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There’s a reason why the 75 Mile Beach on Fraser Island is one of Australia’s most iconic 4WD tracks for road tripping. Stretching over 120km, a drive down this highway guarantees incredible stretches of sand, some of the world’s most picturesque swimming holes, and breathtaking views at every turn.
Note: You can’t take your Thrifty hire car over to the island, but once you take the barge across, you can rent a 4wd there. And Thrifty is here to get you to the barge. We have two locations very close by to the barge terminal. Both our Hervey Bay and Hervey Bay Airport car hire locations make it easy to pick up a car, scoot around the beautiful region on the mainland, and then when you are ready, you can head to Fraser Island.
Need more convincing? Here are our top nine reasons why the 75 mile highway is the world’s best beach drive.
1. You’ll be driving on the largest sand island in the world
With an area of 184,000 hectares and measuring 123km long by 22km wide, Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island and a World Heritage Listed site. Brimming with wildlife and rainforests, and the amazing 75 Mile Beach, Fraser Island ranks with Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef as one of Australia’s most treasured natural environments.
2. You literally get to drive a 4WD along an endless stretch of beach
There aren’t many spots in the world where you can hop in your 4WD and just drive for hours along an epic stretch of sand, but on the 75 Mile Beach on Fraser Island is one of them. The sand makes a squeaking noise as you drive over it, and on a good day the sand on the Fraser Island 4WD tracks are hard and packed in, making for a relatively smooth cruise along the coast.
3. There are shipwrecks along the way
The SS Maheno was a WWI Hospital Ship from NZ that washed up on Fraser Island after a cyclone. Luckily, a small crew were on board and the survivors were spotted by a passing plane three days after the wreck. During low tide, the Maheno Shipwreck is a one of the main stopping points on the 75 Mile Beach – just make sure to get a photo while you’re there!
4. You can stop and take a dip in the Champagne Pools
Located between Waddy Point and Indian Head, the Champagne Pools is the perfect spot to stop for a dip (and take an Instagram picture or two!). The Champagne Pools were formed by volcanic rocks, and got their name because the waves crash over the rocks and settle as fizzing foam – just like a glass of bubbly. The pools are shallow and quite safe to swim in, which means it’s also ideal for the whole family.
5. See one of Australia’s most pure freshwater lakes…
Located 100 metres above sea level, Lake McKenzie has some of the purest water in Australia – in fact, it’s so pure that no natural life can actually live in the lake’s waters! The surrounding beach is shimmering white, thanks to the sand being made of pure silica, and there’s also a picturesque heart-shaped tree by the lake. Stop by the lake on your beach drive for one of the most picturesque picnics and swims you’ll ever have.
6. …and swim in the red waters of Lake Boomanjin
If the white sand and crystal clear freshwater of Lake McKenzie isn’t enough to convince you that driving on Fraser Island is unlike anywhere else in the world, the red colours of Lake Boomanjin might just win you over. The name Boomanjin refers to the tea trees that surround the lake and give it its unique colour, as well as a beautiful fresh fragrance. The great thing about Lake Boomanjin is it’s also not too touristy, so you can enjoy some peace and quiet in one of the country’s most beautiful spots.
7. You can drive down a sand landing strip for planes
Not only is the 75 Mile Beach coastal track a National Highway – it actually also serves as a landing strip for aircrafts. While most people will never get to drive down a runway in their lifetime, the Fraser Island roads give you the unique chance to drive down one of the world’s few sand landing strips. Just make sure to be safe and keep your eye out for planes while driving!
8. The drive finishes with an incredible view
The Indian Head is a volcanic rock structure on the east side of Fraser Island, and offers up one of the best views on the island. With sweeping panoramas of the surrounding beaches, Indian Head is also home to sharks, turtles, dolphins, and rays in the winter (and, if you’re lucky, humpback whales!). You can also sit back and enjoy a spot of fishing, or just soak up the sun…pure bliss.
9. …and it’s still a hidden gem (for now!)
Worried about the tourists? The good news is that the 75 Mile Beach is still (relatively) off the beaten track, so you can hit the road without worrying too much about fighting through traffic jams with other visitors.
Lock in your Thrifty 4WD car rental today to get you to the barge, and then set off on your beach drive before the secret gets out about the world’s best coastal drive!
