Australia has to be one of the most exciting countries in the world to travel by road. These 10 Australia road trip ideas are all tried and tested by us.
All routes are suitable for 2WD vehicles, including campervans and rental cars. We travelled all of the following in either a hi-top 2 berth campervan or a 3 berth motorhome with on board toilet and shower.
If you need campervan advice, especially renting camper vans in Australia advice, please send us a message or leave us a comment. We’re happy to help you make the right choice for your travels.
Read on to discover our top 10 Australia Road Trip Ideas.
1. Cairns to Uluru
Out of all these Australia road trip ideas, this one is perhaps a bit of a wild card. When we searched for information about this route, we found very little in the commercial travel online network.
Luckily, locals who use the route regularly gave us the confidence we needed to give it a go, along with the life saving advice (literally!) we needed to do it safely.
We wanted an overland way to connect Cairns to Adelaide, that would also allow us to fulfill a lifelong dream of visiting Uluru. Yes, you can do it in a 2WD vehicle. And yes, you can do it in a campervan.
However … no, there isn’t much to see or do commercially en route. And no, there isn’t often many people around, or any. But the stars at night and the abundance of wild open space are both well worth the days of travel, if you like that kind of end-the-earth isolation. We do.
2. Uluru to Adelaide
There is pretty much just one road for the majority of the journey between Uluru and Adelaide so you will have little to no chance of going wrong. Leave the vast open plains of Australia’s red desert for South Australia’s main city.
This journey is pretty bare and open, with campsite options being road lay-bys without facilities. No toilets, no water, nothing. It’s a beautiful drive if you love the outdoors, wild nature and complete disconnection.
N.B. These first two Australia road trip ideas are very short on fuel stops, mobile phone coverage and supply stops. Venture into the Australia Outback with a plan of how many hours you will drive a day and carry the food you will need to eat.
We will be publishing more detailed itineraries of our Outback road trips in the coming year. Subscribe to our emails at the bottom of this page if reading them is something you are interested in doing. We will email you when they are live.
3. The Great Ocean Road
Perhaps the most well known of all the Australia road trip ideas is the Great Ocean Road. Whilst this route is worth doing and is an excellent option for road travel between Adelaide and Melbourne, this is not the best road trip in Australia.
Some small parts of the route carry you on cliff hugging tarmac that is exciting and enjoyable. Other parts of the route carry you through small towns with local wildlife, beach activities and well kept campsites.
Compare prices of local car rental companies with Rentalcars.com.
There is one unmissable campsite on the Great Ocean Road route if you are hoping to see wild kangaroos on your Australia holiday. Find out which one it is on our more detailed Camping on the Great Ocean Road blog.
4. Tasmania Loop
One of the best Australia road trip ideas we ever had, was to fly out to Tasmania and hire a hi-top campervan for a week. You can cross the ocean on a vehicle ferry to Tasmania from Melbourne, but the cost is steep in comparison to flying there.
If you are renting vehicles on your trip, we recommend returning your hired vehicle in Melbourne, flying to Tasmania, and collecting a new rental in ‘Tassie’ for your seperate road trip here. It’s cheaper, and it’s faster.
Don’t miss stunning coastal locations like Freycinet National Park and Bay of Fires. These, and others, will be featured in our more detailed Tasmania road trip blog, being published later this year. Let us know if you are keen to read it so we can make it a priority.
5. Sydney to Cairns
An East Coast of Australia road trip is a big one! We took six deliciously idle weeks to travel this route, and we would do it again in a heartbeat.
Whilst there are sections you can motor on through, allowing weeks, not days, to cover this distance is recommended. This way you can recover from long drives fully and enjoy the many natural wonders along the way, plus the numerous detours well worth the time and fuel.
Our don’t miss bits along this insane route include The Whitsundays, Blue Mountains and time to visit the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns. Of course, these are the most well known spots; there are so many more.
For the most popular things to do on this route, and all the other lesser known stops we made as well, you’ll want to check out our Epic East Coast of Australia Road Trip blog.
