Glenelg Beach Jetty during sunset with waves hitting the shore
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Road trip from Canberra to Adelaide

Published by Dianne Titos on January 4 2024

Adelaide is famous for its beautiful St Vincent Gulf views, renowned museums and thriving food scene. Setting off on a road trip from Canberra to Adelaide will allow you to explore the unique landscapes and charming towns through Australia's heartland.

The 1,175 km road trip from Canberra to Adelaide will take about 13 hours to drive. Along the way, you can enjoy highlights such as Murrumbateman, Gundagai, Deniliquin, Mildura, Junee, Wagga Wagga, Yass, Hay and Murray River National Park.

You'll travel from mountains to coast along this incredible corner of Australia as you drive from Canberra to Adelaide. Read on below to learn more about our recommended routes, best places to stay, top highlights, and the best seasons to make your journey.

How far is Adelaide from Canberra, and how long will the road trip take?

Comparison of road trip routes between Adelaide and Canberra
RouteDistanceDriving Time
Southern Route1,175 km13 hours
Northern Route1,210 km13 hours 20 minutes

The Southern Route on a road trip from Canberra to Adelaide spans 1,175 km and takes about 13 hours to complete without accounting for any detours.

The Northern Route, while slightly longer, takes you through different landscapes. This route covers 1,210 km and taking approximately 13 hours and 20 minutes.

Though you could complete these routes in a day or two, you'll want to slow down and experience the towns, cities, and landmarks along the way. To get the most out of this journey, we recommend taking 3 to 4 days.

Adelaide cityscape reflecting in the River Torrens on a sunny day
Adelaide combines urban experiences with a laid-back beach atmosphere in the perfect way.
Darryl Leach/Shutterstock.com

Best road trip route from Canberra to Adelaide

While both the Southern and Northern routes from Canberra to Adelaide offer unique experiences, they will take you through unique areas with their own sights and destinations.

The Southern Route takes you across Australia's longest river, the Murray River, between Swan Hill and Tooleybuc. This route allows you to experience the vastness of Australia, passing through many charming small rural towns.

These towns provide a glimpse into the country's lifestyle outside its famous cities. Along the way, you can pass through gorgeous highlands and some of Australia's well known vineyards.

The Northern Route follows the same directions as the alternative until you leave Wagga Wagga. It offers a taste of Southern Australia's outback after Wagga Wagga and as you cross the Murray River to reach Mildura, you'll find opportunities to relax by the water.

This route not only takes you through different states but also takes you through desert terrain and national parklands. If you love a more rugged outdoor experience, then this route is for you.

How to drive from Canberra to Adelaide

The map above shows our suggestions for the best road trip routes between Canberra and Adelaide. Keep reading for detailed descriptions of both routes, where to stay on either, and the best things to do on the way.

Southern Route

Begin your journey on the Southern Route, heading northwest on A25 towards Murrumbateman, where you can indulge your sweet tooth at the Murrumbateman Chocolate Co. Then, head towards Gundagai to see the quirky Dog on the Tuckerbox Statue.

After Gundagai, take A20 West towards Wagga Wagga, a bustling regional centre with attractions like Wagga Wagga Botanic Gardens, Wagga Wagga Beach, the Museum of the Riverina, and the National Art Glass Gallery.

From Wagga Wagga, head towards Swan Hill in Victoria, a picturesque town along the Murray River. Next, travel northwest to Tooleybuc, another charming town also nestled along the river.

After Tooleybuc, continue to Ouyen in Victoria, where you can visit the nearby Ngarkat Conservation Park. From Ouyen, take Highway B12 and then the M1 Highway towards Adelaide.

On the way, you can make a stop at The Bend Motorsport Park in Tailem Bend, explore the Old Tailem Town Pioneer Village, and visit the Monarto Safari Park before reaching your final destination, Adelaide.

Aerial drone view of the sunset over the Murrumbidgee River in Wagga Wagga
Both of our recommended routes will take you through the beautiful city of Wagga Wagga.
Ausdrones by WilljH/Shutterstock.com

Northern Route

Start the Northern Route by initially following the same directions as the Southern Route towards Wagga Wagga. After Wagga Wagga, take Highway A20 west to Hay. Here, you can explore attractions like the Hay Gaol and enjoy the serene landscapes around Yass Dam.

Proceed further west along A20 and soon you'll arrive in Robinvale, Victoria. This is a great spot to experience the beauty of the Murray River.

This route also offers a chance to visit Kemendok National Park before you drive from Robinvale to Mildura. If you have time, take a detour to visit this incredible place full of natural wonders.

If not making the detour from Robinvale, head northwest to Mildura, a city known for its beautiful riverfront and Trentham Estate winery.

Continuing from Mildura, head west towards Adelaide. On this leg, you'll pass through unique attractions like the picturesque Murray River National Park.

As you approach Adelaide, consider stopping at Rocky's Hall of Fame and Pioneer Museum to delve into the local history. Finally, continue on the A20 Highway to reach your destination, Adelaide.

