Kick back, relax, and let someone else take the wheel. Here are 8 of Australia’s best no drive road trips to inspire you from our special 100 Amazing Road Trips around Australia series.
No drive road trips
67. Hire That Pink Merc, NSW
Let vintage-lover and pink Mercedes owner Katrina Holden do the driving for you.
When did you buy your pink Merc?
I purchased this beautiful 1975 Mercedes Benz 450SEL in June 2021; right as we were due to collect it NSW went into lockdown. It was a bit of a leap of faith as the car had to be placed on a transport truck [from northern NSW]. I had it wrapped in a soft baby pink acrylic wrap. I wanted to showcase a classic in a fun, fresh way.
Feel pretty in pink as you tour the streets in this vintage 1975 Mercedes Benz.
Where’s your favourite place to drive your passengers?
As I’m from the Northern Beaches [in Sydney], I have a particular affinity for the area. I think you can’t beat a leisurely drive up the peninsula, past beaches such as Manly, Newport, Bilgola, Avalon and then arriving at Palm Beach. I also think cruising around the city is pretty special, doing the scenic loop near Mrs Macquarie’s Chair.
If you were in the passenger seat, what would be your ideal That Pink Merc itinerary?
Being a vintage lover, I’d head to the Southern Highlands, stopping at Twisting Vintage in Mittagong and Dirty Janes [in Bowral], followed by lunch at Harry’s On Green Lane.
68. Join a tour of the Red Centre, NT
Get straight to the crux of it – the country that is – with Globus on a Gems of the Red Centre journey through the heart of Australia.
Admire the awe-inspiring Kata Tjuta, an iconic landmark and Indigenous sacred site. (Image: Tourism NT/Helen Orr)
Over six days, this small-group discovery tour (its average of 20–24 people per departure promises room to roam and up-close-and-personal experiences along with the benefit of letting someone else drive) travels by coach from Alice Springs to Uluru via Kings Canyon, taking in all the highlights and more: from an interlude at West MacDonnell Ranges’ stunning Standley Chasm Angkerle Atwatye to spectacular canyon walks to the medley of unforgettable experiences that await at Uluru itself.
Lace up your hiking boots and take in the magnificent geology of Australia’s red centre. (Image: Tourism NT/Salty Aura)
69. A 4WD tour of the Binns Track, NT
Clocking in at an epic 2230 kilometres, the Binns Track (named for ranger Bill Binns, a 32-year veteran with NT Parks and Wildlife) is the kind of road trip that reminds you just how vast and untamed much of our country is.
Revel in the rich reds of the earth in a journey into the heart of Australia. (Image: Tourism NT/Steve Strike)
The journey charts a course through the Central Australian landscape, from Alice Springs to Timber Creek, taking in Gemtree, Tennant Creek and Dunmarra along the way. And then there’s the scenery: a seemingly infinite sweep of rich ochre sand that only nature could make so perfect. The drive is 4WD all the way, so let professionals like Outback Spirit do the hard work while you take it all in over 13 unforgettable days.
Kick back as your tour guide navigates through the unforgettable scenery of the Central Australian landscape. (Image: Tourism NT/Steve Strike)
70. Criss-cross Melbourne by tram, Vic
Melbourne is one of the easiest cities in the country to navigate, thanks largely to its network of trams that criss-cross the city, ferrying passengers around the CBD, and delivering them to compelling neighbourhoods and suburbs far and wide. No wonder Melburnians have a cat-that-ate-the-cream satisfaction about living in their very liveable metropolis.
Take the tram and discover the lively neighbourhoods scattered around Melbourne.
But the good news is that visitors can bask in this reflective smugness by mastering the tram system themselves. It’s as easy as ducking into any 7-Eleven you pass by and purchasing a myki card, the tap-on, tap-off payment system used there. Even with a myki card tucked into your back pocket, chances are you won’t have to use it if you are travelling in the CBD or out to the Docklands area: the city’s Free Tram Zone allows you to jump a tram without having to pay as long as you are within a (slightly wonky) rectangular grid bound by Queen Victoria Market, Docklands, Spring Street, La Trobe Street and Flinders Street, and which encompasses the likes of Bourke Street, Collins Street and Federation Square.
Once you have fine-tuned how to use the tram system, it’s time to decide where to go on it; may we suggest these five top spots:
1. St Kilda
With a thriving cafe culture, sparkling waters and funky late-night drinking spots (and penguins, of course) it’s little wonder the inner-city suburb of St Kilda is a perennial favourite with locals and out-of-towners alike. Browse the abundance of its cake shops on Acland Street, sink a schooner and listen to live music at Hotel Esplanade (or the Espy as it’s affectionately known to locals), and then spend the night at the sleek, recently revamped Prince Hotel.
Tram route: 96
Join the buzz of the lively café culture on Acland street.
2. High Street Armadale
Melburnians love to shop and High Street Armadale is where they come to do it. Often described as Melbourne’s answer to Rodeo Drive, the shopping strip here is lined with stylish boutiques from a who’s who roster of Australian labels from Zimmermann to Jac + Jack to Dion Lee. And as you’d expect, the area is well stocked with cafes, restaurants and bars too.
Tram route: 6
The streets of Armadale are a treasure trove of boutique finds.
The residents of Collingwood will never go hungry. The hipster suburb is powered by its stomach with a profusion of destination eateries serving up interesting fare, from the Japanese influences at Cibi to chef Shannon Martinez’s recently relocated vegan emporium Smith & Daughters (including Smith & Deli). Bolthole bars, art galleries and one-of-a-kind boutique shopping keep things interesting.
