Imagine this: You’re cruising along a sun-kissed coastal road, windows down, with the vast Australian landscape unfolding before you. This isn’t just any road trip; it’s an adventure through one of the world’s most diverse and stunning environments.

Welcome to the iconic road trips of Australia, where every turn brings a new discovery, from the world-renowned Great Ocean Road to hidden gems that only locals know about. In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about these epic journeys, from location highlights and costings to activities and insider tips.

The Charm of Australia Road Trips

Australia is a land built for road trips. With its vast open spaces, varied landscapes, and well-maintained roads, it offers an unparalleled road-tripping experience. Whether you’re seeking the thrill of coastal drives along the Great Ocean Road, the peace of remote scenic routes, or the excitement of adventure travel in Australia’s outback, there’s something here for every traveler.

Australia road trips are not just about the destinations; they’re about the journey. Driving through Australia, you’ll experience the remarkable diversity of landscapes – from lush rainforests and rugged coastlines to red desert landscapes and bustling cities. Each region brings its own unique character, stories, and experiences.

Yorke Peninsula Road Trip
Yorke Peninsula Road Trip | @_aswewonder

Planning Your Journey: Essentials

Best Time to Visit: Australia’s size means there’s no one-size-fits-all best time to visit. Generally, the southern regions are best visited during the Australian summer (December to February), while the northern, more tropical regions are ideal during the dry season (May to October).

Car Rentals and Safety: Renting a car is straightforward, with numerous options available at airports and city centers. When renting, consider the type of journey you’re planning – a 4WD might be necessary for outback adventures. Safety is paramount; ensure you’re comfortable with long drives and be mindful of local wildlife, especially at dawn and dusk.

Packing Essentials: Your packing list should include sun protection, a basic first aid kit, plenty of water, and snacks. For those venturing into remote areas, additional supplies like a spare tire, tool kit, and emergency beacon are advisable.

The Great Ocean Road: A Journey Like No Other

The Great Ocean Road, a 243-kilometer stretch along Australia’s southeastern coast, is more than just a road – it’s a journey through history, nature, and culture.

Key Stops and Highlights:

  • Twelve Apostles: The undeniable highlight, these limestone stacks majestically rise from the Southern Ocean and are a sight to behold at sunset.
  • Bells Beach: A world-renowned surfing spot, it’s perfect for catching waves or just watching surfers in action.
  • Rainforests of Otway National Park: Swap the ocean views for the lush, green canopies of ancient rainforests.

Activities Along the Route:

  • Surfing: The coastline offers some of the best surfing spots in the world, suitable for all skill levels.

This iconic route is not just about the end destination; it’s about the myriad of experiences along the way. Quaint towns like Apollo Bay and Lorne offer cozy cafes, local arts, and beachside relaxation. Meanwhile, the historic Cape Otway Lighthouse provides insights into the region’s maritime history.

As you drive, each bend in the road presents a new panorama: rugged cliffs, serene beaches, and rolling hills. The Great Ocean Road is more than just a road trip; it’s a rite of passage, a journey that encapsulates the spirit of adventure that lies at the heart of every Australian road trip.

In the next sections, we’ll delve into the practical aspects of this journey, including accommodation options, dining experiences, and extending your adventure beyond the Great Ocean Road to other iconic road trips in Australia.

The Great Ocean Road, Australia
The Great Ocean Road, Australia | @backpackerdeals

Accommodation and Dining Along the Great Ocean Road

From camping under the stars to luxury beachfront resorts, the Great Ocean Road offers accommodation to suit every taste and budget. In Apollo Bay, cozy bed and breakfasts offer a homely feel, while Port Campbell features several boutique hotels with stunning ocean views. For the budget-conscious, numerous campgrounds along the route provide a more immersive nature experience.

Dining along the Great Ocean Road is an adventure in itself. Seafood lovers will rejoice in the fresh catches in towns like Lorne and Torquay. Don’t miss the local specialties like crayfish and abalone. For those who prefer the land’s bounty, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants serving up hearty Australian fare, often with a modern twist.

