10 Reasons Why You Should Take a Road Trip in Australia
Australia is a country that is made for road trips.
Personally, I’m a massive fan of them. It’s an instance where it does indeed become all about the journey, rather than the destination.
Taken leisurely, a road trip can be an excellent way to travel slowly, taking in parts of the country you wouldn’t see if you chose to fly.
Australia is big. It’s spacious. The distance between places of interest can be staggering, but they’re certainly not boring.
If you take to the road in Australia, you’re guaranteed to see some cool sights along the way – both manmade and natural. There’ll be people selling all kinds of food and beverages. Cute pubs and stores, historical buildings and the most breathtaking views you can imagine.
If you’re spending any amount of time in Australia, I implore you to hit the road at some stage. Here are a few reasons why.
You won’t regret the views
Obviously land looks pretty awesome from plane height, but you’re hardly going to spend an entire flight staring out the window (if you even get a window seat to start with!). Not when there are distractions like books, movies, snacks and alcohol on offer.
Yet, this is a pretty easy thing to do when you’re driving down a stretch of road and more often enough, the sights in Australia can be rewarding.
I think people often forget or are unaware of just how BIG Australia is and as it is a continent the size of Europe (sans European Russia of course), how diverse the landscape.
On one road trip, you could encounter everything from city, to coast, mountain ranges, desert, even snow.
Plus, the sunsets and sunrises are something else. The most vibrant colours imaginable, against some mighty fine backdrops.
You’ll stumble upon the most random things
For me, this is the best part of any Australian road trip. The delights you stumble upon along the way.
I remember once driving from Orange to Dubbo in NSW and for an hour long stretch of the road, we were entertained by sculptures locals had placed on their farms, entitled “Animals on Bikes”. As suggested, it was animals made out of random objects, all riding bicycles. It was fantastic.
Another fun sight to look out for are Australia’s “Big Things”. We have obsessions with large statues of animals, foods or otherwise and many towns around the country will erect one, which represents something about the place itself.
Many are pretty well known, such as Coffs Harbour with its Big Banana, or Tamworth (the country music capital of Oz) with its Golden Guitar.
Yet, there are plenty of other Big Things just waiting to be discovered, littered around the country – big dogs, big bottles, even a big mosquito.
Although I do live in eternal disappointment that the town of Dunedoo in NSW voted against erecting a giant toilet. That wold have been something to see.
You’ll spread the tourist dollar to places that need it
I ended that last paragraph in jest, but there is a real issue facing country towns in Australia.
They are dying, at an alarming rate. With people migrating to cities for jobs, the rise of global trade and changing technology, there is a type of lifestyle in Australia that is being lost, at a rapid pace.
Many towns are fighting back against this, holding festivals, creating artworks that can be enjoyed by city dwelling patrons who wish to make the journey there.
Farmers are also creating homestays on their farms, where people can get out into the countryside and those who already live there have the chance to make some extra cash on the side.
A road trip will take you to some of these fascinating places – indeed I would highly recommend making them part of your itinerary. This way, you’ll be spending your dollars in places that really need them, unlike the bigger cities, which already see plenty of tourists.
There’ll be chances to take some fantastic photographs
And in exploring all these wonderful places, you’ll have the chance to see some beautiful and quirky sights.
In our image and Instagram obsessed society, everyone is after the opportunity to snap that perfect photo – right?
As a keen photographer (but not Instagram user) myself, I treasure the pictures I’ve taken whilst road tripping around my country. Along with tacky fridge magnets, they make for the best souvenirs.
It’ll make for a pretty unique itinerary
And just imagine, when you return back home, the things you’ll be able to tell people you’ve seen!
Forget the Sydney Harbour Bridge – it’s all about Goulburn’s Giant Merino, the famous Silverton Hotel near Broken Hill (featured in many Aussie films), the underground town of Coober Pedy in South Australia.
You’ll stop to sample the goods at Junee’s Licorice and Chocolate Factory in NSW, or spend time exploring the murals of towns like Kurri Kurri in NSW and Sheffield in Tasmania.
Not to mention the natural sights, like Hanging Rock in Victoria, sprawls of vineyards across the southern states, the Indigenous rock art of Queensland and more natural wonders than I could probably list in WA, like The Pinnacles and Bungle Bungle Range (my favourite name for anything, ever).
