Australia Day brings a time to appreciate the nation’s unique landscape by hitting the road and not looking back. Born and bred in Scotland, I haven’t had many opportunities to indulge in the classic road trip – it’s a pretty small place. Being in the vast Australian landscape though, you have the choice to do it all. From weaving coastal routes to uncomplicated outback stretches, the Aussie landscape offers plenty of choice for the road tripper, and heaps of reasons to be proud of where you call home. Here, Spares Box gives you some of the best routes the nation has to offer.
The Great Ocean Road, VIC
How can a list ignore this extraordinary 243km design? One that’s been on my list for a long time is The Great Ocean Road. The beauty of the winding coastal roads can almost match the natural environment it laces through. A true national achievement, this iconic route has been seriously marketed in recent years, garnering a worldwide reputation as a just reason to visit Victoria – and rightly so. If you have it in your own back yard, you’re on to a real winner. With boundless beaches, loads of wildlife, rainforest views, stop-off eateries and eight of the remaining Twelve Apostles, this journey provides postcard image galore. In fact, there’s really not much that hasn’t been said about this one. The Great Ocean Road can be as hassle-free as you like, making for a relaxing Australia Day escape from city life. Throw the kids in the back and let the unequalled views do the babysitting for you.
Overlander’s Way, QLD
For the ultimate Australia Day experience, you’ve got to take in the outback. At some point, everything the eye can see should be that iconic red that makes rural Australia unique. But why start there? Why not see the Great Barrier Reef while you’re at it? Doing Overlander’s Way, you can begin your adventure on the doorstep of the reef. Take in the natural coral splendour, then head west till sunset. There are plenty of rural towns to cruise in and out of on this straight, with bundles of hospitality on offer. It’s the perfect way to meet a few fellow Aussies. One essential pit-stop is in Hughenden, a den of recently-discovered dinosaur fossils. In fact, the town is home its own dinosaur statue (how many towns can say that!?). After you emerge from the prehistoric age, you’ll end up in the state’s most westerly town, Camooweal, knowing you’ve spanned the splendour of Queensland in one day (if you can hack it). This a 1,071km straight that gives you a taste of real Australia.
Nature’s Way, NT
One for the adventurists, this monster route shows off the best of what the Northern Territories has to offer, crocs (and I ain’t talking footwear) included. Start Australia Day in Darwin and head towards the gifts of Kakadu National Park, combining unspoiled landscapes with diverse and unique wildlife. Afterwards you’re good to hit Katherine via Pine Creek before taking in Nitmiluk National Park for sandstone gorges that flank the Katherine River. Some of the awesome views here will have you scratching your head. After a quick scratch, head back to Darwin through Litchfield. Here, the National Park will offer more stunning river views and plenty opportunities for off-roading, meaning you can be as adventurous as you want on this one. Keep in mind this won’t be completed within a day – in fact it’ll take a few – but that’s what holidays are for. It’s a journey that will really stick with you.
Rainforest Way, NSW & QLD
Encompassing fourteen national parks, this route is an ode to Australia’s untouched beauty. A tour through where Queensland meets New South Wales, it exhibits breathtaking sights on a backdrop of lush rainforest and exposed volcanic rock. Still, there’s no harm in injecting a bit of engine purr every now and then, is there? There are seven routes that comprise the Rainforest Way, and although it sounds a lot, you can manage the 650km circuit in the one day if you keep your foot on the pedal. With a clear set of routes to work with, this circuit can be a real fun day on the road for those who love to test the performance limits of their machine.
Wilderness Way, TAS
We’ve established that the Australian mainland is pretty big. In fact, if you overlook Russia (no offence), you can fit Europe inside it with plenty of legroom. Because of the mainland’s vast size, you could be forgiven for thinking that the island down the bottom of the map is pretty miniscule. The fact is, though, that Tasmania is a huge place that has a lot to offer the road tripper, including the freshest air the world can offer! That squeaking noise you’re hearing is your air filter crying happy tears. Breathe in the west coast of this spectacular island, absorbing the sights of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. This route is waterfall city, and deeply explores the post-settlement history of the railway and mining industries. Stop at the mining town of Rosebery to cop a look at Montezuma Falls, the largest in Tasmania. A perfect excuse for you and the family to flee the mainland for the weekend.