Australia is larger than you might think - as large as the USA without Alaska and three quarters the size of Europe. It is also extremely diverse with everything from snow-capped mountains to lush tropical forests, the outback desert and rolling green pastures. If you jet set from city to city, you'll miss all this.
The best (and cheapest) way to experience Australia is to hire a campervan and take a road trip. That way you have the freedom to can set your own itinerary, be spontaneous, take the road less travelled, and stop where you want for as long as you want.
With a kitchen in the back seat, you can pull into a stunning location, make lunch and soak in the views. It's the most convenient, affordable and memorable way to dine. And at the end of an adventure-filled day, your home is where ever you park it.
You will soon discover the camaraderie of the campervan community - kindred spirits who like to get off the beaten path, who appreciate the beauty of Australia, and are eager to share a few tips and their favorite camping locations with you. As Edith Wharton once said "One of the great things about travel is you discover how many good, kind people there are."
In this Road Trip Planner we detail some of the best road trips in Australia to help you plan your campervan self-drive itinerary.
Tropical North: Cairns - Townsville and Townsville - Airlie Beach
575 km | 3 days
This coastal drive winds between two World Heritage listed regions, the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforest clad mountains of the Wet Tropics. Highlights include Mission Beach, snorkeling or diving the Reef, exotic tropical fruit, wildlife, Hinchinbrook Island and its hikes, swimming holes and waterfalls of Wooroonooran National Park.
Sunshine Coast: Airlie Beach - Brisbane
1,120 km | 4 - 8 days
This coastal drive provides a combination of surf beaches and the tranquil tropical waters along the Great Barrier Reef. Highlights include Island hopping in Airlie Beach, snorkeling or diving the Great Barrier Reef, Eungella National Park, Cape Hillsborough, Agnes Waters, Lady Musgrave Island, whale watching at Hervey Bay, Fraser Island, the Great Sandy National Park, Glasshouse Mountains and Noosa Heads.
Queensland Outback: Townsville - Cunnamulla
1,700 km | 4 - 6 days
From Brisbane drive west to Cunnamulla and through the unique landscapes of Australia’s outback before returning to the tropical coastal city of Townsville and the Great Barrier Reef. Highlights include bilby encounters, star gazing, museums, outback art, sweeping views, red sand dunes, paddle steamer river cruises, dinosaur footprints, lots of wildlife, canyons and the historic town of Charters Towers.
Grand Pacific Drive: Sydney - Byron Bay - Gold Coast
1,050 km | 5 - 9 days
Highlights include the hippie towns of Nimbin and Byron Bay, unspoiled beaches and pretty coastal towns, surfing, beach camping, the fertile valleys of Bellingen, ancient forests of Dorrigo National Park, kangaroos, glow worm tunnels, the myriad waterways of Myall Lakes, the Hunter Valley wine region, and World Heritage listed Wollemi National Park.
South Coast: Sydney to Melbourne Drive
1,200 km | 5 - 10 days
If you like the laid back coastal lifestyle, surfing, swimming, paddling, catching your dinner on the end of a line, falling asleep to the sound of the ocean, star gazing, and bush walking, you'll love the south coast. Highlights: the Royal National Park, Sea Cliff Bridge, Kiama, squeaky white sands and friendly wildlife of Booderee National Park, climb Pigeon House Mountain, dive with seals, eat cheese in Tilba Tilba, fresh oysters, whale watching, Gippsland Lakes, Wilsons Promontory National Park, the penguins and wildlife on Phillip Island, the food, wine and swimming at Mornington Peninsula.
Snowy Mountains, Culture & Coast: Sydney - Canberra - Snowy Mountains - Melbourne
1,450 km | 5 - 10 days
This road trip combines Australia's capital, Canberra, with sweeping plains and mountains, rejoining the coastal route in Victoria. Highlights include the excellent museums and festivals of Canberra, spectacular mountain landscapes, cool climate wines, local produce, pretty mountain villages, the autumn colours of Bright, the waterways and historic towns of the Gippsland, spectacular Wilsons Promontory National Park, the penguins and wildlife on Phillip Island, and Mornington Peninsula.
Great Ocean Road: Melbourne to Adelaide Drive
1,500 km | 7 - 12 days
Great surf, picturesque coastal towns, ocean views around every bend, wine country and some spectacular hikes define this road trip. Highlights include the drive itself, hiking the Grampians, several well-established wine regions, picturesque rural villages, the wildlife on Kangaroo Island, glow worm caves and ancient forests of the Great Otway Naitonal Park, the local produce and vineyards of the Fleurieu Peninsula, the Twelve Apostles and Coorong National Park.
Broken Hill and the Outback: Sydney to Adelaide Drive
1,800 km | 7 - 14 days
From the rugged Blue Mountain National Park with its infinite walks, through orchards and cute art colonies, into stately country towns with mature trees and grand sandstone architecture, to the unique landscapes of Australia's outback with its vibrant red soil, impossible blue skies and wide open spaces, this road trip is a broad sample of Australian landscapes and communities.
Savanah Way: Cairns to Darwin
3,260 km | 9 - 15 days
The sparsely populated northern belt of Australia is one of dry red soil, termite mounds, surprising lush waterholes and isolated landscapes with not a human being in sight. Highlights include Undara Lava Tubes, Mataranka Hot Springs, Katherine, Nitmiluk National Park and Litchfield National Park. If you are adding this to the Darwin to Adelaide drive, you might have covered some of the attractions already and will be able to make this journey in 9 days instead of 15.
The Kimberley: Darwin to Broome
1,900 km | 7 days
The stunning and surreal landscapes of the Kimberley are like nowhere else on earth. Highlights include Kununurra and Lake Argyle, Parrys Lagoon boab forest, Wyndham, Geike Gorge National Park and Broome.
Western Australia: Broome to Perth Drive
3,200 km | 14 - 19 days
Swim with whale sharks on the Ningaloo Reef, meet the dolphins of Monkey Mia and the Shark Bay World Heritage Area, drive through the strange rocks of The Pinnacles Desert and carpets of wildflowers from July – October. Cruise the Dampier Archipelago and surf down the Lancelin Sand Dunes. This can be done in 14 days if you don't visit Karijini National Park or do the wildflower loop, which is seasonal.
The Perth to Adelaide Drive (via the Nullarbor Plain)
3,700 km | 16 days
Swim with dolphins, climb the giant Gloucester Tree, camp among Yeagerup Dunes, explore limestone caves, taste wine, cross the Nullarbor and lots more.
Red Centre: Darwin - Uluru - Adelaide
3,760 km | 9 - 15 days
This drive ends in a city, but what lies between is iconic Australian outback - Uluru, the Olgas, Devils Marbles, the underground town of Coober Pedy, Alice Springs, the MacDonnell Ranges, Mataranka hot springs, and the Litchfield and Nitmiluk National Parks. If you are adding this journey onto the Cairns to Darwin road trip, you might have covered some of the attractions already and will be able to make this journey in 9 days instead of 14 or 15.
18 Main Terrace,
South Australia 5033 Phone: 1800 216 223
344 Shute Harbour Road, Airlie Beach, Queensland 4802 Phone: 1800 216 223
20 Noble Avenue,
Northgate, Queensland 4013
Phone: 1800 216 223
440 Sheridan Street,
Queensland 4870 Phone: 1800 216 223
2/11 Northview St, Mermaid Waters QLD 4218 Phone: 1800 216 223
273 Elizabeth Street,
Victoria 3058 Phone: 1800 216 223
23-25 Erskine Rd,
Sydney, NSW 2229 Phone: 1800 216 223
14 Langton Street,
Queensland 4814 Phone: 1800 216 223