From quick jaunts to long explorations, Australia’s got a selection of drives that are sure to impress. Here’s a list of some of the most spectacular driving routes the country has to offer to keep your travel spirit alive.
1. The Great Ocean Road – Great for impressive scenery
The Great Ocean Road tour is perhaps the most famous of all of Australia’s self-drive routes tour – and it’s no wonder. The route kicks off at Torquay, just a one-hour drive outside of Melbourne, and winds its way past iconic sights like the 12 Apostles and Sovereign Hill. If you’re pressed for time, you can cover a small section of the route in a day, but following the coast from Melbourne to Adelaide is a more immersive experience. There’s a highlight around every corner, including the unique beach views at Gibson Steps and the cute kangaroos at Ballarat Wildlife Park. Along the way, try your hand at gold panning at Sovereign Hill and don’t forget to bring your camera for some Insta-worthy photographs at Loch Ard Gorge.
2. The Great Beach Drive – Great for off-roading
If you think a drive is only about travelling down tarmac roads, think again. Queensland’s Great Beach Drive takes ‘off-roading’ to a whole new level. Once you’re secure in a four-wheel-drive vehicle, you’ll pass through rainforests and along a sandy beach. Explore a UNESCO World Heritage-listed island and maybe even spot a migrating humpback whale. Start the drive from Noosa North Shore, just outside the Sunshine Coast, and travel up to Rainbow Beach and its colourful sand cliffs. Then, continue onto the Fraser Coast, where you’ll find 75 Mile Beach Road – a beach that doubles as a road. Round it off with a stop at Hervey Bay for a chance to spot humpback whales. This four-day journey might not be the usual way to explore Australia’s coast, but it is certainly a memorable one.
3. The Great Eastern Drive – Great for a taste of Tasmania
The Great Eastern Drive is an unexplored stretch of road that showcases the best of Tasmania in a nature-packed, five-day adventure. The drive boasts beautiful landscapes and has a bit of everything that makes Tasmania so special – wine, wildlife, waterfalls and historic convict ruins. Start in Hobart, the island’s capital city, and drive up towards the white sands and orange boulders of the Bay of Fires on the east coast. Port Arthur, one of the world’s most important convict sites, is a worthwhile stop for a touch of history. Then, continue on your Tasmanian adventure, where you can spot Tasmanian devils and sample fresh oysters right from the source at Saffire Freycinet.
4. The Red Centre Way – Great for an Outback Adventure
The Red Centre Way offers a great taste of Australia’s vast outback. This seven-day road trip is the perfect introduction to the immense lands that make up the centre of the country. Witness the majesty of the sacred Uluru rock, the illuminated art installation that is the Field of Light, and the colours of the Australian sunset as it transforms the sand and stone with hues of red and orange. Discover the ancient living culture of the traditional Aboriginal inhabitants and explore the domes of Kata Tjuta. Along the way, explore rocky valleys home to rare plants and animals, engage with friendly locals and lose yourself in the profound peacefulness of this land.
5. The Grand Pacific Drive – Great for getting off the beaten track
Short on time? Head out from Sydney on the Grand Pacific Drive for a quick sampler of what the state of New South Wales has to offer. The route starts at the Royal National Park, a one-hour drive south of Sydney. You’ll cross the spectacular Sea Cliff Bridge – a 665-metre (2,180-foot) bridge that hangs off the coast – to the seaside city of Wollongong. Adventure-lovers should make a pit-stop here – it’s an epic spot for skydiving. Wollongong also has a great food scene and a beautiful beach. Drive further south towards Jervis Bay where you’ll find beaches with some of the world’s whitest sands. Make your way back towards Sydney the next day, with a stop at the Kiama Blowhole to get a few shots of the ocean waves spurting out through the rocks and up into the air.
6. Australia’s south-west corner: Great for leisurely exploration
Set out on a relaxed 14-day itinerary along the coast of Australia to take in the best of Western Australia’s south-west corner. Make your way from the capital city of Perth all the way to Esperance and its white-sand beaches, sparkling turquoise waters and photo-worthy pink lakes. En route, stop in Margaret River to sample some of Australia’s premium wines, gourmet cheeses, chocolates and craft beers. As you make the leisurely drive, you’ll also get to see wildflowers and whales, orcas and even some of Australia’s tallest trees. Best of all, you’ll have more than enough time to enjoy life’s simple pleasures.
Plan your post-lockdown road trips here.