Driving Holidays in Australia

Our guide toDriving Holidays

Australia’s a huge country with a massive variety of landscapes that vary from state to state – and the best way to see it all is often by car. We’re a land home to some of the world’s greatest road trips, from epic coastal drives to amazing outback driving adventures and much more.

Perhaps the best part about driving in Australia is just how different one road trip can be to the next. There’s enough of a range of scenery to cater to all tastes; all it takes is four wheels and a sense of adventure.

Make your way across the incredible, fiery red interior of Australia to witness some of the world’s most famous natural landmarks, indulge your taste buds with a drive through verdant wine regions, enjoy some amazing slices of sun, surf and sand right near the roadside – the choice is yours. We take a look at some of Australia’s greatest road trips here.

Road Trips from Sydney

Australia’s largest city is lucky to sit in a location with so many amazing road trip destinations within easy reach. Head just an hour west towards Katoomba and the many natural highlights of the Blue Mountains – including the iconic Three Sisters – await.

Those who enjoy a drop of the good stuff can head 170km north of the city and sample world-class wines and other delectable produce in the Hunter Valley. Continue just a little further, and the Pacific Coast with its pristine beaches and glittering bays provide a relaxed, seaside environment. Looking south, the Grand Pacific Drive winds its way through the NSW South Coast with a mix of lush rainforests and charming coastal towns and some dramatic sea cliff scenery to top things off.

An underrated road trip that blends together Aussie history with gorgeous national park, driving to Outback NSW (culminating in the town of Broken Hill) is an item that should be on any serious Australian driving bucket list. Lastly, even the road trip from Sydney to Melbourne can be as direct – by sticking to the highway – or as leisurely and full of charm as you like depending on the route you take.

Road Trips from Melbourne

Melbourne’s central position combines with Victoria’s compact size to make for a highly driveable part of the country. There’s a ton of amazing things you can see via road in Victoria with relatively little time investment, yet still plenty of diversity.

The most obvious of these may be the incredible coastal spectacle and rock formations of the Great Ocean Road – widely regarded as Australia’s best road trip – but there’s plenty more routes to discover in Victoria. The greenery of the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges, with its mix of charming little towns, top-notch wineries and vintage train journeys is a popular go-to spot for couples and families alike.

Just 3 hours drive from the city in opposite directions lie two of the country’s most amazing national parks, each for entirely different reasons. Head north-west and encounter the sprawling valleys and indigenous sites of the Grampians National Park; head south-east and the coastal magic, abundant wildlife and pink-granite peaks of Wilsons Promontory National Park are a much-loved camping getaway.

For slightly shorter trips, drive across the bridge to Phillip Island and enjoy a family-friendly hotspot full of nature and one of Australia’s most iconic wildlife displays in the Penguin Parade, or head down to the Mornington Peninsula for its signature mix of coastal scenery, boutique food, wine and craft stores, and hidden romantic hideaways.

Escapists can drive through the lofty mountain ranges and plunging valleys of the Great Alpine Road, while more traditional types can opt for the historic route to Sydney via the Heritage Drive and soak in our country’s past in charming detail along the way.

Road Trips from Brisbane

Regardless of if you’re looking to keep things short and sweet, or head out to explore more distant parts of Queensland, Brisbane delivers solid road trip opportunities. Just a mere 45 minutes is all it takes to head up to the picturesque Moreton Bay region with its signature marine life and aquatic activities.

Those who prefer greenery will be spoiled for choice when driving from Brisbane; each of the Lockyer Valley (west), Scenic Rim (south) and Sunshine Coast Hinterland (north) all offer a cavalcade of mountain peaks, lush national parks, and artisan producers to sample well under two hours drive in each direction.

A collection of renowned towns that each offer something entirely different are well within driving range from Brisbane as well. Whether it’s the hippy-trendy-coastal vibe of Byron Bay down south or the west-and-further-west historic combo of Ipswich and Toowoomba, opportunities to visit charming regional towns abound.

Add in the ultra-popular family and beach blend the Gold Coast offers just down the highway, and drivers from Brisbane are well set up for multiple great road trips.

Road Trips from Perth

Home to some of Australia’s longest and most epic road trips, Western Australia’s sheer size means it’s home to some truly epic journeys. With Perth as the starting point, everything from the reasonably-close food and wine delights of Margaret River to the far-flung reaches of Broome is on the table depending on the amount of time you’re willing to invest.

