Ready to road trip Australia? Try these 8 iconic routes
Vast and varied, Australia is a country that’ll scratch your itchy feet from east to west as you wander along sandy coastlines, deserted desert strips, forest-fringed beachfronts and cosy vineyard estates. If time is on your side, one of my favourite things to do whether I’m in Australia or elsewhere is hit the road with a full tank and a good driving buddy to explore the lay of the land. In my opinion, there’s nothing more exciting or adventurous and you can be as flexible or random (for the most part) in your journey as you like. To get you started on the right foot… errr wheel, I’ve summed up what I believe are the best road trips in Australia for anyone seeking the true Australiana outback experience.
The Great Ocean Road, Victoria
This is about as iconic as they come and is both a scenic and historical course that hugs the Victorian coastline. It’s easily accessible from Melbourne and achievable in a day – although I recommend a few for the opportunity to soak up the panoramic views and stay overnight in one of the cosy coastal towns, such as Lorne.
The full stretch from Torquay to Allansford is 243km, making it one of the largest war memorials in the world, having been built by World War veterans. And amidst the natural rock formations, towering lighthouses and surf beaches, the highlight is undoubtedly The Twelve Apostles. This is a series of limestone rock stacks that spear out of the ocean off the coast of Port Campbell National Park.
In their original form there were 12; however, time and erosion have brought them down to 8 and it’s only a matter of time until their existence is no more. Suffice to say, now’s the time to catch them while they’re still standing! Check out these hostels in Victoria
Great Tropical Drive, Queensland
For a coastal drive with a more tropical spin, the Great Tropical North offers a myriad of driving routes that snake between coast and forest and can be as long or as short as you want them to be.
In its wake is the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest, which command holidays of their very own. With time to spare, you can continue the journey further north through incredible national parks such as Black Mountain where imposing granite boulders dot the land, and historical towns such as Cooktown, then all the way across to the Gulf Savannah which sits in the Gulf of Carpentaria between Queensland and the Northern Territory and offers a cross-section of grasslands and country towns. Check out these hostels in Queensland
The Stuart Highway, Northern Territory
Snag a taste of true Australiana by hitting the dirt road track through our desert centre. The drive is quite barren in parts so good company and boundless supplies are a must. And if you’re driving the full stretch from Darwin to Alice Springs via Uluru, you’ll need at least 10 days to cover it all comfortably.
From top to bottom, start in the tropical city of Darwin and travel south through the swampish Kakadu National Park where crocodiles jump and Aboriginal rock paintings will turn back the time.
Before settling in Uluru, swing by Kings Canyon for a day’s walk around the sandstone cliffs. You’ll want to get a leg on this super early as you’re fairly exposed throughout the 6km walk, and you’ll want to have completed the worst of it by midday when the sun is at its highest.
Make Uluru and its sister-site The Olgas (Kata Tjuta) your beacon, though, and save the morning and evening for a trip into the park alongside the masses that gather to see the Rock dressed in the reds and purples of sunrise and sunset daily. Check out these hostels in the Northern Territory
Hobart-Freycinet National Park, Tasmania
I’ve spent a week driving around the tiny island attached to our island, AKA Tasmania, and while it’s more than doable in that timeframe, take it from me firsthand – it’s more enjoyable at a slower pace. Particularly if you’re as outdoorsy as I am.
Tasmania is a coastal hiker’s dream, challenging some of the best with its Cradle Mountain summit walks, the coastal craggy wonders of The Capes Track and its ochre-rock beaches. Hone in on one and stay there, though if driving is your forte rather than walking, the Hobart-Freycinet drive takes you up the eastern coast along some of the island’s most panoramic beachfronts including Wineglass Bay and the Bay of Fires. Check out these hostels in Tasmania
The Eyre Peninsula, South Australia
You’ll be driving with your stomach and not with your eyes when you feast on the delectable delights along the Eyre Peninsula.
Make your starting point Adelaide and then compass your way north to Port Augusta before hitting the pointy triangle-shaped start of the Great Australian Bight, winding past Whyalla and on to Port Lincoln, Coffin Bay and Ceduna, otherwise known as the “seafood frontier”.
Oysters are the pièce de résistance along the way and if there’s room for more, try the abalone and scallops in between beach bumming, surfing and fishing adventures. The road just to Port Lincoln is already 650km, so give yourself a good week to make decent headway. Check out these hostels in South Australia
Central and North Coast, New South Wales
The drive up the Central Coast is a rite of passage for Sydneysider families seeking a local getaway where calm waters, caravan parks and family-friendly towns call to broods of any age and size. The drive itself can span between Sydney and Brisbane but getting as far as The Entrance for a weekend away is enough.
For more options, take the car further to Nelson Bay, Forster, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour or Byron Bay. Each bears its own charm and all offer plenty of laidback and local activities where the campervan should never be too far from reach. Check out these hostels in New South Wales
The Alpine Way, New South Wales
Typically reserved for winter dates when the snow graces the Snowy Mountains region and Jindabyne and Thredbo resorts are in full peak-season swing, The Alpine Way is a pristine drive inland that captures the essence of the bushland with quiet country roads that dip into flat grassland vistas.
It runs into Mount Kosciuszko where the bitumen winds its way up sweeping alpine mountains that are swallowed up by local flora and fauna and sacred Aboriginal sites. Opt to hike, bike or horse-ride to take you away from the open road for that personalised experience between you and nature. Check out these hostels in New South Wales
Crossing the Nullarbor, South Australia
For the ultimate outback drive (and for the brave), the Nullarbor is a laborious drive typically reserved for convoys and trucks that traverse across the centre of Australia. It’s not a road trip you should enter into lightly, spanning 1,256km from the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia to the Western Australian goldfields.
The road is sealed and the land is barren with drippings of bed and breakfasts and basic accommodation along the way. So why should you take it? On top of being a truly iconic Australian road, there are gems along the way including the ruined remains of the Eucla Telegraph Station, native Aussie wildlife and the world’s longest golf course, Nullarbor Links, which spans 1,365km. Then, there’s purely the bragging rights you’ll gain from the journey. Check out these hostels in South Australia
About the author
Stephanie Yip is the travel editor at finder.com.au and a nomadic soul that takes to the road whenever it calls her. Always on the hunt for a bargain and a new adventure, you’ll often find her sleeping in the back of campervans, on friends’ couches, in dorm rooms and, on the odd occasion, in 5-star luxury. Because it’s good to know how the other side lives! The post Ready to road trip Australia? Try these 8 iconic routes appeared first on Hostelworld Blog.