A Lifetime of Australian Road Trips

Apr 1, 2019

Australia; where you can swim with dolphins and whale sharks, see ancient rock art, watch the sunrise over desolate red earth, climb snow-dusted mountains, eat world-class seafood fresh from the ocean, stay in unique accommodation and walk with dinosaurs. We Aussies LOVE to travel and with so much diversity, culture, history and adventure, our own backyard is one of the best to explore.

A short drive from Sydney 

Northwest: If you are after seclusion and eucalyptus-tinged air, head to cosy Wolgan Valley, deep in the indigo-hued Blue Mountains National Park. From five-star resorts to bush camping sites under starry skies, Wolgan Valley is the perfect remote escape from city life: incredible walks, warm fires and a sneaky glass of red. There are hikes to suit all fitness levels - from casual walks to the ruins of the old oil shale refinery and Glowworm Tunnel to ascents up towering Mystery Mountain. 

 

South: To see wandering wombats, wild wallabies and kooky kangaroos, venture to Kangaroo Valley for a weekend of wildlife spotting, bird watching, wine tasting and a countryside recharge. Dusk is the best time to catch a glimpse of the furry natives rummaging the lush paddocks. There are also various eateries in the small town including fine dining wineries, shops with the 'best pies in the world', pub grub and markets. Wash it all down with a glass or two at one of the local cellar doors and wake up fresh for a look at the nearby cascading Fitzroy Falls. 

 

Mid-North Coast: North of Sydney you'll find Nelson Bay and Anna Bay, home to wild whales and dolphins and the dramatically-white, 32 km-long, highest dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. Stockton Bight Sand Dunes are a continuously-changing natural wonder that stand as high as 30 metres tall. Sandboarding, horse riding and quad biking tours are available along or down the dunes or, venture out before dawn to soak in a fiery orange sunrise that illuminates the contrasting cobalt ocean and bleach white sand. Dolphin and whale watching tours also run year-round with some companies offering dolphin swim tours.

 

A long drive from Sydney

To the west: History buffs will love Dubbo, a city in the heart of the Macquarie Valley and on the edge of the sunburned outback. The well-preserved 19th Century, Old Dubbo Gaol and Western Plains Cultural Centre give insights into the early life and the area's aboriginal history while the Taronga Western Plains Zoo is great for the whole family. 

Northwest of Sydney: Mudgee is where you'll want to head to if you are after rustic charm, exquisite food and delectable wines. It is a quaint regional town of indulgence that rivals the Hunter Valley for a gourmet getaway, with its down to earth vibes and countryside manor; think vast rural outlooks, family-owned cellar doors, boutique shops with hand-picked designer clothing, homewares and lifestyle pieces and five-star eco glamping retreats with freestanding outdoor bathtubs. 

 

Far south: Located on the Sapphire Coast, where two great ocean currents collide, Eden is the place of great seafood. locally-grown Eden mussels are exported to fine-dining restaurants all over Australia and have been acknowledged as a finalist in the Sydney Fish Market Seafood Awards, while oysters thrive in the waters off the coast. A number of restaurants serve the local seafood right near the water or eat your way down the Oyster Trail, between Bermagui to Wonboyn Lake. Along the way meet the growers at farm gates, at restaurants and out on the water.

 

A short drive from Perth

Technically not a drive: Rottnest Island is a short ferry ride right from Perth. Nestled just off the coast of Western Australia, the island has grown in popularity over the years with the quokka selfie becoming the ultimate souvenir. The limestone chain of isles now hosts a number of waterfront restaurants with balconies and beer gardens and historic cottages to stay. Take a bicycle with you to explore the salt lakes, iconic lighthouse and secluded beaches at your own pace.

South of Perth and on the mainland: Three hours from Perth is the sleepy, surf town of Yallingup, a lesser-known region of the Margaret River. Think world-class vineyards, underground stalactite, stalagmite, helictite and shawl formations, glassy surf beaches, endless ice-white coastlines sinking down to crystal clear lagoons, an abundance of art galleries, restaurants, pubs and bars as well as five-star relaxation retreats, holiday parks and day spas.

 

North of Perth: Pinnacles Desert is a moonscape of thousands of limestone pillars that rise out of the rippled, golden desert. There is only one road to access the desert with opportunities aplenty to jump out of your car and walk through a rainbow of different desert colours. 

Further north:  Jurien Bay is fast becoming a family getaway favourite with its frolicking Australian Sea Lions, cerulean waters and eternal summer. Under sun rays almost all year, and home to limestone reefs and underwater cave systems, the little town is ideal for divers and snorkellers. Fishing charters will also get you up close and personal with the marine life (while staying dry) where you can also see dolphins and migrating humpback whales. 

A long drive from Perth

Far north: An aerial view of Ningaloo reef looks permanently photoshopped; whale sharks, manta rays, humpback whales and turtles swimming in gin-clear water filled with colourful corals and tropical fish. The 705,015-hectare heritage-listed area in the Indian Ocean is the ultimate marine playground. Swim with the giants of the sea, humpback whales, between July and October or get up to close to the majestic whale sharks. Base yourself at Exmouth or Coral Bay and book a snorkelling trip from there, or check in at the luxurious safari tents that hug the shores and sand dunes of the Indian Ocean for a night underneath the star pricked ink-black sky. 

