Whether you’re taking on the road in a rugged Toyota Hilux or a shiny Hyundai i30, for car lovers and adventure seekers not much can compare to cruising down the open road, lightly toying with the speed limit as you cruise past postcard perfect views. Australia has all kinds of roads to venture down, whether it’s a road painting your vehicle with a sleek red coat of outback sand or a coastal drive accompanied by the strangely comforting feeling of a wet towel beneath you from your third swim of the morning.
Here are some of the best roads in Australia to take on. Grab a road trip companion of yourself, try to refrain from giving your car a quirky human name and making it its own Instagram page and just get to exploring.
The Great Ocean Road, Victoria
An obvious head of the list, the striking sea cliffs and sparkling coastline of the Great Ocean Road is famous around the world, with endless attractions dotted throughout. To avoid bigger crowds, you can drive at night and it’ll be just as stunning, with inviting night swims around every corner.
Putty Road, New South Wales
Putty Road will pretty much feel like driving through a travel brochure. It’s a keen driver’s perfect challenge as constant corners and twists are rewarded with stunning views peeking through the gum trees. The tricky turns mean you should be extra aware of weather and your blind spots as you steer through the 174km motorcyclist favourite, that packs in everything from rainforest, vineyards and proud standing gumtrees.
Mt Nebo/Mt. Glorious/Northbrook Parkway, Queensland
With something to take on for all levels, these are the Neapolitan trio of Queensland roads. Smooth sweepers and green vistas will meet your eyeline as you navigate through the mountains. The views only get better the longer you’re on the road, as you’ll be taken from just 40 minutes outside of Brisbane’s CBD to right the way into dense bushland.
Gillies Range Road, Queensland
An underrated road for Australian drivers, a short but sharp 19kms from Atherton to Gordonvale makes up Gillies Range Road. You’ll likely cruise alongside 4WDs, caravans, tourist buses and more as you drift around 263 corners in what is the vehicular equivalent of a game of twister. You’ll also experience an 800 metre elevation change to keep your driving skills nice and sharp.
Old Pacific Highway, New South Wales
Affectionately named ‘Old Pac’, this sealed and smooth highway connects Hornsby to Calga. 12kms of greenery and sandstone cliffs will line the roads, as your flirtations with the outskirts of the Muogamarra Reserve leave the stuffy air of the city well behind. You’ll get some tight bends to play with but also plenty of open road to soak up the views from.
Grand Pacific Drive, New South Wales
Stanwell Tops is the eventual pot at the end of this rainbow road, you’ll go over the Sea Cliff Bridge where seemingly every Australian car commercial ever has been filmed, before stopping for some delicious food in Wollongong on your way to one of the South Coast’s best views at Stanwell Tops. You can watch the hang gliders hoist themselves off the cliff and gently drift down to the beach while you reflect on the 140 kilometres of perfect coastal driving you just conquered.
Lake Mountain, Victoria
Top Gear Australia crowned Lake Mountain as Victoria’s best driving road, so if you can’t bare Richard Hammond’s proverbial disappointment then you better get this one on your bucket list. Highlights will include a 22km climb, two hairpin bends and gentle yet heavenly ascent into the waterfalls and rainforests of the Yarra Ranges National Park.
Great Alpine Road, Victoria
If you’re licking your lips at this list and feeling ready to kick it up a notch, pit yourself against all 339 kms of the Great Alpine Road of Victoria. You’ll leave towering mountain ranges and plunging valleys in your wake as you drive through towns with all the charming character that you’d expect a country community to have.
Oxley Highway, New South Wales
If the Great Alpine Road is somehow just not long enough for you, you can nearly double the distance by setting off along the 653km Oxley Highway. You’ll begin in Port Macquarie before making your way through central NSW, expect delightful coastal scenery and thriving farmlands. You’d be doing yourself an injustice to miss the Fuzzy Ducks cafe in Wauchope and Long Flat Pub is a motorcyclist favourite.
Thunderbolts Way, New South Wales
Linking up Sydney and Armidale makes Thunderbolts Way extremely practical, but its well maintained roads have plenty more to offer than just being a shortcut. There’ll be rolling green hills as far as your eyes dare to strain as you pay tribute to Australia’s ‘Gentleman’ bushranger, Fred Ward aka Captain Thunderbolt. Keep some caution as you drive, particularly on the ascent and descent north of Gloucester, as it’s not at all uncommon for overconfident drivers to approach the steeps with wide eyes and soon be dialling for roadside assistance.