Journey through lush wine country, discover crater lakes, roam along postcard-worthy beaches and cast off to an island paradise on the ultimate road trip to Adelaide.
The lure of the open road is hard to ignore, and with the borders now open a road trip from Melbourne to Adelaide awaits. Leave early and by evening, you could be checked into your Adelaide city hotel and pulling up a seat at one of Australia's best restaurants. Or take the scenic route along the Great Ocean Road and through famous wine regions like the Coonawarra, along gorgeous seaside towns like Robe or take a detour and discover why Kangaroo Island is known as our zoo without fences. Download the Melbourne to Adelaide map and start planning with our top spots to stop along the way.
1. Mount Gambier
Marking halfway into the journey, Mount Gambier welcomes you to South Australia. Abound with natural wonders, here you’ll discover a vividly cobalt blue lake, an underground garden of Eden and a secluded swimming hole flanked by dormant volcanoes. Descend to the depths of a crystal-clear sinkhole, snorkel through the otherworldy underwater landscapes of Piccaninnie Ponds, or scuba dive deeper into the large underwater cavern known as The Cathedral. Nearby, Ewens Ponds Conservation Park is renowned for its incredible underwater visibility of up to 80 metres or venture an hour to Naracoorte and step back in time and into an ancient cave network at Naracoorte Caves National Park.
Just 90 minutes from Mount Gambier, pull up at Robe and throw down your towel to soak up the sun at one of South Australia’s chicest coastal destinations. Well-worth an overnight stop driving from Melbourne to Adelaide, here you’ll lounge on long sandy white beaches, kick back in cosmopolitan cafes and glam galleries and feast on some of South Australia’s best seafood. Stay the night at Horizons Robe and wake up with a morning stroll along Long Beach stretching 14km of sandy-white bliss or drive right on to the sand and spend the day enjoying the surf. Take a quick dip, then stroll along the beautiful Obelisk Coastal Trail, passing Robe’s historic old gaol ruins, jetty and marina. Sample the smorgasbord of local seafood on offer (Robe is famed for its crayfish) and wind down with a local brew at Robe Town Brewery.
A trip along the Limestone Coast will quickly become a gastronomic adventure. The region produces everything from succulent seafood to grass-fed lamb and Wagyu beef. This part of South Australia is famous for its Cabernet Sauvignon. Its secret lies in a magical marriage of rich terra rossa soil, limestone, pure underground water and a long, cool ripening season for the grapes. More than 24 cellar doors pack the relatively small region of Coonawarra, so set up camp for the night at Bellwether and spend a day tasting your way around renowned wineries including Penley Estate, Brand’s Laira, Hollick Winery and Restaurant, Wynns Coonawarra Estate and Rymill Coonawarra. Venture further to Mayura Station and dine at The Tasting Room, the ultimate in paddock to plate experience featuring mutli-award winning Wagyu beef.
4. Victor Harbor
A favourite holiday spot on the Fleurieu Peninsula, here you'll find spectacular surf beaches, beautiful diving spots and secluded, white sandy beaches. Enjoy views from The Bluff (including whale watching during the winter months) and take the horse drawn tram across to Granite Island, home to a colony of penguins. Enjoy wine and beer tasting or bi-plane acrobatics in nearby towns. Explore the Goolwa Wharf Precinct and sip the world's best whiskey, take a boat cruise around the peninsula or along the Coorong, or venture further inland to the famous wine region of McLaren Vale. A stone’s throw away is the neighbouring seaside town of Port Elliot where you’ll discover some of the best beaches in South Australia plus homewares shops, stylish cafes and chic, beachside cottages.
5. Kangaroo Island
Next, follow the Southern Ocean Drive road trip to an island paradise. Home to pristine beaches, rugged wilderness, diverse wildlife and incredible produce, Kangaroo Island is the ultimate island escape. Separated from the mainland by a narrow strip of ocean, just drive your car onto the SeaLink Ferry from Cape Jervis to Penneshaw and start exploring. Get back to nature and swim with dolphins in crystal-clear water, kick back on the sandy-white shores of stunning beaches, traverse through sprawling national parks packed with wildlife and taste test your way through an impressive bounty of culinary experiences. Start planning with our Kangaroo Island itinerary and guide to the best accommodation on Kangaroo Island.
6. McLaren Vale
On the home stretch of the journey from Melbourne to Adelaide, settle in for a welcome drink at one of 70 cellar doors in McLaren Vale. Sip your way around award-winning wineries like d'Arenberg Cube, Down The Rabbit Hole, Gemtree Wines, Alpha Box and Dice and Chalk Hill. Dine on farm-fresh, sustainable produce grown just metres from your table at Gather at Coriole, The Currant Shed or Maxwell Wines, or plucked fresh from the ocean and onto your plate at a table overlooking the coast at Star of Greece. Before venturing on to Adelaide, settle in among the vineyards for a few days at The Vineyard Retreat, Hotel California Rd at Inkwell Wines or go glamping at Tent on a Hill.