15 of the best road trips in Australia
Posted on 04/01/2017 by Spaceships Crew
If you ask the Aussies about the best way to explore their vast country, they’ll all tell you the same thing. They’ll tell you to grab your basic belongings, hire a campervan and set forth on an adventure of a lifetime Down Under. Why? Because the country’s just too large, too wide, and too diverse to stay put in one place.
How can you choose between the tropical beaches of Queensland plus snorkelling by the Great Barrier Reef and the incredible views of the Great Ocean Road along the South coast? How do you pick between the freedom of the Central Outback with the amazing sandstone landscape and waterfalls of Nitmiluk National Park in the Northern Territory?
It’s an impossible dilemma for anyone who wants it all. But hiring your own car, motorhome or campervan can give you the freedom to go wherever your heart desires and here is a guide to some of the best driving routes to inspire your next trip.
1. The Nullarbor Plain, Western Australia
If you’ve got a few days to spare and you want something a little bit different, we couldn’t recommend this drive more. The Nullarbor Plain in Western Australia may not have the glamour of the Cote D’Azur, the mountain reflections of New Zealand’s South Island or the lush greenery of Nova Scotia, but it’s got its own unique sense of charm. This long treeless stretch of the Nullarbor has a reputation of having a dry and harsh environment but it’s not quite a desert. Kick off your trip in the South in Ceduna and take your drive west to Perth through the Nullarbor Plain where mobs of kangaroos roam free and giant eagles rule the skies. All in all, an easy drive for every ability but if you leave the highway, a decent 4x4 vehicle is advised.
2. Sydney to Melbourne
Two key locations, with pretty coastal towns that you’ve probably never heard of dotted along the way – what a treat! This charming coastal drive will take you through Wollongong, Port Kembla, Kiama, Nowra, Ulladulla, Burrill Lake, Lake Tabourie, Green Cape, Mallacoota, Croajingolong National Park, Cape Conran, Golden Beach, Port Albert, Fish Creek and Venus Bay. There are some pretty amazing camping spots too featured along this route and if you’re a keen fisher or a birder, you’ll be in for a whole week of fun! And let’s not forget the beaches and the awesome surf…
3. Great Ocean Road, Victoria
This is perhaps the most famous of these 15 best road trips in Australia and once you witness the views for yourself, it’s easy to see why. The beautiful South coast offers a pretty easy drive and there’s so much flexibility for holidaymakers, as you can pick up and stop off anywhere your heart takes you along this beautiful coastline. What most people come here to see though is the famous 12 Apostles, a dozen giant rocks that have been magnificently carved by the sea and a truly iconic landmark of Australia. For postcard perfect photography, this is where you need to be. Pack your SLR, a sturdy tripod and make sure you get here early enough for the sunrise. If you miss it, there’s always sunset and twilight too for the ultimate holiday photograph. Other than the 12 Apostles, you’ll have access to gorgeous beaches, untouched wildlife and some pretty impressive places to eat. So if you’re a foodie, Great Ocean Road will not disappoint.
4. 75 Mile Beach Road, Australia
75 Mile Beach Road is located on Fraser Island and it makes up one of Australia’s most exciting 4WD adventures. This isn’t suitable for clumsy cars or un-sturdy vehicles so if you’re exploring Oz by motorhome, park it up on the Queensland coast and take off to Fraser with a rented four-wheel drive. The terrain is pretty tricky but petrol heads and adventurists will love the challenge. 75 Mile Beach Road is dotted with so many interesting sights and you can expect to be wheeling over sand bumps and big road dips plus you’ll have to keep an eye out for all the wild Dingos darting about on course. This route runs along the entire East coast of the island and drivers will have to take care not to drive on the beach during high tide.
5. Brisbane to Airlie Beach
This easy drive is designed for beach lovers and what we love most about this journey is its accessibility. Holidaymakers always ask about this route because it’s a tourist favourite and will give you your own open paradise for 16 to 20 days of driving. Head north out of Brisbane to experience the Sunshine Coast which offers 100km of stunning beaches followed by a drive from Hervey Bay along the Bruce Highway, to Bundaberg, to Yeppoon and finally pulling up at the iconic Airlie Beach. This is a great place to surf and you’ll find plenty of things to do in this resort town.
6. Great Alpine Stretch
Don’t set off on this drive without a good camera. Because you won’t want to miss these incredible views! This driving route takes you from Benalla, a small city located on the Broken River in the High Country all the way to Mallacoota in the East Gippsland region of Victoria. It doesn’t matter what time of year you take on this stretch of road – the rugged landscapes are spellbinding and your journey will also bring you one step closer to understanding the country’s interesting bushranger history. If you’re looking for raw nature and vast open views completely untouched by humans, the Great Alpine Stretch is a bucket list must.
7. Cairns to Cape York
The route from Cairns to Cape York involves over 22 hours of driving time and takes you through Mareeba and Mount Carbine, Lakeland and Laura past Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park, through Coen and all the way up to Jardine River National Park, Injinoo, Bamaga and your final destination at Cape York. This is an iconic place to be as Cape York represents the most Northern point of the Australian continent and you’ll find untouched beauty and peace in this remote peninsula. Away from the hustle and bustle of tourism and city life, you can really get back to nature here. There are also campsites and caravan parks nearby so you can stay as long as you like before making your trip back down.
