Australia is big. Like really REALLY big. And with it’s size come a s*** load of road trip opportunities. There are different road tripping styles, some like to take it slow and stop at every single town they pass, some like to zip between cities, stopping in between only for gas or food. Some enjoy taking the road less travelled and some stick with the flow of the tourists, afraid to miss out on those bucket list photo opportunities. If you’re not sure which direction to take, here are Australia’s most popular backpacking routes, and they’re popular for a reason. They include some top tourist destinations such as the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru and Karrijini National Park. The best part is is that you can tailor your trip however you like, stopping off at some or all the stops and spending as long as you like at each destination.

The East Coast – Sydney to Cairns

Sydney to Cairns

Beginning in Sydney with the historical Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House, there is not place more diverse or alive than this city, it is a place that you will need to return to over time as it grows. Heading up to the beautiful, rugged region of the Blue Mountains to see breathtaking views of steep cliffs, eucalyptus forests, waterfalls and small villages that dot the scenery home to some beautiful galleries and gardens. Following the trail north we have Australia’s major wine region of the Hunter Valley with history dating back to the early 1800s, certainly worth a stopover for some tasting of their beautiful Semillon or Shiraz. Moving toward the coast we have Coffs Harbour with the Big Banana monument and home to abundant wildlife, seasonal whales and coral reefs. Known for its beaches, surfing and scuba diving sites Byron Bay is a popular holiday destination; between June and November humpback whales can be spotted from headland viewpoints such as Captain Cook Lookout. Further up the coast we have the Gold Coast, known for its long sandy beaches, surfing spots and elaborate system of inland canals, it is also home to theme parks such as – Movie World, Sea World and Dreamworld. Into the capital of Queensland is beautiful Brisbane , with is many museums and large cultural history. From Brisbane we head further north into Noosa, Fraser Island and Hervey Bay. Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays is the crown jewel of the East Coast with is stunning tropics and romantic beaches. Finishing in Cairns, the gateway to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, with the Daintree National Park which spans mountainous rainforest, gorges and beaches.

  • Sydney
  • Blue Mountains
  • Hunter Valley
  • Coffs Harbour
  • Byron Bay
  • Gold Coast
  • Brisbane
  • Noosa
  • Fraser Island
  • Hervey Bay
  • Airlie Beach
  • The Whitsundays
  • Cairns

The Red Centre – Melbourne to Darwin


Beginning the journey in the coastal capital of Melbourne, we are home to an abundance of shopping malls, great food and welcoming people. Heading down the Great Ocean Road we have Port Campbell which is home to the amazing view of the Twelve Apostles, this small town is home to approximately only 600 people. Travelling north we reach the beautiful tourist village of Halls Gap locations at the heart of the Grampians National park; this is the perfect place for exploring the ancient mountain ranges, natural flora and fauna, waterways and waterfalls. We then reach our Adelaide destination alive with an expansive collection of beautiful art museums of many noted Indigenous art. As we continue the journey we reach Port Augusta home to the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden which is at the base of the beautiful Flinders Ranges. The Opal Capital of the World is a must see, in the small town of Coober Pedy, it is certainly a sight to behold. The sandstone giant in the heart of the Northern Territory near to the town of Alice Springs is the sacred sight of Uluru thought to have started forming around 550 million years ago. Passing through Daly Waters we head into Katherine for a cruise through the Katherine Gorge, then a swim through Edith Falls with a final stop at the Katherine Hot Springs. Before finishing in Darwin we head to the Kakadu National Park, known as a huge biodiverse nature reserve. With its terrain encompassing wetlands, rivers and sandstone it is home to 2,000 plant species and wildlife.

  • Melbourne
  • Port Campbell
  • Halls Gap
  • Adelaide
  • Port Augusta
  • Flinders Ranges
  • Coober Pedy
  • Uluru
  • Alice Springs
  • Daly Waters
  • Katherine
  • Kakadu National Park
  • Darwin

The West Coast – Perth to Darwin 


Starting in Perth we head north to the resort town of Kalbarri known for its seaside cliffs, estuary beach and wild pelicans, you can also visit the Kalbarri National Park with its rock gorge known as the Z Bend. Heading towards Shark Bay we stop off at Monkey Mia to swim with the dolphins and see the Ningaloo Reef and Shell Beach. Visiting the World Heritage site of Shark Bay is certainly a must see on any travellers list. Through Coral Bay and up to Exmouth we visit the Ningaloo Marine Park with its coral reefs, colourful fish and Whale Sharks. We move now the Karajini National Park which spans over a 6,300 km2 radius. Further North we hit the beautiful beach town of Broome, which offers sunset camel rides along Cable Beach, historic Chinatown and Pearl fishing history; and the relaxing brew of Matso’s. Heading up the Gibb River Road we reach Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek home to some of the most beautiful sites and rich history in Australia see the 375 million year old Devonian Reef System and walk in the secret caves and waist deep water of Tunnel Creek to discover the 750 meter cave system. El Questro Station is next on the trip with its deep gorges, majestic mountains, thermal springs, mud and salt-flats there is 700,000 acres to explore. Before finishing in Darwin, we explore the Bungle Bungles and Lake Argyle with beautiful uncontested by anywhere else in the world.

  • Perth
  • Kalbarri
  • Monkey Mia
  • Shark Bay
  • Coral Bay
  • Exmouth
  • Karijini National Park
  • Broome
  • Derby
  • Gibb River Road – Winjana Gorge, Tunnel Creek, Silent Grove, Mt Elizabeth, El Questro
  • The Bungle Bungles
  • Lake Argyle
  • Darwin

The best way to road trip around Australia is undoubtedly by your own four wheels. Look no further than Travellers Autobarn for all your campervan needs! Don’t forget to check out our latest deals & specials on campervan hire in Australia.

Did this article get you excited about your next adventure? We have a load of Other Road Trips here, come and explore.

About the Author

Bastian Graf

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.

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