Embarking on a road trip is an exhilarating way to immerse yourself in any country’s landscape, culture, and sites. But it is essential for those who want to discover the real Australia.
With its sweeping coastlines, rugged outback, ancient rainforests, and charming towns, the Land Down Under beckons adventurers to hit the open road and embark on unforgettable journeys.
From the iconic Great Ocean Road to the remote stretches of the Gibb River Road, Australia offers many incredible road trip routes that showcase the country’s natural wonders and cultural heritage.
Whether you’re a thrill-seeker looking for adventure, a nature enthusiast yearning to explore pristine landscapes, or a history buff seeking to uncover the nation’s rich past, there are scenic drives in Australia that will leave you awe-inspired.
In this article, we’ll take you on a virtual journey through nine of the most captivating road trips across the Australian continent. From the southern coastline of Victoria to the rugged outback of Western Australia, and from the heart of the Red Centre to the enchanting landscapes of Tasmania, each road trip offers a unique experience, promising breathtaking scenery, encounters with wildlife, and encounters with the warmth and hospitality of the Australian people.
So, fasten your seatbelt, roll down the window, and join us as we traverse the open highways, winding coastal routes, and remote tracks that weave their way through Australia’s diverse tapestry.
9 Iconic Australian Road Trips
Whether you hire a car or have one of your own, here are nine of the best road trips in Australia for you to tackle.
1. Great Ocean Road
- Distance: 664 km
- Driving Time: 1 – 3 Days
Driving the Great Ocean Road is one of the best Australian road trip drives anyone can do.
This iconic coastal route stretches for 664 kilometres along the southern coast of Victoria, offering an exhilarating journey filled with breathtaking scenery and natural wonders.
Starting from Torquay, just outside Melbourne, the road winds along stunning cliffs, pristine beaches, and lush rainforests. The trip’s highlight is the Twelve Apostles, towering limestone formations rising dramatically from the Southern Ocean. Witnessing these majestic rock stacks at sunrise or sunset is a truly awe-inspiring experience.
As you continue along the road, you’ll encounter picturesque coastal towns like Lorne and Apollo Bay, offering opportunities to relax, dine on fresh seafood, and soak in the laid-back beach culture. The Great Otway National Park presents enchanting rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and abundant wildlife, including koalas and colourful bird species.
With its panoramic ocean views, dramatic landscapes, and captivating attractions, driving the Great Ocean Road is an adventure that will mesmerise you. Just be sure to allocate enough time to explore the hidden beaches, take short hikes to scenic lookouts, and immerse yourself in the natural beauty that this remarkable road trip offers.
2. Gibb River Road
- Distance: 660 km
- Driving Time: 3 – 7 days
Driving the Gibb River Road in Western Australia is an extraordinary adventure that takes you deep into the heart of the Kimberley region, revealing a rugged and remote landscape of unparalleled beauty. One of the best Aussie road trips you can do, this 660-kilometre off-road journey is not for the faint of heart but rewards intrepid travellers with a truly authentic outback experience.
Starting from Kununurra or Derby, the Gibb River Road winds its way through vast savannahs, ancient gorges and breathtaking waterfalls. As you navigate the challenging terrain, you’ll encounter stunning landmarks such as Bell Gorge, Manning Gorge and Emma Gorge, where you can cool off in crystal-clear swimming holes and marvel at the surrounding natural splendour.
The road also passes through sprawling cattle stations, allowing glimpses into the region’s pastoral heritage. Remote campsites and station stays offer a chance to experience Kimberley’s hospitality, often accompanied by star-filled night skies and bush sounds.
The Gibb River Road is a gateway to Australia’s most iconic attractions, including the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Purnululu National Park, home to the unique Bungle Bungle Range. Exploring this otherworldly landscape of beehive-shaped rock formations is an unforgettable experience.
3. East Coast Drive
- Distance: 2400 km
- Driving Time: 4 – 7 days
The East Coast Drive will take you on one of the most famous roads in Australia.
