The 5 best road trips to Australia’s southern states
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There’s nothing better than taking things into your own hands and taking an epic road trip across Australia and seeing the sea, surf and outback of Australia with your own eyes – the so-called Outback. Given the immense size of the country, you’ll have to drive three to four hours before you stumble upon the next natural wonder. We’ve compiled a list for you of the best itineraries in Australia for awesome self-guided trips.
Here’s what we’ve picked for you:
This stunning coastline along the ocean is the most famous road to travel in Australia. It’s a coastal route that passes through beautiful picturesque scenery like a picture and stunning beaches like Lock Ard Ridge. Without a doubt, the greatest attraction of the Great Ocean Road is the Twelve Apostles, a group of ancient limestone cliffs that once connected to the mainland but now stand apart and resist the ravages of the ocean. You could probably do with just one day’s driving – but can you see everything in the 3.5 hours it takes to get from the starting point in Torquay to the highway’s terminus in Port Campbell? But if you don’t take long, two to five days to get there, that’s plenty of time to get your bearings. Stop in welcoming coastal towns like Lorne and Port Fairy, and spend a little more time at places like Bells Beach, the true mecca of surfing. A detour through rocky Grampians National Park is perfect for those who like to combine driving with hiking. And if you like it quieter, keep driving through Adelaide and you’ll notice the crowds of tourists seem to have vanished, and the road is practically yours alone.
Head to the beaches of the Sunshine Coast, where the sea practically “licks” the tires of your SUV, on a daring, nature-inspired, fascinating journey. With UNESCO-protected reserves and beaches even more impressive than nature reserves, this area of Australia is surprisingly small, yet somehow manages to flaunt its stunning natural diversity. Start your trip in Brisbane, a city with a subtropical climate that makes it an outdoor paradise. It even has an artificial beach, by the way. Enjoy surfing and shopping in the expensive boutiques of the glossy Noosa Resort, go kayaking in the Everglades, and then conquer the 160-kilometer Great Beach Drive, which stretches to the serene rainbow beach of Rainbow Beach. This challenging off-road sand track is utterly surreal, like a virtual video game brought to life. But if the thought of making the trip on your own is a little intimidating, you can join tour groups. Then there’s Fraser Island, whose indigenous name K’gari means “paradise.” It’s the largest sand island in the world, home to hundreds of diverse wildlife such as acid frogs, swamp wallabies, wild dingo dogs, and over 350 species of birds. If you’re interested in whale watching, Harvey Bay, adjacent to the mainland, is one of the best places to see humpback whales, which come here from July through November.
From Cairns to Cape Tribulation, the journey along the Great Barrier Reef is rich with natural wonders, not least because it winds through one of Australia’s largest mountain ranges and the world’s most famous coral reef. Start in Cairns, the ‘gateway’ to the Great Barrier Reef, and tackle the glamorous roads that line the North Queensland coast. Spend some time in Port Douglas, where you can buy souvenirs at local shops and just stretch your legs walking along Four Mile Beach. It makes you wonder how incredible it is to be surrounded on one side by beautiful sea life and on the other by the ancient trees of the oldest tropical rain forest. Many people speculate that the forests of Daintree National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, were the prototype of the mysterious scenes from the movie Avatar. Be sure to head there in search of rare tropical bird species, discover crocodiles in the river and the primal Mossman Gorge. End your journey in a somewhat heartfelt way at Cape Tribulation, where Captain Cook ran aground when he first discovered this enchanting place.
The route from Sydney to Brisbane is pretty beaten up, for good reason, and it’s an easy one, dotted with charming seaside towns. You’ll have a tough time choosing where to stay and spend time by the sea: Port Macquarie offers whale watching (May to November), there are several national parks near Coffs Harbour and Port Stephens has 32 kilometers of sand dunes. Visit downtown Gold Coast Surfers Paradise, a bustling spot where you can watch tanned surfers soar up their boards on high waves in front of high-rise buildings and don’t miss the town of Byron Bay, where hippies and alternative lifestyles fans congregate. Then it’s a must-see and you can hit all the major attractions and iconic spots in Sydney – the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Manly Beach and Bondi Beach with Icebergs Pool – all that Instagram stuff. Then it’s up to you to decide whether you want to turn left toward the grand Blue Mountains or head straight down the Pacific Highway to the ripe vineyards of Hunter Valley.
