The Melbourne to Sydney road trip is a road less travelled by most backpackers. Don’t get me wrong, the road from Brisbane to Cairns is incredible and you should definitely do that one. But there are so many gorgeous sights you’d be missing out on if you decide to fly between Australia’s biggest cities. Here is my ultimate week long guide for visiting what’s between Melbourne and Sydney on the coastal route path.
Renting a Car/Camper
Before I get started, let’s talk about car rentals. I rented a campervan from Lucky Rentals and would definitely recommend them above the other well-known camper rentals for one main reason: They are inconspicuous. Unlike Jucy and Britz, Lucky doesn’t plaster their branding on the side of each vehicle. Therefore you can totally get away with parking on a housing estate for the evening, rather than wasting money on a camp site.
Sleeping in a camper has it’s pros and cons. The biggest pro is saving money on accommodation. It’s also nice to be able to be flexible on your trip. If you like a place, you can easily stay for longer if you wish. One of the biggest drawbacks of van life is showering. If you’re travelling in the summer, the beach showers are your friends. But if you’re travelling in winter, be prepared to splash out for day only gym memberships and public pool access.
If sleeping in a car isn’t your style, you’ll want to make sure you have accommodation booked. You might be travelling in peak season and therefore it will be easier to book in advance just to be safe. Unfortunately, this means you won’t have much leeway in terms of flexibility. I’d recommend booking your accommodation early in the morning the day of travelling and plan for the next 24 hours only.
Tips and Tricks
- Avoid driving at night. If this is unavoidable, be careful when driving in the dark as you never know which one of Australia’s natives you might see. Click here for my story of how I had to serve to miss a six-foot tall kangaroo who jumped out at me in the dark.
- Make sure to fill up on petrol every time your gage goes below the half-way point. This might seem like an exaggeration but I mean it! You can go for miles without seeing a petrol station sometimes, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Click here for my story of how I ran out of petrol on the highway.
- Allow extra time for getting into the cities. Traffic around the cities is almost inevitable and it’s worth adding a couple extra hours to your itinerary for getting into cities like Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
Day One: Mornington Peninsula
(1 Hours Drive from Melbourne)
There are plenty of things to do in one day on the Mornington Peninsula. Spend the morning at Cape Shank where you can see one of the most unusual beaches in Australia. Then head back towards Arthur’s Seat for the best view of the Peninsula. Check out the town of Rosebud and the colourful bathing boxes dotted all over the coast line. Finally, it would be a shame to miss out on relaxing at the Peninsula Hot Springs in the town of Portsea.
For more inspiration on what to do on the Peninsula, check out my blog post on what I did on a rainy day here.
Day Two: Phillip Island
(1.5 Hours Drive from the Mornington Peninsula)
Phillip Island is a small island which packs a punch in terms of wildlife and things to see and do. Not only is it home to one of Australia’s biggest car and motorbike racing circuits, it has plenty of beaches to relax on if racing isn’t your scene. Whatever you choose to do on Phillip Island, it will be easy to spend a day here.
If you’re more into wildlife than sports, here’s my recommended itinerary: Start the day by making the drive from the Mornington Peninsula to Phillip Island. Once you are there, head to the Koala Conservation Centre to see some of Australia’s natives. I would then head to Cowes to see some of Phillip Island’s beaches and stop for a bit of lunch. After that, make your way to Nobbies to see some of the fur seals and finally finish the day at the Penguin Parade to see the Penguins make the night swim up to the mainland.
Day Three: Wilsons Promontory National Park
(2 Hours Drive from Phillip Island)
Wake up early to start the drive to Wilsons Promontory from Phillip Island. This is where you’ll see the most gorgeous nature on your road trip. From mountains to wild animals, beaches and sand dunes. Wilsons Promontory is one of the best places in Australia for spotting wombats, although there are plenty of opportunities for seeing other animals too including emus, kangaroos and wallabies.
I’d recommend doing two short hikes to make the most of the small amount of time in the national park. The hike to Mount Oberon summit has one of the best views of the park, so that one is a must-see.
My advice is to leave well before sunset in order to get a head start on the road for the next long driving day.
Day Four: Driving Day.
(10 Hours to Hyams Beach)
Hopefully you managed to cut out as many hours as you could the night before, leaving you time to make plenty of petrol, snacks and sightseeing stops along the way on this driving day.
If you have longer than a week, by all means spend some time in each of these destinations, but my advice is to save your time by driving all along this stretch of Princes Highway.
I’d recommend briefly stopping by Gippsland Lakes, Croajingolong National Park and a small town called Eden. Aim to get as close as you can to Hyam’s Beach before sunset.
Day Five: Hyams Beach and Jervis Bay
By day five you will have hopefully made it to Hyams Beach to see the whitest sand in the world. I’d recommend doing the white sands walk and visiting the quirky beachy shops in Jervis Bay.
Day Six: Fitzroy Falls and Belmore Falls
(1.5 Hours Drive from Jervis Bay)
On day six, prepare to drive to Fitzroy Falls. There, you’ll embark on the hour long hike with some incredible views of the falls. Depending on what time of year you visit, there is a change you could spot a platypus. Next, I’d recommend the lesser known Belmore Falls. Like Fitzroy, there’s a shorter hike you can do to see the falls from many angles and I would recommend this hike. However, there’s a secret hike to the base of the falls that I believe is a must do if you like adventure. Click here to read about my journey to the base of Belmore Falls.
Day Seven: Wollongong
(1 Hours Drive from Fitzroy Falls)
I think it would be a shame to miss out on seeing the charming city of Wollongong before heading up to Sydney. Start the day at the Nan Tien Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere, before heading towards the city to check out some of Wollongong’s quirky street art and the botanical garden.
Finally, I’d recommend heading up to the top of Mount Keira for some birds eye views of the city. I really enjoyed my time in Wollongong and ended up staying for an extra three days. Here’s my blog post about how I fell in love with Wollongong if you’re interested.
Thanks for reading and if you have any tips, tricks or suggestions please comment them down below. I’d love to hear about any place you think I missed out on.