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If you really wanted to, the drive between Melbourne and Sydney could be blasted out in about 9 hours, but where’s the fun in that? With so much to see and do on the Melbourne to Sydney drive, this part of Australia is the perfect spot to spend a couple of weeks dipping into some amazing places.
Due to a lot of changed plans and, well, poor planning from Tom and I, we’ve covered this little stretch of road about 3 times since moving to Australia. Melbourne remains one of my all-time favourite cities I’ve ever been to, and we also lived in Sydney for 6 months whilst doing the ‘working’ part of a working holiday visa. It’s safe to say we’ve covered a fair amount of tarmac since we arrived!
so, if you’re planning a mega road trip along Australia’s East Coast this is going to help you out no end. Here’s my guide to the best things to see whilst driving from Melbourne to Sydney which includes 10 incredible spots to visit.
You might also like:
- Budget friendly and free things to do in Melbourne
- Budget friendly and free things to do in Sydney
- Road trippin’ the Great Ocean Road- 3 ways in 4 days
- How to spend 48 hours in Phillip Island
- A guide to visiting Wilsons Prom
How to find cheap campervan hire in Australia
Whilst I may have travelled much of the East Coast in my trusty Honda CR-V car, I do recommend hiring a campervan for more space and comfort. There are plenty of hire companies in Australia to choose from depending on what you want. Campervans range massively in size and also in cost so to find one that’s right for you, I recommend using a comparison website called vroomvroomvroom. They compare the availability and costs of all the major campervan hire brands so you know you’re getting a good price. I have personally used Jucy before and their vans are fantastic with all the amenities you need.
When you do book your camper, be sure to check what’s included in the price. You will possibly have the choice to pay extra for insurance and to reduce the excess and things like sat navs. Make sure you take a good look at the terms and conditions as some companies do not permit you to drive after dark due to risk of hitting kangaroos as well. And for the love of all things roadtrip, make sure you know which fuel goes in your vehicle!
Top apps to help with your Melbourne to Sydney roadtrip
I don’t know how I roadtripped Australia before Wikicamps because this little app is a game changer! I love it so much that I actually have a full review here, but in a nutshell, you can use it to find campsites all over Australia, including free ones. There is a small cost to buy the app but even just one night in a free campsite makes up for this cost right away. You can search by location, choose which facilities you require and get contact details to call ahead to check availability.
There are plenty of places to fill up between Melbourne and Sydney but it’s definitely a good idea to keep topped up. The Fuel App picks up your location so you can see where the next fuel station is to help you plan your drive.
Offline Google Maps
Personally I don’t feel there’s a need to pay extra for a satnav nowadays as offline Google maps is just as good. Before you hit the road, simply go onto Google maps on your phone and zoom out to cover the area you’re going to be driving, type in ‘Ok maps’ into the search bar and you can then download the area onto your phone. Now you’ll have the maps you want to hand without the need of wifi or data connection.
One thing I didn’t know before travelling to Australia is that some hostels have space for you to stay in your campervan whilst also using the facilities. I usually first find these hostels on Wikicamps and then use Hostelworld to actually book it. I always recommend booking hostels in advance just to make sure you have somewhere to stay.
XE Currency app
This is an absolute essential no matter where you’re travelling overseas. Australia is a pretty pricey country to visit and as you’re going to be travelling a lot it will help you stick to your budget.
Your Melbourne to Sydney drive itinerary
The route in a nutshell
- Grampians National Park
- Great Ocean Road
- Phillip Island
- Wilsons Promontory
- Sussex Inlet (Jervis Bay)
- Hyams Beach (Jervis Bay)
- Royal National Park
- Blue Mountains National Park
This itinerary stretches over 14 days but you could easily do it in less if you needed. I have to admit, I’ve cheated a little here as the Grampians National Park and Great Ocean Road are not technically between Melbourne and Sydney. However, both are so easy to reach from Melbourne and are one of the best places to visit in Australia.
Distance from Melbourne, Drive Time, How long to spend there, costs to anything, things to do (in depth), where to stay
The Grampians National Park
- Distance from Melbourne: 260 km
- Drive Time: 3 hours
- Length of stay: 1 day
The incredible Grampians National Park is one hell of a place to start your roadtrip. Many people skip over this spot but don’t be one of those! Drive 3 hours from Melbourne to Halls Gap where you can pick up a map from the tourist information centre. To really make the most of your time here, make your way down Central Grampians Drive to hit off some of the best things to do in the Grampians. This driving route is perfect for your half day visit.