You’ll be supporting slow travel
If you want to become a more sustainable traveller, road tripping is a step in the right direction.
It’s slow travel, taking in the sights you see along the way, stopping to spend money in places that really need it, sampling delicious food and wine along the road and generally just having a jolly good time.
There’s only so much of Australia one can see in a trip – heck, I’ve lived here for most of my life and only recently managed to step foot in every state and territory.
I understand that for many people, travelling to Australia is a once in a lifetime trip.
Yet, you’ll lose something if you rush around, trying to visit all the places that people and the internet simply tell you that you must see when you come to Oz.
Better to take your time and thoroughly explore a small portion, rather than race around, trying to fit everything in.
You’ll see Australia beyond the big cities
I’m a fan of Australia’s bigger cities – heck, I’ve lived in Sydney and Melbourne and could talk them up until I’m blue in the face.
Yet, they’re not wholly indicative of life in Australia. There are fifteen million inhabitants of Australia that don’t live in our two big cities. They’re spread across the smaller cities and towns, or even outback, where some people own properties the size of small countries.
I will say that the regional cities littered around the country are very much worth spending some time in.
They have their own draw points – for example, Bendigo in Victoria has an art gallery the prestige of which rivals those in Melbourne.
Newcastle in NSW is one of my favourite cities in the world, with much going on below the surface.
It’s easy to make a trip to Australia and spend weeks exploring Sydney and Melbourne. Yet, if you didn’t hit the road to visit alternative places, you’d be missing out for sure.
You don’t necessarily have to book things in advance
Personally, I love the freedom of a road trip. How sometimes, you can hop in a car, with only the vaguest of destinations in mind and simply see where the road takes you.
A couple of years ago I caught the Spirit of Tasmania from Melbourne to our smallest state, rented a car and spent four days driving over 1000km around the island.
I knew where I was sleeping at night, but beyond that, the days were mine, to do with whatever I wished.
I stopped wherever I fancied, met many interesting people and saw some gorgeous sights. It remains one of my favourite trips ever, which is high praise indeed.
You’ll make new friends
Things are more relaxed on the road. I’ve struck up conversations with people not only in hostel rooms, but on boats, in shops, at beaches and sometimes whilst having lunch, when I’ve been road tripping.
If you’re backpacking around Australia, there are many groups online (such as MeetUp and Facebook) who put shout outs for people to join them on road trips. I’ve personally never done this as a born and bred Australian with a car, but it seems like a good and inexpensive way to see some cool sights (I have done it in Iceland, however).
Of course, be vigilant when organising these sort of things – if you get a bad feeling about a situation, get yourself out of it as quick as you can. Seeing the Twelve Apostles is not worth compromising your safety.
Your trip will become more of an adventure
Catching a flight to a destination is not usually an adventure and if it is, it generally ends up being one of the wrong and unpleasant sort.
At the very least, you know you’re going to get on a plane, being prodded along by airport staff like cattle, surrendering your dignity at the security gate. You’re stuck high in the sky for hours on end without much going on, contorting your body into horrible positions to try and catch a few hours of sleep.
You arrive at your destination exhausted and feeling so disgusting you almost wish you could peel off your skin to reveal a new layer underneath. The only good thing about flying is it gets you there fast.
Yet, road trips are open ended. You don’t know what you’re going to encounter along the way and often they’re good and interesting things.
You’ll see that Australia is not “boring”
I roll my eyes when people describe Australia as “boring”. What a stupid statement to make, purely evidence of a closed and uninteresting mind.
Yeah, Australia probably is going to seem pretty boring if you take the time honoured tourist trail that every twenty-something backpacker does, seeing the same sights and telling the same stories as everyone who has travelled that path before you.
There are people who do travel this itinerary and love every moment of it – which is fantastic and good for them. Others don’t deviate from the set path and declare that this massive country is not worth visiting.
Well, more fool them. Get off the tourist path and start exploring. If you still continue to find Australia boring… well, that’s on you. Not Australia.
Have you road tripped in Australia? What did you see? Do tell me about it in the comments – I’m always on the lookout for cool new sights in the land of Oz.
Read more about travel in Australia
What NOT to do when visiting Australia
What you need to know about beach safety in Australia
Weird facts about Australia
How to avoid looking like a tourist in Australia
An introduction to Australian slang
Road Tripping From Newcastle to Melbourne
Pin me baby, one more time.