The Coastal Drive from Melbourne to Sydney
If you plan to travel from Melbourne to Sydney, a great way of doing it to go on a road trip. Of course, it will take a few days to get there. Among all route options, the coastal drive from Melbourne to Sydney is the best.
The South East Coast of Australia connects Sydney to Melbourne with a coastal stretch of over 1000 km. It boasts the most varied coastal landscape with some of the prettiest beaches of Australia. From forests, national parks, abundant wildlife, walking trails, surf beaches, to fishing and whale watching spots, picturesque villages and breathtaking lookouts on the ocean.
Reasons to travel from Melbourne to Sydney by car
If you are asking yourself: how much does it take from Melbourne to Sydney by car? Well you can also manage that drive in 1 or 2 days, but I wouldn’t do it for such a short drive
While flying from Melbourne to Sydney may be convenient if you are on a tight schedule, if you can add 4-5 more days than it is worth driving from Melbourne to Sydney. As it is an easy route with a variety of activities and accommodation options, it makes one of my favourite road trips in Australia.
There are two main drive routes: the inland route via the highway and the route through the East Gippsland and along the South East Coast of Australia. The coastal drive is the most beautiful route, and I can highly recommend it.
While I first visited the South East Coast from Sydney to Melbourne by bus, it’s only last year that I went on a road trip from Melbourne to Sydney and explored the East Gippsland in Victoria as well as new places of the South East Coast.
There are also many options for day trips ideas from Melbourne that you may consider adding to your trip itinerary if you want to go from Melbourne to Sydney via cost.
Here is my recommendation of the best places to see on the Melbourne to Sydney coastal drive.
Discovering the East Gippsland – Walhalla historic township
I had heard a lot about Walhalla. Being nestled in the Gippslands’ wilderness, the drive from Melbourne is about 2,5 hours. Walhalla was once a significant gold mining township with over 6 thousands people, today’s population is 20. With its beautiful location offering a good mix of things to do: from the ride on the heritage train to a visit of the long tunnel extended gold mine to the mountain rivers trail and many walks in the thick forest, Walhalla draws people from all over the world and is really worth adding it to your Melbourne to Sydney trip. In Walhalla, I stayed at the Star Hotel.
Visit the Buchan Caves
On your way to the eastern coast of Australia, another place worth stopping by is Buchan. Famous for its unique underground caves, it offers a very relaxing environment. If you love walking in nature and seeing native animals in the wild, this is a great place. I spotted many native birds: Galahs, lyrebirds, wallabies and kangaroos. Plan one day for visiting Buchan.
Stop at Yarrington
Yarrington is a small and picturesque village in the Gippsland. With its quirky shops and an excellent bakery, it’s really worth stopping by for a walk and a coffee break.
Top places to stop on the Melbourne to Sydney drive
There is a dozen little villages and townships to see between Melbourne and Sydney. Here are my favourites stops. Consider 4 to 5 days as a good time for this road trip.
You can also click on the map below to see it on Google.
Where to stop? Here is our Melbourne to Sydney Coastal Drive Map
Eden and Merimbula in New South Wales
Eden and Merimbula (means two lakes) are the first coastal towns that you will be driving through after crossing the border between Victoria and NSW. They are very popular among the locals for whale watching, fishing, golfing, surfing, or just a relaxing holiday on the school holidays.
Merimbula is nestled on soft hills, lakes and ocean inlets, with a varied landscape, it has long sandy beaches, a rugged coast as well as sheltered tranquil beaches in the bay. And a perfect drive stopover.
In Merimbula, I stayed at the Sapphire Motor Inn.
There are lots of things to do and see here, but for a short visit, go to Short Point to view the red rocks, soak in the ocean breeze and marvel at the glowing red (at sunset).
From Short Point walk or drive to Middle Beach for a walk on the beach and take in a very pristine environment. This is also a good vantage point for spotting whales and dolphins.
Tathra picturesque pier on the South East Coast of Australia
Tathra is the next location you pass through, after leaving Merimbula. With its lovely picturesque dock overlooking the rugged coastline and a few lookouts along this coast is indeed a hidden gem worth stopping by. Don’t miss out on the Michael Lerner Lookout just before arriving at Tathra on the right-hand side of the road. Walk the rocky path down a few cliffs to take in the fantastic view of the ocean.
Bermagui – The blue pool
Bermagui (means canoe with paddles) Blue Pool is the pearl of this small coastal town. Built on the edge of a cliff with a smaller pool for children and a few banks and benches to chill out it creates a safe swimming area with a hint of adventure (beware of the waves crashing into the pool). It was not the right weather for a dip (cold + windy) however the sunny day with the rough sea made it to a picture-perfect scenery.
Narooma – the idyllic place
Narooma is a fascinating little town with a beautiful mountain backdrop not to miss out on your Melbourne to Sydney trip. There are two main lookouts the Glasshouse Lookout and the Bar Rock lookout from which you can view the Australia shape carved into the rocks by low tide and the tranquil sandy beaches of the bay. Don’t miss out on the soldier crabs beach to view hundreds of little silver crabs marching onto the beach.
Batemans Bay – Surf, Swim and Sunset
Batemans Bay lies on the South East Coast Australia between Narooma and Jervis Bay, and it is trendy among camping lovers. The town stretches along large coastal national parks and the Clyde River inlets. Batemans Bay is also known for its walking tracks in the forest, Pebbly Beach with grazing kangaroos on the beach. I haven’t been able to see this again, since my first visit in 2004, but was happy to discover new places like Surf Beach on the southern part, a famous beach for a stroll and a swim. I stayed overnight in Batemans Bay at the BeachHouse Resort and was treated to this ocean view at sunset colours.
In Batemans Bay, I stayed at the Sunseeker Motor Inn.
Jervis Bay – White sandy beaches
Jervis Bay is a jewel on the South East Coast of Australia, and its natural beauty is unique. It has some beautiful beaches, pure air and beautiful walking tracks in the national parks. This is not a place for a touch-and-go visit, to do justice to this place you need at least 3-4 days. Last year I spent a few days there on a solo road trip to Jervis Bay.
Kiama and the blowhole
Most known for the Kiama Blowhole and the lighthouse, this little township is perfect for a day out from Sydney to see the Sunday Market. The blowhole is the main attraction but it is often overcrowded and I prefer the Bombo Headland, which I discovered on this trip, just out-of-town towards Wollongong. The view is just magnificent.
Wollongong – The old and new Lighthouse
Only 90km south of Sydney lies Wollongong, the largest town on the south-east coast and the last stop of this road trip. It’s popular among the locals but less known about international travellers. It hosts exciting events and has a lovely boardwalk along the coast to the Marina, encompassing the old and new lighthouse, worth a stop and a photo or two.
For Sydney, check out these Harbourside Apartments with a superb view of the Sydney Harbour.
More info about Wollongong here.
How to organise your road trip from Melbourne to Sydney via cost
This is only a taste of the best places to see on the South East Coast of Australia. There is much more to explore inland and along the coast to Sydney.
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Updates: This post was last updated in October 2019