How Long Does It Take To Drive Around Australia?

How long does it take to road trip around Australia?

Are you curious how many kilometers it is around Australia on Highway 1 and how long it will take to drive around Australia?

The big lap covers approximately 15,097 km’s / 9,380 miles via National Highway 1The route covers some of the best parts of Australia including the famous East Coast and Great Barrier Reef, optional diversions to include the center of the country and legendary drives such as the Gibb River Road in the Kimberley region of Western Australia make an Australian road trip vacation a great adventure.

The circumference or length of Australia’s coastline is 25,760 kilometers, (just over 16,000 miles) and has more than 10,500 beaches.

Sealed all the way, a lap of Australia can be done in any type of vehicle. 2 or 4 Wheel Drive.

Road Trip Australia - Car, Motorhome, Tent

How long does it take to drive from…

  1. Melbourne to Sydney: 1045 km / 649 miles ~ 12 hours & 34 minutes
  2. Sydney to Brisbane: 922 km / 573 miles ~ 10 hours & 30 minutes
  3. Brisbane to Cairns: 1705 km / 1060 miles ~ 20 hours & 40 minutes
  4. Cairns to Darwin: 2850 km / 1771 miles ~ 34 hours
  5. Darwin to Broome: 1871 km / 1162 miles ~ 21 hours 13 minutes
  6. Broome to Perth: 2811 km / 1747 miles ~ 30 hours
  7. Perth to Adelaide: 2696 km / 1675 miles ~ 29 hours
  8. Adelaide to Melbourne: 900 km / 559 miles ~ 10 hours & 10 minutes
  9. Adelaide to Darwin: 3027 km / 1881 miles ~ 35 hours
  10. Devonport to Hobart: 280 km / 174 miles ~ 3 hours & 16 minutes

The distance around Australia on Highway 1, give or take some time depending on traffic conditions and the crossing to Tasmania: 15,097 km’s / 9,380 miles ~ 172 hours & 11 minutes.

How far is the drive across Australia?

Driving across Australia from Sydney to Perth alone takes 41 hours, covering 3,933 km / 2,444 miles. This is an epic road trip that crosses the Nullarbor Plain and skirts around the edge of the Great Australian Bite, well worth doing by itself let alone combined with a complete self-drive big lap of the country.

Road Trip from Sydney to Perth crossing the Nullarbor Plain

What is the Recommended Minimum Time to Road Trip Australia?

A suggested minimum time to tour all the way around would be 6 months, though 12 months would be a better length of time to tour the country.

It could be done in just 3 months and many travelers do the lap in this amount of time as not everyone has the luxury of taking longer… and not everyone wants to be on the road for an extended length of time.

We have friends who spent 10 years road-tripping, working and really exploring every part of Australia – traveling with a 4 wheel drive and camper trailer.

Deciding how long to drive around Australia will be the biggest decision to make and this will, naturally, depend on the travel budget available too.

Highway 1 - Road Trip Around Australia. How long will it take and many km is it?

Highway 1 Australia Road Trip – Detailed driving times:

Melbourne to Sydney

Driving to Sydney via the coast on Highway 1 takes a bit longer than the direct route up the Hume Freeway, but it is a lovely way to explore the country. Historic country towns, beautiful lake regions and access to the Australian Alps for anyone wishing to divert inland off the National Highway. Read our guide on a round trip from Melbourne to Sydney via the Mountains and returning along the coast to see the best options for this part of the road trip.

How long does it take to drive from drive Melbourne to Sydney? 1045 KMS / 649 MILES ~ 12 HOURS
MELBOURNE TO SYDNEY: 1045 KM / 649 MILES ~ 12 HOURS & 34 MINUTES 

Sydney to Brisbane

Sydney to Brisbane, traveling north on Highway One, passing through outrageously beautiful coastal regions and famous places such as Byron Bay. The East Coast touring route is one of the most popular in Australia, read our complete self-drive itinerary from Sydney to Cairns in Far North Queensland.

Driving north from Sydney there are not just the coastal areas to explore, mountains and the outback regions of New South Wales also beckon travelers.