Awesome things to do in the Grampians
This is the first main point you will come to on the drive. It offers breathtaking views over Halls Gap as well as Mount William, the highest point in the Grampians. It’s an easy walk from the carpark to the lookout so suitable for everyone.
This is probably the most popular spot along the drive but when you get there, it’s easy to see why. From the carpark you will walk along a rocky path to the flat rock areas that make up the Balconies. From here, you are treated to unspoiled panoramic views of the valley and surrounding mountains.
McKenzie Falls is one of the biggest waterfalls in the Grampians and is well worth a visit. The water flows all year round so you won’t be disappointed no matter when you visit. From the carpark you can either take the steep 2km walk to the base of the waterfall, or simply enjoy the views from the platform instead.l
Looking for a rewarding hike? Look no further than Mount William. This is the highest point in the Grampians and is a steep climb to the top. From here though, you can see pretty much everything so it’s well worth it for the view! I recommend you do this walk in the morning before you leave the Grampians as it would be a tough walk to rush.
Where to camp in the Grampians
For your night in the Grampians I recommend staying at the Plantation Campground. This is a beautiful spot where your neighbours will most likely be kangaroos and wallabies with thousands of stars visible above. This is a free campsite and has well maintained toilets and also bucket showers if you want to cool off.
Great Ocean Road (Warrnambool to Torquay)
- Distance from The Grampians: 260 km
- Drive Time: 5 hours 45 minutes
- Length of stay: 2 days
The Great Ocean Road is one of the most famous drives in the world and a trip I will never forget. Having done it in winter and in summer, I can honestly say it’s fantastic no matter when you go. Allowing 2 days for this part for your Melbourne to Sydney road trip will give you plenty of time to really enjoy it.
Things to do along the Great Ocean Road
Day 1: The Grampians to Warrnambool
After leaving the Grampians, it’s a quick 2 hour drive to Port Fairy, a pretty little fishing town that marks the gateway to the Great Ocean Road. Take a walk along the water and grab some lunch at a cafe before heading on to Warrnambool.
Warrnambool is a fantastic spot for Whale watching, so if you’re visiting in whale migrations season, be sure to visit Logans Beach platform to try your luck. The beaches here are beautiful so soak in the views from the pier and grab a coffee along the way. If you’re wanting to seek out more Australian wildlife, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Tower Hill Nature Reserve and see if you can find any koalas.
Where to camp in Warrnambool
Warrnambool Beach Backpackers has a small grassy area for campervans to park up and you’re able to use the amenities also. I would recommend booking ahead on their website to make sure there is space.
Day 2: Warrnambool – Port Campbell
This is the main stretch of the Great Ocean Road where you’ll visit all the famous picture postcard sites. I have a full guide to visiting the Great Ocean Road here, but these are some of my favourite and must-see sites.
Both times I’ve visited this place it has been blissfully quiet so head here to avoid the crowds. Take the steps down to the beach and you’ll find yourself surrounded by towering cliffs.
This rock formation was once a full span double bridge giving it the name of London Bridge, but after a part fell due to erosion, it was renamed the London Arch. If you look closely at the top of London Arch you might spot the population of seabirds that live there.
Both times I’ve visited this place has been blissfully quiet, so I recommend visiting if you’re looking to avoid the crowds. Also, it’s one of the prettiest places along the Great Ocean Road and it really does have a cosy grotto feel.
Although there aren’t exactly 12 of them left, these huge rock stacks rising up from the ocean are seriously impressive. This is the place where the crowds will be but you really shouldn’t miss it. It’s particularly good for sunset if you get a good day.
Where to stay near the Twelve Apostles
The Twelve Apostles is located in Post Campbell so this is the best area to stop over for the night. For a great camping spot go to Port Campbell Recreation Reserve which has showers, toilets and a kitchen area for a great price.
- Distance from Torquay: 242 km
- Drive Time: 3-4 hours
- Length of stay: 2 days
When you think of Australia you don’t usually think of penguins, but that’s exactly what you’ll find on Phillip Island. Home to 32,000 Little Penguins, Phillips Island is a fantastic place to see them in the wild and learn about the conservation going on to protect them. As well as this, this little island has a stunning dramatic coastline and some incredible beaches to enjoy. I have a full guide to visiting Phillip Island here, but below are the top things to do as well as a couple of stops along the way.
