MELBOURNE TO ADELAIDE | AN INCREDIBLE 7-DAY ROAD TRIP

Melbourne to Adelaide road trip

Plan your dream coastal road trip from Melbourne to Adelaide with this extensive Melbourne to Adelaide road trip itinerary. I’ll show you how to spend the perfect 7 days traveling over some of Australia’s most epic coastline routes.

I did this road trip as part of a larger road trip from Sydney to Adelaide. From Melbourne onwards, I must say I was blown away the most. From the Great Ocean Road to Barossa Valley and Kangaroo Island, this section of Australia is simply incredible.

Wanting to pack as much into our road trip stay as possible, I traveled the roads with a campervan, spending the nights on typical Australian campsites, enjoying kangaroos, koala’s and kookaburra’s as our noisy neighbors.

In this post, I show you the best sights to stop during your Melbourne to Adelaide road trip, what you can see and encounter and much more.

BASIC INFORMATION | Melbourne to Adelaide road trip

If you are heading to Australia for the first time, it is handy to know some of the country’s basic information. I always like to add this to my itineraries, so you have a complete picture of your trip in one handy post.

Money and Price

In Australia they use the Australian dollar, currently (March 2020), the exchange rate sits around:

€1 = $ 1.74 AUD
$1 = $ 1.99 AUD
$ 1 USD = $ 1.54 AUD

Australia is unfortunately not a super cheap country to travel and to stay in. So you will need a decent budget for your road trip.

Language

The official language in Australia is English. Underneath I have listed a couple of Australian words that might help you understand the Aussies a bit better (Crickey, they have some different words for some things)

AUSSIE SLANG WORDS YOU SHOULD KNOW

Underneath there are some Aussie slang words that might be useful for you when traveling down under.

  • G’day | Hello
  • How are ya/How ya garn | How are you? also considered a form of greeting (in some ways)
  • Arvo | Afternoon
  • Catch ya later | see you soon/Bye
  • Good on ya | Good job or another way of saying thank you
  • Dunno | ” don’t know 
  • Barbie | Barbecue
  • Bloody oath | That’s true/ strongly meaning – you bet
  • Beaut | Fantastic, wonderful, the best.
  • Buzz off | Go away
  • BYO | Bring your own grog/alcohol
  • Crikey! | Astonishment, disbelief – Steve Irwin’s word for almost everything lol!
  • Fair dinkum |True, real, honest – absolutely 100% true/right
  • Fair go | Give someone a chance, said a lot of the time when someone isn’t treated fairly

Best time to visit Melbourne/Adelaide

Summer (December – March), Autumn (March-May), Winter (June – August), Spring (September – November)  – Best seasons to visit Melbourne are generally considered to be autumn and spring.  These are the best times to enjoy good weather and avoid massive tourist crowds.

SELF-DRIVE ROAD TRIP between Melbourne and Adelaide

Australia is one of those countries that is so fast, that the landscape keeps changing. Within Australia there are some of the most epic road trips in the world! Because of the empty open roads (cities excluded, of course) you can enjoy your trip without too much hustle and bustle from others. Between Melbourne and Adelaide does lie the Great Ocean Road, on of the most touristy roads in Australia, so you will encounter a tour bus or 20 in this part.

Hiring a campervan in Australia

For this itinerary, we are traveling in a campervan. Not one of the cheapest ways of getting around within Australia, but definitely one of the funest.

Since a lot of tourist’s drive in Australia, the market for a rental campervan is reasonably competitive, meaning you can usually get a pretty good deal. (If you don’t travel in high season)

There are two main things to consider when choosing a hire campervan: Size of the vehicle and luxury required. Campervans come in all shapes and sizes. Knowing how many people will travel and what you require in a van are essential. The more people and the more luxury, the higher your budget needs to be.

Do keep in mind, the bigger the campervan, the better your driving skills should be! You do have to be able to mauver the camper around in a safe way! If you are not a confident driver, then maybe go for a camper that is a bit more compact.

Underneath are a couple of websites that we have found useful in collecting information and quotes for different vans.

Apollo and Maui are two campers that we have hired during our road trips. Between the two I preferred the Maui campers (they where newer, but that also means a bit more expensive)

At the end of the itinerary, we have included more detailed driving tips for Australia.

How long does it take to drive from Melbourne to Adelaide?

This road trip can be as long or as short as you want it to be.  But in order for our sanity and to not have a never-ending Itinerary we have combined this trip into 7 days. You can definitely add on to this, as we haven’t even covered half of the country.

This 7-day self-drive Australian itinerary is still reasonably fast-paced, but if it’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Australia that you’re planning, you probably won’t mind being on the move regularly.

