Great road trips: Five coast drives in Australia
With coastlines totalling 35,876kmi in length, holiday makers are spoilt for choice when it comes to great road trips along the Australian coast. Below are some of our top coastal drive picks. Pick one or all five of the recommended drives for your upcoming vacation!
Naturally, passenger safety and vehicle reliability should always be top priorities. So before you head out on a long drive make sure your vehicle is prepared for your holiday trip and that you have the security of car insurance.
The Legendary Pacific Coast (NSW & QLD)
A drive along the Pacific Coast that stretches 900km from Sydney to Brisbane will take you through some of the country's most striking landscapes. Surf beaches, national parks and luscious hinterlands along the way make this drive a great getaway. You can recuperate at Terrigal at an oceanfront café, feed some pelicans at The Entrance or check out the historic city of Newcastle. Other must-visit destinations include Port Stephens, Australia's 'dolphin capital' and Port Macquarie, a getaway known for its scenic views and tranquil swimming areas. Of course, the drive doesn't end at Port Macquarie. Continue north to witness The Big Banana at Coffs Harbour, savour some fresh prawns at Yamba, or snorkel with sea turtles in the luminous water of Byron Bay. If you're a surfer, there's countless surf breaks to try on this drive: and of course you'll have to visit Surfers Paradise. Lastly, pull up at Queensland's capital city, Brisbane, where the end of the road trip marks the start of another exciting adventure.
The Great Southern Way (NSW & VIC)
The Great Southern Way from New South Wales to Victoria is one of Australia's most scenic interstate drives. Heading south from Sydney the drive skirts the coast and the great waters of the Pacific Ocean, Tasman Sea and Bass Strait for approximately 1160km. Along this coastal road, you have the option of stopping at one of the many exquisite national parks and reserves that are situated slightly further inland.
From Sydney, make your way to Kiama where the town's renowned blowholes are located. Venturing further, witness white pristine beaches at Jervis Bay, spot kangaroos at Pebbly Beach or scuba dive at Montague Island, off Narooma. Taste some delectable fresh cheese at Bega or historic Tilba. You can also pay a visit to the whaling village of Eden, fish at Lakes Entrance or go on a leisure river cruise at Sale. Be sure to stop by at Wilsons Promontory, located on the southernmost tip of Australia, where you can play golf while kangaroos graze peacefully around you. While there, you may also hike at one of the nation's most picturesque national parks. From here, make your way to Phillip Island to penguin-watch or pay a visit to Walhalla, the centre of a pioneer goldfield. Then it's on to the final destination of this great coastal drive: the great city of Melbourne.
Great Ocean Road (VIC)
The Great Ocean Road spans over 200km from Geelong to Portland in south-west Victoria. The coastal drive is incredibly scenic and you will be able to stop frequently at designated spots to soak up the views. Along the dazzling drive, you can learn about vibrant Aboriginal culture at Geelong, hit the surf at Torquay or unwind at Lorne. Discover hidden waterfalls and stunning beaches within the Great Otway National Park before making a pit stop at the must-see Twelve Apostles - a rugged splendour of rock stacks. After this, take a breather at the charming fishing village of Port Fairy before continuing on to see playful fur seals at Portland. Complete your journey at Nelson where you can join a river cruise and witness the spectacular sand dunes of Discovery Bay.
Spectacular Tasmanian East Coast (TAS)
The coastal drive from Hobart to the breathtaking Bay of Fires on Tasmania's east is approximately 450km. Leave Hobart and curve inland to the holiday town of Orford to make your way to Maria Island. At the island, change into your walking shoes to explore the ruins of the Darlington convict settlement or enjoy the sights of possums, wallabies and other wildlife at the island's National Park. Make your way to Swansea to relax on one of the many beaches or sample some wines from local vineyards. Soak up some sensational sights at Freycinet Peninsula and catch the sunrise at Coles Bay. Swimming in the turquoise waters of Wineglass Bay or climbing up the pink granite mountain, Mount Graham, should also be a top priority on your agenda. From here on, you can snorkel, scuba dive or taste fresh seafood at Bicheno, go on a tour to Diamond Island to watch penguins, or tuck into a plate of the local's favourite European-style pancakes at Elephant Pass. Get out your fishing rods at the village of St Helens and make your way up north to the Bay of Fires where you can witness beautiful shell-strewn beaches. End your relaxing trip here or, alternatively, drive into the city of Launceston for some of Tasmania's best fish and chips.
Indian Ocean Road (WA)
Completed in 2010, the Indian Ocean Road is a relatively new coastal road that links Lancelin with the older Brand Highway and ends at Geraldton. Begin your journey at the small fishing town of Lancelin and make your way to Cervantes to view an amazing display of native wildflowers and pristine beaches. 245km north of Perth, Cervantes is also home to an internationally renowned natural icon, The Pinnacles. These incredible limestone structures are located in Namburg National Park. Lake Thetis, situated near the Cervantes, is also a must-visit destination; it is one of only six locations in the world where the oldest living fossils - stromatolites and strombalites - can be easily viewed.
As you continue your journey up north on the Indian Ocean Road, you can catch amazing views of native bush from Molah Hill Lookout, skydive out of a plane and land on the soft sands of Jurien Bay or experience the coastal village charm of the twin towns of Dongara and Port Denison. Once you've arrived at Geraldton, end your trip with a satisfying meal of fresh lobsters.
i Coastline Lengths, Geoscience Australia, Commonwealth of Australia. 4 June 2009. Retrieved 5 December 2011.