We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Melbourne to Brisbane Feb 2019

Friday Harbor...
12 posts
Melbourne to Brisbane Feb 2019

Hello, my husband and I are taking a trip to Australia Feb 10-26 2019. We will be arriving in Melbourne and departing from Brisbane. We are pretty set on renting a campervan due to being cost effective and flexible where we want to stay. Are there free places to camp with showers etc? What routes do people suggest to see the most on this journey. Also any other things or places to see we appreciate the suggestions! Any info is helpful at this point. We would like to do some snorkeling, so wondering where is the the best place to do so. Should we go north of Brisbane for that? Interested in seeing beautiful spots; waterfalls, hot springs, animals, places unique. Thanks

13 replies to this topic
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
1,148 posts
42 reviews
1. Re: Melbourne to Brisbane Feb 2019

First of all... it sounds like you havent done much research or planning...

Bokhara or one of the other regulars may pop up and give you some links to show just how big Australia is... the drive from Melbourne to Brisbane is about 2000KM with no detours on the most direct route...

To give you an idea of distance, its like driving from Washington DC to Dallas.

To do that drive and give it any sort of justice and to be able to enjoy some sights along the way, i'd say you need 3-4 weeks... but I've never done it so thats just my best guess... 2 weeks doesnt seem like its anywhere near enough time...

Next point is: There are no free places to stop and camp, so you will have the cost of the campervan per night plus costs to stop along the way... and you'll want a campervan with air con, as Feb is our summer and it regularly reaches 40 deg C (100+ F) in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

Do you have any time booked for big cities like Sydney during your trip... ??

Edited: 06 August 2018, 05:16
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
12,332 posts
34 reviews
2. Re: Melbourne to Brisbane Feb 2019

So Melbourne for 2 days (get over jet lag, pick up van) and say Sydney 2 days and then Brisbane 1 day (arrive, drop off van, airport) so now you have only about 9 or 10 days to drive the coastal road of 2,000km (means driving average 200km every day which in a van is 3 hours driving).

Free camping is limited/none with showers so you have to plan overnight accommodation.

If this still works for you then starting planning based on your interests ?????

Newcastle, Australia
Level Contributor
5,368 posts
207 reviews
3. Re: Melbourne to Brisbane Feb 2019

You have a good amount of time for the drive (16 days) but don’t do it because you think it’s cheap and flexible, it isn’t. There is no free camping along the coast and you will be moved on or fined if you try. There are free or cheap camps in National Parks and State forests but they will have few if any facilities and may not be ideally located and certainly be well inland. It’s also not that easy to set up camp and tour around as your vehicle is stuck at the campsite so you can’t really explore too far away.

If you do want a camping trip, they can be fun and as I said you do have time but you really want to plan your route carefully. You’ll cover at least 2000km, probably much more so try not to travel too far each day and don’t do a series of 1 night stops. As a start, I’d do a mix of Coast and inland, maybe start heading north to Echuca, across to Canberra and hit the coast around Batemans Bay, head through Sydney up to around Newcastle or Foster, head back inland to Gloucester, Narrabri via Thunderbolts Way, Armidale and along The Waterfall Wayback to the coast through Dorrigo to Coffs Harbour and North up the coast from there. There are lots of smaller towns everywhere where you could stay (Woolgoolga instead of Coffs for example) and many more routes you can take including via the Blue Mountains, NSW South Coast, Snowy Mountains etc so you’ll need to see what appeals to you.

All the best.

Edited: 06 August 2018, 05:31
Ballarat, Australia
Level Contributor
4,406 posts
92 reviews
4. Re: Melbourne to Brisbane Feb 2019

Snorkelling - are you thinking of the Great Barrier Reef? If so, it's a long way north of Brisbane. For the northern part, too, it's wet season, cyclone season and deadly marine stinger season, so not the best time. The southern GBR is far enough south of the tropical zone that there are no stingers, but you need to travel 80km (via plane or boat) to get to the islands where you can snorkel.

The Great Ocean Road fills many of your criteria, but it's not between Melbourne and Brisbane. You will need to allow 3 full days to drive this region. It's also not the best road to travel with a campervan, being narrow and winding. You will also need to spend at least a night in Melbourne before setting off for safety reasons.

Campervans are also not cost efficient. The cheaper ones come with myriad problems - just check the reviews to read many, many horror stories. The expensive ones are more reliable but are expensive. They use more fuel than a car. And paying for powered sites in caravan parks to run the fridge and air-conditioning will set you back $50 - $80 per night. Free camping spots can be found inland, but they will not have showers, only toilets (and probably long drop dunnies at that). A car and cabins in caravan parks is usually cheaper, more comfortable and more flexible.

Brisbane, Australia
Destination Expert
for Brisbane, Queensland
Level Contributor
12,196 posts
54 reviews
5. Re: Melbourne to Brisbane Feb 2019

I don't think this drive is the best use of your time frankly.

