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Ultimate Budget-Friendly Sydney to Melbourne Road Trip

Looking for ways to stretch your travel budget while experiencing the very best of the east coast of Australia? Why not try this ultimate budget-friendly Sydney to Melbourne road trip?

It’s easy to see why Sydney to Melbourne has become one of the most popular road trip routes in Australia. With only a ten-hour drive between these two major cities and 1300 km of stunning landscapes to explore, this 9-day road trip has it all. Best of all, if you are looking for a budget-friendly road trip, there are plenty of budget-friendly attractions and activities along the way - from leisurely beach days, wildlife watching, hiking and more. Renting a campervan will also give you the flexibility to stop anywhere you like so that you can take advantage of the best free camping and low-cost accommodations en route.

Tips for road trips on a budget

Road trips are the best way to explore a new country, and the best part is they don't have to be pricey! If you are hiring a campervan for your Australian road trip, then you are off to a good start. A campervan hire means you can take everything you'll need with you in your car from place to place - no need for extra luggage fees. You can also see the highlights of each city in a day or two, instead of spending your money on tours and transport to every attraction. Here are some of our top tips for saving money on the road:

  • Look out for deals that can save you money
  • Enjoy takeaways or meals out in moderation and make use of your campervan kitchen
  • Fill your trip with mainly free attractions like hiking and natural attractions or museums and monuments
  • Keep an eye on the latest Mighty campervan deals and snag a great value deal on your campervan hire
  • Plan your trip and route beforehand using an app like the thl Roadtrip App, and use your GPS during your trip to avoid any unnecessary detours
  • Pack some electricity-free games, such as cards or travel board games
  • When planning where to stay, include a mix of free camping and paid camping. While this isn’t always possible, it pays to check your route for low-cost options
  • When it comes to transportation when travelling through cities, don't forget about public transportation. This can help you save on gas for those big inner-city adventure days or hefty inner-city parking fees
  • Use a road-trip budget calculator to plan out your costs and budget

Travel

9 days


Route

Sydney to Melbourne

1330km


Best Time of the Year

Any time of year

Highlights

  • Hyams Beach
  • Narooma Bar Beach
  • Lakes Entrance
  • Wilsons Promontory

The Journey

Days

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Day 1
Sydney to Wollongong

Distance 85km - Driving Time 1 hour 23 minutes

Kick off your east coast Australia road trip by picking your motorhome up from Mighty Sydney campervan hire. After getting yourself settled in and stocking up the campervan kitchen cupboards, it's time to get exploring.

Start your journey by exploring the city of Sydney. This vibrant city, with its sweeping harbour and bustling CBD, has plenty on offer. We recommend making your way to the city centre to grab some lunch at one of the restaurants at Circular Quay, overlooking the stunning architecture of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. If you fancy, grab a drink at the Opera Bar, and take a stroll around the cobblestone alleys of The Rocks - Sydney’s oldest streets.

Once you have soaked up all that Sydney has to offer, it's time to begin the journey south. Take the scenic route via the Sea Cliff Bridge - you will not be disappointed! This stunning bridge is famous for jutting out over the ocean, providing a surreal experience of driving over the ocean.

Once you arrive in Wollongong, spend the afternoon visiting the Nan Tien Temple, trekking the Illawarra Escarpment, and stopping by the Science Centre and Planetarium.

Where to stay when you arrive: Wollongong City Tourist Park.

Destination NSW Content Library

Day 2
Wollongong to Jervis Bay

Distance 119km - Driving Time 1 hour 38 minutes

On day two of your Australian campervan holiday, you'll visit two beautiful coastal towns in New South Wales - Wollongong and Jervis Bay. Between the two of them, there are a ton of activities to do, making them the perfect addition to a Sydney-to-Melbourne adventure. In Wollongong, check out the local cafes, and if you’re feeling adventurous, plan a few hours at Jamberoo Action Park - NSW’s largest water theme park.

Once you arrive in Jervis Bay, enjoy swimming in the warm ocean, chilling out at the beach, and checking out the local shops. If you are looking to get into nature, venture down to the beautiful Hyams Beach and embark on the White Sands Walk. For those who are looking to learn a little about the local history, be sure to plan your trip to include a visit to the Jervis Bay Maritime Museum. Here you can explore their collection of maritime artefacts and navigational instruments. There is also a large recreation area with native gardens and a mangrove boardwalk to explore.

Where to stay when you arrive: Jervis Bay Holiday Park.

Destination NSW Content Library

Day 3
Jervis Bay to Batemans Bay

Distance 113km - Driving Time 1 hour 30 minutes

On day three of the road trip, it's time to hop from one stunning beach town to another. While Jervis Bay is known for its beautiful long beaches, Batemans Bay is home to both stunning beaches and the idle waters of the Clyde River. When you arrive in Batemans Bay, make sure to walk around the Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Gardens and relax on one of the many sandy beaches. If you are feeling like getting active, be sure to plan your trip to include a swim along the Batemans Bay snorkelling trail.

