Why stop at just one city, when the open road is waiting for you. Australia has it all, endless coastlines, rainforests, wildlife, the big red centre and plenty more, just waiting to be driven.
To get the best view of Australia, jump into a vehicle and head out onto the great open road, for the best road trips in Australia.
When I was in Australia, I couldn’t help but explore the big cities, but I always wanted an adventure, which took me along one of the most famous routes, the Great Ocean Road. I even included a helicopter ride over the Twelve Apostles.
It didn’t stop there, I also hit the open road, when I hit the red centre, making my way on tour around Alice Springs, Uluru, before heading north to Darwin.
What an adventure with the wind in my hair and a straight road ahead.
Make your own adventure in Australia with these best road trips.
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Table of Contents
How many days do I need for a road trip in Australia?
A road trip in Australia can be anything from a couple of days to a couple of months if not longer.
Australia is such a vast country, that spending only a couple of weeks here, won’t do it justice. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
In our opinion, we would recommend spending at least 3 months, travelling around the country. Or why not take a gap year, where you can work to fund your travels. You can find out more about taking a gap year, with our Ebook.
If 3 months+ isn’t possible, then you should spend at least 3 weeks travelling around Australia and making the most of what this country has to offer.
Best time to take a road trip in Australia?
Australia is the ideal for a road trip all year round.
During the winter months of June to August, the southern regions might be cold, but the northern regions are ideal for an Australian Road Trip, as the weather conditions are mild.
During the hot summer months of December to February, head south to escape the hot northern temperatures.
How to get a visa to Australia
If you’re not an Australian citizen, then you’ll need a visa to visit Australia, even if it is just for a holiday.
You can find out more on how to get a visa to Australia here. We also cover how to apply for a working holiday visa to Australia.
Best Road trips in Australia
Whether you want to hit the Great Ocean Road, take a coastal road trip, or hit the red sand in the outback, we have picked the best Road trips in Australia.
Outback New South Wales (NSW) & Victoria
An often overlooked Australian road trip is to outback NSW.
We were initially inspired to visit underground town of White Cliffs after a friend went there, but after doing further research we realised that there was a lot more to see and do in the area!
Starting from Sydney, we travelled along the Great Western Highway to Mudgee, Nyngan, Cobar, Wilcannia, White Cliffs, Broken Hill, Mildura (in Victoria) and Mungo National Park before returning to Sydney via Wagga Wagga.
We travelled over 3000km in 12 days, but you could easily take longer and stop in at more places if you have more time available.
You can also easily do this trip from any of Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane or Adelaide.
The main areas that we visited were the section from Cobar to White Cliffs, Broken Hill, Mildura and Mungo National Park, which is a route of 1200km.
Highlights of this road trip include:
- Wine tasting in Mudgee
- Learning more about Australian mining history in Cobar
- Visiting Mt Grenfall Historic Site near Cobar and seeing the aboriginal rock art.
- Staying in the Underground Motel in White Cliffs, and learning more about opal mining in Australia (note that the Underground Motel has since closed, but there are alternative underground accommodation options)
- Exploring Broken Hill and Silverton and learning more about Australian mining history, lots to see and do in the area.
- Visiting Mildura and exploring its agricultural and local industry – loving winery visits, paddleboat rides on the Murray River, great restaurants
- Visiting amazing Mungo National Park and learning more about Australia’s indigenous history
- Just being on the road for long distances and getting a better feel for outback Australian distances and landscape.
We would definitely recommend taking the time to do an outback NSW road trip similar to ours, either as a standalone trip or as part of a larger road trip.
Accommodation is readily available in each township, but ensure you are prepared for long distances between towns, and carry extra water and food for safety.
Contributed by Anne Sutherland-Smith from Pretraveller.
Road trip from Brisbane to Cairns
Are you looking for your next holiday following the sun and an endless supply of beaches?
