Think summer is the best time to do a road trip in Australia? Think again.
It looks like we’re in for a frosty few winter months this year and with international travel up in the air for the foreseeable future, there’s never been a better time to explore our own backyard. Although planning a holiday during the colder months comes with it’s set of challenges, it also has quite a lot of perks. One of them being that some parts of the country are simply magical this time of the year, the kind of magic we just don’t get to experience in the sweltering heat. And what’s a better way to experience all this wonder than to get behind the wheel, blast your favourite nostalgic tunes and hit the road? Here is our lowdown of some of the finest road trips to take during the winters for a cold but memorable getaway.
1. Great Ocean Road
Typically, any road trip roundup at any time of the year would include The Great Ocean Road and for good reason. The iconic drive is remarkable for more reasons than one. Replete with turquoise blue waters, lush rainforests and overall scenic views, the Great Ocean Road is just an hour away from central Melbourne. Highlights of the drive include the seaside town of Torquay, a visit to the iconic Bells Beach, chasing some spectacular views at Erskine falls and sunset at the Twelve Apostles or Bay of Islands if you’re looking to escape the crowds.
2. Sydney to Blue Mountains
Another staple Australian road trip, the Blue Mountains are just a 90-minute drive from the CBD, which make it an ideal day-trip destination. Although the greater Blue Mountains area is so expansive that it would take at least 2-3 days to explore it in all its rugged, glorious splendour. Stops you absolutely must add in your itinerary include the charming town of Katoomba, the sprawling Three Sisters and Echo Point lookouts and ‘jewel in the crown’ of the Blue Mountains aka Leura Village. We also highly recommend visiting the Jenolan Caves which are easily accessible from Sydney and Katoomba and popular for there magnificent limestone crystal formations.
3. Rainforest Way
The Rainforest Way road trip is the stuff of dreams. Starting at Byron Bay and traversing into Queensland, you get to view up close some serious hills, trees and long winding roads along the way. There are heaps of routes you can take depending on where you are travelling from and what you want to see. We recommend passing through the charming little town of Bangalow, a stop at the very unique and somewhat wacky town of Nimbin and the surreal Minyon Falls.
4. Southern Highlands
A personal favourite, the Southern Highlands might just be one of the most gorgeous road trips from Sydney. We recommend a stop at Bowral for some seriously good coffee and a generally lively café scene. The lovely little town of Berrima, just a 15-minute drive from Bowral is another staple on this road trip. Make sure you find a secluded spot to view the stars late at night. It’s a sight to behold.
5. Dove Lake, Tasmania
One of the more underrated winter road trips in Australia, Dove Lake provides some magnificent views of the Tasmanian countryside. A stop at Sheffield for their uber popular pies is an absolute must. The picture-perfect drive includes uninhibited views of Cradle mountain, misty landscapes all around and an unexpected beach or two every now and then. You can find Dove Lake at the northern end of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
6. Alice Springs to Uluru
Speaking of iconic winter road trips, Alice Springs to Uluru is an absolute must primarily because it takes you to the very heart of Australia. During the summers, the route is dusty, hot and super dry, thankfully the winters provide a respite from all that while still providing exceptional landscape views. This ginormous and dramatic landscape includes the amazing Palm Valley, spellbinding views of Kings Canyon and of course, the magnificent Uluru (Ayers Rock). We also recommend Rainbow Valley and Curtin Springs. What is unmatched on this particular road trip is the feeling of being completely lost in the country’s vast and expansive beauty. You feel simultaneously lost but at home with the universe.
7. Sydney to Jervis Bay
Perhaps the most popular road trip from Sydney, Jervis Bay is always abuzz with activity and culture. Although somewhat a victim of its own popularity, it’s incredibly difficult to find one of its pristine white-sand beaches to yourself especially in the summer months. Which is why the winters make for the perfect time to explore the area. The trip takes you along the spectacular Grand Pacific Drive, some of the world’s whitest sand upon arrival and sprawling views. If you’re not pressed for time, the coastal towns of Wollongong and Kiama are great additions to this winter road trip providing a quaint and serene ambience if you’re looking for some peace and quiet.
8. Launceston to Hobart
The 2.5-hour drive from Launceston to Hobart takes you through some of the most beautiful sights in the country and provides a closer look at several historic sites. Hobart itself has a pretty eclectic cultural scene so make sure you explore the nooks and crannies of the city. Popular stops include The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Mount Wellington and the Salamanca Markets. If you’re after waterfront views and great food, head over to Orford and make sure you stay for the sunset at Binalong Bay.
9. Cairns to Broome
When it comes to winter road trips, The Cairns to Broome drive more popularly known as Savannah Way is an absolute staple. It is a sprawling 3700 kilometre route linking the historic town of Broome in Western Australia with Cairns. The intriguing drive is filled with natural wonders and idyllic landscapes. You can also view up to 5 world Heritage Sites and 15 national parks on the way. If you want to experience the Australian outback without the heat and discomfort of the summer months, now would be the best time to start planning this trip.
10. Great Alpine Road
The Alpine Way is as picturesque as it gets and then some. Picture snowy mountains, long winding roads, striking forests and loads of stunning valleys and you get the perfect winter road trip is the form of the Great Alpine Road. There is also decent snowfall during the winters so make sure you pack accordingly. If you’re lucky you could even spot a whale or two at the beautiful Gippsland Lakes. Unexpected drop in temperatures and snowfall make this route a tad bit dangerous so ensure you plan well and are confident driving in icy cold weather.
Looking for more winter activities? Check out these incredible and essential Sydney staples.