• Road Trip Planner for Travel Around Australia

How long does it take to Travel around Australia?

A road trip around Australia covers approximately 15,097 km’s / 9,380 miles via National Highway 1This does not take in the centre of the country or legendary drives such as the Gibb River Road in the Kimberley but it does cover some of the best parts of the country, including the famous Great Barrier Reef

Travelling around the country with a caravan or off-road vehicle and trailer is popular and many families take their kids on travels, often long-term, working as they explore. 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 the Australian National Highway 1, a road trip is not complete without getting to the centre of the continent! The famous East Coast Road trip requires about 4-6 weeks.

Sealed all the way, a lap of Australia can be done in any type of vehicle.

How long does it take to drive from…

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

What is the Recommended Minimum Time to Drive Around 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 travellers 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.

Road Trip Around Australia - Touring Highway One Australia

 

Detailed driving times between major Australian destinations:

How long does it take to drive from drive Melbourne to Sydney? 1045 KMS / 649 MILES ~ 12 HOURS

MELBOURNE TO SYDNEY: 1045 KMS / 649 MILES ~ 12 HOURS & 34 MINUTES – Driving to Sydney via the coast is a bit longer than the direct route up the Hume Freeway, but it is a lovely way to explore the country. Lovely towns, beautiful lake regions and access to the mountains too. Read our guide on a round trip to see the best options.

 

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 Sydney to Brisbane, travelling north on Highway One, passing through outrageously beautiful coastal regions and famous places such as Byron Bay.

 

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 & 40 MINS. Awesome… The East Coast is the most popular destination in the country. Heading north from Brisbane to Cairns in Tropical North Queensland now… on-route will be Fraser Island and many points to experience the Great Barrier Reef.

 

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 Getting into serious outback territory now. Sadly, Highway One does not extend up to Cape York, North of Cairns at the very tip of Queensland… but you could detour as an option! Cairns to Darwin crosses the top end of Australia!

 

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 Heading south again from Darwin to Broome and the famous Cable Beach… keeping on our National Highway, with a stop in to visit Kakadu or Litchfield National Parks. But the 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)… but you could easily pop into Purunulu / Bungle Bungles National Park from Highway One.

 Read about the remote Gibb River Road here…

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 Another massive distance! Broome all the way down to Perth on Highway One. A stop to go visit places such as the Ningaloo Reef will be more or less required!…

 

How long does it take to drive from Perth to Adelaide across the Nullabor Plain?  2696 KMS / 1675 MILES ~ 29 HOURS

PERTH TO ADELAIDE 2696 KMS / 1675 MILES ~ 29 HOURS Once in Perth, it would be a shame to miss a drive down south to the Margaret River Area and over to see smashing spots such as the Big Trees walks... Highway One now takes travellers across the incredible Nullabor Plain!

 

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 Adelaide, South Australia….yes, another diversion off Highway One, on the road trip around Australia, will take visitors down to Kangaroo Island or up to the Flinders Ranges… Keeping on Highway one to Melbourne means forgoing The Great Ocean Road... although it is not far to drive down and join the coastal drive. It 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.

 

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 Highway One does not pass Aussie Icons such as Uluru/Ayers Rock or Kings Canyon. To include that section in, the drive has to cut right through the very centre of Australia!

 Is a 4 Wheel Drive vehicle required when travelling 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 organised tours into the remote regions?

Travellers 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 not so long ago 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 generally 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 personalised experience and have researched the best available. Find tours by state and then decide which option is best for you, self-drive or organised tours.

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 traveller. Read more…

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.

Highway 1 Australia -15,097 km’s / 9,380 miles ~ 172 hours & 11 minutes. Give or take some time depending on traffic conditions!

Pin for Later…

 

Road Trip Planner Australia

 

2018-08-07T01:43:33+00:00By |Australia, Self Drive Australia, Travel Australia|

44 Comments

  1. Wayne May 20, 2018 at 10:59 am - Reply

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

    • Jane May 21, 2018 at 3:35 am - Reply

      Quite right! Corrected now, thanks for mentioning it.

