In Australia, the grand tradition of the road trip is alive and thriving, and one of the most worthwhile road trips to experience is an epic trek from Sydney to Melbourne. However, there are plenty of other popular routes that appeal to everyone from foodies to Outback adventurers. Get hip to the best road trips in Australia with the guide below.
The Sydney to Melbourne drive is truly a journey, generally taking a full week to complete – that is, if you stop to enjoy what each leg of the trip has to offer.
Sydney to Nowra. Head south to Stanwell Tops for breathtaking cliff-top views, and surf, swim or have a picnic before crossing Sea Cliff Bridge to Kiama. Witness the famous Blowhole there as it shoots water up to 60 meters high. On the way to Nowra, cruise by Seven Mile Beach to Shoalhaven Heads for some beach fishing before stopping for evening refreshment at a local pub.
Nowra to Batemans Bays. Sink your toes into the world’s whitest sand at Hyams Beach before sea kayaking in Honeymoon Bay. Grab some fish and chips on the harbor at Ulladulla before taking the “One Track for All” walk and learning all about local Aboriginal history. When you get to Batemans Bay, fresh oysters await on the Clyde River cruise.
Batemans Bay to Eden. Explore a 19th century gold mining village in Mogo before watching traditional craftspeople at work in Central Tilba. Throw a boomerang at the Umbarra Cultural Centre, and then go snorkeling at Mimosa Rocks National Park. Arrive in Eden from May to November for whale watching.
Eden to Bairnsdale. Go canoeing down the Wallagaraugh River to Gypsy Point to feed sea eagles and picnic with kangaroos. Visit the largest known little penguin colony at Gabo Island before a stop at a World Biosphere Reserve in Croajingolong National Park. Sail Australia’s largest inland waterway, Gippsland Lakes, before turning in for the night at Bairnsdale.
Bairnsdale to Wilsons Promontory. Tidal River at Normal Bay offers a variety of nature walks through rainforests, heathlands and beaches. Admire panoramic views of Victoria from the vantage point of Mt. Oberon, or dive the granite cliffs of Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park.
Wilsons Promontory to Phillip Island. Enjoy a cup of coffee and browse the bookstores and galleries in the township of Fish Creek. Once on Phillip Island, see koalas and waterfowl at Rhyll and fairy penguins at Summerland Beach. Seal Rocks is home to Australia’s largest fur seal colony, while Cape Woolami is home to thousands of short-tailed shearwaters. Cowes or Rhyll are both good locations to spend the night.
Phillip Island to Melbourne. In this lovely home stretch, cuddle with koalas in Cowes before swimming with dolphins at Sorrento. Go berry picking in Red Hill, and check out the beach town of Mornington before reaching the vibrant metropolis of Melbourne.
If you’re looking for a slightly shorter journey, there are plenty of prime coastal locations with something for everyone:
• New age, nudism and surfing at Byron Bay, New South Wales.
• The Great Barrier Reef, the Coral Sea and seclusion at Whitsundays, Queensland.
• Beaches, rainforests and theme parks at Gold Coast, Queensland.
• Historic villages, lighthouses and swimming with dolphins at Mornington Peninsula, Victoria.
• Wine tasting, caving and whale watching at Margaret River, Western Australia.
• White sand beaches, scuba diving and kayaking at Wineglass Bay, Tasmania.
• Shipwrecks, windsurfing and incredible headlands at Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia.
Nature and Outback Journeys
The coast is just the beginning of the spectacular natural beauty of Australia. There are a myriad of inland itineraries for nature lovers as well. Some of the more popular driving journeys are:
The Rainforest Way. Choose from one of 7 different day drives throughout New South Wales and Queensland. These drives include wonders such as World Heritage rainforests at Richmond Range National Park, Minyon Falls in Nightcap National Park and a 1,000-year-old red cedar on the Tweed Range Scenic Drive.
Red Centre Way. For the ultimate Outback driving journey, follow this 5-day route that begins and ends in Alice Springs. Along the way, listen to ghost hums in Simpsons Gap, climb the rim of Kings Canyon, witness the majesty of Uluru, swim in the Garden of Eden and marvel at the dozen meteor craters at Henbury Meteorites Conservation Reserve.
Food and Wine Journeys
Food and wine lovers will not be disappointed with these delicious journeys:
Poacher’s Trail. This three day drive starts and ends in Canberra, passing by 140 vineyards and 33 wineries. Start your drive on a Sunday and have breakfast at Canberra’s Old Bus Depot Markets before exploring award-winning wineries in Hall. During Labour Day weekend in October, sample the Murrumbateman Moving Feast. On day two of this drive, go from Murrumbateman to Yass, and visit explorer Hamilton Hume’s home. Merino wool, glass blowing factories and Carey’s Caves all await on this leg of the journey. Finally, enjoy the drive over Old South Road loop and a meal at an award-winning restaurant in Yass before returning to Canberra.
South Australian Loop. Take anywhere from 8 to 14 days to travel from Adelaide to Flinders Ranges to Kangaroo Island and back to Adelaide on a gustatory odyssey. With this itinerary, not only can you taste wine made by Jesuit priests in Sevenhill; you can also explore the historic copper mining town of Burra, as well as enjoy up-close encounters with penguins and sea lions in Penneshaw and Kangaroo Island.
Australia has 50,000 kilometers of coastline, but you don’t have to try to see it all at once to appreciate it. Choose your favorite pastime, and one of these drives is sure to take you there.
This guest post article was written and provided by Erica Gustafson who is an avid Australia traveler, freelance writer and digital media consultant for Expedia. When traveling to Australia she enjoys staying at the Mercure Sydney hotel.