The Road trip from Brisbane to Cairns is what you have been waiting for. Although there might be a lot of swimming locations, it’s not just about the beaches. Do I have you intrigued?
This journey along the Queensland coast can be completed in either direction. This is due to an international gateway airport available at each end.
It’s roughly 1700 kilometres (1056 miles), takes about 19 hours, and your hardest part will be deciding the stops along the way.
10 days will be a decent amount of time for a taste of the main sites, but best enjoyed with an extended amount of time.
This stretch of road will have you passing by 900 different Islands for you to choose from. For example, Lady Musgrave, Lady Elliott, Fraser, or even Magnetic Island.
Fraser Island happens to be the world’s largest sand island and is best accessed from Rainbow Beach or Hervey Bay. Most of the others are easily visited on a day trip by ferry, vehicle barge, or even a short flight.
You can interact with wild Australia Koalas and Wallaby’s on Magnetic Island, as well as hiring a unique topless vehicle for your visit.
Alternatively, Cape Hillsborough near Mackay has kangaroos visiting the beach every morning for sunrise.
Furthermore, you might like to see baby Loggerhead turtles hatching on Mon Repos.
Some of the best beaches you can visit along the coast are Noosa National Park, Elliot Heads, Woodgate, or even Agnes Water.
In the northern areas with Bowen, Mission Beach, or day-tripping off Airlie Beach for some Whitsunday paradise.
Even though this is one of the busiest roads in Australia, you will still be able to find some secluded, turquoise beaches to yourself.
The journey and different types of experiences are what make the road trip from Brisbane to Cairns an incredible sight to see.
Contributed by Chris from The Aquarius Traveller
Broome to Perth
I’ve done some epic road trips around Australia, but my favourite has to be driving from Broome down to Perth.
Western Australia has such a wild and stunning landscape and it is a world away from the populated East Coast.
The West Coast isn’t about big, commercial tourist attractions, it’s about enjoying peace and tranquillity surrounded by incredible natural attractions.
You could drive the route in less than 24 hours with no stops, but we allowed ourselves three weeks to do the trip so we could explore the highlights along the way as we travelled in a motorhome. We could very easily have stayed longer though!
My top tip is to be prepared as parts of the route are very remote. If you’re travelling in a motorhome, top up your tank with water where you can and be frugal using it (as there can be restrictions and water is precious in some areas).
If you’re travelling in a car, make sure you have plenty of bottles of water to keep you going in an emergency.
Make sure you re-fuel when you can as there can be a big gap between service stations.
It’s also a good idea to tell somebody where you’re going and roughly when you expect to arrive at each stop, especially if you plan on going off the main road.
Exmouth was our favourite destination on the trip. The World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef is the world’s largest fringing reef and it’s an amazing place to dive or snorkel.
If you time your visit carefully, you can even swim with whale sharks.
We loved exploring the national park on an eco safari and taking a tour to watch the turtles come in to lay their eggs. The drift snorkel was a top highlight for us as we got to swim alongside turtles and sharks.
Monkey Mia was another great spot to explore the great outdoors. From astronomy tours, wild dolphin feeding, dugong sightseeing tours, nature talks and wildlife watching, it was a place that we enjoyed so much we didn’t want to leave.
Make sure you stop at Shell Beach on your way off the peninsula, the entire beach is made of tiny dazzling white shells.
The Pinnacles is one of those natural attractions that you have to see to believe. These limestone structures were formed about 25,000 – 30,000 years ago when the sea receded. It’s only a couple of hours north of Perth so it’s a great final stop on your road trip.
There is so much to see and do along the coast so you certainly won’t get bored! If you love to snorkel, dive, hike in national parks, paddle in clear lagoons and see the stars with amazing clarity then this is the road trip for you.
Contributed by Karen from Smart Steps to Australia
Airlie Beach to Port Douglas
This road trip itinerary connects two of Australia’s most popular gateways to the Great Barrier Reef.
The majority of visitors will fly into one of these destinations but not travel far from either of them.
Both offer a unique reef experience and there is 1,000kms of open road between them with a variety of activities and sites on offer.
Starting from Airlie Beach after leaving Hamilton Island, we stuck to the coastal road when heading north.
Townsville is the first major town with highlights being Castle Hill and Magnetic Island which is good for a day trip.
From there you will find some beautiful spots in the forests and national parks at regular intervals on the highway, including:
- Crystal Creek
- Caldwell State Forest (Attie Creek Falls and Spa Pool were the best spots here)
- Alligators Nest (yes you can swim here!)
- Josephine Falls
- Babinda Boulders
You can also take a detour to Mission Beach if you want to break things up. It is a much nicer place to stay than Innisfail – which is the next main town to the north.
We spread this out over three days which was a busy, but steady pace.
We made Port Douglas our home base for four days and spent our time there exploring the Daintree Rainforest, the Barrier Reef, and a lazy day next to the Sheraton Mirage lagoon pool thrown in for some R&R time.
Our return leg started with an inland detour to the Atherton Tablelands. We explored the region by following a food trail itinerary that included a mango winery, cheese factories, cafes built right on the farm, and the Mt Uncle distillery which have an outstanding single malt.
We spent nine days on the road in total and with the exception of one rest day we were constantly alternating between land and sea based activities.
The variety of activities and natural beauty we experienced was amazing and this is why we recommend this as one of the best road trips in Australia.
Contributed by James from Team AJ Travels
Sydney to Jervis Bay Road Trip
The best road trips in Australia aren’t necessarily all that long. The road trip from Sydney to Jervis Bay only takes a little over 3 hours, but you could easily take a week to see all the sites along the way.
A spectacular way to begin the drive is to leave the Princes Highway before Wollongong and join the Grand Pacific Drive.
The road winds its way between the coast and the ocean and has amazing views.
Besides taking you past a number of coastal towns, this section includes the Sea Cliff Bridge which features many ads’. It easy to see why, it is an amazing sight!
You can easily spend a day or two based in Kiama. Check out the famous Kiama Blowhole.
If it isn’t blowing, visit Kiama’s other blowhole, the Little Blowhole which often looks great if its big hole isn’t performing.
As well as exploring the coast around Kiama, you can take a detour from here to the Minnamurra rainforest centre or explore the walks and waterfalls at nearby Budderoo National Park.
Next stop is Berry. Whether you love a town with historic buildings or a fun food scene, you can easily spend a day walking up and down the main street, make sure you stop off at the famous Berry Donut Van.
In the afternoon, head up to Cambewarra Lookout for great views over the New South Wales south coast.
The last stop on your way from Sydney to Jervis Bay is the river town of Nowra. Great for water sports like fishing or kayaking, it is also a beautiful location for a river cruise.
There is plenty of wildlife along the river. Also check out the Shoalhaven Zoo, aviation buffs will love the Fleet Air Arm Museum that has over 30 airplanes on display or take in the scenery on Ben’s walk along the Shoalhaven River.
As much fun as the road trip is, some of the best sights are waiting for you at Jervis Bay. You could spend days exploring everything to do in the area.
There are beautiful beaches, national park walks, and abundant marine life to spot on a snorkel or a cruise and great views from sea cliff lookouts.
Hyams Beach has some of the whitest sand in the world and you you’ll never want to leave the pretty bays and beaches in Booderee National Park.
There is a range of accommodation to choose from at each centre. In Kiama you can’t beat the views at the Sebel Kiama Harbourside. Or for family travellers try BIG4 Easts Beach Holiday Park.
Berry has many cute B&Bs. Berry Village Boutique Motel and The Drawing Rooms of Berry are both lovely.
For campers, try the Honeymoon Bay campground in Jervis Bay. It is basic bush camping but the bay is a little piece of paradise.
Contributed by Natalie & Steve from Curious Campers
Brisbane to Agnes Water Day Road Trip
One of the best and most underrated road trips in Australia has to be the Brisbane to Agnes Water drive.
Only needing a day to complete, this travel adventure will have you seeing some wonderful sights, experiences and stop-offs in regional Queensland before arriving at one of the most spectacular coastal towns in Australia.
The destination being Agnes Water is a hidden gem of a destination, but it’s also fast gaining popularity with the town being voted the best small tourism town for 2021. As there are so many fun things to do in Agnes Water it’s a great place to finish your road trip.
Now, this particular drive is a memorable travel experience in Queensland. As you leave the bustling city of Brisbane behind, you essentially have two route options to choose from.
One is a coastal drive (which we’ll cover) and the other being a regional country drive, stopping at Childers. Both travel on the Bruce Hwy and M1 before detouring.
For our recommended coastal drive to Agnes Water, you need to start your road trip early in the morning leaving Brisbane at around 4.15am, to arrive at the first stop-off by 7am being Tin Can Bay, which takes just under 3 hours.
Here you’ll be able to experience one of the rarest and special animal encounters on mainland Australia. Viewing and hand-feeding wild dolphins at Barnacles Dolphin Centre, which is held daily from 7-8am.
After this experience, it’s off to the next stop only 2.5 hours away being Bargara in Bundaberg. This beautiful beach suburb is a relaxing and refreshing destination to visit, stretch the legs and refuel.
A wonderful spot especially when travelling with kids is at the Bargara Esplanade Turtle Park.
This park stunningly overlooks the ocean and has a large playground and plenty of space to sit and enjoy a picnic.
Also, the area has numerous restaurants and cafes with some favourites being Rick’s at Bargara, Rocklatino Caffe and Bargara Beach Takeaway.
After visiting for lunch it’s off to Agnes Water, which is just under two hours away and will have you arriving in the afternoon ready for check-in.
One place we highly recommend to stay, giving you an unreal beachfront glamping experience is at Agnes Water Beach Holidays.
Here you’ll be spoiled with beachfront views, surreal sunrises and falling asleep to the soothing sounds of the ocean.
Contributed by Danielle from Stuff It Go Travelling
Hobart to Bay of Fires in Tasmania
One of the best road trips in Australia is to drive along the East Coast of Tasmania with its spectacular beaches, pristine landscapes and natural beauty.
Hobart is a great place to start the trip and drive eastwards to Coles Bay and further northwards to the Bay of Fires.
Hobart to Coles Bay is a 2 and half hour drive and further to Bay of Fires is another 2 hours.
Although you can do this in a day, it would be ideal to take two days and stop at the various points of interest.
Devil’s Corner – The Cellar door and lookout: Stop here for sweeping views across the green vineyards towards the Hazards mountains. It’s the perfect place to get some feast for your eyes while enjoying a glass of wine!
Freycinet National Park – This lovely peninsula has pink granite mountains and deep blue and turquoise bays, eucalyptus forest and white beaches.
There are plenty of opportunities for trails and walks of various difficulty levels at Cape Tourville Lighthouse and look-out, Sleepy Bay, Honeymoon Bay, and the stunning Wineglass Bay.
Bicheno is further up on the east coast. Stop here to view the amazing Bicheno blowhole.
Binalong Bay and the Bay of Fires are at the north end of the east coast.
The views are awesome, especially the orange lichen on the rocks contrasting against the turquoise sea color at the Bay of Fires.
If you could find some time, it is worth taking a diversion inland to St Columba falls and enjoy a good hike to the falls.
The best place to stay would be at St Mary’s village which is midway on this stretch. Other popular choices for good accommodation include the Coles Bay area and St Helens in the north.
Contributed by Jan from Leisurely Drives
Perth to Esperance
A road trip from Perth to Esperance is a bucket list that should be on everyone’s list who loves road trips, sun, sand, and sea.
