Perfect beaches backing onto the bush, secret surf spots and fresh rock oysters are just some of the reasons you should do a Sydney to Melbourne road trip. Australia’s east coast offers something for everyone, even the most budget conscious traveller. This is one of the best road trips in the world, and easy to add onto a trip to or from the Great Ocean Road.

You’ll need to allow about 7-20 days for this itinerary, depending if you want to do overnight hikes or day trips. I recommend camping down the coast – there’s nothing more beautiful than waking up to sunrise on the beach. As much as I love visiting the Dog on the Tucker Box and the Big Merino, the scenic drive is better than travelling to Melbourne down the Hume Highway.

Main Costs

  • Fuel and car hire will be the major cost of this trip, especially if you’re travelling during peak periods or over public holidays.
  • Campsites can be more expensive on the coast than your usual campground. Budget around $40-50 per night for campsites if you’re booking ahead. Drive up campsites are available for as little as $12, but you’re unlikely to get them in peak summer season. Find A Camp is a helpful website for figuring out where to stay. Make sure you book early regardless of where you’re going to stay.

Sydney to Melbourne Road Trip Budget Itinerary

Day 1: Sydney

While Sydney is one of the most expensive cities in Australia, a lot of the famous landmarks are free to visit such as the Opera House forecourt, Harbour Bridge Park and Royal Botanic Gardens. For the cheapest Sydney Harbour cruise, catch a ferry from Darling Harbour to Manly for the day.

Where to stay

Unfortunately you’re not going to be able to bring out your tent in downtown Sydney, but there is a YHA right on Sydney Harbour with the same views as some of the most expensive hotels in town! #winning

Day 2: Kiama

With a laid back surf vibe, Kiama is your typical Aussie beach town. Cruise down the coast past the Royal National Park, then grab fish and chips from the shopping strip and check out the blowhole on the rocks. Just outside of Kiama are the Cathedral Rocks, another famous rock formation popular with landscape photographers.

Where to stay

Skip the massive holiday parks and head to Killalea Reserve, located in the state park. It’s a quick walk to the Farm or Mystics for some surfing. Alternatively you can go kayaking or bird watching at the lagoon. The campground includes cooking facilities and a covered kitchen area.

Day 3: Huskisson and Bateman’s Bay

Plot in a course to Hyams Beach, just outside of Huskisson. It’s here you’ll find some of the whitest sand on the coast, plus it’s a great place to spot wildlife like dolphins and whales. There’s something nice about picking a beach along the coast at random and seeing what you find. Take your time to chill at the beaches on your way to Batemans Bay. Once you get there, grab an ice cream and enjoy watching the bridge light up at sunset. If you’re keen for more beaches, check out the nearby Surf Beach.

Where to stay

About half an hour out of Batemans Bay are primitive campsites at North Head. These sites are free, but you’ll need to pay a park entrance fee of about $9. However I can imagine in summer these sites fill up.

If you’re keen to chill in town, check out either of the two Big4 Campgrounds in Batemans Bay.

Day 4: Tilba Tilba and Merimbula – the Sapphire Coast

From Batemans Bay to Merimbula, you’ll see some of the most scenic parts of the drive, where bridges skim pristine lagoons. It’s also the best food day, heading into Australia’s dairy country. Try some cheese tasting at the Bodalla Cheese Factory on your way to Tilba Tilba.

While quaint’s a cliché, Tilba Tilba is practically the definition of quaint: boutique local craft shops, tea and scones and more cheese at the Tilba dairy. Take a look at some Aboriginal art at Apma Creations Aboriginal Art Gallery at the entrance to town.

From Tilba Tilba, head towards Mimosa Rocks National Park walk along the beach, exploring the inlets in this area.

Spend the night in Merimbula looking out over the lagoon. This is prime Sydney rock oyster country, and you can take an Oyster tour and buy them straight from the producer at Wheelers Oyster Farm. Tours are only $12.50 for an adult, but you might need to go the following day as the tour runs from 11am

If you’re not stuffed with cheese and oysters, splurge and make a sunset booking at the Merimbula Aquarium restaurant and watch the world go by.

Where to stay

If you’ve got more time, I’d recommend taking two days to see the Sapphire Coast. If you’re taking two days, camping in Mimosa Rocks National Park is right on the beach.

In Merimbula there are several caravan parks between Merimbula and Pambula which offer campsites and cabins.

Day 5: Lakes Entrance

From Merimbula, cross the Victorian border and head towards Lakes Entrance. If you’ve got additional time, add an extra day at Cann River and explore some of the national parks like Croajingolong National Park.

At Lakes Entrance take a long walk around the beach or get a boat out to Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park. If you’re there on a weekend, check the local market times to scavenge some second hand treasure at the beach foreshore.

But my favourite destination near Lakes Entrance isn’t at the beach. It’s underground.

Buchan Caves is a staggering series of caves including Royal Cave and Fairy Cave. Entry is by tour only, so you’ll need to get there early to reserve a ticket. Tour as numbers are limited, so while you’re waiting you can hike up the local hills.

Where to stay

If you’re keen to do a whole day of cave exploration, you can camp at Buchan Caves.

If you want to stay at Lakes Entrance, there’s a huge strip of caravan parks along Church Street, close to the beach and local shops.

Day 6: Wilson’s Promontory National Park

Driving into Wilson’s Promontory National Park is like crossing the border into a magical land. The tree covered hillside is so vast and expansive when compared to the flat lagoons of the east coast. If you’re a keen hiker with time on your hands, you can do an overnight trip to the southernmost point in mainland Australia. Or do the 4 night loop from Tidal River to Sealers Cove.

Where to stay

Tidal River is the main starting point for hikes, or simply if you want to chill in the national park. Book your accommodation ahead, including overnight hiking sites on the Parks Victoria website.

Day 7: Melbourne

Welcome to the world’s most liveable city. If you’re on a budget, Melbourne is one of the best places to go in Australia. Not only does it have a vibrant arts culture, there are so many free events you’ll be having to choose between them.

Check out my list of things to do:

If you’re still keen to keep going around the coast, after a few days in Melbourne head towards the Great Ocean Road.

Where to stay

Like Sydney, there’s no camping in the CBD, unless you go glamping at St Jeromes on top of Melbourne Central. There are a couple of holiday parks outside of town, but I’d recommend staying in a hostel in the city.

So that’s my epic Sydney to Melbourne road trip itinerary! I hope you find it useful in planning your next adventure.

Have you driven from Sydney to Melbourne? What’s your favourite coastal stop? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Add Your Comment