In this guest post, Natasha of The Great Ocean Road Collective shares insider advice for road tripping in Australia!
Australia is the ideal destination for a road trip – offering everything from tropical rainforests, sun-soaked beaches, metropolitan cities, abundant wildlife and so much more.
Whether you’re looking for leisure or adventure, Australia has got you covered. Regardless of the amount of time you’ve got to explore this huge country, there’s an epic road trip waiting for you. In this Guide to Road Tripping Australia you’ll learn exactly how to hit the road in Australia!
Select Your Transportation
The first step to any road trip is figuring out how you want to get around. Australia is a huge country, with long distances between major cities. If you don’t have your own car you can rent one from many agencies across the country.
Camper vans and RVs are also popular ways of getting around, with the added bonus of built-in accommodations! For information on traveling by RV check out these camper life articles!
If you decide to rent a vehicle, be sure to compare rates and read the fine print so you know the terms of your rental. If you plan on visiting during the high-season, book in advance as rentals go quickly!
If you’d rather not do the driving yourself, there are several bus tour agencies available offering various itineraries.
In Case of Emergency
No matter how you choose to get around, be sure to have the local emergency services number at hand on your mobile, as well as your insurance and breakdown details.
Most car rental companies will supply you with a roadside assistance number.
The Australian emergency number is 000 and should be dialed if you need urgent help from police, firefighters, or an ambulance. Having these details ready to go means you’ll be less stressed and will avoid wasting time if you’re in an unfortunate situation.
Plan Your Route
Australia is a huge country, and with so many beautiful destinations, deciding where to road trip can be challenging. Though there are many areas of Australia to visit, here we’ll share some of the most popular road trip destinations.
The Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is a majestic stretch of coastal road along the southern coast of the Australian state of Victoria.
The area is known for its epic surf, stunning coastal scenery, picturesque beaches, as well as gorgeous walks and fresh culinary scene.
Highlights of this trip include the legendary Twelve Apostles, Bells Beach and the Great Otway National Park.
Since the Great Ocean Road is only 243-kilometers (150 miles), it’s a good option if you’ve got less time on your hands. Not only will you get to enjoy some of the best views in Australia, you can head onward to major destinations like Melbourne or Adelaide if you’ve got more time.
While the Great Ocean Road is amazing, the East Coast is equally full of adventure.
The stretches between Sydney to Byron Bay (760 km/ 472 miles), and Brisbane to Cairns (1700 km/ 1000 miles) make excellent road trips, all depending on the amount of time you have to explore.
Byron Bay is a famous East Coast highlight that provides a laid-back, aesthetically-pleasing visit.
Noosa National Park offers beautiful ocean scenery, and awesome trekking opportunities.
The Whitsundays are a group of idyllic white islands among the Great Barrier Reef.
If you feel like venturing inland, try the direct route between Sydney and Brisbane, which takes you through charming country towns. You’ll have plenty of time for pit stops at cute cafes and cozy bakeries along the way.
Research Must See Destinations
Regardless of the amount of time you have to road trip in Australia, you’ll want to make time for must see destinations. Those destinations will depend on your interests and budget, so it’s worth doing some research ahead of time!
For adventure lovers, it might be visiting iconic surf spots like Bells Beach or Bondi Beach, where you can catch a world famous wave!
Wine enthusiasts should consider a trip to the Hunter Valley in New South Wales where you can enjoy a glass of world famous Shiraz with a view of the gorgeous valley.
Hikers and Outdoor Enthusiasts
Hikers may want to check out the Daintree Rainforest on the East Coast, north of Cairns, which offers hiking trails for all skill levels.
Download the Right Apps
In the modern era, having the right apps downloaded on your mobile can make any road trip that much easier. Below are the apps we recommend for your Australian road trip.
If you’re traveling from abroad, you may not have a data plan on your mobile phone. Instead, we recommend the Google Maps app to download an offline map of the area you are going to travel. You’ll be able to add destinations including landmarks, parks and accommodations, which will make navigating a new area much easier.