With so much fresh seafood in the area, we recommend heading out to enjoy some delicious food and drinks in one of the many restaurants in the area. Alternatively, head to the closest fish market and grab a few pieces to cook up in your campervan!

Where to stay when you arrive: Batemans Bay Holiday Park.

Destination NSW Content Library

Day 4
Batemans Bay to Narooma

Distance 77km - Driving Time 1 hour 9 minutes

Begin the day by saying farewell to Batemans Bay and head south towards Narooma for lunch and some relaxation time on the beachfront. Handkerchief Bay is a great place to enjoy a picnic, and Narooma Bar Beach is the perfect spot for a sheltered swim. Once you have finished cooking up your campervan-friendly meal and enjoyed a swim, spend the afternoon wildlife watching along Mills Bay Boardwalk and exploring Australia Rock and the Bar Rock Lookout.

Where to stay when you arrive: BIG4 Narooma East's Holiday Park.

Destination NSW Content Library

Day 5
Narooma to Merimbula

Distance 113km - Driving Time 1 hour 24 minutes

The drive from Narooma to Merimbula is around 112 km of stunning views of the coast. You may just be tempted to stop at several spots along the way to take in the scenery. Once you arrive in Merimbula, it's time to enjoy a slower pace of life. This town is known for its tranquil coastal lakes, rugged beaches and whale watching. Some of the top-rated things to do in the town include a visit to Merimbula Aquarium, relaxing at Bar Beach, and heading to Short Point for whale watching and an afternoon picnic.

Where to stay when you arrive: Tween Waters Holiday Park.

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Day 6
Merimbula to Lakes Entrance

Distance 268km - Driving Time 3 hours 8 minutes

Today marks an exciting day in the journey: crossing the border into Victoria. This three-hour drive will take you away from the NSW coast, inland toward Victorian Lakes Entrance. This Gippsland destination boasts Australia’s largest inland network of waterways and is the perfect mix of seaside charm and lakeside living. When arriving at Lakes Entrance, plan a stop by the Lakes Entrance Beaches and peruse the Griffiths' Sea Shell Museum & Marine Display. For the history buffs in the group, be sure to check out the Nyerimilang Heritage Park. Here you can discover a historic homestead and the surrounding beauty of this 180-hectare property.

Where to stay when you arrive: Koonwarra Family Holiday Park.

Visit Victoria Content Hub

Day 7
Lakes Entance to Wilsons Promontory

Distance 271km - Driving Time 3 hours 17 minutes

Make use of your campervan kitchen and whip up a coffee or your favourite morning pick-me-up and get an early start on today’s three-and-a-half-hour drive to Wilsons Promontory. Simply referred to as Wilsons Prom, this national park marks the southernmost tip of mainland Australia. This national park offers a stunning array of mountainous landscapes, coastal bushland, and pristine beaches to explore. While in the park, we recommend hiking to the summit of Mt Oberon, going wildlife watching on the Loo Errn Boardwalk track, and relaxing on the quiet beaches at Sealers Cove.

Where to stay when you arrive: Tidal River Campground.

Visit Victoria Content Hub

Day 8
Wilsons Promontory to Phillip Island

Distance 142km - Driving Time 1 hour 57 minutes

Next up on the itinerary is a visit to Phillip Island. While named an Island, it is still attached to the mainland and can be accessed easily via campervan. When you arrive, head to watch pelicans being fed at San Remo Beach, take a photo at Cadillac Canyon and visit Churchill Island Heritage Farm. In addition to all the natural beauty, this Island is known as being home to the largest Little Penguin colony in the world. As such, there is no better way to end a day on Phillip Island than with a stop by the famed Penguin Parade. Here you will experience the magic of watching these huddles of penguins as they surf their way to shore and head into their burrows for the evening. While this is a paid experience, this is by far one of the best wildlife experiences and things to do in Australia.

Where to stay when you arrive: Phillip Island Holiday & Caravan Park.

Visit Victoria Content Hub

Day 9
Phillip Island to Melbourne

Distance 142km - Driving Time 1 hour 55 minutes

Today marks the final day of this ultimate budget-friendly Sydney to Melbourne road trip. After driving the final two hours into the heart of Melbourne, it’s time to explore all the delights this city has to offer. No trip to Melbourne would be complete without trying the best coffee in Melbourne (debatably in Australia!). So after you are sufficiently caffeinated, head to the Melbourne Museum, wander through the Royal Botanic Gardens, and marvel at the artistic flair of the National Gallery Victoria.

Once you have finished exploring the city, it's time to bring the trip to a close and return your camper to Mighty Melbourne campervan holiday hire.

Want to try this road trip itinerary?

Sydney to Melbourne is an east coast Australia road trip dream! With endless pristine beaches, mountains and hinterlands to explore. Best of all, with so many natural attractions, national parks and low-cost activities along the way, there are plenty of ways to extend your travel budget with a campervan holiday hire road trip.

Want to try this road trip itinerary for yourself? Book your Mighty campervan today. Looking for more travel tips for backpacking in a campervan or tips for a cheap campervan trip, check out the Mighty blog.

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