Sydney to Adelaide Road Trip

If you’re looking to travel to Adelaide from Sydney, there’s no better way to do it than by taking a road trip. Not only do you save on airfare and avoid the airport queues, but you get to see an absolute wealth of sights along the way. This epic journey, between two state capitals, takes you through the rural backcountry of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. You’ll pass through various landscapes and some of Australia’s most significant historical towns.

This guide will look at three very different road trip routes between Sydney and Adelaide. We’ll look at the routes, attractions, and the best places to stop. If you have a passion for adventure and love the open road, this road trip itinerary promises to be one of the very best in Australia. 

How far is it from Sydney to Adelaide?

The distance from Sydney to Adelaide by road is 1384 km. This assumes you travel by the most direct route, along a combination of the Hume Highway and Sturt Highway.  It’s a journey that can be completed in as little as 15 hours, but most travelers stretch the trip out over five days to a week. With plenty of attractions, varied scenery, and places to stop, you should ask yourself, “what’s the rush?”

Sydney Harbour Bridge and surrounding area
Central Sydney is the starting point for this epic road trip to Adelaide.

Best Road Trip Routes Between Sydney and Adelaide

There’s an abundance of possible different road trip routes you can take between Sydney and Adelaide. It’s one of the things that makes this road trip such a tantalizing prospect. However, we will focus on three routes, each offering something different. So whether you love the coast or the backcountry or need to get there fast, we have just the route for you.

The first route is the Direct Route, precisely as the name suggests. It follows the most direct route between Sydney and Adelaide, along a combination of the Hume Highway and the Sturt Highway. While it’s the quickest route, there are still plenty of attractions and potential stops. The 1384 km journey should take you around 15 hours of driving.  

The second route between Sydney and Adelaide is the Southern Loop. With less emphasis on speed, the route fits in more attractions along the way. It incorporates a short detour to the Australian capital city of Canberra. It also incorporates a much larger southern detour along the Hume Highway, taking in the likes of Holbrook, Bendigo, and Keith. The route is slightly longer at 1,528 km but only takes a few hours extra to complete. The total driving time is 17 hours.

The third and final route is for lovers of the coast with plenty of time to complete their journey.  The route follows the New South Wales and Victoria coastline, taking in several beautiful bays and coastal towns. It also passes through the cosmopolitan city of Melbourne and along the world-famous Great Ocean Road. The route also incorporates some of South Australia’s finest rural countryside before finally arriving in Adelaide. The route covers 2074 km with a total drive time of 26 hours. 



Driving Time

Sydney to Adelaide – Direct Route

1384 km15 hours

Sydney to Adelaide – Southern Loop

1528 km17 hours

Sydney to Adelaide – Mildura Detour

2074 km26 hours

Sydney to Adelaide - Direct Route

The Direct Route starts in downtown Sydney and heads southwest out of the city. The route follows the M1 and M5 Toll Road and then the M31 Hume Highway. After about 90 minutes, you’ll pass by the town of Bowral. Located in the Southern Highlands, this charming town is home to the Bradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame. It’s an essential stop for any sports lover. Even if you don’t fancy the museum, it’s an excellent spot for lunch and stretching your legs.

The journey continues along the Hume Highway, and an hour later, you’ll approach the city of Goulburn. This city is renowned for its famous fine wool and Big Merino statue. Stop here for a memorable photo opportunity and potentially an overnight stay. 

After Goulburn, there’s the opportunity to turn off the Hume Highway and detour to visit Canberra via the Remembrance Highway. The detour will add an extra 70 km and 90 minutes of driving time onto the trip, but it’s a great option if you have the time.

The route continues along the Hume Highway before transitioning to the Sturt Highway shortly before you reach Wagga Wagga. This lively town is well worth a stop and an overnight stay. Known as the Garden City, it’s home to many gardens, galleries, and museums, making it a great cultural layover. There’s also the unique Wagga Beach, located on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River.

Aerial view of Wagga Wagga
Wagga Wagga is a convenient and popular stop between Sydney and Adelaide.

After Wagga Wagga, the road becomes more remote, with towns and service stations becoming increasingly rare. Eventually, after the best part of 400 km, you’ll turn off the Sturt Highway at Balranald. Continuing along the Mallee Highway, signs of civilization begin to re-emerge. You’ll come to the riverside town of Tooleybuc, a popular stop-over destination.   

The route continues west, passing through farmland and past historic towns. While the scenery is beautiful, there are few places of interest along this stretch of road, so it’s best to push on to Murray Bridge. This laidback town is home to several historic attractions and a center for water sports. After a long drive, a few hours out on the river will help loosen the legs. Murray Bridge is also located just an hour outside Adelaide, making it a good overnight stop.