Since Esperance is quite far from Perth, around 700 km meaning an 8 hr nonstop drive, a road trip is a great way to make stops in between and see the beauty of various regions that come on the way.
Drive from Perth to Dunsborough, explore Dunsborough and Margaret River. Stay the night in the region and leave for Denmark and Albany next. From Albany, Esperance is 5.5 hrs away.
14 days is the minimum amount of time needed for this road trip if you are interested in seeing the beauty of Australia’s South West along with Esperance, however, there is no right amount of days to do this trip.
If you are short on time then start your trip from Perth and drive towards Hyden where you can make a stop to see Wave Rock.
This natural rock formation is 15 m high and 100 m long formed by erosion over years. Spend the night at Hyden and start the final stretch of your road trip towards Esperance.
The highlight of Esperance is the stunning crystal clear turquoise beaches and white sand. Don’t forget to visit Lucky Bay, Hellfire Bay, twilight beach, and hike Frenchmen Peak for epic views.
There are many Airbnb and hotels available however if you want to camp, the best campsite can be booked near Lucky Bay. Lucky Bay Campground has a limited capacity so book well in advance.
Contributred by Suvarna from Suvarna Arora
Great Alpine Road
Great Alpine road Is one the most picturesque drives in the Victorian region of Australia that one can take. Its definitely a must try for all those long drive lovers who wish to enjoy the thrill the road has to offer.
The drive stretches for around 339 Kms starting from the Wangaratta in the north-east and ending up at the lakeside town of Bairnsdale.
It would take one close to 5 hours to complete the drive if done without a stop but in order to enjoy the drive 3 days would be sufficient.
The drive passes through lush green forests, beautiful gippsand lakes, lofty mountians, smoothe meadows, vineyards, breweries and more.
The drive can be categorized in three legs i.e Wangaratta to Bright, Bright to Omeo and Omeo to Metung.
Leg one offers some fresh farm vineries, cheese factories and bakeries. It would give you a sweet start to your journey.
In the second leg enjoy some refreshing treks and breathtaking views of the Mt Hotham.
Third leg takes you down to the sea level and you get to enjoy the natural Gippsland Lakes and rivers of the Bairnsdale.
One great accommodation that one can consider near the town of Bairnsdale could be Comfort Inn Mitchell on Main.
For snow lovers winters bring altogether a different aspect and beauty to this drive, however a little caution is advised as roads become extremely slippery.
Contributed by Utkarsh from Journeys from heart
Sydney to Townsville
The East Coast of Australia is arguably one of the most beautiful places in the country. With lots of things to see and do, the route Sydney to Townsville is the perfect road trip for anyone who enjoys incredible beaches, city breaks but also nature and more quiet spots.
Realistically you could complete this route in about a week but taking a bit longer is highly recommended so you can enjoy spots along the way.
Take the coastal route which may not be the fastest but definitely the most scenic.
Make sure to stop in little beach towns like Agnes Water, Rainbow Beach or Airlie Beach for fantastic opportunities for surfing, swimming and camping.
A trip to the Whitsunday Islands is an absolute must on your way from Sydney to Townsville.
Visit the famous Whitehaven Beach, one of the whitest beaches in the world and snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef.
Of course, Brisbane should be one of your stops especially if you enjoying larger cities.
Gold Coast and Surfer’s Paradise are also highly recommended and slightly less crowded than Brisbane.
Finally, you’ll have reached Townsville which is the last stop on this road trip. Come here for tropical beaches and of course the incredible Magnetic Island.
Contributed by Victoria from Guide Your Travel
Cairns to Atherton Tablelands
One of the prettiest drives in tropical Far North Queensland is from Cairns, the gateway to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, to Atherton Tablelands, also known as the Cairns Highlands.
Cairns is the perfect place to explore the Great Barrier Reef and no trip would be complete without snorkelling or diving the reef.
Other popular attractions include Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures Park and the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon.
