Discover the best road trip holidays in Australia – here is 90 to 100 of the 100 ways to holiday here this year.
90. Eat your way around the Murray River Valley, NSW
The mighty Murray River is the longest in Australia, weaving its way through three states – NSW, Victoria and South Australia. Concentrating on the stretch running from Albury in NSW to Echuca in Victoria in the Murray Valley food bowl – one of the country’s most productive agricultural areas – offers up the perfect bite-sized (literally) road trip, filled with scenery, food and passionate locals.
Start the journey from Albury and aim to cover the roughly 227 kilometres to make it to the border town of Moama by late afternoon. The first stop worth making along the way is in Corowa, a quick 45 minutes from Albury. The drawcard here is Corowa Whisky & Chocolate. You can sample its whiskies in the cosy tasting room, but designated drivers would be best sticking to the thick, sweet hot chocolate in the cafe instead.
It’s another 45 minutes’ drive to the town of Yarrawonga, stop here to shop the award-winning olive oils, gourmet foods and beauty products at the family-owned Rich Glen Olive Estate’s on-site store and cafe.
Continue on to Moama and head to Perricoota Vines Retreat, an award-winning lakeside village populated by comfortable self-catering villas and some excellent leisure facilities, which is the perfect base for the next few days given its handy proximity to sights and sustenance.
After breakfast in your villa head out on foot to St Anne’s Winery (an easy 15-minute walk) for the daily tastings conducted at the rammed-earth cellar door. The property produces a range of wines, from light whites and full-bodied reds to rich, sticky muscats.
You can work off your late-morning tipple by walking another 15 minutes towards town for lunch at Three Black Sheep. A popular breakfast and lunch spot with locals, the menu is made up of eclectic cafe fare and the servings are generous (and delicious).
With lunch done, grab a coffee to go and head back towards Perricoota Vines Retreat, and keep walking another 10 minutes past it to arrive at Pacdon Park, purveyors of all things pork. Find pork pies, pork sausages, streaky bacon, black pudding, white pudding, gammon steaks and haggis (buy up big while you are here and that’s dinner taken care of) .
On the return trip back to Albury break up the journey at Lake Mulwala and stay for a meal at Blacksmith Provedore, a stylish restaurant and bar that trades on the feels of summer holidays of old, while hinting at the future direction for the town.
Back in Albury, head to Circa 1928 for the night (a boutique spa hotel housed in a former Art Deco bank building close to the town’s botanic gardens and Murray Art Museum Albury before returning home the next day with a bagful of local produce from this most delicious of bite-sized road trips.
91. Visit the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital and towns of the Mid North Coast, NSW
Halfway between Sydney and Brisbane, NSW’s Mid North Coast is the perfect road trip destination for families wanting to make classic summer holiday memories.
Lace together an itinerary that stretches from the Great Lakes of Forster-Tuncurry to the simple sunshine and saltwater pleasures of Yamba, taking in the tranquillity of South West Rocks and Coffs Harbour, with its raft of nature-rich experiences, along the way. And, at the heart of the region, Port Macquarie: with its warm and welcoming laid-back charm, 17 beaches and lush hinterland to explore.
Here, you’ll also find a range of attractions to entertain absolutely everyone who’s packed into the car, but don’t miss the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital – where you can see for yourself the important work it does and make some furry friends. This beloved rehabilitation centre saw an overwhelming wave of support following bushfires in and around Port Macquarie in November 2019, which devastated the region’s genetically diverse koala population.
Its crowdfunding page, initially set up to raise money to purchase and distribute automatic drinking stations to burnt areas, has seen about $8 million pour in from more than 150,000 donors all around the world. These funds will not only allow for the installation of 100 drinking stations, but will help establish a wild koala breeding program, too.
92. Journey through the Greater Blue Mountains, NSW
The best way to experience the compelling attractions of the Blue Mountains is on a road trip. Try this four-day itinerary for a good start.
Heading out of the city, your ascent into the heart of the Blue Mountains passes by or through a string of quaint villages and towns. Turn off the highway at Faulconbridge to visit the gracious home and gardens of the celebrated artist Norman Lindsay, author and illustrator of The Magic Pudding.