From Murray Bridge, it’s just 70 km into central Adelaide. As you approach the city, you’ll pass Hahndorf, Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement. Its Germanic architecture and cuisine make it a great final stop before arriving in Adelaide. The route will have seen you cover 1384 km with a total drive time in the region of 15 hours. 

Direct Route Itinerary

Our Direct Route itinerary provides an excellent template for how the journey from Sydney to Adelaide can be completed in just five days. Overnight stays in Goulburn, Wagga Wagga, Tooleybuc, and Murray Bridge allow you to experience and explore several New South Wales and South Australia towns. 




Driving Time


Sydney to Goulburn

199 km

2 hours 30 minutes


Goulburn to Wagga Wagga

263 km

2 hours 30 minutes


Wagga Wagga to Tooleybuc

439 km

4 hours 30 minutes


Tooleybuc to Murray Bridge

407 km

4 hours 30 minutes


Murray Bridge to Adelaide

76 km

1 hour



1385 km

15 hours

Sydney to Adelaide - Southern Loop

The Southern Loop sets a path similar to the Direct Route, exiting Sydney on the M1 and M5 Toll Road. The route then transitions to the M31 Hume Highway, a stalwart of this route. As you pass along the early parts of the Hume Highway, there are many interesting stops, including Bowral and Goulburn. The two are famous for the Bradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame and the Big Merino statue, respectively. Goulburn is also a good bet for an overnight stay.

Shortly after leaving Goulburn, you’ll turn off the Hume Highway onto the Remembrance Highway and head south towards Canberra. Canberra is a hugely underrated city, and it’s well worth spending a couple of days here if you can. Australia’s capital city is a real cultural hub with many museums, monuments, and galleries to explore. 

Once you’ve had your fill of Canberra’s culture and charm, it’s time to get back on the road. The Barton Highway takes you back north, where we resume our journey along the Hume Highway. While the Direct Route heads off to Wagga Wagga, we continue to the next major attraction, Holbrook. Despite being hundreds of kilometers from the sea, it’s best known for its submarine and accompanying museum. It’s a fun stop, particularly if you’ve got kids. It’s also a decent location for some grub or overnight stay.

Continuing west from Holbrook, we finally leave the Hume Highway at Violet Town before continuing to Bendigo. This great little regional city has a rich gold rush heritage. It’s home to the Deborah Gold Mine museum and some beautiful historical buildings. The city also has a great food and cultural scene, making it an ideal spot for an overnight stay. 

It’s a long drive west from Bendigo to the next stop, Keith, in South Australia. Midway between Bendigo and Keith, there’s an optional detour to Grampian National Park. This exceptional national park is a bit out of the way, but it’s a real mecca for hikers and certainly rewards those taking the detour.  Keith is a quaint little town and a good overnight stop. 

View along a beach in Adelaide
Adelaide with its stunning beaches is the final destination for this road trip.

The final leg of the journey takes you from Keith into Adelaide via Murray Bridge and Hahndorf. Before you reach these two towns, you can take one final detour to Coorong. This spectacular wetland is full of migratory birds, and there’s an abundance of water sports on offer.

Returning to the main route, both Murray Bridge and Hahndorf offer very different but equally compelling reasons to visit. Both are equally good spots for lunch, but Hahndorf shades it, in our opinion. Once you arrive in Adelaide, you will have clocked up 1528 km with a drive time of over 17 hours.

Southern Loop Itinerary

Our Southern Loop itinerary affords more time for sightseeing and enjoying the attractions. The route can be completed in just a week and even incorporates a visit to Canberra.




Driving Time


Sydney to Bowral

199 km

2 hours 30 minutes


Goulburn to Canberra

89 km

1 hour


Day in Canberra


Canberra to Holbrook

275 km

3 hours


Holbrook to Bendigo

346 km

3 hours 45 minutes


Bendigo to Keith

389 km

4 hours


Keith to Adelaide

230 km 

2 hours 45 minutes



1528 km

17 hours

Sydney to Adelaide - Coastal Route

The Coastal Route between Sydney and Adelaide once again starts in Central Sydney. However, rather than exiting the city to the southwest like the Direct Route and Southern Loop, you’ll head south towards Wollongong on the M1. 

The first stop is Jervis Bay, about 200 km south of Sydney. This beautiful bay is a popular year-round destination, particularly during the summer when its beaches come to the fore. The area’s beauty and attractions more than justify an overnight stay. 

Heading south again, the next major attraction is Batemans Bay, which offers a little something for everyone. In our case, the superb oysters sold us on this seaside town. A further 280 km to the south is stunning Mallacoota. The area is recognized as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and is well worth exploring for a day or two. 

From Mallacoota, the route turns west and follows the Princes Highway. You’ll reach the spectacular Lakes Entrance after a further 200 km. It’s another unique coastal town with amazing views and a great food scene. It also helps to break up the substantial journey to Melbourne from Mallacoota. 

