Adelaide to Melbourne Road Trip: The Ultimate Guide

Adelaide to Melbourne road trip guideAn Adelaide to Melbourne road trip is one of the best Australian road trips you can do, here’s why:

The route is full of amazing scenery, and takes you to lesser known parts of Australia, that you otherwise might not see! If you’re backpacking Australia, this is one road trip that you have to do!

An Adelaide to Melbourne drive or vice versa is an extension of the Great Ocean Road trip, which is a coastal road in Victoria.

This is a scenic route, and definitely worth doing, but including this as part of a longer trip from or to Adelaide is better.

This was one of my favourite road trips in Australia, as I went to some great places I had never heard of, such as the Grampians. The scenery was also spectacular along the route, and I encountered a lot of different wildlife as well.

Adelaide to Melbourne road trip

General info

Even though it doesn’t look far on a map, the distance from Adelaide to Melbourne is quite big. At 727.3km (451.9 miles) it is a long journey, which you can complete in 8 hours if you don’t stop! It’s worth noting that this time is via the inland route which is quicker than the coastal route.

Apart from the Grampians, there isn’t much to see inland, so almost all backpackers will go down the coastal route. If you really want to drive to Adelaide or Melbourne as quickly as possible, then take the inland route. Otherwise, the coastal route is definitely the scenic route!

 

Signpost in Portland, Australia

Before setting off

Before you do any Australian road trip it is important to have everything in order. Obviously, there won’t be a road trip without a vehicle so you need to ensure you have one. Depending on your numbers and where you plan on sleeping, you have two options.

You can either rent a car or a campervan. If you’re planning on staying in hostels or camping, then a car is the best bet. Whereas, if you want to sleep in your vehicle then you should go with a campervan.

You can book these direct with companies such as Jucy and Wicked, but my advice would be to look online. You can use a company such as Rental Cars Connect to book your car or campervan. If you’re starting from Adelaide, click here to book your rental car. If you’re starting from Melbourne, click here to book your rental car.

Important info

Driving anywhere in Australia is a challenge because of the distances involved. This is exacerbated when the journeys involve covering large areas where there’s little in the way of civilisation. The main concern is running out of fuel in the middle of nowhere.

That’s why it’s important to stop at a petrol station when you see it even if your tank is quite full. You never know how long you could go without seeing the next one!

One tip that I picked up during the Australian road trips that I did was to take note of signs. When you are in the outback and unpopulated areas, there are little green signs every 5km to let you know how far you are from the next town.

These can be invaluable during your trip, as you can gauge when to stop for a rest and get fuel.

Another thing to remember is to stop regularly, especially when you’re feeling tired. Driving across Australia always involves long distances and it can be tempting to try and get to your destination as quickly as possible.

However, it’s best not to risk an accident by driving when tired, so try and stop every 4 hours for a short break! Obviously, doing a road trip in Australia you should be stopping a lot anyway to check out the great scenery!

Before doing any road trip in Australia, ensure that you have proper travel insurance! I use World Nomads to keep me safe on the road, it’s designed for backpackers and adventurous travellers. You never know what can happen on the road. Keep yourself protected against all eventualities! Click here to get a quote!

 

Balconies in Wilson's Promontory

Why you should go on an Adelaide to Melbourne road trip

There are many road trips in Australia that you can do, so choosing which ones to do can be a difficult task. The ideal scenario would be to do them all, but a number of factors such as money and practicality get in the way of this scenario! Road trips are definitely one of the reasons to visit Australia!

With that said, I firmly believe that driving to Adelaide from Melbourne or vice versa via the Great Ocean Road is one of the best Australian road trips. The drive takes in some of the best scenery in all of Australia, and some underrated places as well.

Travelling to South Australia is something not everyone does in Australia, but they should. There are lots of great places to see in the state, such as Blue Lake, which is part of this trip!

The Grampians National Park is fantastic and has some great scenery, especially the view from the balconies. Hall’s Gap is also a great place to stay and encounter Australian wildlife. We saw lots of different creatures here and got ridiculously close to them as well!

The main reason to do an Adelaide to Melbourne road trip is to visit the Great Ocean Road. This is one of the main tourist attractions in Australia and for good reason. The views along the coastline are incredible, from amazing beaches to stunning cliffs, you won’t be disappointed!