Stop for morning tea in the town of Leura, with its main street lined with cafes (try the Red Door Cafe) and shops, including Moontree, filled with scented candles and works by local artists, the brilliantly curated interiors shop The Cat’s Meow and Josophan’s Fine Chocolate, for some road trip treats.
From Leura, it’s a five-minute drive to the town of Katoomba. A white-knuckle ride on the vertiginous Scenic Railway as it plummets through the lush vegetation to the Jamison Valley below is almost mandatory in these parts. Katoomba is also the starting point for some great bush walks: try the easy Echo Point/Prince Henry Cliff Walk/Katoomba Falls or medium Minihaha Falls walks.
Bed down for the night at the heritage-listed Carrington Hotel, with its glory-days decor and generous family rooms.
It’s a 15-minute drive to the pretty town of Blackheath to grab your morning coffee or hot chocolate at Anonymous Cafe. Get it to go and browse the shops – including the mountains outpost of Gleebooks and the estate jewellery in the historic Victory Theatre Antiques Centre – or time your visit to coincide with the annual rhododendron festival in November.
Continue along through Mt Victoria. Stop in at the Hartley Historic Site, one of the best collections of historic buildings in the country. Continuing 45 minutes down the road to Newnes Plateau is the home of the magical glow worm tunnel, a former railway tunnel now filled with nature’s own version of fairy lights.
Spend the night at Parkside at Blackheath, a gracious 1930s mountain cottage that has been meticulously transformed into a chic weekender.
Head out of Blackheath for the 20-minute drive down to the picturesque Megalong Valley. Book a trail ride with Blue Mountain Horse Riding to traverse misty valleys, and finish your morning with a plate of fluffy scones at Megalong Valley Tea Rooms.
From Blackheath, it’s a one-hour drive to the lovely rural community of Oberon. Head to the Mayfield Garden, the largest cool-climate garden in the world. Spend the rest of the day wandering through meticulously manicured gardens. Mayfield Garden’s glampsite operates during autumn, with the bonus of early-morning and night access to the gardens.
The Long Arm Farm Cafe and Produce in town is a good choice for breakfast, with its local-produce-heavy menu. Once filled up, load up the car and head back towards Lithgow (stop at Jenolan Caves) and the Bells Line of Road.
It takes 30 minutes to reach the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden in Mt Tomah. Explore the gardens, then have lunch at The Potager (insider’s secret: you can stay the night within the gardens at Camellia Cottage or the Jungle Lodge). The last stop of the day should be Trees Adventure at Grose River Park in Yarramundi, with its tree-top obstacle courses that variously require you to dangle, climb and swing your way through the forest.
The rustic yet super-cosy Hidden Valley Retreat Cottages are perfect for your final night, all situated within a blissful valley setting.
93. Cross the Nullarbor and other iconic road trips
Our vast landscape is jam-packed with highways and byways worth exploration. Here, eight to drive next.
THE NULLARBOR PLAIN, WA AND SA
The most iconic of Aussie road trips is the longest stretch of straight road in the world, clocking in at 1256 kilometres and covering three time zones from the WA goldfields to the Eyre Peninsula.
THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD, VIC
A cruise along Victoria’s legendary Great Ocean Road (243 kilometres) is considered one of Australia’s quintessential road trips and takes in not only the famous 12 Apostles but scenic views for days and seaside charms aplenty in pit stops like Lorne and Warrnambool.
GREAT EASTERN DRIVE, TAS
At roughly 176 kilometres long, the journey from Orford to St Helens takes you through bucolic Tasmanian countryside and past coastal vistas, with plenty of opportunity to stop along the way at quaint towns and villages.
GOLDEN OUTBACK, WA
The region has a pick-and-mix array of road trips, from Esperance to Wave Rock, following the PUBLIC Silo Trail and crisscrossing the Wheatbelt.
THE PACIFIC COAST, NSW AND QLD
THE SAVANNAH WAY
Redirect the mail for this roughly 3700-kilometre coast-to-coast trip from Cairns to Broome. Along the way you’ll pass through some rock-star destinations, including Katherine in the NT and the Kimberley.
GIBB RIVER ROAD, WA
This 660-kilometre road forges through the Kimberley, from Derby to Wyndham, and offers up adventure and scenery in spades. Be advised: you will need a 4WD.
