Planning a getaway to restart your life after the pandemic? Great idea! Why not plan for a road trip, especially in Australia since it has some spectacular routes and scenic drives as you traverse this large island continent? A road trip will also give you an opportunity to revive long-standing relationships with friends whom you have been social distancing from recently. And, you can do this while taking in the awe-inspiring scenes, hidden natural wonders, and some out-of-the-way places which can only be reached via a road!
What is more, a road trip does away with the tedious tasks of extreme budgeting, applying for visas, considering travel restrictions, and embarking on a long flight to reach your destination. It allows you to travel at your own pace, it can nicely work out on a limited budget, and there is no fuss on what to wear – comfort-wear is the way to go! Most importantly, it enables you to create your own unique route while traveling.
Road trips are a convenient way for you to travel with your friends after Covid-19 and it is expected to rise with domestic travel will begin to recover first.
To help you plan for your next road trip, here are 10 best road trips in Australia!
This is one famed road trip route taking you across the southern coast of Australia from between Torquay and Warrnambool, Allansford, or a little further to Port Fairy in Victoria. The Great Ocean Road, completed in 1932 as a First World War memorial, showcases breath-taking clifftop vistas, wildlife, shipwrecks, and the never-ending coastlines while passing through quaint towns and rain forest.
Things to do and see: Bells Beach, 12 Apostles, Erskine Falls, Apollo Bay, Port Campbell National Park, Loch Ard Gorge, the Island Archway, the cliff-face Gibson Steps, Cape Otway lighthouse, Great Otway National Park, Lorne, Anglesea, Peterborough, the historic fishing village of Port Fairy, and many delicious eateries along the way.
Time frame: The route is about 9.5 hours (approximately a 250-kilometre drive). So, a day-trip is possible and done often if you want to enjoy only the passing scenery. But the best way to take in all the sights and sounds and venture further afield is a three to four-day road trip along these most famous road trip routes.
For those of you living in Queensland, you need not go too far to catch some scenic views and some of the best routes for a road trip. The Great Beach Drive is the famed road trip on some of the Sunshine Coast’s most stunning beaches leading to Fraser Island and the Fraser Coast while meandering through UNESCO Heritage sites, national parks, and many historically significant landscapes. While traversing this most wonderful of road routes, you will be privy to whale, dolphin, turtle, platypus, kangaroo, and rare bird sightings. Don't miss out on the Hervey Bay; you can get a nice view of the beautiful sunrise and sunset here!
Things to do and see: Noosa Biosphere, Great Sandy Biosphere, wildlife sightings, picnics, camping inside national parks, off-road driving, Double Island Point lighthouse, Hervey Bay, Teewah beach, Rainbow beach, surfing, kayaking, swimming, Great Barrier Reef, hiking and trekking, and Fraser Island - the largest sand island in the world.
Time frame: The route is about 168 hours (a 380-kilometre drive). Take a three to seven-day road trip along the Great Beach Drive or even longer, depending on how long you want your getaway trip to be and what you want to explore with your friends.
For those in New South Wales, the Grand Pacific Drive will lead you along some of the territory’s most memorable places and coastal scenes through a 140-kilometre bitumen road.
Things to do and see: Sydney’s Royal National Park, Wollongong, Shellharbour, Sea Cliff Bridge, booming blowholes at Kiama, Austinmer Beach, Nan Tien Temple, hang-gliding, paragliding Minamurra Rainforest, whitest sand beaches in the world at Jervis Bay, and Jamberoo Action Park.
Timeframe: The route is just a few hours (approximately a 140-kilometre drive) and an ideal one-day road trip for anyone from Sydney, Canberra, or other neighboring areas. However, there is nothing to stop you from making this road trip a longer vacation by staying over in any one of the towns or reserves along the way.
Another scenic drive starts off at Wangaratta in Victoria and traverses through the Victorian High Country and ends at Metung in the Gippsland Lakes region. The Great Alpine road trip will stun you with its fabulous Alpine scenes, mountain ranges, deep valleys, wine country, and sparkling waterways. This route will let you revel in the beauty of the mountains while enjoying some relaxation time with close friends whether you live in New South Wales or in Victoria!
Things to do and see: Be inspired and rejuvenated by the lush mountains and rain forests, Mount Buffalo National Park, Gorge Lookout at Mt Buffalo, unique rock formations, and waterfalls. You can also try activities like mountain biking, trekking, and horse riding with your friends. Drive through Victoria’s highest alpine village, and view the 1,750 meter above sea-level Mt Hotham. Don't forget to visit towns such as Beechworth, Bright, and Omeo to experience the local hospitality.
Time frame: The road trip is approximately 500 kilometres and best enjoyed through a week where you can take in the scenes and enjoy the local hospitality.
A Sunshine Coast epic journey is the road trip starting from Cairns and ending at the Cape York Peninsula. While this route is not common, unlike the Cairns to Cape Tribulations road trip, it will take you through the World Heritage-listed, Great Barrier Reef to the ancient World Heritage Daintree National Park across red sand, rain forests, many national parks, indigenous history and culture, and scenic views like no other. While the drive is said to be bumpy and does not boast much comfort, it is a once in a lifetime adventure and a chance to experience a simple lifestyle!
Things to do and see: Palm Cove, Port Douglas, Daintree National Park, river crossings, ancient rock art at The Quinkan Galleries at Laura, rainforests, Cape Tribulation, Mossman Gorge, camping, Lakefield National Park, traverse the Old Telegraph Track, and walk to The Tip – the northern most point of Australia.
