Time to get off your couch and onto one of Australia’s most spectacular coasts
Do you find yourself daydreaming of golden beaches and beachside bistros with seafood menus long enough to chase away the midyear blues? Chances are that you are probably in need of a holiday, pronto. Luckily for you, Australia has all of the above and then some. Think endless beaches, spectacular sea views and off-the-road adventures — all of which can be explored on four wheels.
So get ready to cruise through some of Australia’s most stunning coastal routes in a four-wheel drive or campervan if you are travelling with a convoy of family and friends. Whether it is a short two-day trip out or a leisurely four-day drive past winding coastlines, we have the perfect suggested routes lined up for you.
Grand Pacific Drive, New South Wales
Head south out of Sydney to explore coastal cliffs, wildlife parks and elevated roads on this delightful two-day drive, which winds through some of New South Wales’ top coastal spots.
Royal National Park
Start your engines and head for the Royal National Park, a one-and-a-half-hour drive from the Sydney central business district. The 26-kilometre Coast track from Bundeena to Otford, along cliffs, beaches and slopes, offers unobstructed ocean views and rugged coastlines. If you don’t want to spend too much time there, try tackling the track in sections – a good way to take in the area’s magnificent views at key lookout points while enjoying the crisp, fresh air. A visit between May and August might also score you the chance of spotting migrating humpback whales as they traverse the Pacific Ocean.
Symbio Wildlife Park
As you depart from the Royal National Park, get ready to cuddle up to koalas, hand feed kangaroos and peer at the world’s most venomous snake at the Symbio Wildlife Park, which is a half-hour drive away. For more thrilling and adrenaline-pumping action, take off from Bald Hill… harnessed securely to a set of hang-gliding wings. Alternatively, enjoy a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean and Sea Cliff Bridge from the Bald Hill lookout at Stanwell Park, located a few minutes south of the wildlife park.
Sea Cliff Bridge
You have seen the Sea Cliff Bridge from afar, now walk it! A 20-minute drive south of Stanwell Park will reward you with amazing sea views from a 665-metre bridge. Get out of the car; stretch your legs and peer into the vast ocean. You just might spot manta rays gliding through the clear waters below.
Great Southern Touring Route, Victoria
Gear up for the ride of your life! This four-day self-driving trip — starting from Melbourne city — is the perfect holiday for adventure seekers – taking you past steep coasts, sandstone mountains and an extinct volcano.
Rising from a windswept coastline, the craggy limestone stacks, famously known as the Twelve Apostles, are a stunning sight. Admire the panorama from a height, or at ground level on a wild beach — but not before descending all 86 steps of the Gibson Steps.
If you have time on your side, why not extend the four-hour drive from Melbourne to a four-day expedition? There are loads of interesting sights to enjoy including:
Get closer than ever to Southern Right whales, just 100 metres off the shore of Warrnambool’s Logan Beach. An hour’s drive from the Twelve Apostles, the beach has a specially constructed platform from which to spot these giants of the deep between June and September. Meet more wildlife at the Tower Hill State Game Reserve, an easy 15-minute drive from Warrnambool. The reserve sits inside an extinct volcano, offering magnificent landscape views, lush greenery and the chance to observe more than 200 kangaroos and koalas at close range.
Once you have worked up an appetite, wind your way down to the Merrijig Inn in Port Fairy for a fine-dining experience and fresh seasonal seafood in old-fashioned elegance. Here you can experience cosy country-style comfort in Victoria’s oldest inn.
Adventure enthusiasts will relish the two-and-a-half-hour drive from Port Fairy to Halls Gap. Around an hour’s drive north of Port Fairy, stop the car and hike up to the summit of Mount Sturgeon or Mount Abrupt at the Grampians for breathtaking views of the area. Or get active with outdoor activities such as hiking, canoeing, abseiling and waterfall tours at Halls Gap.
Southern Queensland Coastal Drive, Queensland
Discover seaside towns, exciting wildlife and emerald lakes on this epic four-day self-drive holiday that will take you from Brisbane past some of Australia’s sunniest and most scenic coasts.
Before taking off on your four-day adventure, fuel up at the award-winning Esquire restaurant in Brisbane’s city centre. If “shopaholic” is your middle name, hit up the Collective Markets at South Bank Parklands. Open every weekend, this market features 100 local creatives selling jewellery, art, antiques and vintage fashion.
Then, travel to the charming coastal towns and pristine beaches of the Sunshine Coast, a little over an hour from Brisbane. Much like its name, the region sees plenty of sunshine and superb weather all year round. Splash about at Mooloolaba Spit or join a daytime cruise along the Noosa River, exploring hidden waterways, local wildlife and amazing scenery. Then, sip on freshly brewed latte while you browse handmade jewellery, oil paintings and gourmet jams at the twice-weekly Eumundi Markets.
For more sun and sea, cruise past coloured coasts and sprawling countryside to Hervey Bay. A two-and-a-half-hour drive from the Sunshine Coast, the whale watching capital of Australia offers dolphins encounters and humpback whale sightings between late July and early November. Don’t forget to catch the annual turtle nesting (November to January) and hatching (January to March) season at Mon Repos Turtle Centre near Bundaberg –a four and a half hour drive from Brisbane – too. Watch in wonder as the hatchlings make their way to the sea for the very first time. Rock on, dudes!
Later, embark on a three-hour long drive to the World Heritage-listed Fraser Island, where freshwater lakes, coloured sand dunes and ancient forests combine to form the world’s largest sand island. Take a scenic four-wheel drive through Pile Valley’s ancient satinay trees and stop for a leisurely float on Lake McKenzie or a dip in the cool, emerald waters of Lake Wabby.
Fraser Island also has accommodation to suit every budget. Stay in style at the Kingfisher Bay Resort, picking from a selection of self-contained villas and beach houses, or rough it out with friends by camping behind the dunes on Eastern and Western Beach.
Featured Image: Great Otway National Park, Otway Ranges, VIC (Credit – Great Ocean Road Marketing)
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