This captivating road trip will take you from Sydney up to Cairns, covering a distance of around 2400 kilometres. Along the way, it showcases the diverse beauty of Australia’s eastern seaboard, taking you through a tapestry of stunning landscapes, vibrant cities and idyllic coastal towns.
Departing from the bustling metropolis of Sydney, you’ll traverse the breathtaking beaches of the Central Coast, encounter the iconic surf breaks of Byron Bay and explore the pristine rainforests of the Gold Coast hinterland. Further north, the Sunshine Coast offers a mix of picturesque beaches and charming seaside towns like Noosa.
As you continue, you’ll reach the natural wonderland of Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island. Explore its unique ecosystems, crystal-clear lakes, and towering sand dunes. Heading north into Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef awaits, offering incredible opportunities for snorkelling, diving and discovering vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life.
The road trip concludes in Cairns, a tropical paradise and gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest. Immerse yourself in the ancient beauty of this lush wilderness, where the rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef.
Explore this route further:
4. Tasmanian Loop
- Distance: 1500 km
- Driving Time: 3 – 7 days
If you are looking for Australian road trip ideas, consider driving the Tasmanian Loop.
This remarkable road trip takes you on an unforgettable journey around the captivating island state of Tasmania. At approximately 1,500 kilometres, the route allows you to explore the diverse landscapes, stunning national parks and charming towns that make Tasmania a haven for nature lovers and adventure seekers.
Beginning in Hobart, the capital city, the Tasmanian Loop takes you through the heart of the island, where you’ll discover the majestic beauty of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Hike through ancient forests, witness breathtaking mountain vistas and spot unique wildlife like the elusive Tasmanian devil.
Continuing along the loop, you’ll encounter the dramatic coastal landscapes of the Tasman Peninsula, home to natural wonders such as the towering sea cliffs of Cape Raoul and the mesmerising rock formations of the Tessellated Pavement.
The road trip also allows for exploration of the breathtaking Freycinet National Park, where you can bask on pristine beaches, hike to Wineglass Bay for panoramic views, and try delicious local seafood.
Additionally, the Tasmanian Loop offers a chance to visit historic towns like Port Arthur, where you can delve into the island’s convict past, and Richmond, renowned for its well-preserved colonial architecture and charming atmosphere.
5. Red Centre Way
- Distance: 1280 km
- Driving Time: 3 – 5 days
Driving the Red Centre Way is an awe-inspiring road trip that takes you through the heart of Australia’s Red Centre, offering a profound exploration of the country’s ancient landscapes and rich cultural heritage.
Beginning in Alice Springs, the Red Centre Way ventures into the vast desert, where you’ll witness the majestic presence of Uluru, a massive sandstone monolith that glows with fiery hues at sunrise and sunset.
Continuing on, Kings Canyon invites you to embark on stunning hikes through towering sandstone cliffs and discover the natural amphitheatres and lush vegetation within.
The road trip also showcases the breathtaking landscapes of the West MacDonnell Ranges, where you can marvel at ancient gorges, refreshing waterholes, and sacred Indigenous sites. Highlights include Ormiston Gorge, Standley Chasm and the impressive Ellery Creek Big Hole.
Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the rich Aboriginal culture and explore art galleries, where you can admire intricate dot paintings and hear Dreamtime stories passed down through generations.
6. Eyre Peninsula
- Distance: 300 km
- Driving Time: 1 – 3 days
Driving the Eyre Peninsula is an extraordinary road trip that unveils the stunning coastal beauty and diverse marine life of South Australia. This scenic journey takes you from Port Lincoln, the seafood capital of Australia, through the picturesque Eyre Peninsula, known for its rugged cliffs, pristine beaches, and delectable seafood.
Throughout the journey, the road trip encompasses a variety of breathtaking experiences. Encounter sea lions at Seal Cove or take a boat tour to swim with dolphins and even great white sharks. Explore the stunning landscapes of Lincoln National Park, where towering cliffs and sparkling turquoise waters provide a mesmerising backdrop.
Continue along the coast to Coffin Bay National Park, renowned for its tranquil beaches and oyster farms. Sample fresh oysters from the sea or embark on a fishing charter to catch your seafood feast.
Journeying further, the Eyre Peninsula reveals its natural wonders, including the magnificent sand dunes of Lake Newland Conservation Park and the ancient geological formations of Gawler Ranges National Park.
7. Nullarbor Plain
- Distance: 1600 km
- Driving Time: 2 – 4 days
Crossing the Nullarbor Plain is an epic road trip embodying the spirit of adventure and showcasing Australia’s outback’s vastness. Spanning the stretch of highway between South Australia and Western Australia, this 1,600+-kilometre journey takes you across one of Earth’s most remote and unique regions.
The Nullarbor Plain is a vast, arid landscape that captivates travellers with its seemingly endless horizons and sparse vegetation. Along the journey, you’ll encounter the world’s longest straight stretch of road, spanning over 146 kilometres, offering a surreal and mesmerising experience.
The road trip presents opportunities to spot iconic Australian wildlife, such as kangaroos, emus and wedge-tailed eagles, and experience breathtaking sunsets over the vast plains.
One of the highlights of the Nullarbor Plain is the stunning Bunda Cliffs, where towering limestone cliffs plunge dramatically into the Southern Ocean, creating a breathtaking coastal panorama.
Travellers can also explore the underground wonders of the Nullarbor, with numerous limestone caves to be discovered, including the famous Cocklebiddy Cave.
Driving the Nullarbor is a test of endurance. Still, it rewards those who venture across its vast expanse with a profound sense of isolation, tranquillity and appreciation for the raw beauty of Australia’s remote landscapes. It is a road trip that embodies the true spirit of exploration and offers a unique perspective on the country’s vastness.
8. Great Alpine Road
- Distance: 300 km
- Driving Time: 1 – 2 days
Driving the Great Alpine Road is a captivating road trip that winds through the breathtaking landscapes of the Australian Alps, showcasing the natural beauty of Victoria’s high country. This scenic route spans some 300 kilometres, starting in Wangaratta and concluding in Bairnsdale.
As you navigate the Great Alpine Road, you’ll be treated to stunning mountain vistas, picturesque valleys and charming alpine villages. The road takes you through the heart of the Victorian Alps, where you can explore the beauty of Mount Buffalo National Park, renowned for its granite peaks, cascading waterfalls and unique rock formations.
Continuing along the route, you’ll encounter the alpine resort towns of Bright and Mount Hotham, offering opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing and mountain biking, depending on the season. The road trip also includes the stunning Gippsland Lakes region, where you can relax on pristine beaches – some of which you will have to yourself – go boating or dine on fresh seafood.
9. Savannah Way
- Distance: 3700 km
- Driving Time: 7 – 14 days
Driving The Savannah Way is an epic Australian road trip traversing three states – Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia.
This transcontinental journey spans over 3,700 kilometres of diverse landscapes and takes you through some of the country’s most remote and stunning regions, offering an authentic outback experience.
The Savannah Way showcases the incredible diversity of Australia’s tropical landscapes, from the pristine wetlands of the Gulf Country to the ancient lava fields of the Kimberley. You’ll encounter rugged mountain ranges, breathtaking gorges, lush rainforests and vast savannahs teeming with wildlife along the way.
Some of the highlights of The Savannah Way include exploring the famous Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park in Queensland, witnessing the thundering waterfalls of Litchfield National Park in the Northern Territory and marvelling at the majestic beauty of the Bungle Bungle Range in Western Australia’s Purnululu National Park.
Top Tips for Planning an Australian Road Trip
- To save money on accommodation, use the WikiCamps app. Doing this will enable you to search for free campsites anywhere in Australia.
- You can combine many of these incredible drives by taking on the Big Lap of Australia
- Never forget an important road-tripping item again with our printable family road trip check list
- Pop over to our Australian road trip home page if you’re seeking more inspiration planning your trip Downunder
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