You probably already know that Australia is packed with stunning landscapes, rugged bush and some of the most epic coastlines you’ve ever seen. While you could hop on a plane or train to take you to these beautiful parts of the country, you’ll absorb much more scenery and get a better feel for the place by jumping in your car and taking a road trip. Have we caught your interest? Here are the best road trips around Australia.
1. Great Ocean Road, VIC
Victoria’s Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s most famous driving routes. It’s also one of the country’s heritage-listed wonders, so you know it’s going to be pretty impressive. With 243 kilometres of coastline to explore, the Great Ocean Road is packed with unmissable experiences, from the Twelve Apostles (a group of towering rock formations emerging from the sea) to the Otways’ rainforest waterfalls, to the extinct volcano at Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve.
2. Brisbane to Cairns, QLD
The drive from Brisbane to Cairns passes through 1,600 kilometres of beautiful landscape. Not only does this mean that the trip offers a great range of experiences, but it also allows you to tailor the length of your drive. You can take to the road for just a few days, or plan a 20-day (or even longer) itinerary. Must-visit experiences between Brisbane and Cairns include touring the limestone-set Capricorn Caves, where you can try abseiling and even go searching for fossils, and Mission Beach, a beautiful coastal town just a two-hour drive from Cairns.
3. Gibb River Road, WA
Western Australia’s Gibb River Road is ideal for road-trippers after an authentic Australian outback experience.
Stretching over 650km in the Kimberley region, Gibb River Road has a number of stop-off points worth visiting. Belle Gorge, Manning Gorge, Adcock Gorge, Galvans Gorge and Emma Gorge offer some of the state’s most pristine natural swimming spots if you want to take a dip. On foot, you can explore the King Leopold Ranges, Tunnel Creek National Park, Mitchell Falls, Mitchell River National Park, and Windjana Gorge National Park. In each of these places, you’ll find an equally unique and iconic natural site.
It’s important to keep in mind that because of its remoteness, Gibb River Road is suited to more experienced drivers.
4. Great Eastern Drive, TAS
Because of Tasmania’s compact size, the Great Eastern Drive road trip spans just under 300km. Despite its shorter length, it certainly doesn’t lack sights and experiences. Tasmania is famous for its incredible food and drink scene, so many of the state’s vineyards and restaurants are amongst Great Eastern Drive’s most popular stops. Devil’s Corner Winery, fresh seafood and produce can be found in Apslawn, located between Swansea and Coles Bay. Also make sure to stop by Milton Vineyard, where you can enjoy wine tastings. For a cheese fix, head to Pyengana Dairy to taste some of the best handcrafted cheeses in the state.
The drive also boasts incredible natural sights, like Wineglass Bay’s tranquil beach and the waterside rock formations at Bay of Fires, where you might even catch a glimpse of marine life such as whales, seals and dolphins.
5. Darwin to Litchfield, NT
The trip between Darwin and Litchfield National Park is perfect for a weekend adventure. Situated just 115km from Darwin, Litchfield is home to awesome swimming holes and waterfalls, as well as plenty of bushwalking trails. To extend your trip, Dundee Beach, Dundee Forest and Robin Falls make great nearby stops for a nature-filled adventure.
6. Sydney to Brisbane via Byron Bay, NSW to QLD
One of Australia’s most popular road trips takes you from Sydney to Brisbane via Byron Bay, with a total distance of around 915km. Travelling from Sydney to Brisbane is a great way to check out the east coast of Australia and its many amazing beaches and experiences.
As you head towards Brisbane, Newcastle’s Nobbys Beach and the Hunter Valley’s iconic vineyards are great spots to stop over during your drive. Port Macquarie’s Koala Hospital, Tacking Point Lighthouse and Sea Acres Rainforest Centre are also worth visiting.
In Coffs Harbour, be sure to stop by the iconic Big Banana for a photo opportunity and enjoy the amusement attractions inside. You should also soak up the view over the coast and mountains at the Forest Sky Pier and meet dolphins and seals at the Dolphin Marine Conservation Park.
At Byron Bay’s Cape Byron Lighthouse, keep an eye out for whales migrating across the coast. In addition to Byron Bay’s Main Beach, Tallow and Belongil beaches are among the area’s most popular spots for surfing and swimming.
Just north of Byron Bay and right before you hit Brisbane lies the Gold Coast. The city is home to Australia’s best amusement parks, so it’s worth locking in a few days to get adventurous at Sea World, Warner Bros. Movie World and Dreamworld.
7. Perth to Broome, WA
Between Perth and Broome, you’ll find a treasure trove of fantastic experiences. Between the Pinnacles (awe-inspiring limestone formations in Nambung National Park), Coral Bay’s clear water and white sand beach, Kalbarri National Park’s natural gorge, and Exmouth’s kangaroo spotting, there’s a lot to take in.
In Broome, take a camel ride across the beaches overlooking the Indian Ocean, or hop in a kayak to head across the water.
8. Cairns to Cape Tribulation, QLD
Also known as the Great Barrier Reef drive, the trip between Cairns and Cape Tribulation allows you to discover spots like Port Douglas and the Daintree Rainforest. In Port Douglas, visit Wildlife Habitat, Four Mile Beach and the Bally Hooley Steam Railway. In the Daintree Rainforest, check out the stunning Mossman Gorge, where you can immerse yourself in lush greenery and trickling natural waterworks.
9. Canberra to Kosciuszko National Park, ACT to NSW
It takes around 2.5 hours to drive from Canberra to Kosciuszko National Park, arguably one of NSW’s most impressive nature-scapes. Once you arrive in the Kosciuszko area, take the Kosciuszko Alpine Way to explore the park’s beauty.
Inside the national park, you’ll find Mount Kosciuszko, the highest peak in Australia standing at 2,228 metres tall. The massive national park itself is equally impressive, full of limestone caves, glacial lakes and plenty of bushland. In winter, you can go skiing or snowboarding around the area, and in summer you can enjoy the beautiful wildflowers that grow here, as well as go hiking, mountain biking, caving, sight-seeing and more.
10. Coastal Way, SA
Coastal Way stretches around the Yorke Peninsula’s beautiful 700km coastline. Across Edithburgh, Inneston, Stansbury and Point Pearce, touring shipwrecks, swimming, snorkelling and surfing are just a few of the fun experiences available along the coast. For a longer trip, many people opt to visit Marion Bay, Troubridge Island, and Moonta.