 

A short drive from Melbourne

North-west of Melbourne: Settled by Italian Swiss gold-rush stampeders and nestled in the Victorian highlands, Daylesford looks like like a poster child for the Swiss Alps. Botanic gardens, galleries, antique shops, farm-gate stalls, arty collectables and homewares stores, all inspire old-world charm. Many visitors flock here for a wellness escape as the town prides itself on its famous spring mineral waters and spa retreats. 

Further west: Find your zen, your space, your adventure in The Grampians National Park. Unique accommodation options come in the form of bell tents, pods, renovated caravans and even an aero glamper - a functioning 737 flight simulator attached to a safari tent. There are also three James Halliday 5-star awarded wineries in the area. Venture to some of the richest sites for Aboriginal rock art in Victoria - which has the largest amount of rock art in Southern Australia -- which date back to more than 20,000 years. 

North of Melbourne: Yarra Valley is well known for its vineyards and for good reason, it is one of the oldest wine regions in Australia - and just like a fine wine, it has aged well. With a global reputation for its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, it is the perfect escape for a weekend away wine and cheese tasting, roaming local farmers markets and artisan cider tipples. Rainforest Gallery for a stunning view of rolling pastures and ancient bushland. 

A long drive from Melbourne

On the border of NSW and Victoria: Kosciuszko National Park is not just ski resorts and the name of a great Australian beer. It spoils you with caving adventures, mountain biking trails and plenty of hiking opportunities. Yarrangobilly area is where you'll find jaw-dropping caves with glistening icicle-shaped stalagmites and stalactites hanging from the ceiling, complemented by thermal pools. There is even a cave house for hire. For a challenge, why not hike to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko in summer for a stunning view of Victoria and New South Wales spanning into the 360 horizons. 

 

A drive towards South Australia: Sometimes, the journey can be better than the destination but on the Melbourne to Flinders Ranges route, you get the epic journey and the rewards of an astonishing destination. Stop along the way at South Australian vineyards, pop into Adelaide to visit the renowned Art Gallery of South Australia displaying indigenous collections before you reach one of the most natural historical sites in Australia, the Flinders Ranges. Created 800 million years ago, the iconic national park boasts landscapes drenched in warm-hued tones of crimson, magenta, tangerine and chocolate. Drive dusty red roads underneath towering ancient cliffs and deep craters to one of the campsites or stylish outback resorts on offer. A must-see is Wilpena Pound, a shockingly large amphitheatre, created through erosion over millions of years, or look up at night and see a night sky show like never before. Popular activities in the area include mountain biking, hiking trails and taking a scenic flight over the national park.

A short drive from Brisbane: 

Outside of Brisbane: Jade jungles, pristine Instagram-worthy waterfalls and caves lit with glowworms, Tamborine Mountains are only an hour from Brisbane yet feel a world away from anywhere. This is also home to the third oldest national park in the world where you can experience the ancient forests on a skywalk, walking along the forest floor up to as high as 300 metres on high-tech steel bridges among the treetops and a 40-metre bridge that soars above the creek and rainforest. There are also a bunch of other smaller hikes such as the easy 30-minute walk to Cedar Creek Falls. Bring a picnic hamper and a towel for a dip in the refreshing rock pools. 

 

South of Brisbane: Known for its hipster vibe, boutiques and glassy surf, Byron Bay is no stranger to being a top holiday destination. Crowding Instagram feeds with its indescribable beach beauty, the lazy surf town has turned into a must-do on Australia's East Coast. Only a short drive inland will bring you to the hinterland, which has a wholesome countryside feel peppered with food destinations that rival the best in the world. For the perfect Byron Bay experience, stay out in the countryside for serenity and seclusion before jumping in the crystal waters of Belongil Beach or Watego's for a surf or snorkel before heading into town for some of Australia's best artisanal food offerings.

 

A long drive from Brisbane: 

North of Brisbane: The Capricorn Coast; where sea-gypsy living and countryside cowboys collide. Beginning at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, stretching inland to rural Rockhampton and sitting on the Tropic of Capricorn, this stretch of coastline boasts sand so white the sun beams bounce off it. Great Keppel Island right off the coast has a Caribbean vibe with its balmy weather, squeaky sand and swaying palm trees. It is perfectly positioned to catch year-round sun without the winter monsoons, making it an island getaway still be discovered by the masses. Catch a glimpse of turtles while snorkelling at Shelving Beach, Monkey Point and Clam Bay. 

 

West: For something a bit out of the ordinary, follow in the footsteps of dinosaurs and be transported back 120 million years into Queensland's ancient interior. The dinosaur trails in Richmond, Hughenden and Winton take you on a prehistoric journey to experience the life of the dinosaur. The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum allows you to prepare a real dinosaur bone in a laboratory and in Winton you can book a dinosaur dig or see a footprint at the Lark Quarry Dinosaur Trackway. Walk into the Boodjamulla National Park to see million-year-old fossils embedded in limestone. The rugged landscape glows in shades of tangerine at dusk and dawn - a perfect backdrop for horse riding, hiking and camping. The Sandstone Wilderness offers a medley of towering cliffs, caves and fresh streams. Visit Isla Gorge National Park or Kroombit Tops National Park for 4WD drive experiences. 

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