7 of Australia's best coastal drives

Spend a day or three by the sea on one of these sensational coastal drives. 7 of Australia's best coastal drives
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7 of Australia's Best Coastal Drives

Spend a day or three by the sea on one of these sensational coastal drives.


By Lee Atkinson

From the Great Ocean Road to the Great Barrier Reef Drive and the Indian Ocean Drive, Australia's coastline has some of the most scenic driving routes in the world.

Stunning Sights from Australia

GREAT OCEAN ROAD, VICTORIA (ALLOW TWO TO THREE DAYS)

The Great Ocean Road is one of the world's most spectacular coastal road trips. It's a 243-kilometre (150-mile) drive that starts just a 90-minute drive from Melbourne and winds through rainforests and beside famous landmarks such as the 12 Apostles. Must-see spots along the way include the Australian National Surfing Museum at Torquay, the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch and the Otway Fly, an elevated boardwalk through the rainforest canopy. Stop for a lunch at Chris's Beacon Point and spend a night being lulled to sleep by the sound of crashing waves at Alkina Lodge.

GRAND PACIFIC DRIVE, NEW SOUTH WALES (ALLOW TWO DAYS)

The Grand Pacific Drive starts just an hour south of Sydney and includes the Sea Cliff Bridge, which curls around the cliffs 50 metres (164 feet) out to sea. Watch the waves whoosh through the blowhole (a coastal rock formation) at Kiama, walk on what is officially the world's whitest sand at Hyams Beach, and loop back to Sydney through the green hills and valleys of the Southern Highlands. On the edge of the sand at Wollongong's North Beach, Diggies café is a great spot to stop for lunch. If you want to stay overnight there are plenty of beachside holiday houses near Hyams Beach.

GREAT BEACH DRIVE, QUEENSLAND (ALLOW ONE DAY, OR TWO TO THREE IF INCLUDING FRASER ISLAND)

The Great Beach Drive is a 200-kilometre (124-mile) coastal highway on the Sunshine Coast between Noosa and Hervey Bay, where the road is actually the beach. You'll need a four-wheel drive and will have to time your trip for low tide, but nothing beats the feeling of sand beneath your wheels when the sun is shining. Highlights along the way include the multi-coloured cliffs known as the Coloured Sands, and Carlo Sandblow, a slow-moving sand dune that towers over Rainbow Beach and is one of the largest piles of wind-blown sand on the Queensland coast. Make the good times last longer and take your car on the barge across to Fraser Island. Drive along the beach to its northern tip or tackle the sandy rainforest tracks through the island's centre, and stay at Kingfisher Bay Resort.

INDIAN OCEAN DRIVE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA (ALLOW SEVEN TO 10 DAYS)

The Indian Ocean Drive also follows the coast, but there's more than beaches on this epic 1250-kilometre (776-mile) adventure. There are the surreal desert towers called the Pinnacles, roadside carpets of wildflowers and dramatic rock canyons at Kalbarri. Don't miss the once-in-a-lifetime experience of swimming with whale sharks; they visit Ningaloo every year between April and July. And make sure you eat fresh rock lobster on the beach at the Lobster Shack in Cervantes.

GREAT BARRIER REEF DRIVE, QUEENSLAND (ALLOW ONE DAY)

Two World Heritage landscapes – the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest – come together on the 140-kilometre (87-mile) journey between Cairns and Cape Tribulation in north Queensland. The Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas makes an excellent base, and you should plan to spend a few days there, since there's so much to do. Don't miss the ancient smoking ceremony that your Aboriginal guide will welcome you with on a tour through the rainforest of Mossman Gorge.

BOWMAN SCENIC DRIVE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA (ALLOW AN HOUR OR TWO)

This short drive is near the town of Beachport on the South Australian Limestone Coast, a region of cliffs, caves and some of Australia's best vineyards, halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide. Have a soak and a float in the Pool of Siloam, a salt lake seven times saltier than the sea, and chat to the locals fishing on one of the world's longest jetties – a whopping 772 metres (844 yards) long – before trying the catch of the day at Bompas or a crayfish roll at the Waterfront Café.

GREAT EASTERN DRIVE, TASMANIA (ALLOW THREE TO FIVE DAYS)

The Great Eastern Drive – a road trip from Hobart to the Bay of Fires along the east coast – is a classic Tasmanian journey. Explore one of the world’s most significant convict sites at Port Arthur and gaze upon the perfect curve of white sand at Wineglass Bay. Follow the East Coast Wine Trail to some of the state's best wine cellars, try some cheese at Pyengana's Holy Cow Café, and pick up some homemade jams and berry ice creams at Kate's Berry Farm.

 

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Indian Ocean Drive

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Discover white beaches, coral reefs, salty fishing towns and rugged national parks on this spectacular journey along Western Australia’s Coral Coast. Head north to taste fresh crayfish in Geraldton and mouth-watering tropical fruits in Carnarvon. Swim with the huge whale shark on Ningaloo Reef and four wheel drive through the canyons of nearby Cape Range National Park. On your way back down the coast, meet the dolphins of Monkey Mia, along with whales, manta rays, turtles, sharks, dugongs and fish in the wider Shark Bay World Heritage Area. See seasonal wildflowers break out their brightest colours all along the coast, from Cape Range to the cliffs and gorges of Kalbarri National Park.

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