With its vibrant food scene, beaches, and mountainous parks, Melbourne serves as the perfect jumping off point for iconic Australian road trips. The city’s location makes it easy to explore the Great Ocean Road, the Grampians, gold country, and beyond. Take a ride along windsweeping coastal routes, journey through the outback, or traverse mountain ranges on these top road trips from Melbourne.
The Great Ocean Road
Stretching 243 km, the Great Ocean Road provides a scenic drive along the southern coast of Australia. Starting in Torquay, the road cruises past world-famous sites like the Twelve Apostles limestone stacks before ending in Allansford. You’ll also come across coastal rainforests, shipwrecks, and the iconic Bells Beach. With so many incredible photo opportunities, be sure to stop at the viewing platforms overlooking the sea cliffs. The best time to take the drive is during the autumn months of March to May when the weather is mild and the crowds have thinned.
The Grampians National Park
For a rugged Australian road trip, head to the Grampians National Park, just over 3 hours from Melbourne. You’ll be rewarded with dramatic sandstone mountains, wildflowers, and Indigenous rock art. Don’t miss Mackenzie Falls, an impressive waterfall flowing down the side of a sheer cliff face. The park also features hiking trails to suit all skill levels. Easier walks include the Venus Baths and Reeds Lookout which offer panoramic views of the surrounding ranges. More experienced hikers can tackle the challenging Mount William Summit hike. The Grampians make for an unforgettable outdoor getaway no matter the season.
The Great Alpine Road
If you don’t mind colder weather, the Great Alpine Road provides a beautiful drive through the heart of the Victorian Alps. Passing through small historic towns, the road takes you deep into the mountains with opportunities to ski, bushwalk, horseback ride, fish for trout, or cycle. Top sights include the snow gum forests of Mount Hotham, wineries in Milawa, and gourmet food stops in Bright and Beechworth. For the best conditions, it’s best to avoid winter snowstorms and take the Great Alpine Road during the autumn months.
For a trip back in time, venture to the Goldfields region of Victoria. You can trace the footsteps of fortune seekers during the 19th century gold rush along the Golden Triangle. Key stops include Sovereign Hill in Ballarat which recreates an old gold mining town with people dressed in costumes, heritage buildings, and gold panning activities. In Bendigo, you can descend 61 meters underground to tour the Central Deborah Gold Mine. Top off your goldfields adventure with a stay at Craig’s Royal Hotel, an 1862 period accommodation in Ballarat.
The Silo Art Trail
North-west of Melbourne, the Silo Art Trail has transformed grain silos in small country towns into incredible works of art. The outdoor gallery features large-scale mural portraits painted by renowned street artists. A great road trip for art lovers and photography enthusiasts, the full loop is 700 km long. For the best photos, visit on a sunny day and stay until sunset to capture the rich colors at golden hour.
Melbourne to Adelaide
If you’re ready for a truly epic drive, why not make the full jaunt from Melbourne to Adelaide? While the straight-line drive clocks in at just over 8 hours, you can stretch this drive over a full week if you want to see all the most epic locations. This trek will take you through the bucolic beauty of Ballarat and the stunning vistas of Halls Gap and the Grampians. You can even merge this trip with the Great Ocean Road Drive if you want to mix in some coastal beauty.
For more information on this epic road trip, check out ROLLiN’s Melbourne to Adelaide road trip guide.
When to Take These Road Trips
While the roads are open year-round, the best time for road tripping is during the autumn and spring months. The summer heat from December to February can make sightseeing uncomfortable. Once autumn arrives in March, temperatures cool. For winter trips, be prepared for snowy conditions in the High Country.
Where to Stay on the Road
One of the beauties of a good road trip is spending the night in charming country towns along the route. For the Great Ocean Road, Wye River and Lorne make for great coastal bases with cafes and hiking trails. In the Grampians, Halls Gap places you right among the mountains while Bright boasts alpine charm on the Great Alpine Road. For the goldfields, try Ballarat, Maryborough or Castlemaine.
Top Road Trip Tips
- Avoid summer holidays and weekends for lighter traffic. Opt for March-May or September-October.
- Don’t rush. Allow plenty of time to take detours and enjoy side stops.
- Make sure your vehicle receives a service before longer trips. Stock up on snacks, podcasts, and good tunes.
- Pack layers to handle changing weather between the coast and mountains.
- Take advantage of scenic rest areas to stretch your legs and capture photos.
- Book accommodations in advance, especially during peak periods.
- Share driving duties and avoid fatigue.
With so much diversity across Victoria, Melbourne serves as the perfect starting point for an array of amazing road trips. From coastal routes to the outback to the High Country, you can craft an unforgettable driving holiday. Just be sure to allow enough time to dig into all the incredible sights and experiences along the way. Don’t frantically rush from stop to stop. Instead, wander and wonder as you traverse this beautiful pocket of Australia.