Great Australian Road Trips
line decor
line decor

Great Ocean Road: Top of any list of great Australian drives is Great Ocean Road. Built between 1919 and 1932, the cliff-hugging road winds its way along the rugged south-western Victorian coastline between Torquay and Warrnambool, where wild seas and unmerciful currents earned it the name of the Shipwreck Coast.   Highlights include the Twelve Apostles rock formations, the Otways rainforest, Bells Beach, historic villages and seaside resort towns.

How long? 250 km


Watch the video: Beyond the Great Ocean Road

Sea Cliff Bridge

Grand Pacific Drive: NSW’s answer to Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, the Grand Pacific Drive, runs along a man-made cliff-hugging ledge between the pounding surf and towering escarpment wall north of Wollongong. A higlight is the 665-metre-long multi-span balanced cantilever bridge that curves around the cliffs 50 metres out to sea. Explore Royal National Park, check out the view from Stanwell Tops, stop for a swim at any number of surf beaches and eat fish and chips at the fishing harbour in Wollongong before visiting the spectacular Nan Tien Temple, the biggest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere.

How long? 71 km

Ebor Falls

The Waterfall Way: This classic touring drive starts on the mid-north NSW coast at seaside Coffs Harbour and coils its way up through lush rainforest of the Great Divide to the New England Tablelands to finish in Armidale.  Highlights include Bellingen with its strip of cafes, galleries and trippy hippy markets; mountain-top Dorrigo; and the high plateau gorge country.  Of waterfalls there are plenty.

How long? 200 km

Great Alpine Road: The Great Alpine Road snakes its way through the valleys and peaks of the Australian Alps from Wangaratta to Bairnsdale and takes you high into the ski fields, deep into the heart of two alpine national parks and finally brings you out on coast, in east Gippsland. But one of the best things about this trip is that this road will lead you on to many others – detours and side-trips to Milawa and the King Valley are just as good as the main attraction, especially if you like good food and fine wine.

How long? 298 km
More: The-Great-Alpine-Road.aspx

Cape to Cape: The Margaret River region, a wild knob of land jutting into the sea off the bottom corner of WA, crowned in the north by Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin in the south, is home to some of the finest white wines (and plenty of terrific reds) produced in Australia.  The town of Margaret River is more or less on the half-way mark of Caves Road, which runs cape to cape and is the best way to explore the area.  Highlights include Boranup Karri Forest, great surfing beaches, whale watching, limestone caves, road-side wildflowers, quality art galleries and lots of wineries.

How long? 110 km


Watch the video: Exploring the wilder side of Margaret River in Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park.

The Savannah Way: The Savannah Way, stretching across the top of the country from Cairns to Broome, is one of the world’s best trans-continental journeys. Most of the trip is sealed, apart from the stretch between Normanton and Borroloola in the Gulf of Carpentaria, and it’s a dry season road only with some of the sections impassable November to April. You’ll need to be willing to camp most nights, but it is one of the most beautiful outback drives in the country. Highlights are forests of boab trees, remote gorges, outback cattle stations, crocodiles, waterfalls and the spectacular Bungle Bungles.

How long? 3500 km


Watch the video: Beachside camping on the Dampier Peninsula

Watch the video: Lorella Springs, a million-acre wilderness park on the edge of the Gulf of Carpentaria

Matilda Highway: The Matilda Highway is the name of a collection of sealed roads that spear through the heart of outback Queensland, from Cunnamulla near the NSW/Queensland border north to Karumba on the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria.  For those who want to explore the outback, but are not keen on going off-road, this trip is hard to beat. Along the route you’ll travel through areas where dinosaurs once roamed, discover the inspiration for Waltzing Matilda and visit the birthplace of Qantas, the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the Australian Labor Party.

How long? 1700 km

Grape drive: Explore three of the country’s best wine regions, all within a day’s drive of Adelaide, and all within an hour or two’s drive from each other.  Start in the Adelaide Hills, one of South Australia’s oldest wine producing areas, then wind your way north to Tanunda and Angaston and loop around the Barossa Valley to try some of its world-famous shiraz, before moving on to the Clare Valley, home of some of the best rieslings in the country. 

How long? 250 km

Natures Way: Despite its fearsome reputation as the last frontier, the Top End, and Kakadu, is surprisingly easy to get around, even without a 4WD.  The main route through Kakadu, known as the Nature’s Way, is fully sealed.  It begins at the turn off to the Arnhem Highway, just south of Darwin and roughly forms two sides of a triangle, with the mining town of Jabiru at the apex, joining up with the Kakadu Highway running south to the Stuart Highway near historic Pine Creek.

How long? 460 km

Tassie Coast to Coast: One minute you’re driving through open paddocks and farmlands, through historic villages of convict-built stone houses, following the course of a twisting, shallow river to suddenly find yourself in dense, lush rainforest.  A few hours down the road you are winding through pristine alpine wilderness with snow-dusted mountain ranges looming above you.  By sunset, you're on the beach watching the sun sink into a pearl pink sea. Best way to see it all is to drive Hobart to Strahan.

How long? 245 km

Thirsty Point, Cervantes

Indian Ocean Drive: A new road has made touring the coast from Perth to Geraldton even easier. The new Indian Ocean Drive linking Lancelin and Cervantes means, you never have to leave the coast until you get to Geraldton, making it one of the best coastal road trips in the country. Highlights include watching the sun set in the Pinnacles Desert at Nambung National Park near Cervantes, wildflowers, vast stands of banksias and the ghost town of Greenough along with Geraldton’s excellent shipwreck gallery at the museum and the hll-top memorial to HMAS Sydney .

How long? 268 km


Watch the video: Driving through the Pinnacles

Watch the video: Kalbarri National Park

Edge of the World lookout

The Bass Coast: Anywhere in Tasmania makes for a great driving holiday, but the northern coastline is an unsung treasure.  It is a place of rugged beauty, where fertile farmlands spill into the wild waters of Bass Strait.  From the boulder-strewn white-sand beaches of the Bay of Fires, the main route across the top of the island travels through beautiful rainforest, some of the state’s best wine producing areas, along the spectacular coastal Bass Highway past pretty fishing villages to finally reach the wild wilderness of the west coast at the aptly named Edge of the World lookout.

How long? 450 km

Great Tropical Way: Go troppo on this Cairns - Mareeba - Port Douglas loop. The Cairns to Mareeba section climbs high into world-heritage listed rainforest, opening out into fields of sugar cane, paddocks of macadamia and mango trees. Continue on to Port Douglas via Mount Molloy through lush farming and grazing country to Mossman and then turn south to Port Douglas; or head north along the coast from Cairns where the road hugs the coastline and the views are magnificent as the rainforest meets the sea.

How long? 220 km


© All material on this site is copyright to Lee Atkinson and may not be used or reproduced without
consent in writing. Contact us. About the author