A view of the river from above, lined with trees and red rocks
You will get the opportunity to admire beautiful views of Murray River near Robinvale and Mildura on the Northern Route.
kwest/Shutterstock.com

Best places to stop between Canberra and Adelaide

With so much to see and do on this road trip from Canberra to Adelaide, you're going to want to stop along the way. Below are our favourite destinations to rest and explore.

A relaxing stop at charming Deniliquin

Deniliquin, nestled on the Edward River, is an ideal stopover on the Southern Route, approximately 5 hours and 40 minutes into the journey. This charming town is a haven if you love watersports and fishing. It's also perfect if you love bushwalking and cycling.

One of the town's highlights is Mclean's Beach, perfect for a relaxing stroll or a day in the sun. Another must-visit is The Depot Historic Collection, where you can delve into the local history and culture.

Autumnal sunrise over the small town with buildings and a park in view
Deniliquin is a charming and picturesque town that is a perfect stopover on the Southern Route.
Bendigo Aerial/Shutterstock.com

For your stay, we highly recommend the relaxing Cottages on Edward. Located just across the river from the town centre, these charming riverside cottages offer the perfect blend of seclusion and convenience.

After your first night, enjoy a delicious breakfast spread to start your day. Then, you'll love coming home to a fireplace and a spacious cooking space.

The location is secluded enough for relaxation, yet close enough to keep you connected to the town's restaurants and shops.

Nearby, the Deniliquin Golf Club is just a 10-minute drive from the cottages, offering a chance to enjoy a round of golf in picturesque surroundings. Mclean's Beach is also conveniently close, a mere 6-minute drive away.

Riverside hikes and paddle streamers in Mildura

Mildura, beautifully located on the Murray River at the border between New South Wales and Victoria, is an excellent choice for an overnight stop on the Northern Route after driving just over 9 hours.

This charming town is famous for its picturesque riverside views, vintage paddle steamers, and historical landmarks. It's also a hub for citrus fruit production and produces around 80% of Victoria's grapes.

A paddle streamer on the river, with the name
Make sure to book yourself a nostalgic paddle streamer tour while in Mildura.
Philip Schubert/Shutterstock.com

Key attractions include the historic Psyche Bend Pumping Station, which is a manageable drive away, and the captivating Mungo National Park. This is a great place to visit if you love nature and want to see some of Australia's famous wildlife.

For your stay, we recommend staying at Quest Mildura, situated just minutes from the town centre. The hotel's outdoor pool is a perfect spot to cool off during the hot summer days. There's also a balcony for sipping wine and enjoying the rural Australian air.

The tranquil banks of the Murray River are only a short walk away, giving you plenty of hiking opportunities. You will also have access to an outdoor barbecue area, perfect for a relaxed evening under the stars.

Nearby, you can explore the iconic Mildura Paddle Steamers, just a 15-minute walk from the hotel. For a stunning view of the river, head over to the Weir Lookout, located a 5-minute drive away.

Where to stay when you reach Adelaide

Adelaide, known as the cosmopolitan heart of South Australia, is famous for its art and music festivals, exceptional wines, and thriving coffee culture. The city also takes pride in supporting independent businesses, boutiques, and restaurants.

Adelaide has earned the nickname ‘20 minutes city' for its efficient transport system that lets you explore the entire city within just 20 minutes. This is perfect after such a long drive.

A stunning, historic stained glass greenhouse located in the Adelaide Botanic Garden on a sunny day
You will be left in awe after your visit to the beautiful glass greenhouse in Adelaide Botanic Garden.
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For wildlife enthusiasts, the Adelaide Zoo is a must-visit, home to a diverse range of animals in a picturesque setting. Another highlight is the Adelaide Botanic Garden and its stunning greenhouse.

When it comes to accommodation, the highly-rated Vibe Hotel Adelaide is an excellent choice. Located in the dynamic East End district, this contemporary, industrial-chic hotel places you in the heart of the city's nightlife and cultural scene.

You'll start each day with a continental breakfast, to fuel you up for exploring the city. The hotel also features an undercover outdoor pool to relax in.

The Vibe Hotel's prime location in the East End will ensure that you're always just a stone's throw away from Adelaide's finest attractions, eateries, and shopping experiences.

Things to see on a road trip from Canberra to Adelaide

There are endless sights to see and places to experience along the way on a Canberra to Adelaide road trip. To help you plan easily, we've listed our top must-see destinations below.

