Looking for a quick weekend getaway? Something that will take you away from the city on a short Australian road trip?
We’ve compiled a list of the nation’s top weekend road trips – though we will admit, many of these will seduce you into a longer stay.
From your closest CBD, it won’t take you more than an hour to get to many of these destinations, but we recommend going the distance to truely immerse yourself in a relaxing holiday vibe.
Let’s not wait any longer…
Sydney Weekend Road Trips
Sydney is a great starting point to explore the beautiful nature of NSW – no matter if going along the South Coast, North Coast or inland – here are some of our top recommendations.
Going south of Sydney we highly recommend you to head to Jervis Bay / Hyams Beach – it is under 3 hours drive and has some of the most amazing white beaches with the bluest water you will ever have seen. There is also an abundance of wildlife with plenty of kangaroos hopping around the beach – it’s an amazing experience.
If the beach isn’t your thing why not head to Berry? It is a 2-hour drive and has some of the best produce you can taste in NSW. It’s a small sleepy town that is hustling & bustling on the weekend with tourists and locals alike exploring some of the best eateries NSW has to offer. By the way, is it on the way to Jervis Bay so you can make a stop in Berry for a night before heading to Jervis Bay!
Head north to Port Stephens for the ultimate weekend of beach adventures. Port Stephens is an all-time favourite for many locals with lots of campgrounds around. Port Stephens consists of amazing beaches, dolphin and whale watching tours, amazing sand dunes that you can slide down, and plenty of good food – you won’t get bored! It is a 3-hour drive from Sydney and you can spend anywhere from 2 to 7 days in this beautiful area.
Too far? Why not spend a couple of days camping, hiking and barbecuing at the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Only being 1 hour away from Sydney it’s a quick and relaxing getaway with plenty of outdoor activities to do.
Kangaroo Valley is an often underrated destination, yet it never disappoints! It is the right place if you are looking for adventure as well as relaxation – hiking, cycling, canoeing will keep you busy all day, followed by a nice meal at the local pub or a barbecue at your campground.
Not enough? Feel free to visit our dedicated Sydney Weekend Road Trips article which provides you with lots of holiday options in detail.
Brisbane Weekend Road Trips
Brisbane – also known as Brisvegas – is the getaway to many road trips. You are never far away from a beach, adventure, and great cuisine.
Into hiking? Look no further and head up to Glass House Mountains. an hour away from Brisbane. Surrounded by beautiful scenery, this cluster of 13 hills is a must-stop for anyone who loves nature! Take your tent or camper and escape Brisbane for this short weekend getaway
No into hiking and just after a beach escape? Then Noosa it is! Around 2 hours from Brisbane you’ll find the beautiful Noosa – an all-time favourite among tourist, and even more, with us Australians. Amazing beaches, great hikes, amazing food – Noosa has everything for a quick getaway, no matter if you are after a 5-star experience or are travelling on a budget!
Heading south of Brisbane you’ll find some of the most popular holiday destinations that are famous worldwide – the Gold Coast and Byron Bay.
The Gold Coast is a destination that has something for everyone, whether you’re travelling as a single, group of friends, with your partner or the whole family. Miles and miles of beach, lots of shopping, every type of restaurant you can think of, and the heart of the Gold Coast – theme parks! You won’t get bored in this town.
Byron Bay – well do we actually need to talk about Byron Bay?! You haven’t seen Australian if you haven’t been to Byron Bay. Lots of campgrounds, stunning beaches, local produce…this vibrant community has plenty of spirit and you won’t be disappointed choosing Byron Bay as your weekend road trip destination.
Looking for more? Check out our dedicated Brisbane Weekend Road Trips article which provides you with plenty of other holiday destinations.
Cairns Weekend Road Trips
Cairns is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, tropical rainforests and waterfalls. A much smaller town compared to Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, is the perfect starting point for a getaway.
Looking for a “back to nature” weekend trip? Welcome to Daintree Rainforest. Located just 2.5 hours north of Cairns, the Daintree Rainforest is the world’s oldest tropical rainforest – do we need to say much more? The rainforest hosts around 1,200 square kilometres of ancient ferns, emerald green vines and lush canopies. No wonder its jungle location was used as a location for filming the movie Avatar.
There are many walks to do, plenty of learning of the ecosystem as well as lots of guides tours to learn more about the culture of the Aboriginal Kuku Yalanji people. Don’t miss Mossman Gorge as well as Cape Tribulation while in the Daintree Rainforest, they are definitely worth the view!
Depending how much time you have, you could spend a few days in Port Douglas before heading up to the Daintree Rainforest – it’s a beautiful little town!
Silky Oaks Lodge, Daintree, Queensland – Image via Tourism Australia
South of Cairns you will find some of Australia’s most stunning waterfalls and freshwater swimming holes. If you have never gone for a swim in natural pools or freshwater creeks, you are missing out!
Milla Milla Falls – one of Australia’s most photographed waterfalls – is a must-see on your weekend trip! The Josephine waterfalls and swimming holes are up there with the most beautiful waterfalls in Queensland. This is definitely a must-stop to swim in the crystal clear waters!
Heading further south – around 2.5 hours from Cairns – you will find the Cardwell Spa Pools. These are a geological wonder, changing colour from a bright, baby blue to a more milky-blue colour due to the water and rock chemistry.