Maybe it’s the laid-back hipster atmosphere or the fact that the East Coast isn’t so crowded anymore, but Perth and its surroundings are loved by just about everyone who comes here. And thanks to direct flights from London, getting to Perth and discovering this part of the country with its blessedly quiet beaches has become even easier. On the county road from Perth, a three-hour drive south is the Margaret River region (there’s also a city and river of the same name), whose wineries produce more than a fifth of all premium Australian wine. Enjoy the company of wild dolphins in Rockingham, stroll among giant curry trees that can reach 60 to 90 meters in height, and watch the sun set over the ocean while standing at the tip of the world’s longest wooden pier, Busselton Jetty. A couple of days in the wine region is a great opportunity to taste local wine, tour the wineries and eat great food. Stay longer in Perth at the beginning or end of your trip, if you really like it there and can’t resist its charms. Stay at the boutique Alex Hotel or a stylish resort complex by the river, explore the city on foot, enjoy its endless sunshine, or go for a full day of various excursions. Fremantle is Perth’s distinctive twin city, with traditional bakeries and mini-breweries, and Rottnest Island, home to cute marsupials like the quokka or short-tailed kangaroo, is also of great interest to tourists.
Take a leisurely journey along the scenic route between these two vibrant cities and see what all those who prefer the easier route and fly. This coastal route begins at the good hiking road of Grand Pacific Drive. On your way you’ll encounter Sea Cliff Bridge, a real find for quadcopter video shooters. If you have time, stop in Jervis Bay. Stay overnight at Jervis Bay’s safari-style eco-camp, where you can feel truly free in the middle of the wilderness; and spend a few carefree hours lounging on Hyams Beach with gorgeous white sand in the arms of a magical sea of blue-green. The aptly named town of Lakes Entrance is a gateway to an intricate series of waterways, lakes, and lagoons in and around sunny Naintie Mile Beach, which fades into the peninsula and the eponymous Wilsons-Promontory National Park. Called simply “The Prom” by the locals, it’s a coastal wilderness area where you have the opportunity to see all the native animals you’d expect to see in Australia. Wallabies, koalas, wombats, and kangaroos will all be easy to spot as you walk the many trails throughout the park. Melbourne and its suburbs also have more than enough entertainment for you if you want to stop by. Taste cool-climate wine from the Yar Valley, take a gourmet foodie tour of the Mornington Peninsula, or watch the so-called “Penguin Parade” on Phillip Island.
If you want to drive cross-country, rough and rugged Australia, rugged with canyons and gorges, the Gibb River Road is the place to be. This is the road where all those groomed coastal highways are left behind, giving way to bumpy dirt roads where you can’t do without a 4×4. The trail is only open to the public in the dry season, from April to October, as flooding can mean the rest of the year is quite impassable. And although this route is not the most accessible of all, but it is the best for fans of the original adventure away from tourist spots. The route begins in Broome and ends in Kununurra, passing through the Kimberley, the famous desert of the Northern Territory, where there are campsites and small hotels along the way. El Questro Wilderness Park deserves special mention, with its thermal springs, ancient gorges and waterfalls, and a wide range of accommodation options that include meals.
This is the truest and most unbeatable Outback road trip with long distances, endless skies overhead and untouched lands. Running north-south (or vice versa) between Adelaide and Darwin, this legendary route will suit those with plenty of free time and a real thirst for the open road. In the Northern Territory, the dry shrubs still somehow try to compete with the bare orange landscape. See the mighty Carlu Carlu Boulders, or as they’re also called Devil’s Stones, here, and learn about the rich history of the area’s aboriginal inhabitants from local lore and beautiful rock art. On the very border with Kakadu National Park is Katherine Gorge, a magnificent place with many noisy waterfalls flowing down the rugged cliffs. Drive through Red Center, where you can see the sacred Aboriginal site of the Uluru Monolith (Ers Rock). It’s best seen at sunrise or sunset, or better yet, stay overnight at the Longitude 131 Hotel, the most beautiful way to enjoy the views while sitting under a luxurious canopy where no one can disturb you. Immerse yourself in the art culture of Alice Springs, and in South Australia, descend into the quaint underground town of Coober Pedy, where more than half the locals live underground. And when you arrive in Adelaide, relax with a glass of fine wine in the Barossa Valley and explore the wildlife on Kangaroo Island.
