HOW TO ROAD TRIP AUSTRALIA
Road Trips are very popular in Australia, which is no surprise due to the size of the country, stunning long stretches of desert, beaches, mountains and the necessary travel between cities.
Whether your Australian travel bucket list includes the East Coast Australia road trip, a Queensland road trip, a road trip to Adelaide from Melbourne, Western Australia road trip, or any one of the ultimate road trips Australia has to offer, this guide will assist with best tips for planning a road trip in Australia.
Here are 7 Life Changing Road Trips in Australia to add to your future Australian road trip itinerary.
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Best Road Trip in VICTORIA
7. Great Ocean Road
No ultimate Australian road trip bucket list would be complete without The Great Ocean Road.
If you are planning an Australian road trip, The Great Ocean Road in Victoria is one of the top Road Trips and one of the best scenic drives in Australia.
The stretch of 243 kms of beach along the road from Torquay (1.5 hours from Melbourne city) all the way to Allansford (10 mins from Warrnambool).
This is a personal top part of the coast of mine to visit, due to the clean, wild beaches and quietness of some of the areas. The Great Ocean Road is a lovely place to visit, even in the colder months.
In some areas of this winding beach road, you may not see a single soul as you gaze along the long stretches of beach to the orange cliffs and shrubbery of the dunes. Other areas are popular, particularly over summer holidays, and at the closer end to Melbourne.
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On some of the narrower parts of the road it’s important to keep an eye out for increased traffic or groups of bikes (motor or bicycle) at all hours around the windy stretches of the road.
This Australian road trip starts at Torquay, and heading west, you pass Jan Juc and the famous Bells Beach, then on towards Anglesea. You’ll see pods of surfers beyond the huge cliffs, epic waves and small milk bars to stop for hot chips or drinks. The annual Rip Curl Pro surf competition is held at Easter time here each year- a World Tour surfing competition, due to the large surf swell and history here.
Surrounded by large orange cliffs and driving distance from shops and general public, Bells Beach and surrounding areas are still fairly un- populated, aside from surfers and at competition time.
As you continue west, the road winds through small holiday stops, Fairhaven, Aireys Inlet, Moggs Creek, all with with holiday houses perched across the road for the best views, and with calmer beaches for kids and families. Most of these areas have a cafe or two serving coffee, delicious food and supplies, newspapers and essentials.
If you’re lucky enough to stay overnight at Aireys inlet or be driving past at the right time, the Aireys pub on the hill serves a classic pub meal, with sea views.
Any further along the Great Ocean Road, it is advised to take more time than a day trip from Melbourne, due to distance. The next main town is Lorne. Incredible waterfalls within The Otway National Park in the hills behind Lorne, add to the charm of this small surf town. Many eateries and coffee spots to stop in at along the way, or overnight accommodation options.
Then comes Wye River and Kennett River, both lovely family style spots, with small camp grounds, before the larger town of Apollo Bay (essential booking for these camp grounds, as they are busy in holiday periods).
Apollo Bay has plenty to do, with near by waterfalls, calm beaches and plenty of seafood, cafes, the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse, a museum and accommodation options, also providing a perfect stop half way along the entire length of the Great Ocean Road.
Continuing along, a drive an hour and a half further west are the Twelve Apostles, near the seaside beach town of Port Campbell. These rocks stacked in the sea along the jagged coastline are a tourist attraction for a reason, due to the spectacular natural sight, before heading for a meal or night stay at the nearby town Port Campbell.
Port Campbell has accommodation options, hotels and this bed and breakfast , with short drives to some of the most stunning beaches and cliffs of the area.
This part of the Great Ocean Road Australian road trip finishes at Lochard Gorge, a stunning beach enclosed by a gorge of natural rocks 3 minutes from the 12 Apostles. The smooth clear water of this bay is essential to the road trip list if you’re down this far along the Great Ocean Road.
