Australia is one of those once-in-a-lifetime locations where you can really lose yourself in the breathtaking landscapes – mentally and physically too if you’re not careful! This vast country has so much to offer with its multitude of ecosystems. The scenery is big, the animals are even bigger and the endless wide open spaces and long roads are just waiting to be explored.
The best way to travel across Australia is by car and there are a wealth of stunning routes that promise unforgettable memories. With the choice to see The Great Barrier Reef, beautiful rugged coastlines, flame colored rocks and vast architectural cities, the toughest decision will be which road trip to plan next.
We have compiled a list of the best road tips in Australia. Take your pick from the selection below – whatever your flavor, there’s something for everyone:
Gibb River Road
Located in Western Australia, the Gibb River Road is thought to be one of Australia’s most adventurous road trips. You’ll probably want to hire a 4 wheel drive for this journey as it’s mainly dirt track, leading all the way through the heart of The Kimberleys. This is the perfect road trip for travellers looking to experience the real outback with highlights including the Bell, Galvan’s Gorge, Zebedee Springs and Tunnel Creek.
This road is not for the novice driver as it actually stretches 660 kilometers. One of the most talked about driving routes, the Gibb River Road boasts countless geographical and historical sites of interest and has a very interesting Indigenous history, dating back around 60 thousand years. From some parts of the road you will be able to visit some of the most sacred rock art sites in the whole of Australia (with the right tour guide). Other notable features include the famous Boab trees, with their unusual shaped trunks, magnificent waterfalls and outback cattle stations. If it’s the real outback that you want to explore then this road trip is not to be missed.
The Big Lap
Some people have only ever dreamed of doing this, some people have attempted to do this (and failed) and some people have even managed to complete this…are you ready for The Big Lap? Thought to be the ultimate Australian road trip, The Big Lap takes you 9,300 miles (approximately 15,000 km) around the edge of Australia – what better way to see the ever-changing landscapes and experience the true Australia? If you did it all in one go, this road trip would take around six months but of course you can just drive across parts of the trip and don’t have to commit to the whole journey.
The road trip itself will take you through Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Broome, Perth, Esperance, Adelaide, Melbourne and Hobart. The list goes on, making this one of the most epic road trips across Australia. You will experience a country of contrasts during this trip, which will take you through the vibrant cities, through to quaint little coastal towns, the arid red outback, humid rainforests and powdery white sand beaches. If there is one road trip everyone needs to add to their bucket list, then it really must be The Big Lap.
The Red Centre Way
The Red Centre Way is located in the Northern Territory and deserves plenty of planning to get the most out of this road trip. Starting from Alice Springs, this looped road trip will simply take your breath away with its grand landscapes. This is the road trip you take to experience the typical (but seriously impressive) landscapes. You can expect to see endless stretches of road leading into the Australian outback, rocks standing alone, breathtaking gorges and vast canyons. There are countless highlights to this road trip too, so much so, that you will need around five days to fully appreciate everything this stretch of road has to offer.
Take this road trip to see the vast Uluru which is more commonly referred to as Ayers Rock. This is a vast sandstone rock formation located in the Southern part of the Northern Territory and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the sheer scale of this rock will blow you away and can be enjoyed at any time of day as the changing skies can vastly affect the color of the stone. For more rock action, you can visit Kata Tjuta which is equally as impressive. The rock’s name means “many heads” and with its unusual domed rock formations it’s easy to see why. Kings Canyon and Glen Helen Gorge are also attractions you will have the pleasure of visiting along your trip. Take the right type of clothing and a good camera to get the most out of this adventure.
The Savannah Way
No Australian road trip article would be complete without mentioning The Savannah Way. This road trip might not be for everyone, as it’s a little intimidating at 2,300 miles long! This is one of those truly epic road trips that everyone wishes they had the time to complete, but even if you could manage just a small section, we reckon it would be well worth it. The Savannah Way will take you across five World Heritage areas and 15 National Parks and with that in mind you can only imagine the sheer scale of the natural beauty that you will see during this bucket list trip.
If you are planning to tackle this road trip then you are going to need to do some serious planning as this journey will take you across some of the remotest landscapes in Australia – imagine not seeing anyone for days and you might get an idea just how remote this is. Pack lots of fuel and plenty of water and supplies, you will not want to break down on this road trip!
You can expect to experience a lot on this trip and even the roads will provide a high level of adventure, so make sure you have the right type of 4 wheel car. Vast grassy plains and tropical rainforests await on this journey, as well as breathtaking gorges and thundering waterfalls. Make time to visit Boodjamulla National Park which boasts colorful landscapes and fossils dating back around 25 million years.
The Great Ocean Road
Located in Victoria, The Great Ocean Road is another popular road trip which is recognized for its spectacular scenery. This trip will take you 243 kilometers along winding roads that lead to the west of Melbourne. This is said to be one of the greatest drives in the world and with the wide open expanse of ocean stretched out along the journey it is really easy to see why. Be sure to pack your swimwear as you’re going to discover lots of beaches along the journey. You can expect to see sandy beaches with rugged rock formations and sheer cliffs. Don’t miss out Bell’s Beach which is super famous for its surfers due to the impressive waves, as well as the 12 Apostles, a collection of vast rocks that stand guard against the ocean and beach. This is a popular tourist attraction but don’t let that put you off, believe us when we say, this needs to be seen! Apollo Bay, Port Campbell National Park and Loch Ard Gorge are all well worth a visit too.
