The Best Road Trips Around Australia

Dec 15, 2015

by LAURA BOX, Writer

Australia is the perfect place to get lost – not literally – in the wilderness. These fantastic road trips around the country are sure to inspire your next summer getaway.

Grand Pacific Drive, New South Wales

The start of the spectacular 140-kilometre, mostly coastal, drive between the Royal National Park and the Shoalhaven is less than an hour south of Sydney. It’s an area rich in history and natural beauty, from the 1881 shipwreck on the Towradgi Beach walkway to Kiama’s famous blowhole. Be sure to visit Honeymoon Bay in Currarong. A limited number of campsites are available, making this picturesque spot a popular overnighter.

Don’t miss: The 665-metre Sea Cliff Bridge suspended above the Pacific Ocean. 

Great Ocean Road, Victoria

Winding its way from Torquay to Warrnambool around the rugged southern coastline, the Great Ocean Road is renowned as one of Australia’s most stunning routes. And it’s easy to see its appeal: the infamous swirls at Bells Beach, gourmet food trails, waterfalls and the abundant native wildlife. Keep an eye out for koalas in Great Otway National Park and take in a sunset over the 12 Apostles.

Don’t miss: Brae, in Birregurra, a three-hatted dining experience offering a menu inspired by the organic produce grown on site.

Gibb River Road, Western Australia

As one of Australia’s more challenging routes, the 660-kilometre Gibb River Road requires a little more planning. Branching north of Derby, near Broome, the road cuts through the Kimberley wilderness. Pack a few jerry cans of fuel and enjoy the real Aussie outback, where you may encounter freshwater crocodiles, rock wallabies on the cliffs surrounding the gorges and Mitchell’s water monitors sunning themselves next to waterholes.

Don’t miss: The detour to the gorgeous Manning Gorge when the falls are still flowing.

Cape to Cape, Western Australia

Australia’s South West region is home to spectacular beaches, boutique wineries and giant karri trees but a lesser-known attraction is the extensive cave system that stretches between Cape Leeuwin and Cape Naturaliste. Visit Jewel Cave, Augusta, which features one of the longest stalactites of any tourist cave in the world.

Don’t miss: Spotlighting for possums in Tuart Forest National Park, near Busselton. Take a torch and complete the easy 1.5-kilometre self-guided trail at night, when nocturnal creatures come out to play.

Red Centre Way, Northern Territory

If you’re after an iconic red-dirt experience, the loop encompassing Uluru and Alice Springs is it. Experience Aboriginal culture and visit sacred sights such as Kings Canyon, the Ochre Pits and, of course, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

Don’t miss: Floating up Redbank Gorge on an inflatable ring.

Cairns to Cape Tribulation, Queensland

This drive in tropical North Queensland is the only place in the world where two World Heritage sites – the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef – exist side by side. Along the way, stop at Port Douglas and enjoy an outer-reef snorkelling tour (look out for a gentle, giant Maori Wrasse).

Don’t miss: Swimming in Mossman Gorge and witnessing cascading waterfalls within the lush rainforest.

Bass Highway, Tasmania

Covering the northern coast of Tasmania from Launceston to Stanley, the Bass Highway is one of Australia’s unsung road trips. Visit the natural blackwood forest sinkhole, west of Stanley, or search for platypus in Founders Lake at Eugenana.

Don’t miss: The Edge of the World, an eerie lookout at the westernmost point of the highway with the world’s longest uninterrupted stretch of ocean.

Kangaroo Island, SA

The diversity of Kangaroo Island within a relatively small area allows visitors to accomplish a range of activities in under four days. Begin in the town of Penneshaw and check out the markets held there on the first Sunday of each month. Spend a night in the secluded Highgate Farmhouse and visit Vivonne Bay in the morning, followed by at trip to Seal Bay to glimpse the large sea-lion colony.

Don’t miss: Kingscote’s Island Beehive Café to sample the local honey, followed by boutique distillery Kangaroo Island Spirits (try the Wild Gin!).