12 Great Australian Road Trips
Planning a campervan itinerary obviously depends on what style of traveler you are, and what types of things you want to see. You might be a leisurely traveler who prefers to drive your motorhome at a relaxed pace, allowing yourself the time to stop at whatever park, waterfall or town takes your fancy, or you may want to travel at a fairly swift pace seeing as many attractions as possible. You might be interested in scenery or hiking alone, or you may want a balance between nature, cultural attractions, and seein the main centres.
Think about what you’ll be doing day to day. Do you want to be in a holiday park each night, or just some nights? Do you want to stop at a destination each day, spend a few nights in each place, or spend a few days just driving, absorbing the sights from your motorhome? If you’re travelling with kids, consider what family-friendly attractions exist in each place. Be conscious of whether you’ll want a day here and there to just rest and relax, without travelling or doing strenuous activities. How much flexibility do you want to give yourself? Do you want to plan a rigid schedule or play it by ear some of the time?
Also make sure you consider interspersing rest or relaxation days after days that will be particularly strenuous, such as a day-long hike. This is particularly important if you are doing a long drive the next day. Also bear in mind whether you can do a one-way trip in your campervan and are able to drop it off in a different city or town.
A general overview of interesting Australia Roadtrips
If you have a few weeks, you could drive north up the east coast from Sydney to Cairns. Farewell the Harbour Bridge then hop from one incredible beach to another, discover your very own private paradise, feel golden sands under your toes and the Pacific Ocean over your feet.
You could drop in to Byron Bay and discover the laid back surfing culture, then venture into the lush hinterland surrounding Nimbin and Mullumbimby, before taking in the glitz and action of Surfers Paradise.
If you're planning your motorhome roadtrip between July and November, plan to watch the humpback whales around Hervey Bay before parking up the motorhome for a while and enjoying some snorkelling amongst the beautiful corals and tropical fish around the Great Barrier Reef.
One of the most stunning sections of the Australian coast is the Great Ocean Road between Melbourne and Adelaide. Follow the Coastal Explorer's way through relaxed seaside towns and views the 12 Apostles which are enormous rocks carved away from the coast over millions of years.
One of the most popular, and certainly the most compact states to drive by motorhome is Tasmania. If you have two weeks, you can drive north from the capital Hobart to Freycinent National Park, then part up the motorhome and walk to Wineglass Bay which has regularly been voted as one of the most beautiful beaches on the planet. A great was to explore the coastline is by sea kayak, where stunning white beaches and clear waters contrast with pinkish granite mountains. Keep heading in an anticlockwise direction and career down the Ben Lomond descent by mountain bike - a thrilling ride with over 1000 metres of vertical descent set against stunning scenery. The National Park Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair is fantastic for hiking. One great day hike (for the fit) is the walk to the top of Cradle Mountain where the vistas extent across most of Tasmania's northwest. From there, you can continue to Strahan and Tasmania's west coast, before heading back to Hobart.
If you're keen to visit Western Australia, it's a good idea to explore the South West Coast - named by Lonely Planet as one of the world's top ten regions. There are wonderful vineyards and remote beaches to explore around Margaret River, then drive your motorhome south beneath giant Kauri forests (around Aussie's own Denmark) on the way to Albany - an old whaling town. If you are visiting Albany between June and October, you can even watch whales play and breach near the shore.
And all great Aussie roadtrips involve the heart of Australia. Drive your motorhome to Alice Springs. If you hire a 4WD, take the Red Centre Way and discover the beautiful red sandstone gorges in the West MacDonnell Ranges. They often hide little rock pools and which are perfect for cooling you down in the midday heat. If you're feeling fit, start early and take the King's Canon Rim walk to the edge of this stunning natural ampitheatre which opens to an incredible view of seeming endless desert.
And of course you will want to put Uluru (Ayers Rock) on your itinerary. You can watch the sun come up as you amber through the desert sands on camelback, and get a special guided tour by an Aboriginal guide to learn the spiritual significance of this natural wonder.
If time isn't an issue and you really, really, really love driving, head off on the world's longest highway, Highway 1. At over 25,000 kilometres it goes all the way around Australia! You'll need at least nine months to get around it though if you want to explore it properly!
If you take the coastal road south from Sydney to Melbourne, you can choose to continue to Adelaid via the Great Southern Way. From there, if you're up for it, you can cross the vast, flat Nullabor Plain, with seemingly endless desert on one side of the road, while the Southern Ocean beats against the dramatic cliffs of the Great Australian Bight on the other.
You can keep going through WA, up the rugged west coastline from it's capital Perth, onto Geraldton and Shark Bay stopping at Ningaloo Reef, then right up to Broome. If you turn an east turn and drive across the top of Australia, you'll find the breathtakingly beautiful, ancient, wild and remote area of Kimberley. Take in a walking between the bizarre beehive shaped rock domes of the Bungles, then keep going into the Northern Territory into relaxingly tropical Darwin. Darwin is welcome rest after a long drive and a wonderful base to discover exotic Australian wildlife, such as kangaroos, crocs and birds in Kakadu National park.