The beachside towns along the way are great as well, such as Apollo Bay, Lorne, and Torquay. They also offer great places to surf, if you are a surfing aficionado. Driving from Adelaide to Melbourne was one of the best road trips I did in Australia.

 

Backpacking in Victoria at Bell's Beach

Where to stay between Adelaide and Melbourne

Although I recommend that you do this road trip in a campervan, if you don’t you’ll need to find places to sleep. Thankfully, where to stay between Adelaide and Melbourne is not too difficult as there’s a bit of choice! Some of the best hostels in Australia are situated on this route.

Almost all of the main tourist destinations on this route have hostels and hotels, so you won’t be short of choice. There are options for every type of budget driving from Adelaide to Melbourne!

Adelaide Central YHAAdelaideA great hostel that I believe is one of the best in Australia! Excellent location, spacious rooms and social common room make it a must stay!Book Now
Apollo BayApollo BayA great little hostel that is clean modern and very spacious. The facilities here are top-notch!Book Now
Beds in RobeRobeA budget Bed and Breakfast, that has great facilities and a friendly owner.Book Now
Grampians Eco YHAHalls GapA beautiful hostel in the middle of the Grampians at Halls Gap. Free parking and wifi and great facilities.Book Now
Urban CentralMelbourneIt's not exactly central, but close enough to the CBD. Spacious rooms, free breakfast and good facilities at this lively hostel!Book now

Places to visit on an Adelaide to Melbourne road trip

There are many Adelaide to Melbourne drive stops that you should include on your trip. This can actually can be a problem if you are trying to plan your route. I feel the best option is to stick to the coast, as this is where some of the best scenery.

However, I would advise heading to the Grampians National Park before you go to the coast. This is a great place to visit with lots of great scenery and you would be missing out on a hidden gem of Australia if you didn’t visit!

You can take the inland route, even after visiting the Grampians and drive to Adelaide or Melbourne. At this point, you’ll be travelling in Victoria, and I advise going along the coastal route after you’ve been to the Grampians. sticking to the inland route would deprive you of some of the best places to visit in Australia.

Apart from the Grampians, the scenery on this stretch of road is quite dull. Neglecting the coast route in favour of a quicker inland journey would be a big mistake, as the scenery is incredible!

If you want to know what to see between Adelaide and Melbourne, then check out some of my selections below!

Adelaide

Whether this is the start, or end of your trip, Adelaide is a great city that should be included on any Australian backpacking itinerary. It may be in the shadow of it’s bigger cousin, but Adelaide has plenty of attractions of its own.

There are numerous cultural events held throughout the year, with Adelaide Festival in February and March the biggest.

The city is very interesting with some great museums and what I consider one of the best botanical gardens in Australia. You can hop on a tram and visit the beachside town of Glenelg, which I consider to be one of the best beaches in Australia!

Read more: Adelaide – Australia’s most underrated city

 

Backpacking Adelaide

Blue Lake/Mt Gambier

Blue Lake is one of the lesser known places to visit in South Australia. It’s located just outside of Mt Gambier, about a 4/5 hour drive from Adelaide. As you may have guessed from the name, it is a lake that is blue, but that only tells part of the story!

The colour of the lake changes colour during the year. From December to March, it is blue, while the remainder of the year it changes to a grey colour.

The lake itself is an imposing sight and definitely worth stopping at during the Adelaide to Melbourne route. The sheer scale of the lake is to be admired, the picture below does not do justice to just how big the lake actually is!

There are a number of trails around the top of the lake which let you appreciate its scale. Blue Lake is certainly one of the more unusual places to visit in Australia!

 

Blue Lake in Mt Gambier

Cape Otway

Cape Otway is somewhere that I didn’t get to visit during my trip, unfortunately. However, it is somewhere that you should consider visiting during the route. It is part of the bigger Great Otway National Park and offers some great views of the ocean!

There is an interesting lighthouse that I would’ve loved to visit during our Melbourne to Adelaide road trip. I can’t really go into detail about what there is to do here as I didn’t visit during my trip.

All I can advise is to actually visit it and not make the same mistake we did!

Grampians National Park

Although the Grampians is removed from the route down the coast, it is definitely worth including when driving from Adelaide to Melbourne. The national park is one of the best that I visited in Australia.

The Grampians are teeming with wildlife including kangaroos, koalas, and wallabies. You’ll have a great opportunity to get up and close personal with these animals if you haven’t before.

