The Ultimate Guide to the Best Road trips in Australia

If you’ve always dreamed of hiring a campervan and hitting the open road on an epic adventure, then Australia needs to be on the top of your road trip list.

Roadtrippin’ in Australia is guaranteed to be an exciting, memorable, and once in a lifetime experience. The wide open spaces, mind blowing sunsets, and the variety of wildlife all make a drive Down Under one you’ll be talking about for years to come.

To help you get started on planning your dream road trip, we’ve put together a guide on the best road trips Australia has to offer. Read on for road trip routes, detailed driving itineraries and tips for must see places to stop.

australian road trip planner

Here’s what you can find in the guide:

1. City to City: Sydney to Melbourne
2. West Coast Adventure: Perth to Darwin
3. Beach Lovers Paradise: Brisbane to Airlie Beach
4. Classic East Coast: Sydney to Byron Bay
5. Victoria’s Most Famous Road: The Great Ocean Road
6. Drive Around the Red Centre: Darwin to Uluru

 

Download the Guide Here

SYDNEY TO MELBOURNE

sydney to melbourne road trip

 

This epic Australian road trip takes you on a coastal journey from Sydney in New South Wales, to Melbourne in Victoria. With natural rainforests, breathtaking coastal views, whale watching and relaxed seaside towns, this is one chilled out road trip you won’t want to end.

driving sydney to melbourne

 

We have two convenient office locations in Sydney where you can hire or buy one of our campervans, in the City and at Sydney airport. Once you have picked up the keys, it’s time to hit the road and head south.  

Here are our favourite places to stop on the way

– Kiama: This little village is home to the famous ‘Kiama blow hole’, which shoots water high into the air. It’s also the perfect place for pelican spotting and long walks along the stunning Seven Mile Beach.

– Jervis Bay: With crystal clear waters and the whitest sand in the world, you could be forgiven for thinking you had been transported to a tropical paradise.
backpacking in sydney

 

  – Batemans Bay: With lots of restaurants and pubs, this area is a great place to stop off over night. If you fancy spending some time here then head to some of the local lakes; Durras, Colia or Tuross, or take a boat trip up the beautiful Clyde River.

  – Eden: Eden was founded as a whaling station in 1800 and is now a prime spot for whale watching.

  – Lakes Entrance: This large fishing town is an area many Victorians visit on their holidays. It’s extremely busy in summer so if you are stopping over, make sure you have a reservation in one of the campervan parks.

 

 

 

driving perth to darwin

west coast road trip

 

This is definitely one of the more adventurous campervan road tips. We recommend you take at least 21 days to complete this Australian road trip as there is a lot of ground to cover and many things to see!

 

 

We’ve written a full and detailed blog post on this road trip before but here are our recommended highlights:west coast roadtrip

– First Leg: Perth to Shark Bay via the Pinnacles

Spend around two days in Perth and take your time to see some of the sights and soak up the laid-back, beach loving culture. Pick up your hired campervan from the Perth Office and head up to Namberg through the Pinnacles Desert.

From there, make your way up to Shark Bay via the beautiful city of Kalbarri. Spend around three days exploring Shark Bay to make sure you catch a glimpse of the dolphins and other marine wildlife.

– Second Leg: Shark Bay to Karijini via Ningaloo Reef

Get your campervan back on the road and head up to the natural wonder that is Karijini via Coral Bay, Cape Range and Ningaloo Reef. (Now might be a good time to have your campervan serviced).

backpacking western australia  – Third Leg: Karijini to Nitmiluk

The distance between these two destinations is over 2500km, so be prepared for a long drive. This is one of the most scenic parts of the journey as you drive your campervan past lofty mountains, beautiful North Eastern coast beaches, gorges and villages.

  – Final Leg: Nitmiluk to Darwin

Nitmiluk to Darwin is almost 400km apart so you will need around three days to complete the last leg of this epic roadtrip. Recommended scenic stop offs on the way include the Katherine Gorge at Nitmiluk, Kakadu National Park and Litchfield

 

Once you arrive in Darwin, you’ve made it. Pull up and grab a cold beer, you deserve it!

 

driving brisbane to airlie beach

brisbane to airlie beach road trip

 

The route from Brisbane to Airlie Beach is one of the most frequently asked about road trips in Australia. So check out this tried and tested road trip route below.

 

brisbane to airlie roadtrip

 

– First Leg: Brisbane to Sunshine Coast (via Moreton Bay)

Pickup your campervan from the office in Brisbane and head north out of the city to the Sunshine Coast, where over 100km of beautiful beaches await you. Driving up this part of the coast is a real Aussie experience as you pass through the laid-back beachside towns of Caloundra, Mooloolaba and Noosa.

– Second Leg: Noosa to Hervey Bay & Fraser Island

The drive from Hervey Bay along the Bruce Highway is 190km and takes about 2.5 hours. Hervey Bay is a hotspot for whale watching (especially between the months of August to October as they migrate south to the Antarctic). It’s also the gateway to the famous Fraser Island.

Fraser Island is a must-see for any travelling backpacker with stunning beaches, 100 freshwater lakes with crystal clear waters, tea tree forests and rainforests.

things to do in bundaberg

  – Third Leg: Hervey Bay to Bundaberg

This 1.5 hour drive takes you to the city of Bundaberg, famous for it’s rum. Over 500 hectares of parkland, historical museums and of course guided tours of the famous rum distillery make this a great place to stop off on your roadtrip.

