Melbourne to Adelaide Drive – what to expect

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.



Our Melbourne to Adelaide drive follows the quickest route, along the Western Highway. It links two of Australia’s main capital cities, from Victoria to South Australia. This was a non stop drive in one day, on our way to the Flinders Ranges.  But you can also take your time and see some of the states attractions along the way. 

This article covers the following:

  • estimated travel time & distance
  • speed limit and lanes
  • rest and fuel stops
  • road hazards
  • border crossing
  • speed traps
  • towns and attractions

Melbourne to Adelaide Drive- Map

Drive Time and Distance

The travel time is around 8 hours on our Melbourne to Adelaide drive. We had a pretty clear run with blue skies and little traffic. I hoped this would be the same for our Adelaide to Flinders Ranges trip too.

Of course, a drive like this requires stops along the way, even if it’s just a chance to fuel up and stretch the legs. If you plan on attempting it in one go, and even with two drivers, allow at least an extra hour. Weather, road works and general traffic may slow you up.

Melbourne to Adelaide distance is 726 km. As mentioned, this is the quickest and fastest route between the  two cities.

Speed Limit & Lanes

Varied. As we hit the outskirts of Melbourne, the road opened up, as well as the speed limit of 110 km. This doesn’t change till you get to Ararat. Then it’s back to 100 km till you hit the South Australian Border.

Once you cross into South Australia, the speed limit from here returns to 110 km all the way to the Adelaide outskirts.

Much of the Western Highway is two lanes but there were areas that merged back to one. This was only over  a short distance.

on the highway overtaking a truck melbourne to adelaide drive

Rest and fuel stops

There are plenty of chances to fuel up but don’t expect to see many highway service centres. There are a couple between Melbourne and Ballarat otherwise grab your fuel in town.

The road has many opportunities to stop and take a break. Public toilets though were sometimes few and far in between. Again, pull over when you pas through a town.

Road Hazards

The road itself is good but there are a couple of  things to be made aware of depending on your situation.

Black ice can be a hazard around the Ballarat region in winter. There are a few known areas on the highway during this time. Unfortunately, black ice and black bitumen means it’s not easy to spot.  Just slow down and take care if coming through this area. It will be sign posted.

Long descent near Adelaide. The final last stretch of road toward Adelaide takes on a long steep descent into the city. There are sign posted warnings well before. Trucks and heavy vehicles must slow to 40 km with emergency pull outs in case.It wasn’t actually as steep as I thought but we were in a car. Those towing caravans will want to back down a gear and take it easy.

Wildlife. Australia has a lot of wildlife and kangaroos are one of the main features along this route. They particularly come out early morning and last light and become, unfortunately a road hazard. Slow down when prompted by road signs and be on the look out.

warning sign for kangaroos on road

Border Crossing

The border is situated around 40 minutes past the town of Nhill. It is no fanfare and easily missed if you blink.

What you do need to be aware of is the quarantine stations in regards to produce and plants. You can see a full comprehensive list of what is and isn’t allowed into South Australia here. 

There are bins for disposal before you cross into South Australia, but there is no real breakdown as to what can come in and what must be disposed. It just states fruit, vegetables, vines and soil. So if you are planning to cross with food, check out the allowances above.

Speed traps

We passed two noticeable areas.

The first 30 km before Ballarat. There were a set of overhead cameras. The second near Coonalpyn, S.A. These were average speed markers. So your speed is calculated over the time it takes to go from one marker to another.

During our Melbourne to Adelaide drive we saw a lot more police activity in South Australia (highway patrol) then in Victoria. Of course, that means nothing, stick to the limit to avoid any  unwanted fines.

melbourne to adelaide drive

Main towns and attractions

Unlike the mighty Hume highway, from Melbourne to Sydney which bypasses most towns, this route passes directly through many large and smaller towns. 

Ballarat – Victoria

The first main town (or city in this case) is thankfully bypassed along the highway, just because it is such a large city.   115 km mark

If you want to head in and see this historical place, you will travel around 7 km off the main road. The population here is 101, 588 so there is everything you could possible need before heading off again.

The main attraction here is Sovereign Hill . Visitors are transformed back to the 1850’s, when the Australian Gold Rush days were at their prime.

Ararat – Victoria

Some 80 km further along the Western Highway, you will pass through the town of Ararat. 198 km mark

A city of 8300 residents, the city is most famous for being the gateway to the Grampians National Park.  If you choose to turn off, a 38 km drive will have you in Halls Gap. This picturesque village hosts an abundance of beautiful natural scenery.

If you want to read more about the area, including hikes, be sure to read my post here. 

You can link back to the highway via Greenhole Road.  Or take the scenic route along Mt Victory Road which becomes the Northern Grampians Road. This will have you back on the highway much further along in under an hour.

grampains lookout

Horsham -Victoria

At the 300 km mark, you will enter the main town along this route, Horsham.

With a population of  approximately 16,500 residents, the town is well equipped for the passing traveller. The streets and parks and well kept, having been declared Victoria’s tidiest town two years running.

There are plenty of shops, restaurants (including the big chains) and accommodation options here.

Dimboola – Victoria

Keep heading on your scheduled route for another 36 km and you’ll soon be in the little town of Dimboola. This is the 336 km mark.

Little Desert National Park has a range of bush walks, bird walking opportunities and four wheel drive tracks. There are a couple of camp sites too. It is the states second largest national park.

You cannot, and will not miss the Pink Lake. It is just off the main road and definitely worth a pull over. You will be mesmerized by the defining pink hue that makes this place a bit special. It’s only a brief walk down to the lake where you can try and get a great shot, totally Instagram worthy.

th pink lake is actually pink

Bordertown – South Australia

Once you cross over the border the highway becomes Dukes highway.

Bordertown, as the same suggests is on the border. But is it?

It is actually 17 km west of Victoria’s border and is the birth place of Australia’s longest serving Prime minister, Bob Hawke.

From here, it is only 271 km from Adelaide or the 457 km mark from Melbourne. It’s  just under three hours drive left to go.

Attractions include Bordertown Wildlife Park, which is free and where white kangaroos can be viewed. There is also Hawke House, Bob Hawke Gallery, and  Clayton Farm Heritage Museum.  A once working farm, it is now a showcase of  old historical thatched buildings and sheds. open Monday, Wednesday and Friday 11am-4pm, and Sunday 1 pm – 5 pm.  Adults $10 and children $2.

melbourne to adelaide drive


The 566 marker and only 160 km from Adelaide.

As you pass through on the main road, you cannot help to notice the giant silos that command the side of the road. Unless you are having a power nap like me. Lucky the driver thought it was ”wow” enough reason to stop.

The giant silos have been painted with 5 amazing murals of local children. A stunning display by the artist Guido van Helton.

melbourne to adelaide drive


You made it. The 726 km marker. The great city of Adelaide is very pretty and relatively easy to navigate. It has a population of 1.3 million but doesn’t have that concrete metro feel.

There are way too many amazing attractions to mention but yous can take a look at them by clicking the link below.

Adelaide attractions.

For a range of hotel options I always use

Like it. Pin it for later.