Whether you’re an Aussie looking to explore your own backyard, or a first-time visitor to the country, if you’d like to experience Australia the right way, rent a car and hit the road. From bustling cities to quaint townships — picturesque valleys to sweeping tablelands — Australia is a nation of contrasting beauty, and with almost 4,000 kilometres of road, here are some of the highlights you’ll discover along the way.
Australia’s iconic outback is a huge reason to travel the country by road. Encompassing five of Australia’s states and thousands of square kilometres, the charming towns and unique landscapes of the outback are never in short supply. One of the best places to visit is the famous New South Wales town of Broken Hill. We also recommend stopping by the ghost town of Silverton, and catching the unmatched views of the sunset from the Living Desert.
It’s easy to see why many Australians inhabit the coastline when you visit places like Tasmania’s Bay of Fires and Western Australia’s Cape Le Grand. From serene coves to iconic sandscapes, driving the coasts is a must for the ultimate Aussie road trip. Whether it’s a cruise along the rocky shores of the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, or the palm-lined beaches of the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, you’ll never tire of Australia’s spectacular beauty.
A road trip through Australia is unlike anywhere else in the world. You can go for hours without a glimpse of even the smallest town, and the only thing you’ll pass is the vast countryside and massive road trains. If escaping to the middle of nowhere tickles your fancy, consider crossing the Nullarbor from South Australia, or follow the famous Stuart Highway straight through the heart of the country.
While Australian metropolises are in shorter supply compared to other countries, each of its major cities boasts a unique personality and atmosphere. There’s so much more to discover beyond the famous harbours and parklands of Sydney, or the mural lined laneways of Melbourne; from the colourful “River City” of Brisbane, to the gorgeous churches and architecture of Adelaide, you’ll find something special in each one. Plus, for one of the country’s best city skylines and nightlife scenes, don’t miss out on visiting the glamorous Gold Coast.
While some of Australia’s islands are off limits to rental cars, there are others you can (and might want to) include on your road trip itinerary. We recommend visiting the popular Kangaroo Island, and supporting the local communities as they continue to rebuild in the wake of the January bushfires of 2020. Other islands you can explore include the penguin-inhabited Phillip Island in Victoria, Far North Queensland’s picturesque Magnetic Island, and Bruny Island in Tasmania. Each rental supplier has different permissions on island travel, so be sure to pick one that’s suited to your requirements.
Drive for long enough in Australia and who knows what wildlife you might discover. While kangaroos and emus tend to be more common, you’ll be lucky to catch a glimpse of the elusive cassowary in Far North Queensland. The Great Ocean Road is also home to many native species, with its trees inhabited by koalas and rosellas to name but two. Travelling by car means that you can stop at any of Australia’s many wildlife reserves to admire these beautiful creatures up close.
Australia has no shortage of vibrant national parks, and with hundreds open to the public, you’re likely to encounter one in your travels. While it might be impossible to visit them all, classics like the Daintree National Park, the Blue Mountains National Park, or the famous Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park are quite accessible and easy to navigate. Otherwise, take the road less travelled and immerse yourself in hidden gems like Wollemi National Park, or Albany’s Torndirrup National Park.
Australia is home to one of the world’s oldest living cultures. Scattered across the country, stand the sacred sites of the Aboriginal people, from natural wonders to cultural centres where you’ll learn firsthand of their history, practises, and culture. One of the best places to discover more about the Aboriginal people is Kakadu, with fascinating areas like Nourlangie and Ubirr open to visitors.