Your bags are packed, you’ve got your playlists ready, and you have three glorious days ahead of you to head off on an adventure down the open road…
As Aussies, there are few things we love more than fun long weekend trips, and there’s no better way to celebrate the Queen’s Birthday weekend than with the classic road trip. If you’re looking for long weekend trip ideas, we’ve rounded up our list of the best road trips to take this June.
Greater Blue Mountains Drive
While the Blue Mountains is less than two hours drive from Sydney, it feels like it’s a world away – making it one of the best Queens Birthday long weekend road trips. Most people like to drive to the Blue Mountains and walk the trails, but this long weekend is the perfect time to discover one of the epic drives in the area.
With over 18 discovery trails to drive along in the Greater Blue Mountains Drive, this World Heritage-listed spot never fails to disappoint. Visit waterfalls, catch incredible views from one of the many lookouts, and stop by for a bushwalk to get the blood pumping – and if you’re looking for breathtaking scenery, make your way to Sublime Point at sunrise or sunset for beautiful orange hues cast over the national park (and a sea of clouds, if you’re lucky!).
If you’re heading into the Blue Mountains with the family over the long weekend, it’s best to hire an SUV or 4WD so you have enough room to store all your overnight gear – especially if you’re planning to camp. Just remember to book in advance for campsites, as spots fill up quickly over the long weekend!
Hit up the slopes in the Snowy Mountains
The Queen’s Birthday long weekend also marks the opening of Australia’s ski season, which means there’s plenty to do in ski resorts around the country. Grab your board or skis, your favourite road tripping companions, and head off on one of the best long weekend trips down through New South Wales’ Snowy Mountains.
Start out from Sydney and make your way down to Canberra, which is roughly a three hour drive. Here, you can take the family to Questacon or enjoy a lazy afternoon by Lake Burley Griffin, before heading off to Thredbo or Perisher for the official start of ski season.
The Queen’s Birthday long weekend is opening weekend for New South Wales’ ski fields, which means there will be fireworks, live music, parties, and earlybird ski pass deals. After you’re down carving up the slopes, you can drive back to Sydney the same way, or drive back via Wollongong and enjoy some sun before the end of the long weekend.
If you’re a foodie looking for long weekend trip ideas, a road trip from Sydney to the Hunter Valley will hit the spot. This drive is around two hours drive from Sydney, and along the way you’ll drive through national parks and beautiful seaside towns, before finishing up in one of Australia’s most loved wine regions.
En route, stop by the beachside towns of Terrigal and Avoca, where you can soak up the sun and enjoy some beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean. You can also spend the night in Newcastle, where you’ll discover a thriving food and coffee scene and plenty of gorgeous beaches to boot.
From there, it’s a quick drive to the Hunter Valley. As one of Australia’s most famous wine regions, you’ll be spoilt for choice with incredible wineries and breweries, as well as cheese and chocolate factories. Just be sure to hire a car with plenty of boot space – there’s no telling how many cases of wine you’ll be bringing back home!
Grand Pacific Drive, New South Wales
Another Aussie favourite, the Grand Pacific Drive is less than 200 kilometres long if you’re starting out in Sydney – making it the perfect trip for anyone who wants to spend as much time as possible in the great outdoors this long weekend.
After an hour of driving, you’ll be in the Royal National Park where there are rugged coastlines, swimming holes, and beaches galore. Take on the Coastal walk from Bundeena to Otford, or do a short half-day hike from Wattamolla to Big Marley Beach, and enjoy spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean along the way.
From the Royal National Park, the road heads down through the seaside cities of Wollongong, Kiama, Shellharbour and Shoalhaven. Spend a day in one town, or a few – it’s up to you how you want to enjoy the beautiful of South NSW during your long weekend!
The Great Ocean Road, Victoria
No road trip list would be complete without the Great Ocean Road! Starting out from Melbourne, this quintessential road trip hits all the classics: beachside towns, amazing limestone formations, and bushland.
During your road trip, you’ll see the famous Twelve Apostles rock formations off the coastline, and the Great Ocean Road London Bridge. You can also stop by the surfing town of Torquay and catch a wave (just make sure you have a wetsuit!), then spend a couple of nights relaxing in the coastal town of Apollo Bay or Warnambool before heading back to Melbourne. Plus, winter is whale watching season so you might be able to spot some blue whales along the way at Logan’s Beach.
