Sun, surf, wilderness and the great outback, Australia is the ultimate country to explore if you’re planning a scenic road trip.
Tourists flock here for some of the world’s best beaches, fine food and wine and natural attractions. For the locals, driving off-the-beaten tracks and discovering the best road trips in Australia is rapidly on the rise.
If you’re planning a getaway, there’s a whole lot of exploring to do in Australia. Choose the right caravan or camper, get your gear together and start ticking off these attractions on your state-by-state road trip guide.
Valleys lined with vineyards, rich cultural experiences and the world’s most beautiful beaches, WA is something special.
Western Australia travel is ideal for anyone wanting to sample local produce, swim with marine life and explore natural attractions.
Gibb River Road:
Beach hop your way through WA’s Coral Coast from Perth to Kalbarri to the Kimberley’s famous Gibb River road.
This legendary 660km road trip originally for droving cattle, takes you from Wyndham to Derby. The wet season from December to March is the best time to hit the road.
Discover some of the world’s oldest rock art in the Kimberley region, whilst exploring 4WD tracks, gorges, waterfalls and cliffs. You can find out more about the road conditions here.
Soak up the local Fremantle culture on a road trip to WA’s south west for fresh seafood and wines. The drive from Perth to Dunsborough, Margaret River and Albany is ideal for lovers of coastal scenery, caves and delicious local produce. See the sheer size of the Karri forests in Pemberton and head into Esperance to explore the wildflower trail, detouring to Antony Gormley sculptures and Pink Lake along the way.
Australia’s Northern Territory offers balmy nights, national parks, swimming holes and Aboriginal rock art galleries.
From scenic flights, fishing charters, waterhole swims, outback walks and crocodile cruises, NT has a road trip experience for everyone to enjoy.
Red Centre Way:
Drive one of Australia outback’s great stretches from Alice Springs to Uluru.
See where the bats hide out at Cutta Cutta Caves Nature Park, a hidden tropical gem with limestone formations and crystalline structures. Tour Kings Canyon, wash the red dirt off at Mataranka thermal pool and see the famous vivid orange Ayres Rock in Uluru. Uluru makes a good base for outback driving. Hit Lasseter highway and head north for more road trips and attractions.
Self-Drive Day Trip from Darwin to Litchfield National Park:
120km south-east from Darwin via Batchelor’s sealed road is Litchfield National Park, with its plunge pools and waterfalls.
South Australia is famous for its wine regions, picturesque landscapes, music festivals, food and architectural beauty.
If you love historic towns, award-winning vino and discovering hidden gems, SA is one of Australia’s underrated travel destinations.
South Eastern Freeway Link:
Road trippers with an appetite for good food should head into SA’s cosmopolitan coastal capital, Adelaide, for the central market food hub.
If you’re after cool-climate wines, wheel your way through Adelaide Hills. The villages, scenic vineyards and community activities can entertain for days. Adelaide Hills can be accessed by South Eastern Freeway, linking Adelaide to Melbourne.
Head through Blackwood and the winding roads of Crafers, Piccadilly Valley and Summertown. Stop at Kangaroo Island for secluded beaches, diverse wildlife and food – cheese, honey and wine are big here. Add another leg to the trip by making your way to the Blue Lake along the Limestone Coast for natural wonders.
Port Pirie to Eyre Peninsula:
Drive 220km north of Adelaide into Port Pirie for historic buildings and coastal scenery. The highlights of the Eyre Peninsula region can be experienced on this drive, stopping at Port Augusta, Port Lincoln and Venus Bay. When you reach Eyre Peninsula, take part in the 4WD safari.
Drive Queensland’s top road trips for lush landscapes, tropical forests and camping spots.
Queensland, especially in the northern region, is renowned for its laid-back vibe and unique experiences, making it an ideal spot to travel to for everyone.
Great Tropical Drive:
Where rainforest meets reef. Visit Innisfail’s sugarcane country for a mix of coastline and rainforests, see the Table Top range mountains and catch a meal at Flying Fish Point.
