14 fabulously scenic drives you must follow
Australia is made for road trips.
Coast-hugging touring routes, rainforest-clad paths, inland adventures, and trails showcasing anything from waterfalls to wineries.
We’ve rounded up some of the most scenic drives in Australia that you simply must follow.
Prepare for roads full of visual feasts and enthralling encounters…
The Great Ocean Road in VIC is world famous.
Touring routes in QLD
Great Barrier Reef Drive
Where: Cairns to Cape Tribulation.
In a nutshell: This coast-clutching route exposes two of Tropical North QLD’s signature attractions: reef and rainforest. It all comes to a head at Cape Tribulation – accessed via a cable ferry – which is famous as a rare meeting point of two World Heritage sites: The Wet Tropics of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef. On the journey, expect to encounter plenty of paradise-like beaches and gorgeous greenery.
Must-see attractions: Palm Cove, Ellis Beach, Daintree National Park and its two distinct sections: Mossman Gorge and Cape Tribulation.
Want more North QLD highlights? Find them here.
A coast-hugging route really is true of the Great Barrier Reef Drive. Credit: Tourism & Events Queensland.
Sunshine Coast Hinterland
Where: Brisbane to Montville.
In a nutshell: While sparkling waterways are a hallmark of this famous region, its hinterland is just as impressive. Lush rainforest, famed national parks and their towering peaks, charm-rich towns, and welcoming wineries all feature on this path. And the beauty of a return drive is you can follow the inland route one way and combine it with the coastal path for the other.
Must-see attractions: Glass House Mountains, D’Aguilar, and Kondalilla national parks, Maleny Botanic Gardens and Bird World, The Chapel Montville.
A mountain of beautiful vistas feature within the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Credit: Tourism & Events Queensland.
Touring routes in VIC
The Great Ocean Road
Where: From Torquay to Warrnambool.
In a nutshell: One of Australia’s most famous touring routes was built as a memorial to those who died fighting in World War I. A succession of astounding coastal vistas and sparkling beaches contrast with glorious rainforest, and some of Victoria’s most-loved holiday destinations are dotted along the way. A bucket-list experience.
Star attractions like the Twelve Apostles are within easy grasp of the famous pathway.
Great Alpine Road
Where: Wangaratta to Metung.
In a nutshell: An assortment of stunning, diverse scenery makes this an irresistible route. Be wowed by majestic mountains and alps, colourful vineyards, and expansive forests before reaching glittering waterways. The route slices through vibrant towns and sleepy townships that add to its rich allure.
Must-see attractions: Mt Buffalo and Alpine national parks, including Mt Hotham and Mt Feathertop. Charm-packed Bright is an essential stop, as is the old-gold town of Omeo.
Or check out nearby Lakes Entrance here.
Expect an assortment of dazzling scenery along the Great Alpine Road.
Touring routes in NT
Red Centre Way
Where: Alice Springs loop via Watarrka/Kings Canyon and Uluru.
Distance: 1135km, or 1750km for a completely sealed road.
In a nutshell: Witness some of Australia’s most mesmerising, iconic, and significant natural creations, including rock formations, gorges, and watering holes. Central Australia’s famous red desert sands are a signature of this unforgettable, epic touring route, which is rich in Indigenous history and culture.
Must-see attractions: Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the many highlights of Tjoritja/West MacDonnell National Park, and Kings Canyon.
Classic Australia: The Red Centre Way is a bucket-list drive.
Where: Darwin loop via Litchfield and Kakadu national parks.
In a nutshell: This route joins a trio of captivating national parks, led by World Heritage-listed Kakadu along with Nitmiluk and Litchfield. Be enchanted by their bountiful natural treasures and couple this with visits to inviting townships, refreshing springs, and other Top End delights.
Must-see attractions: Ancient rock art and Yellow Water Billabong in Kakadu, Nitmiluk Gorge and Leliyn/Edith Falls in Nitmiluk, termite mounds and Florence Falls in Litchfield, and Berry Springs Nature Park.
The roads connecting Nature’s Way lead to stunning scenery like that in Kakadu National Park.
Touring routes in WA
Best of the South West
Where: Perth to Albany and return.
In a nutshell: A first-class mix of exceptional coastline, dramatic formations, towering trees, stunning caves, and fabulous wine regions are just some of the many highlights of this terrific trail. Along the way are vibrant towns and cities that ensure this touring route is one that is best served unhurried.
Must-see attractions: Busselton Jetty, Walpole-Nornalup, Leeuwin-Naturaliste, Torndirrup, and William Bay national parks, Margaret River wine region, National Anzac Centre in Albany.
Want to know more about what to see and do in South West WA? Be inspired here.
Sparkling coastline meets towering trees: There’s so much to see along the Best of the South West drive.
The Indian Ocean Drive
Where: Perth to Kalbarri and return.
In a nutshell: This is a road trip for the ages, encompassing a raft of mind-blowing scenic wonders from eye-catching, colourful formations to mesmerising coastline. Witness amazing sunsets, feast on delectable seafood, and soak up fascinating histories. It’s a long drive but one that is chock-full of rewards.