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Top 10 Australia – Best Roads to Travel (1)
Australia’s roads enchant you with their beauty, beckon you into the distance beyond the horizon in the desert or hidden in the red dust of the outback, put you to sleep with the monotony of the landscape, give you discoveries in the form of small abandoned towns with interesting history or sights, introduce us to nature, and sometimes reveal secrets.
– Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia
Top 10 Australia
Best Roads to Travel (1)
Tourists from other countries prefer to travel to Australia by air, because it saves time and allows you to see more sights. It plays a role remoteness of the continent and the high price of airline tickets. But still the nature of the country still makes you admire its beauty from the car window or by hiking to inaccessible places.
Those who undertake road trips through Australia usually spend from two weeks to a month in the country, rare travelers more. So here we will try to look at the best, most interesting roads to travel in Australia. We’ll start with the most popular and often included in the plan of travel in Australia, that is, this first part will include those roads that can be mastered without having a car – by bus or by taking a tour.
– 1 – The Great Ocean Road
Whether you travel by car or just take a bus tour, but this road is so popular that almost everyone who comes to Australia wants to take it and see its beauty. It is Australia’s most accessible road.
The Great Ocean Road is the 243 kilometer long B100, which begins in the coastal town of Torquay and runs along the coast to Allansford near Warrnambool.
– Great Ocean Road, Victoria
Construction of the Great Ocean Road began on September 19, 1919, almost as soon as Australian soldiers returned from the war. It was these three thousand men who took on the task of building the road, working five and a half days a week. The road was intended as a war memorial to the victims of World War I, and at the same time was intended to connect the remote communities of the coast, facilitate the transportation of lumber and attract tourists.
– Twelve Apostles, Victoria
The grandiose construction was completed on November 26, 1932, and almost immediately the Road was acclaimed as the world’s largest war memorial. The builder and mastermind, Howard Hitchcock, died three months before the grand opening.
The road was called the South Coast Road when it was first built and before its construction the only means of communication between the settlements was by water, which was very unsafe.
– 2 – Cairns to Cape Tribulation
You can travel the 110 km from Cairns’ northern suburbs along the ocean through Port Douglas and Mossman Gore northwards across the Daintree ferry to Cape Tribulation.
The crossing of the Daintree River is about 9.6 km south of the village of the same name. The ferry runs every few minutes from 6 am to midnight. On the road, 8 km. after the crossing, is the Forest Information Center Daintree, very useful for tourists.
– Captain Cook HWY – This is one of the most scenic trails in Australia, winding past quiet secluded beaches and majestic mountains, lushly adorned with lush vegetation. Interestingly, when the route along the coast between Cairns and Mossman, opened in 1933, was built, Port Douglas was bypassed.
James Cook made a detailed map of the future Australian coastline during his voyage. Dozens of names appeared on it – bays, bays, capes that received new English names. Ministers, princes, lords, cities and provinces of Great Britain – all of them then found their Australian counterparts.
Not quite happily passing the Great Barrier Reef, Cook’s Endeavour finally reached the northern tip of Australia. The ship had been on the brink of destruction many times before, but the skill of the captain and his crew usually avoided serious problems. But on that fateful day, their luck ran out on the reefs near what is now Cooktown, and the Endeavour nearly sank.
– Mossman River – Mossman Gorge is the southern part of Daintree National Park, about 80 km northwest of Cairns. The park was founded in 1981 and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.
It took seven weeks to repair the ship. Today the place is called Cape Tribulation, or “Cape Calamity,” in memory of those distant events. This cape is famous all over the world for its rainforests.
Two World Heritage-listed national parks, Daintree Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef, converge in this unique haven. It’s one of the few places in Australia where the rainforest comes right down to the sea.
Read more – Cairns and the surrounding area
– 3 – Red Centre Way
– Larapinta Drive, Northern Territory
Of course we can talk about the Stuart Highway 2.834 km long, which is the main route of the Outback, and for the Northern Territory main artery of life, as the population is not mainly concentrated in the coastal areas and along this route. But we will talk about the tourist roads – to the west of the well-known Alice Springs – Red Centre Way, somewhere called Larapinta Drive (road number 6), a length of 325 km.
