Holidaying in our own backyard is well on the agenda, especially when those borders are opened! There has never been a better time to pack the car up and enjoy the open road. Here are 10 iconic great Aussie road trips to put on your holiday bucket list.
1) Great Ocean Road, Victoria
It doesn’t get more iconic than the Great Ocean Road drive. Stretching and winding for 243km, once you leave the Melbourne CBD and hit the Great Ocean Road, you’ll start your journey in Torquay and take in some of Australia’s most lush scenery from scenic coastline and beaches, waterfalls, rainforests and if you’re lucky… some of our native wildlife. The Great Ocean Road from beginning to end is only 2 hours and 15 minutes, but there are some amazing destinations to stop off and check out along the way. You must not miss the Three Apostles, Bells Beach, Great Otway National Park and Bay of Islands in your itinerary.
2) The Savannah Way, Qld, NT, WA
This scenic drive takes you from coast to country, and takes you on a 3700km route linking Cairns in Tropical North Queensland, to the Northern Territory’s Top End, and finally The Kimberley’s in Western Australia. One of Australia’s longest road trips, but undoubtedly one of the most spectacular experiences Australia has on offer.
A drive on The Savannah Way takes you through five World Heritage areas where you will take in sights including remote cattle stations, natural springs and water holes, mountain ranges, national parks, waterfalls, rock pools, crater lakes and rainforests just to name a few things. If travelling is not about the destination but the journey – this trip is both!
3) Pacific Coast Drive, NSW, Qld
Australia’s Pacific Coast is one of the sparkling jewels in the east coast crown. Enjoy a drive venturing along the pristine coastline from Lake Macquarie to Newcastle, to Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay and onto Queensland’s Gold Coast Hinterlands, Gold Coast and finishing in Brisbane. Whatever your time frame and chosen itinerary, this drive guarantees you’ll stop and take in the very best of what the NSW east coast has to offer, followed by the big drawcards on the Queensland map.
4) Eyre Peninsula, SA
A trip from Adelaide to Eyre Peninsula is one of South Australia’s favourite road trips, with nautical adventures high on the list of activities for those on this journey. Snorkelling, fishing, surfing and kayaking are all fantastic options when you take the trip along the South Australian coast.
Some adrenaline seekers will also jump at the opportunity to go cage diving with the Great White Sharks at Port Lincoln – or if that’s not your cup of tea, you might prefer to hop on a seafood cruise at Boston Bay. Either way, this delightful road trip is approximately 15 hours in total and can be broken into a very manageable 4-5 day trip.
5) Darwin to Litchfield, NT
A visit to the top end calls for a visit to Litchfield National Park, where you can enjoy swimming in the sparkling fresh waterholes, hiking on lush tropical walking trails and taking in the beauty of cascading waterfalls. This trip is less about the travelling and more about the destinations you will experience. A return trip from Darwin to Litchfield can be done in two days, but you must plan your getaway so that you soak up all of the goodness that this trip offers. You will want to see Wangi Falls, Dundee Beach, swim in the Buley Rockhole and visit Adelaide River. Those that have completed this road trip say it is one of the absolute highlights of their Australian experiences.
6) The Nullarbor Plain
The Nullarbor Plain connects the goldfields of Western Australia with the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia, and is undoubtedly one of Australia’s most famous outback adventures. You can expect to drive for miles without seeing a soul – or a petrol station which is why you should be sure to pack for this journey including extra food, water and cans of petrol.
The Nullarbor is the longest stretch of straight road spanning 1700km, and cutting through three different time zones. Some of the highlights on this journey include the sweeping Bunda Cliffs which form the Great Australian Bite, as well as enjoying the solitary nature of the open road on the Nullarbor. You will most certainly cross paths with native wildlife including wombats, kangaroos, snakes and wild camels, which could be the only living beings you spot at certain points on the journey across the plains.
7) The Tassie Loop
There is so much to see and take in, in stunning Tasmania, that a great way to experience it all is to circle Tasmania on an epic six day trip. Tasmania has it all, from gorgeous powdery white beaches through to rugged, snow-capped mountains. The Tassie Loop takes you on an itinerary from Hobart, where you must visit the famous Salamanca Markets and Mona, to the iconic Freycinet National Park. Along the way you will see the Bay of Fires, journey to Launceston, then round the trip out with a stop at Cradle Mountain and Strahan before finishing back in Hobart.
8) 75 Mile Highway, Fraser Island Qld
This trip is a once in a lifetime experience, particularly if you have a sense of adventure and love 4WDing. The 75 Mile Highway is also known as 75 Mile Beach and can be found on Fraser Island. The road rule apply and the speed limit is 80km/h, but driving on the 75 Mile Highway must always be exercised with caution due to tides, weather changes and conditions. At certain points in the day the Highway is closed due to the high tides, but when the highway is open, you can either explore the trip with your 4WD, or book a guided tour.
You can expect to see the Indian Head Lookout, the Champagne Pools and the Maheno Shipwreck on your trip.
9) Gold Coast to Cairns, Qld
This is a must-do trip when holidaying in sunny Queensland. The Pacific Coast Way leads right from the Gold Coast through the Sunshine Coast and up to the Far North Queensland coast. You can expect to take in all the wonders from the spectacular Glass House Mountains through to a visit at the Maleny Dairy to sample some locally made cheese. Then onto Noosa, then off to Hervey Bay for some whale watching, Fraser Island, Bundaberg, Yepoon, Mackay and then relax at the pristine beaches of Hamilton Island. From there it’s onto Townsville and finally arriving in Cairns where you will see the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree.
10) The Big Lap
The Big Lap is exactly as it sounds – the mother of all Australian road trips. The Big Lap is a total bucket list holiday for not only Aussies, but international visitors too. The Big Lap takes you on a loop of Australia, with sights ranging from rugged desert terrain and dusty red outback Australia, to scenic, coastal towns and lush green rainforests.
The Big Lap is a 15,000km journey on Highway One, linking all seven of the states and territories. If you are considering tackling The Big Lap – it can take at least 6 months to take in all of the sights Australia has to offer, but there are plenty who like to take a gap year and take their time on the open road and spend a little bit of extra time in particular destinations.
Picking the right vehicle for your journey
Our top 10 Great Aussie Road Trips are as diverse as they come, ranging from outback adventures to coastal journeys. Depending on your itinerary, you might be best suited to something more compact and zippy to get from destination to destination, or you might be requiring something with complete durability that can withstand the unsealed roads and sandy highways. Whatever your requirements, Ken Mills Toyota has a vehicle to suit your next Great Australian Road Trip.
Contributor: Brett Mills of Ken Mills Toyota on the Sunshine Coast grew up with the Toyota brand, taking family holidays to Fraser Island in the 40 Series as a kid and working in every role at his Dads’ – Ken Mills – Toyota Dealership in Kingaroy. He went on to work for Toyota Australia Motor Corporation (TMCA), where he met his wife Caroline, and they purchased their two dealerships – at Nambour and Maroochydore – in 2002. Brett is currently the Chairman of the National Toyota Dealer Association.