There is really nothing like Australia – a country filled with lush national parks, impressive landscapes, fresh local produce, and rugged coastlines. We explore 5 routes ranging from a four-day to a week-long itinerary, that showcase why there’s no better way to traverse Australia than by hitting the road.
If you have 4 days: New South Wales
The famous Blue Mountains are already well known, but here’s another region to explore – Port Stephens and Hunter Valley. Located an easy 2.5-hour drive north of Sydney, the seaside haven of Port Stephens offers activities such as quad biking on the sand dunes, frolicking with dolphins in the open ocean with Dolphin Swim Australia, as well as a visit to Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary – a wildlife haven where sick, injured and orphaned koalas are rehabilitated for release back into the wild.
After Port Stephens, drive another an hour inland towards Hunter Valley, Australia’s oldest wine region. Home to more than 150 cellar doors, meet with enthusiastic winemakers, and sip and nosh your way through vineyards like Tempus Two, Margan and Brokenwood.
If you have 5 days: Queensland
Known as the gateway to The Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is the best place to begin your journey. Take a picturesque drive north towards Port Douglas, along a scenic coastal route that runs alongside swaying coconut trees and white-sandy beaches.
In the Port Douglas area, travellers can walk on the wild side with Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, then drift with the current under the lush canopy of the 140-million-year old Daintree Rainforest with Back Country Bliss, or join Walkabout Cultural Adventures and explore the mangroves and mudflats with an indigenous Kuku Yalanji man.
Continue northwards to Cape Tribulation via a car ferry, where this isolated headland is where the rainforest meets the reef and two World Heritage Areas come together. The Great Barrier Reef is just half an hour offshore, so an afternoon snorkel or diving trip is also possible.
The drive back to Cairns is just 140km, so short pit stops can be made at Wonga Beach or Cooya Beach.
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If you have 6 days: Victoria
The Great Ocean Road is the iconic road trip to embark on when in Victoria, and it has been refreshed with a host of new attractions. Before heading down to the coast, start from Grampians National Park, a three-hour drive from Melbourne. The park recently opened a 13-day, 160km trail, making the park more accessible to the public; shorter options are also available.
Then head southwards, and rejuvenate at Deep Blue Hot Springs in Warrnambool, before driving onwards to Port Campbell National Park, the 1,750-hectare coastal strip that runs from Princetown to Peterborough. The park is home to the awe-inspiring collection of natural rock sculptures including The Twelve Apostles, London Bridge, and the Loch Ard Gorge.
On the way back to Melbourne, set aside time to stop at the Great Otway National Park, and go canoeing to see platypuses in the wild at Lake Elizabeth with Otway Eco Tours. Another necessary stop is Wildlife Wonders, a 20ha wildlife sanctuary near Apollo Bay, where nature tours with a conservationist guide are available.
If you have 7 days: Tasmania
Stretches of stunning coastline, quaint towns, gushing waterfalls and untamed wilderness await travellers to The Apple Isle. Give at least seven days – or more if possible – to do a lap around the island, starting with Hobart.
A suggested itinerary is to head west towards Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, defined by its dramatic peaks and primordial rainforest – a must-visit for nature lovers and hikers. Then it’s onwards towards Launceston. Make it a point to visit the Cataract Gorge Reserve to ride the unique two-seater chairlift with unbeatable views of the area. Coles Bay on the eastern coast would be the next stop. Home to Freycinet National Park, outdoor experiences here range from a hike to the Wineglass Bay lookout to a three-hour sea kayaking experience with Freycinet Adventures.
If you have an extra day or two in Hobart, book a day trip to Bruny Island to indulge in freshly-shucked oysters, check out the vibrant Salamanca Market (only on Saturdays), or marvel at the weird and wonderful Museum of Old and New Art.
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If you have 7 days: Northern Territory
Begin your outback adventure at the Top End of Australia, defined by its breathtaking landscapes, ancient indigenous culture, and natural wonders.
The Nature’s Way loop is a scenic 735km drive through to the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park and Nitmiluk National Park, before returning to Darwin via Litchfield National Park.
Immerse yourself in the iconic Kakadu National Park and its many attractions – waterhole swimming, hiking to Instagram-worthy lookouts such as the Ubirr rock formation, and exploring age-old Aboriginal rock art sites. Then drive through Katherine, and stop by the warm Mataranka and Bitter Springs for a much-needed soak, before arriving at Nitmiluk National Park, a significant culture site boasting 13 impressive gorges.
Continue onwards to chase cascading waterfalls within Litchfield National Park, where must-visits include Edith Falls and its swimming holes, Florence Falls and refreshing Buley Rockholes, and Wangi Falls.
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