegetation is spectacular. 
  • Sink your toes in the sand at Hyams Beach: Hyams Beach has some of the whitest sand in Australia. This is a popular stop on the Princes Highway journey, so be sure to arrive early to beat the crowds. 
  • Enjoy a morning cruise on the Bay: Jervis Bay is no stranger to bottlenose dolphins and other marine life. A boat cruise is a perfect way to enjoy the sparkling waters and admire dolphins. Between May and November, you can even spot humpback whales on a whale-watching cruise 

Where To Stay In Jervis Bay

  • Paperbark CampThis peaceful bush retreat is the peak of glamping. It is less than 30 minutes away from Huskisson and offers access to a walking track, canoes, and kayak hire. Paperbark Camp has received an Advanced Eco Accreditation from Ecotourism Australia and implements many sustainable practices.
  • Worrowing Jervis BayA luxurious eco-resort, Worrowing sits on a stunning coastal farm. It offers self-contained accommodations minutes from the sandy beaches and nature reserves.
  • Harbourview Serviced Apartments are conveniently located within walking distance to cafes and restaurants in the coastal town of Ulladulla. 

South Coast, NSW – 2-4 Days

Jervis Bay to Eden: 313km // 4 hours 

The South Coast of New South Wales, encompassing the regions of Eurobodalla and Sapphire Coast boast crystal clear blue waters and offers plenty of attractions. 

The journey from Jervis Bay to Batemans Bay in Eurobodalla takes only 1.5 hours, or 4 hours if you plan on making your way all the way down the coast to Eden. But you could easily spend much longer than that exploring all of the unique places that dot this coastline.

The area is known for its oysters, whale watching, and the Aussie favourite Bega Cheese Factory. It’s a beautiful part of any coastal drive from Melbourne to Sydney (or vice versa).

Chamberlains Lookout, Sapphire Coast, NSW, Sydney to Melbourne drive
Chamberlains Lookout, Sapphire Coast, NSW

Things To Do In Eurobodalla

  • Get a taste for the local fare at Cupitt’s Estate: Spend an afternoon sharing a glass of local wine, beer, and cheese on this beautiful farm estate.
  • Visit Ulladulla: This coastal town is all about seafood and marvelling at the sea. A popular spot for diving, Ulladulla is a laid-back town that’s perfect for a lunch stop or a journey into the water.
  • Walk alongside Kangaroos at Pebbly Beach: Located within Murramarang National Park, Pebbly Beach is known for its resident kangaroos. If getting a photo of a kangaroo is high on the bucket list for your Melbourne to Sydney roadtrip, this is the place to do it!
  • Explore Batemans Bay: Known for its oysters and snorkelling, Batemans Bay is an underrated NSW destination. There are a few things to do in this small town. 
  • Eat Clyde River Oysters at the Wray Street Oyster Shed: It doesn’t get any fresher than eating oysters picked right from the banks of the Clyde River.
  • Take a Kayak Tour through Clyde River National Park: Kayak through North Batemans Bay and eat fresh oysters along the way!
  • Take a scenic flight: Fly above the water in a seaplane over the NSW south coast for an aerial view of the beaches and waterways.
  • Enjoy a picnic at Holmes Lookout: Take in a scenic view over the Clyde River and the Pacific Ocean with a hillside picnic.
  • Take in views from Observation Point Lookout: Located just an hour south of Batehaven, this lookout point is another great picnic spot with fantastic views.
  • Soak in Yuin Culture in Narooma: Narooma is a stunning area surrounded by clear blue waters and ancient rock formations — which is how it gets its name. It is set in a traditional Yuin country with rich South Eastern Aboriginal roots. Here, Ngaran Ngaran Cultural Awareness offers services for travelers to get acquainted with the history and culture of the region. 
  • Check out Bar Rock at the Bar Rock Lookout.
  • Walk the Mill Bay Boardwalk: Walk past mangroves and keep an eye out for schools of fish and stingrays in the water.
  • Snorkel with friendly seals at Montague Island: Montague Island is home to a colony of fur seals, thousands of penguins, and almost 100 bird species. It’s a popular destination for diving and snorkeling just off the coast of Narooma.
  • Visit historic Tilba: Set in the lush green hills of the NSW countryside, Tilba is a beautiful escape with rich heritage. Central Tilba is a unique period village set among the backdrop of Mount Gulaga. Visit the famous ABC Cheese Factory to explore the cheesemaking process and enjoy some local dairy from Tilba jersey cows.
Bateman's Bay, Eurobodalla, NSW, Sydney to Melbourne drive
Bateman’s Bay, Eurobodalla, NSW
Bar Rock Lookout, Eurobodalla, NSW, Sydney to Melbourne drive
Bar Rock Lookout, Eurobodalla, NSW