How long does it take to drive from Sydney to Brisbane? 922 KMS / 573 MILES ~ 10 HOURS
SYDNEY TO BRISBANE 922 KMS / 573 MILES ~ 10 HOURS & 30 MINS

Brisbane to Cairns

The East Coast is the most popular destination in the country. Heading north from Brisbane to Cairns in Tropical North Queensland is a major part of the trip around Australia. On-route will be Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island where 4 wheel driving on the beach is one of the most popular things to do. The Great Barrier Reef can be accessed from a number of points along the coast, snorkeling and diving on the reef are the best-known activities in Oz.

How long does it take to drive from Brisbane to Cairns? 1705KMS / 1060 MILES ~ 20 HOURS & 40 mins
BRISBANE TO CAIRNS 1705KMS / 1060 MILES ~ 20 HOURS & 4 MINS.

Cairns to Darwin

Highway One does not extend up to Cape York and the very top of Queensland, a detour is an option, providing your vehicle is suitable for off-road driving.

Highway One from Cairns to Darwin crosses the ‘top end’ where the real outback journey of a trip around Australia begins, road-tripping from the coast of Queensland into the Northern Territory via the Savannah Way.

Major attractions on this drive include Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks, remote cattle stations and vast expanses of land. It is an unbelievable journey that can still be experienced with a regular two-wheel drive car.

Big World, Small Pockets have a fun article on their adventures along this route with some options to consider depending on whether the sealed road or somewhat rougher tracks suit your comfort levels.

How long does it tke to drive from Cairns to Darwin? 2850 KM / 1771 MILES ~ 34 HOURS
CAIRNS TO DARWIN 2850 KM / 1771 MILES ~ 34 HOURS

Darwin to Broome

Heading south from Darwin to Broome, staying on National Highway 1 is an incredible drive, but this direct route will mean passing by the Gibb River Road and the heart of the Kimberley with world-famous spots such as Windjana Gorge (A 4 wheel drive vehicle is required for the Gibb).

However, it does pass the road into Purunulu / Bungle Bungles National Park. The road in is rough and requires a 4 wheel drive, Birgit from the ‘Kimberley Australia‘ website has all the info required to make this one of the most memorable drives of a lifetime.

Helicopter tours over Purunulu/Bungle Bungle National Park is a popular way to see the remote region.

How long does it take to drive from Darwin to Broome? 1871 KMS / 1162 MILES ~ 21 HOURS 13 MINS
DARWIN TO BROOME 1871 KMS / 1162 MILES ~ 21 HOURS 13 MINS

Broome to Perth

Another huge part of the great Australian road trip, driving from Broome all the way down to Perth on Highway One. Must-see destinations on this driving route include Ningaloo Reef, the UNESCO World Heritage area of Shark Bay, The Pinnacles and Karijini National Park, in what is known as Australia’s Coral Coast.

How long does it take to drive from Broome to Perth, Western Australia? 2811KMS / 1747 MILES ~ 30 HOURS
BROOME TO PERTH 2811KMS / 1747 MILES ~ 30 HOURS

Perth to Adelaide

After exploring the sights of Western Australia’s Capital city of Perth, visit Rottnest Island, home to the famous Quokkas and maybe divert from Highway One with a drive down south to the Margaret River Area then over to see amazing places such as the Big Trees walks. Highway One now heads East across the incredible Nullarbor Plain.

Deciding how long to drive across Australia will depend on whether you like to take the experience slowly and relax, for people who enjoy isolation and being completely away from major cities, the Nullarbor Plain is definitely going to be a road trip to fall in love with.

How long does it take to drive from Perth to Adelaide across the Nullabor Plain? 2696 KMS / 1675 MILES ~ 29 HOURS
PERTH TO ADELAIDE ACROSS THE NULLARBOR PLAIN  2696 KMS / 1675 MILES ~ 29 HOURS

Adelaide to Melbourne

Adelaide, Capital city of South Australia. Another diversion off Highway One, on the road trip around Australia, can take visitors south down to Kangaroo Island or north up to the Flinders Ranges.  The drive passes through some lovely areas such as one of the oldest towns in South Australia, Robe as well as Mt Gambier and the Blue Lake, Portland, and Warrnambool. Keeping on Highway one to Melbourne would mean forgoing The Great Ocean Road... a diversion via the Grampian Mountains to see the Twelve Apostles and drive this world-famous coastal road is a must.

