Ah, the great Australian road trip. Just the grown-ups, the car, the kids and the wide open road. There’s no rushing to catch flights or panicking about how you can’t possibly fit everything the family needs into one suitcase. Instead, travel at your own pace, admiring this great country of ours while spending quality time with each other. And Easter is a great time to do it.
The land Down Under is a vast country though, so we’ve narrowed it down to the 10 best road trips to complete with your children – because after-all, no holiday is great unless the experience can be shared. So fill up the tank and get going – some wonderful family memories are waiting to be made.
Great Ocean Road, Victoria
It’s pitched as one of the world’s most scenic drives and once you’ve done it you’ll agree completely. The Great Ocean Road spans 243km along Victoria’s rugged coast with the towering 12 Apostles, iconic surf breaks, seaside villages and waterfalls. Stop to try some surfing, scuba diving or sea kayaking or stretch the legs on the Great Ocean Walk. There’s plenty of restaurants and accommodation along the way, perfect when the little ones don’t want to sit still for long lengths of time.
Sydney to Melbourne, New South Wales and Victoria
Of course, you can motor on down – or up – the Hume in a day, but we know a much nicer way. Leave the highway to the trucks and take the coastal route. You’ll wind through fishing villages, stunning rainforest and equally stunning beach towns, passing through Jervis Bay, Ulladulla, Bega, Merimbula and Lakes Entrance as you meander along. Sure, it’s a longer drive than the highway stretch, but it’s much, much prettier and almost every meal can be a seafood fest for the adults. Plus, the promise of some Melbourne shopping or a Sydney Harbour Bridge climb still awaits at your destination.
Alice Springs and the Red Centre, Northern Territory
Allow up to a week to best enjoy the 1135km loop from Alice Springs to the iconic Red Centre. There’s Uluru and Kata Tjuta to Kings Canyon, Alice Springs and the West MacDonnell Ranges. The contrasting heights of Uluru and the valleys of Kings Canyon make this an awe-inspiring trip, especially if you can teach the kids a bit about the ancient culture of the aboriginal land owners too.
Devonport/Cradle Mountain/Burnie, Tasmania
Leave two to four days for a cruisy drive to see the variety of Tasmania’s landscapes, from the patchwork agricultural land in the north to Cradle Mountain on the edge of Tassie’s World Heritage Wilderness Area. With lower average temperatures than the rest of Australia, the Apple Isle has the best driving weather and the bonus of almost a fifth of the state on the World Heritage List.
Fraser Island, Queensland
There will be no “I’m bored” cries coming from the back seat with these drives, simply because you’ll be driving your 4WD on the beach or on Fraser Island’s sandy inland roads. Oh yes. So fun. The scenic drives on the island aren’t super long but offer plenty of time to stop and enjoy your surrounds. The popular central lakes drive has sights including the clear waters of Lake McKenzie fringed by blindingly white sand. There’s more lookouts, ancient rainforests and pristine beaches than you can poke a stick at. It is incredibly important though to be wary of the island’s dingoes, and always keep children within arm’s reach.
Perth to Broome, Western Australia
Have a couple of water babies? It would be the life aquatic stealing your family’s gaze if you decide to drive the coastal route from Perth all the way up to the famous stretch of Cable Beach. You’ll be able to catch plenty of those gorgeous west coast sunsets if you do the drive over a couple of weeks, leaving time to snorkel at Ningaloo Reef and swim alongside the dolphins at Monkey Mia.
Darwin/Kakadu/Nitmiluk/Litchfield, Northern Territory
Get snap-happy at the snappy aquatic reptiles you’re bound to see while driving the spectacular journey from Darwin and through Kakadu, Nitmiluk and Litchfield national parks. Plenty of opportunities to see birds and wildlife (and crocs!) at every stop. The comfortable 550km drive will take you past wetlands and gorges, waterfalls and waterholes before returning to Darwin.
Nullarbor Plain, Western Australia and South Australia
Crossing the Nullarbor – there’ll be nothing between you and the wide, open road, but who knew how exciting driving along a vast, treeless landscape could be? Cattle Stations, historic homesteads and remote railway outposts show a part of Australia not known to many. Good preparation will mean a hassle-free trip and the opportunity to test out your camping gear and show the kids how bright the stars really can be far from the city lights. Connect to the journey from Perth or Adelaide and be prepared for spectacular scenery, whatever your direction.
Cairns to Cooktown, Queensland
With bitumen all the way along the inland highway from Cairns, Cooktown is easy to get to – but there is so much to see and do between A and B. Historic Cooktown is a tropical destination far removed from the hustle and bustle of Cairns, so this trip offers the best of both worlds. If you want a more adventurous route, go four wheel-driving along the coastal Bloomfield Track crossing rivers and creeks through World Heritage-listed rainforest.
Great Alpine Road, Victoria
Fun fact: it’s Australia’s highest year-round accessible sealed road and takes you right into the middle of the state’s landscape. Mountains, valleys, forests and vineyards mean there’s something for all and the best part is you’ll end up at the water in Gippsland. Start at Wangaratta and for 339 kilometres you wind your way across, leaving time for some fishing, cycling or some fun on the slopes if you travel in the ski season. Here’s a tip – don’t miss the old-fashioned lolly shop in Bright. It’s probably the only place left where kids can spend 20 cents and get a handful of sweets!
Of course, while you’re on the road taking in all the glorious sights, it’s important to make sure that your children are safe and Britax makes a range of child car seats that will do just that. For family road trips we particularly love the slimline seats in their range, like the Slimm-Line AHR (above), which is narrow enough that you’ll be able to get three of them across the back of a standard sedan. We can’t guarantee the kids will be that well-behaved for the whole trip – but at least you’ll be sure they are safe and comfortable!
In a bid to prove that having children shouldn’t put a stop to your love of travel, have a read of our recent post where we give you seven reasons to holiday while your kids are young.
(This is a sponsored post for Britax)