Melbourne to Brisbane: inland by camper
March 25, 2009 2:16 AM   Subscribe

We’re hoping to rent a camper van in Melbourne (approx April 13), drop it off in Brisbane a week later. Any advice?

There’s a good discussion about driving through Australia here:

What we’re looking for are some specific suggestions for going inland from Melbourne to Brisbane. For example, we’d like to get a respectful sense of the bush fire devastation and recovery efforts, maybe have a couple stops in some of the wine valleys, find misc things like the sculpture Nick Cave is supposed to be building, plus whatever outback flavour we might soak up without going too far off track -- anything we wouldn’t find in the guidebook.

Any tips about camper rental and travel in Australia are also appreciated, even if it’s just appropriate driving music. We’re not totally committed to the van either -- as much as anything it’s a case that the camper rental companies seem more flexible on one way drives than companies who rent small cars.

Two important parameters:

1) We’ll have already spent a week in and around Sydney and don’t need to head that direction.

2) Quite a few years ago I drove from Melbourne to Tibooburra via the Great Ocean Road, Bendigo, Mildura, Broken Hill, popping up to White Cliffs. One of the most amazing drives of my life, but I’d like to see as much new terrain as possible on this trip.

We certainly don’t need to go in the straightest fastest line either, and I don’t mind under or overshooting Brisbane by a day’s drive, if it means a more interesting route. (Would be quite keen, for instance, to spend time in the rainforest area between Byron Bay and Nimbin.)

Thanks for any suggestions.
posted by bookley to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
I drove the inland route once, and it was the most boring trip I ever took. Long stretches of nothing, interrupted by patches of tedium. Mind you, I did it in a day. I suppose with more detours it could be made more interesting.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:01 AM on March 25, 2009

The inland, up the Newel highway is a wee bit dull, Dubbo zoo is good if you have kids and the time.

I did the trip last year on got some good advice

Mount Kaputar is also awesome, great scenery.

If you like scenery when you get over the Queensland border Girraween national park is pretty stunning, The Queensland town of Stanthorpe is pretty and a fairly typical large Australian country town.

The highway itself is great if you're into lots and lots and lots and lots or wheat fields.
posted by mattoxic at 3:47 AM on March 25, 2009

Melbourne to Brisneyland in a week, in a camper-van, inland, with tourist stops? I don't know if you can. Much less why you would want to (but ignore my cynicism).

Melbourne to Brisbane by the main coastal highways via Canberra and Sydney non-stop is almost a 24 hr drive. Especially in a camper-van.

You can get a respectful sense of the bush-fires about 60 minutes out of Melbourne. That's where they happened. Unfortunately some of the vinyards burned too.

I would check out Gippsland and eastern Victoria, then head north either up the coast or inland to the Australian Alps - then to Canberra if you have never been there. Sydney environs are unavoidable from that point. Get north to Byron quickly and then you can explore that beautiful area and all of the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast hinterlands and the Glasshouse Mountains area. The good thing about this is you will be in some stunning environments and never really more than 2 hours from Brisbane.
posted by evil_esto at 4:07 AM on March 25, 2009

In a campervan, that is 2-3 days driving, and its bad enough cruising at 120kmh, but I am assuming your camper will be travelling slower and as Joe said, pretty boooring. Unless you can find a very attractive attraction to make the otherwise ... errr ... (thinking of another word than boring ...) dead monotonous trip worthwhile, I'd look elsewhere.

Have a look at coming up the Princes Highway to Sydney, then heading north via either the New England or Pacific to Brisbane. If you want different, there are lots of side trips to be had on either route, such as Thunderbolt's Way.

In fact, I'd suggest you think about taking your camper Sydney-Brisbane (flying Melbourne-Sydney), that will give you an extra day or so to explore. That's not to say there aren't interesting things to see between Sydney and Melbourne, but you will be spreading your time pretty thinly ...
posted by GeeEmm at 4:10 AM on March 25, 2009

The nicest way to do this is probably going to be the Princes Highway (the coast road) from Melbourne to Sydney. It winds through a bunch of lovely scenery in Victoria (try Lakes Entrance for your first night's stop), and then lots of little touristy beach towns in southern NSW.

