Unmissable Australian Drives

These are some of the best drives in eastern Australia, and each one can be tackled in a day.

Whether you're the driver, or simply along for the ride (though with scenery like this you'll want to leave the driving to someone else) these drives are among Australia's most iconic — showcasing diverse natural landscapes from country to coast.

Whether it's the red dirt and blue skies of far north Queesland, or the ocean expanse of Victoria's southern coastline — these drives will have you itching to drive on and see everything Australia has to offer.

Mareeba to Chillagoe on The Wheelbarrow Way

 The Wheelbarrow Way: drive inland from coastal Cairns for a different kind of Far North Queensland day trip.

The Wheelbarrow Way: drive inland from coastal Cairns for a different kind of Far North Queensland day trip.

 When you get to Chillagoe, be sure to take a trip out to the caves at Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park.

When you get to Chillagoe, be sure to take a trip out to the caves at Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park.

Red dirt and big skies, the Wheelbarrow Way is an unmissable day trip from Cairns. The Wheelbarrow Way is the 140km stretch of road from Mareeba to Chillagoe — it's a scenic drive across varied landscapes from the red dirt cattle country, to the fruit growing tablelands, through mountainous rainforest, to the palm-tree lined coast.

 

The Wheelbarrow Way is a tribute to the trailblazing miners of the late 1800s who would load their possessions into a wheelbarrow, taking the long journey west on foot. More about the Wheelbarrow Way.

 

The drive from Cairns from Chillagoe is about 200km, which puts you at a round trip of 400km or around 6 hours drive. When you get to Chillagoe, don’t miss the spectacular caves in Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park — you can book yourself on a ranger led tour at Chillagoe’s visitor information centre.


Cairns to Port Douglas, where the Rainforest meets the Reef

 Trinity Bay lookout at Port Douglas offers a view over the ocean and 4 Mile Beach.

Trinity Bay lookout at Port Douglas offers a view over the ocean and 4 Mile Beach.

This drive is another unmissable Far North Queensland drive. The stretch of coastline between Cairns and Port Douglas will take your breath away. Do this hour long drive first thing in the morning to experience the golden glow of first light. Make sure to leave plenty of time to pull off and take in the coastal views.


The Great Ocean Road

 Sunset at Loch Ard Gorge on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia.

Sunset at Loch Ard Gorge on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia.

They don't call it great for nothing. This stretch of road hugs the southern coastline of Victoria. While the 12 Apostles are the most renowned destination along this drive, my favourite place to pull up and breath in that fresh ocean air is Loch Ard Gorge. Top tip? Get there for golden hour and watch the sky change colour as the sun sets over the ocean.


Bylong Valley Way

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This 140km drive from Sandy Holly to Ilford has been named in the top ten Great Aussie Drives by drive.com.au, and when you pay it a visit, it’s not hard to see why.

The Bylong Valley Way is a scenic regional drive between the Upper Hunter to the Central West of NSW. It makes its way through valleys between Wollemi National Park and Goulburn River National Park (home to The Drip).

You’ll want to pack your thermos and a picnic lunch for this drive — there was a general store at Bylong but it is now closed. A proposal to mine coal in the Bylong Valley has meant many who once called the valley home have had to make the difficult decision to leave.

If you’re up for a detour, you can turn off the Bylong Valley Way and take the Wollar Road up to The Drip to go hiking. From there you might like to head across to Gulgong and down to Mudgee and its vineyards. However you drive it, the Bylong Valley Way really does make for a wonderful Sunday drive — so roll down the windows, crank up the tunes, and enjoy the fresh country air.