Fly in to one city and out of another with Qantas

Michael Turtle is an award-winning travel writer at

His website features blogs about more than 50 countries around the world and in early 2016, he visited Melbourne to document the famous Melbourne to Sydney Coastal Drive.  Here is his story.

Wilsons Prom Tidal River

How can I fly in to Melbourne and out of Sydney?

Qantas offers what are known as ‘open jaw’ flights for passengers coming from the UK. That means you can arrive at one Australian city and leave from another. It’s a perfect way to do a drive like the coastal route between Melbourne and Sydney and then continue on with your holiday, rather than having to go back to where you started. When you are looking at flight options on the Qantas website, just choose the ‘Multi-City’ option and choose the arrival and departure cities in Australia that work best for the itinerary you want.

Australia is a big country and you’ll never be able to see all of it on one trip. But driving for 700 or 800 miles between the country’s two biggest cities – well, you’ll see a lot more of it than the average visitor!

Wilsons Prom

What is there to see on the Melbourne to Sydney Coastal Route?

The focus for the drive along the coast from Melbourne to Sydney is the natural beauty of Australia. And all along the way are friendly small towns and welcoming communities. Some of the highlights are the penguins at Phillip Island, the beaches at Wilsons Promontory, the water at Gippsland Lakes, the kangaroos at Croajingolong National Park, and the seals at Montague Island.

There’s a relaxed atmosphere along the route, away from the big cities. There’s no need to rush and you’ll find plenty of other people just chilling out at the beach or sitting at the pub, happy to have a chat.

Montague island with seals

How long is the Melbourne to Sydney Coastal Route?

Luckily for you, the drive from Melbourne to Sydney is only a fraction of Highway 1. Depending on exactly where you choose to stop along the way (because some places require a slight diversion), the length of the drive should be between 1100 and 1300 kilometres or between 680 and 810 miles. To get the most out of the experience and be able to enjoy all the beautiful places you stop, it is worth taking about a week to do the drive. Even then, you’ll probably find yourself wishing you had even longer to spend at your favourite stops.

Walhalla goldmining town

What is the Melbourne to Sydney Coastal Route?

The most popular route for tourists between Melbourne and Sydney is the coastal route. It starts in the southern city and makes its way through national parks and along the side of beaches until it reaches Sydney. You’ll see golden sand, forests of eucalyptus, glittering blue lakes, plenty of quaint little country towns and a lot of kangaroos!

For much of the route, you follow Australia’s National Highway 1. A little bit of trivia for you – the highway is actually the longest national highway in the world (at 14,500 kilometres or 6,800 miles) and it circumnavigates the entire continent, going through all the mainland state capital cities.

Australia is a big country.

OK, you probably already know that… but do you realise how big it actually is? It can be quite staggering!

If you tried to drive from one side to the other – let’s say from Brisbane to Perth – it would take you almost a week, assuming you did about eight hours of driving a day.

Here’s another way to look at it: driving from Brisbane to Perth is the same distance as driving from Lisbon to Moscow. You could go through at least 10 European countries in the same time it would take you to get from Australia’s east coast to its west coast.
It’s these vast distances that often make it necessary to use some domestic Qantas flights if you want to see several different places on a trip to Australia. But there are some other options for a few of the routes.

Some of Australia’s cities have beautiful countryside and a whole range of things to do between them. So why not consider hiring a car or a campervan and driving between Melbourne and Sydney, for example? You can even book your international Qantas A380 flights from London to arrive in Melbourne and then leave from Sydney, so you don’t need to backtrack.

When it comes to the driving (and, remember, Australians drive on the same side of the road as the UK), you can go directly from Melbourne to Sydney along the Hume Highway in about ten hours – but that’s the quick way, not the scenic way. There are two routes that you should consider to really make the most of the journey. One is a heritage trail along inland roads. The other is the natural coastal route. Let’s have a look at the coastal drive in detail.


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