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Melbourne to Sydney Road Trip ~ 16 Days
Across the mountains of the Victorian High Country and Australian Alps, through Canberra, the Nation’s Capital, visiting Jenolan Caves, into The Blue Mountains, New Year’s Eve in Sydney and coastal cruising with stunning beaches, a theme park and free camping!
One Subaru, one ‘Dingo’ Camper trailer and the kids x 2. We headed off from home in the Dandenong Ranges (on the edge of Melbourne) to Sydney drive via the Alpine National Park, up through Canberra and over the Blue Mountains. No plans other than the general direction and no accommodation booked as we have our brilliant little ‘Dingo’ Camper trailer following us! After the trip to Uluru and Central Australia last year we thought how handy it would be to have a camper trailer… just a basic little unit, nothing flash. A tent on wheels basically…
The route via the mountains and coast.
Driving Times and Distances – Melbourne to Sydney via the Mountains
- Start in Melbourne – Find Accommodation
- Melbourne to Bright (via Healesville) – 344 km | 4 hours 20 mins | Stay in Bright
- Bright to Corryong (via Falls Creek & Mitta Mitta) – 293 km | 5 hours | Stay in Corryong
- Corryong to Cooma (via Thredbo) – 200 km | 3 hours | Stay in Cooma
- Cooma to Canberra – 117 km | 1 hour 25 mins | Stay in Canberra
- Canberra to Oberon (via Goulburn) – 233 km | 2 hours 50 mins | Stay in Oberon
- Oberon to Jenolan Caves (Kanangra -Boyd National Park is on the way for amazing camping and hiking) – 25 kms | 20 mins | Stay in Jenolan
- Jenolan Caves to Katoomba (Blue Mountains) – 78 kms | 1 hour 25 mins | Stay in Katoomba
- Katoomba to Sydney – 100 kms | 1 hour 40 mins | Stay in Sydney
Driving Times and Distances between Sydney & Melbourne via the Coast
- Sydney to Kiama – 121 km | 1 hour 50 mins | Stay in Kiama
- Kiama to Merimbula – 333 km | 4 hours 25 mins | Stay in Merimbula
- Merimbula to Lakes Entrance – 267 km | 3 hours 15 mins | Stay in Lakes Entrance
- Lakes Entrance to Wilsons Prom – 285 km | 3 hours 45 mins | Stay on The Prom
- Wilsons Promontory to Melbourne – 225 km | 3 hours | Find Accommodation in Melbourne
Mt Dandenong (Melbourne) -> Healesville -> Benalla -> Bright -> Corryong -> Khancoban.
This was a long drive. it would be better to break it up into two days and stop overnight in Bright. Especially for anyone who has not visited the region before.
It would be super easy to spend a few weeks doing this part of the journey. So much to see in the Alpine region. One of my favourite drives is the stretch not far from home, through Healesville and over the Blacks spur. A narrow road passing through the tall eucalyptus forest and tree ferns. Up and over the Dividing Range and into Alexandra. First stop in the town was at a good op shop(a.k.a. Charity Shop) – always a requirement for the girls. A spare sheet, board game and a few knick knacks we did not need later, and we were off towards Benalla.
Up the Hume Highway to Glen Rowan, home of the naughty boy, Ned Kelly and his mates. We soon left the freeway and drove to Bright, a gorgeous Alpine town with local ski fields, great fishing, bike trails and loads of hiking.
Across to Mt Beauty and via the Kiewa Valley Highway towards Corryong.
If we had taken proper food supplies we would have stayed by the Kiewa River ( the river runs alongside the Kiewa Valley Highway in parts, easy to spot the camp areas as you drive). We saw some brilliant free camping spots by the river, but just had to drool and regret not stopping at a supermarket on the way!
Finally into Corryong where we had dinner. The first night was spent in a roadside pullover area in Khancoban, not actually a legal camp spot but we had a flat tyre and thought it better to stay put to have it repaired the next morning. No such luck as the fuel station did not do repairs. Rather than doubling back (I loathe retracing my tracks if it can be avoided), we decided to continue on the next day and risk another flat tyre, fortunately, no more flats!