You would be better to spend two days in Melbourne getting over jet lag, then drive west along the Great Ocean Road for two nights (Night 1 Apollo Bay, Night 2 Port Campbell) then return to Melbourne, fly to Sydney, spend five nights there (coming Aus not spending time in Sydney is like coming to the USA and not visiting New York) and then fly to Brisbane or the Sunshine Coast for the remainder of your time. Snorkeling options near Brisbane are Moreton Island (by ferry) or Lady Elliot Island (by small plane). There is also some nice snorkling at Gordon's Bay in Sydney - you could incorporate this in to a Coogee to Bondi Coastal walking day.

Here's that comparison map: https:/…


Level Contributor
15,299 posts
50 reviews
6. Re: Melbourne to Brisbane Feb 2019


>>We are pretty set on renting a campervan due to being cost effective and flexible where we want to stay. <<

Where did you get that idea ? Cheaper and much more comfortable to rent a car and stay in motels or caravan park cabins.

>>Are there free places to camp with showers etc? <<


>>What routes do people suggest to see the most on this journey. <<

What do you want to see ? Beaches, inland, alpine ?

>>We would like to do some snorkeling, so wondering where is the the best place to do so.<<

Sounds like the coast ? Lady Elliot Island is a short flight north from Brisbane and has excellent snorkeling although in Feb it's probably booked out. You can do a day trip to Lady Musgrave Island from 1770 or the Bundaberg Coast.


You need to do much more research.


Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
7,919 posts
30 reviews
7. Re: Melbourne to Brisbane Feb 2019

Here’s the map



Lots of people like caravanning / motorhome travel.

The school, holidays will be over and there will be more availability at the caravan parks.

Fewer people travelling in caravans & motor homes in February. There are good, hot, possibly wet, reasons for that.

Reality check:

Available time v’s distance:

As others have said, with a few days to see Melbourne, Canberra & Sydney ( which I’d recommend to any first time visitors), you have about a week to cover roughly 2,000 kms, seeing something other than what you’re passing on the road, along the way.

Most people who use caravans or motorhomes have the time to make leisurely trips.

Cost: Fuel is around $1:50/l (+ in small towns and depending on price cycles / grade required). Campervan will take 60-75 litres &use about 13-14 litres per 100kms.

Add: Campervan hire + one way drop off fee.

Add: Accommodation -as others have said, you cannot just pull up anywhere and camp anywhere you like on on the trip you are contemplating.

Comfort: You’ll need air conditioning to sleep in February. Otherwise, you will very likely be sweltering in a tin can. And certainly while driving. This chews petrol while the motor is running, power when it’s not.

Bottom line: It can be done, of course. I just don’t want your decision to be based on some romantic and erroneous notion of it being enormous fun AND a more economical way of travelling, especially with your time frame.

If you really want to do the drive ( and I’m a great fan of a good road trip), rent a sedan & in caravan park cabins, motels, country pubs. Make a picnic box so you can self cater for at least some meals. Factor in the one way, interstate, drop off fee. These can be substantial.

Alternatively, break it up. Perhaps drive to Sydney via Canberra. Fly to the Gold Coast. Pick up a car there, have a few days looking around &drop it off in Brisbane. Or fly to Brisbane.

As others have said, Lady Elliott Island would be a good fit for your snorkelling/ diving.

Edited: 06 August 2018, 05:59
Destination Expert
for Canberra
Level Contributor
18,657 posts
2 reviews
8. Re: Melbourne to Brisbane Feb 2019

>>We are pretty set on renting a campervan due to being cost effective and flexible where we want to stay.<<


Friday Harbor...
12 posts
9. Re: Melbourne to Brisbane Feb 2019

Ok let me revise this then. Obviously we are just starting to plan things out. All we have for sure is arrival in Melbourne feb 10 and departure Brisbane feb 26. We are flexible otherwise. We aren’t dying to spend lots of time in the cities unless there are specific things we want to see. We enjoy outdoor activities more in nature. We are not opposed to renting a car and then flying north at a later time instead of driving the entire way. But we were prepared to drive a few hours everyday to make our way there. Just looking for budget friendly things to do and see

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
7,919 posts
30 reviews
10. Re: Melbourne to Brisbane Feb 2019

Well the good thing is that most things in nature and many in the cities in Australia are free. Or at a very low cost ( entry fees in some National Parks, special exhibitions at art galleries & museums).

Beaches - free ( but don’t swim at unpatrolled beaches, as you won’t know the local conditions)

Bush walks - free.

Walking up to a beach or headland to watch the sun popping out of the ocean - free.

Seeing native animals in their habitat - free, if you’re in the right place at the right time.

I would recommend having a good look at each of the State websites for Victoria, NSW & Qld, and plotting the places you think would have the most interest for you to drive - and hop on a plane to jump over the rest. That will give you a good, workable mix and make the most of your short time here.

Come back with a rough draft Itinerary and we can certainly help you firm it up.

In the meantime, ask anything you like. Someone will know

Reply to: Melbourne to Brisbane Feb 2019
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted