In our opinion, there is no better way to explore Australia than on a road trip. Not only does road tripping allow you to see the country’s vast natural splendours, but it also offers a very cost effective way to explore Australia’s most significant sights and attractions.
After spending a combined 8 years exploring Australia, we share our top picks for some of the country’s best road trips.
1. The Legendary Pacific Coast: Sydney to Brisbane
The famous journey from Sydney to Brisbane or the reverse is by far the most popular road trip for travelers looking to explore the best of Australia. This self-drive itinerary spans 1000kms along the Legendary Pacific Coast and takes you on an adventure through lush national parks, stunning beaches, rolling green hills of the hinterland, and small yet vibrant off the beaten track towns full of charisma and authentic Australian culture. It’s a road trip that can be undertaken in as little as 1 weekend or one that can be easily extended to 2-3 weeks.
Highlights include: a visit to the Hunter Valley, Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Yamba, Byron Bay, and the famous beaches of the Gold Coast.
2. The Great Queensland Escape: Brisbane to Cape Tribulation
If you have added the Legendary Pacific Coast drive to your Australia itinerary, then take our advice and keep going north! We might be biased, since we were based in Queensland for more than 2 years (well, more like 6 for Max), but we think it truly is the most beautiful and diverse region in all of Australia.
Head north from Brisbane taking a few days to explore Noosa National Park and lounge on Noosa’s beautiful beaches. Make your way to Hervey Bay and experience the sand dunes, rainforests, and beaches on Fraser Island, then ditch your car for a few days and sail into the sunset in the beautiful Whitsundays. Stop over in Cairns to dive the Great Barrier Reef and finish off your journey in Cape Tribulation, a peaceful town located within the Daintree National Park and the Wet Tropics World Heritage area.
Don’t miss: Mission Beach, 1770, Townsville, and Port Douglas
3. Western Expedition: Perth to Broome
Road tripping over 3,000 kms along the West Coast of Australia is not an easy task. The drive is long and strenuous, especially if done in less than 2 weeks, but those that undertake the journey will be rewarded with some incredible experiences.
Many will tell you that flying from Perth to Broome is a better use of your time, but we completely disagree. You’ll miss out on tons of cool experiences along the way, like sandboarding in Lancelin, watching sunset at the Pinnacles in Cervantes, swimming with whale sharks in Ningaloo Reef, exploring the gorges of Karijini National Park, or enjoying the unbelievable pink hues of Hutt Lagoon.
4. The Great Ocean Road
The shortest, yet one of the most picturesque road trips on our list is the Great Ocean Road, a 243 kilometres stretch of road along the south-eastern coast of Australia between the cities of Torquay and Allansford. The road passes through rainforests and beaches and provides access to some popular tourist landmarks.
You can travel the Great Ocean Road in just a day by hopping aboard one of the many Great Ocean Road tours departing daily from Melbourne, but hiring a car and making your own adventure is so much better. Don’t miss the famous Twelve Apostles, a collection of limestone formations off the shore of the Port Campbell National Park, the Otway Rainforest, and the charming seaside towns that line the coast.
5. Launceston to Hobart Via the Western Loop
Traveling from Launceston to Hobart (or in reverse) is a popular drive for many travelers visiting Tasmania, but we recommend going further than just the 2 hour straight drive between the 2 cities.
From Launceston, head West and admire the rugged beauty of the Walls of Jerusalem National Park or stop for a visit to the more famous Cradle Mountain National Park. Stop in the small town of Corinna, one of our favourite off-the-beaten-track places in Tasmania, drive through Zeehan and Queenstown, and visit Lake St. Clair. If you have time, stop in Mount Field National Park before ending your road trip in vibrant Hobart.
How to Plan Your Australian Road Trip:
Decide on your time frame
When it comes to mapping out your road trips in Australia, figuring out how much time you have to explore is the first step. Every road trip in our list is flexible, meaning that you can complete it in just a few days to a week or two, or you can travel slowly, enjoying the route for a month or even longer. How quickly you move – is up to you!
Choose the right vehicle
Hiring a car in Australia can be expensive, so be sure to use the right website and find the right vehicle for your adventure. We suggest using a car rental comparison website to find the best deal on the market.
DriveNow is a great comparison website, which allows you to compare the prices of different car hire companies, car models, insurance policies, pick-up locations etc. But it’s not just for cars. DriveNow will help you find the best deal on everything from regular compact cars, perfect for that road trip along the Great Ocean Road, to 4×4, which you’ll need if you want to explore Fraser Island, and campervans, which are the best for long journeys in Western Australia or along Pacific Coast from Sydney to Brisbane.
If you think car rental and campervan rental won’t fit your budget, read our post on how to get around Australia for $1/day or check out DriveNow’s relocation deals. DriveNow also has car rental services in Christchurch and other cities in New Zealand.
This post was brought to you by DriveNow, but opinions are as always our own.