Things to do on Phillip Island
Day 1: Phillip Island
This beautiful beach is perfect for a morning stroll and a great way to start the day. The gentle waters make it great for swimming also and the rolling green hills make it lovely and tranquil.
Lorne just screams seaside town with plenty of restaurants overlooking the surfers on the water. It’s also a great place for shopping with lots of boutiques along the main street. For a delicious snack for the road, be sure to get something from Grandma Shield’s bakery.
Torquay is known for its surf culture, especially at its most famous beach, Bell’s Beach. There are also a number of coastal walks to do if you wanted or a simple walk along the golden sands for a less strenuous approach.
This the gateway to Phillip Island and somewhere you have to stop off at. Every day at midday, a flock of Pelicans gather for their daily feeding and it’s an amazing sight to see. I love these birds so getting up close is a great experience. The feeding is centred around conservation and has been used as a way to keep an eye on these birds over the years.
After watching the Pelicans, head onto Phillip Island and drive down to Pyramid Rocks. Its striking shape gives you a taste to how rugged the coastline is here. There are 2 platforms here so you can get a great view.
If you love a rugged coastline then you’re going to love the Nobbies. There’s an easy boardwalk that takes you right along the cliff edge where you’ll get amazing views. Be sure to keep a lookout for some penguins too!
100%, this is the top thing to do on Phillip Island! Every night, the colony of Little Penguins come on shore to nestle in for the night, and Penguin Parade is where you can go to watch it all. I recommend booking your tickets in advance either from the ticket office or online here and be sure to arrive in plenty of time to get a good seat.
The best Phillip Island campground
The area of Cowes is the perfect location to stay the night on Phillip Island. It’s a short 15 minutes drive from Penguin Parade so you’re in a good location for visiting there. Anchorage Park is not only one of the cheapest campsites available but it also has great facilities. Check prices and availability here.
Day 2: Philip Island
This is one of the most popular beaches on Phillip Island for surfing, swimming and snorkelling. There are also some nice walks around the area if you wanted to start your day with some gentle exercise.
Panny’s Chocolate Factory
On the other end of the exercise scale is this beauty! Panny’s Chocolate is Phillip Islands very own chocolate factory so it’s a must if you have a sweet tooth. You can book tours but the entrance to the shop and cafe is free.
- Distance from Phillip Island: 145 km
- Drive Time: 2 hours
- Length of stay: 2 days
Wilsons Promontory (or Wilsons Prom) is an incredible national park on a Peninsular. Tom and I actually heard about this from a local family we got chatting to on the Great Ocean Road and figured we should check it out. We were not disappointed and I don’t think you will be either. It’s the ideal place to slow down after a busy few days and just enjoy the nature around you.
Things to do on Wilsons Promontory
Day 1: Wilsons Prom
Penguins to Prom touring Route
This drive is a great route to take and has plenty of beautiful spots along the way. You can see the full driving route here but I especially liked Eagles Nest Lookout and Venus Bay.
When I visited this beach it was completely empty- bliss! It’s a 1 km walk from the car park with a bit a steep climb at the end through a sand dune but it’s worth it. Take some snacks and your swimmers and enjoy this beautiful beach.
Agnes Falls Scenic Reserve
This isn’t technically in Wilsons Prom but it’s nearby a nice free campsite so it’s really easy to visit. Agnes Falls is a beautiful waterfall and is easily accessible from the car park to the viewing platform. The drive to the waterfall itself will take you through the forest making it a scenic journey as well.
Free campsite at Wilsons Prom
There are technically no free campsites on Wilsons Prom but there is one that is pretty close by. Franklin River Reserve can be found on WikiCamps and is a really nice little spot next to the river. It’s basic with just drop toilets but it’s good for a free campsite. It’s also pretty close to Agnes Falls so you won’t have to drive far after visiting to set up for the night.
Day 2: Wilsons Prom
I love this beach! The sand is picture perfect white and the sea is a beautiful turquoise blue. The sand here is made of quartz that not only makes it super soft, but it also means it squeaks as you walk over it.
