7 Australian road trips everyone should take
A guest post from finder.com.au.
The romance and adventure of the great Aussie road trip has prevailed for generations. Australia is characterised by some of the most unusual terrain on the planet. Rugged deserts roll into stretches of endless white coast, and mountains give way to wide-open plains. As a country, it begs to be travelled by road.
Hire cars can be a quick and convenient option when flying in from interstate, yet your own car is often the best choice for shorter trips. Whether you’re seeking a quick weekend getaway or a lengthier stretch of time, there’s a route for everyone. finder.com.au shares seven Australian road trips everyone should take.
1. Great Ocean Road, Victoria
This iconic stretch runs for 243 kilometres along the windswept coast connecting Torquay and Allansford. The route is home to some of the country’s most dramatic scenery. You can take in the plunging cliff faces, rainforests and unusual rock formations that line the Great Australian Bight.
Perfect for a three-day weekend trip, highlights along the way include the Twelve Apostles, Bells Beach and Bay of Islands. If you’re short on time, consider flying to Melbourne and hiring a car from there. Car sharing companies including GoGet have their own pickup point at the airport, allowing you to hit the road in no time while also saving on fuel costs.
2. The Pacific Coast, New South Wales & Queensland
The legendary Pacific Coast begins in Sydney and runs for 900 kilometres north to Brisbane. This classic coastal stretch passes through some of Australia’s finest surf country, including the Central Coast, Newcastle, Coffs Harbour, Ballina and Byron Bay.
There are a myriad of places to stop along the way, which have the added benefit of preventing driver fatigue. Part of the beauty of this route is that you can take as little or as much time as you like. Allow yourself anywhere from three to seven days, depending on your time frame.
3. Great Tropical Drive, Queensland
The sunshine state’s tropical region is quintessentially Australian. Characterised by reefs, sugarcane fields and steaming rainforests, the trip requires around five to seven days to do it justice. Passing through Cairns, The Daintree and Townsville, The Great Tropical Drive is filled with possibilities when it comes to side trips. The World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest, Cape Tribulation and Mission Beach are definitely worth exploring.
It may be worth taking your own car for this one as the route has a number of interesting places to check in for the night. However, if you’re flying in from interstate, you can pick up a hire car in Brisbane or Cairns.
4. Hobart Round Trip, Tasmania
A camper van is the ultimate way to take on Tasmania. Allow yourself four to five days for a roundtrip of the island. The small size of the state means it’s possible to drive from top to bottom within a couple of hours, but the ever-changing scenery and scattering of tiny towns are worth exploring.
When mapping out a route, it’s recommended that you stick to the coast. Drive north from Hobart to Launceston via Freycinet to check out the rugged curves of Wineglass Bay. Continue west onto Cradle Mountain then through to St Clair National Park. This will take you via the Great Lakes Region and home again.
5. Stuart Highway Drive, Northern Territory
Prepare to get dusty when exploring your way through The Red Centre. Arguably the most unique and culturally significant part of Australia, the arid rocky stretch between Darwin to Alice Springs is best experienced in a 4X4.
The Stuart Highway will take you from Darwin to Adelaide, with an estimated time frame of nine days. Make sure to detour for pit stops at Kakadu National Park, Coober Pedy and Uluru via Alice Springs. Though rewarding, this drive requires careful planning, so make sure to pack your hiking boots and adequate food and water supplies. Four-wheel driving apps such as Hema Explorer or MudMap 2 are full of interactive maps and handy tips for tackling The Big Red, but be mindful of limited phone reception in some areas.
6. Great Alpine Road, Victoria
Wind your way through mountainous Victorian high country as you take in the scenery along the Great Alpine Road. The route passes through the historic town of Beechworth before heading to the wine regions of King Valley and Rutherglen. Take a hike in Mount Buffalo National Park before ending the trip in Gippsland, renowned for its stunning lakes, rolling farmland and beaches.
Parts of the road may require chains in the winter due to heavy snowfall, so it may be best to do the trip in spring or summer if you’re uncomfortable driving in icy conditions.
7. Sydney to Jervis Bay, New South Wales
Perfect for a day trip or weekend getaway, this lush coastal stretch passes through rolling green fields, quirky beach towns and rainforests. There are plenty of places to stop along the way, from Wollongong through to Gerringong and Berry. Take a dip at one of the many isolated beaches lining the coast, drive along the winding curves of the Sea Cliff Bridge and stand on the edge of Kiama’s famous blowhole. Often overlooked, this unique stretch of coast is the ultimate destination for a summer road trip.
Extra tips for the great Australian road trip
You’ll have a lot to organise before you set out on any Australian road trip, but here are a few extra tips that are easy to forget:
- Roadside assistance. If you decide to take your own car, you’ll need to be sure you can get help if you break down. If you use a rental car or a GoGet and then this will be covered in your rental agreement.
- Emergency finance. A credit card can come in handy for unexpected expenses. If you only plan on using a card for emergencies, consider one with a low or no annual fee instead of 0% interest.
- Water, water, water. You can never have enough water when driving long distances in Australia. You should have at least two litres per person each day you expect to be out of town, plus an extra day as a backup.
The unforgettable Australian road trip
For those seeking a truly unforgettable road trip, Australia has a lot to offer. From mountains and beaches to red-earth deserts, there’s something for everyone. Whether you decide to drive the whole continent or fly to your road trip’s starting point, you won’t regret getting outback while you’re down under.