An epic road trip, it’s the dream right? Just you, your mates and the open road. With its great scenery, long empty roads and relatively relaxed driving rules, Australia was made for a road trip. Unlike the UK any insurance you get (it’s not compulsory) applies to the car, not to the driver, so anyone with a valid licence can hop behind the wheel. On top of this vehicles are relatively cheap, a second hand station wagon will set you back between $1000-1500, so there is nothing stopping you getting out there. The most common route for young travellers in Australia is the East Coast. From Sydney to Cairns or vice versa, this coastline takes in landmarks such as the Great Barrier Reef, Fraser Island and The Whitsundays. It’s a great trip and popularly done on the sociable Greyhound buses. However, if you’re looking for wild and deserted landscapes, the kind where the road stretches for miles ahead of you, try one of these alternatives.
The Great Ocean Road
This drive is no stranger to lists, often appearing amongst other bucket list travel experiences. The road itself is only 243 km long but there is plenty to stop and look at on the way. Hugging the rugged Victorian coastline the road meanders in a winding fashion giving you stunning views of the beaches and rock formations including the infamous 12 apostles. The drive also takes in a few quaint beachside towns and Lorne and Apollo Bay are certainly worth a wander along their parades of surf shops and trendy eateries. As the road winds inland and you drive through the lush Victorian rainforests, spot wild Koalas or take a walk to Erskine Falls. Just be sure to do the drive in summer time as Victorian weather is famously temperamental.
The Nullarbor Plain contains the longest stretch of straight road in Australia. 1000km at its widest point, the Nullarbor desert is a huge limestone bed crossing the Great Australian Bight, the semi-arid terrain between South and West Australia. In Latin Nullarbor means ‘no trees’ and that translates into a whole lot of nothing. The landscape may be barren but the vastness of it all and the huge skies make for spectacular scenery and some very good stargazing. If you did want something to do on the drive, Nullarbor Links have created the worlds largest golf course. Clubs and balls are available to hire at each roadhouse, which is where you will find each hole.
The Red Centre
Uluru is probably one of Australia’s most famous landmarks, but driving to see it is part of the whole experience. Heading north from South Australia things get gradually more wild, the ground gets gradually more orange and everything feels like the epitome of outback Australia. The first stop is Coober Pedy, the Opal capital of the world. The desert climate of this mining town is so harsh that many of the buildings were built underground. You can still visit the underground post office or stay in an underground hostel as well as doing a tour of the opal mines. Kata Tjuta national park is about 6 hours north of this, make sure to visit not only Uluru, but the Olgas and Kings Canyon.
This is a fairly loosely defined trip and could take you anywhere from Esperance up to Broome such is the size of WA. But the journey from Perth to Exmouth is enough to show you just how magnificent it is. There are a great many things to do on the West coast; marvel at the desert-like landscapes of Lancelin sand dunes and the Pinnacles, snorkel in the vividly blue Indian Ocean at Coral Bay and Turquoise Bay. Even head inland to Karijini National Park, a stunning collection of cliffs and valleys filled with waterfalls and hidden pools. Most of all spend the night on some of the most beautiful beaches you’ve ever seen and revel in the fact that you are alone. Unlike the East coast, the West coast does not attract hordes of tourists. The roads are long and empty, as are the beaches, making it one of the most amazing and truly Australian experiences possible.