How long does it take to drive from Adelaide to Melbourne? 900 KMS / 559 MILES ~ 10 HOURS & 10 MINUTES
ADELAIDE TO MELBOURNE 900 KMS / 559 MILES ~ 10 HOURS & 10 MINUTES

Darwin to Adelaide, through the center of Australia

Highway One does not pass Australian icons such as Uluru/Ayers Rock or Kings Canyon. To include that section, the drive has to cut right through the very center of Australia.

How long does it take to drive from Adelaide to Darwin via Ayers Rock/Uluru and Alice Springs? 3027 KMS / 1881 MILES ~ 35 HOURS

DARWIN TO ADELAIDE 3027 KMS / 1881 MILES ~ 35 HOURS

 Tasmania

An Australian road trip is not complete without visiting the tiny island of Tasmania. There is so much to see and do in ‘Tassie’ that it is worth spending a few weeks here if at all possible.

Self Drive Lap of Australia on Highway1 - Tasmania
DEVONPORT TO HOBART: 280 KM / 174 MILES ~ 3 HOURS & 16 MINUTES

Is a 4 Wheel Drive vehicle required when traveling around Australia?

A 4WD will give you access to many remote regions that an ordinary car simply cannot cope with. Research needs to be done to weigh out the costs of buying a suitable 4Wd before a big trip.

  • How long will the trip be for?
  • Are you experienced enough to drive in remote regions on difficult terrain or prepared to gain the experience beforehand?
  • Will your accommodation be in tents that can be in the vehicle or will you need an off-road camper or trailer?
  • What will the extra costs be with maintaining and fuelling a 4WD vehicle?
  • Depending on your time frame for the trip, would it be better to use a regular car and then take organized tours into the remote regions?

Travelers have used regular vehicles to tour Australia since the motor car was invented. These days you will see people driving every type of vehicle around Australia.

An old VW Beetle was seen coming from the famous Gibb River Road, the Beetle was painted gaily with a grinning driver waving victoriously – this is a road that is not considered suitable for anything other than a 4WD as it has river crossings and corrugations, plus remote regions that can be explored with a 4WD or tour.

What is the best way to travel around Australia – Car, Motor Home, Tours?

 This all depends on how much time is available. Driving across Australia from Melbourne to Perth, for example, is just over 3,400 km’s/2,000 miles and generally takes about 3 days, at least. A holiday of 2-4 weeks would be best done by flying between destinations or concentrating on just one area. See a size comparison of Australia compared to other countries here, to get an idea of distances.

Our comparison table of flight times and driving times around the country may help to make a decision about driving or flying between places in Australia.

The range of tours available in Australia is brilliant and flying between cities and then connecting with a guided tour is a good way to see the country if you are on a limited time frame or prefer not to drive.

We love to promote smaller group tours that offer a more personalized experience and have researched the best available. Find tours by state and then decide which option is best for you, self-drive or organized tours.

Which Direction is Best for a Road Trip around Australia?

This depends on personal preference as well as where the journey around Australia is starting from, plus the time of year.

Summer in Australia means it is hot in most places, but it is also the wet season up North, not ideal perhaps – it has the advantage of enabling people to see places when they are green and lush, plus has a totally different feel to when it is dry. Places like Kakadu in the Northern Territory open up a to a whole different experience – BUT, many roads, towns, and communities are cut off due to higher river levels, plus it is extremely humid.

May to August is generally considered the best time to head north, warm dry days for the most part, though can be very cold overnight in central Australia. Most unsealed roads are accessible at this time. During these months it is winter down south, so a great reason perhaps to head north.

Expedition Australia – The Big Lap DVD Series

This is a fabulous family adventure doing the ‘Big Lap’ with two small kids. Going to every extreme of Australia, driving on remote outback roads and filming as they went. The Baile family will keep viewers entertained for hours. Recommended to anyone planning a big lap of Australia or as a gift to a traveler. Read more…

Families on the Road, Backpackers and Grey Nomads

Driving around Australia with a caravan, off-road vehicle, and trailer or camping with tents is popular and many families take their kids on travels, often long-term, working as they explore. Retirees or ‘Grey Nomads’ as they are often called make up a large number of travelers on the road too.