Road trip route overview & drive times

Underneath you can find a basic (and handy) overview of our Melbourne to Adelaide road trip itinerary.

Keep in mind that this is just an itinerary that we think works best. You can add on destinations are remove destinations If one simply does not appeal to you.

  • Days 1 | Melbourne to Apollo Bay
  • Day 2 |  Apollo Bay to Warrnambool
  • Day 3 |  Warrnambool to Grampians National Park
  • Day 4 |  Grampians National Park
  • Day 5 |  Grampians National Park to victor harbor
  • Day 6 |  Victor harbor to Kangaroo island
  • Day 7 | Kangaroo Island to Adelaide

This self-drive itinerary covers a 1,690km (about 1,00 miles). Underneath a break-down of destinations, distances and drive times:

Origin Destination Distance Drive time
Melbourne Apollo Bay 195km 3-4 hours
Apollo Bay Warrnambool 349 km 5-6 hours
Warrnambool Grampians National Park (halls Gap) 157km 6-7 Hours
Grampians National Park Grampians National Park 100 km 1-2 hours
Grampians National Park Victor harbor 519km 6 hours
Victor harbor Kangaroo island 120km 3-4 hours

Including 1 hour on a ferry

Kangaroo island Adelaide 250km 2-3 hours

Including 1 hour on a ferry

Melbourne to Adelaide | Road trip itinerary

This section includes a detailed day-by-day breakdown of the 7-day road trip itinerary.

Day 1 | MELBOURNE TO APOLLO BAY

Today we are heading from Melbourne to Apollo Bay. Apollo Bay is a small town at the start of the Great Ocean Road, making it the perfect place to stop after your first day. Some stops along the way will be:

  • Torquay
  • Split Point Lighthouse
  • Erskine Falls (Lorne)
  • Kennett River
  • Apollo Bay

Depart Melbourne with your vehicle of choice. since we did this route with a campervan, I will be given you places to stay for campervan only.

Make your way towards Torquay for your first big stop. Torquay is a cute and small beach town, filled with small shops, cute cafes and a couple of amazing restaurants. in the park from the beach is home to many cockatoos and the whole to just breaths tranquility. The perfect place to explore for a little bit.  Total driving time: 1 hour 30 minutes.

Lighthouse Great Ocean Road

The next stop is the Split Point Lighthouse. Famous from the popular children’s television series Round the Twist. They used the area around the Split Lighthouse for many external scenes. Anyone born in the 80s will remember this TV program, what more can you ask for in life than to get to go and see it in real life.

You can visit the lighthouse by taking a tour. The tour is pretty cheap and you will be given heaps of informative facts about the coast and the lighthouse itself. The view from the top is amazing and will provide some great photo opportunities.

Parking is just a couple of meters ahead of the lighthouse. Total driving time: 30 minutes

Erskine Falls (Lorne) is one of the most popular waterfalls in the Otways. The 30 meters high waterfall plunges into the lush tree-fern gully of the Erskine River. It is a Moderate hike towards the falls, with about 200 steps, so plan accordingly. It is a popular waterfall, so it does get crowded from time to time. Total driving time: 1 hour.

Kennett River Koala Walk

If you are an international tourist and would like to encounter some wild Koala’s then make sure to make a stop at Kennet River, there you can so the Kennett River Koala Walk. This walk is actually just a road surrounded by gum trees and a significant population of wild Koalas. It is apparently home to hundreds of Koala colonies, with over a thousand Koalas. That being said, it doesn’t mean that you will see a bunch of koalas sitting in every tree just next to the road. However, the odds are pretty good that you will see a few.

Koalas are lazy animals and they spend most of the time sleeping, which makes it a bit difficult to spot them.

A very simple but yet effective tip, just follow the tourists (and especially the tourist with a tour guide) If you see a group around a tree pointing up, then it’s a good sign that there is a koala in that tree. Around Kennett River, you will also see a bunch of Cockatoos and Lorikeets which is a fantastic picture opportunity.

Lastly, we are off to Apollo Bay. This is a lovely town along the coast and affectionately known as Paradise by the Sea. The perfect place to stop day 1. Total driving time: 1 hour

Our accommodation for the night was Apollo Bay Holiday Park. A lovely and quiet campsite.

Day 2 | Apollo Bay to Warrnambool INCLUDING THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD 

Today we have a big but amazing day ahead of us. Today we are driving the Great Ocean Road and are visiting most of the highlights along the way.