Cairns To Cape Tribulation
North Queensland is home to two of Australia’s most famous natural wonders: The Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest. No trip to Australia is complete without seeing both of these attractions. The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral system which stretches over 2,300 kilometers – in fact it’s that large that it’s actually visible from space! Even if you are not a strong swimmer, it’s possible to experience the colorful world beneath the water. Snorkelling trips and scuba diving trips can be arranged by responsible tour companies.
Daintree Rainforest is best visited during winter time when the temperatures are not so hot and humid. In the region you will find white sandy beaches and fringing reefs, a rare combination which makes it a hotspot for travellers in Australia. There are various camping spots around this region too, so you can really stretch out your trip and experience the adventure at your own slower pace.
This list wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t include a controversial road trip and the Nullarbor is our controversial offering as it’s the “Marmite” of road trips: you’ll either love it or loathe it. The Nullarbor is Australia’s longest road and when we say long we really mean very long as it’s around 1,200km! Doing this road trip is an experience in itself as it’s the longest, flattest and straightest road in Australia. In fact, Nullarbor means “no tree” – which makes sense when you see the landscape which stretches as far as the eye can see, which little to no trees. This type of landscape will leave you absolutely in awe of the natural world or drive you crazy! What we liked about this trip was the fact that you can play the longest game of golf along the way. The 18-hole course (1365 kilometers/848 miles long) features a hole in every town or roadhouse along the way! Can you complete the course?
Not only that, but you will also see some amazing wildlife on your journey including kangaroos (obviously), emus and wild camels. You’re also bound to meet some interesting characters along the way, making this one of the most unique road trips on our list!
The Grand Pacific Drive
In comparison, The Grand Pacific Drive will seem like a short trip to the local store at just 140 kilometers long! Regardless to its length, this road trip still deserves a mention on our list as it really is a beauty. If you are looking for a scenic coastal road trip that isn’t in the middle of the dusty outback or miles and miles from civilization then this trip might make a good start. What other road trip can you take which will lead you to rainforests, through coastal cities and across architectural wonders? You will want to pack your swimwear for this trip as you’re going to get the chance to take a refreshing dip many times along the way. Highlights of this road trip include the Sea Cliff Bridge; a stunning piece of modern architecture which is located in New South Wales and cost $52 million to build. Other highlights include a visit to Wollongong, where you can take a break from driving to lounge on the beach, visit the local art, design and street food markets and eat fish at Bergie’s Fish Cafe, which is almost an institution in this part of Australia!
Legendary Pacific Coast
You’ll need at least five days to complete this road trip which will take you across 900 kilometers from Sydney to Brisbane. This is thought to be one of Australia’s greatest road trips and when you see which locations and hotspots it takes in then it’s easy to see why. This Australian road trip takes in the Central Coast, Port Stephens, Newcastle, Coffs Harbour, Ballina and Byron Bay. If it’s classic Australia that you are looking for then this road trip will not disappoint you. This part of Australia is a surfer’s paradise with countless beaches along the coast where you can either grab your board and dive right in or just sit back and watch as the surfers do the hard work for you. Along the road trip you’ll also get to discover cute coastal towns and stunning national parks. Not forgetting that at the beginning and end of the trip, you’ll get to experience two of the most exciting cities in Australia: Sydney and Brisbane. Other highlights to look out for include: The Hunter Valley and Port Macquarie.
Broome To Perth
One of the luxuries of taking a road trip is having time to explore. If you are just driving from A to B as fast as possible without really taking in the scenery then you won’t appreciate the true beauty of Australia. You don’t need six months to take a road trip in Australia (although that would be amazing) but if you have a few weeks to spare then you can really slow down and experience every small detail. The road trip from Broome to Perth works best when you have time to really enjoy it. On this road trip you’re going to visit national parks and stunning beaches and so a decent camera and the right equipment is essential. Highlights include Cable Beach, Turquoise Bay and Sandy Bay which boast powdery white sand beaches and crystal clear sea water. You can take a detour inland from Port Hedland to Karijini National Park, thought to be one of the best national parks in Australia. Featuring vast rock formations in vivid colors with impressive gorges and refreshing watering holes where you can take a dip.
Taking a Road Trip Through Australia
Normally when you go on vacation, everything is sorted for you. The accommodation, the flights and even the trips and food in some all-inclusive resorts. Taking a road trip is different as it involves lots of planning. To get the most out of a road trip in Australia then you’re going to have to really do your research to see which trip is the best for you. Some things you will want to consider are the following:
Where you go and what you see if everything on a road trip, because driving along long roads only becomes fun when you have attractions along the way! Make a list of the all the things in Australia that you would like to see and then group them together to see if any are in the same region.
How long do you have to take this vacation? This will be one of the most important factors when it comes to planning a road trip. If you only have five days then opt for a cluster of attractions that are fairly close to one another and give yourselves plenty of time to soak up the scenery If you have unlimited time then you’re lucky as you have a longer length of time to tackle the more epic road trips that take you across Australia.
- Time of Year
When do you plan to visit? What is the temperature like at that time of year? If you are taking a road trip across tropical rainforests then avoid the height of summer at all costs as this will make your trip unbearable. Australian heat is no joke.
Road trips can be very, very expensive. Have your budget in mind when your plan your trip and allow for extras along the way.
Where will you be driving? And on what type of terrain? If it’s dusty outback roads then you’re going to need a set of wheels that can handle this type of landscape. A 4 wheel drive is essential for a lot or road trips across Australia unless you are driving along coastal roads.
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