A road trip from Perth to Melbourne is a fascinating way to explore Australia. Showcasing the best of the city, coast, bush and outback, you get to explore many different sides of this fabulous country, during an epic and unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
The route from Perth to Melbourne takes about 37 hours of non-stop driving to cover 3405 km. You'll visit Southern Cross, Kalgoorlie, Ceduna, Adelaide, Murray Bridge and Ballarat as well as crossing the Nullarbor Plain and Eyre Peninsula.
These are just a few of the many wonderful places you can check out on this exciting journey. So be sure to keep reading until the end to find out where else you can go.
How far is Melbourne from Perth and how long will the road trip take?
Perth and Melbourne are divided by a distance of around 3405km, and a road trip between the two destinations can take upwards of a week to complete. However many days you take for your journey, it involves around 37 hours of pure driving time.
Given the distance involved, it is actually a fairly uncomplicated journey to undertake, as the road is pretty much all bitumen, and the route is very well signposted.
Apart from when you hit the Nullarbor Plain - when small towns, services and amenities can often be up to 200km apart - there are usually plenty of places to stop for fuel, food and restroom breaks.
Best road trip route from Perth to Melbourne
The trip from Perth to Melbourne is a fascinating and varied one which takes in outback landscapes, stunning coastlines and vibrant cities.
Although it's undoubtedly a long one, it's truly unforgettable, so read on to learn about some of the memorable places you could visit along the way.
Road trip route from Perth to Melbourne
The most direct way to drive from Perth, in Western Australia, to Melbourne, in Victoria, is along the National Highways.
Leaving Perth on National Highway 94, the route will take you past the suburbs, towards the charming town of Northam. This is a great spot to go hot air ballooning over the stunning landscape of the Western Australian Wheatbelt.
You will also pass the romantically named Southern Cross, an historic gold mining town situated on the eastern edge of the Western Australian wheatbelt.
The road will then take you on to the famous goldrush town of Kalgoorlie, the largest city in the outback, and to Cocklebiddy which houses the longest cave in the world.
Next you'll come to Norseman, which represents the beginning of the iconic Nullarbor Plain. Join National Highway 1 here. Often referred to as the Eyre Highway, it continues for 1000km and is well known for being the longest, flattest and straightest section of road in Australia.
The Eyre Highway will take you through the stark bushland of Western Australia, before heading on to the mighty Southern Bight.
This stretch of road will take you past the Nuytsland Nature Reserve and the phenomenal Baxter Cliffs, an incredible 80 meter high and 190km long stretch of continuous cliffs, said to be the longest in the world.
The Nullarbor Plain ends with the town of Ceduna. After this you will skirt the magnificent Eyre Peninsula - a detour to explore this stunning area is highly recommended.
The route then continues around the edge of the Yorke Peninsula, taking you past the major transport hub of Port Augusta, as well as beautiful Thompson Beach, before arriving in Adelaide.
After taking some time to enjoy the beaches, wineries and festivals of Adelaide and surrounding areas, leave the city on the M1, which is now the Princes Highway.
This will take you past Murray Bridge. Widely acknowledged as being one of the best places in Australia to view the stars, you should definitely take some time to admire the night sky here on your way to Melbourne.
After Murray Bridge the road becomes the A1. At Tailem Bend, turn onto the A8, which you'll follow for most of the rest of your journey. The route takes you past the contrasting landscapes of Little Desert National Park and the magnificent Grampians National Park
As you travel through the pleasant city of Ballarat, which is known for its eye-catching Victorian architectural heritage, the A8 becomes the M8. This leads you onto the M80 and then the M1 (signed West Gate Freeway), to take you to right to the heart of your destination, Melbourne.
Best places to stop between Perth to Melbourne
As the drive from Perth to Melbourne is such a monumental one, you will clearly need to schedule a number of overnight stopover destinations.
There are hundreds of places you can choose to stay at, including the following:
Embrace the Kalgoorlie spirit
Kalgoorlie is a must-see stop around 600km out of Perth - it's worth spending the first night or two there to fully take in this fascinating destination.
Once overrun with outlaws, the area has slowly transformed itself into the premier hub of the Western Australian Goldfields. It's now one of the country's most historic and consequential gold mining settlements.
You can visit one of the world's largest mines - appropriately named the Super Pit - or if you have a little longer to explore the area, follow driving trails that take you right out into prospecting country.
Whilst here, the the Plaza Hotel Kalgoorlie is a lovely place to stay. Its contemporary rooms are well decorated, a generous size and fully air-conditioned. There's also a swimming pool, which could be much-needed after a long, hot day on the road, as well as a splendid restaurant and bar that serves up tasty food and a great selection of drinks.
The hotel is also only 200 meters from the main shops, cafes, bars and restaurants of Hannan Street, which serves as the epicenter of town, so you won't have to walk too far if you want to venture out.
Watch the sun set over the ocean at Ceduna
After driving the length of the Nullarbor Plain the chances are you will be pretty tired. The port, and town, of Ceduna is a great place to rest and recharge your batteries, after some 20 hours on the road - around two thirds of the way through your journey.
Situated in the western-central part of South Australia, this is the first main town you hit after crossing the Nullarbor Plain from the west.
As well as enjoying the stunning coastline, the Ceduna Arts & Cultural Centre is also well worth a visit, to learn about the Aboriginal heritage that originally shaped this part of the continent.
Thanks to its beachfront location and knock-out views, the Ceduna Foreshore Hotel Motel stands out as one of the best accommodation options in town.