8. Perth to Darwin
Perth to Darwin taking you up along the West coast to the North really is one of the most adventurous drives in Oz. It takes approximately 21 days depending on your pace and whether you decide to stopover along the way, and it will take you from glorious beaches and dolphin spotting to lofty mountain landscapes and fine dining in a tropical climate.
The Perth to Darwin West coast route really does have it all and you won’t believe how much ground you manage to cover in one long stretch. Along the way, you’ll see Shark Bay and the beautiful city of Kalbarri, Karijini via Coral Bay, Cape Range, Ningaloo Reef, Katherine Gorge and Kakadu National Park. Once you arrive in Darwin, remember to reward yourself with a tasty meal; fine dining and al fresco restaurants are abundant here and the seafood is spot on.
9. River Run, The Murray
If you’re looking for a gastronomical affair, The Murray creates a fantastic journey filled with food and wine rewards along the way. This is the world’s third longest navigable river and to fully experience it, we think it’s important to get a good mix of both land and water. Drive along the River Run route but don’t forget to test your captain skills by hiring your own houseboat. The area boasts a rich history, some truly pristine beaches and some great places to eat and drink.
10. The Great Green Way, Queensway
If it’s lush greenery you want, The Great Green Way is the perfect drive in Australia. Set in the tropical region of North Queensland, you’ll have unlimited access to a World Heritage listed Wet Tropics Rainforest, beautiful beaches and islands, and gorgeous national parks. Between Townsville and Cairns, there more than a dozen mainland national parks so you will really will be spoilt for choice and it’s a motorhome dream. At Mission Beach, you’ll have access to the Great Barrier Reef so if you’re up for some snorkelling and scuba diving, this road trip route isn’t to be missed. In North Queensland, you will also have the opportunity to fully immerse yourself into the local culture; head to the pubs and kick back with the laidback community or taste the North’s famous tropical fruit wines.
11. WA Arts, History and Culture Route
This journey takes you through the country’s South West and gives visitors a cultural experience from start to finish. If you want a driving holiday that is jam-packed with fun activities and immersive experiences, take the road from Perth to Albany, Pemberton Wine Region, Margaret River Wine Region, Busselton and the Bunbury region, to Collie River Valley before looping on back to Perth again. Not only will you get the chance to taste some delicious local wines along the way but you’ll find plenty of art galleries, Aboriginal cultural centres, early settler historic sites, national parks, and beaches along the way – plus plenty of chances to go rock climbing, caving, snorkelling or scuba diving, canoeing, sailing, fishing, golfing and mountain biking.
12. Hobart to Freycinet National Park
This short stretch of road is ideal for travellers looking for a day trip or a non-demanding drive. From Hobart to Freycinet National Park, driving time is less than 3 hours one way but you’ll want to leave enough time to explore Wine Glass Bay and the white sandy beaches of Freycinet along the East coast of Tasmania before looping back around. There’s a caravan park within Freycinet National Park or you can treat yourself to a nice lodge overlooking the beautiful bays. Spend a few days here and enjoy hiking the numerous trails to explore the spectacular surroundings.
13. Uluru to Kings Canyon, Northern Territory
Go from Uluru (where you can spend a day exploring the famous and totally iconic Ayers Rock) to Kings Canyon for a scenic drive across Lasseter Highway. You can also extend your drive into the Northern Territory from Alice Springs. Alice Springs is the gateway to the Australian Outback and this central red earth country is a must for anyone travelling around Australia. The country’s coastlines may be bursting with beauty, but there are fewer places quite as unique and interesting as the Northern Territory. From your starting point at Alice Springs, carry on North and take on the Red Centre Way. You’ll need about 5 days if you want to stop off at all the historic towns and Aboriginal rock art sites.
14. Gibb River Road, Western Australia
The highlights of a drive through Gibb River Road include Emma’s Gorge and Zebedee Springs where you can take a dip and cool off in the clear waters, El Questro Wilderness Park, Windjana Gorge, Tunnel Creek, Bell Gorge, Adcock Gorge, Galvan’s Gorge and King Leopold Ranges. Taking you on a famous dirt track and through the centre of one of Australia’s last wilderness frontiers, Gibb River Road is great for adventure seekers and families looking for an Oz adventure. This is the perfect place for both 4 wheel drives and camping – adrenaline junkie adults and energetic kids alike will love every minute.
15. Heritage Highway, Tasmania
There’s so much history to this road so it had to make it onto our ultimate list of best Australian road trips! The Heritage Highway links Hobart and Launceston and was first built all the way back in the 1800s by convict gangs. Today, the highway remains an important link in the country and it also runs through a number of quaint villages with beautiful stone architecture, all with a lush green countryside serving as the backdrop. There are some lovely cottages available to rent along this highway for those who are looking for a slightly longer stay and if you’re a bit of a foodie, you’ll find plenty of fine places to eat and drink in the Tasmanian area.
Wow that's a lot of road trip inspiration. 15 of the best road trips in Australia to choose from. Which one will you go for? Or will you go for all these amazing road trips? And where to next?
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