Lucinda Starr

by Lucinda Starr

posted on March 8, 2024

Offering lush national parks and stunning coastlines boasting panoramic views, the Melbourne to Brisbane drive is in my opinion a must for every road trip enthusiast, and is worthwhile even if you just need to get from A to B.

Covering a distance of 1,776 km on the most direct route, it’s possible to undertake the drive from Melbourne to Brisbane in just a few days. But with so many places to explore and wide open spaces to roam, it’s best to grant yourself more time to ensure this is one trip you’ll never forget.

This Toyota Landcruiser hosted by Carma Carhire on Turo is the perfect car for the Melbourne to Brisbane drive
This Toyota Landcruiser hosted by Carma Carhire on Turo in Melbourne is the perfect car for a big road trip

In this complete guide, we’ll cover:

Plan your drive: An overview of the Melbourne to Brisbane road trip

From Melbourne’s vibrant city scenes to stunning coastal scenery and Queensland’s lush rainforests, the road trip from Melbourne to Brisbane is packed with things to do and places to explore.

  • Route options: 
    • The Direct Route: 1,776 km, 18 hours 35 minutes driving time
    • The NSW Vineyards Route (5 days): 2,033 km, 22 hours and 50 minutes total driving time
    • The Coastal Route (7 days): 2,099 km, 23 hours and 50 minutes total driving time
  • Top stops: Woomargama National Park, Fairy Cave, Green Cape Lighthouse, Morton National Park, Scenic Rim Adventure Park, Agnes Falls, Wagga Wagga, Port Macquarie, and Byron Bay. 
  • Best time to drive from Melbourne to Brisbane: While Melbourne weather is known to be quite temperamental, Brisbane can reach soaring temperatures in summer and is known to be quite humid. Spring (September to November) and Autumn (March to May) tend to be the best times to visit, with fewer crowds and more affordable accommodation options. 

Tip from the author: Even though the winter months can see temperatures fall considerably in Brisbane, ranging from 10 to 20 degrees Celsius, there are several festivals during this time. If you’re looking to participate in the Scenic Rim Adventure Festival (May), Regional Flavours (May), Brisbane Marathon Festival (June), or Rim Eat Local Week (June-July), it’s worth considering taking a road trip during winter to align with these dates. 

Melbourne to Brisbane drive time

The most direct route from Melbourne to Brisbane follows the Citylink/M2 in North Melbourne before joining the National Highway M31 and Pacific Highway towards Brisbane. Depending on traffic conditions, this route takes roughly 18 and a half hours of driving, not including any detours or stops taken along the way. 

Blue Mountains, NSW

Melbourne to Brisbane road trip distance 

Along the fastest route, the drive from Melbourne to Brisbane covers a distance of 1,776 kilometres (via the National Highway M31 and Pacific Highway). 

Road trip from Melbourne to Brisbane map 

What to know before you go: Tips for the road trip from Melbourne to Brisbane 

Whether you choose to take the coastal route or prefer the slightly shorter NSW Vineyards route, you can expect to drive on well-maintained and sealed roads, making for a seamless travel experience. Even so, consider these tried and tested tips to maximise your road trip and ensure you’re prepared for anything the route may have in store. 

Driving conditions and staying safe on the roads 

If you’re planning on taking on the Melbourne to Brisbane road trip, you’ll travel on smooth, well-maintained roads. However, for those taking the coastal route, you can expect to travel along roads that incorporate tight turns and narrow bends. 

With a significant distance to cover between Melbourne and Brisbane, I highly suggest planning ahead to avoid any unnecessary stress and potential delays out on the road. 

  • Share the drive: Stay alert behind the wheel by taking plenty of breaks and sharing the drive with a second driver. If taking on the road trip alone, be sure to pull over frequently to stretch your legs and refuel every two hours. 
  • Avoid driving at peak times: The summer months between December and February are peak tourist season, so you can expect the roads to be considerably busier. If possible, avoid tackling this road trip during peak season. 
  • Book a car: If you’re not using your own vehicle, consider booking a hire car in Melbourne that suits your preferences and travel needs. Turo gives you the freedom to choose a vehicle tailored to your journey so you can experience the best of Victoria and Queensland. If you’re doing this road trip in reverse, you can also rent a car on Turo in Brisbane instead. 
  • Start early: Begin your journey with the sun by setting off early in the day. Not only does this offer the chance to witness breathtaking sunrise views, but it also helps you beat the rush hour traffic, allowing for a smoother, stress-free drive. 

