Melbourne to Perth - Drive Overview

Melbourne to Perth - Drive Map
Melbourne to Perth - Drive Map

Before any long drive, we want to know at a high level how it would be. In this page, I am going to provide you with a high-level overview of the drive from Melbourne to Perth.

Table of Contents


Melbourne to Perth - Drive Facts

I am going to tell you some important facts about the drive from Melbourne to Perth.

Route: The inland route from Melbourne (VIC) to Perth (WA) via Adelaide (SA)

Distance: 3,500 KM

Drive Time: 36 hours of driving. It is driving time only. It doesn't include any break

Travel Days: I took 5 days to drive (on an average, 7 hours (700 KM) of driving per day)

States: You will drive across three States. They are Victoria (VIC), South Australia (SA) and Western Australia (WA)

Time zones: There are 4 time zones on the way. Hence, you'll need to adjust your clock 3 times during your journey

Road condition: Road is fully sealed from Melbourne to Perth. The road is in good condition and well maintained. No gravel or mud at all. But, most of the stretch is a highway with two-way traffic.

Required car: The good news is that you don't need a 4x4 (4WD). You can drive any car. Even a small hatchback car can get you from Melbourne to Perth

Car fuel: Fuel stations are present all the way. Even on the Nullarbor Plain stretch of 1,200 KM, there is a Roadhouse with fuel station approximately every 200 KM. Hence, you need not carry any additional fuel in your car. However, fuel price on the Roadhouses across the Nullarbor Plain is costlier by up to 50 cents per litre as compared to Metro cities. So, you'll pay more for the fuel

Longest distance without a fuel stop: 191 KM between Balladonia Roadhouse and Norseman in Western Australia

Mobile Phone coverage: Telstra phone provides coverage on most of the areas except Nullarbor plain. On the Nullarbor Plain stretch of 1,200 KM, phone coverage is available only near the roadhouses. Roughly, there is no coverage for 1,100 KM

Quarantine Checkpoints: There is only one quarantine checkpoint where you must stop your car. If you are driving from Melbourne to Perth, then quarantine checkpoint is present at Border Village (border of South Australia and Western Australia). If you are driving from Perth to Melbourne, then quarantine checkpoint is present at the entrance of Ceduna in South Australia

Speed Limit: Maximum speed limit is 110 KM only

Entry fee, Toll fee: Absolutely zero dollars. You need not pay any entry fee or toll fee anywhere on your way

Permits Required: No permits required. Some outback areas in Australia require a permit before you enter. But, this journey across Nullarbor Plain doesn't require any permits

Good time to drive: You can drive throughout the year. However, in December and January, check for Fire Danger Ratings (FDR), bushfire incidents & warnings, peak temperatures and road closure conditions across the Nullarbor Plain before you drive


What is it like driving from Melbourne to Perth?

Based on what I have experienced on my drive from Melbourne to Perth, this is how I describe this journey.

  • This is an epic and a great Australian road trip

  • Drive from Melbourne to Perth is known as Trans-continental drive or Trans Australian drive as you drive from one side (East coast) of the continent to another side (West coast)

  • You'll see, experience and visualise outback Australia. This is the main reason why many people wanted to drive from Melbourne to Perth

  • Australia may look small on the map. Capital cities may look located close by. However, in this drive, you'll realise how big Australia is in terms of geography and the driving distance between the capital cities of different States

  • Perth is one of the most isolated cities in the world. In this drive, you'll realise how isolated it is as compared to other capital cities in Australia

  • This drive will answer some of the questions you may have on your mind. Why do most of the people live in coastal capital cities like Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth? Why don't people move to the centre of Australia? Why the centre of Australia is empty or not populated?