Another useful app is the Wikicamps Australia app for up to the most up-to-date database of campgrounds, RV parks, hostels, public dumping points and more.
Fuel Map Australia
The Fuel Map Australia app will allow you to locate nearby fuel stations. This app also lists the fuel prices so you can find the lowest cost fuel!
Toilet Finder App
The Toilet Finder app will find the closest toilet in the area, which is a life saver on a long drive!
XE Currency Converter
If you aren’t accustomed to doing mental math before making purchases, consider downloading a currency app like XE Currency Converter.
This app will quickly convert from AUD (Australian dollars) to your home currency so you know exactly how much you’re spending.
Remember a Paper Map!
While technology is primarily what you’ll rely on, we always recommend having a traditional paper map in the case you should lose signal or battery!
Make the Most of Rest Stops
The best road trips involve lots of snacks, well-curated playlists and lots of stops along the way to explore the local area and take the occasional bathroom break.
Depending on the region you decide to road trip, there can be long stretches between cities which means it’s especially important to make the most of each stop.
This includes stocking on the essentials, including fuel, water and snacks. You may also want to take the opportunity to connect to the internet to plan your next destination or to recharge a laptop or tablet.
Keep it Green
Part of traveling Australia is getting to enjoy the pristine natural environment. The country is home to some of the world’s most rare and endangered animals, including koalas, kangaroos, sea turtles, and more.
Being respectful of the environment is essential. Use stops to properly dispose of any garbage, compost or recycling that you may have accumulated during the drive.
We recommend using a reusable water bottle and filling it up at rest stops as well as bringing your own utensils to avoid single use plastic.
There are also tons of local farmers markets across the country, which make great places to stock up on fresh produce and artisanal goods during your travels. Not only will you be exploring and supporting the local Australian economy, you’ll also be lowering your environmental footprint.
Tune In to the Aussie Attitude
At the end of the day, there’s only so much planning you can do. Sometimes things just don’t go as planned. Maybe it ends up raining on the beach day you planned, your car breaks down, or the restaurant you wanted to try is under renovation.
While these types of situations aren’t much fun, you can learn a lot from Aussie locals by embracing their laid-back, go-with-the-flow attitude. Don’t be afraid to slow down, change the itinerary or ask questions. Australians are super friendly and will want to share their insider tips with you!
Get a Taste of Australian Culture
Whether you have a few days or several months to explore, be sure to experience some of Australia’s unique culture.
Surfing is one of Australian’s most iconic sports, and is a big part of Aussie culture. Spend a day in Torquay learning about Australian surf culture at the Australian Surf Museum and exploring Bells Beach, or try-out a surf lesson at Bondi Beach in Sydney.
Regardless of where you decide to surf, do your research first to find the best spots to match your skill level. Even if you’re not into trying the sport yourself, you’ll surely enjoy watching the pros catch a wave!
Another big part of Australian culture is its food. You’ll find a dish or snack for even the fussiest of eaters, alongside some staple foods such as pies and burgers which have been adapted to suit the Aussie taste and lifestyle.
Try out Australian classics like Tim Tams, Lamingtons, Meat Pies, and even Kangaroo!
The country is also known for its world-class coffee and talented baristas. There are tons of cafes and coffee shops across the country, with some of the best being found in major cities like Melbourne and Sydney.
Try a local favorite, the Piccolo Latte. This hot drink is made with less milk, which really lets the strong espresso flavor shine through.
Australia is an amazing country full of life, amazing food and drinks, world class sports and adventure, and some of the best beaches in the world. Use this guide to prepare your itinerary, prioritize based on your interests, and make the most of what Australia has to offer.
Natasha writes for The Great Ocean Road Collective, a website dedicated to sharing the beauty of the Great Ocean Road in Australia with travelers far and wide.
If you are planning your trip, need some inspiration, or if you’re looking for authentic advice on Aussie travel visit our website The Great Ocean Road Australia or check us out on Instagram.
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