Take the Savannah Way from Northern Territory to Cairns and enjoy an unmistakably Australian landscape of grasslands dotted with unusual rock outcrops.
If you are renting a motorhome, always remember to check the motorhome rental vehicle's terms and conditions, as some companies will not allow unsealed roads for example.
Sample Australian Roadtrips
Here are twelve sample itineraries of great Australian road trips of various types and lengths that include just a small fraction of things to see and do in Australia. At the very least they’ll give you an idea of travel distances and times - mix and match and add them together to create your own perfect plan - or feel free to do them in reverse!
1. Sydney to Melbourne (N.S.W to Vic.) - 5 days
Day 1. Sydney to Jervis Bay Approx. 222 km (138 miles) 3 hours.
Day 2. Jervis Bay to Tilba Tilba Approx 205 km (127 miles) 2.5 hours.
Day 3. Tilba Tilba to Gipsy Point Approx 203 km (126 miles) 2.5 hours
Day 4. Gipsy Point to Metung Approx 225 km (140 miles) 2.75 hours
Day 5. Metung to Melbourne Approx 312 km (194 miles) 4 hours
2. Tropical North (Qld) - 7 days
Day 1. Cairns to Atherton Tablelands. Approx 70 km (44 Miles) 1.5 hours.
Day 2. Spend the day in the Atherton Tablelands.
Day 3. Atherton Tablelands to Cape Tribulation. Approx 185 km (115 Miles) 3 hours.
Day 4. Spend the day at Cape Tribulation.
Day 5. Cape Tribulation to Port Douglas. Approx 83 km (52 Miles) 1.5 hours.
Day 6. Spend the day in Port Douglas.
Day 7. Port Douglas to Cairns. Approx 63 km (40 Miles) 1.5 hours.
3. Darwin to Uluru (N.T.) - 7 days
Day 1. Darwin to Kakadu. Approx 257 km (160 miles).
Day 2. Kakadu to Katherine. Approx 300 km (186 miles) 4 hours
Day 3. Katherine to Tennant Creek. Approx 667 km (420 miles) 8 hours. Stop at the soothing Mataranka Thermal Pool for a rest on the way.
Day 4. Tennant Creek to Alice Springs. Approx 506 km (314 miles) 6 hours.
Day 5. Spend the day in Alice Springs.
Day 6. Alice Springs to Ayers Rock. Approx 461 km (286 miles) 6.5 hours
Day 7. Depart Ayers Rock.
4. Sydney to Cairns (N.S.W to Qld) - 14 days
Day 1. Sydney to Hunter Valley. Approx 161km (100 miles) 2 hours.
Day 2. Hunter Valley to Port Stephens. Approx 65km (40 miles) 1.5 hours
Day 3. Port Stephens to Coffs Harbour. Approx 168 km (105 miles) 2.5 hours
Day 4. Coffs Harbour to Coolangatta. Approx 322km (200 miles) 4 hours
Day 5. Spend the day in Coolangatta.
Day 6. Coolangatta to Brisbane. Approx 79km (49 miles) 1.5 hours
Day 7. Brisbane to Fraser Island Approx 200km (125 miles) 3.5 hours drive then 35 minute ferry ride
Day 8. Spend the day at Fraser Island
Day 9. Fraser Island to Rockhampton. Approx 318km (196 miles) 4 hours
Day 10. Rockhampton to the Whitsundays. Approx 483km (300 miles) 6 hours
Day 11. Relax at the Whitsundays
Day 12. Relax at the Whitsundays
Day 13. Townsville to Mission Beach. Approx 225km (140 miles) 2.75 hours
Day 14. Mission Beach to Cairns. Approx 140km (87 miles) 1.75 hours
5. Darwin to Broome (N.T to W.A) – 14 days
Day 1. Arrive Darwin. Overnight - Darwin.
Day 2. Spend the day in Darwin.
Day 3. Darwin to Kakadu. Approx 257 km (160 miles) 3.5 hours.
Day 4. Spend the day at Kakadu National Park.
Day 5. Kakadu to Katherine. Approx 300 km (186 miles) 4 hours
Day 6. Katherine to Kununurra. Approx 510 km (316 miles) 6 hours.
Day 7. Spend the day in Kununurra.
Day 8. Kununurra to El Questro. Approx 100 km (162 miles) 3.5 hours
Day 9. Spend the day at El Questro
Day 10. El Questro to Imintji Wilderness Camp. Approx 405 km (251 miles) 5 hours
Day 11. Spend the day at Imintji Safari Camp and explore the Gibb River Road.
Day 12. Imintji Camp to Broome. Approx 440km (273 miles) 5.5 hours
Day 13. Spend the day in Broome.
Day 14. Depart Broome
6. Adelaide to Darwin (S.A. to N.T.) - 16 days
Day 1. Adelaide to Wilpena Pound. Approx 430 km (267 miles) 5.25 hours.
Day 2. Spend the day at Wilpena Pound and the Flinders Ranges.
Day 3. Wilpena Pound to Parachilna. Approx 141 km (88 miles) 1.75 hours.
