Get stunning travel pictures from the world's most exciting travel destinations in 8K quality without ever traveling! (Get started for free)
The call of the open road beckons all who yearn for adventure. And in Australia, that call is loud and clear. Hop in a four wheel drive camper van, roll down the windows, crank up the tunes, and embark on a legendary Aussie road trip.
The vast expanse of the Australian outback seems to go on forever, with red earth, winding dirt tracks, and the bush as far as the eye can see. Don't be deterred by the long distances between stops on an Aussie road trip. Rather, embrace the journey itself. Road trips here are about far more than the destination.
Part of the magic is not knowing what each new day will bring. Revel in the freedom of having no set plans or itinerary. Instead, be guided by your whims and fancies. Stop to snap photos of kangaroos hopping by the roadside, pause for impromptu hikes through breathtaking gorges, or pull over when a quirky roadside pub catches your eye. The open road is yours for the taking.
Many who have embarked on epic Aussie road trips say it's all about the people you meet along the way. Strike up conversations with locals in the outback towns you pass through. Chat with fellow travelers at campgrounds each night. Discover the kindness and mateship that Australia is so renowned for.
Of course, with so much ground to cover, road trip tunes are a must. Create the perfect Aussie road trip playlist featuring homegrown talent like INXS, AC/DC, and Men at Work. Sing along loudly and proudly as the landscapes roll by.
Stop often to truly soak in the dramatic natural beauty. Linger at lookouts towering over the red rock cliffs of Kings Canyon. Pause to absorb the power of massive Kata Tjuta's domed rock formations. Marvel at the varied wildlife only found Down Under. Road trips here are as much about embracing the journey as reaching the destination.
Dotting the vast Australian landscape are deeply carved, red rock canyons known as gorges. Formed over millions of years by powerful rivers cutting through ancient sandstone, these natural wonders showcase the raw, rugged beauty of the outback. Gorges are the iconic Aussie landforms that road trippers dream of exploring.
The sheer cliffs, winding trails, and permanent waterholes hidden in these slot canyons create an oasis-like environment teeming with plants and wildlife. Hiking through a gorge is a memorable way to get up close with Australia's unique flora and fauna. Spot rock wallabies scurrying up steep canyon walls. Listen for the telltale call of the yellow-spotted tree frog. Smell the subtle scent of native orchids nestled in rocky nooks.
Many consider gorges to be the best spot for swimming in natural rock pools on a hot outback day. Take a refreshing dip in serene amphitheater waterholes fringed by ferns, take in the scene while floating under a blazing blue sky, and enjoy the solitude found in these remote swimming holes.
For a magnificent gorge experience, venture into the Bungle Bungle Range of World Heritage-listed Purnululu National Park in Western Australia. The tiered, orange and black striped domes of the beehive-shaped rock formations are an incredible sight. Lush palm oases flourish at the base of these geological wonders. Piccaninny Creek Gorge in the north of the park beckons avid hikers, with its lookouts perched high above the canyon floor providing phenomenal panoramic views.
In the Northern Territory, explore the deep and narrow Katherine Gorge, with its 13 towering red rock formations named after the first European explorers of the area. Take a boat cruise or paddle a canoe up the river, gazing up at the gorge's soaring cliffs. Bushwalkers will love the remote two-day hike through pristine Jatbula Trail along the ridge of Nitmiluk National Park.
No Aussie road trip is complete without venturing into the iconic Karijini National Park, Western Australia"s second largest park. Witness Mother Nature"s artistry while trekking through ancient gorges like Red, Weano, and Dales. Experience the unique serenity found while sitting at the base of a gorge"s plunging waterfalls and natural rock pools.
With over 35,000 kilometers of coastline, it's no wonder Australia is a surfer's paradise. Epic waves can be found crashing onto beaches in every state, from the frigid southern coasts to the tropical northern shores. For road trippers armed with boards, it's impossible to resist the siren call of Aussie surf.
The quality and consistency of waves found here are legendary. Offshore reefs create perfect right and left hand point breaks, river mouths form sand-bottomed beach breaks ideal for beginners, and exposed open ocean coasts churn out powerful swells that draw experienced big wave riders. Surfers flock here from across the globe to experience these world-class waves firsthand.
In the Margaret River region of western Australia, surfers rave about the setups they find at spots like Yallingup, Smiths Beach, and Injidup. With swells generated by winter storms in the Southern Ocean, it's the kind of surf that dreams are made of. Long rolling waves break over scattered reef clusters, wrapping smoothly down the line in both directions. For many hardcore surfers, this area represents a pilgrimage, the ultimate big tick on their bucket lists.
Up the coast, Indian Ocean swells blessed Rottnest Island"s Strickland Bay with such phenomenal surf it was given the name "Australia"s Pipeline." Drawing comparisons to the iconic Hawaiian wave is no exaggeration. This heavy barreling left hander only works on rare swells, but delivers that coveted keg ride when conditions align. Nearby Cactus left hand point break is another favorite amongst locals and visitors.