  2. kerrod May 10, 2018 at 4:08 am - Reply

    Great article. I just did Brisbane to Hobart over 5 days and while it was a bit rushed, we had so much fun.

    • Jane May 10, 2018 at 7:20 am - Reply

      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.

  3. curioustays February 13, 2018 at 10:36 am - Reply

    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!

    • wickedwalkabout February 15, 2018 at 3:27 am - Reply

      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!

  4. Travelingw/oaclue January 8, 2018 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    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?

    • wickedwalkabout January 20, 2018 at 11:50 pm - Reply

      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!

  5. Farrell Segall December 18, 2017 at 11:01 am - Reply

    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.

  6. Anand September 12, 2017 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    I’ve visited Australia twice as a tourist and I so much want to do the big lap. I’m not sure I want to do it solo though (my family and friends are not crazy like me! lol). Anybody looking for a partner please hit me up – wickedwalkabout@anand123.33mail.com (it forwards to my email address)

    • wickedwalkabout September 14, 2017 at 5:04 am - Reply

      If you do a Facebook search you may find a group that people can post on for travel companions?

  7. Sarah July 31, 2017 at 8:30 am - Reply

    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. Gilda Baxter July 31, 2017 at 8:11 am - Reply

    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 🙂

    • wickedwalkabout July 31, 2017 at 8:24 am - Reply

      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. Art July 26, 2017 at 5:32 am - Reply

    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. Sarah April 25, 2017 at 11:51 pm - Reply

    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

    • wickedwalkabout April 26, 2017 at 10:33 am - Reply

      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!

      • Sarah May 10, 2017 at 3:52 am - Reply

        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. Damian Asciak April 2, 2017 at 7:58 am - Reply

    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

    • wickedwalkabout April 2, 2017 at 8:15 am - Reply

      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. David LaVoie March 23, 2017 at 10:21 pm - Reply

    I want to do this trip all the way around Australia!

  13. Alice February 23, 2017 at 12:33 pm - Reply

    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.

  14. Kristen January 30, 2017 at 11:38 am - Reply

    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.

    • wickedwalkabout February 8, 2017 at 12:57 am - Reply

      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!

  15. Donald August 22, 2016 at 4:24 am - Reply

    That’s not long go to America

    • wickedwalkabout August 22, 2016 at 5:30 am - Reply

      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.

      • Frank October 25, 2016 at 10:43 am - Reply

        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…

        • wickedwalkabout October 25, 2016 at 12:53 pm - Reply

          Same sort of distance, but then so many more stopping points and cities across America and loads more road options!

  16. Hans Schwabe July 6, 2016 at 12:44 am - Reply

    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 …….

    • wickedwalkabout July 6, 2016 at 3:49 am - Reply

      Sounds like you need to re-visit Australia then, Hans! you clearly had a great time here.

  17. Evan June 20, 2016 at 6:39 pm - Reply

    Fantastic read. Stumbled upon due to random curiosity. Maybe one day!!

    – Texas, USA

    • wickedwalkabout June 20, 2016 at 11:52 pm - Reply

      Make sure you do the trip one day, Evan! Of course, you have a lifetime of trip options in the U.S!

  18. Pete August 10, 2015 at 11:53 pm - Reply

    looking to take motorcycle around in 2-3 months staring Sept. What direction from Sydney would give best weather?

    • wickedwalkabout August 11, 2015 at 6:23 am - Reply

      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!!

  19. Mike Henry April 10, 2015 at 7:23 am - Reply

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

  20. Hugo January 24, 2015 at 9:50 am - Reply

    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

    • wickedwalkabout January 24, 2015 at 10:30 am - Reply

      Yes, I agree, Australia Zoo is a terrific place to se too! Enjoy your travels!

  21. Jazza - NOMADasaurus October 31, 2014 at 11:15 am - Reply

    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!

    • wickedwalkabout October 31, 2014 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      It’s a great drive across to Perth on the Nullabor. Maybe you two could ship your bikes to Darwin and do the ride down and across!

  22. NomaderHowFar October 30, 2014 at 7:41 pm - Reply

    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 😛

    • wickedwalkabout October 31, 2014 at 8:37 am - Reply

      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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