For those of us who love to traverse the globe, COVID-19 has sadly taken international travel off the table. But, there are plenty of beautiful and thrilling places to explore regionally – whichever Australian state you live in.
While there’s no single best place to road trip in Australia, we’ve put together a list of 10 of our favourite Australian road trips (within state borders) to keep those travel dreams alive!
Get ready to road trip
Before you head off on your great Australian road trip, it pays to be well prepared. You need a reliable vehicle, places to stay, and to be aware of things like what kinds of food you can take and COVID-19 checkpoints.
To become an expert road trip planner in Australia, read through these tips we’ve collected for you. There are also some great websites and apps to help you plan your road trip, including Roadtrippers Australia, NRMA and Australia.com.
First, you’ll need a valid driver’s licence and a good understanding of Australian road rules. When it comes to getting your hands on a vehicle, car sharing is one option for road trips. Check out this list of useful tips to get the most out of renting a car in Australia, and make sure your insurance is up to date!
You’ll need to find places to stay along the way or take camping gear with you. State and territory parks websites list camping areas and caravan parks:
- Western Australia
- South Australia
- New South Wales
- Australian Capital Territory
- Northern Territory
Airbnb is another option if you’d prefer somewhere more luxurious to sleep.
Australia has strict guidelines regarding biosecurity to protect its valuable wildlife and agriculture industry. Some foods and products cannot be taken into or out of specific areas. The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has all the rules you need to know for domestic travel and driving through Australian states.
The COVID-19 situation in Australia is constantly changing on national and state levels. Make sure you’re aware of the current border restrictions and quarantine requirements – you’ll find the most up-to-date information on state and territory government websites.
Finally, it’s also important to know how to stay safe as you explore Australia’s great outdoors.
Keen to take the absolute best road trip in Australia? Here’s our guide to the 10 best road trips in Australia!
1. Great Ocean Road (VIC)
The Great Ocean Road is undoubtedly Victoria’s best road trip, and a heritage-listed wonder. With 243 kilometres of coastline to explore, the Great Ocean Road is packed with unmissable experiences, from the towering Twelve Apostles to the Otways’ rainforest waterfalls and the extinct volcano at Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve. Bells Beach near Torquay and Apollo Bay near the Otways are two of Australia’s most famous surf beaches.
2. Red Centre Way (NT)
The Outback is one of Australia’s most spectacular places to visit, particularly by car. Take Red Centre Way between Uluru and Alice Springs instead of the Stuart Highway and explore Uluru, gorges and canyons and many beautiful and challenging hiking trails. From Uluru, you can also drive west to visit the Kata Tjuta, which are large domed rock formations.
Please note that you are no longer allowed to climb Uluru or Kata Tjuta, out of respect for the indigenous owners of the land.
3. Perth to Broome (WA)
Between Perth and Broome, along 3,200 kilometres of coastline, you’ll find a treasure trove of fantastic experiences as you road trip through Western Australia. 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 much to explore. In Broome, check out the Pearl Luggers Museum and enjoy the pristine beaches overlooking the Indian Ocean.
4. Yorke Peninsula (SA)
The Yorke Peninsula boasts one of the most beautiful South Australian road trips. Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park is located on the south-western tip of the Peninsula. You’ll find some of the most stunning beaches in the state here, such as Dolphin Beach, Shell Beach and Browns Beach. Within the national park, go camping, wildlife-spotting, fishing, surfing and swimming. Make sure to spend some time exploring the lighthouses, shipwrecks and ruins too!
5. Sunshine Coast to Rainbow Beach (QLD)
Queensland road tripping is great for those who love the ocean. Start at Caloundra, near Brisbane, and take the scenic drive up towards Rainbow Beach. Enjoy the gorgeous views, pristine beaches and unspoiled national parks. On your way through Great Sandy National Park, check out the Cooloola and Carlo sandblows. Rainbow Beach/K’gari is known for its colourful sand and amazing rainbow cliffs, best seen after some rain.
6. Great Eastern Way (TAS)
The Great Eastern Drive road trip spans just under 300km and takes you through picturesque towns and breathtaking scenery. The drive boasts incredible natural sights such as Wineglass Bay’s tranquil beach and the waterside rock formations at Bay of Fires, where you can catch a glimpse of whales, seals and dolphins.
7. Darwin to Kakadu and Katherine (NT)
The Top End is one of Australia’s most iconic destinations. Start in Darwin to experience Australia’s best sunsets, and don’t miss Mindil Beach Sunset Markets. Drive to Kakadu, Australia’s largest national park, to check out the lush wetlands, waterfalls and incredible wildlife. Then, head north from Kakadu to visit the stunning gorges of Nitmiluk National Park.
While in Darwin, remember to be aware of local regulations around alcohol and camping.
Blue Lake, Jenolan Caves, NSW
8. Sydney to the Central West (NSW)
Drive west from Sydney over the Blue Mountains to Lithgow, a scenic town near seven national parks and a great place for hiking. Capertee Valley, just north of Lithgow, boasts spectacular wilderness that’s perfect for bird-watching.
Head to Jenolan Caves, an astonishing labyrinth of limestone caves – and the world’s oldest! For more stunning underground architecture, continue on to Wellington Caves, near Wellington. Make sure to visit the Discovery Lab to learn about Australian megafauna and dig for fossils yourself!
9. Western Wilds (TAS)
Western Tasmania is known for its wild and wonderful landscapes: rainforests, mountains, glacial valleys, winding rivers and rugged coasts. Take a Tasmanian road trip from Hobart along the western coast or further inland to go trekking along Cradle Mountain. Visit ghost towns, such as Linda and Gormanston, and old mining towns, and discover incredible stories of human endurance and survival.
10. Cairns to Cape Tribulation (QLD)
This tropical North Queensland road trip is a must for nature-lovers. The world-famous Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest provide a stark contrast to Australia’s desert and outback landscapes. Discover the vibrant, alien underwater environment by snorkelling at the Reef. In the Daintree, walk through Mossman Gorge and take one of the Ngadiku Dreamtime walks with an Aboriginal guide. Cape Tribulation is the prettiest beach in the Daintree. Here, you can walk along the boardwalk, take in the beach on horseback and meet other travellers to share your road trip stories with.