Planning to visit Australia?
In my opinion, the best way to see what this vast country of ours has to offer is to take one of these classic road trips in Australia.
Especially if you have kids like us, road trips make family travel more practical, cost effective and allow for so much flexibility.
As a traveling family, we can’t rate an around Australia road trip highly enough as a memorable travel experience. We like nothing more than throwing our bags in the back, putting some tunes on and hitting the open road.
Instead of flying from point A to B and missing everything in between, the journey becomes just as memorable as the destination.
We recently completed an 18-month road trip around Australia and this post breaks down our best road trips in Australia.
But, even if you only have a few weeks to travel in Australia, each of these Australian road trips can be driven in a 1-2 week period but for some of them, we recommend you take longer though!
Best Road Trips in Australia
- The Great Ocean Road, Victoria
- Red Centre Way, Northern Territory
- The Savannah Way, Queensland
- Cairns to Cape Tribulation, Queensland
- Sydney to Brisbane Drive, NSW & Qld
- Darwin > Kakadu > Katherine > Litchfield road trip, Northern Territory
- Gibb River Road, Western Australia
- Broome to Perth Western Australia
- The 75 Mile Highway, Fraser Island, Queensland
- Outback Queensland
- Sydney to Jervis Bay, NSW
- Launceston to Hobart, Tasmania
- The Nullarbor
- The Eyre Peninsula, South Australia
1. Great Ocean Road, Victoria
If I only had one piece of advice for driving the Great Ocean Road, I would say don’t just rush to the 12 Apostles for your tourist snap. Slow down and appreciate all this drive has to offer.
Certainly, don’t drive it in one day like the tourist buses do from Melbourne. It deserves at least a few days.
The Great Ocean Road is not only one of the famous road trips in Australia, but around the world as one of the best drives on the planet.
Beginning one hour outside of Melbourne in Torquay, this drive stretches over 250-kilometres to Warrnambool and offers stunning coastal scenery, wildlife, waterfalls, hiking and beachside towns.
Great Ocean Road Trip Highlights:
Loch Ard Gorge
Port Campbell National Park
2. Red Centre Way, Northern Territory
You can’t have a list of the best road trips in Australia without visiting the Outback.
And instead of taking the Stuart Highway between Uluru and Alice Springs, consider taking the scenic route along the Red Centre Way and discover brilliant landscapes, gorges, canyons, camping and hiking trails of the West MacDonnel Ranges.
Allow yourself plenty of time to take in the wonder of Uluru and nearby Kata Tjuta, it really is the heart of Australia and there is more than one way to experience it.
Red Centre Way Highlights:
Glen Helen Gorge
- 9 ways to experience the magic of Uluru
- Yes, you can do the Kings Canyon Rim Walk with kids
- Surprised by the West MacDonnell Ranges
Check out these road trip tips with kids:
3. The Savannah Way, Queensland
That’s from East to West for those who don’t know, taking in a whopping 3,700 km.
So far we’ve only driven the Savannah Way from Cairns to the Northern Territory border, but it was a highlight of our time exploring the northern section of Outback Queensland.
Savannah Way Road Trip Highlights:
Millaa Millaa Falls
Undara Lava Tubes
Boodjamulla National Park
- Exploring the Atherton Tablelands
- Introducing the Undara Lava Tubes
- Is Boodjamulla National Park Queensland’s best kept secret?
- Ultimate guide to driving the Savannah Way
4. Cairns to Cape Tribulation
Tropical North Queensland has to be one of the most enchanting regions in Australia, if not the world. It’s home to two of our countries most iconic natural wonders; the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest.
The best time to visit Tropical North Queensland is during the winter months when it’s not so humid and you avoid stinger season, although it might feel like the whole south of the country has migrated north with you.
Cairns to Cape Tribulation Road Trip Highlights:
Great Barrier Reef
- How to visit the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
- Things to do in Cairns, Queenlsand
- 2 day getaway to the Daintree Rainforest from Port Douglas
5. Sydney to Brisbane Drive
Stretching 900kms along the Pacific Coast corridor, the Sydney to Brisbane drive has something for everyone: stunning beaches, green rolling hills, beachside towns, riverside towns, wineries, the hinterland, wildlife watching, and every water sport imaginable.
Sydney to Brisbane road trip Highlights:
The Hunter Valley
- 48 hours in Sydney
- A guide to Hunter Valley wine tasting
- 12 reasons Byron Bay is a great family destination
- 48 hours on the Gold Coast
6. Darwin > Kakadu > Katherine > Litchfield road trip
Starting and finishing with some of the best sunsets in Australia at Darwin, this drive then takes in the incredible wetlands and wildlife of Kakadu, the stunning gorge scenery at Katherine, and the waterfalls and swimming holes of Litchfield.
Mindil Beach markets & sunset (Darwin)
Yellow Water Billabong Cruise (Kakadu)
Gunlom Falls (Kakadu)
Ubirr Sunset (Kakadu)
Sunrise Cruise (Katherine Gorge)
Florence Falls (Litchfield)
- How to explore Kakadu National Park
- 5 highlights of Litchfield National Park
- 14 photos of Katherine Gorge
7. Gibb River Road, Western Australia
One of the most adventurous road trips in Australia is The Gibb River Road in Western Australia, a famous dirt track that takes you through the heart of The Kimberleys, one of Australia’s last wilderness frontiers.
If you’re into your 4-wheel driving, this could be your ultimate adventure.
The entire Gibb runs for approximately 700 kilometres beginning near Derby and ending near Kununurra and takes in brilliant gorges, waterfalls, cattle stations and plains, rich aboriginal history, Boab trees, 4-wheel driving and great camping.