6. Melbourne to Sydney
Not many people we spoke to drove between Melbourne and Sydney as tourists. But we actually enjoyed this section of Australia’s road more than the famous Great Ocean Road. And there is one reason why.
That reason is Jervis Bay. We only spent two nights camping here but it’s one of the most, if not the most, beautiful places we visited in Australia. It’s like experiencing the sands of The Whitsundays, but instead you’re only 2.5 hours outside of Sydney.
The roads leading into Sydney from this direction are also pretty impressive coastal roads, that we feel rival the better known ones on the Great Ocean Road.
If you have the time, and need to travel between these two popular city hubs, choose to travel by road. Be sure to hug the coast; avoid the inland highways.
7. Cairns to The Daintree National Park
This is one of many excellent Australia road trip ideas that can be done with less travel time from a major hub city, like Cairns. If you don’t have the option of doing cross-country road trips, but want to experience road tripping in Australia, national park road trips, like this Daintree one, are for you.
You can access the Daintree with a 2WD vehicle. In fact, you can head all the way to Cooktown (further north, past the Daintree) with a 2WD vehicle.
We chose to include Cooktown because we are interested in colonisation history, and Cooktown is where the infamous Cook first came ashore.
The Daintree National Park has well facilitated campsites that are suitable for those with a campervan or those looking to rent a room for the night. You can find out lots of useful information about this route and where we stayed in our more detailed blog, a Daintree Rainforest Road Trip.
8. Sydney to the Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains National Park is an easy road trip to enjoy from popular harbour side city, Sydney. We made this our first stop on a longer east coast road trip, but a weekend in the Blue Mountains before returning to Sydney also works.
If you want to experience driving a campervan in Australia, this is an excellent itinerary to start off with. The roads are well sign posted and well maintained, and you are never far from a larger town or city. On this route, you can enjoy a bit of the Australian wilderness, without taking any big risks.
Discover our chosen campsite, and the best things to do on a 2-night stay, in the blog titled Blue Mountains National Park.
9. Adelaide to the Barossa Valley
We highly recommend a Barossa Valley road trip from Adelaide. Alternatively, you can stop at the Barossa Valley on the way out of the Outback, on your way to Adelaide, like we did.
Hiring a campervan is an excellent idea, and we found beautiful rural locations to spend the nights here. Alternatively, there are also a number of hotels nearby if you prefer a ‘proper’ bed.
There are many ways to avoid wine tasting and driving. We purchased bottles to enjoy back at our local campsite later on with dinner. If drinking at the vineyards is more for you, simply choose nearby accommodation that will help you get back and forth safely.
10. Alice Springs to Uluru
Last, but by no means least, Alice Springs to Uluru is one of our favourite Australia road trip ideas. Why? Because it involves the magic of road travel in the wild and rugged Australian Outback, but it’s suitable for those that are intimidated (rightly so) by days upon days of desert driving.
You can hire a car in Alice Springs and enjoy the expansive roads to Uluru. You can also stay overnight at Uluru with a variety of accommodation choices to suit all budgets, including desert camping and the 5-star Sails in the Desert Hotel.
Personally, we recommend including this road trip as part of a much bigger one in a hired campervan. The Uluru campsite is fairly basic but has everything you need for an Outback adventure.
Having a campervan means you can pull into early sunrise parking spots in the national park, climb back into bed, and watch an Uluru sunrise this way.
These 10 Australia road trip ideas really only scratch the surface of what this country has to offer out on the road. There are endless national parks, waterfalls, beaches and rural campsites to detour off to.
We hope our favourites, listed here, give you inspiration to try an Australia road trip of your own. If they do, please be sure to let us know which one you try and what you think!
N.B. We haven’t had the opportunity to visit the west coast of Australia yet. There are tons of cool road trips on the west coast, and further north too. We can’t wait to travel these routes one day and share our favourite stops with you.
In the meantime, if you have experienced Australia’s west coast by road, please feel free to leave excellent west coast road trip ideas in the comments below, for us and for our readers.