The scenery is also spectacular, with amazing views across the park from atop the numerous viewing areas.

 

Ultimate guide to Australian road trips

Great Ocean Road

A Great Ocean Road trip is incredible in itself. It’s probably the primary reason for driving from Adelaide to Melbourne or vice versa. It’s one of the most popular Australian road trips to do and that’s not without good reason.

The scenery along the coastal route is spectacular, and with plenty of great places to stop off at such as Lorne and Torquay.

Perhaps the main calling point along the Great Ocean Road is the Twelve Apostles. They are stacks that are separated from the nearby cliffs.

Personally, I preferred The Grotto. You can actually explore it as opposed to just looking at the Twelve Apostles.

 

Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road

Melbourne

Melbourne is the capital of Victoria and the second biggest city in Australia. It is simply a place you have to visit! The mix of Victorian and modern architecture is striking and gives Melbourne a unique character.

It’s not known as the cultural centre of Australia for no reason, as there are always things to do in Melbourne.

Whether it’s summer or winter, there is always an event, this includes sport. From watching the F1 in Melbourne to being the home of Australia’s national sport, Aussie Rules, Melbourne is the sporting capital of Australia. There’s a reason it’s considered the world’s most liveable city!

Read more: Is Melbourne the world’s most liveable city?

 

View of Eureka Skydeck from Botanical Gardens

Wilson’s Promontory

Wilson’s Promontory is one of the lesser-known spots in Victoria and perhaps Australia. I was completely unaware it existed until we extended our Adelaide to Melbourne road trip to include it!

Wilson’s Prom is absolutely beautiful and has some of the best scenery in Australia, never mind Victoria!

A trip to Squeaky Beach is a must, to experience the squeaking noises as you walk along the beach. There are also other great places such as Whiskey Beach and Waterloo Bay that you should see during your time here!

Read more: Why you should visit Wilson’s Promontory!

 

Backpacking in Wilson's Promontory

Example Adelaide to Melbourne road trip itinerary

An Adelaide to Melbourne road trip itinerary is entirely dependant on what you want to do. If you just want to drive from Adelaide to Melbourne or Melbourne to Adelaide in the fastest time possible, then you’ll want to go inland.

Whereas, if you to see some of the best sights in Australia, you’ll want to take the coastal route for most of the way, with a detour to the Grampians.

This itinerary goes from Adelaide to Melbourne. If you are driving from Melbourne to Adelaide, then just do the itinerary in reverse order from Day 5. It’s by no means definitive. If you don’t want to go to a certain place you don’t have to.

Below is the route that I took and intended as a guide to give you an idea of what a route from Adelaide to Melbourne entails!

Day 1 – Adelaide to Robe: 336km (208 miles)

Set off from Adelaide as early as possible in the morning. so that you can make as much progress as possible. Heading out of Adelaide, I advise taking the A8 to Murray Bridge, and switching onto the A1 when you reach Tailem Bend.

At this point, you want to make sure you fill up your vehicle, as there isn’t much in the way of civilisation until you reach Kingston.

The B1 snakes along the South Australian coast, this part of the Adelaide to Melbourne road trip doesn’t have a lot of scenery. The terrain is mostly salt flats and not exactly enthralling unless you really like salt. I would advise stopping in Kingston or Rove for the night before you head onto to Mt Gambier in the morning.

Day 2 – Robe to Hall’s Gap: 320km (199 miles)

From Robe, you want to continue on the B1 to Mt Gambier, where you can see the Blue Lake. Start off early so you can get there before lunch, and have the rest of the day to drive to the Grampians.

It is a fair trek to the Grampians from here at 221km from Mt Gambier, as you pass into Victoria. You want to take the C187 and C216 to Hall’s Gap. There are lots of little towns on the way if you want to take a quick break every now and again. The route gets more scenic as you head towards the Grampians.

 

Lake in the Grampians

Day 3 – Hall’s Gap to Portland: 185km (119 miles)

Day 3 is a shorter drive as you go from Hall’s Gap to the coast at Portland. Obviously, you’ll want to see as much as the Grampians as possible before setting off. Try to get to the balconies and some of the waterfalls to see the best of the Grampians.

You take the C216 and then the A200 to reach Portland. There’s not a lot to see on the way and in Portland, but it’s a good place to stop for the night.

