You've successfully subscribed to Uber Carshare Blog
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to Uber Carshare Blog
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Success! Your billing info is updated.
Billing info update failed.

Melbourne to Canberra Drive: Your ultimate road trip guide through quintessential country Australia

Linden Brown

From cultural icons to the sun’s ancient rays lighting up golden valleys, this trip is more than a route – it’s a passage through local flavours and startling stories into the soul of country Australia.

Whether you’re doing the Melbourne to Canberra drive or Canberra to Melbourne drive, drop down your windows, turn up the tunes and get ready for an unforgettable trip.

Make it even better with a fun new ride – search for a Canberra car rental or a Melbourne car rental, and you might even find your dream car.

In this guide, we’ll cover:

What’s so special about the Canberra to Melbourne drive?

a grassy field with mountains in the background
Photo by Ch P / Unsplash

The Melbourne to Canberra drive takes you through the heart of quintessential country Australia. It's not just a scenic drive – it's a string of incredible experiences that go together like a Yarra Valley Chardonnay and some sharp Cheddar. 

Maybe you start in Melbourne, buzzing with diversity, and cruise into Canberra’s charming outskirts. Or you could take the route in reverse. But it's what's in between that'll grab you.

Driving from Melbourne to Canberra, you'll pass through quirky towns where everyone's got a story to tell. Think fresh-baked slices at the Dog on the Tuckerbox. Local wines in King Valley. And hidden ocean views at Wilsons Prom only the locals know about. It’s an invitation to roll down the windows and soak in the changing scenes – from bustling country pubs to silent, starry nights.

This is where you'll find the unexpected: a roadside stall selling pickles and jams or a vintage shop in a sleepy town. The journey is as memorable as the destination when each spot has its own surprises. And let’s not forget the stories you’ll take back.

Make it new again on your return trip

footprints on the sand by the beach during daytime
Photo by Nao Takabayashi / Unsplash

Getting home: think of it as flipping the script. 

Only this time, why not take the coastal route? You’ll catch different waves in different towns. Enjoy a yarn at the bar and maybe even spot some whales.

Or there’s magic in retracing your steps on the Melbourne to Canberra drive. Enjoy riverside walks at Wagga Wagga. Marvel at the NSW Southern Tablelands in their misty morning glory, or visit the quirky art galleries of tiny towns you missed.

Consider a theme this time – like vanilla slice stops or high tea offerings dotting the route. Make it a game. How different can the same road feel? You’ll pull into home with a whole new set of stories.

How long is the Canberra to Melbourne drive?

Canberra to Melbourne distance: 663 km
Canberra to Melbourne driving time: About 7 hours

Driving Canberra to Melbourne is 663 km direct, or roughly 7 hours of driving time. But you can add a lot of distance by meandering to some of Australia’s most interesting places. 

And if you’re going the other way, driving Melbourne to Canberra, things may change slightly, too, as you stop in more places closer to your destination. 

Let’s take a closer look at a few of our favourite routes for a Canberra to Melbourne road trip.

Itinerary: Melbourne to Canberra drive

brown leafless tree on lake during daytime
Photo by Phillip Flores / Unsplash

There are five popular ways to drive Melbourne-Canberra. 

  • Direct route: 7 hours driving
  • Inland art and history tour: 3 days
  • Scenic coastal drive: 4 days
  • Alpine adventure route: 3 days
  • Wine and produce trail: 3 days

Each route holds its own surprises, from quiet teahouses to iconic snowy peaks, making the Melbourne to Canberra drive as diverse as it is delightful. Whether you’re in for the scenery, the stories, or the speed, there’s a route just for you. 

Direct route: 7 hours driving time

This is your straight shot from city to city, the fastest way to swap Melbourne’s energy for Canberra’s elegance. But fast doesn’t mean dull. 

Zip down the Hume Highway (M31), stopping first at charming Wangaratta in rural Victoria. Head on to Albury-Wodonga on the Murray River and then to Holbrook. 

Holbrook is a quirky little gem, far from your average highway pitstop. 

Picture this: you're sipping a robust coffee from the Submarine Cafe, a cosy spot near a full-sized submarine, the HMAS Otway. Yes, a submarine parked inland. It's not every day you get to enjoy a latte near a decommissioned Australian Navy sub, right? 

The café is just the spot to stretch your legs and refuel – your car and yourself. These little surprises turn a simple drive into a memorable road trip.

