Road tripping is arguably one of the best ways to see Australia. Even in the outback you’ll can find petrol stations, friendly towns and people with plenty of rest stops and restaurants to visit, not to mention some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery. So, go on, hire a car, pack your sense of adventure and drive into the sunset on one of these great road trips.
Featured image is the Lake Mountain Road, a gradual ascent through the Yarra Ranges National Park in the state of Victoria and takes skiers to Lake Mountain Resort, yet many people drive this road just for the thrill of it of the million-dollar view that no money can buy. You can quickly be forgiven for thinking somehow you’ve ended up on a Swiss Alpine Road!
FROM MELBOURNE: DRIVE THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD
This is one of Australia’s most celebrated road trips, and for good reasons. You’ll quickly lose count of the “wow” moments on the 243 kilometers, which starts an easy 90 minute drive from Melbourne, as one you witness stunning views at every turn, and it will just get better with every turn. You’ll see the famous Twelve Apostles (large limestone rock formations in the ocean) and historic lighthouses, and visit waterfront cafés and hotels with wide sea views. There are lush patches of rainforest of mainly eucalyptus, shipwrecks, perhaps spot some koalas, migrating whales, national parks, wild surf and windswept beaches. Stay for a couple of nights at one of the seaside towns or do the return trip in a day.
FROM SYDNEY: THE GRAND PACIFIC DRIVE
This dramatically beautiful road starts just an hour south of Sydney. Drive the cantilevered curves of Sea Cliff Bridge as it coils around the cliff face 50 meters out to sea, then snake your way three hours down the coastline to Hyams Beach, where you’ll find the world’s whitest sand. Along the way you can go for a surf or paddle at crowd-free beaches, marvel at the power of the sea at the Kiama blowhole, and go whale and dolphin watching. Stay at Hyams Beach for a night or two before returning to Sydney or perhaps just all the way to Melbourne.
FROM ADELAIDE: THE FLINDERS RANGES AND OUTBACK
The drive takes you into the heart of this dramatic mountain range, one of the oldest on the planet. From Adelaide, it takes five hours to reach Wilpena Pound, a natural phenomenon that looks like a giant crater in the heart of the Flinders Ranges. Stay a couple of nights and join a 4WD sunset tour or take a scenic flight over the Pound. If you have a 4WD vehicle of your own, explore the network of gravel roads through ancient gorges and over rocky, weathered peaks. Try some grilled kangaroo, camel and emu at one of the outback’s most famous pubs, the at Parachilna, before heading back to the city. Truly a drive like nothing else.
FROM ALICE SPRINGS: DRIVE THE RED CENTRE WAY
If you’ve never been to the outback, this road trip is the perfect place to start. On this five day drive in the you’ll tick off many of the big icons of outback Australia: Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon, and the dramatic gorges and refreshing swimming holes of the West MacDonnell Ranges. The drive circles in a loop from Alice Springs. Stop for a night at Kings Canyon, and spend a night or two at Uluru. Beware that certain stretches such as the Mereenie Loop are desert road (or off-road tracks and dirt-roads) which are meant only for 4WD (such as Kings Canyon-Areyonga, Areyonga-Hermannsburg, Hermannsburg-Alice Springs), do not attempt to drive a normal car onto these roads, not only you might get stuck in the dirt, you may also be slapped with severe penalties!
FROM DARWIN: DRIVE NATURE’S WAY
See crocodiles, incredible sunsets, vast outback plains and the very best of on this loop drive from Darwin, in Australia’s tropical Top End, perhaps easily one of the longest drives, 735 kilometers to be exact. Give yourself at least five days so you can stop at Adelaide River for a crocodile cruise, view ancient rock art and learn about traditional Aboriginal culture in Kakadu. Take some time to swim in natural pools beneath the waterfalls, and hike, paddle or cruise through Nitmiluk or Katherine Gorge near the town of Katherine.
FROM CAIRNS: TAKE THE GREAT BARRIER REEF DRIVE
Not all great drives are long drives, even in a place as big as Australia. This 140 kilometer trip along the coast from the tropical city of Cairns to Cape Tribulation in North Queensland is unbeatable when it comes to fantastic views. Where else can you see two World Heritage wonders (the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest) at the same time? After you cross the crocodile infested Daintree river on the old fashioned cable ferry you are in deep jungle with no basic infrastructure like water or electricity supply, and the beauty of the ancient rain forest and the deserted beaches is simply breath taking. Along the way there are pristine deserted beaches and boardwalks in the National Park such as Jindalba, Marrdja, Dubuji and Kulki. Keep your speed down after the ferry, cassowaries are big and can unexpectedly step out on the road. Take a tour of Mossman Gorge with an Aboriginal guide, see crocodiles and cassowaries in the wild, take a day trip out to the reef and walk through the rainforest.
