Across its massive land and all of its 12,000 islands, thousands of possible journeys connect endless unique experiences in Australia.
Short or long, by horsepower or horseback – it is journeys that have always created the threads that continue to connect us to each other – the connections that make Australia seem small and immense at the same time.
From the very beginning, Aboriginal people knew it was only by travelling the land, letting nature and spirits shape the journey, that they could have a true understanding of Australia. Over 50,000 years of 'Dreamtime', they have called the traces of these journeys ‘songlines’.
Even today, travelling in Australia is not about getting from point A to point, but discovering the diversity, the wonder, the isolation and the people on the journey in between.
You can take weeks weaving through rolling countryside, red desert, sparkling waterholes and spiritual heritage, or a few days exploring wine regions, wilderness coast, island clusters and reefs… the choices are endless.
You can go Outback to experience the roots of Aussie culture in the vast Red Centre, or ‘out bush’ to country towns and hinterlands. Or take a break from your usual world, meet a winemaker, go deep-sea fishing or spot a croc.
Australia has a vast network of well-maintained roads and highways with some of the most beautiful road touring in the world and vehicle hire is simple. There are plenty of opportunities to leave the main road and discover Australia’s natural wonders. From the central deserts to the Top End, Australia’s adventure routes are a paradise for explorers.
Travelling this ancient land by road is one of the most rewarding journeys you will experience, whether you take the luxury option, decide to camp under the stars, hotel-hop or tow a caravan, you’ll create a ‘songline’ of your own.
Here are nine of our favourite reasons to hit the road, Aussie style...
1. Step back in time on Tasmania’s Heritage Highway between Hobart and Launceston, a journey into the colonial past that’s full of historic sandstone buildings and stunning scenery.
2. Be postman for a day on the one-day Oodnadatta Mail Run out of Coober Pedy. You’ll travel more than 600 kilometres with the postman in his 4WD, delivering post to Outback towns and remote cattle stations.
3. Cross the Nullarbor Plain. The 1670-kilometre Eyre Highway is one of the great Australian road trips and a key Outback experience. Once riddled with potholes, this treeless road is now completely sealed from Norseman in Western Australia to Port Augusta in South Australia.
4. The Pacific Coast Touring Route stretches from Sydney to Cairns, following the beautiful coastline of the Pacific Ocean. Along the way discover an endless array of beautiful beaches, pretty bays and relaxing coastal towns, with excellent surf, fantastic views, great camping sites and friendly communities.
5. Travel the Grand Pacific Drive, a scenic road that stretches 140 kilometres south of Sydney, from the Royal National Park – the world’s second oldest such reserve – to the coastal city of Wollongong. The route takes you through coastal rainforests, over the dramatic Sea Cliff Bridge, past secluded beaches and pretty coastal towns such as Austinmer and Kiama.
6. Recognised as one of the world’s most scenic drives, the Great Ocean Road follows the stunning coastline of Victoria’s south-west stretching 300 kilometres past the breathtaking Twelve Apostles. The road winds along cliff tops, up breathtaking headlands, down to the edge of beaches, across river estuaries and through lush rainforests offering panoramic views at every turn. Discover small seaside villages along the way.
7. The Great Southern Touring Route is a 777 kilometre journey that you can drive in as little as 12 hours or as much as five days. Starting with the spectacular Great Ocean Road, it crosses to the majestic Grampians National Park with its woodland walks, Aboriginal art, waterfalls and rock formations, then on to Victoria’s rich Goldfields region.
8. Drive from Melbourne to Sydney via the longer but more scenic, coastal route. See national parks, wildlife, beautiful surf beaches, the amazing stretch of Ninety Mile Beach and the whales at Eden.
9. Another way to travel from Sydney to Melbourne is via the Great Alpine Road, after first passing through the nation’s capital, Canberra. Australia’s highest year-round accessible sealed road, it winds past lofty mountains, valleys, forests, rivers, vineyards and farms. Sample local food and wine and you can fish, cycle, climb or ride along the way. See the stunning mountains, valleys, lakes and waterways of this region, the land of high-country cattlemen of 'The Man from Snowy River' fame. Hear about the bushrangers who roamed the historic gold villages of the area during the goldrush years.
Explore Australia Tips:
1. Journey by car or four-wheel drive and set your own pace – giving you plenty of opportunities to take roads less travelled and to meet the locals along the way.
2. Join the great Aussie tradition and pack up your car, caravan or 4WD and head off on our vast network of highways. There are thousands of roads that criss-cross the country, endless experiences to be discovered and plenty of Aussies to meet along the way; all ready to share a tale and to provide advice.
3. This is the world’s largest island and flying is a logical way to cover huge distances more quickly. And we have aircraft of all shapes and sizes to take you on your way. You can buy a seat on a commercial airline, charter a private plane and even take a hot-air balloon ride over the vast countryside. Or you may prefer to hitch a ride with a 'postie' as he makes his mail rounds by plane to some of Australia’s remotest communities.
4. If you don’t want to drive, or see the landscape from a plane, you can experience some of the best railway journeys in the world. Watch the scenery constantly change as you cross the country north to south or east to west or choose to head inland to the Outback. You can take an epic three-night journey or, from some cities, a short 90-minute trip into the hinterland.
5. On an island like this, rich with waterways, reef and harbours, journeys afloat are an obvious choice. You can choose everything from kayak trips, sailing tours and ferry rides to spectacular cruises and luxury adventures between tropical islands and warm-water reefs.
6. Explore major cities or far-flung towns and communities on the back of a motorcycle. Cruise coastal roads and highways and embrace the freedom of riding all day and making frequent stops whenever the mood takes you.
7. Caravanning and camping are one of our own most-loved ways of exploring the country. There are well-travelled trails and popular camping sites, as well as plenty of out-of-the-way roads and sites for a more solitary tour.
8. Luxury camping is a specialty too – there are glamorous camp-style retreats and resorts offering an elegant experience of island, Outback, forest, desert or beach life.