Inland art and history tour: 3 days

a clock tower with a flag on top of it
Photo by Michael Shu / Unsplash

Day 1: Melbourne to Bendigo

Imagine departing Melbourne's bustling cityscape and venturing into the heart of Victoria, where the echoes of the gold rush still resonate. 

Bendigo beckons with its grandiose Victorian architecture and the internationally acclaimed Bendigo Art Gallery. Here, lose yourself amongst awe-inspiring exhibitions that span from classic to contemporary. 

Wander the charming streets, stumbling upon the Golden Dragon Museum, a testament to the city's rich Chinese heritage, often overlooked but brimming with fascinating tales of the Goldfield days.

Day 2: Bendigo to Albury-Wodonga

Journey north to the twin cities of Albury-Wodonga, nestled along the majestic Murray River. This cultural hub thrives with activities, from the contemporary displays at the Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA) to the serene riverside trails. 

Discover the lesser-known Wagirra Trail and engage with the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk, a cultural dialogue of the local Indigenous heritage expressed through stunning art installations set against natural backdrops. One of the enriching opportunities of the Melbourne to Canberra drive is your chance to learn more about or celebrate Australia’s Indigenous history.

Day 3: Albury-Wodonga to Canberra

Before you depart for Canberra, make a pit stop in Gundagai to pay homage to the iconic Dog on the Tuckerbox. 

Dive deeper into Australian lore at Yass, exploring the historic Cooma Cottage, offering a glimpse into the adventurous life of explorer Hamilton Hume. Arriving in Canberra, you're primed to explore the nation's capital. Maybe your first stop could be the Australian War Memorial for some important history.

Scenic Coastal Drive: 4 days

a view of a beach from a rocky outcropping
Photo by Christian Bass / Unsplash

Day 1: Melbourne to Phillip Island

Set out from Melbourne towards the enchanting Phillip Island for an evening under the stars, watching the famous Penguin Parade. This magical experience, where little penguins waddle by the seaside at dusk, is nothing short of spectacular. 

Spend your day surfing or lounging at one of the island’s pristine beaches or walking among eucalypts in the Koala Conservation Reserve.

Day 2: Phillip Island to Wilsons Promontory

Venture next to Wilsons Promontory, an ancient landscape where mountains meet the ocean. Trek through lush forests to secluded beaches where the sands squeak beneath your feet. Each trail offers panoramic views, abundant wildlife, and the purest essence of Australia’s natural beauty.

Wilsons Promontory Lightstation is worth a stop – built in 1859 from local granite, it’s Australia’s southernmost settlement.

Day 3: Wilsons Promontory to Lakes Entrance

Travel onwards to Lakes Entrance, a seafood paradise where the ocean delivers its bounty right to the docks. Take a cruise through the Gippsland Lakes, marvel at the vast network of coastal lagoons, or relax on Ninety Mile Beach, a golden stretch as far as the eye can see.

Day 4: Lakes Entrance to Canberra

Your coastal journey culminates as you weave through classic Snowy River country to reach Canberra. Once you’ve settled into your accommodation, top off your evening at a rooftop bar in Kingston, sipping a bespoke cocktail as the city lights flicker to life.

Alpine Adventure Route: 3 days or more

a dirt path in the middle of a forest
Photo by Christian Bass / Unsplash

Day 1: Melbourne to Bright

Begin in Melbourne and head towards beautiful Bright, an alpine town where every season paints a new and vivid picture. Bright is incredibly vibrant with autumn colours or winter snow. After a quick refresh at a local cafe (or brewery), you can hit the surrounding trails for adventure or a peaceful riverside retreat.

Day 2: Bright to Jindabyne

Ascend further into the Snowy Mountains to Jindabyne – the gateway to the renowned ski resorts of Perisher and Thredbo. And in summer, its very own lakeside paradise. Take in the spirit of the high country and try horseback riding, fishing, or simply soaking in the mountain vistas.

Day 3: Jindabyne to Canberra

Conclude your alpine escapade with a visit to the Snowy Hydro Discovery Centre in Cooma, learning about a remarkable engineering feat. You’ll arrive in Canberra refreshed and inspired by natural splendour and human ingenuity. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you take the alpine route through winter on the Melbourne to Canberra drive, you will drive through snow. Do you know how to drive safely in the snow? Here are six things to know.