  • You'll drive across 3 States. They are Victoria (VIC), South Australia (SA) and Western Australia (WA)

  • You'll undergo 4 time zones. Hence, you'll need to adjust your clock 3 times. Out of four time zones, one time zone is peculiar. You may not get much details about it on the Internet. Also, your latest smartphone won't detect it during your travel

  • This drive will take you through historic gold rush towns, gold museums and gold mines thereby provide you an opportunity to explore Australia's gold rush history and the impact it had on the economy, immigration & the nation

  • You'll drive across a desert called Nullarbor Plain. It is almost un-inhibited area spanned across two States for a distance of 1,200 KM

  • The drive is days and days of driving. In Nullarbor Plain, you'll drive for hundreds of KM without actually applying the brake

  • You'll drive on Australia's longest straight road of 146 KM. This is known as 90 Mile Straight. The road is straight without any bend or turning

  • You can watch Whales at the Great Australian Bight Marine park if you drive between June and October

  • If you are a Golf lover, you can play Golf at Nullarbor Golf Links. This is the World's longest Golf course spanned across 1,365 KM

  • You'll see rare signposts with camel indicating camels can be seen near the highway

  • You'll see how a stretch of the highway has been converted as a runway airstrip for emergency landing of RADS (Royal Australis Doctor Service) planes. Not just one. There are 4 runways across the Nullarbor Plain.

  • You'll see very small settlements with a population of fewer than 10 people

  • You'll see Australia's biggest windmill (traditional style)

  • You'll see quite a few giant grain silos and some of them with masterclass mural paintings

  • You'll see quite a few big things of Australia such as big kangaroo, big koala, big galah and many more on your way

  • You'll see signposts with places thousands (1,000s) of KM away

  • You'll see many Roadhouses. They are your saviour when you drive across Nullarbor Plain

  • You'll see a lot of road trains and oversize trucks. Some oversize trucks occupy almost both the lanes of the highway

  • On the Nullarbor Plain, you'll be surprised to see the friendly wave from the travellers and truck drivers coming in the opposite direction

  • You'll see wreckages of the old cars that could not cross Nullarbor Plain in the past

  • You'll see a lot of roadkill

  • You'll be surprised to see some cyclists trying to cross the Nullarbor Plain

  • You may see some wildlife

  • You'll see a lot of fake water mirage on the highway


Melbourne to Perth - Drive Segments

The long drive from Melbourne to Perth can be divided into four major segments. They are:

  1. Melbourne (VIC) to Adelaide (SA)

    This segment has two routes. An inland route and a coastal route.
  2. Adelaide (SA) to Ceduna (SA)

    This segment has two routes too. An inland route and a coastal route.
  3. Ceduna (SA) to Norseman (WA)

    This segment has only one route. An inland route only.
  4. Norseman (WA) to Perth (WA)

    This segment has two routes too. An inland route and a coastal route.

As you have observed, segments 1, 2 and 4 have two routes. However, segment 3 has an inland route only.

This inland segment route goes across a desert called Nullarbor Plain for a distance of 1,200 KM from Ceduna (SA) to Norseman (WA).

Irrespective of whether you choose to drive on inland route or coastal route from Melbourne to Perth, there is one segment of the route that every traveller will drive through. That is the Nullarbor Plain. In this, you'll drive across a desert for a distance of 1,200 KM from Ceduna (SA) to Norseman (WA).

Melbourne to Perth - Inland Route Directions

Melbourne to Perth - Inland route
Melbourne to Perth - Inland route

Where does this Melbourne to Perth inland route take you?

Melbourne to Perth - Inland route
SegmentRouteDistance (KM)Drive Time
1Melbourne (VIC) to Adelaide (SA)7308 hr
2Adelaide (SA) to Ceduna (SA)7808 hr & 15 min
3Ceduna (SA) to Norseman (WA)1,20512 hr & 20 min
4Norseman (WA) to Perth (WA)7257 hr & 45 min
 Total3,50036 hr

I am going to tell you some of the important places and towns on the way. I have listed them in the order of their presence from Melbourne to Perth. Also, I have listed them in segment wise so that you know which place falls in which segment.

If you drive from Perth to Melbourne, then read from the bottom.