Just a 30 minute drive from Cairns is the mountain retreat of Kuranda. Some of the highlights of this town include the Kuranda Scenic Rail, considered to be one of the most unique and scenic rail journeys in Australia.
If you are looking for a little adventure, the Barron Gorge National Park is the perfect place to experience white water rafting on grade 2 to 3 rapids.
If you continue another 30 minutes along the Kennedy Highway, you will reach the northern area of the Atherton Tablelands. There are lots of things to see and do in Atherton Tablelands including amazing waterfalls, beautiful viewpoints, magnificent lakes, and lush tropical rainforest.
There are a number of townships scattered throughout the Tablelands and each has something unique to offer and experience.
If you love coffee plantations and wineries, you will love Mareeba.
The next town along is Atherton, and it was the first town settled in the area and reveals the history of the Chinese settlers in the 1800’s.
Historically, Herberton was a mining town nestled into the hills, and a visit to the Historic Village Herberton, an open air museum showcasing Australian pioneering history, is a must.
The next stop should be the 17 kilometre Millaa Millaa Waterfall Circuit throughout the rainforest-clad Wooroonooran National Park.
The historic township of Yungaburra is a must if you are road tripping through Atherton Tablelands, and has been said to be the prettiest town in Far North Queensland.
Some of the highlights in town or within a short drive include Curtain Fig Tree, Lake Barrine, Lake Eacham, the Yungaburra Heritage Walk, and if you are hoping to see an elusive platypus, then you must follow the Peterson Creek Walking Track.
You could allow anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks to do this road trip from Cairns down through Atherton Tablelands, as each town and its surrounding area offers so much to see and do.
You will find a variety of accommodation options to suit every type of traveller in each of the above mentioned towns so if you have some time, make the most of it!
Contributed by Peta and Jonas of Exit45 Travels.
Diving the Oodnadatta Track is one of Australia’s iconic road trips. This remote road runs from Marla on the Stuart Highway to Marree, where the Birdsville Track meets the Outback highway.
The Oodnadatta Track is 617km of rough dirt roads.
While it is possible to drive it in a 2WD, a 4WD is definitely preferable and will make it a much nicer trip. The track is also very weather dependent.
If there has been rain, it is very likely that it will be closed. There is signage at each end showing if it is open.
While it is possible to drive the whole track in a single day, it would rough on your vehicle and there would not be a lot of time to explore. It would be better to take at least two days, perhaps even three, to allow time to stop along the way.
While it doesn’t have to be an overnight stop, call into the Pink Roadhouse in Oodnadatta for refreshments and to admire more pink than you thought possible.
Take a look at the old Algebuckina Bridge, the longest rail bridge in South Australia until 2012.
Spend at least one night at William Creek and enjoy a drink in the iconic outback pub. While in town organise a flight over Lake Eyre before moving on again.
Stop in out Coward Springs and relax in the hot springs. This will be a good break if the road has been especially rough.
Just before you get to Marree, stop to walk among the roadside Alberrie sculptures made from scrap metal. Admire the particularly impressive planes standing on their tales.
Once you get to Marree, celebrate surviving the Oodnadatta Track at the Marree Hotel.
Contributed by Josie from Exploring South Australia
We have selected a variety of Australian road trips.
The road trip we would love to do, when we visit Australia again would have to be the Broome to Perth and explore more of Tasmania.
Broome is a stunning location and can at time feel a little isolated from the rest of the world.
As you plan your road trip in Australia, you should research the type of vehicle you’ll drive. While I was in Australia on my gap year, I purchased a car, which allowed me to get around with ease.
You could hire a vehicle for the short term or be more adventurous and hire a motorhome or campervan. This is something we would love to do, is hire the old campers and just hit the open road.
This trip is about making the most of your time in Australia, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity that can’t be missed.
What Australian Road Trip will you take? How many do you think you could cover? Have you been on a road trip in Australia that we haven’t mentioned? Let us know, by leaving a comment below.
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