  • Twelve Apostles
  • Gibson Steps
  • The Loch Ard Gorge
  • The London Arch
  • Warrnambool

The first stop of the day will be the imposing twelve apostles.  The reason why this should be your first stop is to be ahead of the tour busses. This is one of the highlights on all tours on the Great Ocean Road, so it can get incredibly busy. So try to get here as early as you can.

The great ocean road is one of the most scenic drives you will ever do. The 234-kilometer long route takes you along some of Australia's most amazing scenery.These magnificent rocks rise up majestically from the Southern Ocean. They were created by constant erosion of the limestone cliffs of the mainland beginning 10–20 million years ago, the stormy Southern Ocean and blasting winds gradually eroded the softer limestone, forming caves in the cliffs.  The caves eventually became arches and when they collapsed rock stacks up to 45 meters high were left isolated from the shore.

Good time to go is early in the morning before all the tourists come in with their selfie sticks. It is the main attraction of a lot of the tours so try to beat them. It gets very crowded.  Also seeing the apostle during sunrise is absolutely amazing.

Interesting fact | When they were named the 12 Apostles by Victorian tourism in the 1920s, there were only Nine rock formations. Now there’s Eight. And with the rapid rate of erosion, it is forecast that this number will reduce even further. So come and see them while they are still standing.

Total driving time: 1 hour 30 minutes

The Apostles and Gibson Steps are right next door to each other. Go down to the beach for an up-close and personal photo session.

At Gibsons Steps, there are two magnificent offshore limestone stacks (Nicknamed: Gog and Magog) rising out of the sea and you can see them from either the viewing platform near the top of the cliff or at beach level. To wander down to the beach you have to make your way down the 86 steps that were carved by the beached namesake: Hugh Gibson.
I do advise you to be careful, I encountered a poisonous snake when descending the stairs. So keep your eyes open, you are not one of the Irwin family members, so it’s probably best to keep clear of these animals.

The beach itself is popular for fishing, and the shallow waters boast an abundance of colorful fish species and sea creatures. However, if you’re planning on taking a swim, you might want to rethink your decision as there are some ferocious reefs and rip holes that generate choppy waves. Total driving time: 10 minutes.

Great ocean road

The Loch Ard Gorge is located at about three minutes’ drive west of The Twelve Apostles.

Behind the beauty of Loch Ard Gorge hides a dark and tragic story of shipwreck, heroism, and survival.

”Tom Pearce was nineteen when he was an apprentice of Loch Ard, a clipper ship that was bound for Melbourne from England (2 March 1878)  After a three-month journey, the cargo ship that was in full capacity reached the waters of Port Campbell and ran aground. It was dark and misty. When the captain realized the ship was in a shallow water, it was too late. The clipper collided with a rocky reef.

Tom jumped off the ship and swam to the shore. Upon reaching land, he heard a woman crying for help. He jumped into the water and rescued 19-year old Eva Carmichael. 

Of the 54 people including 17 passengers and 17 crew members, they were the only two too survived the shipwreck.” 

This is a glorious inlet cutting deep into the mainland and surrounded by towering limestone cliffs. Picturesque and dramatic. You do have to walk down a few stairs to get to the inlet beach, so do be aware it’s a bit of a walk back up them. The view from the top is incredible but at the base is even better.  Awesome photo opportunity there.

As you walk around the corner there is a cave at the end. Well worth the visit.

London bridge, great ocean road

The London Bridge is one of the top sights that tourists scramble to see in this area. Why? Well, for starters it’s an absolutely incredible sight to see and, secondly, this also has an interesting history.

The sight has not always looked like it does now. Before 1990 this sight was called ‘London Bridge’. Because it used to be a bridge that connected the arch of land to the mainland. It got its name from its likeness to its namesake, the bridge in London.
But in 1990, rock tragedy struck and part of the bridge collapsed into the ocean, leaving a chunk of land isolated in the ocean. The tragedy is that there where two tourists sightseeing the bridge at the time, cutting them off from the mainland. Now there are some wild stories about the two tourists, but they never got confirmed. (They were having an affair, allegedly) What are the chances that you go meet up with your secret lover and the London Bridge collapses,  getting you stuck on the arch? That’s some freaky voodoo crap going on there haha

The beach also has a small number of penguins that come ashore after dark but this is not accessible for us humans boohoo! Total driving time: 17 minutes.

Warrnambool is a reasonable city that marks the official end of the Great Ocean Road. Some people will call it quits here, or they head into the Outback.  We are going to go up, to get Grampians National Park and then back down to Kangaroo Island and Adelaide. There are many campsites available in and near Waanambool, we stayed at Surfside Holiday Park. Total driving time: 40 minutes

Day 3 |  Warrnambool to Grampians National Park (halls Gap) 

Today we are heading into the very heart of the Grampians National Park and we will base ourselves at Halls Gap, a great starting point for a wide range of adventure and nature activities.  As this area is so fast and beautiful we are 2 nights at Halls Gap in the Grampians before making our way to Kangaroo Island.

