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6 Underrated Aussie Road Trips To Take This Summer

6 Underrated Aussie Road Trips To Take This Summer

Coober Pedy, South Australia

We all know the Great Ocean Road is awesome – its signifier is right there in its name. But come summer, when Australia’s coastline is crammed with cars, tour buses and the odd cyclist, it’s probably time to find a roomier road trip option.

Thankfully, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to scenic stretches of tarmac. So just find somewhere to sleep on Wotif then grab your best mate, the SPF50, some podcast recommendations and head on one of these six underrated Australian driving adventures.

#1 Cairns to the Daintree, QLD

Give yourself: A long weekend


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With a belt of ocean-side road to rival the great one down south, the Captain Cook Highway is a pretty swift spin up the coast from Cairns to the lush greens of the Daintree Rainforest. Must-stop spots include the vacation village of Port Douglas and the timeless, tranquil Mossman Gorge.

Once you arrive in the Daintree (via a ferry that leaves the modern world and phone reception behind), keep an eye out for crocs and cassowaries, take in the sweeping greens and blues of Cape Tribulation and take a daytrip out to the Great Barrier Reef – the Daintree is the only place in the world where two UNESCO World Heritage sites intersect. Keep in mind that summer is the wet season, so prepare for humidity and – at times – torrential rain.

Looking for the perfect way to get closer to all that nature? Book in at the Daintree Ecolodge and thank us later.

#2 The Tassie Loop, TAS

Give yourself: At least 6 days, ideally 10


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Tasmania has everything you need for a summer getaway: beautiful hikes, plenty of wild swimming options, the freshest seafood, and a climate that means it’s usually at least a few degrees cooler than the mainland.

Start in Launceston (or nearby Devonport for Melbournians who start their road trip at sea) then head out on a clockwise loop, stopping for a hike at Wineglass Bay at Freycinet National Park, and art in Hobart (plus some oysters on Bruny Island if time permits). Then head west through ancient forest to Strahan before making tracks north to Cradle Mountain and the impossibly picturesque Lake St Clair. Then it’s back to Launceston to round out the trip with a stay at The Florance Hotel.

#3 Great Alpine Road, VIC

Give yourself: A weekend, but longer with side trips


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Starting in Wangaratta and ending in Bairnsdale, the Great Alpine Road is Victoria’s highest pass, and although the High Country is primarily a winter destination, it’s just as fun in the warmer months with plenty of walks, swimming spots and cool-climate wineries demanding a detour. At a minimum, your stops should include the charming town of Bright (with a stay at Barrass’s John Bright Motor Inn, for good measure), mouth-watering Milawa (two words for you: cheese factory), a side step to the lookout over Mount Buffalo Gorge, a visit to Victoria’s highest alpine village Mount Hotham, the old gold town of Omeo and finally the sparkling expanses of the Gippsland Lakes as you reach the coast.

#4 Adelaide to Coober Pedy, SA

Give yourself: 4 days


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Some people think if you haven’t seen the outback, you haven’t seen Australia – so here’s your chance. The Adelaide to Coober Pedy return trip is less about the landmarks and more about the allure of a lonely road. Once you hit Port Augusta, there’s not much to actually see until Coober Pedy – and that’s kind of the point. Let the hours stretch out as the Stuart Highway does, the single black line cutting through the flat and scrubby orange outback.

At night, away from light pollution, admire the brilliant blanket of stars that cover the country, and in Coober Pedy, do as the locals do to escape the summer heat – stay underground at the aptly named Underground Hotel. Oh, and before you head out, make sure your car’s air conditioning is in peak condition.

#5 The Great South West Edge, WA

Give yourself: 2 weeks

The south-west corner of this country is home to pristine beaches, food and wine regions and lovely little towns, and the Great South West Edge drive from Perth to Esperance rivals any other road trip in Australia.

From Perth, take the coastal route down to Busselton, where we’d highly recommend spending the night at The Sebel Busselton. Then, it’s on to Margaret River, which is as famous for its surf breaks as it is for its food and wine. Then make tracks to the tiny coastal towns of Walpole, Denmark and Albany before reaching the pure shores of Esperance, home to the whitest sand and clearest ocean water you’ll ever see. And a very cool pink lake. Take the inland route back to Perth, making sure to stop at Wave Rock, a curious granite formation that does exactly what it says on the sign.

#6 The Grand Pacific Drive, NSW

Give yourself: A weekend


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While its curved, elevated Sea Cliff Bridge hogs most of the limelight, there are plenty of other reasons to take the Grand Pacific Drive from the Royal National Park, about an hour south of Sydney, down south towards the Sapphire Coast.

They include – but are by no means limited to – Kiama’s famous blowhole, the quaint village of Berry, Bateman Bay’s oysters, the white and aquamarine hues of Jervis Bay’s beaches (enjoy them for a little longer at Dolphin Sands in Huskisson) and the Bermagui Blue Pool, a spectacular ocean pool on the northern section of the Sapphire Coast. From here, you can head back to Sydney or extend your aim for the Victorian border and push forward to Melbourne.

Looking for your next trip? It’s time to Wotif it. Visit

(Lead image: Steve Collis / Flickr)

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