For many, road trip holidays are as ingrained into our family history as our memories of school, relatives or first experiences. They offer a chance to get closer as a family or group of friends, and experience scenery and attractions at your own pace, without just skipping over them in a plane.
With very nearly a million kilometres-worth of roads in Australia, there are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to planning a driving holiday itinerary. To help you choose where on this awesome continent to tour, here are a few of our favourites.
Grand Pacific Drive, NSW
Just under 40 minutes from Sydney Airport, you’ll find the entrance to ‘Nasho’ (Royal National Park), which is the second-oldest national park in the entire world. This fantastic natural wonderland is also the beginning of Grand Pacific Drive, a 140-kilometre journey that weaves its way along the NSW coast, through some of the area’s most popular little towns, and down to Nowra.
Along the way, you can stop for a stretch and some ocean photos along the 665-metre-long Sea Cliff Bridge (a local icon), explore the popular regional city of Wollongong and witness the spectacle of the Kiama Blowholes.
For a circuit back, you could pop inland after Nowra, past the picturesque Fitzroy Falls, up through the Southern Highlands and then north via the South Western Freeway for a new range of sights.
Great Ocean Road, VIC
The quintessential Aussie road trip has to be the Great Ocean Road, beginning in Torquay just next door to Melbourne. This world-famous stretch of road extends around 243 kilometres, meandering past some of Victoria’s most popular tourist sights.
For example, the ancient 12 Apostles are a popular stopover, with an easy walk taking you to a viewing platform for the ultimate photo opportunity. The relaxed township of Lorne is also a nice place to stop, with upward of 10 waterfalls within a 10-minute driving radius around it.
Plus, The Otways, at the southernmost tip of the route, offer up a panorama of staggering rainforest scenery, with tramps to trek, glow worms to find and a charming lighthouse to take romantic pictures of.
The Rainforest Way, QLD
Unlike the two routes we have mentioned thus far, The Rainforest Way is actually a series of smaller segments that combine to make up one heck of an east coast experience. These drives will have you exploring ancient rainforests, traversing craggy mountain ranges, sipping coffees in all manner of regional towns and occasionally stopping by the ocean for a quick coastal jaunt.
Tourism Australia recommends beginning just south of the Gold Coast near the township of Casino. Adjacent to this place is the Manganee National Park, not to mention a pretty mountainscape in the form of the Richmond Ranges.
Some of the other micro-trips in this area include Curtis Falls south to Binna Burra, then northeast to Nerang; a circuit from Beaudesert to Boonah, Mount Toowoona, Killarney, Woodenbong and then back where you started; and plenty, plenty more sights.
Cairns to Cape Tribulation, Tropical North QLD
For a more tropical adventure, hire a rental car from Cairns and mark Cape Tribulation on your GPS. Overall, this pleasant drive is only 149 kilometres, but what a trip it is.
If the idea of investigating the shorefront flanks of the renowned Great Barrier Reef doesn’t sound good enough, you’ll also pass through two of Far North Queensland’s favourite tourist hubs, Palm Cove and Port Douglas, on your way to the equally astounding Cape Tribulation itself.
Dive into the rolling waves to spot the denizens of the reef, relax on the glistening sands under a warm sun, explore one of the oldest rainforests in the world and take home some road trip holiday stories to last a lifetime.