Last but not least is the formally named London Bridge, currently called London Arch. The bridge part of the naturally eroded rock collapsed in 1990
All in all, you’ll find the Great Ocean Road to be quiet and spectacular places to visit, all managable road trips from Melbourne.
Best Road Trip in NEW SOUTH WALES
6. Sapphire Coast Road Trip
This part of Australia is called the Sapphire coast for a reason- the water is a spectacular colour of blue green.
If you’re driving to Melbourne from Sydney, this part of the coast is a 6 hour drive from either city, adding this to the list of top road trips in Australia, and one of the best road trips in NSW.
The Sapphire Coast consists of towns Bermagui, Tathra, Merimbula, Pambula and Eden.
These towns along the southern NSW coast boast markets, a discovery centre, hiking trails, fishing, whale watching, nearby hills lakes and national parks.
There’s oysters in Bermagui, cheese and dairy products in Bega, or whale watching in Eden, mountain mike tracks in Tathra and scuba diving in Merimbula.
These seaside towns were unaffected by the recent fires in NSW.
From town to town the Oysters are award winning and the restaurants and produce are delicious.
How to get to the Sapphire Coast
Travel from Canberra along the Monaro Highway to Cooma, the Snowy Mountains highway to the Sapphire Coast.
Travel from Melbourne along the Princes Highway all the way through Gippsland Victoria until you reach the NSW border. Then you are at the beginning!
Best Road Trip in WESTERN AUSTRALIA
5. Gibb River Road Trip
Gibb River Road, Western Australia is 660 KM, and runs straight through the Kimberley region. From Wyndham to Derby. A 4WD adventure, outback stations, remote country, gorgeous, Indigenous sites.
Keep in mind, petrol is expensive and 2 roadhouses on the road Mt Barnett sells Petrol and both stations sell petrol.
If you’re not a camper, there are also a lot of lodges and station options to stay.
Incredible gorges along the way are worth this adventurous road trip, aswell and the view of the ranges.
El Questros six star retreat The Homestead, attracting celebrities and music legends from around the globe, and hosts a gentle mixture of Australian landscape, plus infinity pool.
When is the Best time to travel Gibb River Road:
The Best time to travel Gibb River Road is from May onwards in the Dry Season.
Best to check road conditions ahead of time mainroads.wa.gov.au or 138 138.
Open until October, the road is best when completed over more than a week.
4. Sydney to Brisbane Road Trip
Another popular Australian Road Trip, due to accessibility and popular beaches, is the Sydney to Queensland coastal drive (which includes the popular Sydney to Brisbane Road Trip), along the Pacific Coast.
If you are planning an East Coast of Australia Road Trip, note that the 900 km long Brisbane to Sydney drive, there is diversity in attractions on this road trip, from beach side towns, rivers, sub tropical hinterland, wineries and the hippie and surf element Bryon Bay.
There’s the Hunter Valley wine region, which boasts 150 wineries north of Sydney. With rolling hills of National Parks and vast history from the wine region, a definite visit for wine lovers.
Further up the coast towards, Coffs Harbor, in the north coast of NSW, has beaches, an amusement park, wales, wildlife and coral reefs. A town which is growing into a city.
Further north, are Byron Bay and the surrounding towns, beaches and hinterland, which are worth staying at least a few nights.
Although a busy town, with everyone from backpackers, families, locals, hippies, surfers, I recommend staying little out of town at either Belongil, Suffolk Park, Broken Head or similar areas, depending if you’re a beach person or prefer the rain forest.
Byron has everything to offer from pristine beaches, surf spots to learn surfing, dolfin spotting, paddock to plate restaurants, markets, breweries and hikes.
Byron Bay should be a definite stop while on your Sydney to Brisbane Road Trip, or as part of your entire East Coast of Australia Road Trip!
