Australia - home to incredible views, glorious sunshine, and unforgettable driving roads. There’s nothing quite like hitting the road in this sprawling hub of natural beauty. Coast through luscious rainforests, famous ocean hugging highways, and through the mountains.
The best way to experience a country is by road, and as the sixth largest country in the world, you’re spoilt for choice with Australia. But such a vast landscape can be daunting take on, and with so many famous driving roads, deciding which to take is a challenge. There’s hundreds of them, so you want to make sure it’s worth the visit. So, we’ve put together five of Australia’s best driving roads to help you. One thing’s for sure - there’ll be plenty of places to stop and take in the unbelievable scenery. We recommend stopping of at some of Australia’s lesser known towns and villages along the way, too.
Please note we’ve given estimate driving times. You’ll probably want to spend time to explore the surrounding areas, so be sure to consider this when planning your strip. Now buckle up and get your sunnies on - all 7.692 million square kilometres of Australia awaits!
The Great Ocean Road, Victoria
Driving time: 413 miles Distance: 9.5 hours
This humongous 413 mile stretch of tarmac is the Great Ocean Road, or the GOR. It’s one of the most famous drives in the world, and for good reason. It covers the very bottom of mainland Australia, twisting and turning through the dramatic coastline. Most drivers recommend starting off at Torquay, so you’re on the ocean side of the ride, making it easier to stop off to take in the view. Be sure to stop off at Memoria Arch, just a thirty minute drive from Toquay. And if you take this route between May and October, you might even see some whales.
It’s a long old stretch, but there are plenty of places to rest your weary head. Driving the Great Ocean Road could easily be turned into a 3, 4, even 5 day road trip. Many people spend the night at Apollo Bay, a gorgeous seaside village known for its laidback vibe.
The majority of those who take to the GOR will visit the 12 Apostles. And while it's a beautiful sight, we encourage you to go beyond that, and explore more of the Port Campbell National Park. As well as the 12 Apostles, it’s home to an incredible site of a 19th-century shipwreck. Plus, you’ll see Loch Ard Gorge, the Island Archway, and the cliff-face Gibson Steps.
Lyell Highway, Tasmania
Distance: 154 miles Driving time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Lyell Highway, Gormonston Road, 99 bends, are all names that you might hear for this incredible 154-mile stretch. Formerly Gormonston, colloquially 99 bends, and officially Lyell, this highway is seriously beautiful. It’s one of the most dramatic landscapes in Australia and with a highest elevation point at 853m, so you’ll certainly see some killer views. Passing through the famous Gormonston Hill section is nothing short of jaw-dropping, you'll be doing a double take to check you haven’t just landed on the moon. The bumpy, moody looking hills are particularly lunar-like, and in this remote part of Tasmania, it’s likely you'll be alone on the roads. Just you and the silky smooth tarmac. Lyell Highway has a long motorsport heritage, too. It’s home to the annual Targa Tasmania, so some people try to test the limits of their car on these roads - be sure to take caution.
Sea Cliff Bridge, New South Wales
Driving time: 5 minutes Distance: 0.2 miles
If you want to feel on top of the world, driving this unforgettable bridge will do that to you. It’s a feat of modern engineering, only having been built in 2005. The bridge hangs off the edge of the cliff - it’s one of seven of its kind in the world. It’s just an hour away from Sydney, so a day trip is certainly possible. But, the Sea Cliff Bridge is actually a highlight of the wider Grand Pacific Drive road trip, which we highly recommend taking.
Start off in Sydney and when you reach the Royal National Park, that’s where the Grand Pacific Drive begins. It’s an 86 mile journey to the end point, Stanwell Tops, with jaw dropping vistas along the way. Wind through lush rainforests before reaching the iconic Sea Cliff Bridge, which is an undeniably epic picture worthy moment. This drive showcases incredible cliff faces and beautiful beaches - be sure to pack your swimsuit!
The drive also takes you through the coastal towns of of Wollongong and Kiama. When you reach Wollongong, you’ll probably want to stay for a few days. With so much to see and do, including surfing, rock pools, forests, Mount Keira, and plenty of independent shops and eateries, it makes for the perfect pit stop. Further along, Kiama is particularly beautiful for its rugged coastline, volcanic rock formations, and long stretches of sandy beaches. And if you visit Kiama, you mustn’t miss the Kiama blowhole.
Great Alpine Road, Victoria
Distance: 225 miles Driving time: 5 hours 40 minutes
The state of Victoria does have ‘great’ roads, doesn’t it? And this one is up there with the best of them. Great Alpine is Australia’s highest sealed road and considered one of the most beautiful in the world. If you love driving, you’ll absolutely adore the butter smooth tarmac. The 191-mile route winds through rugged Australian scenery, starting off in Wagaratta and coasting all the way to Metung. When you reach the picturesque village of Metung, you’ll be surrounded by the sparkling Gippsland Lakes. Along the way, drivers traverse through the Victorian Alps, deep valleys, farms, vineyards, and historic towns, including Beechworth, Bright, and Omeo. And don’t miss Victoria’s highest alpine village, Mount Hotham. Take caution around this stretch, as it’s full of steep grades, hairpin bends, and lots of twists. At Mount Hotham, weather dependant, visitors can enjoy excellent skiing, trekking, horse riding, and fishing.
It’s well worth setting aside two or three days to properly explore everything that this road has to offer. The dramatic mountain backdrop is really the perfect setting for the one of the best driving roads out there.
Black Spur Road, Victoria
Distance: 18.5 miles Driving time: 30 minutes
Between the towns of Healesville and Narbethong, is this fairytale-like 18.5 mile road. It’s not the longest drive, but the lush forest landscapes will blow your mind. Plus, if you like the smell of eucalyptus, you’re in luck - there’s a record breaking number of eucalyptus trees in the sprawling Yarra Ranges. The two lane road twists and turns around fern gullies and dense forestry, with some sharp hairpin turns. Take your time down the windy paths and enjoy the spectacular surroundings. Lower your windows and take it all in, gazing up at the immense Mountain Ash trees.
Lyrebirds and kangaroos call this forest home, so be sure to keep your eye out for the wildlife. It’s not a long drive, but a pit stop in the quaint town of Marysville is a must. Nestled into the Yarra Valley, the Steavenson River runs through the town centre, all the way to Steavenson Falls. The waterfalls are a must-see, then round off the trip at one of Marysville’s pubs or eateries