MELBOURNE TO BYRON BAY DRIVE GUIDE
Date published: 23/06/23 All content in this article is intended to be general in nature and does not constitute and is not intended to be financial or professional advice.
Blessed with incredible surf breaks, a thriving food scene and endless opportunities to immerse yourself in nature, it’s no wonder Byron Bay is one of Australia’s trendiest holiday spots.
Yes, you could hop on a plane from Melbourne and arrive here within a few short hours, but take the scenic route on road and discover there’s plenty of stops along the way.
PLANNING YOUR TRIP
Planning your road trip to Byron Bay can help you figure out where you want to stop, what you want to see and do and (in our opinion, most importantly) what to eat along the way.
How long does it take to drive from Melbourne to Byron?
The shortest length of time needed to drive from Melbourne to Bryon is roughly two days. Take is slower to really savour all the delights along the way.
What is the best time of year to go to Byron Bay?
There’s plenty to enjoy in Byron Bay no matter what time of year you are travelling. But if you’re hoping to make the most of the sparkling beaches, our pick is autumn, just after the water temperatures have peaked and the crowds of summer ease off.
Other important considerations
It’s no secret that Byron can get busy. Book your accommodation ahead of time. There’s a good mix here – from hostels to boutique motels and luxury villas.
While the weather in Byron is generally mild (compared to Melbourne), pack a rain jacket, activewear and of course, your swimsuit!
Before heading out on the road, check the condition of your car and make sure your insurance is up to date.
UNDERSTANDING THE ROUTE
If you’re thinking about driving to Byron Bay from Melbourne, there are a number of routes you can take.
Those in a hurry can take the direct route, with two long journeys across the course of two days. But if it were us, we’d take things a bit slower and travel up the coast, opting for our three-to-five-day itineraries.
- Go paddle boarding or kayaking on Gippsland Lakes
- Discover the rugged ocean beaches of the Sapphire Coast
- Dine on a dozen oysters in Batemans Bay
- Get your culture fix in Sydney
- Swim in Newcastle’s historic ocean baths
Best places to eat:
- Grab brunch at Albury’s Café Musette on the direct road trip
- Taste the day’s catch at Sodafish in Lakes Entrance
- Dine in the courtyard of iconic Hotel Australasia in Eden
- Treat yourself with dinner at MuMu in the heart of Sydney’s CBD
- Tuck into a beachside brekky at Surf Club Coffs Harbour
- Hire bikes to cycle along the Lakes Entrance foreshore
- Swim in pristine white-sand beaches at Jervis Bay National Park
- Take a surf lesson at famed Camel Rock on the Sapphire Coast
- Follow the Bathers Way walking trail along Newcastle’s spectacular coastline
MELBOURNE TO BYRON BAY ROAD TRIP ITINERARIES
|Route||Days||Scenic Stops||Total Distance||Total Driving Time|
|Direct road trip||2||Sydney||1,625km||16 hrs 30 min|
|Short coastal road trip||3||Sydney, Coffs Harbour||1,774km||19 hrs 30 min|
|Extended coast trip||5||Lakes Entrance, Merimbula, Batemans Bay, Newcastle||1,839km||21 hrs 30 min|
Note: All driving times are an estimate only and will be subject to change depending on traffic and other road conditions.
DIRECT ROAD TRIP [2 DAYS]
The direct route will take you from Melbourne to Byron Bay in two days, with a stopover to rest your head in Sydney.
Day 1: Melbourne to Sydney (879 km, 9 hrs 10 min)
Start your day early and head out of Melbourne towards the twin cities of Albury and Wodonga. Take your pick from a number of popular cafes such as The Proprietor, Café Musette and Mr. Benedict to stop and grab breakfast. Continue driving north towards Sydney, passing through the picturesque towns of Gundagai and Goulburn. Arrive in Sydney in the early evening. Head to Circular Quay to take in the iconic landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. In the CBD you’ll find a mix of accommodation options to suit a range of budgets.
Day 2: Sydney to Byron Bay (759 km, 8 hrs)
Leave Sydney early in the morning and head north towards Newcastle. The state’s second largest city has a booming food scene with plenty of choices for brunch. Take a dip in the scenic Merewether Ocean Baths, before getting back in the car. Continue north to Coffs Harbour, taking in sweeping coastal views from Forest Sky Pier, before lunch at the iconic Pier Hotel. Arrive in Byron Bay in time to watch the sunset from Cape Byron Lighthouse, sitting on Australia’s most easterly point, then enjoy a dinner and picnic at Main Beach.
SHORT COASTAL ROAD TRIP [3 DAYS]
Take things a little slower on a short coastal trip from Melbourne to Byron Bay spanning three days.
Day 1: Melbourne to Sydney (1,015 km, 11 hrs 30 min)
Head out of Melbourne early and drive along the Princes Highway (A1) towards Sydney. Make your first stop the idyllic seaside town of Lakes Entrance. From here you’ll travel up the Sapphire Coast, the far south coast of NSW. The region encompasses secluded beaches, native forest, and ancient landscapes, with notable stops including Eden, Merimbula, Tathra and Bermagui. On your way up to Sydney you’ll pass the stunning Shoalhaven region, home to world-famous Hyams Beach. Tired? Get a well-deserved sleep in Sydney.
Day 2: Sydney to Coffs Harbour (527 km, 5 hrs 30 min)
After your morning coffee, leave Sydney and head north along the Pacific Highway (M1) bound for Coffs Harbour. Make your first stop Newcastle for a swim in its Insta-worthy ocean baths, then stretch your legs on the Bathers Way walking track. From here, it’s just under three hours’ drive to Port Macquarie where you can swim at Town Beach, visit Tacking Point Lighthouse and grab a pub lunch at The Beach House. From here it’s about two hours’ drive to Coffs Harbour, where you’ll be sleeping tonight.