All up, the Great Ocean Road is around 350 kilometres one way (roughly a three hour drive) and there are plenty of flights to Melbourne, making it the perfect road trip for the Queen’s Birthday weekend. Plus, with over 170 locations around the country, it’s easy to hire a car with Thrifty no matter where you are.
The nights are getting cooler, meaning Sydney’s hottest event is just around the corner! Back for its 11th year, Vivid Sydney 2019 is lighting up the Harbour City with a stellar lineup of speakers, performances, and, of course, lights.
Running for three weeks from 24 May to 15 June, there are over 200 events taking place across the city. As always, Vivid will dazzle us with incredible light displays that will play over the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Botanic Garden, Barangaroo and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
This year’s lineup is the most exciting yet, with Filmmaker Spike Lee, jazz legend Herbie Hancock, Aussie legend Paul Kelly and rock band The Cure.
While you could take those three weeks off work and try hop through every event in the program, chances are you may have to pick and choose. Luckily, we’ve done the work for you, and rounded up the events you just can’t miss this year.
Game Changer Series: Spike Lee on Films, Politics and Race
Sydney Town Hall
1 June 2019, 4pm – 5:30pm
Few filmmakers can use comedy to bridge the delicate line between political and racial commentary like Spike Lee. From his most recent 2019 Academy Award nominated BlacKkKlansman to past sucesses such as Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, Inside Man, and Jungle Fever, Lee isn’t afraid to make movies and TV series’ that are controversial and bold.
This Game Changer event marks Lee’s first trip Down Under, where he will talk to Rhoda Roberts AO about his work and personal views on the media, Hollywood, and filmmaking. Tickets are already selling fast for this hot event, so make sure to get in quick if you want to see one of Hollywood’s directing legends in person this year.
Tip: If you’re travelling to Sydney from out of town, hire a car and take an iconic road trip to the Harbour City! With over 170 locations across the country, Thrifty car rental is the best choice to get you to Vivid Sydney.
Under the Harbour
Museum of Contemporary Art, Circular Quay
24 May – 15 June
Every Vivid Festival, the MCA transforms into an artistic masterpiece, and this year the Spinifex Group is taking us Under the Harbour to discover the beauty hidden below. With neon creatures, magnificent botanic marvels, and a giant octopus with its tentacles wrapping around the building, this projection will amaze and immerse the whole family.
Thirteen Ways to Look at Birds ft Paul Kelly
City Recital Hall
1 June, 5:30pm – 6:45pm
Paul Kelly is one of Australia’s most poetic songwriters, crafting songs that reflect our culture and country, this year the music legend teamed up with Australian composer James Ledger to celebrate the nation’s diverse birdlife through thirteen new songs and soundscapes. Inspired by prose from renowned authors like John Keats and Emily Dickinson, each song will bring together technology, acoustic instruments, and Kelly’s iconic vocals to create a captivating symphony.
Kelly and Ledger are teaming up with piano trio Seraphim and singer-songwriter Alice Keath to put on one performance only as part of the Vivid Sydney events lineup, so be sure to pick up tickets quickly.
Tip: Looking for ways to get around during Vivid Sydney? Everyone else is too, which means there will be long queues at the taxi rank and surges on ride sharing apps. Avoid the price hikes and rent a car from Thrifty – this way, you’ll have the freedom to hop around to all the different events that are on during the festival.
Austral Flora Ballet
Sydney Opera House
24 May – 15 June
A visit to Vivid isn’t complete without a trip to Circular Quay. This year, the Vivid Sydney’s Opera House projection will bring the ballet to life. Imagined by LA-based artist Andrew Thomas Huang, the Austral Flora Ballet tells the story of New South Wales by combining the state’s iconic flora with the grace and artistry of ballet. This hypnotic spectacle will see waratahs, red beard orchids, and kangaroo paws dance across the curves and arcs of the Opera House’s sails.