Be aware of Roos on the Grampians at dusk.

  • The Pinnacle Lookout / Wonderland Grand Canyon Loop
  • Halls Gap

The drive to Halls Gap is 157 kilometers, which, without stopping, is a 2-hour drive. Along the way, you will see the Major Mitchell Plateau Trail, I advise not to do that one, as it is 40.5 kilometers.

If you wish to do a walk, then I suggest doing The Pinnacle Lookout / Wonderland Grand Canyon Loop near Halls Gap. It is one of the very best vantage points in the Grampians National Park for terrific scenic views over a vast expanse of western Victoria. There are a number of walking options to reach the Pinnacle, varying in distance and difficulty.

A great place to stay a couple of nights is the Halls Gap Gardens Caravan Park. 

Day 4 |  Grampians National Park

  • Boroka Lookout
  • Reeds Lookout
  • MacKenzie Falls
  • Halls Gap Zoo

The first stop of the day is Boroka Lookout. It provides amazing views of the Wonderland Range, Mt William Range, Fyans Valley, Lake Bellfield and the plains to the east of the Grampians. The lookout is located an easy 15km from Halls Gap and is easily accessed via sealed roads. Total driving time: 23 minutes

The second lookout you can stop at is the Reeds Lookout. Simply follow the path around the gate and along the sealed road to the summit of Reeds Lookout (100m return walk). From this magnificent lookout, you will receive breathtaking views over Victoria Valley, Victoria Range, Serra Range, Lake Wartook and the Mt Difficult Range. Total driving time: 10 minutes.

MacKenzie Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in Victoria and a must-see. To get to the falls you will have to do a bit of hiking, but it is not too bad. A walk to the bottom of the falls is steep on a good and clear track that is and is a 2km return trip. It typically takes around 1 hour to complete. Total driving time: 10 minutes

Halls Gap Zoo is a fun way to end the day. Located about 7 kilometers from Halls Gap it allows you can get up so close and personal with lots of animals. Such a diverse amount of animals to see, including meerkats, cheetahs, the rhino and lemurs. One definite highlight is being able to feed the wallabies and deer. Definitely try and do an encounter if you can. Dingo encounter is a must! Total driving time: 30 minutes

Day 5 |  Grampians National Park to victor harbor

Campervan trip Melbourne to Adelaide road trip

After 2 amazing nights in the Grampians, it is time to make our way towards Kangaroo Island.  You will need 2 days on the island, so today we are making our way to Victor harbor so that on day 6 we catch the first ferry over. Since it is a whopping 519 kilometers (6 hours) I have not added any extra stops along the way.

Of course, stop to take breaks and you can stop if there is something you would like to see along the way. But to make up some time along this Melbourne to Adelaide road trip, I have not added in any stops in this itinerary.

The NRMA Victor Harbor Beachfront Holiday Park is nice camping for one night, not the cheapest though.

Day 6 |  Victor harbor to Kangaroo island

To make the most of your time on the island, I suggest you book the first available ferry over, which is at 6 am. The drive from Victor Harbor to the ferry is just under 1 hour, so it will be an early morning.  SeaLink is a fast and easy way to get to and from the Island. It departs from Cape Jervis and arrives in Penneshaw 45 minutes later. In peak season make sure you reserve a spot, especially if you want to come with a vehicle.

SeaLink Ferry Timetable 2020

Daily sailing times vary. Please use the ferry search tool to confirm crossing times for your chosen dates of travel.

TO KANGAROO ISLAND
Depart Cape Jervis Frequency
6.00 AM *
7.00 AM (1) *
9.00 AM Daily
10.00 AM (1) Daily
12.00 PM *
1.00 PM *
3.00 PM *
4.00 PM *
6.00 PM Daily
7.00 PM *
9.00 PM *
9.45 PM *
FROM KANGAROO ISLAND
Depart Penneshaw Frequency
5.30 AM *
7.30 AM *
8.30 AM Daily
10.30 AM Daily
11.30 AM *
1.30 PM *
2.30 PM (1) *
4.30 PM *
5.30 PM (1) *
7.30 PM Daily
8.30 PM *
10.15 PM *

Along the way, you will see some amazing scenery and if you are lucky you get to encounter some wild dolphins.

