These are the greatest road trips in Australia
There are few better ways to explore a destination than by hitting the road. Here are the most iconic drives across Australia.
- May 2019
From Queensland’s coastal roads to sunburnt Northern Territory adventure drives, Australia is home to some amazing routes. Start your engine and head off on your next road adventure.
Grand Pacific Drive, NSW
The eye-catching Sea Cliff Bridge is a highlight of the 140-kilometre Grand Pacific Drive opens in new window but not its only claim to fame. Starting in the Royal National Park, about an hour south of Sydney's CBD and winding through Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama and Shoalhaven, it’s a drive made for shifting gear and enjoying the surf-loving culture of the coast. Stopping for fish and chips on the beach is a given – and you can make your way back to Sydney via the Southern Highlands to double your road trip fun.
Best wheels: Convertible
Great Ocean Road, VIC
As one of Australia’s most romantic drives, the Great Ocean Road opens in new window is a journey best done in an SUV, with ample time to stop at secluded beaches and take in the views. Three to four nights is sure to do justice to this drive from Torquay through to world-famous Bells Beach and onto holiday hotspots including Anglesea, Lorne and Wye River. Don’t miss the spectacular limestone Twelve Apostles and the pretty fishing village of Port Fairy. With accommodation along the way ranging from budget to high-end, the world’s your oyster.
Best wheels: SUV
Adelaide to Kangaroo Island, SA
Beloved by honeymooners and families alike, Kangaroo Island opens in new window is almost four hours from Adelaide by road and ferry and a world away from the rat race. Set the clock to island time with a relaxed road trip through nature’s playground. Explore rock tunnels at Stokes Bay and easily find a beach to yourself along 500 kilometres of winding coastline. Plus, there will be countless opportunities to spot kangaroos, koalas, dolphins and seals. There’s also an excellent food and wine trail and the chance to sleep in heritage lighthouse keepers’ cottages, where you’ll wake to the sound of crashing waves.
Best wheels: Hatchback
Indian Ocean Drive, WA
It’s compact – by Western Australian standards, anyway – but the 897-kilometre Indian Ocean Drive opens in new window packs a punch. Turquoise seas lap at endless white-sand beaches, otherworldly limestone spires rise from the Pinnacles Desert and there are sea-life experiences galore. On the return trip from Perth, you’d be wise to stop at the state’s rock lobster capital, Cervantes, before heading to the “living fossils” of Lake Thetis. Other highlights? Sea lion charters at Jurien Bay and the 122 coral-fringed Abrolhos Islands off Geraldton. Insider tip: drive in spring and be rewarded with carpets of wildflowers bringing the national parks to life.
Best wheels: Sedan
Greater Litchfield Loop, NT
It’s classic Top End landscape: palm-fringed beaches, waterfalls cascading into natural rock pools and secluded fishing spots. Make your discovery of Litchfield National Park a three- or four-day adventure and take the 550-kilometre Greater Litchfield Loop opens in new window. Starting in Darwin, families should make their first stop 45 minutes away at the Territory Wildlife Park, where native animals await their close-up. Cool off at swimming spots Florence Falls and Dundee Beach and soak up the history at the World War II sites at Mandorah. The drive proves you don’t need to be Crocodile Dundee to head off on a Northern Territory adventure – but there are 4WD options on unsealed roads if you are that way inclined.
Best wheels: 4WD
Great Barrier Reef Drive, QLD
Starting in Cairns and ending at Cape Tribulation in the Daintree, the 140 kilometres of coastline that makes up the Great Barrier Reef Drive opens in new window boasts rainforest to the left and the Coral Sea to the right. Sure, you can complete it in a few hours but take a couple of days to explore instead. Spot local wildlife as you zip-line though the treetops and finish with a boat tour of the Great Barrier Reef.
Best wheels: 4WD
Great Eastern Drive, TAS
The east coast’s knock-out views and world-famous beaches (hello, Bay of Fires and Wineglass Bay) jostle for attention with some of the state’s best wineries and restaurants on the Great Eastern Drive opens in new window. Driving from Hobart, explore Tassie’s convict past at Port Arthur and Maria Island, or sample oysters, mussels and scallops straight from the ocean at Freycinet Bay. The 177 kilometres from Orford to Saint Helens offers temptations such as artisan cheesemakers, breweries and – in true yin-yang-style – heritage wilderness hikes.
Best wheels: SUV
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