Sydney Opera House Concert Hall
10 June, 6pm – 9pm
The iconic jazz legend Herbie Hancock: a 14 time Grammy-winner helped redefined contemporary jazz by fusing hip-hop, funk, fusion, and electro, and has performed with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, and Kendrick Lamar. For one night only, Hancock will be putting on a spectacular show at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall – an event not to be missed for anyone who’s a fan of jazz and funk…or for anyone who wants to enjoy a night of really great music.
Sydney Film Festival 2019
5 – 16 June
What do you get when you combine one iconic Sydney event with another? 12 days of cinematic masterpieces and engaging talks. This year the Sydney Film Festival is celebrating its 65th birthday and has put together an impressive list of over 300 features, Aussie flicks, classic movies, and short films. The full program is available on 8 May 2019 and will no doubt sell out quickly, so get your Flexipasses ready now.
Tip: If you’re getting to and from an event, make sure to plan ahead to make sure you get a spot at the Vivid Sydney parking areas around Circular Quay and the Opera House.
Hit the road and explore the mountains and valleys, the national parks and all the regional attractions that the Greater Blue Mountains has to offer.
Spanning 1,200km the Greater Blue Mountains Drive is one of the best ways to experience the incredible beauty of inland New South Wales.
Katoomba to the Valley of the Waters picnic area
One of the most popular areas in the Greater Blue Mountains, is the 36km stretch of road from Katoomba to the Valley of the Waters picnic area in Wentworth Falls. This scenic route gives you the chance to drive around the cliff-tops packed full of lookouts, picnic areas and walking tracks.
Katoomba Falls picnic area and information centre near the start of the drive is an ideal vantage point to take in the breathtaking beauty of the Three Sisters and Mount Solitary. Once you’ve enjoyed the view, don’t forget to re-energise for the rest of the drive at one of the quaint cafes along Katoomba St or grab a handmade pie for an afternoon snack at Hominy Bakery.
Jenolan and Kanangra
Take a break from the Greater Blue Mountains Drive and explore the spectacular Jenolan Caves. Driving from Katoomba to Jenolan takes just over an hour, but be sure to leave early and give yourself ample time to enjoy a guided tour of the Jenolan Caves’ spectacular calcite formations and marine fossils.
From here, the trip south to Kanangra takes around 45 minutes. It’s recommended to stay overnight in one of the many charming B&Bs in the area so you can take a full day to explore the beauty of the Kanangra-Boyd region. Boyd River camping area is the start of a short, easy walk that leads into the main lookout on the brink of Kanangra Deep. For those wanting a more adventurous expedition, longer walks go to Kalang Falls and out onto the sandstone plateau of Kanangra Tops.
At the northern end of the Greater Blue Mountains Drive is Goulburn River country, combining dramatic escarpment and riverside scenery with rural countryside views. Start at either Merriwa or Sandy Hollow and take the 171-km circuit down to Bylong and back up, stopping to enjoy the views at Lees Pinch Lookout, the Bylong Valley and Coxs Gap.
Being part of the far west Upper Hunter Region, Sandy Hollow and Merriwa are also ideal destinations for wine lovers. Stop off at James Estate Wines in Sandy Hollow or Stone Hill Vineyard in Merriwa for an intimate cellar door wine tasting and a bite to eat.
Located 75 kilometres north-west of Sydney, the Kurrajong circuit is ideal for 4WD adventurers as it traverses the backroads and tributaries around the edge of two patches of wilderness centred on the wild, undammed rivers of the Grose and the Colo.
Along the way you’ll find a number of lookouts and walking tracks and two national park camping/picnic areas. Stop off for some fresh local fruit at the stalls on Bells Line of Road in Bilpin and in Kurrajong Heights. It’s a good idea to allow a whole day for the drive to take full advantage of the views, walks and rest spots along the way – or even two days, stopping to camp at Burralow or Wheeny Creek.
Between Windsor and Wisemans Ferry is a scenic 39-km rural drive through the Hawkesbury River country at the north-east end of the Greater Blue Mountains Drive. At just under an hour’s drive from Sydney, this is a more compact way to see some of the natural beauty that the Hawkesbury region and the Greater Blue Mountains has to offer.
You will pass through the small village of Cattai along the way, in which we recommend turning off to visit Cattai National Park and enjoy riverside scenery, historic farm buildings and extensive picnic areas.