Tip from the author: Don’t forget that Melbourne and Brisbane are in different time zones, as Queensland doesn’t observe daylight savings but Victoria does. This is something you’ll observe when crossing the border from NSW into Queensland. When taking the drive during October, know that the clocks go forward by one hour on the first Sunday of the month in NSW, and then go back by one hour on the first Sunday in April each year. 

Petrol stations and EV chargers along the way

Petrol stations and EV chargers are located conveniently throughout the drive from Melbourne to Brisbane. You can find both in major cities and centres, such as Melbourne, Sydney, Port Macquarie, and Byron Bay. 

If you’re driving an EV and need to recharge, you’ll find fast charging options in towns like Torquay, Apollo Bay, and Aireys Inlet, to name a few. Wondering where you can recharge on your route? Use a free interactive map like Plugshare to easily locate the nearest place to top up or recharge.

What kind of vehicle is best for this epic road trip?

The best vehicle for the Melbourne to Brisbane drive is the one you feel most comfortable with. For those requiring more space for family or extra cargo, consider a spacious SUV. Ultimately, you just need to ensure your vehicle can manage up to 20 hours of driving over a five- to seven-day period.

Want to road-test your dream car or treat yourself to a unique set of wheels? Hire a car in Melbourne from a local Turo host.

Royal National Park, NSW

Choose your Melbourne to Brisbane road trip itinerary 

With the perfect mix of stunning beaches, vibrant culture, kid-friendly attractions, and natural beauty, the drive from Melbourne to Brisbane is sure to please everyone. You’ll be able to choose from walking trails in rugged mountain scenery to some of Australia’s most iconic beaches and top surfing spots. 

Not surprisingly, these two road trip itineraries offer the best of both worlds, allowing you to curate your adventure based on your own travel needs and personal preferences. 

Option 1: The NSW Vineyards Route (5-day road trip itinerary)

  • Driving time: 22 hours 50 minutes
  • Driving distance: 2,033 kilometres
  • Day-by-day itinerary:
    • Day 1: Melbourne to Albury (3 hours 30 minutes, 326 kilometres)
    • Day 2: Albury to Griffith (3 hours, 254 kilometres)
    • Day 3: Griffith to Orange (4 hours 15 minutes, 375 kilometres)
    • Day 4: Orange to Mudgee (2 hours 18 minutes, 194 kilometres)
    • Day 5: Mudgee to Brisbane (9 hours 55 minutes, 885 kilometres)
  • Best for: Those looking for a shorter five-day road trip with plenty of sightseeing opportunities at destinations off the beaten path. You’ll venture to smaller inland cities that boast a rich cultural heritage and gastronomic delights. 

From Melbourne, venture along the Hume Freeway for views of the Victorian countryside before continuing north to Albury and the Riverina region. Throughout this drive, you’ll be enchanted by stunning scenery, with rolling hills and landscaped wineries stealing the show. For the most part, you can expect comfortable driving distances, although the final day will see you travel for over nine hours (however, there are plenty of stops along the way to break up the drive). 

Out of Melbourne, explore Albury and its stunning Royal Botanic Gardens situated alongside the Murray River. As you drive through the Riverina region into Griffith, you’ll be treated to the incredible Italian heritage that demands close attention – particularly when it comes to dining options. 

In both Orange and Mudgee, you’ll find gourmet food scenes as you savour incredible local produce and world-renowned wines. Consider spending the afternoon tasting the various wines that can be paired with a dining menu. In Orange, top picks are Philip Shaw Wines, Ross Hill Wines and Bloodwood Wines, and in Mudgee, you’ll find the incredible Robert Stein Winery & Vineyard, which dates back to 1838 and is well worth a visit. 

If you’re passing through Orange, be sure to stop at BIRDIE for a casual bar and dining experience offering wonderful service, an extensive local wine selection, and superb food!

If a winery experience is more your style, check out Stockman’s Ridge. They offer live music every Saturday, and you’ll be able to relax in their gardens for as long as you like (with extended opening hours on Saturdays). Not to mention, they are one of the only growers of Grüner Veltliner, an Austrian variety that is rising in popularity. They’re pet friendly, too!