Day 4 – Portland to Apollo Bay: 263km (163 miles)

Day 4 is another long drive as you head from Portland to Apollo Bay. This drive is more scenic than the previous days as it is along the coast. You pass great places such a Warrnambool, Port Fairy, and Port Campbell, which you should definitely stop at.

The drive to Apollo Bay takes you past Cape Otway, which is a good place to stop and check out the surroundings. We didn’t do this and I regret it, so don’t make the same mistake as me! Apollo Bay is a good place to stop for the night, and there a few campervan sites in town!

Day 5 – Apollo Bay to Melbourne: 199km (124 miles)

From Apollo Bay, you head out along the Great Ocean Road. As this is the most popular part of the route, it’s best to set off early, as it gets busy. There are plenty of places to include on a Great Ocean Road itinerary, such as The Grotto, London Bridge, and the Twelve Apostles.

Make sure you stop at all of them along the way, as they are all incredible sights. It also makes sure you make the most of the trip!

After you’ve driven the Great Ocean Road, you come to Torquay and Bell’s Beach. Both places are worth exploring, as this is the capital of surfing in Australia. Plus, Bell’s Beach is great, especially if you are a surfer! From here, it’s onto Melbourne along the M1. It’s not a long drive, but with all the stopping and starting, it will be a long day!

Day 6-7 – Melbourne to Wilson’s Promontory: 211km (131 miles) one way

This is optional and depends entirely on whether or not you want to head to head to Wilson’s Promontory or not. You head along the C444 to the southernmost point of mainland Australia. I would set off early in the day, so you can spend as much time as possible here.

You can spend the night here or drive back it’s up to you. Be advised you can’t stay in your camper van overnight in the park, so you’ll have to park it elsewhere. The town of Leongatha is a good spot, and it will shorten the drive back the next day as well!

 

Squeaky beach in Wilson's Promontory

How much does an Adelaide to Melbourne road trip cost?

How much driving from Adelaide to Melbourne costs is entirely dependent upon how you do it. The price will be higher if you stay in hostels opposed to sleeping in a tent or campervan. Petrol is an avoidable cost on any road trip, unfortunately, and will account for a fair chunk of your expenditure!

One good thing to note is that this route is the shortest trip between two state capitals in Australia. It’s 728 km (452 miles), which is still long, but when compared to some of the other drives in Australia is nothing!

Here’s a link to a fuel cost calculator from Travellers Autobarn, which should come in handy for your trip. Using the fuel price data from a Google search for “petrol prices Australia”, input the figure into the calculator and you’re set.

I got a quote of $1.30 per litre, driving the distance with a campervan led to a quote of $132.49, which if there is 3 to 6 of you, is going to work out quite reasonably. This figure doesn’t take into account a round trip to Wilson’s Promontory, so it would cost approximately $150-170 if you do this part of the trip!

Factor this in with renting a campervan, which you can get for $49 a day, food, and any special trips, you could be looking at $500 for the whole road trip. Obviously, that is just an estimate, but remember if you’re in a campervan, that figure will be split.

If there are five of you travelling together people, you could pay $100 for an Adelaide to Melbourne road trip! Great value for money!

 

Port Campbell beach

Concluding thoughts

My Adelaide to Melbourne road trip was one of the best things that I did during my Australian Working Holiday Visa. I’d never really been on a proper road trip before and the scenery along the way made it all the better.

This is one trip I highly recommend you do while you’re travelling in Australia. You get the opportunity to visit some lesser known places in Australia, which are some of the best as well. Don’t pass up the opportunity!

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Tom

Tom is a travel addict who first left England to spend a year Down Under. Not satisfied with this, he then went to New Zealand, about as far away from home as he could get. He is now planning his next adventures in Europe and Canada while maintaining this blog.

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47 Responses

  1. Rachael says:

    Just seeing the Twelve Apostles would be reason enough for me to take this road trip, but you have a whole list of other great things to see along the way!

  2. Rosemary says:

    It does look like quite an adventure. Love your pictures and reading your story. Will have to look into this when visiting Australia. Happy Travels!

  3. Hridya says:

    I think that is one awesome road trip – so many things to see and do! I have cousins who are from Melb, but never had the chance to discuss travel with them… maybe I have to pull them along for a trip hahaha.

