With awe-inspiring landscapes and fascinating wildlife, it’s no wonder that Australia is a dream destination for a lot of people. While you can easily travel throughout the country by air, road trips are an incredible way to see more of the continent. Therefore, as I plan my first trip to the “Land Down Under” here are the scenic routes that make up my Australia road trip hit list.
But before I get into it, it’s important to note that planning is an essential part of any successful road trip in Australia. So before heading out, you need to make sure you have the right car. You could rent one or buy a used one, a more affordable option if you’re planning a longer trip. However, if you go this route, you will have to make sure that you have enough time to sell it before leaving. Also plan for bendy roads, rocky trails, extreme temperatures, road rules that change territorially, outback roads and wildlife.
And for even more Australia travel tips, here are the important things to know before you go.
Australia Road Trip Fun Fact: Australia is as wide as London to Moscow.
Epic Australia Road Trip Ideas
New South Wales to Victoria – East Coast Australia
If you are looking for an easy-going and scenic road trip along Australia’s east coast, a road trip from New South Wales to Victoria is an awesome way to start.
Although you can complete this drive in one day (about nine-hours), to make the most out of this road trip, it comes highly recommended to extend it to a three-day adventure.
This 877.6 kilometers or 544-mile drive is jam-packed with wonderful attractions like whale and dolphin watching along the New South Wales coast, diving excursions and the white sand beaches of Jervis Bay.
I am especially looking forward to checking out Australia’s most powerful lighthouse in Cape Byron. The tower is even open to free guided tours!
Adelaide to Darwin – Central Australia
The “Explorers Highway” from Adelaide to Darwin is one the more daring road trips in Australia. Spanning 3,028 kilometers or 1,881.5 miles, this road trip tailors to experienced drivers who want to explore the heart of the Outback. Since it is one of the more challenging road trips to do in Australia, it is highly recommended to either travel with a guided tour or rent a campervan.
Usually completed in 11 days, during this road trip, marvel at the landscapes of inland Australia. Visit Barossa Valley, the Flinders Ranges, and Wilpena Pound.
Midway, I would love to check out the town of Coober Pedy, an Aborigine land that is now the world’s largest opal mining area. It reminds me of the movie Mad Max: Fury Road.
Continuing down south to Darwin, I would make stops at the quaint town of Alice Springs followed by the town of Tennant Creek. Lastly, I would visit Litchfield National Park, a vegetative landscape that is teeming with all sorts of Australian flora and fauna.
Australia Road Trip Fun Fact: This road trip traces the trail of John McDouall Stuart, a 19th-century Scottish explorer who is widely celebrated for navigating inland Australia.
Related: Snorkeling Silfra in Iceland
Perth to Exmouth – Western Australia
Our next road trip is along the west coast of Australia. Commonly called the “Coral Coast”, this road trip begins in the southwestern city of Perth and ends in the small resort town of Exmouth. This road trip covers approximately 1,269 kilometers or 774 miles and it’s recommended to spread this trip out over the course of at least three days.
One of the best parts of this road trip is having the option of traveling along the Indian Ocean Drive, a coastal road along Western Australia. Drive through coastal towns like Jurien Bay, Dongara, Port Denison, Greenough, and Cervantes.
In Cervantes, check out the Pinnacles of Nambung National Park which attracts thousands of visitors each year to its natural ecosystem for native wildlife. The Nambung National Park is also home to a plethora awe-inspiring natural limestone structures dating back 30,000 years ago. These structures stand like massive giants!
To top off my Western Australia road trip, lastly, I would check out Coral Bay “a snorkeler’s paradise” teeming with vibrant coral species and diverse marine life.
The Tasmanian Journey
Just off the southern coast of Australia is Tasmania, an isolated island-state belonging to Australia. Roughly the same size as West Virginia, Tasmania is scarcely populated and is a bastion for preserving wildlife and wilderness in Australia.
As one of the best places to experience the great outdoors, national parks protect 2/5 of Tasmania. Tasmania is also home to the cleanest air on the planet.
Since Tasmania is primarily a preserved landmass, renting a 4-wheel drive or all-terrain vehicle that can withstand both the climate and landscape is a must. After exploring the lush wilderness on your Tasmania road trip, don’t forget to visit the state’s cities, towns, and ports.
The Big Lap
The Big Lap is last but certainly not least. As the name implies, this road trip takes a full loop around Australia. Bill McKinnon, a writer from The Australian, completed this road-trip in 10 months.
Seriously, I cannot imagine a better a way to experience Australia in all its glory than by taking a victory lap around the continent.
What routes would you like to cover on your Australia road trip?
Danielle is a travel finance strategist, writer, speaker and podcaster. She paid off $63,000 of student loan debt in 4 years, bought a house at 27 and has traveled to 26 countries. She refuses to let her financial responsibilities hold her back from living life on her own terms.