Australia is one of the best places in the world for travelling on the open road. Head to the Outback and you’ve got miles of road that seem to go on for ever, with rust-red coloured earth on either side and an expanse of blue sky that meets the horizon. Combine that with the contrast of spectacular coastal routes and winding roads edging rainforest and it’s a paradise for exploring from behind the wheel, especially since it’s a fair old distance between each place that you’ll want to visit.
Australians drive on the left and you can use your UK licence Down Under for up to three months. So make sure your knowledge of the rules of the road is sound and be aware of any extra driving rules for Australia’s different states. Then get in the driving seat and check out my five top places to travel in Australia:
1) The Great Ocean Road – This has to be one of the most scenic and iconic coastal drives in the world. Starting in Torquay in Victoria State, the 244km route snakes its way around cliffs and beautiful sea vistas to take in landmarks such as the rocky outcrops of the Twelve Apostles on the way to Port Campbell. Although there are only eight apostles left now, due to erosion, they are still a big feature on many picture postcards and, as such, are a great photo opportunity. The route finishes at Allansford, near Warrnambool, on the Princes Highway.
2) Uluru to Kings Canyon – Take in the red earth and big skies in an epic journey along the Lasseter Highway. The drive will take about three hours and make sure you’ve got enough gas in your tank as it’s a long way between filling stations in the Outback. Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, holds a magical presence as it seems to rise right out of an otherwise flat landscape in the centre of the Outback. Take in a stunning sunrise before heading off for the breath-taking scenery of Kings Canyon.
3) The Sunshine Coast – Stretching over 120km from Queensland’s Bribie Island in the south to Rainbow Beach in the north, this stunning route is great for exploring off the beaten track. Take a side trip for the Glass Mountain Tourist Drive, also known as Steve Irwin Way, in honour of the late crocodile hunter. Here, feast on spectacular views of these mountains – the result of lava eruptions approximately 20 million years ago. When driving along the Sunshine Coast you’ll also be able to visit adorable little towns while never being far away from an expanse of golden beach.
4) Sydney to Melbourne – Take in pretty coastal towns, big national parks and turquoise blue lagoons as you follow the route between Australia’s two famous cities. Check out Jervis Bay, a hot contender for Australia’s most beautiful stretch of white sand. Include time to enjoy a dolphin-watching cruise or a spot of diving or snorkelling.
5) Fraser Island – Located off the Queensland coast, Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world and can only be negotiated by foot or four wheel drive. The scenery on the island is unbelievable as you’ll drive past 240-metre high sand dunes before heading through melaleuca trees to find the glimmering emerald-green Lake Wabby and the crystal clear Lake McKenzie. Enjoy the rocky headlands at Indian Head and Waddy Point and see if you can spot the giant stingray.