Hunter Valley, NSW

On your final day, you’ll be able to stop at the Hunter Valley wine region as you drive towards Brisbane for further wine-tasting options. Alternatively, take a detour to Capertee Valley, which is the second-largest canyon in the world and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area. Port Stephens, Coffs Harbour and Byron Bay are also great points to stop, rest, and recharge the batteries before making your way to Brisbane. 

Top stop: For a standout winery experience in the Hunter Valley, visit Thomas Wines Cellar Door. This winery has gained somewhat of a ‘cult status’ and is acclaimed for its small range of personality imbued signature varieties of the Hunter Valley, Semillon and Shiraz. Not to mention, you’ll get to enjoy a beautiful view of Brokenback Mountain range.

Option 2: The Coastal Route (7-day road trip itinerary) 

  • Driving time: 23 hours 50 minutes
  • Driving distance: 2,099 kilometres
  • Day-by-day itinerary: 
    • Day 1: Melbourne to Lakes Entrance (3 hours 49 minutes, 320 kilometres)
    • Day 2: Lakes Entrance to Mallacoota (2 hours 23 minutes, 202 kilometres)
    • Day 3: Mallacoota to Batemans Bay (3 hours 28 minutes, 281 kilometres)
    • Day 4: Batemans Bay to Jervis Bay (1 hour 54 minutes, 141 kilometres)
    • Day 5: Jervis Bay to Port Macquarie (6 hours 33 minutes, 606 kilometres)
    • Day 6: Port Macquarie to Byron Bay (4 hours 5 minutes, 385 kilometres)
    • Day 7: Byron Bay to Brisbane (2 hours, 164 kilometres)
  • Best for: Nature lovers looking for a scenic route that offers everything from rugged mountain ranges to stunning coastlines and the turquoise waters of Australia’s top beaches. This leisurely drive will see you venture to charming coastal towns while also passing through vibrant city centres. 
12 Apostles, Victoria

From Melbourne, take the Princes Highway as you journey through stunning vistas. This road trip itinerary may be a little longer than the NSW Vineyards route, but it offers a wealth of options by way of outdoor exploration, natural beauty, and picturesque coastal towns that deliver memorable dining experiences. 

Once you’ve made your way to the Lakes Entrance, you’ll be treated to some of Australia’s most iconic beaches, like that of Ninety Mile Beach. From Lakes Entrance, venture to Mallacoota. We recommend stopping at the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve Croajingolong National Park. Here, you can also hike along numerous walking trails or simply soak up the tranquillity. 

Along the coastal route, you’ll pass through Eden on your way to Batemans Bay, as well as towns like Bermagui and Narooma. With their beaches and fresh seafood, Batemans Bay and Jervis Bay are perfect destinations to enjoy whale watching, snorkelling, or kayaking on the clear water. 

Tip from the author: Be sure to visit Hyams Beach, which is known for having some of the whitest sand in the world. Jervis Bay is also a great base point for those wanting to explore the outdoors with a visit to Booderee National Park. 

As you continue your drive north to Port Macquarie, you’ll be able to take in key attractions like the Tacking Point Lighthouse and Billabong Zoo before making your way north to Byron Bay as you pass through Coffs Harbour. Consider making a detour to Solitary Islands Marine Park, which is known for its rich biodiversity.

And with plenty to explore at Byron Bay, be sure to leave early on your travels to grant yourself enough time to soak up the vibrant culture, boutique stalls, and lush rainforest scenery. Then, make your way to Brisbane for its delicious food and renowned nightlife. 

Travel in style in this sleek Land Rover Defender, hosted by Gifleet on Turo in Melbourne

Top places to stop on the Melbourne to Brisbane drive

From whale watching to the abundant wildlife found in national parks dotting the East Coast of Australia, there’s no shortage of things to see and do on the Melbourne to Brisbane drive.

Best national parks between Melbourne and Brisbane

The East Coast of Australia might be famed for its stunning beaches, but with a short detour to your route, you’ll find stunning national parks promising panoramic views, abundant wildlife, and stunning hiking trails. 