Melbourne (VIC) to Adelaide (SA)

  • Melbourne (VIC)
  • Ballarat (VIC)
  • Ararat (VIC) (You can go to Halls Gap - Grampians National Park from here)
  • Stawell (VIC) (You can go to Halls Gap - Grampians National Park from here too)
  • Dadswells Bridge (VIC)
  • Horsham (VIC)
  • Dimboola (VIC)
  • Nhill (VIC)
  • Bordertown (SA) (border of Victoria and South Australia)
  • Keith (SA)
  • Tailem Bend (SA)
  • Murray Bridge (SA)
  • Adelaide (SA)

Adelaide (SA) to Ceduna (SA)

  • Adelaide (SA)
  • Port Wakefield (SA)
  • Port Pirie (SA)
  • Port Augusta (SA) (You can go to Alice Springs, Uluru, Darwin and other parts of Northern Territory from here)
  • Iron Knob (SA)
  • Kimba (SA)
  • Wudinna (SA)
  • Poochera (SA)
  • Ceduna (SA)

Ceduna (SA) to Norseman (WA)

  • Ceduna (SA)
  • Nullarbor Plain (South Australia side)
  • Border Village (SA) (border of South Australia and Western Australia)
  • Nullarbor Plain (Western Australia side)
  • Norseman (WA) (You can go to Esperance, Albany and Margaret River from here)

Norseman (WA) to Perth (WA)

  • Norseman (WA)
  • Kalgoorlie - Boulder (WA) (You can go to Port Hedland, Broome and other northern parts of Western Australia from here. Also, you can go to Laverton where the Great Central Road starts)
  • Coolgardie (WA)
  • Southern Cross (WA)
  • Merredin (WA)
  • Perth (WA)

Melbourne to Perth - Coastal Route Directions

Melbourne to Perth Coastal route
Melbourne to Perth Coastal route

Where does this Melbourne to Perth coastal route take you?

Melbourne to Perth - Coastal route
SegmentRouteDistance (KM)Drive Time
1Melbourne (VIC) to Adelaide (SA)1,10014 hr
2Adelaide (SA) to Ceduna (SA)1,40016 hr
3Ceduna (SA) to Norseman (WA)1,20512 hr & 20 min
4Norseman (WA) to Perth (WA)1,40016 hr
 Total5,10059 hr

This coastal route will take you through three spectacular coastlines. They are

  1. Great Ocean Road in Victoria
  2. The Eyre Peninsula in South Australia
  3. Esperance, Albany and Margaret River in Western Australia

I am going to tell you about the important places, towns and beaches on this coastal route. I have listed them in the order of their presence from Melbourne to Perth. Also, I have listed them segment wise so that you know which place falls in which segment.

If you drive from Perth to Melbourne, then read from the bottom.

Melbourne (VIC) to Adelaide (SA)

This segment will take you through the famous Great Ocean Road coastline.

  • Melbourne
  • Geelong
  • Torquay Beach
  • Bells Beach
  • Anglesea
  • Lorne
  • Apollo Bay
  • Cape Otway Lighthouse
  • 12 Apostles
  • Port Campbell
  • Portland
  • Border of Victoria and South Australia
  • Mount Gambier
  • Robe
  • Tailem Bend
  • Murray Bridge
  • Adelaide

Adelaide (SA) to Ceduna (SA)

This segment will take you through Eyre Peninsula coastline.

  • Adelaide
  • Port Wakefield
  • Yorke Peninsula
  • Port Pirie
  • Port Augusta
  • Whyalla
  • Lucky Bay
  • Port Lincoln
  • Venus Bay
  • Streaky Bay
  • Smoky Bay
  • Ceduna

Ceduna (SA) to Norseman (WA)

In this segment, you'll drive across Nullarbor Plain for a distance of 1,200 KM.

Norseman (WA) to Perth (WA)

This segment will take you through Esperance, Albany and Margaret River coastline of Western Australia. This portion is known as South West of Western Australia.

  • Norseman
  • Esperance
  • Ravensthorpe (you can go to Hopetoun from here)
  • Bremer Bay
  • Albany
  • Denmark
  • Walpole
  • Pemberton
  • Augusta
  • Margaret River
  • Busselton
  • Bunbury
  • Mandurah
  • Rockingham
  • Fremantle
  • Perth

Which Route to Choose?

So, which route should you choose?

Inland or coastal?

Both inland and coastal route offer a lot of attractive things to the travellers.

Well. For most of the travellers, finally, it comes down to the amount of time they have.

If you are time constraint and have less than two weeks, then take the inland route.

If time is not a problem for you and you have more than two weeks, then take the coastal route.

The choice is yours.

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