Things to Do Along The Sapphire Coast

  • Stop in Bermagui: Bermagui is known for its amazing sportfishing and water sports on Wallaga Lake. Check the visitor information centre for info on seasonal fishing and the best places to drop a line.
  • Check out Horse Head Rock and Camel Rock – some of the oldest rocks in NSW. Distinctly shaped like animals, these massive rocks near Wallaga Lake are a must-see on any drive to Sydney from Melbourne. 
  • Eat Fish and Chips at Bermagui Fishermen’s Wharf: Indulge in the freshest seafood caught daily right off the Bermagui coast. Watch out for the seagulls! 
  • Swim in the Blue Pool: The Blue Pool is one of the coolest highlights of the Sapphire Coast and an iconic landmark in Australia. Its name describes it perfectly: a natural ocean rock pool filled with crystal clear blue water. It’s an amazing place for a dip in the summer! 
  • Picnic at the Michael Lerner Lookout: This lookout point offers spectacular views of the coast and makes for a scenic road trip lunch stop.
  • Stop at Mimosa Rocks National Park and wander through the castle-like rock formations. 
  • Whale Watch in Tathra: In the Spring, the Tathra Wharf offers a prime spot to watch the whale migration with excellent diving/snorkelling opportunities. 
  • Admire Kianinny Bay at the Chamberlain Lookout: The sheltered blue waters at Kianinny Bay are some of the best places to swim along the Sapphire Coast. 
  • Go on a Magical Oyster Tour with Captain Sponge: Learn about oysters and the farming process behind the unique tide-to-table flavour. These oysters thrive in the nutrient-rich waters where two rivers meet; it’s obviously what makes a Sydney Rock Oyster tastes so good!
  • Swim in the Blue Pool: The Blue Pool is one of the coolest highlights of the Sapphire Coast and an iconic landmark in Australia. Its name describes it perfectly: a natural ocean rock pool filled with crystal clear blue water. It’s an amazing place for a dip in the summer! 
  • Picnic at the Michael Lerner Lookout: This lookout point offers spectacular views of the coast and makes for a scenic road trip lunch stop.
  • Stop at Mimosa Rocks National Park and wander through the castle-like rock formations. 
  • Whale Watch in Tathra: In the Spring, the Tathra Wharf offers a prime spot to watch the whale migration with excellent diving/snorkelling opportunities. 
  • Admire Kianinny Bay at the Chamberlain Lookout: The sheltered blue waters at Kianinny Bay are some of the best places to swim along the Sapphire Coast. 
  • Go on a Magical Oyster Tour with Captain Sponge: Learn about oysters and the farming process behind the unique tide-to-table flavour. These oysters thrive in the nutrient-rich waters where two rivers meet; it’s obviously what makes a Sydney Rock Oyster tastes so good!
  • Explore the Waters of Merimbula: Named after an Aboriginal word for “two lakes,” Merimbula is surrounded by calm, clear waters. The Lions Park Lookout is a lovely spot to pull over and stretch your legs or have a picnic while overlooking Lions Beach. You can also venture South to Eden for sweeping views over Twofold Bay to Ben Boyd National Park from the Eden Park Lookout. 
Sydney to Melbourne drive
Enjoying fish and chips at Bermagui Wharf, Sapphire Coast, NSW
Chamberlains Lookout, Sapphire Coast, NSW, Sydney to Melbourne drive
Chamberlains Lookout, Sapphire Coast, NSW  

Where To Stay Along The South Coast, NSW

  • Tilba Lake CampStay in a luxe “pod” or hilltop glamping tent with views over the Pacific Ocean and Tilba Lake. Nestled among mountains, lakes, and the ocean, Tilba Lake Camp is all about sleeping under the stars in luxury. These unique escapes are the perfect way to unwind after a long day on the road. 
  • Sails Luxury Apartments: Stay in the luxurious family vacation rentals on the South Coast with a range of outdoor amenities and beautiful lake views. This property features a heated outdoor swimming pool and a BBQ area. The location is perfect for easy walks to the main beach for surfing and dining at local restaurants. 
  • Kianinny Bush Cottages: Five minutes from the whales in Tathra is 100 acres of native bushland, where Kianinny Bush Cottages offer solar-powered cabins. Set on a private lake, the grounds offer an endless list of activities for enjoying the Sapphire Coast sustainably.