  • Grampians National Park, Victoria: Scenery doesn’t get better than that witnessed at Grampians National Park. Rugged mountain ranges lead to waterfalls and serve as a home to native wildlife. If you don’t fancy a hike, why not rock climb? 
  • Wilson’s Promontory National Park, Victoria: At the southernmost tip of mainland Australia, you’ll find this stunning national park which offers hiking trails through coastal forest and picturesque beaches. 
  • Royal National Park, NSW: Don’t pass up a visit to the second-oldest national park in the world. The Royal National Park is made up of a range of stunning landscapes, from bush to coastal cliffs and sandy beaches. Along with a bushwalk, you can also enjoy a swim in the ocean or birdwatching. 
  • Blue Mountains National Park, NSW: This UNESCO World Heritage-listed site is located just west of Sydney and is home to iconic landmarks like the Three Sisters. Walking paths will take you to Wentworth Falls, or the Grand Canyon Track, all of which offer sweeping views of the surrounding area.
  • Lamington National Park, Queensland: This World-Heritage-listed national park offers a number of walking tracks that take you through lush rainforests and picturesque waterfalls. 
  • Springbrook National Park, Queensland: Located on the hinterland of the Gold Coast, this national park has a range of waterfalls and is renowned for its ancient rainforest. You’ll find plenty of viewpoints along walking trails.
There’s no shortage of natural beauty to discover in Victoria

Best beaches between Melbourne and Brisbane

Trade the hiking trails for secluded bays and crystal clear waters as you take a dip at one of these top beaches. 

  • Ninety Mile Beach: When visiting Lake Entrance, you’ll have access to the stunning Ninety Mile Beach, which – as the name suggests – is 90 miles of golden sand that separates the Gippsland Lakes from Bass Strait. With abundant marine life and white sand, it’s the perfect spot to relax or go whale watching. 
  • Surf Beach: Just a short distance from the centre of Narooma, Surf Beach is the perfect rest stop on your drive through New South Wales into Brisbane. You’ll be treated to views of Montague Island and the stunning Glasshouse Rocks. 
  • Bondi Beach: Made famous by the popular show Bondi Rescue, this beach has become the poster card for Australia, and it’s not hard to see why. With excellent surfing conditions and walking paths, it’s a vibrant scene the whole family will enjoy.
  • Hyams Beach: With its clear white sand, Hyams Beach is a popular tourist attraction located in the city of Shoalhaven on the shores of Jervis Bay. Known for its whale watching, those looking to spot humpback whales and other species should visit during migration season, which typically runs from May to November. 
  • Wategos Beach: From Cape Byron lighthouse, head north, and you’ll find one of Byron Bay’s most iconic beaches, which draws international tourists and Hollywood celebrities to its shores. 
  • Main Beach: With its white sand and panoramic views of the surrounding Byron Bay coastline, Main Beach is a must-see. Framed by the Cape Byron Headland, you can take a walk to the Cape Byron Lighthouse along the Cape Byron Walking Track or enjoy a picnic on the beach with the BBQ facilities provided. 

Best foodie destinations between Melbourne and Brisbane 

Looking to savour fresh produce and delicious flavours with a memorable dining experience on your road trip? Be sure to visit these top cafes, restaurants, and breweries on your drive!

Satisfy all your gastronomic cravings on the Melbourne to Brisbane drive
  • The Kettle Black, Melbourne: Situated within a stunning 1880’s heritage-listed terrace house, you’ll find an all-day menu boasting mouth-watering dishes and exceptional coffee. 
  • Spice Alley, Sydney: Home to Asian eateries serving up incredible dishes loaded with flavour that are sure to suit any budget. 
  • Bennelong Restaurant, Sydney: With stunning dining options catering to a range of tastes, you’ll enjoy a memorable meal with views of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.
  • Three Blue Ducks at The Farm, Byron Bay: Set on a stunning working farm you can tour on arrival, expect paddock-to-plate dining and local produce. 
  • Joy Restaurant, Fortitude Valley: Long and short degustation menus with incredible flavour and unique pairings, all tucked in a small corner of Bakery Lane for intimate dining.
  • Rothwell’s, Brisbane CBD: Signature dishes packed with flavour and a grand marble oyster bar that serves up incredible cocktails to pair with your meal.  
  • The Catchment Brewing Co, Brisbane: Continuing the heritage of brewing in the West End, you’ll find a range of finely crafted local beers offering a variety of flavours, all contained within a venue boasting vibrant energy.  

How to plan the perfect family road trip from Melbourne to Brisbane 

Looking for kid-friendly options on your Melbourne to Brisbane road trip? We’ve got you covered with helpful tips and top family-friendly places to stop to ensure you’re prepared for a road trip everyone will love – no matter their age. 

