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.
Pack the car, get the road trip playlist ready and set off on an adventure driving from Melbourne to Adelaide. Take your time and discover the scenic route along the Great Ocean Road and spend some time discovering the natural wonders in Mount Gambier, stop through famous wine regions like Coonawarra and McLaren Vale or go for a quick dip in the ocean at gorgeous seaside towns like Robe. 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 Pelican Shed 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, 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. 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.
Alternative scenic route
Looking to mix it up on your drive back from Adelaide to Melbourne? Discover more road trip inspiration in South Australia with the Mighty Murray Way road trip itinerary, which starts in Renmark before heading through Berri, then on to Barmera, Waikerie and Blanchetown. From here, exit the Mighty Murray Way and explore the Barossa via Truro, Nuriootpa and Gawler before arriving in Adelaide.
With the most direct route taking just over 8 hours, leave early morning and by evening you could be checked into your Adelaide city hotel and pulling up a seat at one of Australia’s best restaurants. The inland route is the quickest and shortest way to Adelaide from Melbourne and follows the western freeway out of Melbourne. Stop at Ararat and Horsham before crossing into South Australia at Bordertown. Follow the Dukes Highway to Tailem Bend, a town that overlooks the lower reaches of the mighty Murray River. Complete your 726 kilometre road trip by passing through Murray Bridge before arriving into Adelaide.
All visitors are encouraged to plan ahead to stay up to date on the latest traffic updates including road closures, road works and planned events via the South Australian Government website.
Once you've arrived in Adelaide, there's so much to see and do. Start planning with our guides to the best hotels in Adelaide, the best things to do in Adelaide and best bars in Adelaide.