Ever since I can remember, Australia has been a destination that I’ve been itching to go to. Everyone that I meet seems to rave about it, highlighting its beautiful beaches, barren deserts, and remote lands. During my travels, I have met countless Australians who all say the same thing- the best way to see their country is by going on a roadtrip. To give you a little bit of travel inspiration, here are the top Australian roadtrip routes to help you get started on planning.
Great Ocean Road
Distance: 664 km
Length: 3 days (can be done in 1, but we recommend 3!)
The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s best roadtrip destinations. While there are a lot of tourist buses that do this route in one day, we recommend taking your time and spreading it out over three days. The route usually starts in Torquay, Melbourne which is located an hour away from the main city. Undeniably, the most famous attraction during this entire drive are the 12 apostles, a group of towering limestone rocks located right next to each other.
Sadly, due to erosion and the constant battering from waves, there are now about 8 left. Nonetheless, it is still a sight to see and worth visiting. Aside from the scenic drive along the coast, other highlights during this Australian roadtrip are the small seaside towns along the way, famous surfing beaches, as well as wildlife reserves that you can visit during your trip.
Day 1: Torquay- Apollo Bay
Day 2: Apollo Bay- Port Fairy
Day 3: Port Fairy- Melbourne (You also have a few inland routes available if you don’t want to backtrack
Red Center Way
Distance: 1135 km loop
Taking you through some of Australia’s most iconic destinations in the outback, the Red Center Way route is one of the best roadtrips to take in the region and is something we definitely recommend you make time for. Travel through towering gorges, sandy deserts, and valleys to see amazing wildlife in Uluru and Kings Canyon, and towns like Alice Springs. During the journey, you can stop along the way to swim and cool off, swimming in incredible water holes. The beauty of driving yourself through the outback is that you can stop anywhere you please, pitching a tent or staying in nearby wilderness lodges. If you’re going to be in Australia for a little while, you can even consider buying a campervan to always have somewhere homey to stay on your roadtrip adventures.
You can also check sites like Gumtree for reliable cars to take on a roadtrip. Naturally, the highlight of this entire roadtrip is seeing Uluru, also known as Ayer’s Rock which is a huge sandstone monolith located in the Red Center. Seeing the sunset and watching the sky change in various shades of red and orange while gazing out at this massive rock is absolutely magical and will be the highlight of your Red Center Way roadtrip.
Day 1: Alice Springs to Glen Helen
Day 2: Glen Helen to Kings Canyon
Day 3: Explore Kings Canyon
Day 4: Kings Canyon to Uluru
Day 5: Uluru and Kata Tjuta
Day 6: Uluru to Alice Springs
Driving the East Coast: Brisbane to Cairns
Distance: 1714 km
Length: 6 days
If you want to drive through Australia’s most pristine beaches, we recommend hitting the East Coast, driving from Cairns to Brisbane. This route will take you through a few scenic highlights from Fraser Island, the Whitsundays, and the Great Barrier Reef.
This drive will also take you through Queensland which is known as the adventure capital of Australia, offering a variety of activities like skydiving, bungee jumping, and rafting. The best part about this particular Australian road trip route is the activities that you can do along the way. Starting off in Brisbane and ending at the Great Barrier reef where you can opt to scuba dive or snorkel while enjoying all the attractions along the way.
Day 1: Brisbane-Fraser Island
Day 2: Fraser Island to Bundaberg
Day 3: Bundaberg to Rockhampton
Day 4: Rockhampton to Mackay
Day 5: Mackay to Townsville
Day 6: Townsville to Cairns
Pacific Highway: Brisbane to Sydney
Distance: 940 km
Length: 5 days (can be extended longer)
This popular road trip route takes you through two of Australia’s largest cities, Brisbane and Sydney. This stunning route takes you from one beautiful beach to the next as you drive along the Pacific coast. A few highlights are seeing the Gold Coast, Hunter Valley, Byron Bay, and Lennox Head. If you travel during the right period, you can also stop anywhere along the route and go on a whale watching trip to chance upon the humpback whales’ migration towards Antarctica.
The best part of this route is that you’re able to stop anywhere you want (given you have your own transport), exploring the many beautiful islets and coves along the way. While in Hunter Valley, why not check out some great things to do? Hunter Valley wine tours are a great way to spend a day away from your car and let someone else do the driving for a change while you taste the unique hot climate reds and delicious Semillons the region is known for!
If you want to carry on road tripping from Sydney, another fantastic route is the Sydney to Melbourne coastal drive which has heaps of beautiful sights along the way. If you do make it to Melbourne, check out these awesome Airbnb apartments in Melbourne.
Day 1: Brisbane-Byron Bay
Day 2: Byron Bay-Coffs Harbour
Day 3: Coffs Harbour-Port Macquarie
Day 4: Port Macquarie- Port Stephens
Day 5: Port Stephens- Sydney
Adelaide to Perth
Distance: 2697 km
Length: 9 days
Although this trip is technically one of the longest in distance, doing it in a span of 9-10 days is totally feasible. It is almost always included in top Australian roadtrip lists due to the variety of scenic routes that you can see along the way. With the Nullarbor Plain being one of the most memorable ones amongst them all. For those that are unfamiliar with this area, it is a large arid area with no trees on site. You can literally drive for hundreds of kilometers (it is Australia’s longest straight road) without seeing anyone.
Despite the barren-like atmosphere, it is a sight to see! A few highlights of this route are Kalgoorlie, a visit to Cape Le Grand National Park, and Wave Rock. Upon reaching Perth, if you have more time, you can consider heading to Margaret River to check out their vineyards, restaurants, and beaches.
Day 1: Adelaide to Port Augusta
Day 2: Port Augusta to Ceduna
Day 3: Ceduna to Nullabor Plain
Day 4: Nullabor Plain to Eucla
Day 5: Eucla to Caigun
Day 6: Caiguna to Norseman
Day 7: Norseman to Coolgardie
Day 8: Coolgardie to Merredin
Day 9: Merredin to Perth
Hopefully, these itineraries have helped you plan your next trip to Australia! While I purposely chose routes that you can do within a week or less, if you are purchasing a car, you can most definitely combine these trips as you travel all around Australia.
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