Best Road Trips in Australia
The Big Lap
- The Big Lap is a literal definition of a trip around this massive country.
- From Broome to Sydney to Cairns to Brisbane to Melbourne to Darwin to Perth to Adelaide to Esperance to Hobart, this road trip covers the roughly 15,000 kilometers of Highway One that connects seven of the capital cities.
- It's the best of Australia in one long road trip, from bustling metropolises to quiet seaside villages, lush forests to arid plains, secluded swimming holes to pristine beaches, and ancient rock formations to modern tourist traps.
Duration: Six months
Stops: Visiting Kakadu, Uluru, and Alice Springs in the Northern Territory is a must, but you'll need to venture off the Stuart Highway to do so.
Tips: The northern part of Australia, from Broome to Cairns, is best traversed between April and September when temperatures are mildest. It's the dry season now when the weather is nice and the roads are usually passable even though they might be impassable during the wet season.
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The Great Ocean Road, Victoria
- This breathtaking Australia road trip rightfully earns its reputation as one of the best driving routes in the world, thanks to its stunning scenery, which includes sandy beaches, verdant rainforest, quiet fishing villages, and tree canopies adorned with koalas.
- Spanning over 150 miles, the Great Ocean Road is rife with attractions like wineries, world-class surfing spots, and spectacular rainforest footpaths.
- The Twelve Apostles are the most impressive sight you can see from your window. Located in the waters of Port Campbell National Park, these limestone stacks make for a dramatic sight.
Duration: 2-3 days minimum
Stops: Geelong, connewarre, The Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch, Otway Fly Treetops Walk, 12 Apostles
Tips: If you're only going to drive one way, it's best to begin in Torquay so that you can stay on the ocean side of the road and easily pull over to take in the sights.
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Gibb River Road, WA
- This is a rough and ready Australia road trip that thrill seekers will adore.
- Known as one of the best 4x4 routes in Australia, Gibb River Road passes through Katherine, Kakadu National Park, and El Questro on its way to some of the most impressive natural wonders in the Kimberley, such as Katherine Gorge and Mt. Hart.
- If you're looking to spice up your self-drive experience, the bright orange tracks of Gibb River Road are the way to go. You'll regularly cross wide rivers and climb dusty hills.
Duration: 1-2 weeks
Stops: Derby, Windjana Gorge National Park, Bell Gorge, Manning Gorge, Drysdale river station, Homevalley station, El Questro Wilderness Park, Kununurra
Tips: Only two roadhouses, in Imintji and Mt. Barnett, sell gasoline along the Gibb River Road, and the price is exorbitant. Neither location sells gasoline but both do sell diesel.
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Tasmania’s East Coast
- This Australia road trip, best experienced as a loop from Hobart to Freycinet National Park and back, is filled with unforgettable wildlife and beautiful beaches.
- It would be ridiculous to go on this trip and not stop at any of the National Parks along the way to see the incredible wildlife and flora that lives there.
- Visit Freycinet National Park to see stunning granite peaks and topaz blue waters, and then head to Cradle Mountain National Park to hike through pristine rainforest and pass by shimmering lakes.
Duration: 3-5 days
Stops: Maria Island National Park, Freycinet National Park
Tips: If you'll be staying on Apple Island for an extended period of time, you can save money on car rental by bringing your own vehicle from Melbourne on the Spirit of Tasmania.
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Cairns to Cape York, Qld
- On this tropically inspired Australia road trip, your self-drive vacation in the continent will take on a whole new light.
- Driving through Port Douglas, a coastal town with excellent restaurants and white sand beaches, you will have the chance to take in breathtaking views of the Daintree Rainforest and Mossman Gorge.
- Dive into the alluring waters of this World Heritage site in search of turtles and tropical fish—every bit as beautiful as the pictures suggest.
Duration: 4 hours 26 minutes
Stops: Great Barrier Reef, and Quinkan Galleries
Tips: In contrast to the fully sealed Mulligan Highway, which runs through the interior, the stunning coastal route via Cape Tribulation, the Daintree, and the Bloomfield Track requires 4WD.
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Perth to Ningaloo, WA
- It's just under 1200 kilometres from Perth to Exmouth to Ningaloo Reef in the north along the beautiful Coral Coast of Western Australia.
- You pass through Cervantes, Geraldton, Monkey Mia, and Carnarvon.
- You experience Mother Nature at her best, complete with the Pinnacles Desert, Shark Bay—a World Heritage Site—dramatic gorges, swimming with dolphins, manta rays, and whale sharks.
Duration: 8-10 days
Stops: Geraldton, Carnarvon, Exmouth, Ningaloo Reef, Coral Bay via Turquoise Bay, shark bay, kalbarri, and Cervantes
Tips: Be well-prepared before venturing north of Carnarvon, as supplies will be few and expensive.
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Great Alpine Road, Vic
- Take an Australia road trip along the Great Alpine Road to get a feel for the Victorian Alps.
- This road is 308 kilometres long, stretching from Wangaratta in the north to Bairnsdale in the east.
- In the fall and winter, this is the place to go if you've ever wanted to experience a taste of what it's like to live in Europe during the cold season.
- If you prefer milder weather, spring is a great time to visit the mountains and appreciate some horseback riding, wine tasting, and scenic exploration.
Duration: 5 hours
Stops: Bairnsdale, Gipps Lakes, Mount Hotham
Tips: Drive slowly and cautiously, keep your gas tank at least half full, and install Diamond Pattern wheel chains if you plan on taking this route in the winter.
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The Savannah Way
- It's about 3,700 kilometers long and connects Cairns in Tropical North Queensland to Broome in Western Australia's beautiful Kimberley region via the Northern Territory.
- This is the best possible east-to-west Australia road trip, as it takes in 15 national parks and 5 World Heritage sites.
- You can look forwards to seeing everything from lush tropical forests to vast grassy plains, isolated cattle stations to breathtaking waterfalls and gorges, and rock art etched into rock to crystalline waters.
Duration: 7 days
Stops: Boodjamulla National Park
Tips: The outback requires preparedness. There are side roads suitable for 2WD vehicles, so having a 4WD is not strictly necessary. However, you should bring a radio in case your phone has spotty service.
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Pacific Coast, NSW & Qld
- From Sydney to Brisbane, the fabled Pacific Coast Highway travels roughly 900 kilometers past Port Stephens, Coffs Harbor, Central Coast, Newcastle, Ballina, and Byron Bay.
- Surfing beaches, cute seaside towns, scenic national parks, and two exciting capitals—this is classic Australian coastal territory.
- You can get away from the city for a while by taking a trip to the Hunter Valley, which is located west of Newcastle and is famous for its Semillon wine as well as its fantastic restaurants and artisanal olive oil and chocolate.
Duration: 5 days
Stops: Daintree rainforest, Great Barrier Reef, Purnululu National Park, Hunter Valley region
Tips: In order to avoid the Pacific Motorway as much as possible, you should give yourself at least five days to complete this journey.
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The Grand Pacific Drive, NSW
- The Grand Pacific Drive is a scenic coastal Australia road trip that spans 140 kilometers.
- It passes through the cities and towns of Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama, and the Shoalhaven as well as through rainforests and across the famous Sea Cliff Bridge.
- It takes you past some stunning cliff faces and along some of New South Wales' most stunning beaches.
Duration: More than 5 five hours
Stops: Symbio wildlife Park, Sea cliff Bridge, Wollongong Harbor, Kiama’s blowhole, Minnamurra Rainforest, Jervis Bay, Coolangatta Estate Winery
Tips: Do not pass up a visit to Kiama without seeing the impressive blowhole.
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