Steer away from the East Coast and head to the Australian heartland, the Tassie Coast, or the rugged western front for a road trip that is anything but ordinary
The most immersive way to grab yourself an authentic taste of Australia is to hit the intricate array of roads on a self drive adventure. Made with adventure in mind, these roads loop you across the continent’s most remote landscapes, revealing nature’s beauty as far as the eye can see.
Red Centre Way (NT)
A driving loop smack in the middle of Australia, the Red Centre Way is surrounded by mighty, ancient sandstone edifices. Begin at Alice Springs and prepare for adventures in stretches of complete isolation as you embark on this five-day, 1,135 km journey across gorges, canyons and the famous Uluru.
Explore the wonders of West MacDonnell Range National Park, where you just might spot rock wallabies, then swing by Finke Gorge National Park, where you can enjoy a four-wheel drive (4WD) next to towering sandstone cliffs and the magnificent Finke River, one of world’s oldest waterways. Then, make your way to King’s Canyon in Watarrka National Park to enjoy wilderness retreats, sweeping views and tropical pools at the Garden of Eden.
The next stop is probably the one you have been looking forward to the most — Uluru. Whether you choose to marvel at its changing colours from atop a camel, helicopter or on foot, the experience is one of complete wonder. The last leg of your journey is the 445 km back to Alice Springs on a route dotted with cosy roadhouses and 12 craters formed by meteorites more than 4,000 years ago.
Great Beach Drive (QLD)
Covering stunning beaches, national parks and World Heritage sites, Queensland’s Great Beach Drive is one of Australia’s best-kept secrets. Native animals, dolphin feeds and a chance to witness the migration of the humpback whale at this time of year are just a few reasons why it is a must-do this winter.
Involving a novel combination of road and sea, much of this trip requires your 4WD vehicle to take on the state’s sandy beaches.
Starting with Hervey Beach that routes you to the World Heritage-listed Fraser Island and its 120-mile-long beach drive, all the way down to the Sunshine Coast, this unusual route beckons you to stop, step away from the shore (without your vehicle of course!), and explore.
When you are at Hervey Bay, be sure to take the 40-minute flight to Lady Elliott Island – the gateway to the Southern Barrier Reef. Moving on, once you are at Rainbow Beach, past the edge of Fraser Island, a must-do is the early-morning ferry ride to hand-feed rare Indo Pacific humpback dolphins at Tin Can Bay.
The Explorer’s Way (SA)
Traversing through 3,000 km of historic natural wonders, this epic north-bound drive that begins in Adelaide (SA) leaves you spoilt for choice, with off-the-track loops and intriguing places to discover. One of the first places that will tempt you to hit the brakes is Clare Valley with its array of vineyards.
A little further is the opportunity for bushwalking at Alligator Gorge and spectacular views on a trek to the summit of Mount Remarkable. Stop by at Pichi Richi Railway for a historic ride on the oldest remaining section of the Old Ghan railway before halting at Rawnsley Park Station for an immersive outback stay or your very own glamping experience at Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Range National Park. Both of them are great hubs from which to explore the famous surrounding Flinders Ranges.
Follow the road north to reach the timeless stretch between Lyndhurst and Coober Pedy that skirts Australia’s largest lake — Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre. Take a slight deviation from Coober Pedy to the mesmerising natural wonder that is the Painted Desert before crossing over to the Northern Territory and Darwin.
East Coast Drive (TAS)
Tasmania’s East Coast is where most of this breathtaking island’s action is packed – 295 km and five days of surreal beauty that begins in Hobart and winds its way up to the pictorial Bay of Fires.
Your first stop from Hobart is Orford, which serves as the gateway to car-free Maria Island. Jump aboard the ferry and step onto an island that deserves a full-day, if not more. The next stop is Swansea and the awe-inspiring Freycinet Peninsula that surrounds it. Here you can hike, abseil or simply grab a bite at one of its gourmet offerings while you take in the beauty of its towering pink granites.
Give yourself another day at Freycinet and head down to Coles Bay to kayak through the awe-inspiring gorges of Wineglass Bay and meet its many dolphins. Drive on to St Helen’s, which marks the beginning of the Bay of Fires, and spend a while savouring its world-renowned oysters. Stop at the quaint, seaside Bicheno for the night. The last leg involves pulling back onto the asphalt towards Binalong Bay to finally unwind on sparkling white beaches while enjoying crystal blue waters and secluded stretches of jaw-dropping vistas that is the Bay of Fires.
Pack your bag for some Aussie adventure – find your flights and hotels here.
Images courtesy of Tourism Australia.