Melbourne lies a solid 4-hour drive and over 300 km west of Lakes Entrance. It is one of Australia’s great cities and one of the world’s great cities. There’s plenty to see and do in this modern and cosmopolitan city. Whether you stay for one night or considerably longer, you won’t find a shortage of places to eat or attractions to keep you busy. 

View of the Melbourne skyline
Melbourne is Australia's cultural and culinary centre.

From Melbourne, you continue west along the Princes Highway. It’s only an hour’s drive before you arrive in Geelong, Victoria’s second city. It’s a great historical city and a good break on the journey to the Great Ocean Road.

The Great Ocean Road begins in Torquay, just a short distance from Geelong. It then extends westwards for 243 km to Allansfird near Warrnambool. You could easily spend days or weeks exploring this route’s stunning scenery. However, for this guide, we’ve just assumed a day spent driving along it. 

At the end of the Great Ocean Road, you should stay in Warrnambool. This small city has a rich maritime history and plenty of accommodation options. It’s only a 2-hour drive from the next stop, Mount Gambier, so you have time to explore the city before hitting the road again. 

The city of Mount Gambier is famous for its rocky, volcanic terrain and stunning crater lakes. The city boasts a unique attraction in the form of Blue Lake, which takes on a brilliant cobalt hue during the summer months. Just a stone’s throw away, the Umpherston Sinkhole is home to a vibrant sunken garden. These twin attractions and the city’s laid-back vibe make this an essential stop on the Coastal Route. 

The final section of this road trip route sees us head north to our final destination, Adelaide. It’s 440 km between Mount Gambier and Adelaide, with plenty of opportunities to stop. In this guide, we’ve factored in an overnight stop in quaint Keith, but you could just as easily stay in Murray Bridge. There are also great stops on the way at Coorong and Hahndorf. Arriving in Adelaide, you will have clocked up over 2074 km and 26 hours of driving time. 

Coastal Route Itinerary

Our Coastal Route itinerary follows a very different route from the other routes. With considerably more distance to cover and more time required, it won’t be for everyone. However, it’s a unique trip with amazing stops and stunning scenery. You’ll need at least ten days to undertake the trip, although two weeks is recommended. This will give you more time to explore the route’s highlights, including Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road, and Mount Gambier. 




Driving Time


Sydney to Jervis Bay

196 km

2 hours 45 minutes


Jervis Bay to Batemans Bay

114 km

1 hour 30 minutes


Batemans Bay to Mallacoota

281 km

3 hours 30 minutes


Day in Mallacoota


Mallacoota to Melbourne

515 km

6 hours


Day in Melbourne 


Melbourne to Warrnambool via Great Ocean Road

346 km

5 hours 15 minutes


Warrnambool to Mount Gambier

182 km

2 hours


Mount Gambier to Keith

210 km

2 hours 15 minutes


Keith to Adelaide

230 km 

2 hours 45 minutes



2074 km

26 hours

Best Stops on a Road Trip from Sydney to Adelaide

You’ll find many attractions and stops along the various routes between Sydney and Adelaide. There’s a good breadth of attractions, including vibrant towns and cities, natural parks, and various cultural attractions. We’ve selected the best stops for each route, but there are plenty more hidden gems to unearth. We’ve included a summary of each attraction below to help you plan your perfect road trip.


Bowral, located in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, is known for its picturesque gardens, historic architecture, and vibrant arts scene. Visitors can explore stunning gardens like the Tulip Time Festival and enjoy charming boutiques and cafes. It’s also the location of the Bradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame. 


Goulburn is a historic town with many well-preserved heritage buildings. It’s famous for its wool industry, which is commemorated by the Big Merino monument. It’s a great place to learn about the past, and the city offers many fascinating insights into Australia’s history.

Wagga Wagga

Wagga Wagga is a bustling regional city featuring a range of cultural events and attractions, beautiful botanical gardens, and the Wiradjuri Walking Track for nature enthusiasts. There’s also the unique Wagga Beach, located on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River. It’s a city with a rich Indigenous heritage and a thriving arts community.


Tooleybuc is a friendly small town on the Murray River. It’s a popular overnight destination for travelers between Sydney and Adelaide. After a long day’s drive, it’s a tranquil place to unwind by the water. If you’re after something more energetic, there are plenty of riverfront activities to get involved in, including fishing and boating.

Murray Bridge

Located on the Murray River, Murray Bridge is another popular overnight stop. The town offers plenty of water-based activities such as paddleboarding, boating, and fishing. The town also boasts several fine historic buildings, including the railway bridge.


