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How to Make the Most of the Adelaide to Melbourne Drive on the Great Ocean Road

See why the Adelaide to Melbourne drive on the Great Ocean Road is one of the best road trips in the world. Take an Australia road trip between Melbourne and Adelaide. Drive from Adelaide to Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road.
An Adelaide to Melbourne drive along the Great Ocean Road coastal route is a trip for the bucket list and one of the best road trips in the world.

Read on to learn about this Australian road trip itinerary between Melbourne and Adelaide and inspire your next trip Down Under.

The Great Ocean Road drive between Adelaide and Melbourne Australia

Adelaide to Melbourne Road Trip Itinerary at a Glance

Let me start by summarizing my recommended Adelaide to Melbourne road trip itinerary including time for fun city breaks on both ends of the drive and places to stop along the way.
  • Day 1: Explore Adelaide City
  • Day 2: Cleland Wildlife Park
  • Day 3: Adelaide Hills Wine Tasting
  • Day 4: Visit Hahndorf and then Watch the Sunset over Glenelg
  • Day 5: Coorong National Park to Coonawarra
  • Day 6: Coonawarra to Heytesbury Ridge
  • Day 7: The Great Ocean Road to Lorne
  • Day 8: Lorne to Melbourne including a detour on the Turton Track
  • Day 9-10: Explore Melbourne City
Now let's dive in and take a closer look at all the cool things to see and do if you take the time to plan a fun Adelaide to Melbourne drive.


Start your Adelaide to Melbourne road trip exploring the capital of South Australia.

Adelaide Central Market

The Central Market in Adelaide was a delight to the senses and featured meats and cheeses, copious amounts of fresh fruits and veggies, game meats, and sweet treats.

Someone started to write a poem on the mirror at a coffee shop in the market: "warmth slid easily...enveloping...teasing. the searing heat building within...grasping the energy contained within...a lazy smile widens across your blissful face...delayed gratification grips your senses, as you effortlessly melt to your..."

We saw the National Sausage King winner and a place selling shots of hot chocolate... I've never seen crocodile or buffalo meat so readily available.

A bakery was selling decent looking bagels. Bags of spices lined the floor while dancing chickens graced the walls. Chocolate fountains are always a crowd pleaser.

Cookies with faces on them somehow taste better. I shook my head when I saw this stall -- "Australia's Original Kangaroo Meats: We're Game if You're Game".

Adelaide Central Market

Walking Adelaide

After our tour of Adelaide Central Market, we decided to explore Adelaide by walking. Adelaide is a compact city surrounded on all four sides by parks.

We walked up to the pedestrian-only Rundle Mall and saw bronze pigs foraging nearby. We spotted Einstein on a bicycle at several points throughout the city. I'm not sure of the significance.

We chanced upon a food festival (BankSA Feast for the Senses) in a beautiful park along the river. We were tempted by the twisted potato ("chips on a stick") that were on sale but managed to resist.

Black swans were swimming quietly in the river. Festival-goers took shelter from the strong sun under colorful umbrellas. The river was simply idyllic with umbrella shaded paddle boats cruising around.

We walked along the river for a fair distance until we reached the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. The Botanic Gardens featured a marshy area with lily pads that we enjoyed exploring. Overall, we covered about 5 miles and got a comprehensive and sun-soaked overview of Adelaide.

🔎 Interested in other Australia road trip ideas? Have you considered making the drive from Perth to Margaret River, one of the best boutique wine regions in the world?

Day Trip to Cleland Wildlife Park

We decided to take a drive outside of Adelaide and were rewarded by some spectacular fall foliage. We got up close to Australian wildlife at Cleland Wildlife Park.

I was able to hand feed the kangaroos and wallabies! So amazing! We also got to visit with Murray, the resident koala.

Murray was orphaned as a joey and has developed a strong bond with the people that raised him. We even got to watch Tasmanian Devils from a distance.