Both routes

  1. Blackwattle Alpaca Farm - Situated near Yass, this alpaca farm offers a delightful experience, allowing visitors to meet and learn about these charming animals.
  2. Cooma Cottage - A historic homestead in Yass, Cooma Cottage is a significant part of Australian history, showcasing colonial architecture and the life of explorer Hamilton Hume.
  3. Yass Dam - A scenic spot in Yass, ideal for a tranquil day out with opportunities for fishing, picnicking, and enjoying the serene water views.
  4. Murray's Big Hill - Offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, Murray's Big Hill near Wagga Wagga is a fantastic spot for photography and nature lovers.
  5. Murrumbateman Chocolate Co - Located in the heart of Murrumbateman, this chocolate company is a must-visit for sweet lovers, offering a delightful range of handmade chocolates and confectioneries.
  6. Carey's Cave - Situated in Wee Jasper, Carey's Cave is a detour from the routes and is known for its beautiful limestone formations, presenting a unique underground experience with guided tours.
  7. Dog on the Tuckerbox Statue - An iconic Australian landmark near Gundagai, this statue commemorates the pioneering spirit of early settlers and their loyal canines.
  8. Junee Liquorice and Chocolate Factory - Located in Junee, this factory is a treat for all ages, offering tours to witness the making of organic licorice and chocolate, complete with tastings.
  9. Oura Beach - A hidden gem near Wagga Wagga, Oura Beach offers a peaceful riverside escape perfect for picnics, fishing, and swimming.
  10. Wagga Wagga Botanic Gardens - These gardens provide a lush, tranquil setting in Wagga Wagga, featuring a mini zoo, a free-flight bird aviary, and themed garden sections.
  11. Museum of the Riverina - This museum in Wagga Wagga celebrates local history and culture, showcasing exhibits that tell the story of the region and its people.
  12. National Art Glass Gallery - Located in Wagga Wagga, this gallery displays an impressive collection of contemporary and historical glass art, highlighting the craft's beauty and versatility.
  13. Pomingalarna Mountain Bike Park - Located on the outskirts of Wagga Wagga, this park is a haven for mountain biking enthusiasts, with trails that cater to all skill levels.
Quirky historical statue of a dog sitting on a Tuckerbox
Don't forget to take a photo with the quirky Dog on the Tuckerbox Statue while in Gundagai.
Man Down Media/Shutterstock.com

Southern Route

  1. Ngarkat Conservation Park - In southeastern South Australia, this park offers rugged wilderness adventures with its diverse landscapes, native wildlife, and hiking trails.
  2. The Bend Motorsport Park - A world-class motorsport facility near Tailem Bend, offering a range of racing experiences for enthusiasts and spectators alike.
  3. Old Tailem Town Pioneer Village - One of Australia's largest pioneer villages, located near Tailem Bend, this attraction takes visitors back in time to explore life in early Australia.
  4. Monarto Safari Park - A large open-range zoo near Adelaide, offering unique wildlife experiences with African and native Australian animals in a natural setting.

Northern Route

  1. Collingullie Water Tanks - These creatively painted water tanks in Collingullie are a unique roadside attraction, showcasing vibrant artwork.
  2. Altina Wildlife Park - Near Hay, this wildlife park offers a unique, guided cart tour experience, allowing close encounters with a variety of exotic and native animals.
  3. Hay Gaol - A historic site in Hay, the gaol museum displays artefacts and stories from its past as a prison, hospital, and institution.
  4. Bumbang Island Historic Area - Located near Mildura, this area offers insights into the region's rich Indigenous and settler history, set in a tranquil natural environment.
  5. Kemendok National Park - A hidden natural gem near Mildura, offering serene landscapes, wildlife viewing, and a peaceful retreat into nature.
  6. Trentham Estate - A picturesque winery on the banks of the Murray River near Mildura, known for its fine wines and beautiful riverside setting.
  7. Murray River National Park - Spanning across several locations near the Murray River, this national park offers diverse ecosystems, camping spots, and water-based activities.
  8. Rocky's Hall of Fame and Pioneer Museum - This museum celebrates the achievements of local pioneers and offers a glimpse into the region's history.

Best time to go on a road trip from Canberra to Adelaide

Adelaide is an amazing year-round destination at the end of your road trip from Canberra. Depending on when you travel, your experience can vary significantly.

In the summer months, temperatures in Adelaide range from 25 to 35 degrees Celsius, perfect for exploring the city's bustling coffee scene and independent boutiques.

Adelaide, Australia during the Adelaide International Kite Festival at Semaphore Beach during spring.
Adelaide is a vibrant city and there is always something going on! If you visit in March-April, you can see the colourful kites soaring in the skies during Adelaide International Kite Festival.
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However, on both the Southern and Northern Routes, you should pack essentials like water and food, as there are long stretches between rural towns. Temperatures in the inland areas often soar above 35 degrees Celsius.

Aside from warm temperatures, summer in Adelaide brings events like the Adelaide Fringe and WOMADelaide in February and March, offering a blend of cultural festivities and fun.

Winter in Adelaide is milder compared to the frost and chill experienced around Canberra and Wagga Wagga. This season offers a quieter but equally charming city experience, perfect for visiting indoor attractions like the Adelaide Zoo.

Spring is ideal for visiting places like Deniliquin on the Southern Route, with comfortable weather for water activities and fewer tourists. However, if you plan to visit Mungo National Park near Mildura, check for maintenance closures before your trip.

This is also a great season for events. The Northern Route offers the Mildura Wentworth Country Music Festival in September.

Autumn in Adelaide is delightful, with pleasant temperatures and the city comes alive with events like the Barossa Vintage Festival in April. On the Southern Route, you can enjoy the Wagga Wagga Mardi Gras Festival in March.