great ocean road

Car Hire from Melbourne to Adelaide – Get the Best Deal and Plan Your Route

Whether you are driving from Melbourne to Adelaide for business or pleasure, the journey is an epic one. Along the way, you can explore charming coastal towns, national parks, and get to know the local wildlife. However, you will need some wheels to get from point A to B. If you don’t have your own and are considering a car hire from Melbourne to Adelaide get around these top tips.

Car Hire Melbourne to Adelaide

Hiring a car for the Melbourne to Adelaide journey is an excellent choice to explore the stunning landscapes of southern Australia at your own pace. The route covers approximately 725 kilometers, taking you through scenic coastal areas, charming towns, and giving you opportunities to explore natural wonders like the Grampians National Park. Be prepared for a diverse range of road conditions, including highways and coastal roads. Ensure your rental car is in good condition, understand any one-way rental fees, and plan your stops to fully enjoy this memorable road trip.

Where to Pick Up or Drop off Your Rental Cars

There are several convenient places in Melbourne where you can pick up or drop off a car rental. The most popular are the Melbourne Airports. There are two main airports in Melbourne: Tullamarine which is the main international airport and Melbourne Avalon Airport which is a smaller airport close to Geelong which is mostly serves domestic travellers.

car hire

Most major car rental companies have airport locations, making it convenient to pick up or drop off a rental car as soon as you land or before you depart. However, if you are already in the city you might find it convenient to pick up or drop off your rental car at various downtown locations such as near St.Kilda road or the Port. The Southern Cross Station is major train and bus terminal in Melbourne which also serves as a car rental hub.

When it comes to picking up or dropping off a car rental in Adelaide, the Adelaide airport is one of the most common places for travellers to pick up or drop off a car (there is just one in the city). However, many car rental companies also have offices within the city center of Adelaide.

Car Hire Costs

Car hire costs vary depending on factors like the rental company, the type of vehicle, rental duration, and additional services such as insurance, more than one driver or a one way fee. Typically, you’ll pay a daily or weekly rental rate, which often includes a certain mileage allowance. Additional costs may include fuel, taxes, and surcharges.

Car rental companies offer various insurance options, including basic coverage, collision damage waiver (CDW), and liability insurance. Review these options carefully and consider your own insurance coverage as well.

car hire

From Melbourne to Adelaide, fuel prices can vary along the way. Make sure to plan your fuel stops and budget for fuel expenses. It is a long way from city to city! If you are arriving from out of the country, consider buying a SIM card for GPS on your phone and so you can get in touch with the rental company in case of an emergency.

Before driving off inspect the car thoroughly, note any pre-existing damage, and take photos for documentation. You don’t want any unexpected bills or surprises to sneak up on your at the final destination.

One Way Rentals

One-way rental fees with car rental companies refer to the additional charge incurred when you pick up a rental car at one location and return it to a different location. These fees can vary significantly between companies and depend on factors like the distance between pick-up and drop-off locations, the popularity of the route, and the rental company’s policies.

If you are driving from Melbourne to Adelaide it is unlikely you will want to return the car to the same location so compare fees among different rental companies or search on a site like Discover Cars to find the most cost-effective option for your travel needs.

Car Hire Deals

Research and compare different car rental companies to find the best rates and deals. Some popular car rental companies that have offices in Melbourne and Adelaide include Hertz, Avis, Budget, Europcar, and Thrifty. Booking in advance can often get you better prices.

car hire company

Sites like Discover Cars make it easy to find a car and usually have car hire deals on both early-bird and last-minute bookings from major international brands and local car rental service providers.

Limited Vehicle Availability

During peak tourist seasons, limited vehicle availability can pose challenges for travelers seeking rental cars. High demand often leads to higher prices and reduced choices in terms of vehicle selection. To secure a rental car during these periods, it’s advisable to book well in advance, ideally as soon as travel plans are confirmed.

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Speed Limit

The speed limit can vary depending on your route. In built-up areas of cities and towns, the speed limit is generally 50 km/h (31 mph), while on open roads, it can range from 80 km/h (50 mph) to 100 km/h (62 mph). Always pay attention to the posted speed limit signs to avoid any potential fines.

It’s important to note that some sections of the Great Ocean Road have winding and narrow roads, so it’s essential to drive at a safe speed with your car hire and stay alert, especially when navigating sharp bends.


Be mindful of wildlife, particularly at dawn and dusk. Kangaroos and wallabies are very active at this time and a real hazard. Carry a basic emergency kit including a first aid kit, water, snacks, flashlight, and any necessary medications. Australia’s outback areas can be remote, so it’s important to be prepared.

great ocean road

Make sure you have a reliable navigation system or GPS device. Alternatively, you can use navigation apps on your smartphone. Download offline maps in case you lose mobile signal in remote areas. You don’t want to accidentally end up in Ayers Rock!

