In some ways you can't think of Australia without also thinking, road trip. Driving around Australia is one of the most popular ways to see the country for backpackers. Driving gives you the freedom to stop where you wish to for as little or as long as you wish. There are some disadvantages, driving can become expensive when taking on the whole of Australia and so many of the backpacker buses are better value. However, there are some parts of Australia that really should be driven if you get the chance and have the budget for it.
Here I have highlighted some of the great Australian road trip that backpackers can, and should, take from short road trips easily completed in a day, to road trips that could take months if you have the time to spare. So pile some friends in to a van or car, plug in your mp3 player and choose one of these Australian road trips to take on.
Short Road Trip | Cairns - Port Douglas
This is a short road trip of 68km along the Captain Cook Highway but there are so many beaches and little towns to stop off this trip could easily take you a week. Check out Kuranda, a small little community reflective of the tropical Queensland vibe on your way through Trinity, Kewarra and Clifton Beach. If you only want to stop once then Palm Cove is the place to do it. Australia's number one wedding destination, the beach is amazing and their are plenty of shops and cafes to waste away the day before hitting the road again. Keep heading North past Wangetti Beach and you'll reach your destination of Port Douglas.
Medium Road Trip | Alice Springs - Darwin
In one hit this will take you 20 hours so you may as well spend some time soaking up the Australian outback and watching the scenery change as you head North through the Northern Territories. Along the road you will have the option to see the Devil's Marbles (Two huge granite boulders) near Tennant Creek or take some time out at the Mataranka Thermal Pools (needed after all that driving) before heading 100km to Katherine. Katherine is one of the Northern Territories largest towns so the perfect place to rehydrate (both you and the car) and restock. Next Day, hit the famous Stewart Highway stopping at an old historic mining town, Pine Creek, before finding yourself at Kakadu National Park. Once you've exhausted everything the park has to offer you it should take you about 3 hours to reach your final destination of Darwin.
Long Road Trip | Perth - Broome
This is a road trip for the hardcore, as this is a fair distance up Australia's west coast, the coral coast but if you can handle it, it is one amazing road trip. Start off with some intense driving to awesome road trip tunes for about 600km until you reach Kalbarri. Kalbarri offers beaches, surfing, whale watching and even a trip to Kalbarri National Park. Moving on from Kalbarri make a quick stop at Monkey Mia to spot dolphins and then head to Denham on the Peron Peninsula, Australia's most westerly town. Denham is also home to the Shark Bay World Heritage Area so take the time to stop and take a tour. After another stint of driving stop at Coral Bay. Spend as long as you want here as this is the southern gateway to Ningaloo Reef and so beaches and snorkelling are aplenty to spot diverse marine wildlife. Continue a little further to Exmouth and experience the only place where a world class marine park in the form of Ningaloo Reef is on one side of you and on the other is the stunning Cape Range National Park. Eight mile beach is the next famous stop on this trip for sensational sunrises and sunsets and the world's best shell collecting. Now your on the home straight to your final destination, the unforgettable Broome.
Infamous Australian Road Trip | Sydney - Alice Springs
The infamous Priscilla Queen of the Desert road trip. Put on your dresses, heels and make-up now. Starting in Sydney head towards the Blue Mountains to soak up the bohemian atmosphere and visit a piano bar. Then hit the Great Ocean Road taking in the villages, coastline and twelve apostles. For surfers out there check out Torquay on the way before arriving in Metropolitan Melbourne. If you manage to fit in everything Melbourne has to offer then head to Grampians National Park (to see volcanic trails and kangaroos) and on up to Adelaide. Adelaide is one of those chilled out places to be so is an excellent place to relax and recover from Melbourne and the driving. Next head through the Barossa Valley, make sure you stop for wine, and on up to the opal mining town of Cooper Pedy. Uluru (Ayers Rock) is your next destination and possibly the most impressive. Make sure you take it all in before you move on to Kings Canyon and then your final destination of Alice Springs.
In the words of E.B.White, "Everything in life is somewhere else, you get there in a car". There really is no excuse (other than protecting the environment, so drive responsibly) not to go on one of the Great Australia Road Trips to explore the depths of Australia's natural beauty.
*Some people reading this article are no doubt wondering why the most famous Australian Road Trip hasn't been mentioned: The Great Ocean Road! Well, this Australian Road Trip is so good, and so well known, that it deserves it's own article.
Thanks to holidayonline.com.au and msideadmissions.com for images