The rollercoaster ride of 2020 has reminded us just how awesome (and big) our backyard really is. If you’re hankering to roam far and wide, here’s our pick of Aussie road trips you should ‘start the car!’ for.
The Gibb River Road, WA
Looking or a rite of passage? This is it. Cutting across the red Kimberley landscape between Derby (near Matso’s home of Broome) and Kununurra, the 660km Gibb River Road is an outback track that transforms you as you rattle over its legendary corrugations. The route was created to transport cattle between stations, but now it’s a magnet for 4WD enthusiasts and gung-ho campervan travellers. Pull over to swim in cooling gorges, hug rotund boab trees and stay at remote stations, where sundowner drinks are teamed with unbelievable sunsets. Give yourself six to eight days to get this one under your belt.
The Legendary Pacific Coast drive, NSW/QLD
Yahoo out the open window as you take on this 900km trip between Sydney and Brisbane. Highlights? There are plenty, from the boho vibes of Byron Bay to the wineries of the Hunter Valley, the glitz of the Gold Coast and even – wait for it – the Big Banana. You might also fancy sea kayaking with Port Stephens dolphins, spending time with the patients at Port Macquarie’s Koala Hospital, splashing in at Newcastle’s Merewether Ocean Baths and feasting on goodies from the Bellingen Growers Market. Give yourself a week or more to fit it all in.
Tip: check latest covid-19 border travel restrictions here.
The Great Eastern Drive, TAS
The 300km Great Eastern Drive along Tasmania’s east coast is like a ‘best of’ hits list. We’re talking Bay of Fires, Wineglass Bay, Maria Island and Port Arthur convict settlement, all rolled into one fantastic road trip. Start in Hobart and head north-east to the state’s ivory white beaches, World Heritage-listed ruins and painted cliffs. Wander among island wombats and steam up a ridge to catch an eyeful of Wineglass Bay’s magical cove. Allocate five days if you can (and a belt notch for all the amazing food you’ll tuck into), and see how many secret beaches you can tick off along the way.
The Nullarbor Plain, SA/WA
Interest in crossing the Great Australian Bight is gaining momentum as curious, pent up travellers realise there’s more to this cross-continental expedition than meets the eye. Not only do you get a high from that open road feeling, you can also stand on the edge of Australia at the Head of Bight, looking down a stark cliff to where whales nurse their calves (May-Oct). The plain runs alongside the longest line of sea cliffs in the world, and also it has the longest golf course on the planet – measuring 1,365 kilometres. You can cover the Nullarbor fairly comfortably in three days.
The Great Ocean Road, VIC
Warning: the hairpin bends, banking twists and curling turns along the 243km Great Ocean Road are likely to bring out your inner race car enthusiast. Not only is it one of Australia’s most thrilling drives - taken fast or slow - it’s also studded with dramatic views of craggy coastline. Mentally hit the reset button as you search for koalas on the drive towards Cape Otway Lightstation and later, take in views of the famous 12 Apostles as their eroded forms stand vulnerably in the ocean. We tip taking a minimum of two days for this drive, more if you add in a side trip to Great Otway National Park, where you can do a dreamy waterfall and rainforest hike.