Australia’s vast distances, spectacular landscapes and beautiful coastline lends itself perfectly to unforgettable road trips. Perhaps surprisingly, buying a second hand vehicle and driving around this endless subcontinent is actually a pretty cost effective way of seeing everything Australia has to offer. Some road trips will take only 1 or 2 weeks and are ideal for those who are short on time. However, with those who have more time than money, the only limit is your imagination: Doing an entirely circuit of Australia at a leisurely pace can take a year, or even 18 months for those lucky enough to have the time and money to do this. So here we will explore 10 road trips from 1 or 2 weeks all the way up to 1 year, and everything in between, to give you some ideas for a potential road trip of your own.
Red Centre Way, Northern Territory
The Australian outback is probably the landscape that people associate the most with Australia and for good reason.
This trip takes about 7 days, though you can do it slightly quicker or slower if you want. Starting from Alice Springs in the heart of the country, you will drive to the infamous Uluru (previously “Ayers Rock”), with it’s otherworldly red stones and red desert sand. After Uluru, you will travel through other desert wonders such as Kata Tjuta,, Kings Canyon and finally Glen Helen Gorge, where you can enjoy a freshwater lake which offers a reprieve from the desert sun and sand.
Sydney to Jervis Bay, New South Wales
So this journey only takes about 2 or 3 hours if you were to do it in one shot, but you could easily do the journey over a couple of days to take in the Royal National Park, as well as Wollongong on the coast before reaching Jervis Bay, one of the most beautiful coastal destinations in all of Australia.
Ocean Road, Victoria
Starting in Torquay VIC just outside Melbourne, this another short road trip of 250km, but again you could easily do this in 2 or 3 days at a slow place to take in sites such as the 12 Apostle cliff formation. At a slower pace you could also spend a day on the the beautiful beach nestled in Loch Ard Gorge, as well as the numerous waterfalls that dot this drive on the way to Warrnambool. There is a good reason this ocean road trip is considered one of the best in the world.
The Savannah Way
Now for an epic road trip, this journey starts in Cairns and goes through the desert road rather than the coastal road and ends all the way in Broome Western Australia. 4000Km of the best of what Northern Australia has to offer with it’s tropical climate and green lush landscape completely at odds with the vast deserts of the outback. Sights along the way include Millaa Millaa Falls, which looks like it would be more at home in Thailand, and Boodjamulla National Park with it’s lakes and rivers ideal for kayaking, as well as cave systems such as the Undara Lava Tubes. This is a trip you can do from 2 all the way up to 24 weeks!
Cairns to Cape Tribulation
This is a short 150km road trip which can easily be done in a day, but this trip could just as easily combined with the Savannah Way journey. Either way, you could probably spend a few days up to a week doing this road trip simply because it takes in arguably the most beautiful coastline in all of Australia: The Great Barrier Reef. Stop off to visit the various snorkelling sites on the reef, but also take time to enjoy the Daintree Rainforest, which will delight those who are weary of the endless deserts of the Australian outback.
Gibb River Road, Western Australia
This road trip is quite famous for being one of the most adventurous, with a 4-wheel drive being essential for the 700km trip on a dirt track right into the heart of the wilderness. Starting in Derby and ending in Kununurra, The highlights here are the numerous gorges and waterfalls known as ‘The Kimberlys’, and if you go at the right time of year you will probably not see another soul for days at a time. This really is a special road trip for those adventurous souls.
Broome to Perth, Western Australia
Another Western Australian favourite, this takes in all of what Western Australia has to offer, with a road trip from Broome in the north and finishing in Perth in the south. Just under 4000km, this is one you could do in a few weeks, but it is so much better to take your time (if you have that luxury!) and do it over several months. It’s also worth noting that this road trip could be combined with the Cairns to Broome Savannah Road journey, to make a truly 8000km epic journey that you could do over the course of a year or even more! This trip down the remote Western Coast of Australia takes you through endless, remote blindingly white sand beaches with turquoise seas, and the Karijini National Park. Definitely back your snorkelling gear!
Launceston to Hobart, Tasmania
If you are lucky enough to get to Tasmania, you will love this road trip, because it is arguably the most beautiful road trips in not just Australia but also the world. Much like Western Australia this 600km route will take you through snow-white sand beaches such as those found at Binalong Bay and Bicheon, as well as the dense woodlands of Freycinet National Park, finishing in the town of Hobart which looks and feels distinctly colonial. You could do this trip in a day if you started early, but it would be incredibly rushed. It is better to do it over a few days or perhaps 2 weeks.
Darwin to Litchfield, Northern Territory
A Northern Territory classic, because it takes in Kakadu and Litchfield National Park, which looks more like Africa than Australia with it’s unique wetlands, woodlands and animal life. This trip should also take in Katherines Gorge and the numerous tropical waterfalls and forests in Litchfield. Safaris and river cruises to see this unique pocket of Australia are a must-do activity, so this trip should really be done over a few weeks rather than rushed in a few days.
“75 Mile Highway”, Fraser Island
Last but not least, this unique road trip requires a 4-wheel drive to do properly, since the ‘road’ here is actually on the beaches at low-tide! For those who dare to take on this off-road challenge, they will be rewarded greatly. Shipwrecks dot the island’s beaches with the Maheno Shipwreck being one of the most spectacular being a huge cargo ship that is slowly rusting away and being taken by the ocean. But this road trip will also take in pristine forests, lakes and unusually tame wild dingos! You can as slow or quickly as you want with this trip, and it certainly counts itself as one of the more unusual road trips.
So here we have 10 awesome road trips to inspire you. There are of course many more, and you can easily combine several of these together to create a ‘super road trip’ that can take a year or more. If you have the time then the only limit here is your imagination.