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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.
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!
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.
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
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.
The Twelve Apostles
Loch Ard Gorge
Port Campbell National Park
Split Point Lighthouse (especially if you loved the Round The Twist television series)
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
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.
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.
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
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!
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:
West MacDonnell Ranges National Park
Finke Gorge National Park
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
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!
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!
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.
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!
For more road trips in Australia, check out these itineraries:
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!