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9 GREAT AUSTRALIAN ROAD TRIPS

Enjoy the freedom of the wide open road on one of these classic Australian road trips.


By Lee Atkinson

Road tripping is arguably the best way to see Australia. Even in the outback you'll generally find regular gas stations, friendly towns and plenty of roadhouses and restaurants to visit, not to mention some of the world's most breathtaking scenery. What’s more, the Indian driving license is valid in Australia, so all you have to do is hire a car, pack your sense of adventure and drive into the sunset on one of these great trips.

On the road

FROM MELBOURNE: DRIVE THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD

You'll quickly lose count of the "wow" moments on the 243 kilometre (150 mile) Great Ocean Road, which begins after an easy 90-minute drive from Melbourne. You'll see the famous Twelve Apostles (limestone rock formations in the ocean), historic lighthouses, and cozy waterfront cafés and hotels. Witness some great views of rainforests, shipwrecks, migrating whales, wild surf and windswept beaches. Stay at one of the seaside towns or do the return trip in a day.

FROM SYDNEY: TAKE THE GRAND PACIFIC DRIVE

An hour south of Sydney, drive the snake-shaped curves of Sea Cliff Bridge as it hugs the coastline till Hyams Beach. Along the way you can watch people surf or relax at crowd-free beaches. Stay at Hyams Beach before returning to Sydney.

FROM CAIRNS: TAKE THE GREAT BARRIER REEF DRIVE

This 140 kilometre (87 mile) trip along the coast from the tropical city of Cairns to Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation in North Queensland is unbeatable when it comes to fantastic views. Where else can you see two World Heritage wonders (the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest) at the same time?

FROM HOBART: TAKE THE GREAT EASTERN DRIVE

Drive north from Hobart to the Bay Of Fires, where the beaches are white, the air is clean and the scenery is magnificent. Wander around the sandstone ruins of the World Heritage-listed Port Arthur convict settlement, stay at award-winning luxury hotel Saffire Freycinet and climb the ridge to look down upon the perfect curve of Wineglass Bay.

FROM ADELAIDE: DRIVE TO THE FLINDERS RANGES AND OUTBACK

The drive to the Flinders Ranges takes you into the heart of this dramatic mountain range. From Adelaide it takes five hours to reach Wilpena Pound, a natural phenomenon that looks like a giant crater. Stay a couple of nights and join a sunset tour on a 4-wheel drive or take a scenic flight over the Pound. Try some grilled kangaroo, camel and emu at one of the outback's most famous pubs, the Prairie Hotel at Parachilna, or request them to prepare an interesting vegetarian meal for you, before heading back to the city.

FROM ALICE SPRINGS: DRIVE THE RED CENTRE WAY

On this five-day drive in the Red Centre you'll tick off many of the big icons of outback Australia: Uluru (pronounced oh-loo-roo), Kata Tjuta (pronounced Ka-ta Joo-ta), Kings Canyon, and the gorges and swimming holes of the West MacDonnell Ranges. The drive circles in a loop from Alice Springs. Stop for a night at Kings Canyon, and spend a night or two at Uluru.

FROM DARWIN: DRIVE NATURE'S WAY

See crocodiles, incredible sunsets and the very best of Kakadu National Park on this loop drive from Darwin, in Australia's tropical Top End. Give yourself at least five days so you can stop at Adelaide River for a crocodile cruise, view ancient rock art and learn about traditional Aboriginal culture. Take some time to swim in natural pools beneath the waterfalls in Litchfield National Park, and hike, paddle or cruise through Nitmiluk Gorge near the town of Katherine.

FROM PERTH: CROSS THE NULLARBOR

In Latin, Nullarbor means treeless (nullus, "no", and arbor, "tree"), and this flat, open expanse takes up almost the entire south-western corner of Australia. There are many interesting little towns, roadhouses and restaurants to visit along the way. You'll also find caves, old gold mining towns and the longest golf course in the world (1365 kilometres, or 848 miles long, with a hole at each participating town or roadhouse). It will take you three to four days to drive from Perth to Adelaide on this route.

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