You can do the Gibb in either direction but road conditions depend on time of year and completion of grading work. Travel is only recommended once the road has been graded after the wet season (around May) until the end of October
We didn’t have a four-wheel drive vehicle so only did the northern section, going into Emma’s Gorge and El Questro and back out.
Highlights along the rest of the Gibb include:
- Windjana Gorge
- Tunnel Creek
- Bell Gorge
- Adcock Gorge
- Galvan’s Gorge
- King Leopold Ranges
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8. Broome to Perth, Western Australia
We love the coast of Western Australia. This 3,900 kilometre stretch of coastline will expose you to some of the best landscapes and beaches in the country.
I recommend you take at least two weeks to drive this section of WA, heck we can easily spend two weeks just in Broome, our favorite town in Australia.
Don’t forget your snorkeling gear, your camping equipment and especially your camera. And I would also highly recommend a detour from Port Headland inland to Karijini National Park, one of the best National Parks in Australia.
Broome to Perth Road Trip Highlights:
Cable Beach, Broome
Turquoise Bay, Exmouth
Sandy Bay, Exmouth
The Pinnacles Desert, Nambung National Park
Rottnest Island, Perth
- Things to do in Broome
- Falling in love with Coral Bay
- 3 natural wonders of Exmouth
- 32 photos of Rottnest Island
9. The 75 Mile Highway, Fraser Island
Looking for 4-wheel-drive road trips in Australia?
Did you know that 75 Mile Beach on Fraser Island is classified as a part of the Bruce Highway? And that Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world?
If you want to go off-road and do some serious beach driving whilst exploring shipwrecks, pristine lakes, stunning forest and dodging wild dingos, head over to Fraser for some of the best 4-wheel driving in the country.
Fraser Island road trip Highlights:
75 Mile Beach
10. Outback Queensland
Coming back to the Gold Coast through Outback Queensland via Mount Isa, Winton, Longreach, and Charleville was such a nice surprise and the perfect way for us to end our 18-month Australian road trip.
We encountered some of the friendliest people along this stretch of road, not to mention the history and the landscapes on offer at the various towns.
Outback Queensland highlights:
Mining tour at Mt Isa
Town of Winton
Australian Age of Dinosaurs, Winton
Qantas Founders Museum, Longreach
Cosmos Centre, Charleville
- Going underground in Mount Isa
- Why Winton is our favourite Outback town
- 3 things to do in Longreach
- Contemplating the Cosmos in Charleville
- Go to Carnarvon Gorge You Said
11. Sydney to Jervis Bay, NSW
If you were to drive direct from Sydney to Jervis Bay it would take about 2.5 hours but there’s a few spots well worth stopping for along the way.
As you leave Sydney and head south you’ll soon be driving through the Royal National Park, the second oldest National Park in the world behind only Yellowstone.
Then you start the Grand Pacific Drive which takes you along the coast towards Wollongong and over the famous Sea Cliff Bridge, before continuing on to our favourite south coast region, Jervis Bay.
South Coast road trip highlights:
Sea Cliff Bridge
Booderee National Park
12. Launceston to Hobart, Tasmania
Tasmania is one of Australia’s great driving destinations, and a scenic road trip from Launceston to Hobart via the east coast takes in some of Tasmania’s iconic destinations.
Starting from Launceston, head towards St Helens and spend some time at the incredible Bay of Fires and Binalong Bay before continuing south via Bicheno, Freycinet National Park, Port Arthur and then finishing in Hobart.
Tasmania road trip highlights:
Bay of Fires
Wineglass Bay, Freycinet National Park
Hazards Beach, Freycinet National Park
Port Arthur Historical Site
- Introducing the Bay of Fires
- All alone on famous Wineglass Bay
- Port Arthur Historic Site
- What to do in Hobart
- 19 best places to visit in Tasmania
13. The Nullarbor
Some call it the Nullar-Boring but we really enjoyed our three-day drive across Australia’s longest road.
The Nullarbor is one huge stretch of land in the middle of the Eyre Highway, with the entire Eyre Highway stretching for a total of 2,700km and about 1,200km lie between Ceduna in South Australia and Norseman in Western Australia.
We found the vast and treeless Nullarbor Plain to be mesmerising. There’s the impressive 146.6 km section of road that holds the world record for straight length of road.
You can connect to this journey from Melbourne, Adelaide or Perth and drive west to east or east to west along the highway.
Things to see & do include the Nullarbor Links golf course of 18 holes spanning 1365km with a hole at every town and roadhouse between Ceduna and Kalgoorlie, the Bunda Cliffs, whale watching at Head of Bight (June to October), Border Village, Eucla telegraph station, wild camels and emus.
We only travelled the section from Norseman in Western Australia to Streaky Bay in South Australia over three days and will have to drive the entire length next time.
Nullabor road trip highlights:
The 146.6 km straight length of road
Great Australian Bight Marine Park
14. The Eyre Peninsula, South Australia
Fancy a bit of seafood? Keen to play in the underwater world with seals and sharks? What about spectacular rugged coastlines and pristine beaches with nary a soul to be found?
In a nutshell, or should I say oyster shell, this is the Eyre Peninsula.
We’ve recently completed a six-day road trip of the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia and it’s a worthy addition to the best road trips in Australia list.
Swimming with sea lions in Port Lincoln
Port Lincoln National Park
Oysters at Coffin Bay
Great Ocean Drive Elliston
- Things to do on the Eyre Peninsula (six-day itinerary)
Planning a Trip to Australia
We’ve been traveling consistently for 17 years and have come to rely on a few trusted websites that save us money and time when booking accommodation, flights and car rental. Below are our preferred partners:
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Need more help with your Australian road trip planning? Check the Lonely Planet guide to Australia’s best trips.
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Did we miss anything? What are your favorite road trips in Australia? Share in the comments below.