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Driving distances in Australia

What are the distances between the major cities?

Driving distances in Australia... you wonder how far it is from Perth to Sydney, or from Adelaide to Alice Springs?

Although Australia is the world's smallest continent, it is a big country, I already told you :-). Driving in Australia needs a bit planning, especially for visitors from overseas who are not used to drive these vast distances. I'd love to help you.

In the chart below you get a quick overview about the distances between the major cities. But don't stop here, I'll give you much more tips to help you to plan your journey.

KM From / To Adelaide Alice Springs Brisbane Darwin Melbourne Perth Sydney
Adelaide --- 1531 2054 3027 725 2692 1408
Alice Springs 1531 --- 2991 1497 2255 3607 2774
Brisbane 2054 2991 --- 3425 1733 4338 922
Darwin 3027 1497 3425 --- 3752 4042 3933
Melbourne 725 2255 1733 3752 --- 3417 877
Perth 2692 3607 4338 4042 3417 --- 3935
Sydney 1408 2774 922 3933 877 3935 ---

The numbers in the chart might vary slightly from map to map, depending on where in a large city they start to measure the distance. These days I often use online map services for a rough estimate of driving time and distance. However, for detailed planning, I just prefer a road atlas or regional map, the latter often give info about attractions along the way.

As a traveller in Australia you won't just drive from A to B. You will certainly explore and detour to highlights along your way. So the trip from Sydney to Brisbane for example, can easily result in 1200 km or more.
Also, the table shows the quickest connections. Between some cities you have the choice of different routes, whereas sometimes you just have to take that one highway available, unless you are ready for major detours.

Driving hundreds of kilometres a day includes one major danger: fatigue. Don't forget to stop frequently for a short walk. That will help you to keep your eyes open.

cattle on an outback road
Always watch out for animals on the road

Details about driving distances in Australia

Here are some route suggestions between the major cities in Australia. Distances are measured from/to the central business district (CBD) in each city. This might explain variations from other map sources. Driving times are suggestions, you need to adapt these to your personal likings.

All routes are on sealed highways and can be done with a normal car. However, there are quite a few journeys that take you into remote Outback country, so your car should be in good condition. Keep an eye on the fuel gauge, sometimes it takes up to 200 kilometres or even more to reach the next roadhouse.

Perth to Sydney

Now when you finish this tour you can proudly say "traversed Australia", or at least "I crossed the Nullarbor" when you only go from Perth to Adelaide.

Total distance: 3935km
Driving time: 42 hours
Time required: 6 days minimum
Highways used:

  • Great Eastern Hwy out of Perth
  • Eyre Highway, Norseman to Port Augusta
  • Princes Hwy Port Augusta to Crystal Brook
  • Goyder Hwy towards Renmark
  • Sturt Hwy via Mildura into NSW until it meets the Hume Hwy east of Wagga Wagga

Attractions along the way

  • The famous mining town Kalgoorlie (WA) is worth a stop and a beautiful place for an overnight stay.
  • The long stretch across the Nullarbor is an adventure. Don't miss the Head of the Bight Whale Watching Centre about 20km east of the Nullarbor Roadhouse in South Australia. Between mid-May and late October chances are good to see whales from the lookout points along the coast.
  • The Murray & Murrumbidgee rivers in South Australia and New South Wales. Take a paddlesteamer tour to relax from the long driving.

Adelaide to Darwin

Crossing Australia from the south to the north lets you experience the different climate zones. You will also get a great Outback feeling.

Total distance: 3027km
Driving time: 35 hours
Time required: 4-5 days minimum
Highways used:

  • Princes Hwy Adelaide to Port Augusta
  • Stuart Highway, Port Augusta to Darwin
Click here for a detailed guide from Port Augusta to Alice Springs.

Attractions along the way

  • Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park - Plan a detour to the most famous rock in Australia, 2 days recommended.
  • Alice Springs
  • Devils Marbles, Katherine Gorge, Kakadu National Park

Sydney to Darwin

This is another long-distance journey that takes you through some wonderful Outback regions. There are very lonely stretches along the way, so make sure you carry some food, water and have enough fuel.

Total distance: 3933km
Driving time: 46 hours
Time required: 5-6 days minimum
Highways used:

  • Pacific Motorway out of Sydney
  • New England Hwy to Willow Tree
  • Kamilaroi Hwy to Narrabri
  • Newell Hwy to Morree
  • Carnavon Hwy to St. George
  • Mitchell-St.George Rd to Mitchell
  • Warrego Hwy to Morven
  • Landsborough Hwy via Longreach, Winton to Cloncurry
  • Barkly Hwy via Mt. Isa to Three Ways Roadhouse
  • Stuart Hwy to Darwin

Attractions along the way

  • Hunter Valley
  • Pioneer towns in Qld, Longreach, Winton, Cloncurry, where Australian history was written.
  • The mining town Mt. Isa

huge truck on a highway
Oversize truck on a highway

Don't let the driving distances in Australia scare you. Plan your dream journey today.

rugged coastline along the nullarbor plain
The rugged coastline along the Nullarbor Plain

Murray river near Mildura

port augusta on the edge of the outback
Port Augusta - Gateway to the Outback

lonely landscape along the stuart highway
Along the Stuart Highway

stockman hall of fame in longreach
The Stockman's Hall of Fame in Longreach

walkabout creek pub
Crocodile Dundee's pub in McKinlay

For more information on driving in Australia check the following pages.

Copyright © 2007- Rita Amend.