Routes from Melbourne to Adelaide

There are several ways to get to Adelaide from Melbourne. The most direct route from Melbourne to Adelaide is about 8 hours without stops. However, there are some more scenic routes along the way. Most people tend to choose one of the following routes, or some combination of both.

Be prepared for changing weather conditions, especially along the coast. Pack appropriate clothing and gear.

Western Highway (M8) Route – The direct route

The Western Highway (M8) Route is an inland option for driving from Melbourne to Adelaide. This route takes you through the Grampians National Park and offers a different perspective of the Australian landscape compared to the coastal routes. It also passes through the country towns of Ballarat and Horsham.

Route Overview: The Western Highway (M8) starts in Melbourne and heads west through regional areas of Victoria before crossing into South Australia and eventually leading to Adelaide. The highway passes through various towns and landscapes, offering a mix of open farmland, rolling hills, and the stunning Grampians National Park.

Key Stops and Highlights:

  1. Ballarat: This historic city is known for its gold rush heritage. You can explore attractions like Sovereign Hill, an open-air museum depicting life during the gold rush era.
  2. Ararat: A charming town located at the foothills of the Grampians. It’s a great place to stop for a break and enjoy the local cafes and shops.
  3. Grampians National Park: This is the highlight of the route. The national park is renowned for its rugged mountain ranges, stunning rock formations, waterfalls, and abundant wildlife. Popular attractions within the Grampians include Halls Gap, the Pinnacle Lookout, Mackenzie Falls, and the Balconies (formerly known as the Jaws of Death).
  4. Horsham: A major regional hub that offers various dining and accommodation options. Horsham is a convenient stop before or after exploring the Grampians.
  5. Nhill: A small town with a unique cultural twist – it’s home to several large murals that tell stories of the region’s history and heritage.
  6. Bordertown: As you approach the South Australian border, Bordertown is a pleasant stop with parks and gardens. The town’s Dog Park pays homage to the famous Australian book “Red Dog.”
  7. Tailem Bend: Located just before entering Adelaide, Tailem Bend is a good place to refuel and rest before your final stretch into the city.

The Western Highway (M8) Route offers drivers a chance to experience both the rural and natural beauty of Australia’s southeastern region, making it an appealing option for travelers who want to venture off the beaten path and enjoy the landscapes and attractions this route has to offer.

The Coastal Highway via Great Ocean Road and Robe – The Coastal Route

Coastal Route: This route takes you along the coastline and through scenic coastal towns. Highlights along this route include Geelong, the Great Ocean Road, and Mount Gambier. This route is approximately takes around 14 hours to drive without stops.

The Melbourne to Adelaide stretch of the Princes Highway is known for its scenic beauty, rugged coastline, and opportunities to explore coastal towns and natural attractions.

Key Stops and Highlights:

  1. Geelong: Located southwest of Melbourne, Geelong is a vibrant coastal city with waterfront attractions, cafes, and gardens. The Geelong Waterfront is a popular spot to relax and enjoy the view.
  2. Torquay: The official starting point of the Great Ocean Road. While not officially part of the Princes Highway, the Great Ocean Road is a famous detour from Geelong that takes you along one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives. Highlights include the Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, and the Otway Rainforest.
  3. Apollo Bay: A charming coastal town along the Great Ocean Road, known for its beautiful beaches and proximity to the Great Otway National Park.
  4. Warrnambool: This historic town is known for its maritime heritage and stunning coastal views. The Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village offers a glimpse into the region’s maritime history.
  5. Mount Gambier: After crossing into South Australia, Mount Gambier is a unique stop known for its Blue Lake and sinkholes, which are natural formations resulting from the area’s volcanic activity.
  6. Millicent: A small town with various heritage attractions and the Tantanoola Caves, a series of limestone caves open for guided tours.
  7. Robe: A historic seaside town known for its charming streets, historic buildings, and beautiful beaches.
  8. Kingston SE: Home to the famous Big Lobster, Kingston SE is a great place for seafood and beach relaxation.
  9. Coorong National Park: A unique coastal landscape with wetlands, saltwater lagoons, and diverse birdlife. The Coorong is a great place for birdwatching and exploring nature.

On this coastal view, you’ll have the opportunity to see the Southern Ocean, rocky cliffs, sandy beaches, and rolling hills. The route also provides access to several national parks and natural attractions, making it perfect for nature enthusiasts. You can even take a detour to Cape Jervis where you can take the ferry and add a trip to Kangaroo Island onto your journey!

So load your bags in the boot and set off on an epic road trip from Melbourne to Adelaide or a roundtrip back to visit Australia’s capital of culture and experience the wonder of the Great Ocean Road.

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