Melbourne to Sydney Drive – Over the Mountains

Last Updated on July 26, 2019

Melbourne to Sydney via The Australian Alps – 11 Days or more.

Driving from Melbourne to Sydney via the mountains and high country is a route well worth considering as a road trip. Returning via the coast makes this one of the best road trips in the country as it takes in the scenic Australian Alps, the famous Jenolan Caves, the Blue Mountains, cities, and beautiful seaside towns of the Southern New South Wales Coast and fantastic beaches.

Travelers, both Australian and international, often tour the Great Ocean Road and are looking for self-drive options between Sydney and Melbourne. It can be confusing as to which route to take, this drive over the mountains is not well-publicized, but it is definitely recommended by us as we are locals and know the region well.

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Fuel – Finding Petrol

Most of this route has plenty of fuel stops along the way, top up regularly and finding petrol should be no problem at all.

Free and Low-Cost Camping

Free camping in Australia is really popular and we have some incredible campgrounds available. The WikiCamps AU app is simple to use, it costs under $10 and can save you lots of $$’s. Download the Wiki Camps AU App on Google Play or Apple.

Driving Times and Distances

  • 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 km | 20 mins | Stay in Jenolan
  • Jenolan Caves to Katoomba (Blue Mountains) – 78 km | 1 hour 25 mins | Stay in Katoomba
  • Katoomba to Sydney – 100 km | 1 hour 40 mins | Stay in Sydney

Day 1 – Melbourne -> Healesville -> Benalla -> Bright

  • Melbourne to Bright (via Healesville) – 344 km | 4 hours 20 mins | Stay in Bright

This is a stunning drive from Melbourne. Out through the vineyards of the famous Yarra Valley and over the Blacks Spur, part of the Great Dividing Range that stretches from north Queensland down into Victoria.

Melbourne to Sydney Drive & Return in 10
Over the ‘Blacks Spur’ Maroondah Highway, Victoria.

Once over the Great Dividing Range, head to the Hume Highway and Benalla, a large country town with plenty of cafes, supermarkets etc.

From Benalla, continue following the Hume Highway to Glen Rowan, home of the naughty boy Bushranger, Ned Kelly and his mates.

The route soon leaves the freeway and continues onto Bright, a gorgeous Alpine town with local ski fields, great fishing, bike trails and loads of hiking.

  • Another option would be to drive to Mansfield, maybe free-camp at Sheepyard Flats and then drive from Mansfield across the unsealed road through Whitfield and the King Valley to Myrtleford and Bright.

Day 2 – Bright ->Mt Beauty -> Tallangatta -> Corryong

  • Bright to Corryong (via Falls Creek & Mitta Mitta) – 293 km | 5 hours | Stay in Corryong

From Bright, drive across to Mt Beauty via the Kiewa Valley Highway towards Corryong. From Mt Beauty, either head north via Tallangatta to Corryong or you could go via Falls Creek Resort. Both ways will be incredible drives. Toss a coin to decide if need be!

Day 3 – Corryong ->Khancoban -> Alpine Way -> Thredbo -> Jindabyne -> Cooma

  • Corryong to Cooma (via Thredbo)  – 200 km | 3 hours | Stay in Cooma
Khancoban to Cooma
Khancoban to Cooma – over the Alpine way and stopping in at Thredbo (walk to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko if you have a day to spare) and onto Cooma.

The Alpine Way Drive is the longest stretch without fuel stops, as long as you fill up whenever possible, it is not a problem at all.

It was easy to fill the day with things to do, stopping in at Thredbo and Lake Crackenback resorts, plus a couple of lookout points along the way. A few days could easily be added to the trip by staying in the Thredbo area too. Hiking to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko is one thing that can fill an extra day here.

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 are not allowed to be out of a vehicle or stop anywhere within the National Park.

Lake Crackenback, near Thredo.
Lake Crackenback, near Thredbo.

We stayed overnight in the pretty high country town of Cooma and treated the kids to ‘regular’ accommodation at the High Country Motel.

Days 4 to 6 – 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 to everyone with camping sites, motel and large group accommodation.

There is so much to do and see in Canberra, stop at the information centre and take your pick! The view from the Telstra Tower on the summit of Black Mountain at night was well worth seeing.

Canberra Australia

Day 7 – Canberra -> Goulburn -> Oberon -> Kanagara-Boyd National Park

  • Canberra to Oberon (via Goulburn) – 233 km | 2 hours 50 mins | Stay in Oberon
Canberra to Kanangra Boyd National Park
Big Merino Sheep Goulburn New south Wales

Stop in Goulburn for lunch and 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, head up towards the pretty little town of Oberon. It is 144 km’s/just over 2 hours drive… though it is easy to take longer and dawdle.

