A road trip from Sydney to Adelaide is one of Australia’s quintessential driving adventures.
During this multi-day road trip, you can visit the country’s capital city of Canberra (that’s right, Australia’s capital is not Sydney or Melbourne!) and witness the breathtaking landscapes of The Riverina.
You can also treat yourself to authentic Australian experiences, such as tasting the nation’s best vanilla slice and even trying your luck at prospecting for gold!
Overall, the drive through south eastern Australia is a magical, mystical adventure that will give you a fascinating insight into some of the history and culture of this part of the land Down Under.
So, pull out your favourite planning app and let us help you make the most of your Sydney to Adelaide road trip.
- What is the Distance Between Sydney and Adelaide?
- How Long Is the Drive From Sydney to Adelaide?
- Best Time of Year to Drive From Sydney to Adelaide?
- Best Stops on a Sydney to Adelaide Road Trip
- Best Of Adelaide With Kids
- More Tips for Road Tripping Sydney to Adelaide
What is the Distance Between Sydney and Adelaide?
Overall, the drive from the Sydney CBD to the Adelaide CBD covers a distance of approximately 1375 km (855 miles).
The most direct way to drive to Adelaide from Sydney is via the Sturt Highway and Mallee Highway, which will take about 15 hours to traverse if you drive non-stop without taking a break.
If you are short on time, that route is the best option, and you could do it in two days. However, if you have a few days at your disposal, it is worth taking three or four days to complete the journey, as that will give you more time to take in the sights.
This primary course will lead you from Sydney to Adelaide via the NSW part of The Riverina, and areas are known as the Fruit Bowl and the Big Desert Wilderness.
If you take this drive to Adelaide, you’ll be treated to beautiful views of the rolling landscape and a flavor of the rich aboriginal heritage of the area. You can also stop at remote, small towns like Manangatang and Keri Keri that showcase the ‘real’ Australia.
As well as this primary course, you can take a couple of scenic routes on a road trip from Sydney to Adelaide. They include via the NSW portion of the Riverina or through country Victoria, which allows you to see another state in Australia.
These more scenic routes will add time to your journey, but will lead you past historic landmarks, charming small towns, miles of Insta-worthy countryside, and farmland that most international travelers don’t see.
How Long Is the Drive From Sydney to Adelaide?
The driving time from Sydney to Adelaide depends on you, particularly what route you take, what you want to see, and how much time you have available.
As mentioned, the direct route will take you about 15 hours to drive non-stop, which is a tough ask for anyone, especially if you are traveling with kids. Therefore, you should factor in two days as a minimum.
However, as it is a long journey with several points of interest, we recommend you schedule at least 5 to 7 days.
Along the way, you will encounter diverse landscapes, several stunning geological wonders, and plenty of quaint towns. So, this length of time will enable you to see quite a few sites and spend some quality time at one or two of them per day.
|Drive||Distance||Drive Time||Where to Stay|
|Sydney to Goulburn||195 kms (121 miles)||2 hours 5 mins||Goulburn Accommodation|
|Goulborn to Canberra||91 kms||1 hour 10 mins||Canberra Accommodation|
|Canberra to Wagga Wagga||244 km||2 hours 50 mins||Wagga Wagga Accommodation|
|Wagga Wagga to Bendigo||411 kms||4 hrs 30 mins||Bendigo Accommodation|
|Bendigo to Ouyen||301 kms||3 hours 15 mins||Lunch stop|
|Ouyen to Murray Bridge||301 kms||3 hours 15 mins||Murray Bridge Accommodation|
|Murray Bridge to Adelaide||75 kms||1 hour||Adelaide CBD Accommodation|
Taking our suggested itinerary will increase your total drive time to around 18 hours.
Best Time of Year to Drive From Sydney to Adelaide?
There is no best time of year to drive from Sydney to Adelaide, only more preferred times, as this journey is lovely to undertake all year round.
However, many travelers opt to make this road trip in the Australian autumn and spring seasons, which fall between March to May and September to November, respectively. During these times, the weather is generally mild, with comfortable temperatures and lower chances of rainfall.
The spring season is particularly popular for road tripping in south-east Australia because this is when many of the region’s wildflowers and flora bloom, creating a stunning and colorful landscape.
It can be hot and dry during the summer months (December to February), with temperatures reaching over 40°C (104°F) in some areas. So, this can make driving uncomfortable unless you have a good air-conditioning system, and there is also an increased risk of bushfires.
