One of the best ways to explore this vast land is to hop in the car and go for a drive. The problem is the best road trips are dotted all around the country, so why not fly in and hire a car?
Here are five Aussie road trips that allow you to cover new territory no matter where you’re coming from. Want our hot tip?
The Indian Ocean Drive, Western Australia
The Coral Coast from Perth
Travel along Western Australia’s beautiful Coral Coast and you’ll well and truly be in relaxed mode. It’s your chance to meet the bottlenose dolphins of Monkey Mia, take in the vibrant red and turquoise shades of Shark Bay or experience everyone’s highlight by swimming with the whale sharks.
How to get to the Indian Ocean Drive
From Perth, head north via the Mitchell Freeway until you reach Yanchep National Park, a haven for kangaroos and koalas. If you’re visiting in September or October, the park will be covered in vibrant wildflowers.
From Yanchep, join the Indian Ocean Drive and continue on to Cervantes, a fishing town known for its fresh-caught lobsters. Nearby is the Nambung National Park, home of the Pinnacles Desert, a vast landscape dotted with dramatic limestone pillars.
Continue north towards Geraldton, stopping at the Badgingarra National Park for a bushwalk, and through the twin coastal towns of Dongara – Denison until you reach Geraldton, where you can watch the sun set over the water. If you have time, from Geraldton, you can visit the Abrolhos Islands, an idyllic archipelago rich with diverse bird life.
Journey to the Monkey Mia dolphin sanctuary in Shark Bay Marine Park, where you can swim with the dolphins. Continue on to Carnarvon, and explore the Kennedy Range National Park.
Next, it’s a four and a half hour drive to Exmouth, set between the Ningaloo Marine Park and the Cape Range National Park. Here you can go snorkelling, scuba diving or swim with the gentle giants of the sea – the whale shark.
If you have more time: continue up the coast all the way to Broome.
Fly into: Perth.
Fly out of: Perth, Geraldton or Broome.
Famous for: The region’s striking desert scenery, which is blanketed in wildflowers from June to November.
The Great Ocean Road, Victoria
Which way will you go?
Will you be taking the landmark Great Ocean Road along some of our best untouched coastline or the Great Alpine Road winding through mountains and valleys filled with wineries and foodie havens?
With so many roads claiming to be great, there’s only one way to find out.
How to get to the Great Ocean Road
From Geelong, follow the Surf Coast Highway to the seaside town of Torquay, gateway to the Great Ocean Road and somewhat of a surf haven. From here, you’ll be following more that 240 km of coastal road along the Great Southern Ocean.
Drive along what is known as the ‘Surf Coast’ through Anglesea, Lorne and Apollo Bay, which takes about 2 hours. Apollo Bay is where the Great Ocean Walk begins- 104 km of walking trails that run as far as the 12 Apostles.
Veer inland through Great Otway National Park, and then back out to the headland at Cape Otway, where the Surf Coast ends and the Shipwreck Coast begins, so named for the many shipwrecks discovered in its waters.
Continue on through Princetown, stopping to view the dramatic limestone pillars of the 12 Apostles. Further along, Port Campbell is a great place to stop for lunch or to stay. Either side of Port Campbell, the cliff top paths are less crowded and the views and rock formations no less stunning; Loch Ard Gorge, the London Arch and the Grotto are particularly striking. Continue on through Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Portland.
If you have more time: journey all the way to Adelaide via the Great Southern Touring Route.
Fly into: Melbourne if you want to spend some time there first.
Fly out of: Melbourne or Adelaide if you want to follow the Great Southern Touring Route through South Australia.
Famous for: The 12 Apostles, a group of iconic limestone rock formations off the Victorian coast.
The Great Tropical Drive, Queensland
Cairns to Cape York
Take a trek to the top of Australia with one of the best adventure road-trips around.
Journey through rugged outback, past stations, rivers and a campsite or two as you’re rewarded with nothing but blue sky and endless water around you
How to get to the Great Tropical Drive
The Great Tropical Drive is a loop that runs along the coast between Cairns and Townsville, inland through outback and rainforests, and as far north as Cooktown. It’s a drive you can customise to suit you, with the simplest journey being from Cairns to Townsville via the Great Green Way.
Arriving in Cairns, book a snorkelling, scuba diving or glass bottomed boat tour of the Great Barrier Reef, and experience this vibrant and diverse underwater world. From May to September, around 20,000 whales will migrate to the warm waters of the reef to mate and calve.