Oberon is another pretty country town and a good place to stop overnight or – stop in at the local supermarket to stock up on water, camping food, CHOCOLATE, MARSHMALLOWS and camp at…

Fill up with fuel in Oberon as there is no fuel in Jenolan.


A sealed road leads down to the turnoff about 1 hour away from Oberon 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 our 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).

The walk across the plateau is stunning when the sun goes down and the light catches the cliffs. Hiking trails,  bike trails and waterfalls all make this such an incredible place to visit.

It is possible to stay nearby in Jenolan or Oberon and do a day trip in.

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.

Spotted Tiger Quoll, New South Wales, Australia
Spotted Tiger Quoll
Kanangra-Boyd National Park, New south Wales
Kanangra-Boyd National Park, New South Wales. Miles of walking trails and stunning views.

Days 8 to 9 – Kanangra-Boyd -> Jenolan Caves

  • Oberon to Jenolan Caves (Kanangra -Boyd National Park is on the way) – 25 kms | 20 mins | Stay in Jenolan

The two roads leading into the Jenolan valley are winding, and the road from Oberon is steep. Therefore neither road is suitable for vehicles towing caravans. Small camper trailers are fine to tow.

Every day, from 11.45am to 1.15pm, we close the road to traffic leaving Jenolan in the direction of Katoomba. For 90 minutes, the road becomes ‘one way’, to allow large coaches to enter Jenolan safely.  However, if you would like to leave Jenolan during this time, you can travel via Oberon (Edith Road)”. Read FAQ’s about Jenolan here.

Jenolan is home to the famous Jenolan Caves. Awesome. Hikes in the forest, cave tours – many different cave tours! We had stayed at the Jenolan Hotel. a lovely old building. A walk in the wet forest was followed by picking delightful little leeches off our legs and youngest daughters’ bum!

It is 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 system is a must do.

2 website links for more information… the Official Jenolan site and the un-official site by a passionate local with plenty of advice too.

There is no longer a campsite at Jenolan and there is no fuel. Fill up in Oberon.

Jenolan Caves, New South Wales.
The one and only road into Jenolan! Can you believe large buses actually enter here too!
Jenolan Caves
… and out the other side into Jenolan itself, just around the bend…
JenolanCaves New south Wales
Cave Tour

Day 10 – Jenolan Caves -> the Blue Mountains

  • Jenolan Caves to Katoomba (Blue Mountains) – 78 kms | 1 hour 25 mins | Stay in Katoomba
The road out of Jenolan and towards the Blue Mountains and Katoomba is awesome!

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

Please remember: Every day, from 11.45am to 1.15pm, we close the road to traffic leaving Jenolan in the direction of Katoomba. For 90 minutes, the road becomes ‘one way’, to allow large coaches to enter Jenolan safely.  However, if you would like to leave Jenolan during this time, you can travel via Oberon (Edith Road)”.

It is recommended that vehicles towing large trailers or caravans DO NOT use this road.

It is about 1.5 hours drive from Jenolan to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. This is another place that really needs several days to stop and explore! The famous 3 Sisters lookout is one of the busiest spots in the area.  The Prince Henry Cliff  Top Walk is rather a spectacular walk as well as the hike to the valley floor and many other trails in the Mountains.

Blue Mountains - Three Sisters
The Blue Mountains – The ‘Three Sisters’ lookout. One of the most iconic views of the Blue Mountains.

“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.”

From the Official Blue Mountains Website

Travel Tip – Blue Mountains

A bit of advice when visiting the Blue mountains – Public holidays and peak times will mean many buses are also using the roads and viewpoints, it’s a very busy time in the mountains as we all love to see these amazing places – 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.

 Day 11 – Driving from the Blue Mountains to Sydney

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 favorites.. do the Bridge climb maybe… Bondi etc. So much to see and do in Sydney.

Awesome Morton Bay Fig Tee, Manly Headland Walk.
Awesome Morton Bay Fig Tee, Manly Headland Walk. for a great day out… take the ferry to Manly and follow the Headland Walk.
Manly Ferry ride, heading back to Sydney.
Manly Ferry ride, heading back to Sydney.

Read more about What to See & Do in Sydney plus Best Accommodation Options

Self-drive touring itinerary over the Victorian High Country,Australian Alps via Canberra and Blue Mountains to Sydney from Melbourne.
Road trip itineraries, Great Ocean Road, Australia
Explore The Great Ocean Road | Road Trip Itineraries and Touring Guide
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4 thoughts on “Melbourne to Sydney Drive – Over the Mountains”

  1. What a huge trip! Love the look of the camper trailer, so practical… love the photo of the spotted quoll. Beautiful. I’ve tourned around bits and pieces of this epic journey over the years but haven’t been to Jenolan Caves for years and years and really must get the twins there.


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