The Gold Coast of Queensland boasts surf culture at its finest, with laidback beach towns oriented around riding waves. Duranbah Beach, Snapper Rocks, and Burleigh Heads serve up excellent surfing and plenty of young nomadic wave riders living the endless summer dream. Further north, Noosa Main Beach knows how to deliver fun playful peaks when the groundswells march in.
A quintessential part of any Australian road trip is an up-close encounter with the country's unique wildlife. And what better way to meet these fascinating creatures than at a wildlife sanctuary, where you can observe animals in a protected habitat and even get the chance to pet or feed them.
Of all the native Aussie animals, it's hard to go past the iconic kangaroo for that perfect photo op. Found across the entire country, kangaroos embody the spirit of Australia. At sanctuaries, you'll often find rescued joeys or orphaned young kangaroos being cared for. This provides a rare chance to see these bouncing marsupials up close and maybe even cuddle a joey. Just be sure to follow all park rules, as adult kangaroos can be quite powerful when they kick.
For Rebecca S. who visited Kuranda Koala Gardens near Cairns, holding a cuddly koala was the most memorable part of her trip. "I couldn't believe how soft their fur was," she remarked. "Getting to hug a koala had been on my bucket list forever. I was grinning ear to ear the whole time." Besides koalas, Rebecca fed wallabies and emus, saw crocodiles and snakes, and had close encounters with other wildlife only found in Australia.
Seeing a Tasmanian devil is also a popular bucket list item for tourists. At the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary near Hobart, visitors can observe the carnivorous marsupials in a natural setting and learn about efforts to save the endangered devils. Brian F. says, "Watching them tear into a meal was awesome. The Sanctuary is doing such great work to protect this unique species."
For many, the chance to pet a wombat is a dream come true. At sanctuaries like the famous Bear Grylls Adventure Park on the Gold Coast, folks describe wombats as gentle, furry bulldozers who love a good scratch behind the ears. Hand-feeding kangaroos and wallabies is also a common activity at wildlife parks.
A road trip through Australia's vast outback provides the opportunity to discover and experience ancient Aboriginal rock art firsthand. Created thousands of years ago, these paintings on stone document the rich cultural heritage of indigenous Australians and offer insight into their historic way of life. For the traveler seeking authentic Australian adventures, viewing this sacred art is an absolute must.
Aboriginal rock art, consisting of symbols, figures and handprints, holds deep meaning for the indigenous people. These sites serve as an encyclopedia of indigenous knowledge, depicting creation stories, ceremonies, animals, and interactions with the land over millennia. Aboriginals believe that by sharing these records of life and lore, the sacred sites maintain the balance between humankind and nature.
Many describe being in the presence of artwork dating back over 60,000 years as a spiritually moving experience. "Standing there, looking at the faint outlines of kangaroos and men painted by indigenous people so very long ago, I felt this profound connection across time," shares one visitor to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kakadu National Park's galleries. "It was hauntingly beautiful."
For a glimpse into an ancient past, travelers recommend sites like the Burrup Peninsula in Western Australia, featuring extensive galleries with some of the world's oldest rock art. In Mutawintji National Park's Byngnano Range, over 6000 engravings of spirits, animals and sacred ceremonies await. The sandstone caves of Carnarvon Gorge hold a stunning gallery of stencils, prints and freehand brushwork designs.
Many tours provide the opportunity to learn about Aboriginal culture directly from indigenous guides. Hear creation stories - passed down through generations - at sites around Uluru. Gain insight into the symbolism and meaning behind X-ray art at Hawker's splendid Yourambulla Caves. Learn to spot unique glyphs from local Aboriginal communities guiding you through their homelands.
For those looking to channel their inner 49er gold miner, panning for gold allows you to feel a rush of discovery similar to those legendary prospectors during Australia"s gold rushes. While hitting a lucrative gold vein is unlikely, there"s still something undeniably exciting about catching a glint of gold dust shimmering in your pan.
Recreational gold panning has seen a resurgence in popularity across Australia. After all, there are still plenty of riches hidden within remote creeks and rivers. Amateur prospectors head out equipped with basic panning tools, hoping for that glimmer of color amongst grit and gravel. Guided tours provide everything you need and lead you to known gold-bearing areas. Or try your luck simply stopping at a secluded stream along your campervan travels.
"As a history buff, I"ve always romanticized the idea of gold mining," shares Andres L. "Panning for gold along Victoria River in the Northern Territory was my chance to feel that call of discovery. I loved envisioning being an early prospector washing away dirt to uncover a valuable nugget." While only tiny flecks and dust were found, Andres describes it as an unforgettable experience.
