There's something for everybody in this enormous country, with its wide, never-ending blue skies – the huge spaces and varied landscape lend themselves to being explored in a car. Whether that’s a convertible on the warm coast of New South Wales or a rugged 4x4 in the outback, Australia has a strong car culture which makes the road trip a classic experience. Here are three of the most iconic road trips down under:
An Adventurous Journey: The Red Centre
Be sure to take plenty of water, shelter, 50+ sunscreen and hats for this journey into the red heart of Australia – there is a long inventory for any gung-ho outback wannabe, so make sure you stick to it or suffer the consequences! The effort is worth it however, and travellers should make sure that they have a few weeks to spare, because the vast distances involved boggle the mind and offer a truly unique experience. One great route is to start in Adelaide, west of Melbourne, and head 700 km north to Lake Eyre. This salt lake is the lowest point in Australia with tens of thousands of years of Aboriginal history, and in the dry months the salt pans stretch for miles. On the way there, somewhere, you will be struck by that famous feeling of being engulfed by a vast inexplicable nothingness – this is what road trips in the outback are all about.
An Alternative Journey: The NSW North Coast
New South Wales is home to the beautiful, cultural city of Sydney, and the state’s northern coast is where warm and dry desert winds meet the lush rainforest and Pacific Ocean; in short, it's the essence of serenity. Start from the glitzy and appropriately named Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast, then head south along the picturesque beach road towards Byron Bay – a chilled out oasis of surfing, people watching and loafing around. From there, drive inland for about an hour to the hippie hangout of Nimbin and climb Mt. Warning to see the first rays of sunlight touch Australia at dawn.
A Romantic Journey: The Great Ocean Road, Victoria
This is the quintessential road trip for two, winding along the stunning southern Australian coast west of Melbourne: start from Geelong to catch a pub band and a meal before moving on, as you curve your way past 243 km of white cliffs, crashing waves, beautiful seaside villages and grassy hinterland. Watch out for natural arches, blowholes and sea stacks like the famous 12 Apostles. It's one of the most beautiful road trips in the world, drawing visitors from all over the world, and was even added to the Australian National Heritage List.