  • Book accommodation in advance: Regardless of family size, it’s best to plan your accommodation ahead of time. Given the likelihood of accommodation booking out during peak season and rates increasing, getting your booking in earlier will likely save you money and grant you more options. 
  • Plan pit stops at parks or playgrounds: With certain stops requiring lengthy drives, it’s important to take plenty of pit stops. To ensure the kids are happy, plan your breaks around parks or playgrounds where they’ll be able to play and release some energy after time spent in the car. 
  • Pack plenty of snacks and water: While there are plenty of opportunities to fuel up on the drive and stock up on snacks and other essentials at service stations, ensuring you have nutritious snacks like sandwiches and fruit on hand for the little ones while taking the stress out of your journey.
Currumbin Creek, Gold Coast

Top kid-friendly places to stop 

  • Taronga Zoo, Sydney: With animal encounters, scheduled shows, and plenty of adventures for kids, Taronga Zoo is a must for anyone passing through Sydney. 
  • Big Banana Fun Park: Take a detour to Coffs Harbour to pose in front of the Big Banana. You can visit the fun park that also features the biggest water park between Sydney and the Gold Coast. 
  • Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie: For animal lovers, this rehabilitation centre for sick and injured koalas offers self-guided tours and koala cuddles. It’s open from 8:30 am to 4 pm daily. 
  • Gold Coast Theme Parks: From Brisbane, make your way to the Gold Coast, which offers a range of theme parks to keep everyone entertained. As the largest theme park in Australia, Dreamworld demands a visit. 
  • Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary: Offering a range of family-friendly activities, this sanctuary is a must for animal lovers and even has koala cuddling experiences. 

Brisbane road trip guide: keep the drive going

Just because you’ve arrived in Brisbane doesn’t mean fun times on the road have to come to an end. Hang onto your car keys and consider one of these epic trip road trip itineraries from Brisbane. 

The best drives from Brisbane 

Melbourne to Brisbane drive: Frequently asked questions 

Can you complete the Melbourne to Brisbane drive in reverse?

You can! Simply reverse the itinerary outlined above and you’ll be treated to an incredible drive from Brisbane to Melbourne. Alternatively, check out our curated guide to making the Brisbane to Melbourne road trip

Can I get a flight from Melbourne to Brisbane?

Direct flights from Melbourne to Brisbane are available and run year-round. The average time is 2.5 hours, making it a quick way to reach your destination. But while it might save you time, you won’t have quite the same sightseeing experience a road trip affords. 

Is it worth driving from Melbourne to Brisbane?

Absolutely! No matter which route you choose to take, you’ll have countless opportunities to explore the surrounding region and its local flavours, making this a memorable trip for any travel enthusiast. 

Great Ocean Road, Victoria

What is the best time of year to travel from Melbourne to Brisbane?

Expect larger crowds during the summer months, which is the peak tourist season. Accommodation rates can also be significantly more expensive during this time due to increased demand, however summer may be preferable for those wanting a beachside holiday. Spring and Autumn are considered the best times of year to travel, as you’ll have less traffic on the roads and can still enjoy warm temperatures (without quite as much humidity as in summer). 

Final advice for the Melbourne to Brisbane drive of a lifetime

With stunning coastlines offering sweeping views over the water to the gastronomic delights that await those journeying through the esteemed vineyards of New South Wales and Victoria, the Melbourne to Brisbane drive has no shortage of things to do. Not surprisingly, this is one drive that should be at the top of everyone’s list! 

Want to secure the perfect ride for your Melbourne to Brisbane road trip? With Turo, you’ll find unique cars you can’t find anywhere else, ready to be delivered to you from a local Turo host. Find your vehicle on Turo.

John’s stunning BMW 4 Series is available to hire on Turo in Melbourne

Why not keep the road trip going? With plenty to explore in Brisbane, consider extending your journey with an epic day trip or weekend getaway as you take in the scenic sights of Queensland and beyond. 

Lucinda Starr

Lucinda Starr

Lucinda is a Sydney-based content specialist and avid road tripper. Having travelled across Asia, North America and the South Pacific, she's experienced everything from glamping in a Yurt in -30 degrees in The Yukon, snorkelling in the open seas of Vanuatu and hiking the rocky alps of Kamikochi in Japan. She's currently planning her next overseas adventure, a toss-up between a classic #EuroSummer or a multi-day trek through Nepal.

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