Its coastline is one of its greatest assets, and you’ll be able to experience it in multiple fashions driving here. Journey your way up the spectacular stretch of the Coral Coast with its multiple interesting settlements before culminating in Exmouth – home of the Whale Shark and Ningaloo Reef.

Head the other way down to Albany, and enjoy a winding route through state forests before taking in its ANZAC history and scenic views, with the option to push on further to Esperance to be astounded by some of the most beautiful beaches our country has to offer.

The incredible rock formations of WA, including the moon-like desert of the Pinnacles and the towering curve of Wave Rock are also only a few hours drive away, while the “wild west” of Kalgoorlie and the signature red dirt of the Aussie desert is within a reasonable six-hour striking distance as well.

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Road Trips from Adelaide

Adelaide sits in a fortunate position where all the vibrant colours of Australia are within a tantalisingly short drive. Outback South Australia remains a criminally underrated part of the country that’s home to some truly unique things that can’t be encountered elsewhere.

Drive up to the Flinders Ranges to witness Wilpena Pound – a massive, must-see natural amphitheatre that dwarfs Uluru, or head further north-west to opal-mining capital Coober Pedy and tick spending the night in an underground hotel off your bucket list.

Go the coastal route for your road trips instead, and you’ll be presented with some excellent diversity. The Eyre Peninsula, Fleurieu Peninsula and Yorke Peninsula each offer a fantastic blend of coastal scenery, seafood and some unique adventure experiences while Innes National Park in particular remains an immaculate seaside playground begging to be explored.

Pop your car on the ferry and travel across to Kangaroo Island, or stick to the mainland and indulge in the many food and wine-centric delights of the Barossa Valley and the entire Epicurean Way with minimal travel time from Adelaide on both ends.

Road Trips from Canberra

Sitting inland, Canberra lies in a unique spot to provide access to a whole different array of road trips. With decent proximity to amazing alpine areas, rich highlands and verdant greenery – as well as Sydney and Melbourne in either direction – there’s a lot of driveable scenery within striking distance of our capital.

Drive to the winter playground of the Snowy Mountains which also becomes a pristine wonderland during the warmer months, and explore the many panoramas of Kosciuszko National Park by bike or by foot. For a slice of laid-back rural life rich in boutique cafes, acclaimed restaurants and intimate accommodation, the Southern Highlands are less than two hours drive away.

Follow the Monaro Highway down to Cooma and you’ll hit the tip of the gorgeous Sapphire Coast within a mere three hours – ideal for a more temperate climate escape from Canberra during the colder parts of the year. More stunning coastline awaits at Jervis Bay, home to some of the whitest sand in the country and numerous options for dolphin spotting and seaside relaxation.

The drive from Canberra to Sydney may only be an easy three hours at optimal pace, but there’s plenty of reasons to slow down and explore the many lovely villages dotted throughout the journey.

Road Trips from Darwin

With some of Australia’s most-acclaimed national parks not too far away, it’s easy to see why Darwin remains one of the most popular springboards for road trips in the country. Forty minutes will get you to Berry Springs for a natural dip, while a mere 100km drive from Darwin is all you’ll have to invest to reach Litchfield National Park and its signature swimming holes, waterfalls and other wonders.

Extend the road trip to a couple of days, and its bigger brother Kakadu makes for one of the true dream destinations Australia has to offer. If you’re up for a challenge, combine them both and add in Katherine & Nitmiluk Gorge, and you’ve got the recipe for the complete Nature’s Way drive.

For those who don’t take their road trips lightly, Darwin also serves as the launchpad for two of the greatest multi-day drives our country has to offer: Darwin to Alice Springs (and onward to Uluru), and the even-more-epic crossing from Darwin to the Kimberley, culminating in Broome.

Road Trips in NSW

Regional New South Wales is a hotbed of gourmet delights and lush greenery for road trippers. Embark on a winding journey from Orange to Mudgee to a historic winemaking region through heritage towns and delicious farms on the NSW Food and Wine Trail, or follow the course of the Murray and Darling Rivers for a quality dose of indigenous history from Australia’s pioneer era.

Elsewhere, dense and World Heritage-listed rainforest shines as the backdrop for a drive with both the Rainforest Way (from Byron Bay) and Waterfall Way (from Coffs Harbour to Armidale). Towering waterfalls, amazing bushwalks and exceptional wildlife are just some of the highlights you’ll encounter on these drives.