Day 4. Parachilna to William Creek. Approx 387 km (240 miles) 4 hours
Day 5. William Creek to Coober Pedy. Approx 166 km (103 miles) 2 hours.
Day 6. Coober Pedy. Enjoy a day at leisure exploring Coober Pedy.
Day 7. Coober Pedy to Uluru. Approx 734 km (456 miles) 8 hours.
Day 8. Spend the day at Uluru and the nearby Olgas (Kata Tjuta).
Day 9. Ayers Rock to Alice Springs. Approx 445 km (277 miles) 5.5 hours.
Day 10. Spend the day at Alice Springs.
Day 11. Alice Springs to Tennant Creek. Approx 510 km (317 miles) 5.5 hours.
Day 12. Tennant Creek to Katherine. Approx 672 km (417 miles) 7 hours.
Day 13. Spend the day in Katherine.
Day 14. Katherine to Kakadu National Park. Approx 300 km (186 miles) 4 hours.
Day 15. Kakadu National Park. Today is free for you to explore Kakadu National Park.
Day 16. Kakadu National Park to Darwin. Approx 257 km (160 miles) 3.5 hours.
7. Alice Springs – Alice Springs (N.T.) – 5 days
Day 1. Alice Springs to Glen Helen. Approx 130 km (80 miles) 1.75 hours.
Day 2. Glen Helen to King’s Canyon. Approx 260 km (161 miles) 3.5 hours.
Day 3. King’s Canyon to Uluru. 300km (186 miles) 4 hours.
Day 4. Spend the day at Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
Day 5. Uluru to Alice Springs, 445 km (276 miles) 5 hours.
8. Perth – Perth (W.A.) – 10 days
Day 1. Perth to Kalbarri. Approx 577 km (359 miles) 7 hours.
Day 2. Kilbarri to Denham. Approx 380 km (246 miles) 4.5 hours.
Day 3. Denham – Monkey Mia. Approx 20 km (12 miles) 0.5 hours.
Day 4. Spend the day in Monkey Mia/Denham
Day 5. Denham to Coral Bay. Approx 564 km (350 miles). 8 hours.
Day 6. Spend the day in Coral Bay.
Day 7. Spend the day at Ningaloo Reef.
Day 8. Coral Bay to Exmouth and back. Approx 152 km (94 miles) 2 hours each way.
Day 9. Coral Bay to Kalbarri. Approx 667 km (414 miles). 8.5 hours.
Day 10. Kalbarri to Perth. Approx 577 km (359 miles) 7 hours.
9. Hobart - Hobart (Tas.) – 10 days
Day 1. Spend the night in Hobart
Day 2. Hobart to Strahan. Approx 245 km (152 miles) 4 hours.
Day 3. Strahan to Cradle Mountain. Approx 110 km (66 miles) 2 hours.
Day 4. Cradle Mountain to Stanley. Approx 385 km (239 miles) 4.5 hours.
Day 5. Stanley to Launceston. Approx 210 km (130 miles) 3 hours.
Day 6. Launceston to St Helens. Approx 163 km (101 miles) 2.25 hours
Day 7. St Helens to Swansea. Approx 104 km (64 miles) 1.25 hours
Day 8. Swansea to Tasman Peninsula. Approx 130 km (82 miles) 1.5 hours
Day 9. Port Arthur to Hobart. Approx 61 km (38 miles). 1 hour.
10. Perth – Adelaide (W.A. – S.A.) – 9 days
Day 1. Adelaide to Whyalla. Approx 384 km (238 miles) 3.75 hours
Day 2. Whyalla to Port Lincoln. Approx 266 km (165 miles) 2.5 hours.
Day 3. Port Lincoln to Ceduna. Approx 400 km (248 miles) 4 hours.
Day 4. Ceduna to Eucla. Approx 500 km (310 miles) 5 hours.
Day 5. Eucla to Norseman. Approx 713 km (443 miles) 7.5 hours.
Day 6. Norseman to Esperance. Approx 206 km (128 miles) 2.25 hours.
Day 7. Esperance to Albany. Approx 492 km (305 miles) 5.5 hours.
Day 8. Albany to Margaret River. Approx 379 km (246 miles) 4.5 hours.
Day 9. Margaret River to Perth. Approx 288 km (178 miles) 3 hours.
11. Melbourne – Melbourne (Vic.) – 4 days
Day 1. Melbourne to Apollo Bay. Approx 182 km (117 miles) 3 hours
Day 2. Apollo Bay to Port Fairy. Approx 189 km (119 miles) 3 hours
Day 3. Port Fairy to Halls Gap. Approx 158 km (98 miles) 2.5 hours
Day 4. Halls Gap to Melbourne. Approx 248 km (154 miles) 3.5 hours
12. Sydney - Melbourne (N.S.W – A.C.T – Vic.) – 4 days
Day 1. Sydney to Canberra. Approx 320km (198 miles) 3.5 hours
Day 2. Canberra to Albury/Wodonga. Approx 350 km (217 miles) 4 hours
Day 3. Albury/Wodonga to Echuca. Approx 250 km (155 miles) 3 hours
Day 4. Echuca to Melbourne. Approx 215 km (133 miles) 2.25 hours