CAIRNS TO CAPE YORK, QLD
94. Do the Great Barrier Reef Drive, Qld
From city to jungle, the short but sweet Great Barrier Reef Drive takes in some of Tropical North Queensland’s most famous spots and offers up spectacular coastline along the way.
Begin in Cairns and kick on to Port Douglas, following the coast along the fringes of the Coral Sea and past unspoilt beaches. Balmy, laid-back Port Douglas is the stuff holidays are made of: stroll along Four Mile Beach, take a cruise out to the Great Barrier Reef with one of any operators working out of the Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina, and enjoy a gentle punt through mangrove wetlands on the elegant old riverboat, the Lady Douglas.
A portal to the Great Barrier Reef, Port Douglas is also the gateway to the Daintree, the world’s oldest tropical rainforest, which is estimated to be 180 million years old. Your first impressions will be of Mossman Gorge, north of town, where a Dreamtime Gorge Walk that meanders through the rainforest reveals stories of the Kuku Yalanji culture and traditions.
Stay in luxury tree-house accommodation at Silky Oaks Lodge, which sits overlooking the river in a 32-hectare patch of the Daintree. It’s in the midst of a $15 million makeover that will level up its offering all round when it reopens, including such bespoke adventures as a full-day private safari of the Daintree region, complete with gourmet dining and personal guide.
A narrow road twists onwards from here until it reaches the Daintree River, which you’ll cross on an old-school car ferry. Stop off in Daintree Village, founded in the 1870s as a timber cutting settlement, for some ice-cream from the Daintree Ice Cream Company.
Your journey ends, 35 kilometres north of the Daintree River Ferry, at the only place in the world where dual World Heritage areas collide, with the meeting of the Daintree Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef. Cape Tribulation is where swirls of creamy white sand and aquamarine waters kiss brilliant green jungle, and is quite simply spectacular. Not done yet? The 4WD-only Bloomfield Track continues to Cooktown from here.
95. Discover Tassie’s Deep South, Tas
A road trip to Australia’s southernmost pub is really just an excuse to explore Tasmania’s beautiful Deep South: a journey that will first see you driving out of Hobart and into the apple-abundant food bowl that is the Huon Valley. Stop for an organic cider tasting or slice of apple pie at Willie Smith’s Apple Shed, just outside Huonville, then take the meandering Huon Highway further south still.
Visit Frank’s Ciderhouse & Cafe for a cheese platter in the riverside town of Franklin or continue on to Geeveston for what’s known as some of the best sushi in Australia at Masaaki’s Sushi.
From Geeveston, head west for 30 minutes towards the Hartz Mountains National Park to get high among the treetops. The spectacular Tahune AirWalk, an elevated walkway 30 metres above the forest floor, will have you walking above the forest canopy with heart-pounding views. Tahune Forest Adventures also offers walks around the area: stroll gently through Huon pines or brave the swinging bridges over the rivers; and, for the adrenalin junkies, there’s also a hang-gliding operation in the works.
Just 20 minutes from Geeveston, Dover is a small fishing village and a hub for apple orchards and fishing for salmon, abalone and crayfish. Beyond seafood, you’ll find the creators of the world’s first sassafras spirit, Bakehouse Distillery, here as well. Relaxed and quaint, Dover serves as a good base for your explorations further south (and provides ample unwinding, kayaking and beachwalking opportunities itself).
Driftwood Cottages’ collection of well-appointed self-contained waterfront studios or ocean-view cottages will do nicely. Nearby Southport will have you well placed for exploring the area, too, and you can’t go past a timeless and stylish B&B like The Jetty House.
It’s in this sleepy coastal town, Australia’s southernmost, that you’ll have reached Australia’s southernmost pub, the Southport Hotel. Stop here for a warm welcome, a cold schooner and some good country pub grub. Just 15 minutes from town, the Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs also provides ample reward for your troubles: investigate the richly decorated dolerite chambers of Newdegate Cave and soak in the warm waters of the site’s thermal springfed pool, surrounded by lush forest.
A further 40 minutes from Southport, Cockle Creek is the furthest point south you can reach in Tasmania by road. Sitting pretty on the beautiful Recherche Bay at the edge of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, with forest rolling down to meet a thin strip of golden sand and deep turquoise water, Cockle Creek is also the beginning of the challenging 84-kilometre South Coast Track. If you’re ready to start your next adventure.
