Blog & Insights
Hit the road – 5 of the best Aussie road trips
Australia is truly the land of plenty – especially when it comes to roads. They can take you from coast to coast, from rainforest to bush and everything in between.
There’s nothing quite like that feeling of throwing everything you need in the back of the car and heading out on the open road with the windows down and the wind in your hair.
With so many unique options to experience right here on your doorstep it’s no wonder that road tripping is our very own favourite pastime. Who needs to fly when memories can be made the minute you hit the road?
To get you started, here’s 5 of the very best road trips in Australia.
1. The Great Ocean Road, Victoria
This Australian National Heritage-listed stretch of road winds for a whopping 243 km along the south-eastern coast of Australia. A regular chart topper, it is consistently heralded as one of the country’s most scenic drives and attracts hordes of year round visitors, all keen to partake in the spectacular scenery and rugged geology.
Commercial tour operators may want to rush you through this landscape in as little as a day, but it is worthwhile taking your time. As you move from cliff tops and beaches through to rainforest canopies and lookouts, the landscapes are ever evolving and you can truly appreciate what this beautiful area has to offer.
The drive begins in the surf capital Torquay, just 90 minutes outside of Melbourne, and it continues through Apollo Bay and Port Campbell National Park. Winding on through the Bay of Islands to Port Fairy the route culminates just east of Warrnambool.
You will enjoy many jaw-dropping coastal views, lush rainforests, Insta-famous lookouts and if you’re lucky, some quiet company from the koala community.
Highlights: Look out for Bells Beach, the 12 Apostles, London Arch, Wreck Beach and Childer’s Cove.
Tips: Don’t drive at night – you’ll miss all there is to see and it’s when the kangaroos most like to play in the roads. It’s also worth taking this trip in winter – not only is it less busy, but you’ll likely catch the whales returning down the coastline with their calves.
2. Heritage Highway, Tasmania
This historical path between Launceston and Hobart traces much of the route built by convicts in the 1800s and is an evocative trip down memory lane.
Departing from Launceston, you will instantly experience the quaint Georgian charm that fills the area alongside sprawling homesteads, convict settlements and impressive colonial architecture.
The journey tells the story of Australian settlement and is set against the backdrop of the stunning natural Tasmanian environs. Take your time to enjoy the peaceful country air, the national parks and some picture perfect villages.
Highlights: Take a walking tour through Longford’s Christ Church graveyard and listen to the stories from those that lived them.
Tips: Take your time over this road trip so you can absorb the full history of the Heritage Highway that is so integral to the Australian story.
3. The Great Beach Drive, Queensland
Jump in the car and explore 380 km of Queensland’s stunning nature coast that connects the beautiful Sunshine Coast with the white sands of Fraser Island.
This drive of a lifetime leads you off the well-travelled highways and onto the rugged beaches of the far north coast taking in native wildlife, 2 UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, and a World Heritage Marine Park – not to mention the largest sand island in the world all along the way.
Your adventure begins once you leave the Noosa car ferry. Carve out your very own sandy tracks along 50 km of pure beach, with no stop signs or traffic lights to worry about – although you will need to adhere to usual speed limits! Take the barge from Rainbow Beach across to Fraser Island for a further 75 km of pure beach and exploration. Finish up with whale watching and watersports at Harvey Bay and you’ll never look at the tarmac the same way again.
Highlights: Surf one of the best breaks in the world, or hang with dolphins at Rainbow Beach.
Tips: You’ll need a 4WD for this trip as well as valid vehicle permits. If you’re not wholly confident driving a 4WD, check out one of the many guided tours available. Be sure to check out the tide times before travelling also.
4. The Gibb River Road, Kimberley, Western Australia
Buckle up for the trip of a lifetime. Rightly regarded as one of the greatest highlights of the Kimberley region, this self-drive experience has thankfully become a whole lot easier than it used to be – courtesy of some new sealed sections of the track.
The Gibb River Road itself is a 660 km epic adventure that snakes through the heart of the Kimberleys from Kununurra right through to Derby.
If you enjoy swimming in natural gorges, bathing under waterfalls, sleeping out under the stars, stopping off at outback stations, tackling challenging tracks and even hanging with crocs, this is for you. Guaranteed to make some forever memories, this is Australia at its most raw and most natural yet. This is one road trip that’s definitely not to be missed.
Highlights: Windjana Gorge National Park – formerly part of a western coral ‘barrier reef’ these limestone walls have been pushed up over time and are now over 300 million years old. Don’t skip Bells Gorge and waterfall – widely considered to be the most beautiful of them all.
Tips: 4WD vehicles are recommended for this experience as not all the road is sealed and a 2WD would preclude many activities. Get well stocked up with provisions and fuel at the beginning of your trip in Kununarra.
5. Grand Pacific Drive, South Coast, New South Wales
It’s hard to believe that such a large expanse of natural beauty lies so close to the city limits. For the road trippers out there that also love a small slice of convenience on the side, this is for you.
Starting in the Royal National Park just one hour south of Sydney, the Grand Pacific Drive is a 140 km scenic coastal route that winds its way along the spectacular NSW coastline. The drive takes you across the Pacific Ocean via the iconic Sea Cliff Bridge and over to Wollongong and beyond. Continue on to Shellharbour and Kiama to finish up in the foodie paradise of the Shoalhaven region.
Highlights: Visit the famous Kiama blowhole and Minamurra Rainforest as well as the pristine white beaches of Jervis Bay. Save some playtime to spend in Wollongong and enjoy the relaxed beachside culture.
Tips: Loop back quickly to Sydney if you need, or continue on down the coastline for more stunning scenery set against the lush green backdrop of the adjacent valleys.
Photo from Unsplash