Eight of the best road trips to do on your summer break

January 10, 2016
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Summer break is the perfect time to get away from your studies and explore this pretty awesome country of ours. Grab a few mates, a banging playlist, some camping gear, and head out on a road trip. Here are eight of the best around the country that you can easily squeeze into a week.

Grand Pacific Drive, New South Wales

Starting in Sydney’s Royal National Park and finishing in Nowra, this sweet little drive down the NSW south coast drops some amazing scenery. Some of the highlights include the gravity-defying Sea Cliff Bridge, the famous Kiama Blowhole and the pristine white sands of Hyams Beach.

The Great Ocean Road, Victoria

Departing from Melbourne, you’ll forge along the coast and enjoy some of the most amazing ocean views and natural formations in Australia. Make sure you take a break at the Split Point Lighthouse in Aireys Inlet - it’s the one featured in our favourite childhood classic, Round The Twist.

Continue on to Port Campbell National Park, where you’ll find many reasons why the Great Ocean Road lives up to its name. Check out the decaying Twelve Apostles and the tragedy-struck Loch Ard Gorge. Finish off in Warrnambool, or loop around and follow the route inland back to Melbourne.   

Sydney to the Gold Coast (or vice versa), New South Wales/Queensland

The summer break is the best time to check out the beaches, national parks and campgrounds along the NSW north coast. Stay a couple of nights in chilled out Byron Bay and hang out with the hippies. And make sure to keep an eye on the horizon; it’s whale-watching season.

The trip will take you past a number of famous ‘big’ landmarks, including the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour, the Big Prawn in Ballina, the Big Axe in Kew, and the Big Bull in Wauchope.

Red Centre Way, Northern Territory

From Alice Springs, you’ll head off along the dusty red roads and soak up the iconic landscapes of Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon and Standley Chasm. For lovers of the outdoors, summer break is an ideal time to camp in the Red Centre, and there are plenty of camping facilities along the way.

Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Home to some of the most natural animal environments in Australia, Kangaroo Island offers up so much for animal lovers. Take a walk along the beaches and see if you can spot local colonies of fur seals, or spend an evening watching the fairy penguins return from the sea to their burrows. Flinders Chase National Park hosts quite a few sleepy koalas in its eucalyptus forests.

The Nullarbor Plain, South Australia/ Western Australia

Set off from Ceduna in SA and continue 2,000 km to Perth. Chase the Great Australian Bight and you’ll find yourself driving along the longest continuous straight road in the country. You’ll come across the odd mob of kangaroos, wild camels, and even some wedge-tailed eagles.

Perth to Broome, Western Australia

With the longest coastline in the country, WA has some of the most secluded and untouched beaches in Australia. This 3,900 km stretch of coast will take you to the turquoise waters of Exmouth, where you can do a whale shark snorkel safari to get up close to the biggest fish on the planet. If you’ve got time, detour through the Karijini National Park and the popular Rottnest Island for some extra sightseeing.

Heritage Highway, Tasmania

Tassie is teeming with history, and you can see it, smell it and feel it along Heritage Highway, the road between Hobart and Launceston. Built by convicts during the early 1800s, the road still has traces of their workmanship. Stay the night in a cosy stone cottage and feast on the region’s stellar cheese and wine, or simply take in the wonders of the ancient Tasmanian forests.

Cairns to Cape Tribulation, Queensland

Tropical North Queensland is a must-see destination. A trip from the chilled-out tourist hub of Cairns all the way up through the rainforest to Cape Tribulation is a colourful journey.

Check out the Barron Falls lookout in Barron Gorge National Park; it makes Niagara Falls look like a babbling brook. The next stop should be in Port Douglas, where you’ll find weekly wild toad races at the IronBar hotel.

Cross the croc-infested Daintree River into the dense and prehistoric Daintree Rainforest. Keep an eye out for cassowaries crossing the road, and make sure you explore the boardwalks over the mangroves. From Cape Tribulation, you’ll have crystal clear views over the rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. Just don’t go in the water - marine stingers and crocs lie waiting for unsuspecting tourists. 

Keegan Thomson

Keegan is studying journalism at the University of Western Sydney. He's an avid storyteller and global traveller whose likes include fresh bed sheets and Jeff Goldblum movies.

Image: Jay McBride, Flickr Creative Commons license