Australia is a destination that has been on my travel wishlist for ages. From the beautiful beaches, the Outback’s barren remoteness to trendy cities like Melbourne, Australia is a dream destination. Being big animal lovers and massive road trip fans, it goes without saying how alluring Australia is with their unique wildlife viewing opportunities and self-drive tours of the country.
A country almost the size of the continental US is not easy to see in a short amount of time, which is exactly why it keeps getting pushed down my wishlist. If I could easily fly between destinations and see it quickly, I would have already visited, but as any Australian will tell you, there is no better way to experience all that the country has to offer than by road. My dream is to hire or buy a campervan for several months and hit the road for the ultimate Australian road trip.
For a little travel inspiration and to keep track of the information for myself, here are the best Australian road trip routes with tips and information how to make this dream a reality.
From what I have found researching Australia, there seem to be several amazing road trips circuits that pop up continuously on best road trips Australia searches. Some are short enough to do on a quick 2 week visit of the country, but overall to really get the full experience of Australia, you will need to get a campervan and hit the road for a while! Below are the top road trips I have come across that could be explored as one off trips or put together to create the ultimate road trip through the country. If you are traveling as a family, make sure to read our top tips for road tripping with kids before you head out!
Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road, the shortest trip on my list, and arguably the most famous road trip through Australia starts about an hour outside of Melbourne and ends in Adelaide a mere 250 kilometers away. Tour buses from Melbourne do this tour in 1 day, mainly for visitors to see the 12 Apostles, however it is recommended to take a few days to really soak up the beach side communities, explore the scenery and get out into nature.
Don’t copy the tour buses and just rush to the 12 Apostles (of which only 8 are left), rather spend time getting to know the different beaches, beach communities and experience everything from Australian rainforest scenery at the Otways to meeting the local wildlife with a visit to the Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve. Here you can see koalas, emus and kangaroos who are roaming around the reserve which sits on an extinct volcano.
Distance: 250 kilometers
Time Needed: 3 days minimum
The Stuart Highway via Red Centre Way (The Outback)
The Stuart Highway is the ultimate route for an outback adventure to truly experience the desolate nature of the middle of the country. Clocking in at 2,834 kilometers between Port Augusta, (approximately 3 hours from Adelaide) this route connects all the way to Darwin in the Northern Territory. This is the route where getting a reliable campervan will be imperative as it takes 26 hours to drive this straight through and much longer to really experience it properly with limited services for long distances between towns.
One of the most beautiful parts of this route is the so called Red Center Way that takes in massive gorges, desert landscapes and canyons between Alice Springs and Uluru. The Red Center Way loop starts and ends in Alice Springs and passes through four national parks. It is recommended that you have at least five days to explore these areas. For many, this is the most scenic part of the entire outback drive, with many opting to just fly into this area for a quick road trip from Alice Springs.
Distance: 2834 kilometers (Stuart Highway) & 1135 kilometers (Red Center Way loop)
Time Needed: 10 days for Stuart Highway and 5 days minimum for Red Center Way
Savannah Way (more Outback)
The Savannah Way is another epic Australian road trip route going from the eastern part of the country in Cairns all 3,700 kilometers across the country to the western town of Broome. This route takes explorers along the northern section of the outback through 15 National Parks and 5 World Heritage areas. There is an abundance of wildlife roaming around as well as opportunities to explore the Aboriginal and pioneer heritages of this region. To find out more about places to stop and sites to explore, this is the best resource for everything you will need to know to plan your trip.
Distance: 3,700 kilometers
Time Needed: 2 weeks minimum
The Pacific Coast: Cairns to Sydney via Brisbane
This massive Pacific Coast road trip takes in two of Australia’s largest cities, one of the world’s top 7 wonders of the world and some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. For many visitors to Australia, their top bucket list item is to see the Great Barrier Reef, which makes this east coast road trip a must. Those only interested in the Great Barrier Reef portion, you can shorten the trip by 900 kilometers by going only from Cairns to Brisbane instead of all the way to Sydney.
Otherwise, for those who want to continue on to Sydney, you can drive through the Gold Coast with the opportunity to see humpback whales as they migrate from Antarctica. There is something for everyone on this mellow itinerary with beautiful beaches, fun little towns to explore and tons of water play and adventure sports all along the way.
Distance: 2600 km
Time Needed: 14 days
Western Australia: Perth to Broome
Western Australia is an adventurer’s dream come true. From desert landscapes, national parks and spectacular snorkeling at Coral Bay, this looks to be the ideal family road trip route. With a large variety of nature and wildlife to explore and vibrant cities of Perth and Broome to pamper yourself in, this is my top pick if I could only do one road trip in Australia.
Ever thought of riding camels on the beach? No. Me either. But guess what, you can do it here in Broome! Want to relax on perfect white sand beaches with a crystal clear sea in front of you? Welcome to Eighty Mile Beach which also boasts amazing sunsets over the Indian Ocean. And the pinnacle on this itinerary is a visit to Karijini National Park for amazing hiking trails leading you to massive gorges, crystal clear rock pools and waterfalls.
To connect this with another trip, you could either continue on from Broome towards the west along the Savannah Route mentioned above or you could roadtrip from Perth to Adelaide, which is another 2700 miles. This addition takes visitors along the southwestern edge of the country. Even though the distance is long, it’s easy enough to do in 9-10 days.
Distance: 2239 kilometers
Time Needed: 2 weeks minimum
One of the most unique road trip experiences you can have in Australia is on the island of Tasmania. Ever since my post on the world’s best family road trips, I have been dying to check this island out. This trip outlined by World or Wanderlust will take you to Wineglass Bay, through lavender fields, to the Hazards a magical mountain range, and to other amazing sites like the tessellated pavement located near the Port Arthur Historic Site. The landscapes you will find in Tasmania are breathtaking. This is a trip that it is well worth the effort to make! The great news is yes, you can take your campervan across the water with you via the Spirit of Tasmania which plies between the mainland and Tasmania.
Distance: 1348 kilometers
Time Needed: 10 days
I know there is way more to explore in a country as large as Australia, but if I can manage to hire or buy a campervan for a few months and do even half of these road trips, I’d be in heaven! Let me know if you have any tips or destinations I have left off!
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