The thrill is in the hunt, not just the findings. "Sure it"s unlikely you"ll strike it rich," says Lauren T. who enjoyed recreational panning outside of Ballarat where Australia"s first gold was found. "It"s about embracing that pioneer spirit of the gold-obsessed diggers who rushed here. Just feeling that spark of wonder sifting away the sediment is magical."
For those wanting to pan where major Aussie gold was discovered, head to sites around historic gold rush towns. Try your luck in creeks near Hill End, NSW, where both alluvial gold deposits and large quartz reefs yielded over 365,000 kilograms of gold in the 1800s. Just outside of Kalgoorlie-Boulder in Western Australia, dig into tributaries feeding the mighty Golden Mile, named for its incredibly rich deposits.
Wherever you decide to try amateur prospecting, be sure to follow rules and regulations. Obtain permits when needed and avoid trespassing on private property or protected conservation land. Use responsible environmental practices, taking care not to damage waterways or ecosystems. Following leave no trace ethics ensures the privilege of recreational gold panning is open for generations to come.
For those seeking a quintessential Aussie outback experience, camping under the breathtakingly clear night skies is a must. Far from city lights and pollution, the stargazing here is otherworldly. Pitch a tent or roll out a swag under a boundless canopy of millions of twinkling stars for an unforgettable night.
The siren call of the cosmos draws astronomers and amateur stargazers from across the globe to Australia's remote wilderness and parks. "Seeing the Milky Way strewn across the blackness in such vivid detail was mesmerizing beyond words," shares travel blogger Maya G. "As shooting stars darted overhead, I felt tiny but also connected to the vastness of the universe." Maya says her night camping at Ayers Rock Resort bestowed a profound appreciation for the sacredness indigenous people see in the night sky.
Outback camping allows you to experience celestial events exceptional to the southern hemisphere. Catch the dramatic, colorful dance of the Aurora Australis lighting up the skies. Watch in awe as the band of the Milky Way seems close enough to reach out and touch. Witness meteor showers like the Alpha Centaurids with incredible frequency, as many as one per minute. Even a regular night here impresses with stars and constellations you've likely never laid eyes on before.
For once-in-a-lifetime stargazing, time your visit with astronomical events unique to Australia. "Seeing the Magellanic Clouds through my telescope was phenomenal - they look like galaxies you could reach out and grab," shares Andre, an astronomy professor. The two dwarf galaxies of the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds orbit the Milky Way and are only visible from the Southern Hemisphere.
Australian Astrophotography Expeditions guide Stefan raves, "I'll never forget witnessing a 'zodiacal light' display on a new moon night out past Uluru. It was an eerie elongated triangle of faint light rising along the ecliptic. I've never captured a photo that's done it justice." Caused by sunlight reflecting off interplanetary dust orbiting in the inner solar system, zodiacal light phenomena are best viewed from dark Southern Hemisphere skies.
A road trip through the Australian outback isn't complete without stopping at a classic Aussie country pub. More than just a place to grab a cold brew, the local pub is the heartbeat of many rural communities. It's where you can soak up true blue Australian culture and meet some real characters.
Walk into these no-frills watering holes and you"ll find salt-of-the-earth folks chatting over beers, grubby walls covered in memorabilia, and ice cold taps pouring hard-earned thirst quenchers. The pubs become a home away from home for everyone from hardened stockmen to weary travelers. Pull up a bar stool or claim a table, then settle in for lively banter, tall tales, and ice cold beers in the sweltering outback heat.
Dave S. fondly recalls the pub culture he experienced road tripping through the Northern Territory. "By the second round, we were chatting with the local cattlemen like old mates. They had us laughing so hard that beer came out my nose." The pubs reflect the rawness and charm of the people, Dave explains. "It felt so welcoming and down-to-earth. Like the whole community invited you in."
For a classic outback pub, Prairie Hotel in Parachilna, South Australia ticks all the boxes. Famous for its feral mixed grillplatters piled high with crocodile, emu, kangaroo, and camel, it"s a must-visit pit stop. Out front, give Beast, the pub"s pet Brahman bull, a friendly pat. Inside, grab a seat at the lively bar, chat with fellow travelers, listen to improbable tales from locals, and sip on an ice cold Cooper"s.
Jenny from Sydney raves about Daly Waters Pub, a Northern Territory favorite. "The place was packed with such character. Every square inch was covered in dollar bills, license plates, hats, and more!" Jenny describes fun evenings spent listening to live music and mingling with quirky outback types who made her feel like part of their family.
In some remote towns, the pub acts as the unofficial community center. Visit the Birdsville Hotel and you"ll find it hosts everything from BBQ cookouts to summer dance parties to crisis management operations when floods strike. Crack open a beer here and you"ll be mingling with weather-beaten cattlemen, global tourists, the town"s sole police officer, and everyone in between.