During the winter (June to August), the weather is noticeably cooler. But this often leads to starker landscapes and clearer skies, heightening your experiences. You are highly unlikely to find winter road closures on this route.
Best Stops on a Sydney to Adelaide Road Trip
A road trip from Sydney to Adelaide offers a unique opportunity to experience some of Australia’s most diverse and beautiful landscapes.
From gorgeous coastal towns to vast, arid outback plains, the journey is dotted with an array of incredible natural wonders, quaint towns, and iconic landmarks. All of them make pleasant places to stop during this 1,600 km adventure!
Here are some of the most notable ones to pencil into your itinerary.
Goulburn (1 night)
Goulburn is a historic city located in the Southern Tablelands region of New South Wales. It is notable for being the first inland city in Australia, so it boasts a rich and fascinating history, which is best explored through its many museums and heritage sites.
One of the must-see attractions in Goulburn is the Big Merino, a giant concrete statue of a merino sheep that stands over 15 meters tall and symbolizes the region’s wool industry.
Travelers can also explore the Goulburn Rail Heritage Centre, home to a collection of historic locomotives and railway memorabilia, or stroll through the beautiful Belmore Park. Other popular attractions in Goulburn include the St. Saviour’s Cathedral, Goulburn Regional Art Gallery, and the Rocky Hill War Memorial and Museum.
The area is also notable for rock climbing, abseiling, and the caving opportunities it offers those who love a bit of adventure.
Canberra (2 nights)
Canberra is Australia’s capital city and resides in the Australian Capital Territory. It is home to numerous cultural and historical landmarks, making it a must-visit destination for tourists on a Sydney to Adelaide drive.
One of the most iconic landmarks in Canberra is Parliament House, which offers guided tours of the building and a chance to witness democracy in action. Another popular attraction is the Australian War Memorial, which pays tribute to those who served and lost their lives in the country’s wars.
Tourists can also explore the National Gallery of Australia, home to a vast collection of Australian and international art, or stroll around the shimmering waters of Lake Burley Griffin, a picturesque artificial lake in the heart of the city.
Pro Tip: Canberra is an exceptional foodie destination with an impressive 21 hatted restaurants. Check out Raku, The Boat House, Pilot or Table by Canberra Gourmet for a divine gastronomic experience.
Wagga Wagga (1-2 nights)
Known for its beautiful parks, bustling markets, and rich cultural heritage, Wagga Wagga is a vibrant regional city in New South Wales’s Riverina region.
One of its top attractions is the Wiradjuri Walking Track. This scenic path winds through the picturesque countryside and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
Another terrific place to visit is the Wagga Wagga Botanic Gardens, home to a diverse range of native and exotic plants. Additionally, the Museum of the Riverina, which showcases the history and culture of the region, is worth popping into as well.
At the same time, the historic Wagga Wagga Railway Station, the bustling Riverina Producer’s Market, and the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery, which features a diverse collection of contemporary and traditional artwork, are also worth exploring.
While those traveling with kids should head to The Oasis Regional Aquatic Centre, as it is an excellent place to burn off excess energy or cool off from the summer heat.
Bendigo (1 night)
Bendigo is a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Wagga Wagga, so it is a fabulous place to stop overnight or for a couple of hours.
We recommend overnight because there are excellent hotels, restaurants, shops, and services here. This historical city in the central Victorian goldfields also boasts stunning architecture, a rich cultural heritage, and a thriving arts scene worth exploring.
Art lovers will also enjoy the Bendigo Art Gallery, which houses a vast Australian and international artwork collection. Likewise, those wanting to strike it rich can explore the historic Central Deborah Gold Mine, which offers guided tours and a chance to experience life as a gold miner in the 19th century. You can even pan for gold and can keep anything you find!
Pro Tip: For those traveling with kids, the Bendigo Tramways offers a unique and compelling way to see the local sights.
We recommend staying at the All-Seasons with great family-sized rooms and dining options attached, as well as an indoor pool.
Ouyen (Half Day)
Ouyen is a small town in the Mallee region of Victoria. Despite its size, it is known for being the birthplace of a national treasure – the vanilla slice.
Although it is available all over Australia, Ouyen is widely considered to be the home of the best vanilla slice in Australia, and the town’s bakeries are famous for their delicious versions of this classic pastry.