  4. Eloise says:

    That’s an awesome trip! I’ve done the Great Ocean Road, and it’s amazing. I haven’t been to Wilson’s Promontory yet, but I’ve heard so many positive things about it that it’s high on the list! Thank you for sharing!!

  5. The road trip from Adelaide to Melbourne Road Trip looks full of surprises and overloaded with nature. The great Ocean Road and the blue lakes looks beautifully stunning.

  6. Gosh, Australia is so epic. “It’s a wide Open Road” – that great song from The Triffids, a great band from Perth – always comes to my mind whenever I see those mighty landscapes.
    rik

  7. Llamateurs says:

    If one of our destinations would be Australia in coming months we would definitely go to see Grampians and Twelve Apostoles! Thanks for inspiration! 🙂

  8. Vyjay says:

    This is an epic trip and something that I would love, the beauty of the Australian landscape is wonderfully showcased in this trip.

  9. Lisa says:

    So much to see with wide open roads. Lots of great places to walk & hike for sure. Scenery is stunning would love to do this! Love your pics!

  10. Stephanie says:

    A road trip through Australia looks like a lot of work, but man those views makes it all seem worth it!

  11. What a wonderful detailed guide you got here, Tom! Roadtripping is always fun when done right 🙂

  12. Norbert Micus says:

    You were convincing me immediately with the pictures. And thanks for the description!

  13. Anne Klien ( MeAnne) says:

    That roadtrip looks so good, id love to follow the coastal road the views are so stunning.

  14. Amanda says:

    Looks like an awesome road trip. I love the fun little stops along the way.

  15. Great tip about the little green signs! I find it really useful to know what some of the key road signs are when I’m on a roadtrip. The Twelve Apostles are pretty jaw-dropping natural scenery. 🙂

  16. Naomi says:

    Great Guide! I’d love to explore Australia on the road, there is just so much to see and do.

    • Tom says:

      Thanks Naomi! There’s a lot to see in Australia outside of the main cities. I think a lot of people are unaware of this!

  17. Tara says:

    Well I’ve never road-tripped in Australia at all. If I had just a week to spend in Australia, and I’d never been there, do you think this would give a good insight into the country and all of its beauty? I’d love to visit, but I wouldn’t know where to begin.

    • Tom says:

      I’ll be honest, a week is nowhere near enough time to spend in Australia. I would recommend three months to see everything properly. I spent about 14 months in total in Australia, and I didn’t get to see everything I wanted to. I never made it to Western Australia for example. Melbourne would be a good starting point, from there you could head north or to Adelaide and the outback depending on what you want to do!

  18. Elisa says:

    when in Australia I cancelled my trip to the Grampians because I was too exhausted. This area is the biggest regret of my World Tour so I will have to come back and check all your proposed tips. Thanks

    • Tom says:

      Ahh that’s such a shame! It’s a great area with amazing scenery and wildlife. I didn’t it properly myself, so might have to come back and do it again!

  19. Kevin Wagar says:

    Awesome road trip! Love all the places to stop and explore along the way. Thanks for adding some places to my to-see list for when I reache Aussieland!

  20. Oh this post made me miss Australia so much! I did the Great Ocean Road while I was there but unfortunately didn’t have time to do more. This is such a comprehensive guide and if I do that trip again, I’ll definitely be using this post as guidance!

    • Tom says:

      Thanks Emma! Yes there’s quite a bit to see from Adelaide to Melbourne as well as the Great Ocean Road! Hopefully, you get to see it all in the future!

  21. Maria says:

    Wow the coast line looks spectacular! Very much reminds me of Northern California, but probably with warmer water 😉

  22. Eric says:

    Always wanted to do a road trip! It looked super fun!

  23. Lara Dunning says:

    Would love to see that coastline! Great road trip spots!

  24. Nancy says:

    This is an amazing itinerary, Tom! I haven’t been to Australia but would love to visit. The 12 Apostles look spectacular. I would like to visit The Grotto outside of Port Campell as well.

  25. ANASS says:

    is it true that i will pay for driving on unpaved roads when singing up for car hire in

    Adelaide

    • Tom says:

      You shouldn’t be driving on unpaved roads unless you have a 4×4. With any other car the chance of getting stuck are quite high. If you drive on an unpaved road then I’m fairly sure the rental company will charge you for that, as you shouldn’t be doing it in a normal car.

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