Are you looking for some of the best road trips in Australia? This post by guest writer Jayde Ferguson will give you a great overview of what to expect if you’re considering travelling around Australia on a road trip.
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Route Planner Australia
Driving around Australia is amazing. In a land dominated by broad landscapes, paradise beaches and pockets of untouched wilderness, it would be ludicrous to always take the quickest route from A to B because there is so much to see.
Make no mistake though you need to plan your routes carefully as the distances between places can be vast and you will often be in remote places.
So do plan your routes, find out where you can purchase fuel, carry enough food and water, have a medical kit onboard, and be sensible about road conditions.
Australia has a lot to offer tourists and locals. If you want to road trip Australia you won’t be alone, because many Australians love hitting the open road.
Packing up your car, 4WD or camper van to tackle off the beaten tracks can be the best way to experience Australia’s vast and varied hotspots.
As one of the greatest tourist destinations on earth, with overseas visitors totalling 8.5 million per year, it’s no wonder this country is a dream destination, especially for those seeking out of the way places.
For locals, there are Aussie versions of foreign places begging to be explored only a road (or plane and road) trip away. For tourists, the choices for travelling over here are as diverse as Australia itself.
Best Road Trips in Australia
If you’re looking for a spontaneous road trip or a planned getaway here are the best road trips to take in Australia.
Perth to Ningaloo Reef | WA
This 1200-kilometre drive weaves along WA’s Coral Coast via Cervantes, Geraldton, Monkey Mia and Carnarvon to Exmouth.
The Perth to Ningaloo drive is one of Australia’s best road trips from Perth.
You can expect pristine beaches and an opportunity to see (and swim with) abundant marine life. If time permits, extend the drive to Broome from Exmouth to capture more of Western Australia’s north-west beauty.
Travellers should allow seven to eight days for this road trip, especially if you have access to a 4WD and want to soak up the essential spots. If you’re driving to Broome as well, add a few days onto your trip to explore there.
Highlights: Cable Beach (Broome), Turquoise Bay (Exmouth), The Pinnacles (for mystical rock formations), Carnarvon blowholes, Shell Beach (Shark Bay), Jacques Point (renowned surf break) and Pink Lake (Kalbarri).
Gibb River Road | WA
If you have a thirst for adventure, the Pilbara’s Gibb River Road is famous for its ancient landforms, secluded gorges and savannah experience.
It’s a Western Australian road trip you’ll remember forever, and just one of the best road trips in Australia for an outback experience.
Ideally, a week road trip along one of the country’s greatest 4WD adventures makes a good journey. This will allow you to soak up the gorges, cascading waterfalls, bushwalks, 4WD tracks and national parks.
For travellers that don’t have a 4WD, you can still experience the Kimberley’s beauty in the northern section. Follow Gibb River Road into Emma’s Gorge and El Questro.
Highlights: Windjana Gorge (for Tunnel Creek cave and freshwater crocs), Emu Creek (for working cattle stations), Mt Elizabeth Station (for the station house and camping grounds), Emma Gorge (world attraction swimming spot), Zebedee Springs (natural thermal pools), and Lake Argyle (hire a boat and explore).
East Macs | NT
For travellers that want to break away from the typical tourist attractions, the East MacDonnell Ranges on the eastern side of Alice Springs is one of Australia’s most underrated road trips.
The sealed roads on this drive make it suitable for all adventurers, even with an ordinary car. Along the way you’ll be able to explore historic sites, including ghost towns and gold mines, and immerse yourself in the town’s local culture.
Highlights: Emily Gap National Park (sweet spot for birdwatchers), Trephina Gorge (great camping sites), Alrtunga Historical Reserve (explore the old mines and entire ghost town) and Ruby Gap (for the scenery and remoteness).
Googs Track | SA
Another underrated road trip is South Australia’s Googs Track, perfect for a desert adventure.
The dune track makes for a great recreational 4WD trail, despite its original intention to connect region properties with coastal shipping ports. If you’re planning on driving the 200km track of sand dunes and gravel road, take plenty of supplies as the area is very remote. Because of the track challenges and large dunes, this route is best suited for experienced 4WD owners.
Highlights: Rollercoaster ride sandy tracks made by local farmer, John ‘Goog’ Denton with his son. Check out their memorial near Drum Camp where they died working on the track.
The Great Ocean Road | VIC
For a drive that incorporates the country’s famous sun-kissed beaches and rugged scenery, the Great Ocean Road is one to add to the bucket list, and will surely rate as one of your best road trips in Australia.
This road trip deserves a few days to soak up all its ‘wow’ moments. However, you can still get a good snapshot of its beauty in a day (an easy 90-minute drive from Melbourne).
Winding 243 kilometres along the country’s coastline, the Great Ocean Road drive showcases shipwrecks, rainforests, sunburnt cliffs, national parks and the famous wave-sculpted rock formations, the Twelve Apostles.
Highlights: Aside from the obviously beautiful Twelve Apostles and Lord Arch Gorge, Bells Beach, The Grotto and The Bay of Islands are recommended to see. If you want to see southern right whales, stop at Warrnambool on the Great Ocean Road between June and October; or hike through the lush rainforest of Great Otway National Park.
Western Explorer Highway | TAS
While some of Tasmania’s best sights can be seen from the Great Eastern drive, Western Explorer is a hidden gem not many tourists know about.
Your Tasmania Road Trip could be driving the 284km between Strahan and Stanley. The road plunges deep into rainforests, beautiful countryside and the old gold rush town of Corinna. Also known as the ‘wild west’, because it’s the island’s wild soul, this well-kept secret explores both coastal and mountain landscapes so travellers truly get the best of both worlds.
Recommended to take a 4WD, although 2WD can be sufficient for most parts.
Highlights: Cradle Mountain (for multi-day hikes and forested river valleys), Tarkine Drive (for rainforest walks) and Arthur River (for scenic wonders).
Pacific Coast | NSW, QLD
From Sydney to Brisbane you can take Pacific Coast to drive through beachside towns, wineries, beaches and lush green hills.
As one of the greatest coastal drives in Australia, this road trip hosts beaches, charm and pretty landscapes. If you love your share of chocolate delights, fresh seafood, boutique restaurants and local food, detour west to Hunter Valley for cheese, olives, wine and all things delicious.
Highlights: Port Stephens (for dolphin watch cruises), Coffs Harbour (for stunning coastline and islands), Nambucca Heads (for their oysters, macadamia nuts and bananas) and Bryon Bay (for adrenalin and water based activities).
The Savannah Way
Linking tropical Cairns with Broome’s Kimberley region, The Savannah Way is roughly 3,700 kilometres of road.
You’ll get a taste of northern Queensland’s tropical wonders, including grassy plains and rainforests, with the outback wilderness of Broome and the Pilbara. This long drive through remote landscapes is better suited for travellers willing to camp most nights, armed with the supplies to cater. Whilst it many parts can be tackled with an ordinary car, 4WDs are recommended for more scenic and challenging journeys.
Highlights: Bungle Bungles range (below), Milla Milla Falls, Adel’s Grove, Mount Surprise and Cobbold Gorge.