It is not unusual for a road trip around Oz to cover in excess of 40,000 km’s  (nearly 25,000 miles) as there is so much to see off the National Highway. We spent 5 weeks touring the small island state of Tasmania and covered over 5,000 km’s / 3000 miles! Driving through Central Australia to Uluru is not part of  Highway 1 Australia, and a road trip is not quite complete without getting to the red center of the continent! The famous East Coast Road trip requires about 4-6 weeks.

Maybe Guided Tours would be preferable to self-drive touring?

Not everyone has the time or desire to self-drive around Australia. Get Your Guide is one of the world’s largest and best online travel agents and they offer some fabulous touring options. Browse some of the choices below and see which way you might prefer to explore our big country.

Flying between cities and then jumping on local tour buses is definitely a good way to see the country too.

How long does it take to drive from Sydney to Perth or Mebourne to Cairns? - How to plan your road trip and travel around Australia...

 

How long does it take to drive from Sydney to Perth or Mebourne to Cairns? - How to plan your road trip and travel around Australia...

 

Read all our Road Trip Australia Itineraries

55 thoughts on “How Long Does It Take To Drive Around Australia?”

  1. Hello, looking for some advice please 🙂

    We have already travelled the east coast up to Cape Trib and the southern coast as far as Adelaide. We will be travelling Tasmania for most of March then plan to head west, heading all the way up to darwin (we will fly to Alice Springs for a trip to Uluru) and then across to South Qld where we will finish the trip.

    We are planning 2-3 months for this trip, do you think that is enough time?

    • It will be a push to do the whole trip you are planning in 3 months. We spent 5 weeks in Tassie and did not see everything we had planned. To cross the Nullabor it takes a few days and then it all depends on how long you want to stop going up the west coast. Many people would say it is not enough time, but it all depends on if you feel you’ll have the opportunity again too. Would we do it if we only had a few months? Yes. It would mean skipping some places and not spending as much time along the way but you would still have an epic experience. Are you travelling with kids?

  2. Planning 2-3 months in apr-Jun 2019 with week stays at time shares. Would like to make it all around the country and it looks feasible. Any cautions?

    BTW, we are in our 70’s. Have done 2 months in NZ and driven in UK numerous times with stick shifts.

    • Hi Mike, The main caution is to not underestimate distances here. If you have 2-3 months and stay for a week at a time in places you will be able to fully explore each area, though it does mean some long drives to travel all around the country. It will mean being on the go all the time, perhaps just do the East Coast or West Coast and aim to return another time to see the rest? Have a fantastic trip and I hope you enjoy our country.

  3. Adelaide to Melbourne – you’ve marked almost all of it through Victoria and into South Australia via Highway 8, not Highway 1 (Princes HWY).

    • That is certainly a quick trip you did, but it can be a matter of working in with available time and making the most of it to have fun.

  4. I’m a newly intrigued gal that has had the idea to travel around Aus before i journey off into life and other parts of the world, I will be traveling with my partner and was wondering if 6 months would be enough? although I would love to travel Aus forever we have things to do back home! Thank you!

    • Hi Tayla, 6 months will be enough time to get a good idea of all that Australia has to offer. Like many countries, it can take years to see everything, but 6 months should be enough time to see a lot of the country. A lot of travellers spend years but many do it in only 3 months- though that is a tight time frame! Have fun when you get here and let us know how you go!

  5. Planning for 2019. Want to start in Melbourne and end in Brisbane. Want to spend 6 to 7 weeks total. Roughly 10 days in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The remainder of the trip would be to see what is in between. IOW, not necessary to get from one city to the next in one day. What would be the best locations to stop between Melbourne and Sydney & Sydney and Brisbane. Don’t mind spending 2 to 3 days at the in-between locations.
    Also recommendations about going the coastal route versus the inland routes. Not a hiker although moderate walks of 3 to 5 miles (5 to 8K) would be no problem. More of a sightseer. I’m not in a race; I;m traveling without a clue. Recommendations?