Adelaide to Melbourne Drive: Cleland Wildlife Park

Adelaide Hills Wine Region

We left Cleland Wildlife Park and continued into the Adelaide Hills wine region. We stopped at a few wineries in the Adelaide Hills including Nepenthe. 

Many locals had gathered here to have a picnic and listen to the live music scheduled that weekend. What a relaxing way to spend an afternoon!

Hahndorf: A Taste of Germany in Australia

After our wildlife viewing and wine tasting experiences, we stopped by Hahndorf, a town in South Australia with strong German influences. We enjoyed a slice of apple strudel at the German Cake Shop in town. 

The local architecture and foliage created a beautiful scene. Aluminum roofs are rare in the US but are common in Australia.

We stopped into Cafe Assiette to fuel up on coffee for our drive back to Adelaide. We made one last stop into a local sausage shop.

I was particular intrigued by the sausages that were covered in hot red pepper. The proprietors aren't messing around when they name a sausage the "chili coated bum burner"! Yikes!

Sunset Over Glenelg

Glenelg, just outside of Adelaide, is known for its gorgeous sunsets. We stopped by the Marina Pier on our way back to town.

The region did not disappoint. The sunset was spectacular and a fantastic conclusion to a day of exploration.

Adelaide to Melbourne Road Trip: Sunset over Glenelg Australia

Adelaide to Melbourne Road Trip

Now let's embark on the Adelaide to Melbourne drive and find out what there is to see and do on this iconic Australian road trip.

Coorong National Park

We picked up a car hire and departed from Adelaide to travel along the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne. We stopped at Coorong National Park and spotted a trail that supposedly led to a pelican viewing area. 

We found the viewing shed and made our way towards it. We arrived at the pelican viewing shed but the promised binoculars were gone as were the pelicans. Bummer. Still, despite the absence of wildlife, it was a lovely spot along a lovely trail.

Roadside Attractions on the Great Ocean Road

We continued our drive and as we were rounding a corner into Kingston, I spotted a giant lobster! Larry the Lobster was apparently built almost 30 years ago. 

Due to an error in calculation, Larry is 3x his intended size. The visionary who conceived the lobster quoted his proposed dimensions in feet.

The architect they commissioned to make Larry a reality thought they meant meters. So amazingly unexpected and awesome! I was definitely highly amused and entertained by Larry the Lobster after a long day's drive.

Waves crashing along the Great Ocean Road in Australia

Overnight in Coonawarra

Where is the best stopover between Melbourne and Adelaide? We spent the night in tiny Coonawarra in South Australia. We heard squawking in the empty lot across the street and saw a flock of cockatoos strutting about. 

Once again, the Fall foliage added a beautiful splash of color to our visit to South Australia. I liked the collection of clothespins outside the hotel.

We drove into town for coffee and breakfast. We spotted something you don't see everyday -- a purveyor of livestock and wool insurance.

We stopped by a few wineries in the Coonawarra wine region. I liked the colorful contrast between roses and a rusted out water tank at Bowen Estate cellar door (tasting room).

🔎  The Great Ocean Road features some spectacular scenery. Sailing in the Whitsundays in Queensland is another typical Australian adventure with beauty that is sure to leave you breathless.

Heytesbury Ridge

We spent the night at Heytesbury Ridge, a winery and 2-room Bed and Breakfast. The view from the property was outstanding. We drove up a very treacherous narrow and uphill road in the pouring rain to reach Heytesbury Ridge.

We enjoyed relaxing from the somewhat more stressful drive than anticipated by sipping a glass of wine made from grapes grown nearby while watching the rain lash down outside. We walked out to an old red shed (and seasonal tasting room) to settle our bill for the night.

Dot and David's dog followed us out from the house. The old fella needed to lie down after all the effort! We passed through a gate guarded by a gargoyle as we left Heytesbury Ridge.