Beyond the Great Ocean Road: Other Iconic Coastal Drives in Australia

Australia is renowned for its breathtaking coastal drives, each offering unique landscapes and experiences. Here are some of the best coastal road trips in Australia:

The Pacific Coast, New South Wales: This drive, also known as the Legendary Pacific Coast, runs from Sydney to Brisbane. It offers stunning beaches, national parks, and surf towns like Byron Bay and Coffs Harbour.

The Coral Coast, Western Australia: Starting from Perth and extending to Exmouth, this route showcases Western Australia’s unique coastline. Highlights include the Pinnacles Desert, Shark Bay, and the Ningaloo Reef.

The Coral Coast, Western Australia
The Coral Coast, Western Australia | @saltytravellers

The Grand Pacific Drive, New South Wales: Starting just south of Sydney, this drive takes you through the Royal National Park, over the stunning Sea Cliff Bridge, and down to the beaches of Wollongong and Kiama.

Tasmania’s East Coast: From Hobart to the Bay of Fires, this drive offers dramatic scenery, pristine beaches, and quaint coastal towns. Highlights include Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park and the historic town of Port Arthur.

The Great Barrier Reef Drive, Queensland: Stretching from Cairns to Cape Tribulation, this road trip offers views of two World Heritage sites: the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest.

The Great Southern Touring Route, Victoria: Starting and ending in Melbourne, this route includes the Great Ocean Road but extends inland to include the Grampians National Park and the gold rush city of Ballarat.

The Eyre Peninsula, South Australia: Offering rugged coastline and abundant wildlife, this drive includes Port Lincoln, known for its great white shark diving experiences, and the stunning Coffin Bay National Park.

The Eyre Peninsula, South Australia
The Eyre Peninsula, South Australia | @_aswewander

The Great Sunshine Way, Queensland: This route takes in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast and Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island. It’s known for its beautiful beaches, rainforests, and the unique, rusted shipwreck of the Maheno.

The Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia: A short drive from Adelaide, this peninsula is known for its wineries, stunning coastal views, and the charming town of Victor Harbor.

Margaret River, Western Australia: While not a coastal drive in its entirety, this region is famous for its surf beaches, limestone caves, and premium wineries. The nearby Cape to Cape Track offers stunning coastal walks.

Each of these road trips offers a unique slice of Australia’s vast and diverse coastal beauty, making them must-do experiences for anyone visiting or living in Australia

Margaret River, Western Australia
Margaret River, Western Australia | @laurenepbath

Inland Wonders: Exploring Scenic Routes Away from the Coast

Inland road trips in Australia offer a unique perspective on the country’s diverse landscapes, from rugged outback terrains to lush wine regions. Here are some of the best inland road trips:

Red Centre Way, Northern Territory: A journey through the heart of the Australian Outback, featuring iconic landmarks like Uluru, Kata Tjuta, and Kings Canyon. It’s a quintessential Australian experience with red desert landscapes and ancient Aboriginal culture.

The Explorer’s Way, South Australia to Northern Territory: This route takes you from Adelaide to Darwin, passing through the Flinders Ranges, the opal mining town of Coober Pedy, and the Katherine Gorge.

The Outback Way, Queensland to Western Australia: Often referred to as Australia’s longest shortcut, this route crosses the continent from Winton in Queensland to Laverton in Western Australia, offering a true outback experience.

Uluru, The Outback Way, Queensland to Western Australia
Uluru, The Outback Way, Queensland to Western Australia | @exploreuluru

The Savannah Way, Queensland to Western Australia: Stretching from Cairns to Broome, this drive traverses the tropical savannahs of northern Australia, offering access to national parks and indigenous communities.

The Flinders Ranges, South Australia: This route takes you through some of South Australia’s most spectacular landscapes, including Wilpena Pound, ancient rock formations, and historic outback towns.

The Great Alpine Road, Victoria: Winding through the Victorian Alps, this route offers stunning mountain landscapes, alpine villages, and opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking and skiing in winter.

The Great Alpine Road, Victoria
The Great Alpine Road, Victoria | @benpstanton

The Heritage Highway, Tasmania: Running between Hobart and Launceston, this journey takes you through historic towns with Georgian architecture, picturesque countryside, and past convict-built structures.