FROM BROOME: DRIVE THE GIBB RIVER ROAD
Unlike the other drives on this list, the Gibb River Road is only accessible by 4WD. Hire a comfortable vehicle in Broome before heading out, in the far north of Western Australia, and explore the wild and remote Kimberley region on this stunning road. Camp beside secluded gorges or go for luxury accommodation on vast cattle stations. Ride a horse across the savannah, relax in palm-fringed hot springs, take a scenic flight over ancient land forms, cruise rivers and lakes and swim beneath waterfalls. You can also visit rock art galleries covered in mythical Aboriginal figures, and ride a camel at sunset along the famous endless white sands of Broome’s Cable Beach.
FROM HOBART: TAKE THE GREAT EASTERN DRIVE
The Great Eastern Drive extends between Orford and St Helens on Tasmania’s east coast. At around 176 kilometres, this is a road trip that can be experienced in a weekend, a week, or longer. The more time you spend here, the more you will discover and enjoy, so take your time, just stop…and wander. You can start your Great Eastern Drive road trip from St Helens in the north, or Orford in the south. Follow the road’s gentle curves through east coast wine country, beach towns, forests, farmland and the open coast. Stop off along the way at the world’s best beaches, visit cellar doors to taste award-winning cool climate wines, taste the region’s wonderful produce and seafood and explore its famous national parks. Travel inland to explore valleys, waterfalls and mountains and drink in the endless views of the vast, blue ocean as you journey along the coast. There are all kinds of ways for you to experience your Great Eastern Drive road trip.
FROM PERTH: CROSS THE NULLARBOR
If you really want to experience Australia’s wide open spaces, consider driving across the Nullarbor Plain. In Latin, Nullarbor means treeless (nullus, “no”, and arbor, “tree”), and this flat, open expanse takes up almost the entire south-western corner of Australia. At 146km long, Nullarbor Plain is Australia’s longest straight road. Despite being long and flat, it’s not boring. There are many interesting little towns, roadhouses and restaurants to visit along the way. You’ll also find caves, old gold mining towns and the longest golf course in the world (1365 kilometres, or 848 miles, long, with a hole at each participating town or roadhouse). There are even the remains of a space station that crashed to earth. It will take you three to four days to drive on this route and see everything in between.
Other road trips that’s worth a drive are:
The Great Alpine Road (Bright to Omeo), running from Wangaratta in the north to Bairnsdale in the east, passing through the Victorian Alps, east of Melbourne. This road offers absolutely stunning during the winter months with snow-capped mountains!
Turtons Track is an amazing little road that winds its way through rainforest country and is really fun to drive. Now it’s not one you’d just pop down to for a quick spin as it’s a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Melbourne, but it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re doing a Great Ocean Road trip. Not that long ago, you could only really take this road in a 4X4, but now that it’s sealed, it’s a much safer road and suitable for all cars. The road leads to Beech Forest-Mount Sabine Road which you can turn off to stop and take a look at Hopetoun Falls.
A 30km drive between Healesville and Narbethong that winds through majestic trees and giant ferns, this is one of the most popular scenic drives near Melbourne. Linking the Yarra Valley with the mountain areas around Marysville is the road known as the Black Spur Drive, which passes between Healesville with Narbethong on the Maroondah Highway. Famous for its heady scenery of spectacular tall forests, the Black Spur winds its way up the Great Dividing Range. Lower the windows and savour the fragrance of the Australian bush as you pass through the forest. The drive is bordered by immense mountain ash trees that allow dappled sunlight to make its way down to the cool, lush understorey of green ferns. At the base of the Black Spur you will find Fernshaw picnic area with rest facilities. You can also utilise the picnic facilities at Dom Dom in Marysville State Forest.
If you are already thinking of a self-drive Australian road trip, head over to Holiday Tours website for more travel inspirations and if you need any help, they will be more than happy to assist you with any enquiries and bookings.