We’ve rounded up the best ways to traverse the country on road, off-road and from the air: from the exhilarating to the epicurean and sometimes both at once.
1. Wheel around the wildflowers
VARIOUS LOCATIONS, WA
Western Australia surely has one of the most spectacular wildflower seasons in the country.
You’ll be compelled to snap away as the dusty red landscape turns into a veritable patchwork quilt of colour.
If you’re not keen to self-drive, throw your lot in with Luxury Outback Tours’ seven-day wildflower itinerary, where you also have the chance to travel to some of the state’s most engaging sites, such as Wave Rock, Cape Le Grand and Esperance.
2. For those who just like to tag along in the sand
Love to drive, hate to navigate?
Yep, we can do without those arguments that make you dream of ejecting your spouse onto the side of the road.
Happily, there are some incredible 4WD tag-along tours that alleviate the stress and leave you with the scenery.
FRASER’S ON RAINBOW BEACH, QLD
You don’t even need your own 4WD for this three-day tour, which takes you along Fraser’s stunning sands, into the rainforest and through creeks.
Included is all food and camping equipment, so you just need to bring yourself, your licence and a sense of adventure.
Oh, and if you’re a little apprehensive about putting wheel-to-sand, we recommend a Girls Got Grit preparatory course.
DIRK HARTOG ISLAND, WA
An island with a history that spans guano mining, pearling and sheep grazing, Dirk Hartog Island is now used more sustainably for tourism.
Discover rock pools, blow-holes, a salt lake called Rose Lake, and long stretches of beach with impossibly clear waters.
The island’s isolation will make you feel like the last people on Earth.
The ‘Return to 1616’ tag-along tour incorporates restoration of the vegetation and habitat and includes 4WD, accommodation and meals.
3. It’s Australia’s (better) answer to Big Sur. And, we know you love it
GREAT OCEAN ROAD, VIC
Sometimes the journey is just as much about the ride as the sights.
And when it comes to the Great Ocean Road, you, our readers, vote for it each year in our People’s Choice Awards, so we assume you’ve perhaps done the drive more than once.
Next time, why not leave the driving to someone else and spend a day cruising around in absolute coastal style in a 1974 VW Kombi Transporter Microbus?
Take Hike & Seek’s Great Otway National Park tour and return via the Great Ocean Road in style. Surf’s up, dudes.
4. Ride the rainforest and sleep in a pod
BLUE DERBY PODS RIDE, TAS
A brand-new experience has just launched in Tasmania’s Derby that will have mountain bikers eagerly donning their helmets.
The existing trails are already a hot spot for adventurers on two wheels, but the new Blue Derby Pods Ride will add an extra level to the experience with a three-day itinerary that includes fine Tassie food and wine, and accommodation in unique architecturally designed pods.
5. Arriving Bond-style by seaplane is a dream we all share
OUTBACK FLOATPLANE ADVENTURES, NT
It’s not just the seaplane that we love about Outback Floatplane Adventures’ Ultimate Tour, no, you get to travel in all the vehicles, including a helicopter, airboat (that other Bond-looking contraption with a giant fan that propels you from villains, or crocs) and luxury cruise vessel.
It’s a bird’s-and-fish-eye view of tropical Northern Territory’s breathtaking scenery and wildlife, and is a guaranteed boast-worthy trip.
6. Rolling in the streets
Adelaide’s vibrant food truck scene has flourished since 2012, with a diverse array on city streets for mid-week lunches and large public events on weekends, including the frequent Fork On The Road food truck cluster events.
“Variety is the magic ingredient,” says Mohamed Bensaid, of Moorish Bites.
“We introduce a whole world of different ethnic foods that you just can’t find in restaurants.”
Here’s our pick from across the board:
1. Moorish Bites, Meloui: A luscious Moroccan pancake filled with spinach and feta cheese, or with eggplant, chicken, lamb or marinated fish.
2. La Chiva, Chivita de Chorizo: Feisty Colombian chorizo patties packed in soft bread rolls with lettuce, coriander, smoked salsa sauce and mayonnaise.
3. Bodri’s Taste of Hungary, Kurtosh Kalach: This towering Hungarian chimney cake is made from scratch in the van, with ribbon-like dough wound around a cylinder, covered with sugar and baked to form a crisp, caramelised crust.
7. When money ain’t nothing but a thing
“If only there was a tour that ticked off Australia’s greatest beauties, full of wine and good food, where I could travel in supreme comfort in a private aircraft,” laments the gourmand high flyer.
If this sounds like you, bemoan your sorry existence no more, for there is just such a tour.
Dipping in and out of the sky to feast on the fare and fair landscapes of the Mornington Peninsula, Barossa Valley, Tamar Valley and Freycinet Peninsula (to name a few), this seven-day High Flyers Gourmet Trail from Ultimate Winery Experiences will only set you back a cool $10K or thereabouts.
8. There really is no better way to see it all: Four bucket list road trips
1. The Big Lap: It’s still the big dream: take three months off work, kit out a motorhome and circumnavigate this land.
2. The Kimberley Dream: A 4WD journey along the mighty Gibb River Road.
3. The Explorer’s Way: Cut the country in half, from Adelaide to Darwin.
4. The Nullarbor: It’s the horizontal line in the sand and the classic drive.
9. Go the big distances with the little guys
Outback Queensland can teach you a thing or two about significant distances.
While many opt to drive from Brisbane to Birdsville and around to Bedourie and Boulia, there is another way to see the north-east piece of our nation’s puzzle.
Rex is nothing if not regional, and will get you to Winton and back if dinosaur bones are your thing, or to Birdsville for the bash, and to legendary Longreach.
So if breaking an axle on a dirt road isn’t your idea of seeing the country, consider the alternative way to get to these amazing outposts.
10. Because mixing booze and bikes can surely never be a bad idea
TOUR DE RIESLING RAIL TRAIL, CLARE VALLEY, SA
What to do with a defunct railway track in wine country?
Well, if you’re in the Clare Valley, you throw down some gravel, buy some electric bikes and turn it into a wine tour that Passes incredible wineries such as Skillogalee and Sevenhill.
While you’re in the mood: Take a gourmet cycle through Mudgee with Tour De Mudgee Cellar Doors or leave the Lycra at home for the Tour de Gourmet Escape in Milawa.