    • Hello, 6-7 weeks between Melbourne to Brisbane will be a good length of time to see a variety of places. From Melbourne, both the inland and coastal routes are lovely, though I tend to lean towards the coastal route as I love the seaside towns and parks along the way. Wilson’s Prom is well worth visiting on the way and I recommend spending a week between the cities at least if you can. 10 days in a city is quite a long time but it depends on what interests you most. Loads of fabulous walks in the Blue Mountains near Sydney as well as some stunning walks around the harbour too. Definitely, stop in at local tourism information places as you go. If you are camping, download the Wiki Camps AU app as it is so useful. If you are on Facebook, search for Australian Travel groups to ideas too.
      I hope you have a wonderful trip!

  6. I Have 6 weeks after 1st Jan 2018 to travel from Melbourne to include Brisbane and around back in a campervan – 1st visit to Australia. Happy to share the trip to include hiking, camping, couchsurfing etc.

  7. I would love to do a trip around the country in a really economical car, free camping and enjoying the bush! It is a looooong drive for sure!

  8. I loved Australia so much when I visited in February this year. Unfortunately, my husband and I only had 3 weeks, so we had to fly….it is a vast country. We used the Quantas “walk about pass” and we managed to see quite a lot in the short period of time, it was great. We will most definitely go back for a road trip and stay a lot longer. I have saved your blog for future reference 🙂

    • The ‘Walk about pass’ sounds like it was a great way to get around. It is surprising how much can be seen in a short time frame if planned well. Enjoy your road trip when you return, Gilda!

  9. Wow, this is very comprehensive! I’m excited to try some of these routes. I have a 4WD with suspensions and the cool guys from http://www.westcoastsuspension.com.au/ helped me with my suspensions and accessories needed for a long drive earlier this year. I’m not sure with my next route and things needed for the trip, so I guess I have to show them this post. This is really helpful, thanks! 😉

  10. Hi there! So first of all, I have never really traveled. I am 23 and an Aussie born and bread. I have been to Tassie when i was a kid with my aunt for a couple weeks and it was gorgeous but I havent traveled outside or inside of Aus. Most of my friends or people I knew have traveled to Europe/the Americas/Asia etc but not so much of Aus. It made me have a brilliant idea. I would love to see this country first. I have envisioned a plan for some time now, and I would love to do the lap before I sort out my life and settle down. And I think it’d be a really good soul searching journey. I plan to buy a Toyota hiace, fully equipped with a bed and shelving, spare fuel and parts, if necessary etc. I estimated buying and getting insurance/registration etc to be around $6000, then aother couple $1000 for parts and things, that I will save up for. I’ve researched enough to know it should be all wheel drive and preferably diesel. Although I dont know if it would be okay to go over all terrain. I dont plan to go across the outback or too much off the beaten track however I would like to stray from Highway 1 to visit some of the coastal fringes up north if possible. Upon researching how long it is estimated to do a whole lap, and seeing your extremely helpful guide, (sticking to Highway 1) I would just like to know how long it would take to steer away? How much petrol roughly should I be saving for, or, alternatively, are there many places to go fruit picking to earn some extra cash for petrol? Are there any areas that are not suitable to drive in a van? How much should I save for food or other necessities (as I wont be needing accommodation because I can sleep in my van). Am I biting off more than I can chew?
    So many questions I know, I’m very sorry, however I have looked into it and no one comes close to my plan as your above blog does. I dont have anyone in my life that has accomplished this yet either and since I have no experience, I’m not entirely sure where to turn.
    I hope I haven’t bombarded you with all my questions.
    Many thanks in advance,
    Sarah

    • Hi Sarah, A great plan and good on you for all your research so far. Are you on Facebook? Loads of great travel groups there and helpful people who are travelling too. One good one that I am in too is https://www.facebook.com/groups/planningalapofaustraliahintsandtips/ By the time you are on the road for a little while, you’ll feel experienced! Also, the wiki phone app for free camp sites in Australia is a very worthwhile app to have, costs about $7, great value. Keep us posted how you progress with the plan and the trip!

