wildlife sign on Australian road

The Best Road Trips In Australia For Your Bucket List

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When it comes to finding road trip destinations, Australia is spoiled for choice. The country is home to some of the most diverse and beautiful landscapes on the planet, making it the perfect place to hit the open road. Whether you’re looking for stunning coastlines, lush rainforests, or red desert plains, there’s a road trip in Australia that’s perfect for you.

To help you plan your next adventure, we’ve put together a list of some of the best road trips in Australia that should definitely be on your bucket list.

wildlife sign on Australian road

Why You Should Consider Taking Road Trips In Australia

If you’re looking for an amazing way to see the country, there’s no better way than by taking a road trip. Road trips offer the perfect opportunity to explore Australia at your own pace and see some of the most incredible places that the country has to offer

Plus, road tripping is a great way to save money on flights and travel costs. You can even turn it into an epic road trip camping adventure!

When you’re on the road, you can camp under the stars or stay in budget-friendly motels and hotels. This makes road-tripping one of the most affordable ways to travel around Australia.

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!

We share some of the best Australian road trip routes to help you plan your driving adventures down under!

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your map and start planning your next Australian road trip adventure!

Tips For A Great Australian Road Trip Experience

The Best Australian Road trips

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.

Check out Jucy Campervans for a fantastic budget option! You can read our full review here.

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. These tips will help keep your family safe while travelling.

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 a reliable, experienced and trustworthy provider.

Travel Insurance: Make sure you don’t leave home without travel insurance. Trust us, it’s one of those things you don’t want to skip, especially when travelling with kids. We recommend World Nomads.

In addition, you should always check how full your car’s 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 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.

Need more help planning your next road trip? Grab our mammoth printable planner!!

Ultimate road trip planner

Now let’s get to the good stuff!

The Best Road Trips In Australia

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:

1. Great Ocean Road, Victoria

The best Australian road trips

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. Especially in the summer months when you have the chance to enjoy some of the best beaches in Victoria!

Take your time to stop and appreciate the many sights, such as the famous 12 Apostles, and many other 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.

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.

2. Brisbane To Sydney, Australian East Coast

Three sisters blue mountains

Go from Queensland to New South Wales, travel down the Australian East Coast between the two capital cities, experiencing some of the most beautiful scenery along the way.

Stop at all the essential Brisbane to Sydney road trip stops on your way down or do a round trip, seeing half on the way back.

From national parks, some of the most stunning beaches and plenty of family fun along the way!

Brisbane To Sydney Distance:

The total distance between Brisbane and Sydney is 910 KM direct, however, you will want to spend a few extra days at least exploring the different points of interest along the way.

Must-See Sights:

  • Gold Coast Hinterland
  • Byron Bay Lighthouse
  • Big Banana Fun Park
  • Nambucca Heads
  • Stockton Sand Dunes
  • Merewether Beach
  • Glasshouse Mountains

Best Time to Go:

The spring and summer months are the best time to enjoy the East Coast so you can make the most of beautiful NSW beaches and rugged landscape.

However, the summer holidays come with bigger crowds and this road trip is great all year round!

Road Trip Tunes : 100 Best Road Trip Songs (Get The Spotify Playlist)

3. The Savannah Way, Queensland to Western Australia

Broome Sunset - Best Of The Kimberley

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.

Must-See Sights:

  • 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 Queensland road trip

4. The Big Lap, Australia Wide

Car mirror driving along open road

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, and 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.

Must-See Sights:

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, from the Flinders Rangers to the Bay Of Fires, Uluru and the Daintree Rainforest!

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.

5. Red Centre Way, Northern Territory

uluru in nothern 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:

  • Uluru
  • 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.

6. Hobart to Launceston, Tasmania

hobart to launceston road trip - 8 day self drive Tasmania itinerary

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, beautiful beaches, 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!

Must-See Sights:

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!

7. Brisbane To Cairns, Queensland

prawn star trawlers cairns marina

If you’re looking for an epic road trip that takes you through some of Australia’s most incredible tropical scenery, then the drive from Brisbane to Cairns is for you.

This coastal route winds its way up the eastern coast of Queensland, taking in the Sunshine Coast, Fraser Island, and the Great Barrier Reef.

This coastal drive will take you past some of the most beautiful beaches in Queensland.

Brisbane To Cairns Distance

The distance between Brisbane and Cairns is around 19 hours of driving time or 1,678km. The time it takes you to do this drive will depend on whether you are going one way or making the return trip. We would recommend up to 2 weeks for the return trip with so many incredible places to visit along the way!

Must-See Sights:

Best Time to Go:

This drive can be done all year round although spring would be the perfect time to enjoy the warm weather and water activities, without being too hot! Even during winter, you will find North Queensland to be pleasant temperatures.

Now you are ready to discover some of the most amazing road trips that Australia has to offer to you.

Road Trips With Kids

family road trip kids in car

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 over 2-3 days.

This is a great way to sample whether this type of holiday is suited to you and your family before you dive in with a big trip.

To keep the kids happy, have frequent stops to stretch their legs and give them a change of scenery. Loads of healthy snacks are a must! With kid-friendly road trip meals.

PLAN YOUR ROAD TRIP MEALS AND SNACKS. GET THE FREEBIES!

Printable road trip meal planner

And of course, entertainment!

Make your own DIY travel activity packs full of fun stuff the kids can do during stops and bring a few of these fun road trip activities for kids.

Check out 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 loads of printable activities related to road trips.

Check out our top tips for surviving road trips with kids and make sure you pick up some of these classic Australian children’s books before you go to get your kids inspired to see Australia.

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 holiday, whether you are. There are so many amazing road trips to take in Australia, that it’s hard to know where to start. But if we had to choose just a few, these would be our top picks.

So what are you waiting for? Start planning your Australian road trip adventure today!

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!

the best road trips in Australia