  1. Use winter tyres or chains. Make sure your car is equipped with winter tyres or carries snow chains. During heavy snowfall, snow chains may be mandatory in certain parts of the Alpine regions. Always check current regulations before your trip.
  2. Know and use safe driving techniques. Adapt your driving to snowy conditions. This includes reducing speed, avoiding abrupt actions like sharp turns or sudden braking, and increasing your following distance to allow more time to react.
  3. Consider visibility. Keep your lights on low beam in snow or fog to improve visibility. Make sure your windshield and lights are clear of snow and ice before starting your journey.
  4. Carry an emergency kit. Make sure your emergency kit includes: 
    • Extra warm clothing
    • Blankets
    • Food and water
    • A flashlight
    • A first-aid kit

It's also wise to have a fully charged mobile phone and a portable charger.

  1. Stay informed. Keep updated on weather forecasts and road conditions. In Australia, websites like the Bureau of Meteorology and state transportation departments offer real-time updates and advisories.
  2. Take breaks. Take regular breaks to avoid fatigue (which is heightened by the concentration you need in adverse weather conditions). Plan your route to include rest stops where you can safely take a break.

And if you have more time on this route, take a day or two to explore the Kosciuszko National Park. You won’t regret it.

Wine and produce trail: 3 days

green field
Photo by Jennefer Zacarias / Unsplash

Day 1: Melbourne to Yarra Valley

Set off early from Melbourne to the renowned Yarra Valley, a treasure trove of vineyards and gourmet delights. Savour the premium wines at De Bortoli and Yering Station, paired with locally sourced culinary creations. You can also taste artisan cheeses and chocolates handcrafted by local producers, enriching your palette with every stop.

Day 2: Yarra Valley to King Valley via Milawa

Journey into the heart of Victoria’s little Italy, the King Valley. Known for Prosecco and other Italian varietals, the vineyards here offer a taste of Italy with a Victorian twist. 

Stop on the way at Milawa to visit the delectable Milawa Cheese Factory. Then, head on to enjoy a leisurely lunch at Pizzini Wines, where the food is as delightful as the wine. Or discover lesser-known places like the Dal Zotto Trattoria for a unique blend of local produce and that famous Italian hospitality.

Day 3: King Valley to Canberra

Conclude your epicurean adventure by visiting Murrumbateman, a hub of cool-climate wines just outside Canberra. 

Sample exquisite wines at boutique cellars like Clonakilla, known for its Shiraz Viognier. As you enter Canberra, the journey shifts from rural tranquillity to urban elegance, a perfect blend to end your road trip.

Must-see stops on the Melbourne-Canberra drive

penguin standing on black rock
Photo by Jay Ruzesky / Unsplash

From country icons to local favourites, the road trip to Canberra from Melbourne takes you to some fascinating places – where the journey pauses, the car engine quiets and the stories begin.

Enrich your drive with art and history  

  • Bendigo Art Gallery: Explore this internationally renowned cornerstone for art lovers.
  • Albury Botanic Gardens: Relax in a lush, green retreat.
  • Holbrook Submarine Museum: Drink your morning coffee next to a decommissioned Australian submarine.

Take in iconic coastal scenes

  • Phillip Island Penguin Parade: Witness the charming spectacle of little penguins returning to shore at dusk.
  • Wilsons Promontory National Park: Marvel at stunning landscapes and abundant wildlife.
  • Lakes Entrance: Enjoy a fresh seafood lunch and explore the beautiful Gippsland Lakes.

Go on an alpine adventure

  • Bright: Appreciate the fiery Autumn colours.
  • Jindabyne: Go skiing in winter and try water sports in summer.
  • Cooma: Explore the Snowy Hydro Discovery Centre to learn about one of Australia’s most ambitious engineering projects.

Taste local wine and produce

  • Yarra Valley: Relax with a delightful local wine paired with lush landscapes to get lost in.
  • King Valley: Discover Italian heritage and fantastic wineries specialising in Mediterranean varietals.
  • Murrumbateman: Stop in one of NSW’s premier cool-climate wine regions.

Now, if you have more time on your Melbourne to Canberra drive or you're coming home, here are five more places you'll talk about long after you get back.


Ever heard of Glenrowan? It’s the site of Ned Kelly’s last stand. The town has a fantastic little setup where you can learn all about Australia’s most famous bushranger. It’s both fun and educational – a real step back in time.

Witches Garden

Then there’s the Witches Garden in Mitta Mitta. This place is enchanting with its sculptures and mazes. It’s a bit off the beaten path, but so worth it. You’ll feel like you’ve stumbled into a secret garden.


Soak up the history in Chiltern with a stroll through the old gold town. At the Dow's Pharmacy Museum, you can literally step into a time capsule filled with artefacts from the 19th century.