Khancoban -> Alpine Way -> Thredbo -> Jindabyne -> Cooma
It was easy to fill the day stopping in at Thredbo and Lake Crackenback resorts, plus a couple of lookout points along the way. A few days could easily be filled staying in the Thredbo area too.
Note: There is a National Park fee to enter the Thredbo region. If you plan to pass through and not stop though the fee is not applicable. Dogs can travel through in a vehicle but not stop anywhere in the National Park.
We stayed overnight in the pretty high country town of Cooma and treated the kids to ‘regular’ accommodation at the High Country Motel.
Day 3 & 4
Cooma -> Canberra
Cooma to Canberra is an easy drive, we arrived at the Canberra Carotel – Motel & Camping Park late afternoon and spent 2 nights there while we had a look around the Nations Capital City. This was quite a good camping area, they cater for everyone with camping sites, motel and large group accommodation.
Canberra -> Goulburn -> Oberon -> Kanagara-Boyd National Park
We stopped in Goulburn for lunch and to climb inside Australia’s largest sheep and have a peep through the eyes… Sounds odd, yes, and amusing… We have a collection of oversized sculptures throughout Australia…
Leaving the big sheep behind, we headed up towards the pretty little town of Oberon. It is 144 km’s/just over 2 hours drive… though we managed to make it there in about 4 hours as we dawdled along the way of course.
A stop in the supermarket to stock up on water, camping food, CHOCOLATE, MARSHMALLOWS … fuel.. and we were off to…
A sealed road leads down to the turnoff about 1 hour away and then the road into the National Park is unsealed. Fine for a 2 wheel drive car, just a bit bumpy. No entry fees into the park and free camping in a few areas with ‘long drop’ toilets.
“Serene and majestic, Kanangra-Boyd National Park has so much – walks to plunging waterfalls, cycling along deserted fire trails and camping by the creek. It’s a magical place.”
Just 180km from the outskirts of Sydney, Kanangra-Boyd National Park, part of Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, feels like you’ve crossed an ocean to get there. Take in the magnificent scenery – the sheer sandstone cliff faces of Kanangra Walls or mist-wreathed Mount Cloudmaker – before walking down forest-lined trails to one of the park’s waterfalls. Keep your eyes peeled for echidnas and lyrebirds, particularly during summer. Description from the NSW National Park Website.
This is one of my recommended Top Places for anyone keen to get off the track a little and see some of the most stunning scenery in Australia. Take enough provisions and stay a few days! (Very cold in the winter! Though generally still open to visitors).
One night was, of course, not enough in such a stunning location. We set up camp and then drove to the end of the road to walk out to some viewpoints. The walk across the plateau is stunning, with the sun going down and the light catching the cliffs. Hiking trails, bike trails and waterfalls all make this such an incredible place to easily access.
Campfires are permitted, as long as there is not a total fire ban. Cooking over an open fire, roasting marshmallows and kicking back with the occasional wild critter visiting is bliss.
We had a Spotted Tiger Quoll drop by wanting to scavenge – take care not to leave food accessible and please do not feed the wildlife.
Days 6 & 7
Kanangra-Boyd -> Jenolan Caves
Up early to the amazing sounds of the Aussie birds, boiling the billy (camp kettle) over the fire again and another walk in the National Park before heading to Jenolan, only about an hour drive away – down a fabulous, winding road.
Jenolan is home to the famous Jenolan Caves. Awesome. Hikes in the forest, cave tours – many different cave tours! The previous trip we had stayed at the Jenolan Hotel. Lovely old building. A walk in the wet forest was followed by picking delightful little leeches off our legs and youngest daughters’ bum! The two girls howled with laughter!
It was a dilemma to know which cave tour to choose from as they have so many opened up. All glorious. There is a free, self-guided cave tour available, worth the walk, but a tour of a more extensive cave is a must do.
I’ll add 2 website links here… the Official Jenolan site and the un-official site by a passionate local with plenty of advice too. A full day tour from Sydney is a good option for visitors without car.
There is no longer a campsite at Jenolan and there is no fuel.