Gipsy Point/Mallacoota – 1 Day

Sapphire Coast (Eden) to Gipsy Point: 71 km // 1 hour 

The state line from NSW into Victoria runs just an hour’s drive south from Eden in Sapphire Coast. The first Victoria stop on your Sydney-Melbourne road trip should be at Gipsy Point. This lovely riverside area sits at the top of the Mallacoota Inlet in the Gippsland Lakes region. 

A little further down the road, Mallacoota town serves as a launch point to sandy beaches, calm waterways, and Australian wilderness. It feels far, far away from the urban cities of Sydney and Melbourne, and makes for a relaxing detour on a coastal road trip.

Sydney to Melbourne drive
Mallacoota Beach

Things To Do In Gipsy Point/Mallacoota 

  • Visit Croajingolong National Park: Considered a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, this park is a nature lover’s dream. It offers a pristine stretch of coast where the mountain valleys meet the lush rainforest. Some of the park trails worth exploring here are: the Genoa Peak WalkPoint Hicks Lightstation Walk, and Thurra River Dunes Walk.
  • Walk the Mallacoota Coastal Walk: With heaps of formal and informal bush walking tracks in Mallacoota, there are lots to choose from. The Betka Beach Loop is a short walk that winds through the rainforest along creeks and boasts sweeping views of the coast. 
  • Have a picnic at Sandy Point: The Sandy Point picnic area is a great place to eat lunch and get up close and personal with wildlife. Kangaroos are known to frequent the golf course here, while koalas can be spotted hanging out (literally) at dusk.
  • Walk along Quarry Beach: Surrounded by jagged headlands, Quarry Beach is a 1km stretch of ancient-looking rocks. It’s a popular spot for swimming, fishing, and surfing.

Where To Stay In Gipsy Point/Mallacoota 

  • Gipsy Point Lodge: This tranquil riverside retreat with river and garden view rooms, and self-contained cottages was our choice of accommodation in Gipsy Point. There is an onsite restaurant and bar serving up delicious local cuisine ranging from oysters to fresh salads.
  • The lodge is surrounded by Croajingolong National Park and gives guests direct access to enjoy the extensive Mallacoota Inlet and local rivers. You can hire a canoe or kayak and spend a day exploring the inlet or opt to do some busk walking, biking, swimming, sightseeing or simply relaxing in the Lodge.
  • Farm Stay at 32 Zachary Drive: This homestay in East Gippsland is suitable for big groups, fishing trips, or romantic weekend getaways. It’s set on 30 acres of beautiful bushland with wide open fields, offering those iconic Mallacoota sea views. This hotel is located within walking distance from the city centre.

Lakes Entrance – 2-3 Days

Gipsy Point to Lakes Entrance: 188 km // 2 hours 10 minutes 

Detour off the main highway to soak in the seaside charm of Lakes Entrance. Known as the seafood capital of Victoria, this quaint coastal town is surrounded by inland waterways and abundant wildlife. Lakes Entrance is a popular holiday destination for locals from the Great Melbourne Area and is a worthy stop to explore the Gippsland Lakes

Things To Do In Lakes Entrance 

  • SUP with Venture Out Australia:
 Paddling through the sparkling waters of the Gippsland Lakes is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. If you’re lucky, you might even spot dolphins or seals.
  • Go on a Bike Ride: Lakes Entrance is full of mountain biking trails that range from smooth pathways to jump-filled trails. You can also hire a bike to journey down to nearby towns like Metung or Nowa Nowa.
  • Dine at SodafishEnjoy the freshest seafood the region has to offer with wild-caught sustainable fish, oysters, and shellfish. We recommend their 7-course Chef’s Selection Set Meal.
  • Explore the Waterways: Hire a boat or kayak or catch a cruise to explore the coastal villages and waterways.
  • Stroll along the Metung Boardwalk: This picturesque 5 km boardwalk follows a narrow stretch of land within the lakes. It’s a great place for a walk or cycle and is a local favourite to watch the sunset.
  • Soak in the sun at Ninety Mile Beach: This pristine stretch of sandy beach is a Victoria, Australia gem. It spans—you guessed it—90 miles (145 km) and is a popular swimming and wildlife viewing destination.
  • Visit Raymond Island: Hop on the ferry to Raymond Island for some of the best koala-spotting around. The ferry is free and takes 5 minutes to arrive at this one of the best wildlife havens.
  • Visit Wineries: Check out the East Gippsland Drink Trail to discover some of the region’s best wineries and cellar doors.
Sodafish, Lakes Entrance, Victoria, Sydney to Melbourne drive
Sodafish, Lakes Entrance, Victoria

Where To Stay In Lakes Entrance

Waverley House Cottages: After a long day on the road, these woodland cottages offer an ideal retreat. Surrounded by 8 acres of private gardens, Waverley House Cottages share the magic of the region without the crowds of town. 