Walk to Norman beach
From Squeaky Beach there is an easy but scenic walk that will take you over to Norman Beach. You will see signs on Squeaky Beach to guide you and a path through the forest with some beautiful viewpoints along the way.
- Distance from Wilsons Promontory: 287 km
- Drive Time: 3-4 hours hours
- Length of stay: 1 day
This coastal town is famous for its extensive inland waterways and the incredible Ninety Mile Beach. A stop here will give you a great insight into a seaside town in Australia and you’ll get experience the unique combination of the lakes and the sea.
Things to do at Lakes Entrance
Ninety Mile Beach
I’m sure you can guess from the name, but this huge beach offers plenty of space to enjoy. It’s an incredible swimming spot and is also great for fishing. You literally cannot see anything but the beach on here and as it’s one of the most pristine beaches in the world, it’s well worth taking time to enjoy it. If you’re lucky, you might even see whales or dolphins!
Where to stay at Lakes Entrance
There are no free campsites available at Lakes Entrance but plenty of paid ones to choose from. I recommend calling ahead to check their prices so you find something great for you.
- Distance from Lakes Entrance: 580 km
- Drive Time: 7 hours
- Length of stay: 1 day
The Jervis Bay area is absolutely stunning and has some of the whitest beaches in the world. It’s a really popular spot amongst both locals and tourists and is a haven for water sports. Jervis Bay is actually in the Australian Capital Territory so by this point, you’re no longer in Victoria.
Things to do at Jervis Bay
This is the first spot you’ll reach when you get to the Jervis Bay area. It’s a pretty sleepy town but great for kayaking, standup paddle boarding and fishing.
This spectacular beach is definitely the most popular beach due to its white sand and crystal clear waters. The water is nice and calm here so it’s great for swimming and snorkelling too. At the south end of the beach, the Jervis Bay National Park meets the sand and has some nice trails to follow.
Where to stay in Jervis Bay
There are a couple of free rest areas close to Hyams Beach where overnight camping is permitted. The facilities are basic but it’s well worth it to explore the area.
- Distance from Jervis Bay: 117 km
- Drive Time: 1-2 hours
- Length of stay: 1 day
Wollongong is definitely a seaside town with a difference. There’s more of an up and coming feel to this area and has a great combination of restaurants, beach, forest and history. It’s located on the Grand Pacific Drive so even getting there offers plenty to keep you entertained.
Things to do in Wollongong
With mountains and forest surrounding Wollongong, there are plenty of places to get an incredible view. Bald Hill lookout offers views of the beach, the Grand Pacific Highway and is also a popular hang gliding spot. The Mount Kiera lookout is just 4km from Wollongong and from here you can see right over the city and right out to see. For more ideas, take a look at the Wollongong website here.
I love a lighthouse and Wollongong actually has two! They’re pretty close together and have been around since the 1870s. The coastline here is beautifully rugged so a visit makes for a great view.
This beautiful garden is close to Mount Kiera and a great place to relax. I don’t know a lot about plants but the displays are beautiful and incredibly photogenic.
Where to stay in Wollongong
There are no campsites in Wollongong itself but you’ll find a couple just a little further north. From here you’ll easily still be able to experience the city.
Sea Cliff Bridge on Grand Pacific Drive
- Distance from Wollongong: 22 km
- Drive Time: 35 minutes
- Length of stay: 2 hours
Never have I ever seen such an impressive piece of road! Sea Cliff Bridge is somewhere Tom and I have purposefully visited a few times and somewhere we won’t forget in a hurry.
How to visit Sea Cliff Bridge
This stretch of road is 665m long and you’ll find a couple of places to pull over and get out your car. There is a footpath where you can walk the length of the road and plenty of spots to get an incredible view of the road.
Royal National Park
- Distance from Sea Cliff Bridge: 34 km
- Drive Time: 35 minutes
- Length of stay: 1 day
The Royal National Park is a huge 160 square kilometres and one of the oldest in the world. There are plenty of hiking trails, beaches, forest and wildlife to enjoy and some incredible viewpoints. Additionally, the Royal National Park has some beautiful pieces of Aboriginal rock art. As you will be driving in from the South, the easiest entrance to go for is at Lady Wakehurst Drive at Otford.
Things to do at the Royal National Park
There are so many hikes to choose from in the Royal National Park at a range of difficulties. From Otford you could take the Palm Jungle Loop track (4-6 hours) or the more relaxed Werrong Beach track which is a manageable 4km return- and you get to relax at the beach!