Jenolan Caves -> Blue Mountains -> Sydney
Driving out of Jenolan involves a wicked drive through the cave and out again. Large coaches come in this way and so the road is actually closed to traffic driving out of Jenolan towards the Blue Mountains each day for a short time ...the last section of the road into the Jenolan Valley is ‘one way’ from 11.45 am to 1.15 pm every day. This means that the road is always open to arriving vehicles, but closed to uphill traffic for 1.5 hours in the middle of the day. This allows coaches to enter Jenolan safely on the narrow road. You can still leave Jenolan during these times, via the Oberon Road which is fully sealed. (but the long way round).
It is not recommended that vehicles towing large trailers or caravans use this road.
It is about 1.5 hours drive to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. This is another place that really needs several days to stop and explore! We called in at the famous 3 Sisters lookout and then had a picnic down the road. The Prince Henry Cliff Top Walk is rather a spectacular walk if you have time…
“Journey on the world’s steepest incline railway, glide between clifftops on the glass-floored Skyway suspended 270 metres in the air, descend into the ancient Jamison Valley by Cableway, explore Jurassic rainforest along the 2.4 kilometres walkway – the longest boardwalk in the Southern Hemisphere.”
A bit of advice when visiting the Blue mountains – Public holidays and peak times will mean many buses are also using the roads and view points, it’s a very busy time in the mountains – arrive really early or try to choose a quieter time to visit!
Sydney is a 1.5-hour drive / just over 100km’s away. The Lane Cove River Camping & Caravan Park is highly recommended as an option to camp as close to Sydney as possible. It is a 20-minute drive to the centre of Sydney and has easy access to public transport nearby.
Days 9 & 10
New Years Eve & Sightseeing in Sydney
Our Melbourne to Sydney drive was planned so the girls could see the NYE fireworks. Sydney during the New Years Eve celebrations is so crowded and busy, not a surprise of course. The main areas around the harbour are cordoned off and access can be awkward as checkpoints are set up and a number of areas end up full by late morning with people sitting it out to see the fireworks go off over the Harbour Bridge. We found ourselves right under the bridge for the early fireworks and then ventured out and across the Bridge to the north side of the harbour for the midnight fireworks. We had parked, trailer and all in an underground car park near the National Gallery.
A ferry ride across to Manly Beach and walk right around the bluff is a great day out in the city… as well as all the usual favourites.. do the Bridge climb maybe… Bondi etc. So much to see and do in Sydney.
There is so much to see and do in Sydney, Bianca writes about her top 10 Must-sees on her blog ‘It’sAll Bee’ A few days in Sydney is essential to explore the city and surrounds.
Days 11 to 16
Sydney -> Killalea State Park -> Kiama -> Ulladulla -> Bermagui -> Lakes Entrance -> Home
This is another part of the trip that deserves much more time. A couple of weeks could easily be spent cruising the coast from Sydney down to Melbourne. Loads of free camping areas can be found as well as budget accommodation options.
The drive out of Sydney and down through the Royal National Park is a must. Make sure to stop and gather information and maps of all the areas along the coast.
We spent 2 nights at the Killalea State Park , not free camping, but very cheap and off the track a little. Great surf beaches and walks around the area. The second day was spent at the Jamberoo Water Park, the kids went non-stop from opening to closing time on all the rides.
Kiama is a pretty little town with a famous blowhole and loads of accommodation options. The Kiama Harbour View was a place great we stayed on a previous visit.
Lakes Entrance is a great town to spend some time in. Nearby 90 mile beach, boat cruises, surf beaches and access to mountain scenery…
Lakes Entrance to Melbourne
It is a reasonably long drive to Melbourne from Lakes Entrance, 4 hours / 319 kms. A deviation down to Wilson’s Prom would be perfect if time allows. One of Victoria’s favourite family destinations, ‘The Prom’ has fabulous beaches, wildlife and incredible walks.
Total Distance of the Melbourne to Sydney Drive
The total Distance of the drive from Melbourne over the mountains to Sydney and return via the coast= 2370km approximately, slightly more if Wilsons Promontory is included.
We did this trip in 16 days, though 3-4 weeks would be ideal as there is so much to see.