With a solar-heated pool and hydrotherapy spa, the Waverley House Cottages have perfect accommodations no matter whether you are traveling with a big family or as a couple.

Bedroom at the Waverley House Cottages in Lakes Entrances, Victoria
Bedroom at the Waverley House Cottages in Lakes Entrance, Victoria

Walhalla – 1-2 Days

Lakes Entrance to Walhalla: 197 km // 2.5 hours

Head inland from the coast to historic Walhalla to see what was once one of Australia’s richest gold rush towns. Now, the sleepy town feels like a relic of the past. Home to only 20 year-round residents, Walhalla is a popular escape from the city and is particularly famous for the beautiful fall foliage between April and May. 

Upon discovering a 3 km vein of gold called Cohen’s Reef, Walhalla became a mecca for gold seekers and miners during the gold rush era. It is tucked in a valley along the mountains of Victoria and serves as a time capsule of the 19th-century gold rush. 

WORTHY STOP: Be sure to take the backroads from Lakes Entrances to Walhalla through the sprawling farming country and stop for a fabulous lunch in the town of Tinamba at the Tinamba Hotel. 

Things To Do In Walhalla

  • Tour the Town: Explore the picturesque buildings that line the historic streets.
  • Go on an Underground Mine Tour: Venture into the Long Tunnel Extended Gold Mine to access Cohen’s Reef and explore the town’s gold mining heritage.  
  • Ride the Scenic Railway: The Walhalla Goldfields Railway runs 3 days a week through the Stringers Creek Gorge. Stopping at Thomson Station, the route winds through beautiful trees and scenic mountain views. 
  • Day trip to Baw Baw National Park: If you love the outdoors and looking for an adventure, you can explore this fragrant eucalyptus wonderland by walking or snowshoeing along the many trails through snowgum forests. You might encounter local wildlife and vibrant wildflowers along the way!
Walhalla, Victoria, Sydney to Melbourne drive
Walhalla, Victoria

Where To Stay In Walhalla

Walhalla’s Star HotelEnjoy country dining and a cozy overnight stay at Walhalla’s Star Hotel, a boutique mountain retreat. The grounds are all about preserving the original gold-era facade and disconnecting from modern technology. They have a restaurant on-site serving up great local fare, and no stay here is complete without meeting their dog, Tilly!

Overlooking the town from our balcony at Walhalla's Star Hotel
Overlooking the town from our balcony at Walhalla’s Star Hotel

Wilsons Promontory – 2-3 Days

Walhalla to Wilsons Promontory: 210 km // 2 hours 50 minutes

A stop at Wilsons Promontory might seem out of the way, but this glorious journey through the temperate rainforest of Australia is pretty special. Head through Traralgon to Tarra Bulga National Park for a refreshing stroll through the lush surroundings of greenery and ferns.

You can then ogle at the colourful murals of Yarram, which dot the town’s walls. The murals, dubbed Heescotown, display the vibrant farm history and culture that the region is known for. Be sure to check out all 12 murals as you cruise through town. 

After veering toward the southernmost tip of mainland Australia, you’ll arrive at what locals lovingly call “The Prom.” Wilsons Promontory is a spectacular nature park surrounded by native bush and stunning beaches. 

The Prom holds a special place in many Australians’ hearts, and we can definitely see why. The unspoiled nature is the perfect backdrop for snorkelling, hiking, and wildlife viewing.

Wilsons Promontory
Squeak Beach, Wilsons Promontory. Photo Credit: Visit Victoria

Things to Do in Wilsons Promontory

  • Visit Wilsons Promontory National Park: Filled with a labyrinth of walking trails, The Prom is a magical destination for nature lovers. You could easily spend a week taking in everything from the fern gullies to the quartz sand of Squeaky Beach.
  • For a day tour, pack a flask of hot tea and catch the sunrise from the summit of Mt. Oberon. If you have 3 to 4 days to spare, embark on the Southern Circuit Walk for a magical venture through dunes, swamps, and hidden coves.
  • Go on a Wildlife Watching Cruise: This 2.5-hour wilderness cruise will take you through the gorgeous granite-studded coast of The Prom. Ride in the world’s largest custom-built amphibious boat and keep your eyes peeled for whales and dolphins.