96. Stay in style in Daylesford, Vic
Designer Lynda Gardener is a passionate advocate for the allures of the Victorian town of Daylesford and its surrounds. Her three stylish holidays escapes in the area – The White House, The Estate Trentham and Room + Board – serve as delightful bases for exploring the sights of the region. Here, she shares her favourite things to do and places to visit on a short break.
Why should people consider visiting the Daylesford area? It’s such a short drive from Melbourne and has so many great places to stay, and visit – great cafes and markets. Hepburn Springs and the surrounding towns are all less than an hour away, It’s a special place.
What are your favourite things to do in the area? Walking around Lake Daylesford; visiting the second-hand market every Sunday morning at the original train station; having breakfast and wandering the main street; visiting Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens; and going for long meandering drives to the surrounding towns.
Where are the best places to eat out in Daylesford? Breakfast at Pancho cafe; definitely lunch at Cliffy’s; and dinner at Beppe Kitchen & Bar or Betel Boy.
Summer versus winter – what does each have to offer? Winter is all about sitting around the fireplace, resting and reading, staying warm, going for slow walks around Daylesford Lake and eating in. Summer is for swimming in the lake, taking drives, enjoying walks and doing anything outdoor; Lavandula Farm is a perfect place to sit outside and eat lavender scones.
What are your favourite places to shop locally? Manteau Noir is my favourite followed by Harry and Me; Found antiques is also a wonderful place. The entire main street has wonderful shopping including Bromley & Co and one-off stores.
What would your ideal weekend in Daylesford include? My ideal weekend is all about laying low and just enjoying my home: lazing around with my partner and taking time to be with friends who make their way here from Melbourne. It’s all about enjoying time out.
97. Tour the towns of the Great Alpine Road, Vic
The Great Alpine Road winds its way through 339 kilometres of Victoria’s High Country, passing through some of the most picturesque villages the state has to offer, and some of its foodie hotspots. So hit the road with an empty Esky and an appetite and see where you end up (but don’t miss these highlights).
If cheese and wine are your thing, you’re in for a treat in Milawa. Check out Brown Brothers for its award-winning wines (choose to stop off at the cellar door or enjoy a long lunch at Patricia’s Table), stock up at Milawa Mustards and indulge in a tasting at Milawa Cheese Factory (before browsing the gallery, quaint cellar door and other businesses contained in this century-old former butter factory).
A detour to the village of Beechworth is non-negotiable, if not for its historic honey granite buildings built on gold-rush wealth and steeped in Ned Kelly legend, but for its booming food and wine scene. This is the home of destination, two-hatted restaurant Provenance and its on-site accommodation that overlooks a quiet courtyard. Beechworth is made for browsing, and its collection of designer boutiques, homewares stores and eclectic emporiums provide just the excuse.
Set on the Ovens River, the alpine town of Bright is all about outdoor pursuits and scenic beauty, and where you’ll find farm gates and cellar doors down quiet country roads. Stop at small-batch roastery Sixpence Coffee or Ginger Baker cafe and wine bar. The nearby towns and villages of Porepunkah, Wandiligong and Harrietville offer similar wholesome activities and serve as gateways to Alpine and Mt Buffalo national parks.
A 15-minute drive from Mt Hotham at an elevation of 1570 metres lies Dinner Plain. Wander the streets and set out on surrounding bush walks, take a soak at the Japanese-inspired Onsen Retreat + Spa and sip a Powder Pale Ale at Blizzard, Australia’s highest-altitude brewery.
A small rural village in East Gippsland, near the end of the Great Alpine Road, 24 kilometres from Bairnsdale, Bruthen has plenty of spirit and character, as evidenced in the blues and arts festival it hosts annually. There’s a small but quality gallery dedicated to the work of local artists, a couple of cute junk shops including Bruthen Bizarre; and the Bullant Brewery, which aims to pair the best on-site brewed beer with the best regionally sourced food. From here, continue on a tour of East Gippsland.
98. Road trip through East Gippsland, Vic
The eastern end of the Great Alpine Road marks a good spot to start a leisurely meander through the towns and villages of Victoria’s East Gippsland, strung like pearls along the Sydney–Melbourne coastal drive.