Day 3: Coffs Harbour to Byron Bay (232 km, 2 hrs 30 min)
Jump in the car and get back on the Pacific Highway (M1) towards Byron Bay, just 2.5 hours’ drive form Coffs Harbour. Make a stop in the laidback beach town of Yamba – often dubbed the “new” Byron. There are weekly Wednesday produce markets, surf spots and tasty cafes along Coldstream Street. Arriving in Byron Bay in the afternoon will give you time to soak up the vibrant evening atmosphere, when many people descend on Main Beach, burger in hand.
EXTENDED COASTAL ROAD TRIP [5 DAYS]
Those you have a little more time can spread out their road trip across five days, and really get a feel for the sun, salt and sand.
Day 1: Melbourne to Lakes Entrance (318 km, 4 hrs)
Heading for Lakes Entrance, depart Melbourne along the Princes Highway (A1), roughly four hours’ drive away. En route, visit Wilsons Promontory National Park (aka Wilsons Prom) at the southernmost tip of mainland Australia. Hike through bushland trails in the national park and get up close to local wildlife. Continue on to the seaside hotspot and fishing port of Lakes Entrance. There’s a good mix of accommodation options here and some delicious fresh seafood to tuck into!
Day 2: Lakes Entrance to Merimbula (267 km, 3 hrs 10 min)
This morning, explore Gippsland Lakes and Ninety Mile Beach – one of the longest stretches of sand in the world. From here, you’ll be travelling towards Merimbula, passing through Eden and Pambula. Explore the vast Panboola Wetlands on a number of walking and cycling tracks, then sample the region’s renowned oysters at McKay’s Oysters. Stroll along Pambula’s main street dotted with colonial buildings. Spend the night in Merimbula.
Day 3: Merimbula to Batemans Bay (175 km, 2 hrs 15 min)
Today’s leg will take you from Merimbula to Batemans Bay, just over two hours’ drive away. Check out the historic Tathra Wharf, a photographic icon. If you’re visiting over the weekend, don’t miss Sunday roast at the heritage listed Tathra Hotel. Hit the surf at Tathra Beach or continue to Bermagui for a dip in its glistening ocean-fed Blue Pool. Paddle board on the bays of Narooma before spending the night in Batemans Bay.
Day 4: Batemans Bay to Newcastle (462 km, 5 hrs 30 min)
You’ll be travelling all the way to Newcastle today, passing through some truly stunning scenery. Pick up coffees from Maverick in Ulladulla then enjoy a morning swim at Mollymook. From here drive to the pretty town of Kiama where you can check out the Kiama Blowhole or get your thrills at nearby Jamberoo Action Park. Take the scenic route along the Sea Cliff Bridge, which juts out over the water, before exploring the Royal National Park with its walking trails and famous Figure Eight Pools. Travel along the outskirts of Sydney all the way to Newcastle.
Day 5: Newcastle to Byron Bay (617 km, 6 hrs 30 min)
Spend the morning getting to know Newcastle. Some great local cafes include Momo Wholefood Café, Autumn Rooms and Mockingbird. Make your first stop Port Macquarie for a swim at Lighthouse Beach – this stretch of sand is also home to the Port Macquarie Camel Safaris. Continue on to the Coffs Harbour Marina, where you can walk to the top of Muttonbird Island keeping your eyes peeled for migrating whales (May to November). Drive through buzzing Yamba and Ballina before arriving at Byron Bay. You’ve made it.
WHAT TO DO IN BYRON BAY?
- Shop independent fashion and homewares at Habitat
- Dine among an 80-acre working farm at Three Blue Ducks Byron Bay
- Descend the staircase to the protected bay at Whites Beach
- Scale the Cape Byron walking track through rainforest, grassland and clifftop
- Unwind at one of Byron Bay’s much-loved day spas
FINAL TIPS BEFORE DRIVING MELBOURNE TO BYRON BAY
Before heading out on the road, check the weather conditions and consider changing your route accordingly. Remember you’ll be travelling between two states – Victoria and NSW – so read up on whether there are any differences in the road rules. When driving long distances, the recommendation is to stop every two hours for at least 15 minutes to prevent fatigue and to avoid driving more than 8-10 hours per day.
HOW ROLLIN' HELPS YOUNG DRIVERS
Road trippin’ with your mates? With ROLLiN you can add as many as 9 drivers to your policy, as long as they fit our underwriting criteria. And on an epic road trip such as this, you’re going to want to split up the driving. ROLLiN’s comprehensive car insurance can help cover loss or damage to your car, which is extra helpful when you’re away from home.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is the quickest way to drive from Melbourne to Byron Bay?
The quickest way to drive from Melbourne to Byron Bay is via the M31 (otherwise known as the Hume Highway) and the Pacific Highway. The direct journey spans some 1,625km and will take a minimum of 16 hours 30 minutes.
What is half-way to Byron Bay?
The drive from Melbourne to Byron Bay can be broken up into multiple stops. Generally speaking, the city of Sydney would be considered the halfway point – roughly nine hours’ drive from Melbourne and eight hours’ drive from Byron Bay.
What are the road conditions on the Melbourne to Byron Bay route?
The direct route from Melbourne to Byron Bay is via two major highway links: M31 and Pacific Highway. These roads are generally considered in good condition.
This is general advice only and does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs (“your personal circumstances”). Before using this advice to decide whether to purchase a product, you should consider your personal circumstances and the relevant Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations available from rollininsurance.com.au. Insurance issued by Insurance Australia Limited ABN 11 000 016 722 AFSL 227681 trading as Rollin’ Insurance.