STANDARD FERRY FARES 2020

Passengers One Way – book online and save $2 Return – book online and save $4
Adult $49 $98
Child $25 $50
Australian Student $40 $80
Australian Concession $40 $80
Infant Free of Charge
Vehicles One Way Return
Passenger Motor Vehicle
(up to 5 meters)
$98 (Book online and save $4) $196 (book online and save $8)
Caravan, Trailer
(up to 4 meters)
$98 $196

Once you have made it onto the island head to Prospect hill. Total driving time: 19 minutes.

PROSPECT HILL 

A lovely first stop on the island. A bit of a climb up, but the views of the island are worth the struggles (And the mild heart attack) The hills are actually the highest point on Kangaroo Island. Views from the top include panoramic views of Pelican lagoon and Pennington Bay, making it worth the 500 steps up.

SEAL BAY – THE BEST EXPERIENCE

Just look at this Kah-u-tie 🙂 Australian sea lions are just the cutest and at seal bay, you get the opportunity to come close with these wild animals.

Seal Bay has the third largest colony of Australian sea lions in the world. You can enjoy watching the sea lions in their natural habitat on the beach from the boardwalk, which is ideal for those short on time or have tighter resources.

Or, you can pay extra to join a guided tour and walk down on the beach with them. As these are wild animals there are some rules that you need to follow. So you are guided by a tour guide who ensures that everything is safe and that the animals are not disturbed. You do get to come pretty close to them as they do their thing: from sleeping on the beach to full-on fights between adults seal lions, you get to experience it all up close.

Look at this gorgeous guy/girl LOL acting proud as punch! Nawww. total driving time: 45 minutes.

Drive around and tour Kangaroo Island and see wildlife in its natural environment. Kangaroo Island’s wildlife exists in its natural habitat without the threat of introduced predators. See native birdlife as they sing from eucalyptus trees. The island is home to 250 species of birds, many of which are unique to Kangaroo Island as through isolation from the mainland, have developed their own subspecies. As you make your way across the island keep watch for echidnas, wallabies, kangaroos, reptiles, and wildflowers.

Head towards the west of the island, to Western KI Caravan Park. It is a basic caravan park, but home to lots of Australian Wildlife. Including kangaroos, wallabies, and koalas. Total driving time: 60 minutes.

Day 7 | Kangaroo Island to Adelaide

Luckily we have another full day on the island, before catching one of the last ferries.

REMARKABLE ROCKS 

The Remarkable Rocks are one of the best-known icons of Kangaroo Island. Perched 200 feet above a roaring sea are these unlikely formed granite builders. You don’t think these are going to be amazing, but you’ll be surprised at how unique and cool these bolders are.

The “Remarkable” part about these huge rocks is where they are located – on a barren headland. Very cool. Total driving time: 30 minutes.

CAPE DU COUEDIC TOWER 

This is a lovely lighthouse with light brown bricks and yellow and red at the very top. One of 3 lighthouses to see on the island but no tours or anything is given here. Just a great photo opportunity and stunning views.

There is a nice walk through the bush (approximately 800 meters return, pretty easy) on a well-marked, but sand track, to a lookout that gives you sweeping views of the western coastline of Kangaroo Island.

The lighthouse is located on the road to Admiral’s Arch so it is hard not to miss. I kinda fell in love with this lighthouse for some reason so make sure to check it out. Total driving time: 9 minutes.

ADMIRAL’S ARCH

This is one of the most impressive and unusual natural landmarks on the island and is therefore in one of the most photographed places.

The Admirals Arch viewing platform is also an ideal place to observe the New Zealand fur seal colony that has established itself below the landmark. ADORABLE. Total driving time: 2 minutes.

Depending on what time you would like to take the ferry back, here are some other sights you could check out:

  • Weirs Lookout | Nice lookout that has sweeping coastal views back to Remarkable Rocks
  • West Bay Beach | Secluded beach further inside the national park.
  • Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park | This wildlife park was used to help the many wild animals caught in the bush fires. Most of the entree fee you pay will go towards helping the animals.
  • Cape Willoughby Lighthouse | Take a stroll up the lighthouse. Fantastic history. Lovely and cool inside and stunning views from the top.

When you have taken the ferry head to Adelaide from there. Total driving time: 1 hour and 40 minutes.

I hope you have enjoyed this extensive Melbourne to Adelaide road trip itinerary.

PLANNING TO GO TO AUSTRALIA? THEN CHECK OUT SOME MORE TRAVEL TIPS HERE:

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2 Comments

  1. March 25, 2020 / 9:36 pm

    Wow, very thorough and detailed itenary. I’ll definitely consider doing it when I go on leave again. Thank you.

    • bonditobasic
      Author
      March 26, 2020 / 9:50 am

      Thank you Marius, I am glad you like it. xx Manon

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