5 great Australian road trips
By Amanda Woods
IN a country as vast as Australia flying may be faster, but with so much to see between destinations there’s a lot to be said for hitting the road. Depending on the path chosen, an Australian road trip can offer the meditative calm that comes from driving through wide open spaces or the sense of discovery that’s sparked by exploring charming villages and towns, not to mention some spectacular scenery along the way.
Take advantage of cheaper petrol prices and get your road trip playlist ready as you set out on some adventures to remember.
East Coast Escape, Tasmania
The East Coast Escape takes road trippers through some of the most beautiful places in Tasmania, exploring mountains, beaches, vineyards, islands, and the apple isle’s tallest waterfall.
Savour some of Tasmania’s famous produce from fresh lobsters, oysters and scallops in fishing villages to award winning cheese and cool climate wines.
The Freycinet Walk and Bay of Fires Walk are among Australia’s best walking trails, or you can go for a less challenging stroll along pristine beaches including Wineglass Bay which has been recognised as one of the world’s best. You can also leave the car behind for a day or two and hop a ferry to Maria Island. This national park is home to historic ruins, dramatic cliffs and sweeping bays and visitors can do a day trip or spend the night camping in the World Heritage Listed penitentiary.
Stay along the way: Overlooking the Hazards Mountains and Great Oyster Bay, Saffire Freycinet is considered one of the world’s top luxury boutique hotels and promises a stay to remember.
The Savannah Way, QLD, Northern Territory and WA
A 3,700km adventure from Cairns in Tropical North Queensland through the Northern Territory to Broome in Western Australia’s Kimberley, the Savannah Way is an extraordinary road trip that covers 15 National Parks, five World Heritage areas, and a whole lot of wide horizons.
Travel through lush rainforests, ancient gorges, dry outback plains and wetlands and be sure to stop in Undara to walk through the world’s longest and largest lava tubes. This trip provides a chance to get to know Aboriginal and outback heritage and meet some great Aussie characters along the way.
If driving all 3,200km is too much, start by doing smaller sections of the Savannah Way.
Stay along the way: The movie We of the Never Never was filmed at Mataranka Homestead Tourist Resortwhich is open year round and also provides a home to orphaned wallabies.
The Coral Coast, Western Australia
The desert meets the sea on this drive from Perth to Ningaloo Reef where the landscape changes from green farmland to red dirt, with plenty of turquoise water along the way. Visit the ancient rock formations the Pinnacles, walk the One Mile Jetty, see wildflowers in bloom, stop for fresh seafood in fishing towns and stock up on flavour packed fruit at orchards. Then dive in and swim with whale sharks, dolphins, turtles and manta rays before lazing on soft white beaches. Stay along the way: You don’t have to tow your own caravan to take advantage of tourist parks, with RAC Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort, RAC Exmouth Cape Holiday Park and Ningaloo Reef Resort among those offering cabins or apartments.
The Great Ocean Road, Victoria
There’s a lot more to Australia’s most famous road trip than the Twelve Apostles. There are charming towns to visit, coastal scenery to breathe in, beaches to lie on and waterfalls to discover on rainforest walks where koalas, echidnas, wallabies and native birds may also be spotted.
Stop in at cellar doors and farm gates to get a taste for the local produce, check out the breaks at Bells Beach, and do some cultural exploring through museums, galleries and heritage collections. As for those dramatic limestone stacks, visit at dawn or dusk for the most golden photo opportunities and moments.
Stay along the way: The Age Good Food Guide’s Restaurant of the Year for 2017, Brae, is a contemporary organic restaurant with six luxury guest suites featuring artisanal finishes and star gazing skylights.
The Legendary Pacific Coast, NSW and QLD
One of the most travelled routes in the country and a nostalgic one for those who remember family trips as a kid, this legendary road stretches 900km from Sydney to Brisbane along the Pacific Coast corridor.
There are 48 national parks and 12 state forests to stretch the legs in, and a seemingly endless line of surf beaches, rolling green hills, and beachside and riverside towns to visit.
New attractions for kids include the world’s longest rollercoaster ziplines in Ourimbah State Forest while the Big Banana has been making children smile in Coffs Harbour for more than 50 years.
Stay along the way: The Bangalow Guesthouse is an immaculately renovated historic home just five minutes’ walk from Bangalow’s boutique shops, cafs and market.
Images courtesy Tourism Australia