Road tripping is an Aussie rite of passage. Here are 10 of the best around our wide, brown land, with options for both quick trips and long getaways.
The stuff of romance and legend, crossing the Nullarbor Plain means rubbing shoulders with a mix of practical travellers just trying to cross the country and adventure-seekers possessed by desert intrigue. Drive in the day, then settle in at the road stops (with built-in bars and hotels) by night, when semitrailers dominate the highways. If you’re not afraid of a dirt track, take a quick detour to Cocklebiddy Cave – 11 kilometres west of Cocklebiddy, off the Eyre Highway.
2. Devonport to Cradle Mountain – around 80 kilometres
Drive off the Spirit of Tasmania ferry and head straight for Tasmania’s famous mountain peak. Getting back to nature doesn’t have to mean roughing it when you can settle into Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge – complete with crackling fires and a fully stocked library. For the hiking types, the trek from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair will take you to Australia’s deepest lake.
3. Alice Springs to Kakadu – 1520 kilometres
An inland trek to tick off your bucket list. If you stop to walk Katherine Gorge on the way, follow up with a refreshing dip in the Mataranka Thermal Pool at Elsey National Park. How long can this trip take? Well… how long have you got?
You never forget the first time you see the deep azure blue of Lake Jindabyne sparkling on the horizon. Make the most of the views when you get there by spending a night lakeside at Rydges Horizons Snowy Mountains.
5. Adelaide to Second Valley – around 90 kilometres
Second Valley was one of the Fleurieu Peninsula’s best kept secrets, until it was named one of the top 10 beaches in Australia. Day trip down for the fishing and snorkelling or go rugged with a bushwalk in the Deep Creek Conservation Park. Sneak into Myponga on the way home to taste test the Smiling Samoyed Brewery.
6. Warrnambool to Nelson via Portland – around 175 kilometres
After the classic Great Ocean Road drive, slow down the pace and wind your way around the Shipwreck Coast. As the crowds and the tour buses thin out, make plenty of stops so the driver doesn’t miss all the best views. Visit the fur seal colony in Portland, then bunk down in the Cape Nelson Lighthouse. Just don’t turn the lights off.
Don’t let this trip be the one you only do under cover of darkness when you leave the big smoke for an annual Byron bohemian pilgrimage. See it in the daylight and get to Byron with a head start on your zen. Bring the fun at the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour with laser tag, tobogganing, mini golf, a water park, and those famous choc-coated frozen bananas. It’s great if you have the kids with you (or even if you don’t).
After you’ve visited Australia’s most easterly point (Byron Bay), how about the northernmost tip of mainland Australia? Mark your diary to stop at the historic Lion’s Den Hotel, on the Bloomfield Track between Cairns and Cook town, and write a quote on their famous graffiti wall. After you’ve made your way through the Daintree wilderness, you’ll spot a sign marking Oz’s most northern point, 32 kilometres north of Bamaga. Sure, this 4WD adventure is more about the journey than the destination, but you still need that signpost selfie.
9. Waterfall Way – Coffs Harbour to Armidale via Dorrigo – around 192 kilometres
This is a trip where some rain is welcome – that way, the waterfalls will be in full burst. Stop for some natural spring water on Dorrigo Mountain and breathe in the rainforest air as you cross the Great Dividing Range. Try the pies at Bozo’s Bake House in Bellingen #nomnomnom.
10. Margaret River via Albany to Esperance – around 825 kilometres
Wake up to the luxury of a kid-free zone at the Empire Spa Retreat in Naturaliste (what a name!) and start your drive refreshed. Stop at Bremer Bay on the way to explore the Fitzgerald River National Park and discover plant species found nowhere else. Take as long as you like to explore the exquisite WA coast, but save some energy for a snorkel in Esperance and a sunset walk along Tanker Jetty.Plan your great Aussie road trip Hire a car