Continue on to Innisfail via Ella Bay National Park, with its beautiful beaches and waterfalls- you may even spot a double-eyed fig-parrot. Next, head to Mission Beach, a rainforest-fringed bay with golden sands, and Tully, Australia’s wettest town and home of the Giant Gumboot.
Drive through Kennedy, where you can stop at Edmund Kennedy National Park and check out Murray Falls, and Cardwell, a historic town with spectacular sea views. Your next stop in Ingham, a town with a distinctive European heritage, and the on to your final stop, Townsville.
If you have more time: complete the full loop inland through Mareeba, Ravenshoe and Undara, or journey as far north as Port Douglas, Cooktown and the Daintree Rainforest.
Fly into: Cairns.
Fly out of: Townsville, or Cairns if you want to complete the full loop.
Famous for: The chance to go snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system.
Hobart to Launceston, Tasmania
Hobart to Bay of Fires
It’s no wonder it’s one of travel’s most desirable locations. White sandy beaches, impossibly clear waters and literally miles of unspoiled paradise to explore, discover the wonder that stretches over 50 kilometres, the Bay of Fires.
How to get from Hobart to Launceston
This is a great way to see Tasmania in holidays, and it allows you to spend a few days in Hobart and Launceston at either end.
Straight through the middle
Follow the Heritage Highway straight through the middle of Tasmania. The road dates back to the 1800s, when it was built by convict road gangs, so this is one for the history buffs. At less than three hours, the Heritage Highway is the quickest way to get from Hobart to Launceston, but it’s also the least impressive. Stop in at the towns of Kempton, Ross, Tunbridge and Campbell Town.
Via the East Coast
This route is all about sea views and fresh produce. Depart Hobart via the Tasman Highway, stopping at Cambridge if you fancy a whisky tasting. Continue through Sorrel and Orford, stopping at Triabunna, a small town on Spring Bay, for a seafood lunch. The head north along the coast, stopping at Swansea and following on to Coles Bay and Freycinet National Park for that famous view of Wineglass Bay. Next, you can either continue inland through Campbell Town and Evandale, or, if you have more time, head north to the Bay of Fires with its white sand beaches and distinctive orange-hued granite boulders.
Via the West Coast
This route features some of Tasmania’s most incredible scenery. Depart Hobart through the Derwent Valley towards Strahan, through the charming country town of Hamilton, across the Derwent Bridge, through Lake St Clair National Park, Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park and Queenstown. Continue on through Zeehan and Rosebery, stopping to explore Montezuma Falls, one of Tasmania’s highest waterfalls. Next stop is the breathtaking Cradle mountain, after which you can either head directly to Launceston or double back and follow the north coast through Burnie and Devonport.
If you have more time: visit Cataract Gorge in Launceston, and MONA, Cascades Female Factory and Port Arthur Historic Site near Hobart.
Fly into: Hobart orLaunceston.
Fly out of: Launceston or Hobart.
Famous for: The ever-changing and spectacular scenery.
The Grand Pacific Drive, New South Wales
Winding through the Royal National Park and out over Sea Cliff Bridge, The Grand Pacific Drive from Sydney is brimming with highlights. From blustering blowholes to the white sand beaches of Jervis Bay this south coast trip ticks all of the boxes.
How to get to the Grand Pacific Drive
Head south out of Sydney via the Pacific Highway and you’ll come to the spectacular Royal National Park, the world’s second-oldest National Park, where your adventure begins. Weave through rain forest-like terrain until you reach Stanwell Tops, a popular jumping-off point for hang gliders, which boasts incredible views all the way to Wollongong.
Your journey continues along the coast, through the small towns of Stanwell Park and Coalcliff, until you reach the famous Sea Cliff Bridge, which hugs the headland cliffs and runs right over the Pacific Ocean. Follow on through Clifton, Coledale, Scarborough and Austinmer, where you’ll find a series of sheltered golden beaches, the perfect stop for lunch or a swim.
Moving inland slightly, the road continue through the city of Wollongong. Driving south, take the turnoff to Kiama and drive through this pretty seaside town, with it’s stunning harbour, lighthouse, famous ‘blowhole’ and plenty of accommodation options.
From Kiama, you can either continue south along the headland and through lush green scenery towards Gerringong and Gerroa, or inland to Jamberoo, a pretty country town with a beautiful rainforest walk.
If you have more time: explore the Kangaroo Valley and the Southern Highlands from Berry all the way to Canberra.
Fly into: Sydney
Fly out of: Sydney, or Canberra if you want to extend your trip.
Famous for: The ocean views. The Grand Pacific Drive runs along the Pacific Ocean, and the Sea Cliff Bridge veers out above the waves.