Time frame: The route is about 14 hours (approximately a 1,000-kilometre one-way drive). Considering the dirt roads, raw terrain, and the need to do a round trip while exploring places and experiences the region, a minimum two-week road trip is called for. If you really are short on time, consider a one-way drive and return by air.
Western Australia’s Gibb River Road is another epic Australian road trip route for the adventurous. This route beginning and ending from Derby to Wyndham, or vice versa, will take you through the Kimberley region. Traveling through the outback on dusty roads will require a four-wheel drive, but the journey will take you through national parks, waterfalls, plateaus, gorges, natural wonders and lets you soak in the 50 to 60 thousand-year-old indigenous Australian culture.
Things to do and see: Crocodile sighting; Windjana Gorge National Park; Mitchell Falls and Mitchell Plateau; El Questro; ziplining; King Leopold Ranges; visit outback cattle stations; compare and contrast between the Adcock, Manning, Galvans, Leonard, and Bell Gorges; Zebedee Springs; and Tunnel Creek.
Time frame: Approximately a 660-kilometre route with only two roadhouses along the way – at Imintji and Mt Barnett. An ideal road trip would be a week-long, and more if you plan to stay and visit some out of the way places. Be prepared with extra fuel which can be expensive to purchase.
The Northern Territory’s Red Centre Way is another epic and very cliched Australian road trip over sealed and unsealed roads. The route takes you through several mountain ranges, red earth deserts, isolated rocks, fresh swimming holes, ancient Aboriginal rock art sites, and historic towns. So, get ready for one epic Australian outback road trip experience!
Things to do and see: Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon, and West MacDonnell ranges; walking and hiking; Finke Gorge National Park; Watarrka National Park, the only place to see the red cabbage palm; the spirited lands of mulga forest; and the spinifex.
Time frame: A loop route of about 1,135 kilometres starting at Alice Springs and taking you through Uluru and Kings Canyon is a 5 to 6-day road trip.
If you are living somewhere in South or Western Australia, consider taking the Nullarbor Plain road trip which stretches across Ceduna/Adelaide in South Australia and Perth in Western Australia. While quite remote, the desert highway is an easy route meandering through the goldfields of Western Australia and the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. If you enjoy off-road driving, then use a four-wheel drive to ride through wide-open spaces, sand dunes, and wooded hills while re-hashing some legendary UFO stories and old-time myths with friends.
Things to do and see: Bragging rights to having seen and driven on the largest piece of limestone on earth; strange landscapes which the Nullarbor Plain is renowned for; wildlife such as giant wedge-tailed eagles, emus, kangaroos, dingoes, and camels; whale watching beneath the world's longest line of sea cliffs; the world’s longest golf course; unique caves; riding over sand dunes; ruins of Eucla Telegraph Station built in the 1870s; and camping under the starlit skies.
Time frame: An ideal 6-day road trip of 1,256 kilometres which requires some preparation due to it being remote. So, carry enough fuel, water, and other essential supplies.
Living in Tasmania? No worries… This little island has quite a few road trips on offer from the Tassie Loop, to the route from Hobart to Freycinet, and of course the famed Heritage Highway.
The Heritage highway which runs between Hobart and Launceston is a 200-year-old road built by convict road gangs in the 1800s. The highway meanders through some scenic views of farmlands, Georgian villages, grand rural estates and the authentic scenes of Tasmania’s historic midlands.
Things to do and see: Visit the towns of Oatlands, Longford, Evandale, Cressy, and Perth; enjoy some gourmet food; Heritage Highway Museum and Visitors Centre in Campbell Town; Shene Estate & Distillery; and the Chauncy Vale Wildlife Sanctuary.
Time frame: A short 2 to 3 days road trip of approximately 200 kilometres.
Last but certainly not the least… we have “The Big Lap”, a spectacular adventure around the entire country. Try this fabulous road trip of 15,000 kilometres using Highway One around the edge of Australia as you take in the changing scenes and landscapes of the country’s diverse territories and mixed natural environs. The big lap route will take you through seven capital cities, ride through rain forests and the red earth deserts, cruise along the coastline, and enjoy the vast emptiness of the outback.
Things to do and see: Everything and anything that you fancy from the coastline between Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Broome, Perth, Esperance, Adelaide, Melbourne, and Hobart.
Time frame: To truly experience the big lap, you will need at least six months, so, consider this a final hurrah kind of road trip adventure!
In ending this article, let me say that depending on the amount of time you have for a vacation, some of these road trip routes can be combined with some fun activities to make it a super adventure. So, take this chance; do not agonize about limited overseas travel, but instead, make the most of exploring your own country and enjoying a relaxing, fun-filled time with your friends!
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Sakina has over 10 years of experience in the field of corporate communications; having worked for a leading Annual Report Production House dealing with top corporates of Sri Lanka and overseas, and later as the Group Communications Specialist for a Sri Lankan conglomerate for their overseas plantations business. She is well-versed in the production process of annual reports, sustainability reports, corporate videos and other corporate communication media. She also has experience in Social Media Marketing and works to increase and improve social media presence of corporates and small niche market businesses. Today, she works as a freelance writer and undertakes consultations on corporate communications and social media related projects. She enjoys writing for blogs on topics of interest.