10 best stops on a Melbourne to Sydney road trip

Destination NSW


Posted May 17, 2024

Visiting the best scenic towns, beaches and coastal stops between Melbourne and Sydney gives you the chance to have a relaxing drive and discover new places on a road trip.

Experience the beauty of the Australian east coast with a drive that takes you from the country’s cultural capital to the harbour city, with stunning beaches, seaside towns and national parks to visit along the way.

Although you can get from Melbourne to Sydney in under 10 hours via the Hume Highway, this coastal road trip is as much about the journey as the destination.

Before you embark on your adventure, stay road trip happy by packing your emergency roadside kit and updating your emergency roadside assistance coverage. Electric car owners are advised to check EV charging availability along the route prior to leaving.

Here are the must-visit scenic stops on the Melbourne to Sydney coastal road trip.

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Melbourne to Sydney coastal road trip map

The best places to stop between Melbourne and Sydney on a coastal road trip

Melbourne to Phillip Island

  • Distance: 140km
  • Time: 2 hours 
  • Because: It's home to the Little Penguins

Your road trip begins with a visit to the southern coast’s Phillip Island, a coastal holiday hotspot where you can immerse yourself in nature with wildlife areas across Phillip Island Nature Parks

Witness the famous Penguin Parade, explore the rugged coastline of Cape Woolamai, or simply unwind on the sandy shores of Cowes Beach.

Phillip Island to Inverloch

  • Distance: 55km
  • Time: 50 minutes 
  • Because: It has an amazing dinosaur fossil site

Next, venture to the seaside town of Inverloch, where pristine beaches and tranquil waterways await for your coastal adventure.

Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the Inverloch Foreshore Reserve, forage for dinosaur fossils, indulge in some fresh seafood at one of the local eateries, or embark on a scenic coastal stroll along the Screw Creek Nature Walk.

Inverloch to Wilsons Promontory

  • Distance: 64km
  • Time: 50 minutes
  • Because: It has one of the most beautiful beaches in Victoria

Continue your journey to Wilsons Promontory, or ‘The Prom,’ the southernmost tip of mainland Australia. This pristine national park spans 50,000ha and is home to abundant native fauna and flora, including blooming wildflowers of orchid, wattle, and heathland.

Walk or drive to explore the pure sands of Squeaky Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Victoria, known for its sparkling waters and sand that ‘squeaks’ under your feet.

If you’re up for an adventure, hike to the summit of Mount Oberon to get panoramic views, or go wildlife spotting for wombats, kangaroos, and emus.


Phillip Island is home to the largest Little Penguin colony in the world. Image: Phillip Island Nature Parks
A coastal adventure to spot the fur seals, Wilsons Promontory. Image: Pennicott Wilderness Journeys
Paynesville is famed for its fresh seafood, particularly the shuckled oysters. Image: Sardine, Paynesville

Wilsons Promontory to Paynesville and Lakes Entrance

  • Distance: 232km
  • Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
  • Because: There's lots of koalas on Raymond Island

This is a longer leg, but you’ll be rewarded with plenty to do. Paynesville is part of Lakes Entrance, one of Victoria’s premier holiday destinations. The idyllic town with its canals and inlets is the region’s boating capital.

There are many opportunities for fishing, boating, and water sports, or catch a ferry to Raymond Island for the chance to see koalas in their natural environment. 

Enjoy the scenic waterways, visit the local galleries, cafes and restaurants, or relax and enjoy the peaceful ambiance of this coastal haven.

From here, it’s another 40 minutes’ drive to Lakes Entrance, where the sparkling waters of the Gippsland Lakes meet the rolling waves of Bass Strait.

Hike along the Lakes Entrance Coastal Reserve, hire a paddleboard to explore the lakes, or relax on the sandy shores of Ninety Mile Beach.

Lakes Entrance to Marlo

  • Distance: 2km
  • Time: 50 minutes
  • Because: It’s home to the famed Snowy River

Marlo is a beautiful seaside town at the mouth of the famous Snowy River. Popular for fishing, water sports and relaxation, life centres around the Marlo Hotel, which overlooks the estuaries and the entrance of the river.

If you have time, visit nearby Cabbage Tree Creek, which has Australia’s southernmost stand of rare Cabbage Fan Palms.