One of Australia’s most famous culinary creations, this type of dessert consists of a thick layer of creamy custard sandwiched between two layers of flaky puff pastry, topped with a layer of sweet icing. The vanilla slice is often enjoyed with a cup of coffee or tea and is a quintessential Australian experience that has been enjoyed for generations.
Sweet-toothed visitors can indulge in this famous dessert at the Ouyen Bakery, which is renowned for its award-winning vanilla slices.
Murray Bridge (1 night)
Although it is just an hour’s train from Adelaide, it is worth spending the night at Murray Bridge in the Murraylands region of South Australia.
An excellent place for stargazing, the area surrounding Murray Bridge has minimal light pollution, making it an ideal spot for observing the stars and the night sky.
One of the most popular places for stargazing in Murray Bridge is the Swanport Wetlands, located just outside of town. The wetlands provide a beautiful and peaceful backdrop to see the cosmos, allowing visitors to spot constellations and shooting stars on clear nights easily.
In addition to the wetlands, the River Murray is another great spot for stargazing. Visitors can take a nighttime boat ride along the river and observe the twinkling stars from the water.
Many nearby accommodation options also enable you to enjoy the incredible night sky views from the comfort of your balcony or terrace.
Best Of Adelaide With Kids
After 1,620 kilometers of the road, our final resting point for this road trip is the South Australian capital of Adelaide.
You’ll find a fabulous array of family activities to keep the kids busy in Adelaide, including a stop at the Adelaide Botanical Gardens and the Adelaide Central Markets.
Animal lovers will want to head to Cleland Wildlife Park and day trip out to the scenic beauty of Morialta Conservation Park with its waterfalls and trails.
Extend your trip to the Adelaide Hills, where you can visit the charming German village of Hahndorf and explore nature reserves like Mount Lofty Botanic Garden.
Staying in Adelaide, we recommend Hotel Indigo Adelaide Markets or if you prefer space to spreadhout, Adina Apartment Hotel Adelaide Treasury is an excellent choice.
Check out the map below for current accommodation deals in central Adelaide (just bear in mind parking costs may be additional if staying centrally). Another great option for families is staying slightly further south in the seaside suburb of Glenelg.
More Tips for Road Tripping Sydney to Adelaide
- Before setting off on your road trip, carefully plan your route and consider any detours or scenic routes you may want to take. Distances in Australia can be vast. So, impromptu detours could add several hours to your journey.
- The Sydney to Adelaide road trip is long, so take regular breaks to stretch your legs, rest, and recharge. Whilst you could theoretically tackle the drive in 1-2 days, its wise to allow much longer.
- Download the National Public Toilet Map app. This free app showcases the location of over 19,000 publicly available toilets in Australia. Remember that most petrol stations, pubs, and restaurants have them too.
- The weather in Australia can vary markedly by destination and between day and night, especially in more rural areas. Be sure to pack for the changing weather conditions and any outdoor activities you may undertake. Comfortable clothing and footwear are a must, as well as hats, sunscreen, and insect repellent.
- Pack plenty of snacks, drinks, and a first aid kit when driving. Sometimes it can be a good couple of hours between significant towns. It is also good to have the food back up if you experience car trouble when driving from Sydney to Adelaide by road.
- Be sure to obey speed limits on a Sydney Adelaide road trip; police vigilantly monitor this with both fixed and mobile speed cameras and fines can be steep, even for minor indiscretions.
- Accommodation can be limited in some rural areas, so booking in advance is recommended to avoid not having a place to stay. There are many motels, bed and breakfasts, and camping options along this route – as opposed to hotels – outside the bigger towns, some more rustic than others!
- Australia’s natural landscapes are fragile, so respecting the environment and leaving no trace is essential. Dispose of your rubbish correctly, stick to designated trails, and avoid disturbing wildlife.
- For more tips on tackling Australia by road, we recommend you head to our Australian road trip planning guide next.
Where To Next?
After completing your road trip to Adelaide, you may wish to take the coastal route back to Sydney, taking on the epic drive along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road which hugs the coast between Adelaide and Melbourne.
Or if you’re really keen to hit the road, you can continue west to Perth from Adelaide, or north to Uluru and the Red Centre.
Just be aware of driving distances once you hit the Australian outback. Fuel up whenever you can and keep your vehicle in good mechanical shape. Take extra care when driving at night (particularly twilight when ‘roos can be prominent) or in adverse weather conditions, and be mindful of wildlife on the roads.
Safe travels Downunder!
© Family Road Trip