Top 10 Scenic Road Trips in Australia

Top 10 Scenic Road Trips in Australia

The best way to explore Australia is by going on a road trip. Find out the most epic routes you and your buddies can take!

The vast, red continent of Australia just cries out for exploration, and road trips are the perfect way to discover the infinite beauty of this amazing country. While you are never going to see more than a small fraction of it on one trip, there are certain routes that will really allow you to capture the essence of this ancient land. Here are ten of the very best road trips that Australia has to offer.

1. The ‘Big Lap’

australia scenic road trips

This is the ultimate Australian road trip – the big one, the dream, the bucket list favourite which will take you around the edge of the entire continent. This is the adventure of a lifetime, so if you really want to get to know this great continent then take a sabbatical and go the long way round. You will have to take your time and embrace the adventure as you travel the 15,000 plus kilometres to circle Australia. You can basically complete the journey within a month, but takes far longer to really do the trip justice.

Also read: 10 Reasons You Must Go Backpacking In Australia

2. The Stuart Highway

The Stuart HighwayImage credit: pixculture

This is another Australian road trip classic. As you make your way from Adelaide to Darwin you will be bisecting the continent, travelling right through the heart of the outback on the route taken by John McDouall Stuart, and many since. You can relax and watch the scenery change from the rocky Flinders Ranges into the red dust of the central desert and then the huge gorges of the north. Uluru is just one of the famous highlights of this epic 3,000km journey.

3. Tasmania Loop

tasmania loop

Crammed with beautiful sights and with a fascinating history, Tasmania is another great Australian road trip destination. This island demands a full vacation for itself and you could find plenty to occupy you here for at least several weeks. Even if you do not have that long, you can still get a great sense of former Van Diemen’s Land by taking a drive in a loop around it to discover some of its natural and historical treasures. Highlights of this ocean road include Wineglass Bay, Port Arthur, Table Mountain and historic Hobart.

4. The Coral Coast

Image credit: Reinhart Gruhn

Heading north up the coast from the Western Australian capital, Perth to Broome is a great way to see the Coral Coast and experience something of the quieter side of the continent. Fewer people embark on road trips here than on the east coast, and you will find it a laid-back and less touristy experience. This road hugs the coast, where the desert comes down to meet the turquoise ocean. Drive through virtually untouched outback, hopping between national parks and beautiful, pristine beaches that are practically empty. You will begin to realise why this is one of the great Australian road trips.

Also read: Australia Road Trip: Highlights of the Legendary Pacific Coast Drive

5. Cape York to Brisbane

cape yorkImage credit: ilaria

The drive from Cairns to Brisbane is one of the most popular road trips on the continent, taking in the highlights of Cape Tribulation, Mission Beach, the Whitsunday Islands, Fraser Island and of course the most famous of all Australian attractions, the Great Barrier Reef. But to really extend the adventure you should consider also ‘doing the Cape’ and making time to travel from the very tip of wild and rugged Cape York.

6. Savannah Way

savannah wayImage credit: Rodney Campbell

This adventurous route cuts the top off the continent, tracing a route across the wide expanses of outback between Broome on the coast of Western Australia and Cairns on the east coast. This 3700 kilometre route links 15 National Parks and five World Heritage areas and truly does give access to some of Australia’s wildest and most impressive landscapes. This network of highways gives access to Australia’s northern savannahs and can also give you some insight into the Aboriginal cultures of the places through which you will pass.

7. The Gibb River Road

Gibb River RoadImage credit: Jurriaan Persyn

An alternative for part of the route between Broome and Katherine, the mid-point on the Savannah Way, is the Gibb River Road, a dirt track that will take you right through the heart of the Kimberly. If you are looking for traditional outback adventure then this is a great route to take. It will show you some of the most spectacular landscapes and allow you to learn more about the indigenous people, their lives, legends and art.

8. The Central Arnhem Highway

central arnhem highwayImage credit: Geoff Whalan

More outback adventure and a driving challenge can be found on the Central Arnhem Highway, a largely dirt route with a variety of obstacles that runs between Katherine and Gove. Be warned that this is not an easy route and river fording and a car capable of taking on rutted tracks is required. Still, if you are looking to see the ‘real’ Australian outback and have a real road trip adventure then this is an amazing route to drive. Be sure to be well prepared and where possible, use local stores to support local communities.

9. Melbourne to Perth

great ocean roadImage credit: dawolf-

This epic route will allow you to see three of Australia’s cities as well as some of its most awe-inspiring landscapes. Between Melbourne and Adelaide you will be able to traverse the famous Great Ocean Road, strongly marketed as a dream road trip route. On this route you will get to see some of the famous rock formations of the ‘shipwreck coast’. After Adelaide you will encounter another famous Australian road trip experience as you cross the bleak and awe-inspiring Nullabor (no-trees) Plain, before making your way to laid-back, sunny Perth.

Also read: Autumn in Australia: Special Events and Festivals To Lookout For in 2016

10. Great Alpine Road, Victoria

great alpine roadImage credit: Mick Stanic

This alpine route gives contrast to the red, dusty routes and lush rainforest routes found elsewhere on the continent. On this route you can enjoy vineyards and alpaca farms en route to the highlands of the Mount Buffalo National Park. In the park you will see rock formations and get stunning vistas over the surrounding landscape. Check out some of the charming highland towns and try some of the fine local produce. This is a great road trip for those who want a bit of a breather from the frenetic cities of the east and south coasts.

About Author

Elizabeth Waddington
Elizabeth Waddington

Elizabeth Waddington lives in rural Scotland with her husband and her dog. She is part of a small community who are trying to live as sustainably as possible. A professional freelance writer who works from home full time, she has over ten years of writing experience and an MA in English and Philosophy. She mostly writes about travel, sustainability and permaculture and has a particular interest in adventure holidays, camping, walking and sustainable travel. She travels whenever she can.

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