      • Hey there! Sorry its taken me a while to get back. I actively dont have facebook right now. I go on and off it quite a bit, however, I will have a good read up. Thank you so much for your reply, and i will definitely keep you posted!!

  11. Hi my name is Damian from Campbelltown I’m 42 years young and u know this might sound crazy but I would like to see if u could possibly help out in any way with a route all the way around outskirts of Australia in fact this is why help is needed
    I am going to attempt to walk entire distance and would like to make sure it is the furthest longest route possible by foot Within reason of course So I am looking to see about trying to get as many kilometres as possible in one route
    I haven’t put alot of thought into this as of date but am determined WILLING able So if I am going to hike around australia it is either just start walking and go my own way but I would rather put in extra effort and make a cause of some kind I don’t know exactly I have no experience hiking but I do know how to walk lol I am thinking possibly 1 or 2 months time
    Could u possibly let me know Wat u think cheers
    Damian Asciak

    • Hi Damian, That is a massive challenge you are thinking about doing! I’d suggest you follow smaller roads that go as close as possible to Highway 1, pack efficiently and thoughtfully and research where you can sleep and eat when in remote regions. Maybe start a FB page to keep people up to date, or a travel blog!

  12. Hi! I read your blog, and I found it fascinating. I love to travel and also to read on travel journeys. The minute detailing you have provided in your blog is commendable. I will surely consider all these details whenever I travel around Australia or any of its places.

  13. Hi, We did the big lap in 2015 in 12 months – with 2 children (11 & 8yrs) in a Jayco expanda 14ft pop top van – for detailed info/stats on our trip see http://jksj.org/2016/01/29/a-year-in-numbers-the-big-lap-vital-statistics/ . Even taking this long we didn’t get to see everything. Australia is a big place with lots to see. WA was awesome, with the Gibb River Road, Cape Le Grand NP and Ningaloo rating pretty highly. Loved Bitter Springs in the NT as well as Litchfield NP. Outback QLD was also pretty impressive – the Winton outback festival was great.
    We are planning our belated Tassie leg for Summer 2017/18 – so will look with interest at your blog.
    Cheers, Kristen.

    • Sounds like a fantastic trip you did, Kirsten. I was looking at your page and the map is brilliant. We still have to complete the big lap…Tassie is done (with loads of posts to do still) and Victoria is ticked off… Add your blog to australiantravelbloggers.com.au and join the FB group for bloggers too!

    • I’m not saying it’s the longest trip out.. I certainly know America is huge and so much to do too, I love touring there. Still, it’s good to have an idea of what to expect of a road trip.

      • Enjoyed the post Jane, interesting. Los Angeles to New York takes 41 hours, also according to google. So not much of a difference with some of the longest drives in Australia. But then there’s a lot of idiots like Donald who have no idea…

  14. Did the trip (5 month – too short! ) in 1990.
    Often do it in my mind and inteality, bits of it almost every year . The space, the wastness, the bizzare biology and the geological antiquity become part of you daily feel of ‘place’ on this amazing planet in this most interesting timeframe of uncertain human prospects.
    Life happens on a delicate thin vail …….

    • Hi Pete, I would head north to Queensland from Sydney, personally, as the rainy season will start up late in your trip maybe. It extends across the top of Australia. Weather will he heating up too, so he prepared. Will be an awesome trip for you. Have fun!!

  15. Can anyone tell me how further is to travel clockwise around Australia than anti clockwise using exactly the same Highway 1?

  16. Im currently doing Sydney to Cairns. In Airlie Beach at the minute and decided we will settle here but will be having a trip to Cairns soon! So far there has been plenty to do on the way! Australia Zoo is a must!

    Happy Travels

  17. Nice post! I’ve only driven from Sydney to Perth, and up to Exmouth but would have to explore the rest of Australia one day. Now I’ve got some ideas on different routes! Thanks!

  18. Wow! Great insight 🙂 we plan to land in Melbourne in March and will be slowly making our way up to Cairns, luckily not in one sitting haha 😛

    • Yes, it is quite a hike around Australia. Make sure you visit the Dandenong Ranges when you get to Melbourne… pity we will not be here in March, or I’d be sending out an invite for you to stay!

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