Where To Stay In Wilsons Promontory

  • Tidal River CabinsThese self-contained cabins are located in the heart of the national park, just steps from Norman Beach. Set in the bush, you can overlook the stunning surroundings while you eat dinner on the timber deck.
  • Wilderness Retreats at Wilsons Promontory National Park: Cozy into insect-proof tents perched above some of the best beaches, islands, and forests in Victoria. 

Phillip Island – 2-3 Days

Wilsons Promontory to Phillip Island: 134 km // 2 hours

Located just about 1 hour drive from Melbourne, Phillip Island is a seaside oasis of pristine beaches and rugged nature. A popular vacation spot for Melbournians looking to escape the city, it hosts some of the country’s most iconic sights. 

Koalas hanging from trees, surfers catching waves, and even penguins waddling on the beach at dusk. Much like Wilsons Promontory, a Phillip Island detour seems like an easily skippable stop. While it is out of the way, it was one of our highlights of the trip from Sydney to Melbourne! It is bursting at the seams with fun activities with plenty of options for sensational local produce.

Things To Do On Phillip Island

  • Dine at The Cape Kitchen: Pair panoramic views of the Southern Ocean with an incredible locally sourced menu of dishes. Their set lunch is worth the splurge!
  • Don’t miss the Red Rock Beach and Forrest Caves: Red Rock Beach is covered in rich red rocks with impressive rock pools to explore. At low tide, discover sea caves in the cliffs at the Forrest Caves near Surfside.
  • Hike Cape Woolamai: Hike your way up to the highest point on Phillip Island for sweeping views over the cape and surrounding ocean. There are a few different trails at Cape Woolamai ranging from an easy 30 min walk to a 2-3 hours 8km loop. 
  • Visit the Koala Conservation Reserve: See koalas in their natural habitat while strolling across treetop boardwalks in natural bushland. It’s a great spot to get close to wild Koalas and to learn more about their life and habitat. 
  • Visit Nobbies Centre: Learn all about the animals and nature of Phillips Island with dynamic displays at this ecotourism centre. Stroll the boardwalk at sunset for spectacular ocean views!
  • Watch the Penguin Parade at Phillip Island Nature ParkHead to Summerland Beach at dusk to watch the little penguins waddle their way down the shore to their burrows. The nightly show offers an unmissable opportunity to get up close to the World’s smallest penguins!
  • Have lunch at the Outback Chef’s Wild Food FarmPick up a jar of preserves or grab a bite at this uniquely Australian bush food shop and café and don’t miss an opportunity to tour the grounds for a chance to learn more about Australia’s traditional plants and ways that the team at the Outback Chef has been incorporating them into their cuisine. Their Australian grown tea sold at the shop is a perfect souvenir to take home with you. Try the Black Tea with Strawberry Gum blend! 
  • Sip wine at the Purple Hen Winery: Sip on crisp cool climate wines at this family owned winery surrounded by farmland and beautiful views of the bay. 
  • Shop at The Store: Pick up locally sourced gourmet staples like coffee beans and cheeses while browsing handmade footwear and gluten-free delights. 
  • Enjoy a family-friendly cruise: Get on the Cape Woolamai Scenic Cruise to discover Phillip Island’s hidden gem. Look out for dolphins, fur seals, and seabirds on this catamaran tour. You might even see the daily pelican feeding.
Sydney to Melbourne drive
Oksana and Max in Phillip Island
Boardwalk at the Nobbies Centre, Phillip Island, Sydney to Melbourne drive
Boardwalk at the Nobbies Centre, Phillip Island

Where To Stay On Phillip Island

Oak Tree LodgeRelax and unwind at this luxurious coastal escape set in a picturesque English garden. Located in Rhyll on Phillip Island, this lodge is located within walking distance to a local winery with easy access to the Koala Conservation Reserve. The lodge is self-contained and offers everything you need for a cozy and comfortable stay on Phillip Island. Its beautiful farmhouse decor had us in awe!

READ NEXT: Things To Do In Phillip Island, Victoria

Melbourne – 3-5 Days

Phillip Island to Melbourne: 141 km // 2 hours

And the final stop on your Melbourne coastal drive! Deemed Australia’s cultural capital, Melbourne is buzzing with unique restaurants, hip laneways, and rich history. You could easily spend weeks uncovering everything Melbourne has to offer, but here are a few things to check out while driving from Sydney to Melbourne.