(The alternatives are the Hume Highway, which is nice if you like rolling hills and country towns, but doesn't have quite as nice scenery - or the Newell Highway, which is pretty much straight-line Melbourne to Brisbane, but only really has Dubbo (mentioned above).)

Avoid Sydney if you can - it's going to be hell in a campervan. Drive around it somehow, then head up north - you can take the coast road again (the Pacific Highway), or go inland through Tamworth and Armidale if you'd like some variety.

Never tried it myself, but you should be able to do it in a week if you plan your stops, I reckon.

And as for driving music - how about some classic Aussie rock? Icehouse; Australian Crawl; Jimmy Barnes, AC/DC...
posted by The Shiny Thing at 5:10 AM on March 25, 2009

You know it is about 1600 kms (1000miles) right? A week? Inland? You know that is like driving from London to Edinburgh AND back again AND then up to Manchester. Or like driving from New York to Orlando!!

Go via the coast. You will need more than a week
posted by lamby at 9:54 AM on March 25, 2009

Britz Australia are a good campervan hire company.

There's ~300km of the Newell Highway that is dead straight and flat - honestly one of the most boring pieces of road I've ever driven. Music and good, chatty company are key to keeping awake here!
posted by goo at 11:33 AM on March 25, 2009

You know it is about 1600 kms (1000miles) right?

Hmm, lamby, perhaps us Australians have a different perspective on distances. I'm about to head to Adelaide from Melbourne along the coast - which is 1000kms and I'm doing that in three days, though I am taking my time.

I am returning to Melbourne from Adelaide on the more direct inland route (700km) in one day.

The 1700 km between Melbourne and Brisbane along the Newell Highway can be done comfortably in four days, allowing for rest stops and sight-seeing on each day. (400kms each day on the Newell which allows speeds of up to 110kmh on stretches means you'll only be spending 4-5 hours a day driving.)
posted by crossoverman at 9:50 PM on March 25, 2009

Not sure how easily you can avoid going through greater sydney, at least the western outskirts and Blue Mountains, but from Melbourne you could head up through the yarra valley, Healesville, Yea (lots of bushifre affected areas!), Mansfield, Tolmie, Whitfield, Upper King River (wineries), Bright, Tawonga, Corryong, Thredbo, Jindabyne, Canberra, from there I'm not sure how to miss Sydney, the Blue Mountains are in your way.
posted by wilful at 11:45 PM on March 25, 2009

You might want to check out wicked campers for a self-contained campervan.

I have fond memories of the Mid-North Coast of NSW. Dorrigo National Park is amazing and the Waterfall Way is a beautiful drive. Bellingen is a really sweet hippy rainforestish town worth making a stop in.

Just south of Coffs Harbour there is a pie shop which is pretty good and in the harbour / near the fishing co-op at Coffs Harbour there used to be a place selling amazing vegie burgers.

Music wise I'd invest the time in obtaining Architecture in Helsinki, New Buffalo and the Avalanches for near Melbourne, The Audreys for the open road oh and also The Church, The Drones, The Grates, The Go-Betweens, You Am I, Magic Dirt and Bernard Fanning.

I'm getting really homesick here, but you'll also need incredibly unhealthy driving snacks: some Twisties, Burger Rings and red / green flavoured jelly frogs, Sherbies and Fantales (film trivia _and_ candy!). Get yourself a thermos for tea or coffee and a pack of Tim Tams and learn about the intricacies of a Tim Tam Slam (don't do this while driving!).

Eat fish and chips by beaches and stop for meat pies with tomato sauce and an iced coffee on the side.

Or you could just visit Adelaide and spend a week eating Chinese food on Gouger Street and the days wine tasting.
posted by pipstar at 4:49 AM on March 30, 2009

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