Melbourne to Perth Freight Route – What You Need to Know

Melbourne to Perth Freight Route

The Melbourne to Perth freight route is one of the longer road freight routes in Australia. If you’re looking to ship freight from Melbourne to Perth or Perth to Melbourne, there’s some important information you should know about this crucial cross-country freight route.

At East West Express, we specialise in freight services along the Australian east-west corridor. We’ve been providing express transport and freight services along this route for more than 15 years. We have experienced and accredited drivers familiar with the route and specialised equipment designed for whatever your road freight or express transport requirements (e.g. vehicle transport or dangerous goods).

We know the route forwards and backwards and we want to provide you some details to help you better understand the route and why road freight is the best option for your east-west transport needs.

Distance and Travel Time

The Melbourne-Perth freight route is about 3,400km in length. Covering the route one way takes about 40 hours of driving time. That doesn’t include rest time, loading and unloading, delays and detours and queuing time.

The Route

Starting in Melbourne, the Melbourne-Perth freight route follows the Western Highway through to Adelaide before heading north to Port Augusta. From there, the route heads west along the Eyre Highway across the Nullarbor Plain to Perth.



Image: Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities (

From end to end the route is entirely high-quality, sealed roads, unless there are any specific last-mile delivery requirements along dirt roads.

Fatigue Management

Driver fatigue is a significant safety hazard for the road transport industry. Ensuring the safety of drivers and other road users is absolutely paramount for any road freight services provider, especially across long distances like the Melbourne-Perth freight route.
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator has specific driver fatigue laws that relate to all operators of heavy vehicles. The laws cover all aspects of long-haul driving including fatigue management, record keeping requirements, work and rest hours, and more. All requirements for fatigue management must be factored into any expected delivery times.

Direction of Freight Flow

The majority of road freight tends flows from east to west (i.e. from the east coast to Perth). This is because of Perth’s geographical isolation and the majority of Australian population and industry being on the east coast. As a result, road freight providers tend to discount prices when transporting from west to east, since there’s less demand for the services.

Alternatives to Road Freight

There are two main alternatives to road freight along the east-west freight corridor: sea freight and rail freight. Air freight is also an option. It’s a great choice for highly time-sensitive and high value but lightweight cargo. However, given that it is not economical for freight of any real size or weight, it isn’t really counted as a realistic alternative. So, let’s have a look at the pros and cons of the alternatives.

  • Rail freight
    Rail fright tends to be cheaper and you can ship larger weights across long distances. That means you get greater economies of scale over long distances, especially for bulk commodities.
    However, rail freight doesn’t offer the flexibility of road freight. With road freight, you tend to have more options when it comes to pick-up and drop-off locations. Whereas, with rail you are limited to stops along the rail route. Road freight is also much more flexible when it comes to last-mile transport and urban goods distribution.
  • Sea freight
    Sea freight is an option for the Melbourne-Perth freight route. It is relatively cheap and often the only option for over-dimensional cargo that can’t be transported by road or rail. Sea freight can be a good option for non-perishable, non-time-sensitive bulk cargo.
    Sea fright, however, has a significant number of drawbacks. Since sea freight must leave from major wharfs, you have very little choice regarding your loading and unloading locations.

Furthermore, Australian interstate sea freight can take about a week plus time at either end for getting cargo loaded and unloaded and through the wharfs at either end. This can mean sea transport can take 10-14 days all up. And that isn’t taking into account the last-mile transport required at either end of the shipping. Shipping services may also depart only once weekly and are also subject to weather conditions.

What to choose for Melbourne-Perth Freight Services

The choice of freight mode is greatly driven by the characteristics of the freight (e.g. mass, density, type, perishability and fragility). Bulk freight is largely transported by rail and sea.

However, intercapital non-bulk freight is dominated by road freight for a number of reasons. When it comes to shipping freight from Melbourne to Perth or Perth to Melbourne, we are firm believers in road freight transport. It’s faster, more reliable and offers much more flexibility when it comes to loading and unloading your freight.

To find out more about our Melbourne-Perth freight services, give East West Express a call today on 1300 644 397 or contact us online.

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