You'll be able to hit the surf or relax on the sand any time you want, or indulge in some of the freshest seafood you can find.
Enjoy the delights of Adelaide
Adelaide is a captivating place. Full of culture and beautiful architecture, it is known for its many festivals and major sporting events.
Located half way along the 16 hour drive between Ceduna and Melbourne, Adelaide might make a great final stop on your epic road trip.
Visit Adelaide Central Markets for a vibrant foodie experience, then take a stroll through Adelaide's Botanic Gardens or head out to Glenelg beach on the tram.
Alternatively, drive out to explore some of the wineries of Australia's wine growing capital - the Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills are two highlights not far from the city.
With so much on offer, it's well worth exploring the city for a day or two, and if this is something you choose to do then the Mayfair Hotel is a great option for a place to stay.
Set right in the middle of the CBD, in a gorgeous heritage-listed, renovated building, this deluxe 5-star hotel directly overlooks the Rundle Mall.
It also lies just 200 meters from the Art Gallery of South Australia. While the other notable attractions like the Adelaide Oval, Adelaide Convention Centre and Parliament House are all short drives away.
The hotel - which won the 2018 award for the Best Bed in Australia - has a fabulous rooftop bar, and a restaurant that offers a wonderful menu of dishes that celebrate local produce and wines.
Things to see on a road trip from Perth to Melbourne
When planning out where you can go on a road trip from Perth to Melbourne, you'll quickly realize there are plenty of places you can visit.
Whilst there are far too many to see on one trip, you should try and check out as many of these main highlights as you can.
- Northam - Take in spectacular all-encompassing views of the Western Australian Wheatbelt during a fabulous hot air balloon ride.
- Southern Cross - Historic gold mining town located on the eastern edge of the Western Australian wheatbelt.
- Kalgoorlie - Visit the biggest city in the outback and immerse yourself in the goldrush vibe at one of Australia's wealthiest gold mining communities.
- Cocklebiddy - Explore parts of the longest cave in the world. Extending for 6km, and with around 90% of it submerged in water, much of it can only be reached by cave diving.
- Great Australian Bight Marine Park - Enjoy the thrill of whale watching at this fabulous marine park.
- Nuytsland Nature Reserve - Enjoy the sensational view of the imposing Baxter Cliffs. Rising to 80 meters high and running for 190km, they are the world's longest unbroken stretch of cliffs.
- Nullarbor Plain - Drive for 1000 kilometers along the Eyre Highway. Known for being the longest, flattest and straightest road in the whole of Australia.
- The Longest Golf Course in the World - Play a round of 18 hole golf (in reverse order) on the world's longest course. A par 72 that covers a whopping 1,365km, from the last hole at Kalgoorlie-Boulder, to the first in Ceduna.
- Ceduna - Rest and relax down by the beach after completing the 1000km drive of the Nullarbor Plain.
- Eyre Peninsula - Marvel at the magnificent coastline, and delight in the fantastic selection of seafoods and wines you will find on offer, in the many cafes and restaurants dotted around the various seaside towns.
- Port Augusta - Quaint town and port which acts as a main transport hub. Widely regarded as a great place to spot dolphins, or go sailing, canoeing, fishing and kayaking too.
- Thompson Beach - Gorgeous seaside town on the Samphire Coast well known for its excellent opportunities for fishing, crabbing, hiking and bird-watching along many picturesque nature trails.
- Adelaide - A lively city best known for its festivals, sporting events, incredible food and terrific wine regions. Notable as the only state capital city in the country not settled by convicts.
- Hahndorf - Admire one of Australia's oldest German settlements, complete with typical refreshments served out of charming and friendly historic establishments.
- Murray Bridge - Revel in the majesty of the cosmos at one of Australia's best known spots for stargazing.
- The Coorong - Take a detour from Murray Bridge to explore this unique coastal wetland.
- Grampians National Park - Breath-taking nature reserve that showcases stunning sandstone mountains, beautiful wildflowers, fascinating wildlife and a captivating indigenous history.
Best time to go on a road trip from Perth to Melbourne
A road trip from Perth to Melbourne can be done at any time in the year, it just depends on personal preference.
Summer temperatures in the inland stretches can be challenging, with averages in Kalgoorlie exceeding 30 degrees from December to February. Weekends, school holidays and the Christmas season can also see crowds build in destinations nearest the cities.
However, if you can time your trip to take in Kalgoorlie in early December you'll see St Barbara's Festival - a celebration of the town's mining heritage where some of the massive machines in use today parade with community groups through the streets.
For a more comfortable drive, while still being able to visit the stunning beaches of the Yorke and Eyre Peninsulas at their best, we would recommend either February to April, or September to November. This also means you'll miss the storm season.
Bear in mind though that the weather in Melbourne is notoriously changeable, so be prepared for rain whenever you arrive.
Both Adelaide and Melbourne host a number of fantastic events throughout the year, which can see crowds and accommodation prices increase suddenly.
Throughout March, the Adelaide Festival sees international music, dance and arts acts converge on the city, preceded by the more alternative acts that make up the Adelaide Fringe.
Meanwhile, Melbourne hosts the Australian Grand Prix in April, and excitement peaks across the city for the annual Melbourne Cup horse race in November.
Other than that, you can start your trip whenever you want. Though as you will be driving a massive distance, it is a very good idea to get your car fully serviced by a qualified mechanic before you decide to leave. That way you will have the peace of mind of knowing your vehicle should be up for the adventure.