21 Oct 2022
Even though we tend to underrate our own country’s natural beauty, a summer road trip at home should be an essential item on everyone’s travel bucket list. Get inspired by this list of classics!
As big as Australia is, once you break it down into easily achievable chunks of road, coast, desert, or reef, it won’t be long before you’re ticking off some of the best summer holidays you’ll ever have.
From the Great Ocean Road to Australia's Red Centre or Tasmania's stunning east coast, hitting the road to explore what we famously describe as our 'great southern land' is as Australian as vegemite on toast. Enjoy part one of some of the best Australian road trips the whole family can take.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Great Ocean Road, Vic
Where? Torquay to Allansford in Victoria’s south west corner.
When? Any time of year is a great time to discover this corner of Australia.
How Long? One week.
Don’t Miss: Port Campbell National Park and the 12 Apostles.
Pro-Tip: Start in Torquay and keep the ocean to your immediate left - you’ll see more that way!
Every single search of ‘Australia’s best road trips’ will include The Great Ocean Road. Heavily promoted on tourism posters around the world, this coastal journey along Victoria’s south west corner definitely lives up to the hype.
Accented by a series of charming surf towns like Apollo Bay, Lorne and Port Campbell, in between these beautiful Aussie-as beaches, the Great Ocean Road comes to life in a series of spectacular natural stalagmite sculptures and stunning rocky outcrops.
READ ALSO: The Great Ocean Road Top 10
Officially only 224 km from Torquay to Allansford, everyone knows it’s much longer than that, with most starting their journey from Melbourne or over the border from South Australia.
Several national parks run the length of the Great Ocean Road, particularly the Great Otway National Park, where rainforest walks will leave you breathless.
The Red Centre Way, NT
Where? A 1200 km loop beginning and ending at Alice Springs.
When? It's best to avoid the peak of wet season, so plan your trip between May and September.
How Long? One week minimum.
Don’t Miss: Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon.
Pro-Tip: Engage with the Indigenous population and let them guide you through the region’s most important attractions.
To be honest, this is a trip every Australian should be forced to make.
Beginning and ending at the Red Centre’s unofficial capital of Alice Springs, this remote post-colonial town is close to many of the Northern Territory’s most iconic attractions.
READ ALSO: 5 places you have to see in the Red Centre
Full of ancient ochre landscapes that have been carved out of wind, water, fire and ice, the history of the Red Centre’s awe-inspiring natural features is the real history of Australia.
Containing a Dreamtime that our Indigenous elders have passed on for over 40,000 years, any journey here will immerse you in the soul of the Australian outback, and in the spirit of the world’s oldest living culture.
Driving the Red Centre Way puts you on the road to meeting Australian icons at every turn.
Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Watarrka National Park (home to Kings Canyon) are the headliners, but don’t overlook the dramatic gorges and swimming holes of Tjoritja (the West MacDonnell Ranges) along the Larapinta Trail.
READ ALSO: A guide to hiking the Larapinta Trail
Gibb River Road, WA
Where? Western Australia’s Kimberley.
When? The Kimberley is amazing all year round, but the Gibb closes for wet season (November - March).
How Long? 1-2 weeks is a minimum here.
Don’t Miss: The multi-tiered waterfall cascades of Bell Gorge are worth the extra miles.
Pro-Tip: Bring some petrol and water with you and drive carefully at all times.
Built in the 1960s to transport cattle, this 660 kilometre off-road track goes deep into the heart of Western Australia’s famous Kimberley region.
And although it is officially closed during summer, at any other time of year, this is a 4WD adventure like no other. Stretching from Derby, near Broome, to Wyndham near Kununurra and towards the Northern Territory border, tackling this route isn't for the faint-hearted.
READ ALSO: 8 things you shouldn't miss in the Kimberley
Offering secluded gorges, rocky ridges and that indescribable open-road feeling, The Gibb River Road is a drive described by many a travel writer as ‘transformational.’
Much of the road is corrugated and full of potholes, so be sure to have a well-equipped vehicle, but any discomfort will be quickly forgotten once you're immersed in some of the most spectacular wilderness Australia has to offer.
This includes vast outback cattle stations, thundering waterfalls, sacred Aboriginal sites and rock art, the unique pioneering story and fascinating outback characters at every stop.
Take the time to stop and soak in a glassy waterhole, learn more about Indigenous culture and float in Lake Argyle’s famous infinity pool. We can’t recommend this enough.
At the end of the Gibb River Road, one of Australia’s most unique camping, glamping and boutique luxury resorts, El Questro, sits on the edge of its own station, El Questro Wilderness Park, and is the culmination of an iconic journey for many Australian travellers.
Tasmania’s East Coast
Where? From Hobart to the Bay of Fires
When? Tasmania's winters are chilly, but there's plenty of cosy spots and dramatic wilderness all year round.
How Long? One week
Don’t Miss: Freycinet National Park is next level stunning.
Pro-Tip: The Spirit of Tasmania can transport your vehicle and save you money on rentals.
We know that the secret’s been out about Tasmania for ages, but we can’t stop saying it, the Apple Isle is gorgeous, and yes the above photo is Tasmania!
From snow-capped mountains to sapphire-blue bays, Tassie is overflowing with natural beauty and incredible attractions.
READ ALSO: A good foodies guide to Tasmania
Otherwise known as the Great Eastern Drive, the region from Hobart to Launceston via little-known places like St. Helens, Swansea and Bicheno is awash with bountiful produce, the freshest seafood, and world-class wineries.
Along the way, Freycinet National Park is an absolute must-do, with its secluded coves, azure waters and prolific birdlife.
Be sure to allow time for the Freycinet Experience Walk and enjoy stunning views of Wineglass Bay. Spend a day taking in the coastal vistas, then dine on freshly prepared Tasmanian produce.
READ ALSO: 8 Tasmanian parks that look like paintings
While you’re driving north, don’t be afraid to segway east and visit the beautiful towns and villages of Longford, Evandale, Cressy and Perth, where more gourmet food experiences and atmospheric cottages await.
The Pacific Coast, NSW
Where? Sydney - Byron Bay and beyond
When? You can tackle this iconic trip all-year round. Summer is popular, so consider that in your planning.
How Long? 1-2 weeks
Don’t Miss: Take your pick! It’s not called the Legendary Pacific Coast for nothing.
Pro-Tip: Whatever time limit you’ve put on yourself, double it immediately. Loved by backpackers around the world, this east coast adventure one of Australia’s most loved road trips for a reason.
Starting in Sydney and heading north toward Queensland for as long as your desire to explore will take you, the highlights begin immediately with lakes entrance at Dunleith, wineries in the Hunter Valley, and secluded bays near Port Stephens.
Myall Lakes National Park is a must-do, with the sprawling nature reserve taking in sites like Mungo Brush, Seal Rocks and Sugarloaf Bay.
READ ALSO: Discover NSW's Pacific Coast by car
Continuing north toward Port Macquarie via South West Rocks, the level of natural beauty turns up a notch again, and you begin to realise why so many people flock to Australia and never want to leave.
Port Macquarie itself is a lively coastal hamlet at the beginning of Waterfall Way, which is widely regarded as one of the state’s most picturesque drives. Coffs Harbour is next, where a stop at the iconic Big Banana is a must.
After that you’ll hit Yamba via more off-the-charts beaches that back on to wild forest, and realise that you could probably live here forever.
Just before you hit Byron Bay, make a final detour to Bangalow and Nimbin, two of Australia’s most arty and alternative towns.
Feeling inspired to hit the road?
There’s plenty more where that came from. Stay tuned for part 2 of Australia’s favourtite road trips!