Heytesbury Ridge in South Australia on an Adelaide to Melbourne Road Trip

Australia's Great Ocean Road

Adelaide to Melbourne Road Trip: The Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road

After a lovely evening and filling breakfast, we continued on our way to the origin of the Great Ocean Road. The Great Ocean Road featured a number of scenic stops with intricate limestone shaped over the years by the forces of the sea.

We walked along a weather-worn boardwalk to The Grotto. A strong storm had passed through the night before so the ocean put on quite a show!

We stopped at Loch Ard Gorge where a fateful shipwreck killed everyone on board just feet from shore. Only a few bodies were recovered when they were washed into the Blowhole.

The Twelve Apostles are probably the most famous rock formation on the Adelaide to Melbourne drive along the Great Ocean Road. We entered the area with a bit of trepidation when we saw this sign that said:
Please keep to the footpaths. Snakes are in the area. Do not touch. Please keep your distance.
Fortunately, we managed to get in and out without any reptilian encounters. Because of the previous day's storm, the surf along the beach was unusually frothy. Each time a wave swept into shore, it left behind a large amount of foam.

Adelaide to Melbourne Drive on the Great Ocean Road: Boardwalk to the Grotto

🔎 The views along the Great Ocean Road were spectacular and definitely rival the scenery on a California Coast drive in the United States or a drive down the East Coast of Taiwan from Taipei to Hualien.

A Detour Onto the Turton Track

Dot and David from Heytesbury Ridge suggested that we take a short detour onto the Turton Track to see a stretch of untouched rainforest. If you go this route, it means forgoing a drive through Great Otway National Park along the coast. 

I'll admit, we were a little apprehensive when we saw the narrowness of the road and warnings to look out for logging trucks.

I couldn't imagine a truck fitting on that road at all. Fortunately, we didn't encounter any traffic along the entire stretch of road.

The scenery was amazing but very isolated and a bit disconcerting. Without any signage or other cars, it was easy to second guess whether we were going the right way.

Fortunately, we emerged after about 45 minutes under these conditions back onto the main road. Hooray!

Adelaide to Melbourne Road Trip in Australia
from left: (a) Turton Track warning sign. (b) Koalas in Cleland Wildlife Park (c) Larry the Lobster (d) Bum burner sausage in Hahndorf Australia.


Outside of Lorne, we read about a stretch of road known for wild koala populations. After driving down a very narrow and muddy road, we stopped and looked around. 

Koalas definitely blend into their surroundings and are not easy to spot. Fortunately, with the help of some locals, we narrowed in on a particular tree and with binoculars I was able to spot a koala hanging from a high branch!

Overnight in Lorne

We arrived in Lorne, our destination for the night. We were definitely overjoyed that our long drive was nearing an end. 

We drove into Lorne the next morning for coffee and breakfast. Cockatoos were on the scene squawking furiously. 

I spied a neat one-eyed, bowler-capped wooden sculpture near the Split Point Lighthouse to wish us well on our remaining journey to Melbourne.


Finish the Adelaide to Melbourne drive with a city break in Melbourne. Australia has some of the best cities in the world and Melbourne is at the top of the list whether you are traveling solo, as a couple, with kids, or exploring Melbourne with teenagers.

Exploring Melbourne

We arrived in Melbourne and it felt great to leave our car behind. I definitely prefer exploring on foot. 

We had lunch at Cafe Segovia on one of Melbourne's signature lanes near The Block Arcade. We took a self-guided walking tour of some of the central business district with a focus on the small network of lanes.

We saw quite a bit of interesting street art. We enjoyed watching Melbourne's modern trams go gliding by but decided that after days of driving, we needed some exercise and preferred to walk for the time being.

We continued exploring Melbourne’s lanes until we emerged onto Federation Square. Our timing was impeccable as there was a free jazz concert underway! We watched the performance for a while and then headed along the cobbled path out of the square and back to our hotel.


During a business trip to Australia, I got to take an overnight trip to Melbourne. The Australians I encountered on this trip were among to be the friendliest people I've ever met.

