With lockdown restrictions lifting in some states, and hope on the horizon for others, there's no better time to start planning your next Aussie adventure. And what better way to check out its natural beauty than by road?
Get some red dirt on your tyres and some bugs on your windscreen, sing-along to sweet tunes and let beautiful landscapes unfurl in front of you.
Here are some crackin’ Australian road trips that are all about the journey and not the destination.
New South Wales
The Kosciuszko Alpine Way
Mountains upon mountains upon mountains. Yep, the Alpine way is one helluva beauty and will set you up to witness picturesque valleys plus there is a heap of walking trails, fishing stops and even mountain biking areas for you to take advantage of. This drive joins Jindabyne in the southern region of Kosciuszko National Park and takes you through the forests of the Snowy Mountains region
Grand Pacific Drive
This scenic drive through charming coastal towns starts in Sydney’s Royal National Park and finishes at the resplendent Sapphire Coast. You may have the same ocean on your side as you drive down this stretch of road, but the backdrop will be ever-changing. Roll through rainforests, shoot over the iconic Sea Cliff Bridge and take some pit-stops at wineries along the way. Exploring the picturesque towns of Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama is another joy of this route. Adrenaline junkies can get their fix hang gliding, sky diving or ziplining and foodies can take their pick at one of the orchards, oyster farms or cheese factories along the way. Glamp, camp, check out Bald Hill Lookout, walk the Blue Mile… there’s so much to do.
Nature’s Way Drive
Photographers, adventurers, ornithologists and the outdoorsy types will love this picturesque journey through geological wonders. Nature’s Way Drive begins at the World-Heritage listed Kakadu National Park and loops it’s way through sunburnt country, creeks, waterfalls and swimming holes. Explore some of the oldest Aboriginal rock art and bring your togs for the plunge pool at the base of Florence Falls and Katherine Hot Springs. You may feel like a rugged explorer on this outback journey but the drive itself is easy peasy.
Great Barrier Reef Drive
The Great Barrier Reef Drive is a fantastic way to explore the stunning northeast coast of Australia and its remote beaches, coral reefs, rainforests and resort towns. North Beach, Rex Lookout, Port Douglas, the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation are some of the must-sees but, of course, the Great Barrier Reef is the star of the show. The road stretches a cool 140km between Cairns and Cape Tribulation—plenty of time to find Nemo.
Leave the coast, and the bright lights of the city behind as you head deep into the heart of Queensland for an old-school outback adventure. As you retrace the path of the old Cobb & Co coach trips, there’s plenty of nature and history to explore. Walk amongst the towering trees in the electric green Bunya Mountains, cast your line in at St. George and reflect at the historically significant Burke and Wills Dig Tree.
Barossa Scenic Heritage Drive
This itty bitty road trip packs a punch, much like a full-bodied Shiraz (mmmm). Cruise through quaint little towns and linger at the tasting counter and in the gardens of some of Australia’s best wineries. Take in the view from Menglers Hill and pay homage to the conserve queen at Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop.
The Nullabor is like the Tough Mudder of road trips (but, like, for scary truckies) which really belongs under both South Australia and Western Australia. Though you wouldn’t think that much happens on this straight stretch of road (Nullabor is Latin for no trees), a quick game of eye-spy will reveal wild camels, rugged cliffs, unique vegetation and even whales! Stop by and explore the Murrawijinie Caves, the Great Australian Bight and see how many fried dim sims you can eat at roadhouses along the way. Visit the Big Kangaroo and the big Oyster too. Because ‘Straya.
Following the picturesque Tamar River from Launceston to Bass Strait, this road trip takes you straight through the heart of wine country—passing spectacular forests, orchards and farmland along the way. With more than 30 wineries nearby, you won’t have trouble figuring out where your next food or wine break is coming from—so Rock, Paper, Scissors that shizz and get yourself a skipper for the day. Take in the views at Mount George Lookout, link in with the North East Arts Trail, have a dip at Lagoon Bay and go penguin spotting in the evening at Low Head Coastal Reserve.
The Silo Art Trail
Forget the Big Pineapple (kidding—no hate mail please), because the Silo Art Trail lays claim to the title of world’s largest outdoor gallery. Linking Brim, Patchewollock, Sheep Hills, Rupanyup, Lascelles and Rosebery, the 200km track features spectacular large-scale mural works that have been painted onto grain silos by local artists. The artwork is breathtaking fo sho, but this journey offers so much more than an eyeful. Explore country towns between stops, grab a pint at the pub, or a pie from the servo, and meet the friendly locals.
The Great Alpine Road
Slicing through mountains, vineyards, rivers, farms and valleys on its journey from Wangaratta to Bairnsdale, the Great Alpine Road offers stunning diverse landscapes for road-trippers. Expect mountain views, Aboriginal heritage and hiking galore. Reel in your dinner from a nearby stream or have it delivered to your table at a local winery, hit the trails for some mountain bike riding or simply stroll along the stunning Treetop Walk. There are plenty of camping or cottage options along the way too.
Great Ocean Road, Victoria
Running along one of Australia’s most stunning coastlines, a drive along the Great Ocean Road is three days of road-trip porn (ew). Stop at Great Otway National Park to spot wildlife from the Treetop Walk—or watch it fly by as you zipline your way through the treetops. Get snap-happy at the iconic Twelve Apostles, spot dolphins, top up your energy levels at the Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery, grab a bevvy at the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse and finish it all up at the charming coastal town of Port Fairy.
Gibb River Road
Running from Derby to Kununurra, straight through the heart of the Kimberley, ‘the Gibb’ takes you through rugged outback terrain that’s littered with waterfalls, swimming holes, Aboriginal history and gorgeous gorges. This remote terrain formerly required a bit of know-how on the ol’ 4WD but now the track is much more novice-friendly. Camp at the famous El Questro or the less touristy Emma Gorge or spring for a homestead like Digger’s Rest.
The Great South West Edge
Drive from Perth to Esperance along the west coast and watch as stunning rivers, towering Karri forests, mountains, beaches and vineyards whiz past your window. Spring is a good time to see the landscape in its wildflower glory but summer is also a good time to take advantage of the turquoise waters. Start in Perth and stop by the creepy/amazing Gnomesville in Ferguson Valley, spot dolphins and whales before heading through Margaret River wine country, explore the dramatic ocean cliffs of Albany, take a treetop walk in the Valley of the Giants and do your best Ace Ventura impression amongst the fauna of Donnelly River before landing on the paper white sands of Esperance. This road trip is the tits.
Want more adventure but can't leave the house just yet? Check out these epic virtual experiences around Australia.
Image credit: Benjamin Punzalan