Best Road Trip in QUEENSLAND
3. Cairns to Cape Tribulation Road Trip
This Australian road trip from Cairns north all the way to Cape Tribulation is only 2-3 hours and is one of the best road trips on the East Coast of Australia. This road trip is part of the larger known Sydney to Port Douglas road trip
The lush coastline, warm climate and proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, this Road Trip is filled with plenty of stopping places for supplies, and campgrounds to set up for a night (or 7!).
It’s best to research the peak periods, but this part of the world always appears relaxed and not too busy, with the general holidaymakers heading to Port Douglas or Palm Cove for a resort style unwinding holiday.
There are options to hire a portable motorhome from Cairns and drive through the hills and country side, first stop Palm Cove. Like Port Douglas‘ younger cousin, this spot is ideal for families and couples, laid back with plenty of restaurants, trips to the reef and a lovely beach to relax on.
*Insider Palm Cove tip:
Be sure to book accommodation with a sheltered pool if you’re travelling in the off peak season and planning a couple of days here, as it tends to get windy along the beach in the afternoons.
*For more on best things to do in Palm Cove, see this post:
Depending on your preferences Port Douglas is perfect for lunch or a few nights on your road trip. Further north there is the stunning Mosman Gorge, as you make your way up towards Cape Tribulation.
Cape Tribulation has some quiet and very suitable accommodation. Ensure to book ahead, especially at peak holiday times.
Best Road Trip in SOUTH AUSTRALIA
2. Across The Nullabour Road Trip
One of the best Australian road trips, is across The Nullabour.
The Nullabour runs between goldfields of Western Australia and the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, along the southern edge. A sealed road which travels through remote areas and preparation is essential.
Bring Additional water, petrol and food.
This straight, long and FLAT road is a place to see heaps of wildlife, including camels, kangaroos and emus. It takes 6 days to drive the entire Nullabour which gives you an indication of the long journey, and making this trip one of the most epic Road Trips in Australia.
From the Nullabour cliffs in Western Australia, you will see wales beyond the worlds longest line of sea cliffs.
Best Road Trip in TASMANIA
1. Circle Tasmania Road Trip
Take 6 to 10 days for this trip, or split it up in smaller sections.
This spectacular southern state of Hobart in Australia, is easy to fly to (under an hour from Melbourne) or if you are keen to take your car from the mainland there is the Spirit of Tasmania overnight boat, leaving from Port Melbourne.
Well worth the visit if you like quieter rolling country side, national parks rivers and un- affected beaches. Everything is a lot more low key in Tasmania, and VERY pretty for the keen road tripper.
A camper van or motor home is ideal for getting around Tasmania, or alternatively if you have a car, there are plenty of accommodation options.
Highlights and things to do:
- Hobart. Salamanca markets are HUGE markets in Salamanca. Put aside at least a couple of hours if you’re a market person.
Bars and restaurants in Salamanca, are perfect for a guiness, cider, beer or sparkling wine as you watch locals and tourists meander by.
- Mt Wellington is perfect for a hike up the nearby mountain, which takes 45 mins to hike up to the top. Incredible views on a clear day!
- MONA Art Museum experience. For all the modern art lovers out there, this world class iconic art museum is a huge draw card of Hobart. Take the MONA ferry from Salamanca for the ultimate MONA experience.
- Hiking in Freycinet National Park, (3 hours up the East Coast), or Mount Field National Park (key Waterfalls)
- Port Arthur (historic Prison)
- Bay of Fires
- Cradle Mountain National Park
- Bruny Island. Southern Coast of Tasmania, $38 ferry across to the island from the town of Kettering. The island offers local produce and cheese, wine. There are also many hikes on Bruny island.
If you are planning a Road Trip in Australia, ensure to research road, weather and safety conditions beforehand and take enough supplies in remote areas, including water, petrol, spare tires and clothing. For Visa enquiries check the Australian Government website.
Some of the best and spectacular places in Australia are off the beaten track, un- populated, and often stumbled upon during an Australian road trip adventure. Be sure to talk to fellow road trippers and communities, stay safe and you’ll have your best ultimate Australia Road Trip adventure yet!