  – Forth Leg: Bundaberg to Yeppoon (via Gladstone and Rockhampton)

This seaside town is nestled between two National Parks and sits at the gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef. Nearby, Lady Elliot Island and Lady Musgrave Island are renowned for great diving and snorkelling.

The journey to the relaxed seaside town of Yeppoon takes just over 3 hours of driving (longer if you stop off at Gladstone and Rockhampton on the way for a break and to stretch your legs).

cheap campsites airlie beach  – Fifth Leg: Yeppoon to Airlie Beach (via Mackay)

This is the longest leg of the journey and will take you about 6 hours door to door. Mackay is famous for being the sugar capital of the world. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants, a great marina and a nearby National Park where you are likely to spot a platypus.

The final leg of your trip sees you pull up at the iconic Airlie Beach. This little town overlooks the famous Whitsunday Islands and is a great place to base yourself for exploring the islands and Great Barrier Reef. Things to do here include sailing, diving, snorkelling and skydiving.

 

 

 

driving sydney to byron bay

sydney to byron map

 

Superb beaches, great hinterland and a relaxed lifestyle make Byron Bay one of the most famous places to visit in Australia. Although you can drive from Sydney to Byron is just under 10 hours, you would be missing out on loads of great places on the way so make sure you allow enough time for this great east coast road adventure.

 

distance driving sydney to byron bay– First Leg: Sydney to The Central Coast

After a quick stop at the Sydney office to pick up the keys to your campervan, hit the road and head north towards the Hunter Valley. On the way you will drive up through Ku-ring-Gai Chase National Park and if you have time, pull in to visit one of the oldest National Parks in Australia.

Nearby Hunter Valley is a wine lovers paradise, we recommend you try to fit in an organised winery tour if you can.

 

 

sandboarding1 – Second Leg: The Central Coast to Port Macquarie (via Port Stephens)

Driving from The Central Coast to Port Macquarie will take you around 3.5 hours, and we recommend you stop off at Port Stephens on the way. Port Stephens is a beautiful bay famous for its whale watching, dolphin tours and wait for it… sandboarding. The sand dunes here are massive and lots of fun

  – Third Leg: Port Macquarie to Byron Bay (via Coffs Harbour)

The final leg of your campervan road trip will have you on the road for just under 5 hours, so be sure to stop off and spend some time at Coffs Harbour, most famous for it’s big banana.

White water rafting, sky dives and surfing are just a few of the activities you can do to get your adrenaline pumping. It’s 3 hours from Coffs Harbour to Byron Bay, your final destination.

Once you arrive, park up, grab a juice, and there is only one thing left to do, throw on your swimmers and hit the beach.

 

great ocean road roadtrip

great ocean road trip

 

No trip to the south coast would be complete without a drive along the Great Ocean Road. If you only have a couple of days to spare then this is a great option for backpackers who are keen to fit a road trip in. 3-5 days is a good amount of time to do everything without missing out.

 

great ocean road distance

We recommend you start from Melbourne, so once you’ve visited our Melbourne office to sort out your campervan hire, head south out of the city towards Geelong.

Here are some places we recommend you stop along the way:

– Bells Beach – This is one of the most famous surfing beaches in Australia. The best time to go is during Easter where you get to see the world’s best surfers carve up the waves and compete for a trophy in the world famous Rip Curl Pro Surfing Competition.

 – The Great Ocean Road Memorial Archway was built to commemorate the 3000 Australian soldiers who built the road after returning from WW1 in 1918 – 1932.

  – Teddy’s Lookout and Marriners Lookout are a must do for all selfie lovers. Look out for signs along the way, pull up and snap away.

  – Split Point Lighthouse and The Cape Otway Lightstation are two great buildings that deserve more recognition.

backpacking melbourne – The Twelve Apostles and Gibson Steps – Save the best ‘til last. The Twelve Apostles are iconic features that are recognised around the world. This magnificent rock formation should be in your top 5 must sees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DRIVE TO URULU

uluru road trip

 

This self drive adventure that takes around a week is the perfect opportunity to explore Australia’s natural wonders, ancient culture and spiritual centre.

driving to urulu

 

 

It’s a good idea to pick up your hired campervan in Darwin for this roadtrip and then head south via the Stuart Highway to Alice Springs. This is a 17.5 hour drive, so be prepared with several designated drivers, lots of water and a good supply of food.

Once you arrive in Alice Springs, it’s a 1135km loop around the Red Centre where you will have the opportunity to drive through red desert sands, lush valleys and towering gorges.

backpacking in australia

Our favourite things to see are:

   – Red Rocks – Uluru is possibly Australia’s most famous landmark. Dominating the landscape at over 348m high, this magnificent rock demands a presence and is the perfect place to watch the sunrise.

  – Redbank Gorge Pool – A great place to start the day, it offers you the chance to catch a glimpse of the Red Centre’s ancient past at lush Palm Valley. Walk along the soaring cliffs or head down into the dense forest of palms on the canyon floor below.

– Don’t forget to visit the 4,700 year old meteorite craters at Henbury before heading back to Alice Springs for a well earned rest.

 
Download the Guide Here
 

To put it simply, a campervan road trip is the only way to see Australia. Speak to the team at Travellers Autobarn for more information and to book your campervan today