10 of the best road trips downunder

Car caked in mudBirdsville, QueenslandAustraliaby Joanne LaneIn our August newsletter we detailed the incredible East Coast overland route from Sydney to Brisbane that is so popular with backpackers, particularly those with their own vehicle. It’s not the only amazing overland route however should you wish to tackle such a journey downunder. Here’s a list of some other routes to consider.

East Coast Sydney-Brisbane
Distance: 922km
Minimum time: 10 hours (best done over at least a week)
Byron Bay lighthouseByron Bay, New South Wales, AustraliaBy Joanne LaneThis is probably the route that most people follow when they hit Australia as many people end up in Sydney. The main features are the numerous beaches along the way, although there are plenty of hinterland stops off the coast that are equally as interesting. This is the route we outlined in full in the August 2013 newsletter.
Key stops include: the beaches and national parks around Newcastle and Coffs Harbour, beautiful Byron Bay and maybe some side tracks into Nimbin and Mt Warning.

East Coast Brisbane-Cairns
Distance: 1700km
Minimum time: 18 hours (best done over at least two weeks)
This is another popular route along the east coast and  could be combined with the previous one to cover most of this part of Australia. The great thing about this route is that it can be done at any time of year, but is particularly good for the cold seasons as the weather is still quite warm in the north. It also offers some of the best diving opportunities in Australia.
Key stops include: the beaches of the Sunshine Coast, the world’s largest sandy isle Fraser Island, Airlie Beach (gateway to the Whitsundays) and Townsville.

Top End: Cairns to Darwin
Distance: 2844km
Minimum time: 27 hours (best done over 2+ weeks)
This journey across the top end of the country takes the traveller from the reef at Cairns through Queensland’s Gulf Country and outback towns past spectacular parks such as Katherine, Litchfield and Kakadu to the Northern Territory capital. It is not a route to be undertaken in the wet season over summer as high rain fall can cut towns and highways for many weeks.
Key stops include: Townsville, Mount Isa mines, Tennant Creek to see the Devils Marbles and spectacular Katherine Gorge.

creek bedTop End: Darwin to Broome
Distance: 1900km
Minimum time: 17 hours (best done over 2+ weeks)
Broome lies on the West Australian coast and is an excellent location for this journey through the incredible Kimberley region. If you have a 4WD you could take the Gibb River Road through to Broome past numerous waterfalls and cattle stations. Alternatively journey along the highway past the Bungle Bungles. At the end of the trip are the beautiful beaches of Broome – perfect to relax on after such a long journey.
Key stops include: beautiful Kununurra (gateway to the Kimberley), remote Halls Creek (gateway to the Bungle Bungles if you have a 4WD) and the golden sands fo Broome.

West Coast: Broome to Perth
Distance: 2512km
Minimum time: 27 hours (best done over 2+ weeks)
Covering the majority of the West Australian coast, this trip can easily be broken up by numerous stops at remote, deserted and amazingly beautiful beaches. A highlight includes snorkeling or diving at Ningaloo Reef where there are whale sharks.
Key stops on this route include gorgeous Broome, Port Hedland, the amazing Ningaloo reef, Shark Bay and Kalbarri National Park. Animals, beaches and amazing coastline.

Abandoned car near Coober PedySouth AustraliaAustraliaBy Joanne LaneNullarbor: Perth to Adelaide
Distance: 2800km
Minimum time: 27 hours (best done over 2 weeks)
This rather epic journey across the Nullarbor Plain, an enormous expanse of limestone rock with barely a turn or twist along the road, is a once in a lifetime type roadtrip. There are plenty of things to see and do along the way including taking on the world’s biggest golf course. The Nullarbor Links is an 18 hole, 72 par golf course stretching 1365km along the Eyre Highway. Many of the holes are at roadhouses and pubs so you can get a drink and snack as you go along.
Key stops include: incredible Wave Rock, the white sandy beaches at Esperance, the cliffs of the Great Australian Bight and the dramatic Nullarbor Plain. One of Australia’s great road journeys.

Red Centre: Darwin to Alice and Uluru
Distance: 2000km
Minimum time: 17 hours (best done over 2 weeks)
Plunging right through the heart of the country, this particular overland trip is one you’ll never forget. This journey is all about the red landscapes of the dead centre – Uluru and Kata Tjuta are notable highlights but many are amazed at all the other things to see enroute – the Devils Marbles, Katherine Gorge and the Macdonnell Ranges.
Key stops include: the wonderful parks of Litchfield/Kakadu (add additional kilometres), the stunning Katherine Gorge, Tennant Creek to see the Devils Marbles, Alice (gateway to the MacDonnell Ranges) and Uluru itself.

Adelaide to Alice via Uluru
Distance: 2030km
Minimum time: 14 hours (best done over 2 weeks)
Link this trip up with the one above and you’ll have traversed the entire continent from north to south through the middle. While Uluru is a highlight there are beautiful sights in South Australia such as the enormous salt lakes of Lake Eyre, remote outback towns where you can stay underground like Coober Pedy, or drink a beer with cattle station owners in William Creek. The Flinders Ranges have fantastic camping spots and walking tracks. And it’s worth stopping off in the Clare or Barossa Valleys foor a spot of wine tasting.
Key stops include: Wine tasting in the Clare or Barossa valleys, the superb Flinders Rangers National Park, eclectic Coober Pedy for its underground homes, Uluru National Park and Alice itself (gateway to the MacDonnell Ranges)

Twelve Apostles Great Ocean Road, Victoria Australia By Joanne LaneGreat Ocean Road: Torquay to Warrnambool
Distance: 243km
Minimum time: 3 hours (best done over several days)
The Great Ocean Road is probably one of the most famous roads in Australia but it’s also one of the shortest overland trips. It could easily be combined with the extended route to Perth or north to Alice Springs or Darwin. The fantastic coastline and its unusual geographic formations are a highlight for many visiting Victoria.
Key stops include: lovely seaside villages of Anglesea and Lorne, surfing at Apollo Bay, Port Campbell for the natural limestone and sandstone rock formations such as the 12 apostles, and the Bay of Islands Coastal Park. One of the world’s greatest drives


Hope you’re enjoying the VIP Backpacker’s Travel Blog. If there are any travel topics you want covered feel free to contact Jo at viplounge@vipbackpackers.com