Australia is a huge country that offers visitors dominant, expansive landscapes. From hills and mountain ranges to picturesque coast side views. Travellers can discover and enjoy more of the fantastic views that Australia has to offer, if they avoid the quickest route from A to B, and embark themselves on breathtaking and adventurous great Australian road trips instead.
Road trips are usually epic and appeal to those explorer genes we all have. It is one of the best ways to see what wonders Australia has to offer and, if you are taking kids along, a road trip can make the whole travel experience more practical, cost-effective and flexible. Aside from the possible ‘Are we there yet?’ questions from the backseat!
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We share some of the best Australian road trip routes to help you plan your driving adventures down under!
BEST AUSTRALIAN ROAD TRIPS TO FALL IN LOVE WITH
It is so easy to misjudge the size of Australia. After all, it’s just an island, right? However, Australia is huge and some Australian travel routes need a fair bit of time. Especially if you are doing the round trip. Others are short and sweet, perfect for a long weekend or week-long adventure.
Here are some of the best Australian road trips to help you enjoy some of what Australia has on offer:
Great Ocean Road, Victoria
For many travellers, taking a trip along the Great Ocean Road is an Australian rite of passage. The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s most famous road trips and stretches along the southern coast from Torquay to Allansford, in Victoria. It is one of those trips that are better enjoyed slowly, without rushing.
Take your time to stop and appreciate the many sights and landmarks along the way, or just to stay and enjoy the scenery for a few extra minutes. Don’t forget to take your camera with you as there will be some impressive photo opportunities too!
You will get the most from a Great Ocean Road driving trip if you take a few days to do it in, and make sure you go all the way to my beautiful hometown of Portland, less than an hour from the South Australian border. It is a stunning little coastal town at the end of the Great Ocean Road and so many people just miss it.
Great Ocean Road Distance:
The Great Ocean Drive is not only famous but also one of the most beautiful Australian coastlines. From Torquay, just an hour away from Melbourne, it stretches 250 kilometres to Portland as it offers stunning coastal scenery, wildlife, hiking, waterfalls and beachside towns.
Must See Sights:
- The Twelve Apostles
- Loch Ard Gorge
- Port Campbell National Park
- Split Point Lighthouse (especially if you loved the Round The Twist television series)
- Teddy’s Lookout
- Apollo Bay
- Port Fairy for fish and chips
As one of the world’s most scenic drives, it is home to some of Australia’s most famous surf meccas. Venture into the pristine rainforest for a bushwalk and discover an astonishing variety of native wildlife. Yes! You can spot some native wildlife while you’re at it.
Best Time to Go:
December and January are appealing to road trip Victoria if you are into surfing and don’t mind chaotic tourist spots or busy roads.
Winter months are quieter and offer not only picturesque views but whale sightings and intense sunsets as well. Check out some of the Great Ocean Road highlights and start planning your ocean view road trip. This is definitely one of the best east coast road trips Australia offers.
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The Savannah Way, Queensland to Western Australia
Located across the top part of Australia, The Savannah Way is a fantastic road trip that invites travellers to explore the northern section of Outback Queensland. It stretches from Cairns (in Queensland) to Broome, in Western Australia, making it a significant road trip that needs a fair bit of time to enjoy.
Savannah Way Distance:
Broome to Cairns is around 3700 kilometres although there are alternative shorter routes that won’t take you all the way, if you are short on time. Check out the distances here.
- Undara Lava Tubes
- Boodjamulla National Park
- Millaa Milla Falls
- Gobbold Gorge
- Mimbi Caves
- Cable Beach
Best Time to Go:
Take advantage of the good weather and spend from April to September travelling between Broome and Cairns. As it is the dry season, temperatures are pleasant and all roads are usually open.
Read next: Stop by Bundaberg during a road trip
The Big Lap, Australia Wide
Those looking for an adventure, driving a 4WD and with plenty of time to spare (six months at least) should definitely indulge in this long term travel road trip. Adventurous spirits will enjoy this epic journey! The big lap is the ultimate Australian road trip!
As you drive, you will pass by big city lights, verdant green forests, sleepy coastal towns, remote waterholes, the dusty red outback or white-sandy beaches. The Big Lap is a great opportunity to enjoy everything that Australia has to offer.
If you are doing the Big Lap with kids, get them excited with some great children’s books for travelling Australia.
The Big Lap Australia Distance:
As the name suggests, this route circumnavigates Australia and follows some 15 thousand kilometres of Highway One, linking seven of the capital cities as you skirt the coastline between Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Cairns, Darwin, Broome, Perth, Esperance, Adelaide, Melbourne and Hobart.
The sights for this one would be too long to list, but make sure to stop in each of the capital cities and regional gems, discovering what each of the cities has on offer. Every state in Australia has something special to see and do, plus the ferry trip to Tasmania is an adventure in itself!
For some of the highlights around Australia, make sure you check out our Australia travel guide to help you start planning your big lap road trip. However, the best way is to just take it each day as it comes.
Best Time to Go:
Doing a drive this big needs at least 6 months, so picking a time is tricky for a trip this long! Avoid the wet season up north, or if you are a summer chaser, avoid the south during the winter because it will be cold! Australia is pretty amazing all year round though.