Must-see attractions: A sequence of national parks holds incredible treasures: the Pinnacles Desert in Nambung, spring wildflowers in Lesueur, limestone caves in Stockyard Gully, and Nature’s Window in Kalbarri. Hutt Lagoon (Pink Lake) is not to be missed, either.
The Pinnacles Desert is among the many highlights when hitting the Indian Ocean Drive. Credit: Tourism Western Australia.
Touring routes in NSW
Where: Coffs Harbour to Armidale.
In a nutshell: A path bursting with spectacular scenery. Expect to encounter World Heritage national parks, swathes of seemingly never-ending rainforest, and a handful of enthralling waterfalls among more. And the two cities that mark the route’s start and end points warrant extended stays thanks to their many excellent attractions.
Must-see attractions: Dorrigo National Park’s Skywalk lookout and Crystal Shower Falls, massive Wollomombi Falls in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, and Ebor Falls in Guy Fawkes River National Park and Dangar Falls near Dorrigo.
Waterfall Way lives up to its title. Pictured: Dangar Fall. Credit: Destination NSW.
Grand Pacific Drive
Where: Royal National Park to Jervis Bay.
In a nutshell: Sparking coastal vistas abound on this snaking path that begins south of Sydney in the world’s second-oldest national park. The sparkling water views contrast with sharp towering coastal cliffs and rainforest-dominated vistas. A highlight is the iconic Sea Cliff Bridge, which exemplifies the breathtaking beauty for 665m. Time-honoured holiday hotspots are dotted along the way.
Must-see attractions: Royal National Park, Symbio Wildlife Park, Nan Tien Temple, Kiama Blowhole.
Looking to extend the journey? Check out South Coast NSW holiday highlights here.
The landmark Sea Cliff Bridge shows off this path’s plentiful goodies. Credit: Destination NSW.
Touring routes in TAS
Great Eastern Drive
Where: Orford to St Helens.
In a nutshell: Embracing Tasmania’s enchanting east coast, the drive unveils a litany of bedazzling scenery. Expect to witness beautiful beaches, majestic mountains, rows of vineyards, quirky formations, and iconic national parks while indulging in fresh and tasty homegrown produce.
Must-see attractions: Freycinet National Park and its hero attraction, Wineglass Bay, Maria Island, Bicheno Blowhole, Binalong Bay and the Bay of Fires.
Expect to be wowed along the Great Eastern Drive. Credit: Pete Harmsen.
West Coast Wilderness
Where: Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair.
In a nutshell: It’s no stretch to say this drive encounters some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet, including sections of the enormous Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area. Towering peaks, tapestries of rainforest, and sparkling lakes and rivers all feature alongside captivating heritage towns and plenty of other surprises.
Must-see attractions: Cradle Mountain–Lake St Clair and Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers national parks, the timeless streetscape of Zeehan, Montezuma Falls, the West Coast Wilderness Railway, and the ‘moonscape’ scenery around Queenstown.
Learn more about Strahan and surrounds here.
Wild adventures: West Coast Wilderness is a route filled with splendid scenery. Credit: Pete Harmsen.
Touring routes in SA
The Epicurean Way
Where: Adelaide loop via four prominent wine regions.
In a nutshell: Incorporating some of Australia’s most famous wine regions – McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, the Barossa, and Clare Valley – the Epicurean Way is all about indulgence, glorious scenery, and relaxation. Prepare for a taste of the good life.
Must-see attractions: Aside from the many iconic cellar doors, highlights include Port Willunga Beach, the German-themed town of Hahndorf, Mt Lofty Botanic Garden, and Mt Crawford Forest Reserve.
Indulge along the palate-pleasing Epicurean Way. Location: The Barossa. Credit: SATC.
Southern Ocean Drive
Where: Adelaide to Mt Gambier via Kangaroo Island.
Distance: 650km, not including Kangaroo Island ferry crossing.
In a nutshell: Explore two treasure-stuffed regions – the Fleurieu Peninsula and the Limestone Coast – with its mix of stunning, dramatic landscapes. Be greeted by long stretches of astonishing coastline and glistening beaches, captivating caves, vivid lakes, and much more. And a side trip from Mt Gambier to the Coonawarra wine region and Naracoorte Caves is highly rewarding.
Must-see attractions: Kangaroo Island, Victor Harbor, Coorong National Park, Cape Jaffa, Tantanoola Caves, and Mt Gambier’s Blue Lake.
Sparkling scenery begins just out of Adelaide along the Southern Ocean Drive. Credit: Jem Cresswell.
Isn’t it time you went on a road trip? Plan your touring route adventures with BIG4 now.
Please note: All distances are approximate and don’t include detours. On any road trip, it’s advisable to stop regularly for breaks. Don’t drink and drive but do have fun.
Reproduced with the permission of BIG4 Holiday Parks. This article first appeared on BIG4.com.au https://www.big4.com.au/tips-and-inspiration/things-to-see-and-do/drives-and-road-trips/14-fabulously-scenic-drives-you-must-follow and was republished with permission.
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