In the US, I'll occasionally strike up a conversation with someone on the airplane. In Australia, I talked to my neighbors without fail on every single flight I took.

Not only did I have some great conversations, but I also got some fantastic advice on things to do. On the flight from Sydney to Melbourne, my new friends Daniel and Austin diagrammed out a list of must-see attractions in Melbourne while we were enjoying a James Squire.

I also got some valuable advice -- James Squire is the beer to drink, Victoria Bitter is considered "bogan".

A Ride on Melbourne’s Old Rattler

We started our second day in Melbourne with breakfast and coffee at Degraves Espresso. I was intrigued by the flourless orange cake on display and had to give it a try. 

Warm flourless chocolate cake is one of my favorites. This one was equally moist and delicious, just a little less heavy. We hopped onto an "Old Rattler", the free tourist tram that circles downtown.

We made our way to Queen Victoria Market which was enormous and featured a little bit of everything including Victoria Bitter memorabilia, live chickens, deli products, giant buckets of oil, and vendors shouting at the top of their lungs competing to sell "ONE DOLLAR BANANAS!"

You could get a whole kilo for that price. We lunched on Lygon Street at a cute sidewalk cafe called Stuzzichino. We were lured in by the promise of inexpensive pasta and wine. The meal really hit the spot after a morning of walking.
Adelaide to Melbourne Drive: Things to do in Melbourne
from left: (a) Victoria Bitters Plaque. (b) Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne (c) Old Rattler City Circle Tram in Melbourne.

Afternoon of Street Art in Fitzroy

We continued out walk -- headed toward Fitzroy. We took an extensive walk in Fitzroy which reminded me of a combination of the Mission and Haight-Ashbury neighborhoods in San Francisco.

The architecture had character but had lost a bit of its luster. We saw street art that became more and more intricate at every turn. Another large dog took a nap in a storefront window.

A well-worn post box graced the street corner. A squatting sculpture drew us in.

Did you know that Hobart in Tasmania is just a one hour flight from Melbourne? Why not add on a visit to Tassie if you have some extra time. Spend 3 days in Hobart, the foodie capital of Tasmania. Feed Tasmanian Devils at Bonorong Wildlife Reserve. Drive from Hobart to Port Arthur to visit the historic penal colony and spend a day hiking in Mount Field National Park. You may even spot a platypus in the wild!

An Evening in St. Kilda

In the evening, we took the tram from the city centre to St. Kilda, a neighborhood along the shore.

Window after window of delectable pastries enticed us along Acland St. We had dinner at a tasty indian restaurant (Tandoori Times) that featured mesmerizing Bollywood numbers projected onto the wall.

It was a delicious end to an unforgettable road trip from Adelaide to Melbourne Australia.

Planning Your Adelaide to Melbourne Drive

How long is the drive between Melbourne and Adelaide, you may ask? If you drove straight through without regard for the various points you may want to stop along the way, it would take about 8 hours. The distance between Adelaide and Melbourne is over 700 km.

What was our overall Adelaide to Melbourne drive time? With stops, we drove about 13.5 hours in total. This was a reasonable amount of ground to cover with three nights en route.

Click on the image of the map below to open up an interactive version in Google maps to help you plan your Adelaide to Melbourne road trip with a focus on the Great Ocean Road.

Map of the Adelaide to Melbourne Drive

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Adelaide to Melbourne Drive on the Great Ocean Road in AustraliaAdelaide to Melbourne Drive on the Great Ocean Road in Australia

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: How to Make the Most of the Adelaide to Melbourne Drive on the Great Ocean Road
How to Make the Most of the Adelaide to Melbourne Drive on the Great Ocean Road
See why the Adelaide to Melbourne drive on the Great Ocean Road is one of the best road trips in the world. Take an Australia road trip between Melbourne and Adelaide. Drive from Adelaide to Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road.
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog