Australia is a road-trippers paradise.
From short day trips to the mountains to coastal drives and long open roads that can take days to cover, there’s plenty of miles to cover.
1. The Great Ocean Road
One of the most popular road trips in Australia is the scenic stretch of the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne to the 12 Apostles. If you’ve been along this 275km trip, you’ll know just how spectacular the views are. The Great Ocean Road officially starts at the town of Torquay (about an hour and twenty minutes from Melbourne), where world famous waves roll onto Bells Beach. Along the drive you’ll find plenty of small towns including Bellbrae and Apollo Bay. Some of the iconic sights include Memorial Arch – a tribute to the diggers who built the road, and Great Otway National Park – popular for its beaches, koalas and waterfalls.
2. The Nullarbor Plain
Known as the longest stretch of straight road in the World, the Eyre Highway across the Nullarbor Plain takes in some of the best of Outback Australia. At 1,675km, the highway across the Nullarbor takes at least two days to cross. Crossing the Nullarbor, you’ll see very few surviving trees – which is where the name Nullarbor comes from, the Latin word nullus arbor meaning ‘no trees’. Some of the highlights of the drive include seeing the world’s largest piece of limestone. For animal lovers, the Nullarbor is home to more than 100,000 camels – plus your favourite Australian natives such as wombats, kangaroos and emus. If you’re thinking this drive is just a desert, think again. The Nullarbor Plain also takes you right along the Great Australian Bight, with some incredible ocean views and if you’re lucky enough, the opportunity to do some whale watching.
3. The Red Centre Way
There are dozens of road trips across the outback to get to the icon that is Uluru. Perhaps once of the most spectacular of these is the Red Centre Way from Alice Springs. Taking in some of the very best scenery outback Australia has to offer, this drive is one for your bucket list. To truly experience the best of the Red Centre Way, outback travellers recommend you drive a 4WD so you can go off the beaten track and explore. At 690km long, the Red Centre Way can take as long as five days to complete comfortably – which gives you plenty of time to explore the sights along the way including Kings Canyon, Simpsons Gap, Serpentine Gorge, Standley Chasm, Ormiston Gorge, the Olgas and of course, Uluru. Along the way there is plenty of camping and caravan parks and so many photo opportunities.
4. Tropical north
At between 250 and 300km, the drive from Cairns to Cape Tribulation is one of the shorter great Australian road trips. You can easily do the trip in a day, but with so much to see and do, why not give yourself two or three days? From the white sandy beaches of Cape Tribulation to the Daintree Rainforest, the tropical north of Queensland offers something for everyone. Additional sights include Mossman Gorge, the Alexandra Range Lookout and the Jindalba visitor area where you can get a great glimpse of cassowaries. If you’ve got a 4WD, why not head further north and extend your road trip to take in Cape York?
5. The Coral Coast
Taking in the entire Western Australian coast, the Coral Coast drive from Perth to Exmouth shows off the very best of Australia’s far western shores. While it would take you 12 to 13 hours to do in a straight run, the drive can be done comfortably in two days or you can break up the trip and give yourself more time to soak up the sights. As you drive, the contrast is amazing. With crystal clear waters to your left and endless red desert to your right, there’s plenty to look at. Some of the highlights includes the iconic Pinnacles, wildflower trails, white sandy beaches, and stunning coral reefs for swimming and snorkelling. At Monkey Mia you’ll come face to face with wild dolphins, while Coral Bay and Shark Bay offer amazing opportunities to snorkel with whale sharks. Why not give yourself 11 days and do a return journey? You could trek the Kalbarri Gorge or explore the national parks and cultural trails.