Australia is a big, big country. Its terrain is dramatic and varies greatly by region; snow-capped mountains give way to tropical coastlines, while the red center contains out-of-this world rock formations.
It’s impossible to see it all, but from watching fairy penguins on the Southern coast to trying bush tucker in Alice Springs, an Australian road trip guarantees memorable moments and unforgettable sights.”
Here are some considerations for planning an Australian road trip, whether you are planning a weekend trip or are ready to go walkabout:
Immerse in a Coastal Paradise
Most of Australia’s major cities are on the coast, and they make great starting points for road trips — Melbourne is a popular entrance point for the Great Ocean Road, with its sweeping coastal vistas and the iconic Twelve Apostles rock formation.
Driving from Sydney to Brisbane puts you on the Pacific Coast Touring Route, which includes Hunter Valley’s wine country and the verdant rain forests of Barrinton Tops National Park.
Perth is the gateway for the Coral Coast, where visitors can experience the Pinnacles Desert, snorkel next to reefs in Coral Bay or Shark Bay, and swim with manta rays, dolphins, whale sharks, and hundreds of tropical fish.
Perth is also only a short boat trip from spectacular Rottnest Island where visitors can bike across the island to stunning beaches and encounter native quokkas along the way.
Cairns is a good place to get on the Great Tropical Drive, which parallels the Great Barrier Reef and provides access to the Undara Lava Tubes.
Get Native in the Red Center
The Outback, Australia’s dusty and sparsely-inhabited center, can be explored easily and safely by sticking to major roads. The massive sandstone formation of Uluru is a must-see, as is Kata Tjuta nearby.
Towns such as Broken Hill or Alice Springs allow a glimpse into outback life, and the MacDonnell Ranges and Kings Canyon are great places to see gorges and water holes, to admire Aboriginal art, and to take in fiery sunsets.
Australian Road Trip Tips
Tourists accustomed to driving on the right side of the road should take time to familiarize themselves with driving on the left before tackling any difficult routes and should pay attention to local driving hazards such as tram lanes in Melbourne or wildlife on rural roads.
An infographic by the team at motoring.com.au provides helpful tips when planning your trip across the great country.
It’s important to recognize the distance between services while driving through the Outback and to plan accordingly: Extra water is essential, and extra fuel couldn’t hurt.
Avoid driving at night if possible, as many of Australia’s most famous animals are nocturnal, and a kangaroo through the windscreen is one wildlife encounter that should definitely be avoided.”
Most importantly, in the case of car trouble, tourists should stay with their car instead of setting off in search of help. If in doubt about the advisability of a route, ask a local for advice.