Hahndorf is Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement and attracts visitors who come to see its charming streets, traditional German architecture, and delicious food. Located just outside of Adelaide, it’s a delightful place to stop for a few hours. Most visitors choose to wander the street, explore the boutique shops, and indulge in fine German cuisine.


Canberra, Australia’s capital city, needs little introduction. It is home to iconic landmarks such as Parliament House and the Australian War Memorial. The city offers a compelling blend of modern architecture, history, and beautiful lakeside scenery. It’s easy to whittle away a few days here exploring the various museums and galleries.

Aerial view of the Parliament building in Canberra
Laidback Canberra is the final destination for this road trip in NSW.


Holbrook in New South Wales is a small town known for its unique submarine monument and museum. The submarine is a tribute to World War II heroism and helps to explain why this inland town hosts a submarine museum. It’s a great little stop if you’ve got kids or need a break from the road.


Bendigo is an often overlooked city with a rich gold rush heritage. The city’s historical prominence and wealth are evident through Victorian-era architecture, which characterizes the city. Visitors can explore the Central Deborah Gold Mine, which includes an underground mine tour. You can also enjoy the city’s vibrant arts and culinary scene if you stick around overnight.

Grampians National Park

The Grampians National Park in Victoria is somewhat out of the way of our routes. However, for keen hikers, it’s well worth making the detour. The park features rugged sandstone mountains, cascading waterfalls, and diverse wildlife. There are plenty of established trails for hikers to explore with breathtaking views.


Keith is a small town in South Australia known for its agricultural heritage and friendly residents. It’s a quintessential Australian farming town with spectacularly good fresh produce. It’s also a peaceful place for a break on your journey.


The Coorong is a unique wetland area along the South Australian coast. The reserve has ideal conditions for birdwatching, one of the area’s most popular activities. The wetlands environment also makes it the perfect place for kayaking, fishing, and hiking. 

Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay is a great stop just a couple hundred kilometers south of Sydney. The area is renowned for its stunning white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and excellent whale-watching and snorkeling opportunities. It truly is a coastal paradise in New South Wales.

Blenheim Beach Jervis Bay, Australia, pristine waters under perfect blue skies
Blenheim Beach in Jervis Bay is just one of a number of fine beaches in the area.

Batemans Bay

South of Jervis Bay, Batemans Bay is another coastal town known for its beautiful beaches, boating, and seafood dining. The oysters in the area are delicious. It’s a popular road trip stop and a standalone holiday destination on the southeast coast of New South Wales.


The coastal town of Mallacoota in Victoria is a picture-perfect destination, situated in Croajingolong National Park. This tranquil town is surrounded by pristine wilderness, with forests, lakes, rivers, and a stunning coastline. It’s an excellent place for fishing, hiking, and enjoying the region’s natural beauty.

Lakes Entrance

Lakes Entrance is another exceptional coastal town where the Gippsland Lakes meet the ocean. It’s a haven for water sports enthusiasts, offering fishing, boating, and stunning waterfront views. It’s a conveniently located lunch stop on the road between Mallacoota and Melbourne. 


Melbourne is Australia’s cultural and culinary capital, known for its vibrant arts scene and world-class dining. Despite the city’s towering skyline, it’s a welcoming destination. During your visit, don’t miss the street art, museums, and iconic laneways

12 apostles on great ocean road
The 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road are a highlight of this road trip.

Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s great drives. The route offers a scenic coastal drive with breathtaking views of the rugged coastline, featuring famous landmarks like the Twelve Apostles. If you fancy stretching your legs, you’ll find no shortage of opportunities to hike and explore the numerous beaches and coves. 


Warrnambool is a coastal city in Victoria, known for its maritime heritage. The city boasts some beautiful beaches and a relaxed coastal atmosphere. During certain times of the year, it’s also possible to go on whale-watching trips.

Mount Gambier

The city of Mount Gambier in South Australia is famous for its rocky, volcanic terrain and stunning crater lakes. The city boasts a unique attraction in Blue Lake, which takes on a brilliant cobalt hue during summer. The nearby Umpherston Sinkhole is another big attraction. This sinkhole is home to a vibrant sunken garden.

Valley Lake Lookout in Mount Gambier
The Valley Lake Lookout gives great views of Blue Lake in Mount Gambier.

Best Time for a Road Trip Between Sydney and Adelaide

The best time for a road trip between Sydney and Adelaide is during the Australian summer, from December to February. This is when the weather is warm and sunny, making it perfect for driving and exploring the many outdoor attractions on the different routes. However, summer is also the busiest time of year, so expect crowds and higher prices for accommodation and activities.

If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, consider traveling in the shoulder seasons of spring (September to November) or fall (March to May), when the weather is still pleasant but with fewer tourists. Winter (June to August) is also an option, but remember that some areas may be too cold for most outdoor activities. Additionally, some roads in higher altitudes can be closed due to snow.

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