Road Trips in Queensland

Combining the best of the tropics and the outback, Queensland’s road trips showcase some of the greatest World Heritage sites Australia has to offer. From the vantage point of land, multiple coastal drives in Qld are oriented around the magic of the Great Barrier Reef, with several start and end points to choose from.

The most famous may be the extensive journey from Cairns to Cape York the “tip of Australia”, but even the stretch from Cairns to Cooktown dubbed the Great Tropical Drive offers an amazing coastal side featuring the best combination of reef and rainforest. Likewise, Cairns to Townsville, a.k.a the Great Green Way incorporates elements of both with added wetlands, waterfalls and mountains as an added bonus.

Of course, Queensland shines for far more than just the coast, and offers some darn good inland drives as well. Head through Outback QLD and tour past historic pubs, amazing sandstone national parks, and dine on regional fresh produce. Alternatively, cross the state from east to west via the Overlander’s Way and encounter incredible archeological discoveries, history-rich towns, and even more unique national parks.

For one of the most unique drives in Australia, hit the sands of Fraser Island’s 75 Mile Beach for a road trip on a “sand highway” amid a massive and gorgeous World Heritage listed island.

Road Trips in Victoria

Outside of Victoria’s most iconic road trips such as the Great Ocean Road and Yarra Valley are a number of excellent alternatives that may not get as much press, but are worthwhile all the same.

Australia’s longest river forms the backdrop for the Murray River Getaway road trip, blending together the ideal mix of laid-back country towns such as Mildura & Albury Wodonga, and riverfaring history, with the chance for a historic paddle boat ride at Echuca Moama a must-do along the way.

Aim your car towards the eastern corner of Victoria and drive to Gippsland, where verdant farmlands collide with pristine beaches and clusters of popular seaside villages ideal for sampling fresh seafood. Point it west, and take your pick of history or relaxation with a road trip to the Gold Rush-era-rich towns of Ballarat and Bendigo where interesting architecture abounds, or road trip to the Daylesford region for its renowned cross-section of scenery and pampering.

A road trip to the Victorian High Country also delivers, with its various peaks and autumn-draped villages like Bright and Beechworth offering top-notch dining, wines, and other gourmet delights.

Road Trips in Western Australia

WA provides a strong showing in the road trip category, with an array of journeys both short and (very, very) long.

Home to some of the most famous 4WD road trips in Australia, it contains the Gibb River Road – a drive that provides one of the last remaining “unfiltered” outback trips available. Stretching from Kununurra to Broome, it’s a staggering mix of massive cattle stations, fiery earth, and escapist wilderness retreats that’s not without challenges but brings massive rewards as well.

The state’s outback theme continues with both the Canning Stock Route – a bumpy route renowned as one of the loneliest of its kind in the world – and the journey from WA to Uluru via the Great Central Road. Providing even more examples of incredible rugged scenery, the route from Port Hedland to Onslow exploring the Pilbara is exceptional, with a top to see the unique rock formations and water holes of Karijini National Park a must.

Keeping things a little less adventurous, but no less rewarding, the more reasonable coastal treks to locations such as Dunsborough (renowned for its whale watching) and Busselton (pretty coastline and an iconic jetty) offer an entirely different colour palette.

Road Trips in Tasmania

Tasmania crams so much amazing scenery into such a small space that it makes it the perfect state for road-tripping. Draped in national parks and possessing some of the greatest alpine views Australia has to offer, there’s no shortage of incredible sites within easy striking distance of both Hobart and Launceston.

Tasmania’s East Coast is a typical and much-acclaimed starting point for your Tassie road trip adventures. Driving down here encompasses a blend of bays with pristine sands, varied coastal national parks, and the iconic orange-lichen-coated rocks contrasting with vivid blue waters that make for such a unique panorama. From above Binalong Bay down to Bicheno and on to Freycinet National Park, you’ll be able to witness some of the state’s most famous icons including the Bay of Fires and Wineglass Bay.

On the west coast, a road trip reveals very different different scenery – the West Coast Wilderness is a lush green area teeming with towering waterfalls, towns dotted with grand historic buildings, and winding rivers through dense and ancient wilderness.

Those with an interest in history will be in their element in Tasmania, as the Convict Trail road trip blends together Australian pioneer history (including the Port Arthur Historic Site), awe-inspiring seascapes and towering cliff faces.

Lastly, for a taste of the good stuff, a drive through the Tamar Valley presents not only the chance to indulge your taste buds but your eyes as well, encompassing some of Australia’s oldest settlements.