Red Centre Way, Northern Territory
No list of the most epic Australian road trips would be complete without including a visit to the Outback. And even though you can always take the Stuart Highway between Uluru and Alice Springs, we invite you to take the scenic ride instead along the Red Centre Way.
Driving this route will allow you to discover stunning landscapes, gorges, canyons and amazing hiking trails. Wouldn’t it be great to enjoy a lovely, relaxing and recharging walk after driving for so many hours? Take your time and get back to nature!
Find some great tips on exploring Uluru with kids before you go.
Red Centre Way Distance:
The Red Centre way takes you on a 1135 km loop from Alice Springs, taking in some dirt roads along the way, through the red centre. If you don’t have a 4WD or want to stick to sealed roads, the alternative route is just over 1700 kilometres. You need about 5 or 6 days to complete the loop, but a week or more would allow you to pace yourself.
Must See Sights:
- Kata Tjuta
- West MacDonnell Ranges National Park
- Kings Canyon
- Finke Gorge National Park
- Rainbow Valley
Best Time to Go:
For more mild temperatures, the best time to drive the Red Centre way is between May and September, when the maximum temperature during the day is typically between 20°C and 30°C.
Hobart to Launceston, Tasmania
Tasmania is a beautiful part of Australia that many have compared to the green landscape and rolling hills of the United Kingdom or New Zealand. You won’t find any desert in Tassie, but you will find plenty of scenic roads to coast along.
Tasmania has stunning coastlines, mountainscapes, rainforests and quaint cities all equally worth exploring. You can reach Tasmania from the mainland of Australia via ferry if you wish to take your own car, or hire one instead, like we did on our first trip.
Hobart to Launceston Distance:
The distance between Hobart and Launceston is quite short if you don’t want to take in the sights, however we recommend doing it over a week or 2, like our 8 day Hobart to Launceston itinerary so you can enjoy many of the great cities in between.
It actually only takes around 3 hours if you want to go the shortest, most direct route, but don’t do that. Trust us, take your time and enjoy exploring this state in detail!
- Cradle Mountain
- Tasman Island cruise
- Freycinet National Park
- Port Arthur Historic Site
- Wineglass Bay
Best Time to Go:
As for the time of year, it really depends on what you’re wanting out of your Tasmanian road trip. If you are looking for the warmer season, spring or summer is fine, or enjoy a winter escape and head there between May and August when the cold weather kicks in with a force!
While these are some of the best road trips Australia has to offer, there are so many more options for an incredible self drive Australian holidays, whether you are
Tips For A Great Australian Road Trip Experience
When getting ready for a road trip in such a vast country there are some things you should bear in mind in order to make sure you have an enjoyable experience. Overall, it’s pretty easy to self-drive in Australia.
You simply need to pick your mode of transport, define your route and get going if you want to keep it simple. Although if you are planning a multi-day road trip like most of these, you may want to consider whether to book accommodation along the way, take a caravan or tent or hire a campervan.
Staying Safe During Your Aussie Road Trip
Whether this is your first road trip or not, distances are definitely something you should consider as they are usually long. Most of the country is sparsely populated, which means that it can be easy to run into trouble if you haven’t planned your road stops for fuel (or toilet facilities).
That said, it is advisable that you never set off on any road trip in Australia without having purchased travel insurance for you and car rental damage insurance for your rental car. In both cases, make sure to opt for reliable, experienced and trustworthy provider.
In addition, you should always check how full your cars petrol tank is. Believe me, running out of petrol in the middle of the outback can be a nightmare! To avoid this, make sure that if you see a petrol station and have under a half tank left, fill it up! Even better if you have a phone app with a list of petrol stations on your route beforehand so that you have a clear idea of the distance from the next one.
And talking once again about adventure, never go off-road unless you have a 4×4 vehicle and experience with off-road routes. There are plenty of off-road tracks in Australia and it can be tempting to drive along them but they are literally off the beaten track and if you experience an issue with your car while on them, you can get into really very serious trouble.
Road Trips With Kids
Family road trips are loads of fun but they take a little extra planning! It can be a really budget-friendly way of travelling Australia with your kids.
If you’re not sure how your kids will go on a long road trip, try something shorter to begin with, such as a Sydney to Brisbane road trip. This is a great way to sample whether this type of holiday is suited to you and your family before you dive in a big trip.
To keep the kids happy, have frequent stops to stretch their legs and give them a change of scenery. Loads of snacks are a must! And of course, entertainment!
Make your own DIY travel activity packs full of fun stuff the kids can do during stops, and make sure you grab our mammoth road trip printables pack that you can print off every time you take a road trip, for fun family friendly activities and games the whole family can get involved with.
There are 16 pages of printable activities related to road trips. Check it out here:
Now you are ready to discover some of the most amazing road trips that Australia has to offer to you.
Do you have a favourite road trip you have done? Leave a comment below. We would love to hear it! And share this post to Pinterest via the image below! Be sure to follow us on Facebook or YouTube for more road trip inspiration like this!