Begin in the city of Bairnsdale, with its interesting history and architecture (including the Romanesque-style church, St Mary’s), and eateries championing local produce including The Loft and Northern Ground. It’s also the gateway to the tranquil Gippsland Lakes system and its laid-back lakeside towns of Lakes Entrance, Metung and Paynesville. While away some hours engaging in your choice of therapeutic waterside pursuit: from boating and fishing, to swimming, canoeing and kayaking.
Cross over into Snowy River Country, which spans from forest to sea. Don’t miss Sailors Grave Brewing in Orbost. Just 15 minutes from here in the pretty little town of Marlo, legendary pub Marlo Hotel provides accommodation and some of the best sunsets going.
From here, you can also take a day or two to explore the Snowy River Country Trail, a 285-kilometre drive through the region’s natural and heritage attractions including the Buchan Caves Reserve. Be sure to have a drink at the world’s first-ever crowd-funded pub: the historic Buchan Caves Hotel was rebuilt after it was destroyed by a 2014 bushfire, with the support from not only the local community but well-wishers from as far away as the UK and USA.
Made up of coast, rivers and hinterland, Croajingolong National Park follows the far-eastern coastline of Victoria for 100 kilometres. At its heart lies the blissful village of Mallacoota, surrounded by wilderness and set on a beautiful lake known as the Mallacoota Inlet.
Check into Karbeethong Lodge, a guest house that’s been in business since the 1920s. A boutique offering today, it stylishly retains its old-school charm and boasts the same eternal water views from the verandah that inspired Banjo Paterson when he stayed once upon a time. Upstream from here, Gipsy Point Lodge is another idyllic spot: a restaurant and retreat on the junction of two rivers with rooms and self-contained cottages.
99. See the world’s second largest canyon, NSW
While the Grand Canyon in the United States is renowned as the largest canyon in the world, it often comes as a surprise to find out that the world’s second largest canyon can be found here in Australia. On the other side of the Blue Mountains to be precise, less than three hours’ drive from Sydney.
Blanketed in World Heritage-listed nature, Capertee Valley encompasses three national parks – Wollemi, Gardens of Stone and Capertee – and is resplendent with stunning scenery and abundant flora and fauna.
Formed over millions of years, the valley has played host to an eclectic array of residents and visitors in its time, from the local Wiradjuri people, who can trace a 2000-year history here (and left behind rock paintings), to bushrangers using its remote reaches to hide rustled cattle, to Henry Lawson, who included a mention of the valley in his 1891 poem, Song of the Old Bullock Driver.
Nowadays, it is hikers and twitchers who flock here for the challenging walks (including to the top of the imposing monolith of Pantoneys Crown, literally the crowning glory of the valley) and outstanding birdwatching. It also plays host to Bubbletent Australia’s three unique igloo tents – Cancer, Leo and Virgo – which boast big beds, en suites, telescopes for stargazing and outdoor bathtubs from which to soak up the grandness of it all.
100. Drive the Limestone Coast
The natural wonderland of the Limestone Coast marks the start (or conclusion) of the Southern Ocean Drive. Begin in Mount Gambier, a city known for its sunken garden and dazzling cenotes, before sampling for yourself the region’s culinary clout.
South Australia’s south-eastern corner lies in a sweet spot between the Southern Ocean and fertile farmland, which accounts for the mouth-watering roll call of homegrown produce it’s famed for: the freshest seafood, prized beef and earthy reds sit alongside a roster of dairy, duck, venison, kangaroo and emu.
Make a reservation at The Tasting Room for the ultimate in Wagyu beef: this boutique steakhouse located on-farm at Mayura Station epitomises the essence of paddock-to-plate dining.
After leaving this fine filling station, take a detour inland to the terra rossa soil of the Coonawarra, the most well-known of the Limestone Coast’s six wine regions – glamp in the vines at Bellwether Wines – and to the nearby World Heritage-listed Naracoorte Caves, one of the world’s most important fossil sites.
Next, it’s back to the coast to hit up the seaside pleasures and restaurants of Robe; you can’t go past Sails at Robe for a seasonal dish of southern rock lobster grilled with garlic butter or a seafood platter at the historic Caledonian Inn, which also offers rooms at the pub and beachside cottages to stay in.
The next day, head into the remarkable wetland area of the Coorong, with its sand dunes and coastal lagoons, before kicking on for the rest of the Southern Ocean Drive, taking in the sea and vines of the Fleurieu Peninsula and pristine Kangaroo Island.