Are you ready to road trip yet? Looking for more? Check out our detailed Cairns weekend road trips story which will provide you with more in-depth information as well as additional destination stops!
Melbourne Weekend Road Trips
Melbourne is a great starting point for short trips and weekend getaways, especially in the summer! Surrounded by some of Australia’s best national parks, it’s definitely a top location for many travellers – but be warned – it can get very chilly from May to September, so pack a winter coat if you’ve made plans around that period.
Now everyone knows the Great Ocean Road – or has at least heard of it – but we think it deserves much more attention. In fact, we’ve dedicated an entire section to it, so if you want to know more about road tripping Melbourne’s best weekend getaways, be sure to take a look.
Heading 3 hours south-east you will find Wilsons Promontory – which is a great weekend getaway! It contains Victoria’s largest coastal wilderness with plenty of Australia’s most known wildlife like kangaroos, emus, echidnas & wombats.
For anyone who loves exploring nature and hiking, Wilsons Promontory is the perfect spot. It contains lots of well-signed posted walking tracks as well as amazing beaches – our favourite being Squeaky Beach. Walk along the beach, take a dip, and settle at your campsite for a nice home-cooked meal in the evening.
If you have a little bit more time don’t forget to visit Philip Island. While you can easily spend a weekend there but it is also perfect for a one-day visit along the way home to Melbourne. Philip Island is well known for its penguin parade who come to shore at night time!
Just three hours north of Melbourne you’ll find the Grampians National Park. The region is famous for its rugged natural beauty, panoramic views, waterfalls, and multiple hiking tracks.
One of the most popular activities to do in the Grampians Is walking to the Pinnacle lookout to witness the stunning views of Halls Gap and the Grampians many peaks.
The spectacular MacKenzie Falls is a must-do to for all visitors – it is one of Victoria’s largest waterfalls and flows year-round.
Not into hiking? Simply spend your time at the Grampian’s famous wine region which consists of many vineyards – operating since the 1800s.
Welcome to Perth – the gateway to the outback of Australia! Okay, we are cheating a bit with weekend road trips here. Most locations are a good 3 to 6 hours away, so we recommend 5 to 7 days minimum to get the most of your road trip.
Got some time? Why not head up to Kalbarri National Park which is a 6-hour drive north of Perth. Swim, hike or kayak, Kalbarri NP has so much to offer for all ages and everyone will love it!
Kalbarri is seriously one of the most beautiful national parks we have, but be prepared – flies will be hunting you down – so bring plenty of insect repellent! There is so much to say – simply Google Kalbarri National Park or find out more in our dedicated Perth Weekend Road Trips Guide. One little tip – not far from Kalbarri you find Hutt Lagoon – an unbelievably pink lake! It’s a must-stop on your road trip!
Got less time? Why not head to Jurien Bay – it’s a 3-hour drive and you get to swim with sea lions in crystal clear water – not to be missed! On the way to Jurien Bay visit the famous Pinnacles Desert and see the unusual rock formation that was created from the left-over deposits of seashells when the sea faded away 25,000 years.
An all-time favourite for a weekend road trip adventure is Margaret River with less than a 3-hour drives south from Perth. Margaret River has it all – beautiful vineyards, beer breweries, great food, deep caves, miles-long beaches, and stingray sanctuaries.
There are plenty of holiday parks so you can park up your car or campervan and start exploring – the adventure is never far away. Definitely check out Hamelin Bay in the Margaret River area – it’s perfect to check out stingrays as well as to go for a snorkel and to see shipwrecks from years ago!
Want to find out more about exciting road trip destination around Perth – including but not limited Denmark as well as Esperance? Check out our Perth Weekend Road trip guide!
Darwin Weekend Road Trips
Darwin – well you are in for a treat. Many people – including Australians – have never been to Darwin. Yet it has by far the most stunning national parks Australia has to offer.
Darwin itself is worth a two-day stay – the city is always hustling & bustling – just remember that the wet season is between the November to April so plan your trip outside of those months. We highly recommend to spend at least 5 to 7 days to explore the Darwin region – the more the better!
Everything is south of Darwin! A must stop is Kakadu National Park – it can take you between 2 to 3 hours getting there and you need at least 3 to 4 days to explore this amazing national park.
Kakadu has it all – nature, hikes, swimming holes, wildlife (those crocks are massive – really massive), and a real outback experience. Definitely ensure you stock up plenty of supplies before heading down to Kakadu National park – it’s the perfect destination for camping or campervanning!
On your way to Kakadu why not check out some of their favourite crocodile cruises… it’s scary!
Another national park to visit is the Nitmiluk National Park – around 3 hours south-east drive of Darwin. It consists of 13 impressive gorges carved from ancient sandstone country. This park allows for canoeing, lots of Insta-worthy gorge shots, and has multiple natural swimming holes to cool off after an action-packed day.
Road trips offer a perfect mix of food, culture and sightseeing. Why not rent a campervan today, get your mates & family and start exploring beautiful Australia. No matter from Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne, Perth or Darwin – your weekend road trip adventure is never far away!
Bastian is the Sales & Marketing Manager here at Travellers Autobarn. He holds a Master of Commerce in Marketing and International Business Management, and 20+ years experience in campervan hire, road trips and travel.