Itinerary Inspiration: Melbourne to Sydney Coastal Road Trip

This Melbourne to Sydney coastal road trip is a hidden gem. The itinerary below will have you driving through some of the most amazing stretches of ocean, secret turquoise waters, national parks, and charming tiny towns.

This self-drive can be done in as little as 5 days. But to get the best experience, we recommend allocating around 1-week for this itinerary so you can stop a couple extra nights in your favourite towns along the way.

At the end, we’ll also show you how to extend this into a Melbourne to Byron Bay road trip for that extra touch of epic adventure!

1-Week Melbourne to Sydney Coastal Road Trip Itinerary

Overview: Where to stop along the way from Melbourne to Sydney?

  1. Wilsons Promontory
  2. East Gippsland
  3. Sapphire Coast
  4. Jervis Bay

Before we dive in, you may also want to check out these road tripping tips, tricks and pieces of advice from our van life experts, Elise and Marikki.

STOP 1. Melbourne to Wilsons Promontory

Day one of your road trip, will see you heading south-east towards Wilsons Promontory. There are a few ways to get here, but we suggest taking the Bunurong Coastal Drive so you can cruise along rocky cliffs, stop at secluded beaches, and discover hidden coves along the way.

‘The Prom’ (as it’s called by those in the know) has some of Victoria’s most scenic views and beaches. A lot of areas in Wilsons Promontory are accessible via overnight hiking only. But trust us when we say it’ll be worth strapping on the boots and setting up the tent for!

Top tips and things to do in Wilsons Promontory?
  1. Take the Sealers Cove hike. This is a moderate hike with a reasonable descent. However, once you reach the Cove, it’ll all be worth it, as you’re surrounded by mountains that plunge into the crystal clear turquoise waters. There are camping spots here, just make sure you have a camping permit. The 9.5km walk will take around 3 hours one way.
  2. Swim in South Norman Bay and Little Oberon Bay. After climbing over sand dunes, you’ll come to the southern end of Norman Beach. Here is your perfect spot spot for swimming, beginner surfing, windsurfing and boating. This is a three-hour return walk from the Tidal River information center. Top choice for a day by the beach! 
  3. Walk the Mount Oberon Summit. At the top of this 2-hr return hike, enjoy panoramic views of the Tidal River, the coast and offshore islands. 
  4. Relax at Little Waterloo Bay. This is an unreal spot for a swim and relax. You might even spot dolphins! You’ll be spoilt here with white sandy beaches and again, crystal clear water. To get to Waterloo Bay, you’ll be walking on one of those aforementioned multi-day hikes – the 60km Southern Circuit Hike.

STOP 2. Wilsons Promontory to East Gippsland

After a day or two of hiking, you’re going to enter the third longest uninterrupted beach in the world! East Gippsland is your next road trip destination, with Ninety Mile Beach the unreal coastline we’re talking about.

This is a large area, with plenty of towns for you to park the car and choose to sleep at. Take some time to go slow, and explore the many hits of nature along this strip, including Lakes Entrance, Seaspray, Woodside Beach and Croajingolong National Park.

STOP 3. East Gippsland to Sapphire Coast

Alright, you’re ready to officially enter New South Wales! Next stop: THe Sapphire Coast, in southern NSW. This is an area to soak up the scenic drive and enjoy the chill life. Again, there are quite a few towns you may wish to stop at along the Sapphire Coast, each with their own piece of charm. Pick out your favourite, and use that as your rest stop for the night.

Whale watching is awesome in the NSW South Coast, particularly between September and December when humpbacks are returning to Antarctica with their calves. So, remember to keep your eyes on the coast!

Best towns to visit and things to do along the Sapphire Coast?
  1. Merimbula. Come here for both your ocean beaches and coastal lakes. Hire out a kayak or SUP and enjoy gliding along the pristine, calm waters. Or if you’re up for the swell, head to Merimbula Main Beach or Short Point for stunning views. 
  2. Tathra. A small seaside town that’ll fill your wildlife needs! Migrating whales often pop-in, and there are always wallabies and kangaroos visiting the beach in the mornings. Keep your eyes out!
  3. Mimosa Rocks National Park. Up for more exploring? You’re in luck at Mimosa Rocks! Here, take your pick of lookouts, rainforest pockets, epic views, beautiful beaches… the list goes on. For an absolute show-stopping view, head to Bunga Head for sunrise. 
  4. Tilba. If you feel like a trip back in time, Tilba is your town! Charming travellers with its antique stores, old-school sweet shops, cheese stores and picturesque setting, Tilba is a nice change in setting for your coastal drive. While you’re here, visit the famous ABC Cheese Factory.
STOP 4. Sapphire Coast to Jervis Bay

You’ll cover so many favourite stops along the drive from Sapphire Coast to Jervis Bay. This stunning stretch of coastline is absolutely magnificent. Trust us… it won’t disappoint! 

Start this part of the road trip by driving to Narooma. This is a town that has it all: beautiful beaches, swimming, snorkelling and diving. Hire a kayak, and explore Wagonga Inlet. Or head off on a snorkelling tour with seals on Montague Island Nature Reserve. This sacred site is known as Barunguba by the the local Yuin Aboriginal people. 

Then make your way up to Pebbly Beach. Here, catch a load of the natives surfing. And by natives, we absolutely mean kangaroos. There’s about 70 resident roos here on Pebbly Beach, who love heading out for a few waves on hot days. Pebbly Beach is located in the Murramarang National Park and is an absolute treat. Take the Pebbly Beach to Snake Bay walk, Rainforest Walk or head out surfing, SUPing and snorkelling.

Keep driving north, and finally. You’ve made it to the absolute oasis of Jervis Bay. It’s hard to put into words just how divine this part of the world is (so you’ll just have to drive here and discover it for yourself ;)). We know you’ve covered quite a few beaches on this road trip, but honestly? The ones here are some of the most beautiful in Australia. Add to that, the scuba diving, campsites and all round great vibes, and you’ve got yourself a winner. You can’t go wrong in the Jervis Bay area, but our top tip is to make sure Hyams Beach is on your hit-list!

STOP 5. Jervis Bay to Sydney

You’ve made it to the final stretch of your road trip! 

Head north for sun-soaking at Seven Mile Beach, before stopping in Kiama at The Hungry Monkey to refuel and see the famous Blowholes. Or, if you’re all beached out for the time being, head straight up to Wollongong and lunch at one of the city’s great eateries. Kneading Ruby is one of our favourites!

Drive along the dazzling Sea Cliff Bridge along the Grand Pacific Drive, and then, finally… welcome to Sydney! You’ve made it to the city of plenty – with bars, parks, sights, (more) beaches, and markets in abundance! 

Where to stay in Sydney?

Wake Up! Sydney Central provides affordable accommodation in the very heart of the city, convenient for getting anywhere by foot or public transport. To save costs, you can leave your car in a nearby suburb with free street-parking, and use the train + tram stations opposite our doors to explore.

And as an added bonus, take 10% off your stay when booking direct with us! Simply use the code ROADTRIPMELB when making your booking.*

What to do while you’re in Sydney?

Want to extend the drive further?

Why not continue the self-drive, and make it a Melbourne to Byron Bay road trip!? Keep following this sun-soaked itinerary to make the magic happen!


* Offer valid until 30 Nov 2022, for bookings until 30 April 2022. Applies to bookings made directly on www.wakeup.com.au. Terms and conditions, and blackout periods apply.

east coast australia, itinerary, nsw, road trip, self-drive

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