Melbourne, Australia, Sydney to Melbourne drive
Melbourne, Australia

Things To Do In Melbourne

  • Go on a River Cruise: See the highlights of the city from a different perspective on this 2-hour cruise up and down the Yarra River. Enjoy a quick way to see all the must-visit places in Melbourne. The cruise passes by the iconic city landmarks, bustling ports, and serene river gardens.
  • Explore the colourful Laneways: Wander through vibrant streets dotted with boutiques, markets, vintage shops, and cafés. Learn about Melbourne’s history, exploring its architecture, street art, and vibrant culture. Make quick stops at quirky cafes to savour the city’s unique charm.
  • Tour the city by Bike: Discover the diverse villages and landmarks that the city is known for while riding the Melbourne Bayside Cycling Trail, a great way to explore St Kilda and Brighton on a beautiful day. Here you’ll find local neighbourhoods, enjoy scenic beachfronts, and see iconic landmarks. Don’t miss the sustainable Rain Man Fountain, powered by solar energy and recycled water.
  • Discover culinary gems on a Foodie Tour: Melbourne is known as a culinary centre when it comes to tourism Australia. Sample some of the best bites in the city with these local favourite spots. Sip the famous coffee, try some of the delectable dumplings and sweet treats, and cap it all off with a local-favourite bar drink.

READ NEXT: 8 Best Melbourne Weekend Getaways

Where To Stay In Melbourne

Melbourne is home to lots of unique and eco-friendly accommodations. Check out our guide to Melbourne neighbourhoods and hotels for more of our favourite spots.

  • Alto HotelSettle into the best of both worlds at this apartment-style boutique hotel in the heart of the city. It’s in the heart of the CBD and runs off of 100% renewable energy. 
  • Clarion Suites GatewaySet on the banks of the Yarra River, this AAA Tourism Eco-Friendly Star Accredited Hotel is a great base to explore the city. Their sustainable practices are complemented by modern rooms and an onsite bar and café.
  • Selina St Kilda: A good hostel for a short stay, close to shops, tram stops, and the beach. It has a wonderful community vibe, modern rooms, and an eco-friendly approach. It also has an onsite bar and café. It is a great, affordable option for your Melbourne stay.

Sydney To Melbourne Road Trip Time & Distance

How Far is the Route from Sydney to Melbourne?

The quickest way from Sydney to Melbourne is to drive along the Hume Highway (M31) for 874 km. It may be the quickest way to get to Melbourne from Syndey, but it’s not nearly as fun as the route we’ve shared above.

Total Driving Distance For Road Trip From Sydney To Melbourne (And Vice Versa)

Our Sydney to Melbourne coastal drive was 1,502 km total distance. If you’re tight on time, you can skip some detours and still do the Sydney to Melbourne coastal trip in just over 1,000 km. If hugging the coast isn’t a priority, you can save about 600 km and do the inland route, also known as Hume Highway. 

How Many Days To Drive From Sydney To Melbourne? 

For the full coastal route experience filled with unique stopovers, you should allow 2 weeks for a road trip from Sydney to Melbourne

Of course, you can skip some Sydney to Melbourne road trip stops and do it in a few days if you’re working with a shorter time frame. 

The same goes for a coastal Melbourne to Sydney drive. The drive is a bit longer, but the stops, breathtaking seaside views, seafood, and charming towns along the way make it totally worth it.

It is possible to do the drive in just 4-5 days, but prepare to make some tough decisions on what to skip and where to stop along the way!

Looking for other itineraries for your Sydney to Melbourne coastal drive?
Check out the Sydney to Melbourne Touring for additional info about potential stops along the way and the best driving route from Sydney. 

Total Sydney To Melbourne Driving Time

Despite the long driving distance from Sydney to Melbourne, in total, we only spent about 19.5 hours on the road driving to Melbourne from Sydney. 


Have You Ever Taken A Road Trip To Melbourne From Sydney? What Were Some Of Your Must-See Stops?

2 thoughts on “Sydney to Melbourne Drive Itinerary | 2023 Road Trip Guide”

  1. I’d love this in a pdf to print out! Planning a trip for my fiancées birthday and this is perfect!

    1. If you open the article in Safari browser (and maybe others support this too), there is a little icon on the left of the URL bar that says “Reader View”. It removes all photos and ads from the page so you can print it/pdf it and have just the text that you are looking for. Hope that helps.

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