Yackandandah is a treasure for art lovers and anyone who appreciates community vibes. This small town is buzzing with creativity, and there’s always something happening, from art shows to local festivals.


Lastly, make a relaxing stop in Jingellic. The pub is right on the river, offering stunning views and a great spot to sit back and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

Planning and driving tips: 10 tips to road trip like a pro

Before you do the Melbourne to Canberra drive, make sure you’re all set for a safe time (not just a good time).

  1. Prepare your car

Before you go, give your car a good once-over. Check the oil, brakes and tyres (including the spare and tools to change it). Fill up with petrol or charge your EV. Nothing beats being prepared!

  1. Create your playlist

Create a road trip playlist with songs that set the mood. Or, try tuning into local radio stations as you enter new towns, even just for a little while.

  1. Pack smart

Bring water and a mix of snacks, and leave room for fresh local finds you might pick up along the way. Keep a cooler handy.

  1. Review your safety gear

Always have a torch, batteries, plenty of water (enough for a couple of days), a first aid kit and a blanket in your car. Remember that mobile service might be spotty in remote areas, so always download maps offline.

  1. Use tech wisely

Keep your GPS updated, and use apps to find little-known stops along your route. Apps like Waze or Google Maps alert you to scenic spots and show reviews.

woman holding map
Photo by Leio McLaren / Unsplash
  1. Be flexible with your plan

While a plan is important, some of your best memories from the Melbourne to Canberra drive will come from spontaneous detours. Spot a sign for a scenic view or a local festival? Why not check it out?

  1. Document the trip

Keep a travel diary or start a photo journal on your phone. Capture the quirky things.

  1. Respect the locals

Take the time to engage with locals in the smaller towns you stop in. You’ll learn a bit about their way of life, enriching your experience.

  1. Check the road rules

Get familiar with local driving laws (especially if you're driving interstate). Speed limits and regulations can vary, and you want to avoid unwelcome surprises.

  1. Relax and enjoy

We saved the best ‘till last. Our best tip for road tripping? Enjoy the ride. Whether it's the wide open road or the secret spot you discovered at the general store, it's your adventure on your terms.

Final word: Make the most of your Melbourne to Canberra drive

This is one spectacular road trip. But do you know how to make it even better? Pick up your dream ride and hit the road in style. Find a Canberra car rental or a Melbourne car rental, and the open road is yours to explore.

Discover the Melbourne to Bright road trip or our favourite weekend getaways from Melbourne for more inspiration. 


Where do you stop on the drive to Canberra from Melbourne?

Significant stops along the Melbourne to Canberra route include the charming town of Holbrook, where you can see a submarine display, and the cultural hubs of Bendigo and Albury-Wodonga, offering art galleries and scenic parks. Each stop adds a unique flavour to your journey, blending history, culture, and natural beauty.

What is halfway between Melbourne and Canberra?

The halfway point between Melbourne and Canberra is near Gundagai, NSW. This historic town is known for the iconic Dog on the Tuckerbox statue and offers a pleasant break with its quaint atmosphere and local eateries.

What is the most scenic route from Canberra to Melbourne?

The most scenic route from Canberra to Melbourne is arguably the coastal drive, which includes stunning landscapes like Wilson’s Promontory and Phillip Island, where you can enjoy coastal views and wildlife encounters.

What town is between Canberra and Melbourne?

Albury-Wodonga is a major town between Canberra and Melbourne, located near the border of New South Wales and Victoria. It's a vibrant area with rich cultural activities and beautiful natural spots along the Murray River.

What is a good Melbourne to Canberra drive itinerary?

A rewarding itinerary includes starting from Melbourne, stopping at Bendigo for art and history, then moving to Albury-Wodonga for a touch of riverine beauty, and finally, Holbrook for its unique submarine attraction before reaching Canberra.

Is it easy to drive from Melbourne to Canberra?

Yes, driving from Melbourne to Canberra is relatively easy. The direct route primarily follows well-maintained highways such as the Hume Highway, making it a straightforward drive. The direct route can be completed in about 7 hours, but taking time to explore the stops along the way can enhance the experience.

How much does it cost to drive from Melbourne to Canberra?

The cost of driving from Melbourne to Canberra mainly depends on fuel prices and vehicle efficiency. Assuming an average car fuel consumption of about 8 litres per 100 kilometres and a fuel price of around $2 AU per litre, the approximate 660 km drive would be around $106 AU in fuel costs.