The Tully Gorge National Park has swimming holes to cool off in, and your 4WD can get a good workout along the Old Telegraph track – an adventure route that spans from Bamaga Road to Jardine River.
Central Queensland’s Outback Drive:
The visually exciting loop which takes you into Rubyvale, Longreach and Mount Scoria.
For something unique, try a full day of trekking in Hinterland and top the day off at The Castle on Tamborine, a luxurious castle stay.
New South Wales
Home to long highways and mountain ranges, NSW is a coastal beauty. Famous for its long-distance drives, NSW’s art, culture and cliff-top road trips make an impressive getaway for any traveller.
One of NSW’s best scenic drives is Kosciuszko Alpine Way in the Snowy Mountains, which also includes mountain bike and walking trails.
The Grand Pacific Drive will take you through rainforests and coastal towns. Make sure you stop off at Batemans Bay – especially if you’re a lover of oysters.
Off Darling River run, this stretch encourages a break from the road where you can soak in outdoor bore baths.
Wine drinkers should head down the Castlereagh highway into the Blue Mountains, stopping over in Mudgee. This town is small but lively and home to boutique wineries.
Other routes to travel include The Rainforest Way, Silver City highway (if you have a decent 4WD), Mann River via Old Glenn Innes road and Fossickers Way for historic villages, landscapes and countryside.
Australian Capital Territory
Crowned by Lonely Planet as the best Australian city and top 10 in the world, the national capital Canberra is a starting point for many short road trips. However, it’s also a gem to explore for natural beauty and charm.
Follow the foodie trail to Gundaroo, head through the pretty riverside town of Queanbeyan and tour past Australia’s colonial past in Braidwood.
Visit the rural charm of Moss Vale in the Southern Highlands, Black Mountain’s National Botanic Gardens and take a dip at the Cotter Reserve. Stop at Gibraltar Falls and taste local wines at some of the region’s best small vineyards, including Clonakilla and Lark Hill.
There are some great scenic drives that wind from Sydney to Melbourne and Victoria surrounds.
Discover coastal villages, natural springs and one of Australia’s greatest road trips – The Great Ocean Road.
Great Ocean Road:
Drive the Great Ocean Road and visit the natural wonders of the Twelve Apostles. Experience Australia’s version of the Amazon Rainforest at Erskine Falls and Phillip Island’s coastline.
Surfers will enjoy the drive from Torquay to Bells Beach for Victoria’s surf scene. For travellers wanting the enjoy the countryside, Yarra Valley is home to crops, farms and wineries.
Great Alpine Road:
Best travelled during the Autumn months, the Great Alpine Road twists and turns through mountains and lookouts.
Head inland towards Melbourne to Macedon Ranges for an overnight road trip. This drive usually takes four hours but has many pretty picnic spots along the way to stop at too.
Tasmania is often referred to as Australia’s hidden travel gem.
As a mountainous region, there are hiking and photography opportunities. It’s also renowned for its scenic routes to food and local produce and soul-stirring ocean views.
North of Tasmania’s wilderness is Australia’s deepest lake, St Clair which can be enjoyed on the way to Cradle Mountain before heading into Launceston.
The drive from Launceston to Hobart is an easy two-and-a-half-hour trip to take on your way to Tasmania’s south.
An hour and a half out of Hobart is Port Arthur, famous for its historic prison along the Arthur Highway.
Camp in Bay of Fires, drive up the eastern coast toward Coles Bay to Freycinet Peninsula, where Australia’s oldest National Park lies. Drive into the historic town of Richmond, swap the car for a ferry to get to Bruny Island, and get back behind the wheel to head to Huon Valley.
Go as far as the roads will take you past Dover into Hastings Cave. You can bring your swimming gear and take a dip in the thermal springs, before driving back into Hobart.
Take the wheel and cure those itchy feet! Which places will you be road tripping too? Leave your comments below!
This article was written by Jayde Ferguson, a local content creator in the travel, business and music industries. You can catch her on Google+.