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Dreaming of Australia’s open roads: 10 road trips to inspire your next adventure

Being at home doesn’t mean you can’t be inspired to plan your next adventure – ignite your travel dreaming from your very own couch. And Tourism Australia recognises that nothing spells freedom quite like the open road. Whether you’re hugging the coast or heading inland, Australia offers road trips like nowhere else. Why not wind down the Great Ocean Road and spot koalas sleeping in the treetops, or head to the rugged Eyre Peninsula in search of perfectly pink lakes. Tourism Australia share with us 10 road trips to inspire your next adventure Down Under. Road trip from Sydney to Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (day trip) Nestled halfway between Sydney and Melbourne, Canberra is a worthy addition to anyone’s road trip itinerary. Take the Federal Highway from Sydney to Canberra, a drive of about three hours, to discover urban breweries, cool-climate wines, world-renowned museums and outdoor adventure. Airlie Beach to Cape Gloucester road trip, Queensland (day trip) Queensland’s Whitsundays region is brimming with tiny towns and coastal oases. Head north from Airlie Beach to find Cape Gloucester, a beautiful spot with tall palm trees, secret coves and sweeping views of the Coral Sea. Clocking in at just under a one-hour drive, this route can be made into a day trip, or continue on to Townsville and Cairns for a reef and rainforest getaway. Perth to Esperance road trip, Western Australia (weekend getaway) Eagle Bay, a secluded escape on Western Australia’s southwest shores, is just one of the many stops along the jaw-dropping road trip from Perth to Esperance. The 7.5-hour drive offers everything from urban exploring to coastal cruising. The beach paradise of Esperance, home to the sunbathing kangaroos of Lucky Bay, belongs on your bucket list. The Great Barrier Reef Drive, Queensland (weekend getaway) Tropical adventures don’t come more picturesque than the 300-kilometre (186-mile) Great Barrier Reef Drive. Following the Queensland coast, you’ll have the world’s largest reef system on one side and the Daintree Rainforest on the other. Stop along the way to snorkel in Port Douglas, learn about Aboriginal culture in the ancient Daintree Rainforest and spot saltwater crocodiles in Cape Tribulation. The drive only takes a day or two, but you’re sure to want to stay a little longer. The Great Eastern Drive, Tasmania (long-weekend getaway) There are no wrong turns on Australia’s island state of Tasmania; there’s something breathtaking around every corner. As you wind along the coast on the 176-kilometre (109-mile) Great Eastern Drive, make sure you also wander off the main road to enjoy the region’s incredible food, wine and nature. Melbourne to Canberra road trip (long weekend getaway) Take the 7-hour inland route from Melbourne to Canberra to find New South Wales‘ Woomargama National Park. This protected area of forest is perfect for reconnecting with nature through camping, hiking and 4WD touring. You might have to venture off the beaten track to find it, but isn’t that what road trips are all about? The Great Ocean Road, Victoria and South Australia (week of adventure) In need of some coastal bliss? There’s no better place to find it than along the Great Ocean Road, a seaside road trip full of sweeping views, free-roaming wildlife and laid-back Aussie towns. Spend three (or more!) days winding your way from Melbourne to Adelaide, or Adelaide to Melbourne. The Road to the Rock, Western Australia (9-day journey) As Australia’s largest state, Western Australia has endless destinations to explore. Be amazed by the wide-open spaces on the 9-day Road to the Rock road trip. Stop by charming roadside restaurants, explore ancient Aboriginal rock art and cruise the open road as you venture into Australia’s Golden Outback. Adelaide to Perth road trip, South Australia (10-day journey) When it comes to picture-perfect roads, it’s hard to compete with this one. Sometimes called Watermelon Avenue, this narrow track divides the pink waters of Lake MacDonnell, on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, with the neighbouring blue-green waterscape. You can make Lake MacDonnell your final destination from Adelaide, but for a more challenging outback adventure, cruise cross-country along the Nullarbor. Stretching from Adelaide to Perth, this road trip takes at least a few days, so plan ahead for an epic Aussie adventure. The Stuart Highway road trip, Northern Territory (a fortnight of freedom) There’s something uniquely special about the red earth and vast plains of Australia. Coasting down the Stuart Highway in the Northern Territory, it’s just you, the open road and the quiet beauty of the Australian outback. For an epic journey, take the route all the way from Adelaide to Darwin, stopping at iconic destinations like Alice Springs, Uluru and Kakadu along the way.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. My brother did three months in Australia this year, leaving in January and retuning with great difficulty last month given the coronavirus travel restrictions. He loved it but he was working while he was out there so I don’t think he explored as much as he probably would have liked to. To be honest, I’ve not asked him so I’ve no idea. I would love to go and I’ve got family in Sydney who have said a few times ‘just come on over’, but it’s not that easy when you’ve got health issues. The current situation, with not being able to do anything, does make you think twice about your reasoning for not doing things though, and it makes me increasingly want to do more, despite the physical restrictions. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, right?

    I think you’d need a few weeks at minimum to appreciate even a slice of what Australia has to offer but it would certainly be a memorable, one of a kind sort of trip. I quite like the idea of hiring a car and doing a road trip over there after reading this too. Fantastic post, love a bit of armchair travelling!

    1. Very interesting to know about your experiences with Australia, or that you have family there. I think you make a good point about reconsidering travel to faraway places like this. If you can afford it, I couldn’t imagine anything else more worthwhile than a trip to Australia.

  2. As I live in London I think that the Great Barrier Reef Drive would have to be more than a weekend getaway. But it’s an adventure that I’ll dream of over the coming months.

  3. Just reading about some of these drives really left me dreaming about how amazing it would be. I’m from America, so I’m no stranger to long drives with such a vast country. But this is totally different. To see something like this with wide-open spaces and very little overcrowding, it would be absolutely amazing. And you’re right, I think I’d want to stay there for a longer period just to see as much as I possibly could.

  4. I love your idea to travel around Queensland to see a lot of little ocean towns and oasis. My brother and I want to take a long trip around Australia next year and we want to see a few specific things. I think it’s important to plan ahead so that we are prepared for the trip and everything goes pretty smoothly.

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