Marlo to Mallacoota

  • Distance: 147km
  • Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Because: It’s recognised as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve

Your drive to Mallacoota will take you past Croajingolong National Park, home to ancient forests, amazing beaches and dunes, and abundant wildlife.

Point Hicks is renowned for birdwatching. The park is accessible from multiple points along Princes Highway between Cann River and the New South Wales border (although roads to Wingan Inlet, Mueller Inlet, Thurra River and Shipwreck Creek campgrounds are unsealed and weather dependant).

Mallacoota itself is a small commercial fishing town, attracting anglers and abalone divers alike. Don’t miss the opportunity to head on a seal spotting boat from Mallacoota Inlet to Gabo Island, famed for its 47m high pink granite lighthouse that illuminates a colony of Little Penguins at sunrise and sunset.


Lakes Entrance in East Gippsland has great fishing off the pier. Image: Getty
The spectacular waters of Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay. Image: Destination NSW

New South Wales coast 

Mallacoota to Merimbula

  • Distance: 110km
  • Time: 1 hour 28 minutes
  • Because: It has rugged ocean beaches and locally produced oysters

Continuing northward over the state border, you'll arrive in the picturesque seaside town of Merimbula, known for its tranquil coastal lakes and rugged coastline.  

Spend your days swimming, snorkelling, or kayaking in the sparkling waters of Merimbula Lake, explore the scenic walking trails, beaches, and lagoons of Bournda National Park on the glittering Sapphire Coast, or simply relax and unwind on the golden sands of Main Beach.

If you’re looking to camp, don’t forget the essentials.

Merimbula to Narooma

  • Distance: 113km
  • Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Because: It’s renowned for bespoke arts and crafts, and heritage architecture

Your next stop is the charming seaside town of Narooma, famed for its aquamarine waters, pristine beaches, and abundance of native Australian wildlife.

Explore the iconic Glasshouse Rocks, NSW’s answer to The Apostles said to be 400-500 million years old, take a stroll along the Narooma Boardwalk, or relax and soak up the laid-back coastal vibes.

For more adventure, go snorkelling 9km off the coast of Narooma at Montague Island, home to fur seals, the state’s largest colony of Little Penguins, seasonal humpback whales, and more than 90 bird species.

Narooma to Jervis Bay

  • Distance: 190km
  • Time: 2 hour 38 minutes
  • Because: It has clear waters and white sandy beaches

No road trip along the east coast would be complete without a visit to Jervis Bay, home to some of the whitest sand beaches in the world and often rated as one of Australia’s most beautiful beaches.

Pronounced ‘Jarvis Bay', spend your days swimming, snorkelling, or kayaking in the glistening waters of Hyams Beach, Green Patch, and Murrays Beach. 

Explore the bush in the Aboriginal-owned Booderee National Park, or try the 2.5km White Sands Walk and Scribbly Gum track.

Head back to Jervis Bay at night, where during the summer months, a phenomenon known as bioluminescence can sometimes make the ocean appear to glow brilliant shades of blue and green.


The coastline of Wollongong, your last stop before you reach your destination. Image: Destination NSW
The waves at Sydney's iconic Bondi Beach can reach up to four metres high. Image: Getty
The famed Sydney Opera House is visited by over eight million people per year. Image: Jan Breckwoldt Photography

Jervis Bay to Wollongong

  • Distance: 118km
  • Time: 1 hour 38 minutes
  • Because: You can marvel at the superb panoramic vistas from Sublime Point

Your next stop is the vibrant coastal city of Wollongong.

Around 90km south of Sydney, this is your penultimate stop. Hike to the rocky summit of Mount Keira. This Wodi Wodi Dreamtime cultural heritage site has spectacular views of the city and wider Illawarra escarpment mountain range.

Consider a day of culture and explore one of the largest regional art museums in Australia - Wollongong Art Gallery. Visit the peaceful lotus ponds, gardens and museum at the Taiwanese Nan Tien Temple, the largest in the Southern hemisphere, or simply relax and unwind on the sandy shores of North Wollongong Beach.

Wollongong to Sydney

  • Distance: 93km
  • Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Because: It has the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House and Bondi Beach

Your epic road trip culminates in the iconic city of Sydney, where you'll discover a treasure trove of world-class attractions, dining experiences, and cultural delights.

Explore the iconic landmarks of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, stroll around Circular Quay, have a swim at Bondi Beach, or simply soak up the vibrant atmosphere of this bustling metropolitan city.