There are two main routes you can take to get from Sydney to Melbourne: the longer, more scenic coastal route or the more direct inland Hume route.

Both routes take at least a day to travel by car, and, depending on your timeframe, budget, and goals, could totally be worth the experience.

If you’re not in a desperate rush to get to the Harbour City, tackling the 880km drive can be a nice way to see a different part of the Australian countryside and experience some lesser-known sights. To really explore the many wonderful destinations between Melbourne and Sydney, you could even turn it into a week-long road trip.

However, if time and money aren’t a luxury you can afford, flying might be preferable. It’s far quicker and, when you factor in fuel and accommodation costs, is likely to also be cheaper. Bussing can be a cheaper alternative still, but it isn’t likely to be as comfortable, and it’s usually also slower.

Coastal Route

If you want to admire the coastal beauty of New South Wales, picturesque national parks, and gorgeous vistas of the Pacific Ocean on a more relaxing road trip, this route may be the right choice for you! It can easily be completed over three days with four hours of driving each day, or two if you’re okay with less sightseeing and more driving each day.

While this is largely considered the more scenic route, you do have to pay a small price for the stunning views. This route takes a few hours longer (potentially more with delays), and you’ll have to factor in fuel and accommodation costs. Unlike the inland route, most of this road isn’t a divided expressway, so you’ll be driving slower and likely to encounter roadworks along the way that will lengthen your expected journey time. Naturally, due to it being coastal, the roads are also significantly windier! 

Places to visit along the way:

  • Jervis Bay: a huge oceanic bay and village with pristine waters and white sands

Credit: Desintation NSW

  • Narooma: a beautiful coastal area with stunning oceans, lakes, and rivers

Billy’s Beach, Narooma. Credit: Destination NSW

  • Mallacoota: a small coastal town great for beach hopping and bushwalking
  • Metung: coastal fishing village known for its tranquil, artsy vibe
  • Wilsons Promontory National Park: the largest coastal wilderness in Victoria

Wilsons Promontory Park. Credit: Tourism Australia.

  • Phillip Island: home to the Penguin Parade and awesome wildlife experiences

The Hume (Route 31)

The inland route is free, and despite not having the most beautiful scenery, it is straightforward, goes by quickly, and has some lesser-known attractions scattered along the way. The drive can be completed over one long 9-10-hour day, but we’d recommend splitting it up over two days for safety! The route has services and towns available at frequent intervals. Where should you stop? Here are some of our suggestions:

  • The Southern Highlands: Bowral and Mittagong, home to the Donald Bradman Cricket Museum!
  • Goulburn: lots of coffee shops, quaint historical buildings, and a cool train station. You won’t miss the Goulburn Gaol

Goulburn River

  • Tarcutta: halfway between Sydney and Melbourne. The town has a good park with a playground and picnic area.
  • Holbrook: home to the famous Holbrook Bakery. Has old buildings and a small museum.
  • Wangaratta: the biggest center in the northeast of Victoria and the junction for the Victorian Ski Fields!
  • Glenrowan: Ned Kelly Country and has a Ned Kelly museum

Ned Kelly statue in Glenrowan

  • Euroa: Has a great rest stop along the river not far from Victoria Cross Park

By choosing the route that best suits your preferences, you can make your journey from Sydney to Melbourne not just a trip but an unforgettable adventure.

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward began with a passion for travel and turned it into a thriving tourism business. He co-founded Sightseeing Tours Australia after starting out as a tour guide in Melbourne. Cameron delights in helping visitors get the most from their trip to Australia. Whether he's leading tours or writing about his favourite places, Cameron loves sharing his local insight with fellow travellers.

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