The Silo Art Trail, Victoria: A unique road trip that takes you through rural Victoria to see large-scale murals painted on grain silos, showcasing local art and community stories.

The Matilda Way, Queensland: Running from the New South Wales border to the Gulf of Carpentaria, this route follows the story of the song “Waltzing Matilda,” passing through quintessential outback towns and landscapes.

The Darling River Run, New South Wales: A journey along the Darling River, offering a mix of rich indigenous heritage, national parks, and classic outback landscapes.

These inland road trips provide an opportunity to explore the heart of Australia, away from the coastal regions, offering a deeper insight into the country’s rich history, diverse landscapes, and unique cultural experiences.

Adventure Travel Australia: Off the Beaten Path

For the more adventurous traveler, Australia’s vast terrain offers numerous opportunities to go off the beaten path.

  • The Gibb River Road in Western Australia challenges even the most experienced drivers with its rugged terrain.
  • The Victorian High Country offers thrilling 4WD experiences along with bushwalking and fishing.

These areas require more preparation but promise an unforgettable adventure.

The Gibb River Road in Western Australia
The Gibb River Road in Western Australia | @all.about.adventure

Costing Your Australian Road Trip

Budgeting for an Australian road trip varies widely depending on your travel style. Campervan rentals offer both transport and accommodation, appealing to budget travelers. Mid-range options include staying in motels or guesthouses and dining at local eateries. For those seeking luxury, high-end resorts and fine dining are abundant along popular routes.

Fuel, food, and activity costs should also be factored into your budget. Planning and booking in advance can often save you money, especially during peak seasons.

Travel Australia: Tips for a Seamless Experience

  • Navigating Roads: Australia drives on the left, so international visitors should familiarize themselves with local driving laws.
  • Connectivity: While major routes have good mobile coverage, remote areas may not. Carrying a physical map is advisable.
  • Local Customs: Australians are known for their friendliness. Don’t hesitate to ask locals for tips or directions.

By following these tips, your journey through Australia’s iconic road trips will not only be memorable but also smooth and hassle-free.

Packing Smart and Safe: Road Trip Checklists

Preparation is key to a successful road trip. Here’s a checklist to ensure you have everything you need:

  • Navigation Tools: GPS device, physical maps, and a planned itinerary.
  • Essential Documents: Driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance papers.
  • Safety Gear: First aid kit, flashlight, spare tire, and basic tool kit.
  • Comfort Items: Comfortable clothing, sun protection, reusable water bottles, and snacks.
  • Entertainment: Music playlists, audiobooks, and travel games for long drives.

For those venturing into remote areas, additional items like extra fuel, a satellite phone, and an emergency beacon are recommended.

Capturing Memories: Photography and Journaling

A road trip through Australia is a photogenic journey. Whether you’re a professional photographer or just want to capture memories, remember to bring your camera or smartphone.

Scenic lookouts and unique wildlife offer endless photo opportunities. Keeping a travel journal or blog is also a great way to document your experiences and share them with others.

Australia Road Trip
Australia Road Trip | @jonny.melon

Sustainable Travel and Respecting Local Communities

Sustainable travel is crucial, especially in sensitive environments. Here are some tips:

  • Respect Wildlife: Observe animals from a distance and do not feed them.
  • Reduce Waste: Use reusable containers and recycle where possible.
  • Support Local: Purchase from local businesses and respect cultural sites.

Engaging respectfully with local communities and the environment ensures that these amazing places can be enjoyed by future generations.


Australia’s road trips offer an adventure that’s as varied as the landscape itself. From the iconic Great Ocean Road to the hidden gems inland, there’s a journey for every type of traveler. These routes not only showcase Australia’s stunning natural beauty but also its rich culture and history.

Whether you’re a solo explorer, a family on vacation, or a group of friends, these road trips promise memories that will last a lifetime. So pack your bags, hit the road, and discover the wonders of Australia at your own pace.

Safe travels and happy exploring on your Australian road trip adventure!