Our complete guide to road tripping Australia’s East Coast

The Australian East Coast is on every tourist’s Australian bucket list. In fact, for most, it’s their reason for being here in the first place.

We’ve been lucky enough to spend 18 months slowly making our way from Melbourne to Cairns while living in our tiny home; In this time we’ve put together an extensive list of all the must-see places along the way, some you’ll already be familiar with but other’s we’re hoping you’ve never heard of, meaning you’ll get the chance to explore somewhere completely new!

On top of all the unmissable places, we’ve included camp recommendations, apps we’ve used to stay safe and an in-depth list of all the essentials you’ll need for your East Coast road trip!

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Sydney to Brisbane
Brisbane to Cairns
Budget guide
Apps we reccomend
Road trip essentials

Melbourne >> Sydney

So you’ve bought your van, you’ve explored Melbourne, done the Great Ocean Road and you’re ready to head off up the East Coast towards your next city; Sydney. Now what?

Well, there’s plenty of stops to make between Melbourne and Sydney. This road trip itinerary can be done in either direction and we’ve provided you with estimate times from both cities.

Approx Time Frame: Minimum 8 days

Distance covered: 1,668km

Time spent continuous driving: 24 hours + 45 minutes

Kokoda Memorial Walk (1000 steps)

Reason to visit: Hiking // history // scenery

Time from Melbourne: 45 Minutes

Time from Sydney: 12 hours

Time spent here: 2-3 hours

Entrance fee: $0

Things to do: Complete the 1000 steps walk (steep) // Have a picnic at the top // admire the views // pay your respects at the memorial // learn about the history of the walk and its links to world war 2.

(53minutes to next stop)

Mornington Peninsular – Point Nepean National Park

Reason to visit: Hiking // history // scenery // wildlife.

Time from Melbourne: 1.5 hours

Time from Sydney: 13 hours

Time spent here: 3-5 hours

Entrance fee: $0 // $15pp shuttle bus (optional)

Things to do: Walk to the Engine House (Peninsular tip) // Explore the abandoned war bunkers // spot wild emus and Albatros // Visit London Bridge lookout // walk the millionaires walk and maybe spot a celebrity // Admire the coastal views

Read more about out trip to Point Nepean National Park here

(1 hour 23 to next stop)

Phillip Island

Reason to visit: Nature // wildlife // walks // sports

Time from Melbourne: 1.45 hours

Time from Sydney: 12 hours 20minutes

Time spent here: 1 – 4 hours

Entrance fee: $0

Things to do: Drive the GPX track // Visit the penguin colony // do a coastal walk // watch the sunset

(2 hours to next stop)

Wilsons Promontory National Park

Reasons to visit: Nature // wildlife // unique beaches

Time from Melbourne: 3.20

Time from Sydney:

Time Spent here: 2-5 hours

Entrance fee: $0

Camping Permit: $13.60pp (for National Park campsites)

Things to do: Visit Squeaky beach // spot wombat on one of the many wildlife walks // explore the sand dunes // go to the most southerly point of mainland Australia

(2 hours 50 to next stop)

90 Mile Beach

Reason to visit: Nature // scenery // relaxing

Time from Melbourne: 4 hours

Time from Sydney: 10 hours 25 minutes

Time spent here: 2 hours

Entrance fee: $0

Things to do: Enjoy the scenery // watch the waves and maybe spot a whale // walk part of the beach // take a nude or topless photos

(4 hours 23 to next stop)

Eden

Reason to visit: Wildlife // museums // nature // relaxing.

Time from Melbourne: 6 hours 40 minutes

Time from Sydney: 6 hours

Time spent here: 1 – 2 full days

Things to do: Killer whale museum // spot whales at twofold bay // walk at Ben boys National Park // visit green cape lookout

(25 minutes to next stop)

Merimbula

Reason to visit: Wildlife // seafood // nature // relax // unique coastline // diving

Time from Melbourne: 7 hours

Time from Sydney: 6 hours

Time spent here: 1 full day

Things to do: Take a diver tour // picnic in Goodenia rainforest // Admire the scenery (and dolphins) at Turingal head // Potoroo Native Animal Sanctuary // Merimbula Boardwalk

(3 hours to next stop)

Canberra

Reason to visit: Architecture // galleries + museums // scenery //

Time from Melbourne: 6.5 hours

Time from Sydney: 3.5 hours

Time spent here: 1 – 2 full days

Things to do: Visit Square rock // Walk to Mount Ainslie Lookout // Visit Lake Burley Griffin // See the parliament house // Botanical Gardens // walk around Brindabella National Park // Visit Aboriginal dreaming gallery // Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve // Pay your respects at the Australian War Memorial

(2 hours 55 to next stop)

Jervis Bay

Reason to visit: Nature // wildlife // worlds whitest beaches

Time from Melbourne: 11.5 hours

Time from Sydney: 3 hours

Time spent here: 2 hours – 1 full day

Entrance fee: $13 per car for Booderee National Park (free for walkers)

Camping fee: $14-25 depending on which National Park site you book into + $13pp fee.

Things to do: Visit the world famous Hyams Beach // Diving + Scuba at Jervis Bay Marine Park // Visit Cave beach // Look for whales and dolphins off the coast // Booderee National Park // do the white sands walk // Booderee Botanic Garden.

(2 hours to next stop)

Budderoo National Park

Reason to visit: Wildlife // nature // scenery // walks // swimming

Time from Melbourne: 12 hours

Time from Sydney: 2.5 hours

Time spent here: 2 hours to a full day

Entrance fee: $12 per vehicle (Minnamurra Rainforest only)

Camping fee: $12 per couple (National Park sites only) $6 for additional person

Things to do: Try and spot a platypus in the creeks // do the falls walk // see Carrington falls // rainforest centre // one of the many walks

(1 hour 45 to next stop)

Sea Cliff Bridge

Reason to visit: Rock pools // unique coastline

Time from Melbourne: 12 hours

Time from Sydney: 1 hour

Time spent here: 1-hour max.

Things to do: Swim in the sea pool // check out the rock pools // photography the bridge

(40 minutes to next stop)

Sydney Royal National Park

Reason to visit: Glow worm caves // wildlife // scenery // walks // history // culture

Time from Melbourne: 12.5 hours

Time from Sydney: 1 hour

Time spent here: 1-5 hours

Things to do: Visit the glow worm caves // do the coastal walk // spot whales from the cliffs at point lookout // Aboriginal history walk at Bundeena

Read more about Sydney Royal National Park here

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Sydney to Brisbane
Brisbane to Cairns
Budget guide
Apps we reccomend
Road trip essentials