Sydney to Melbourne by car

This article is an itinerary.

While it is easier and faster to travel between Sydney and Melbourne by taking a one-hour direct flight, driving has its own advantages with little trips and diversions that may be taken along the way. The most direct route is 874km on the Hume Highway (M31), a dual-carriage highway. For those with time to spare, there is the Princes Highway which follows the coast for most of its length, although not necessarily within sight of the sea. Other alternate inland roads include the Olympic Highway between Albury and Sydney via Cowra and Bathurst, and also the Monaro Highway route via Canberra.

Understand

The road is busy during the summer season, with many accommodations booked fully. A spot of good weather in either spring or fall is often the best time to enjoy the coastal road, although hard to plan for.

Prepare

The drive between Sydney and Melbourne generally takes at least a minimum of 10 hours when following the speed limit, hence it is advisable to take several breaks along the way to break up the journey. Speed cameras are aplenty, whether mobile or fixed, as well as newer point-to-point speed cameras, which measure whether too little time is taken to travel over a certain distance (ie speeding). There are also many highway patrols and you may see a fine coming your way if you are heavy on the gas pedal.

Direct drive via Hume Highway

A fairly straightforward if boring route that is mostly highway.

Coastal drive via Princes Highway

The coastal drive from Sydney to Melbourne can be done with an overnight stop within two days, although you could probably take some time and spend at least four days on the road, with a couple of hours at each stop to thoroughly enjoy the South Coast. Lots of wildlife from whales, dolphins to seals if you keep an eye out, and plenty of seagulls and pelicans. There are countless unspoilt beaches along the coast — white sand beaches, surf beaches, tidal river beaches — such that you might actually get sick of it all, and taking the Kings Highway just before Batemans Bay and then the inland drive via Monaro Highway could be an option.

Illawarra and Shellharbour

Shoalhaven and Eurobodalla

Hyams Beach at Jervis Bay

Sapphire Coast

Montague Island seal colony

The Sapphire Coast covers the southernmost coastal region of New South Wales. No daytrippers from either Sydney or Melbourne here.

Over the Victorian border

Inland drive via Monaro Highway


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