This road takes you to tourist attractions such as West MacDonnell National Park and Kings Canyon National Parks . This is a popular destination for day hikes, so if you can’t get a car, you can take a tour bus.
– Serpentine Gorge, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory
In the West MacDonnell Mountains, 19 miles west of Alice Springs on Larapinta Drive, you’ll find Simpsons Gap, a deep gorge cut into the reddish quartzite face by the tiny Rowe Creek. It became famous for the paintings of Albert Namatjira, one of the most famous painters of central Australia and the first Aboriginal man to gain Australian citizenship.
After 32 kilometers to the west, if you turn north from the Larapinta Trail, after about 9 kilometers you can reach the Standley Chasm, a rock passage so narrow that it seems barely more than shoulder width apart. Five kilometers west of the bend along Larapinta Drive there is a fork. The right of the road is called Namatjira Drive (road #2). This highway after 64 km. leads to the Ochre Pits, from which the local painters of ancient times extracted paint. Then, after 16 km. or so, it leads to the gorges of Ormiston and Glen Helen. If you take the Larapinta Drive from the fork, after 80 km you will reach the Hermansberg Community. This Aboriginal community was founded in 1877 by Lutheran missionaries from South Australia.
– West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory
Finke Gorge National Parks is 11 kilometres from Hermannsburg. In order to get to it, you need a four-wheel drive car. Within the park is the famous Palm Valley, a tropical oasis with lots of Australian cabbage trees. Cabbage trees have been growing here since prehistoric times when the planet’s climate was warmer.
– 4 – 75 Mile Highway, Fraser Island
– 75 Mile Highway, Fraser Island
The 75 Mile Highway on Fraser Island is classified as part of the 1,652 kilometre Bruce Highway from Brisbane to Cairns.
It’s situated on the breathtakingly beautiful Fraser Island, and lives up to its name offering 75 miles of golden sand along the eastern shore. The unique beach also serves as a highway, so the best way to see the beach is to rent a car or take an off-road tour and spend a few days driving around the beach and its coves.
– 5 – Sydney to Brisbane
– Gold Coast, Queensland
There are two routes from Sydney to Brisbane – along the coast and through New England. The Pacific Highway is the most popular way, at 960 kilometers, as it offers superb views of the coastal towns. You can travel it by car or by bus, stopping at places of interest and exploring the area.
You’ll pass through the towns of Gosford and Newcastle. Newcastle is Australia’s sixth-largest city. Once there, enjoy a scenic walk along the waterfront or breakwater to Nobbys Head, and visit Fort Scratchley, which is where the city’s history began. Leave Newcastle and drive on through the town of Maitland to the Hunter Valley. Taste and buy some of Australia’s best wines.
– Camel Ride, Stockton Beach, New South Wales
Just outside Newcastle is Stockton Beach in Anna Bay, where the sand dunes stretch for 32 kilometers. You can try the road or ride a camel. You can admire the beauty of Tomaree National Parks in Anna Bay. To fully appreciate the beauty you can stop in Port Stephens. There you will feel like you are in paradise.
“Seal Rocks, a small, sleepy and fairly isolated beach town 285km north of Sydney, is in the very north of the Hunter region, where Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse is almost within walking distance
– Kangaroo Camping, Crowdy Bay NP National Park, New South Wales
Further north of Sydney is Crowdy Bay National Park, so if you want to see what Australia looked like when Captain Cook sailed down the east coast back in the day, it’s a great place to stay. Well it’s a pretty big town called Port Macquarie, not far from here, so to say the benefits of civilization. A little further along is Coffs Harbour where you can swim with dolphins.
If October or early November is your time, then Grafton is a must-visit, the city of Jacaranda. The city was founded in 1855, but it still has various architectural structures of that era in excellent condition. Grafton is located 660 kilometers north of the city of Sydney and 343 kilometers south of Brisbane.
Byron Bay / Arakwal, Australia’s most easterly point, is located 750 km north of Sydney and 165 km south of Brisbane. Then there’s the Gold Coast and Brisbane.