Figure 8 pools
You may have seen photos of these beautiful natural pools before, so now you have the chance to visit them for yourself. Be really careful to check tide times though as they are only accessible at certain times of the day and it can be a dangerous spot when the water is in. Be sure to take a look at the information on the Royal National Park website here before going.
Have a picnic
If you simply just want to enjoy the great outdoors then there are plenty of parks to just relax. Why not take a picnic with you because is there anything better than food anyway?
Where to camp in the Royal National Park
There are only 3 campsites in the national park and all are for tents only so for a stay here you will need to stay outside the park. Sadly there are no free campsites nearby but there is the Stanwell Tops Stopover area a short drive out or the Heathcote Tourist Park. If your visit falls over a weekend or during school holidays, I highly recommend booking your stay in advance.
The Blue Mountains
- Distance from Royal National Park: 121 km
- Drive Time: 2 hours
- Length of stay: 2 day
The Blue Mountain National Park is an area you simply cannot miss between Melbourne and Sydney. Its close location to Sydney means you won’t have a massive drive to get there after, but it feels a world away. When you visit you might be wondering where the ‘blue’ part of the name comes from and that’s because on a clear day, the mountains can be seen from Sydney but they appear to be a blue colour. I have a full 2 day guide to visiting the Blue Mountains here, but below is a summary of the best things you can do.
Things to do in the Blue Mountains
This is the first town you’ll reach on your drive and it’s a great area to start exploring. Park up and take the short walk to the Princes Rock Lookout and Jamison Lookout and you’ll be able to see straight over to the spectacular Wentworth Falls and right across the valley.
Another spectacular waterfall with a really pretty lookout spot. From here you can actually walk to Leura if you wanted, or of course, you could drive.
Leura is another pretty place and you can visit Leura Falls and Leura Cascades. The walk involves quite a few steps and the path winds through the forest following the river before you reach the drop-off.
Blue Mountains Chocolate Company
Feeling peckish after walking? The Blue Mountains Chocolate Company is a delicious little cafe and shop in Katoomba, stuffed full of their homemade chocolates. Don’t miss out on a visit!
This is the most famous of all the spots in the Blue Mountains so it will be busy but still worth it. At the carpark, you will find the main visitors information centre, as well as different large viewing platforms. To get a closer look you can climb down the Giant Stairway to Honeymoon Lookout where you will cross over to one of the pillars. It’s awesome!
If you like getting a birds-eye view of places, then I recommend a trip to Scenic World. This park is home to the steepest railway in the world that literally takes you up the side of the mountain, a cables car and a skyway so you’ll be able to get the views you want. At the base there is an easy walking track that takes you through the forest.
Where to camp for free in the Blue Mountains
Megalong Valley is where you will need to head for a free night in the Blue Mountains. There are a number of free ones here and they are well maintained too. Ask in the information centre for more details or check WikiCamps for each one’s location.
This area is a little off the beaten track but it’s spectacular. There are steps to take you down to the lookout and then more to take you between the rock formations. You’ll literally be at the height of the birds and with panoramic views to take it, you won’t forget it.
On your way to Sydney, stop in at Mount Tomah botanic gardens for a relaxing walk around. The flowers are beautiful here and with its high position, you’ll still get a great view and a chilled way to end your Melbourne to Sydney drive.
Well, that’s everything! I hope you have the most amazing Melbourne to Sydney roadtrip, it’s a part of the country that no matter what time of year you visit, you’re going to be in for a treat. These 10 things to see between Melbourne and Sydney will definitely leave you with some incredible memories!
Which part of this road trip are you most excited to do? Seeing penguins? Mountains? The Great Ocean Road? And don’t forget, this is just the stuff between 2 of the best cities in the world. If you’re lucky enough to be spending time in either Melbourne or Sydney, I’ve got plenty of guides to help you out:
- The PERFECT 3 day Melbourne Itinerary for your first ever visit
- 33 Budget-friendly and free things to do in Melbourne
- How to spend a day exploring Fitzroy, Melbourne’s quirkiest suburb
- 34 Budget-friendly and free things to do in Sydney
- 8 Day trips you can do from Sydney
- 10 delicious and affordable restaurants and bars in Sydney