Tram route: 86
Grab a drink at a secluded inner-city bar for the quintessential Melbourne experience. The suburbs of Collingwood and Fitzroy offer plenty to explore.
Cafes, cool bars, fine diners and street art (with a side of graffiti) clash and collide to brilliant effect in Fitzroy. Locals converge on Gertrude, Johnston, Smith and Brunswick streets to shop for vintage, listen to live music, meet up for drinks and chow down on everything from crabs to croissants to cookies and cream gelato.
Tram route: 11
Melbourne is world-renown for its coffee scene – for good reason. Head down to a stylish café like Sir Charles in Fitzroy, to see what all the fuss is about.
Prahran is a mecca for vintage hunters who have enough to busy themselves for hours along Greville Street and Chapel Street, the home of the brilliantly dishevelled Chapel Street Bazaar. Prahran Market, stocked with fresh cheeses, produce, meats and flowers, is a vintage find in itself given it is one of the oldest in Australia.
Tram route: 72
Head to Prahran Market for the ultimate foodie experience.
71. Brisbane to Byron Bay with Kiff & Culture
Kiff & Culture is a non-traditional travel company with a new offering designed to appeal to those who wouldn’t normally consider taking a touring holiday. A three-day foodie foray into the fertile region dubbed the Green Cauldron, the Brisbane to Byron Food Trail takes the contrasting landscapes of the Scenic Rim, Byron Shire and Tweed hinterlands and melds them together with experiences at best-in-class artisan food and drink suppliers along the way. Highlights include stops at renowned venues such as Husk Distillery, The Farm Byron Bay, Cape Byron Distillery and Witches Falls Winery, all of which are underscored by a commitment to sustainable practices.
Stop off at Husk Distillery for a refreshing taste of the paddock-to-bottle product.
The experience is topped off by a stay at an equally planet-friendly luxury hotel, Crystalbrook Byron. You’ll travel in fun, Kombi-esque vehicles (the company was born with a Kombi in Cape Town; ‘kiff’ is a South African slang word meaning cool) and have evenings in Byron Bay purposefully left free for you to explore the linger-worthy coastal town at leisure.
Relax in luxury at Crystalbrook Byron Bay, surrounded by subtropical rainforest after sampling some of the region’s finest foods.
“The regions between Brisbane and Byron Bay truly are something special,” says Alex Baker, the company’s head of marketing (and also good times). “Having grown up in the region and spent a large portion of our twenties overseas, we can’t believe there aren’t more offerings like this. From the lush rainforests on Tamborine Mountain looking over the Scenic Rim, to the ancient caldera of the Tweed Hinterland and rolling hills and pristine beaches around Byron Bay, it’s a journey that not only showcases these regions, but celebrates them.”
72. AAT Kings’ Outback Adventure
The drive from the South Australian capital of Adelaide northward through the Red Centre of the country and onto the Top End city of Darwin is more than epic, it is a true odyssey, one that will totally recalibrate your understanding – and your appreciation – of Australia. The most direct route tips out on the odometer at just over 3000 kilometres, but if you want to really indulge in the wonder of the journey then two weeks is what’s needed. AAT Kings’ Outback Adventure itinerary clocks in at 15 days and ticks off every single ‘pinch-me’ moment along the way: Flinders Ranges, Port Augusta, Coober Pedy, Uluru and Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine, Kakadu National Park, Litchfield. We’re exhausted – but a little excited – just thinking about it.
Marvel at the magical Jim Jim Falls, the largest in the UNESCO heritage-listed Kakadu National Park. (Image: Tourism NT/Hello Emily)
73. Overland Adventure Aboard The Ghan
Specialists in experiential luxury travel the world over, Abercrombie & Kent’s portfolio of Australian adventures reads like a rollcall of boutique bucket-list experiences – from air safaris in the Top End and Kimberley to a wine, wildlife and wilderness tour of Tasmania. And its Overland Adventure Aboard The Ghan is the ultimate example: begin by sampling the best of the Barossa including a stay at luxe accommodation The Louise.
Relax in the heart of Barossa wine country. (Image: The Louise)
Then, board the legendary train and watch as the Flinders Ranges drop away and the South Australian outback becomes the Northern Territory’s Red Centre. Disembark in Darwin.
Witness the outback in style and luxury aboard The Ghan. (Image: Journey Beyond Rail Expeditions)
Distance: 3000 kilometres.
74. Dark Mofo festival with Inspiring Journeys, Tas
The dark, the cold, the bizarre and the ever-so-slightly bonkers are embraced during the iconic Dark Mofo festival, which takes place during the winter solstice in the Tassie capital of Hobart. The program differs from year to year, but at any given time you are sure to be challenged, confounded and even provoked by the events taking place across the city and out to the spiritual home of the festival, the Museum of New and Old Art (MONA).
Embrace the darkness at Dark Mofo’s winter feast. (Image: Dark Lab Media)
Let Inspiring Journeys be your designated driver for the duration with its four-day Dark Mofo Long Weekend itinerary, ferrying you to and from Hobart and MONA, and on to New Norfolk for lunch at Agrarian Kitchen Eatery, housed (in true Dark Mofo style) within a former mental asylum.
Take an exhilarating swim in the chilly waters of Hobart’s River Derwent for Dark Mofo’s winter solstice nude swim (Image: Dark Lab Media)