Melbourne and Sydney are by far the most populated cities in Australia, and arguably the most exciting. If you’re staying or living in Melbourne, I highly recommend doing the return road trip from Melbourne to Sydney. Not only will you get to experience both of these vibrant cities, but you will be able to see all of the amazing places between Melbourne and Sydney
Some people might think that a week is not a long enough time for this trip. While I agree that it is a long way to drive, the truth is that there is so much to do along the way that the driving rarely gets tiring.
A snapshot of your return road trip from Melbourne to Sydney:
Total distance travelled: 2200km
Total time spent travelling: 24 hours
Duration of trip: 7 days
Places you’ll go:
- Lakes Entrance, VIC
- Snowy river national park, VIC
- Croajingolong national park, VIC
- Eden, NSW
- Batemans bay, NSW
- Jervis bay, NSW
- Sydney, NSW
- Canberra, ACT
- Snowy mountains, NSW
- Buchan caves, VIC
- Blue rock lake, VIC
Here is my recommended itinerary for a one week return road trip from Melbourne to Sydney:
DAY 1: Melbourne to Lakes Entrance, Victoria
Time: 5 hours
What you’ll see along the way: beaches, lakes, and Victoria’s glorious eastern coastline!
If you leave Melbourne around midday, you’ll make it to Lake’s Entrance by dusk, a perfect time to relax at Lakes Entrance beach or have some dinner in the lazy lakeside town.
DAY 2: Lakes Entrance to Eden, NSW
Time: 3 hours
What to see along the way:
- Snowy river national park
- Croajingolong national park
- Welcome to New South Wales sign
If you were in a rush, you could probably skip this stop altogether and head straight from Lake’s Entrance to Sydney. But there is so much in this patch between the states of Victoria and New South Wales that you might as well take your time.
I would recommend heading out early and checking out either Snowy River National Park or Croajingolong National Park. Both of these parks are located just within the confines of Victoria state. If you like hiking, Croajingolong has several spectacular walks you can choose from. If not, Snowy River can be explored by driving through it, and you’ll still get to see the amazing scenery.
After you’ve spent time exploring these parks, head to Eden, one of the first towns over the New South Wales border. Eden is a good stop with everything you need – supermarket, camp grounds and hotels, and a nice beach.
DAY 3: Eden to Sydney
Time: 6 hours
What to see along the way:
- Bateman’s bay
- Hyams beach, Jervis bay- whitest beach sand on earth
Take the coastal road up to Sydney. This will be one of the most scenic stretches of your journey – beautiful beaches, inlets and lakes everywhere you look.
Stop for lunch in Batemans bay, and make sure you check out the rocky white-sand beach while you’re there. Then, make sure you leave plenty of time to reach Hyams beach before sunset. Hyams beach holds the Guiness world record for the whitest sand beach on the planet. It is one of the most special spots on your trip from Melbourne to Sydney, so make sure you check it out.
DAYS 3-6: Sydney (3 nights)
Congratulations, you made it to Sydney!
Some of you would have been to Sydney before, and others of you will be here for your first time. This will shape your experience and determine what you want to do in Sydney. Check out this guide to Sydney if you need more info, or these instagrammable spots in and around Sydney for some inspiration. Otherwise, here are my top picks for what to do in Sydney. See them in any order you please.
- Bondi Beach
- Coogee Beach (I would recommend walking from Coogee to Bondi. It is tiring but there are so many beautiful smaller beaches and man-made pools along the way.
- Sydney Harbour bridge
- Sydney opera house (If you’re going to the opera house, you’ll be able to see a view of the bridge (and vice versa))
- Manly beach
DAY 6: Sydney to Canberra, ACT
Time: 3 hours
What to see along the way: Other than a few small towns and dry, flat stretches of land, not much.
I would recommend spending your morning in Sydney, making the most out of the city and seeing anything you hadn’t yet got around to. Spend the afternoon and evening in Canberra. Canberra is a small, quiet city and you can discover a good part of it within a few hours. Still, it’s worth visiting the capital city of Australia. Head to the parliament house if you want to learn something about Australia’s history and politics, and head to Mount Ainslee lookout to get a view of the town from above.
DAY 7: Canberra to Melbourne, Victoria
Time: 7 hours
What to see along the way:
- Snowy mountains
- Buchan Caves
- Blue Rock Lake
- Welcome to Victoria sign
This will be the longest leg of your journey, so if you have time I would recommend breaking it up and staying a night somewhere along the way. Most of this day will be spent travelling but if you leave early enough, you will have time to stop at some of the amazing spots along the way.
Kosciuszko national park, home to the Snowy Mountains, is an awesome place to visit, especially in winter. You can ski or snowboard there, or just take a walk and check out the scenery.
There are some beautiful inland areas of Victoria that you will pass through as part of your journey. The Gippsland area boasts a number of beautiful watering holes. If you have time, make a stop and check out either Buchan caves or the Blue Rock lake.
More tips for Melbourne:
Things to know about the return road trip from Melbourne to Sydney
A good part of this journey is scenically beautiful. It’s not hard to understand why so many tourists drive from Melbourne to Sydney every year. In saying that, there are patches of the drive (especially during the inland route and on highways) which are slightly repetitive and monotonous. Make sure you have good company on your road trip to ride these more tedious parts out.
State law changes apply
You are going to go through three states and territories throughout your road trip. Be aware that the law varies in each state. You might be aware of the law in Victoria, but don’t assume it’s the same in New South Wales or Australian Capital Territory. For example, if you have a Victorian driver’s license, you can only drive in New South Wales for up to three months before you would have to get it transferred to a New South Wales license. Another thing I noticed is that there seem to be a lot more speed cameras in New South Wales than Victoria. Make sure you know your rules, wherever you are.
The journey is long
If you drive from Melbourne to Sydney directly with no stops it will take over 9 hours. If you take the coastal route, it will be over 14 hours. Be aware that your one week road trip from Melbourne to Sydney will involve at least 24 hours of driving if you take the coastal route at least one way. With that in mind, the best advice I have is to make this trip more about the journey than the destination.
> Visiting more of Australia? Check out this backpacking guide to Australia.
> Would you drive from Melbourne to Sydney and back in a week? Why/why not? Or, if you’ve done this trip, let us know your experience in the comments.
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