It is a one-one-of-a-kind journey taking you from the city to the jungle, passes two World Heritage areas, spectacular views over the Coral Sea, remote beaches, ancient rainforests, quaint villages and more. Here’s just a taste test of the must-see attractions along the way.
If this is your first time exploring tropical North Queensland, spend some time getting acquainted with the laidback lifestyle of Cairns. With so much to see underwater, we recommend hiring snorkelling gear and taking time to enjoy the sealife. Don’t forget to explore all the boutique shops, laneway-style bars, craft breweries and buzzing restaurants that the city has to offer before you begin to think about hitting the road.
Just 20 minutes north of Cairns is Smithfield, the terminal for the Kuranda Scenic Railway and the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Leave the car in the carpark and take the train up to Kuranda in the morning before gliding over the canopy in a Skyrail cable car in the afternoon.
In Kuranda Village, you’ll find an eccentric assortment of open-air market stalls selling locally grown produce and handmade wares. Stop by Petit Café for mouth-watering crepes amongst the sights and sounds of the rainforest.
Palm Cove, half an hour north of Cairns, is a tiny beachside village centred around an esplanade lined with 500-year-old melaleuca trees. Hire a kayak and paddle right off the beach or take a tour to nearby Double Island. The Palm Cove jetty is a great fishing spot, with plenty of Spanish mackerel, cod, whiting and flathead to be caught.
Tip: If you’re keen to take a dip in the warm tropical waters, keep in mind that marine stingers are found in the ocean off Palm Cove from October to June, so it’s best to swim only within netted areas.
Port Douglas & Mossman Gorge
An hour’s drive north of Cairns, Port Douglas is a picturesque hub for Great Barrier Reef tours. From quick trips to the Low Isles to a full-day family-friendly jaunt on a glass-bottomed reef platform. High-speed cruises leaving from Port Douglas can reach the Outer Reef in just 40 minutes, giving you a full day of snorkelling or diving at a few different sites.
About 20 minutes further north you’ll find Mossman Gorge; the gateway to the ancient Daintree Rainforest. The Daintree has stood for 165 million years, and is one of the
most complex ecosystems on the planet. Walk through awe-inspiring greenery along elevated walkways, and keep an eye out for two iconic symbols of the rainforest, the bright-blue Ulysses butterfly and the endangered cassowary.
The northernmost point of the Great Barrier Reef Drive, Cape Tribulation is renowned for its scenic landscape, remote beaches and the heart of the Daintree Rainforest.
Pick up some treats like ice-cream made from fresh tropical fruits at the Daintree Ice Cream Co. and organic tea from Daintree Tea on the Cubbagudta Plantation. Explore the beaches, reefs and rainforests on a kayaking tour, where you’ll have company in the form of sea turtles, stingrays, dolphins, whales and dugongs. If you’re looking for a challenge, head inland to the summit of Mount Sorrow – a tough but rewarding 7km trail with sweeping views along the length of the Daintree Coast and out to Snapper Island.
There’s no better way to see everything the Northern Territory has to offer than in a 4WD. If you’re planning a Northern Territory road trip, off-roading it allows you to explore NT’s hidden gems and geographical landmarks up close and at your own pace.
Please be advised that access to areas covered in this blog may be affected by water levels, so we advise you to check road conditions before traveling!
1. Red Centre Way
Spanning a whopping 1135-km, the loop around Alice Springs and Uluru via the Red Centre Way offers the chance to explore some of NT’s most iconic landmarks as you travel through red desert sands, spinifex and mulga forest, lush valleys and towering gorges.
Split the journey over five or six days and take some time to appreciate the renowned galleries of Alice Springs, the Indigenous art capital of Australia, before four-wheel driving west. There you will come across the gorges, waterholes and ochre pits of the Tjoritja a.k.a. the West MacDonnell National Park. For an unforgettable experience, sit back and watch the red giants of the outback change colour at sunset.
2. Greater Litchfield Loop
Just over an hour’s drive from Darwin, Litchfield National Park is the ideal spot to take in spectacular landscapes and cascading waterfalls. Enjoy some of the country’s best fishing and try your hand at catching a Barramundi, or go bluewater fishing from Dundee Beach or Crab Claw Island.
Although many highlights along the Greater Litchfield Loop are accessible by sealed road, adrenalin junkies will find lots to love about this region with exciting 4WD tracks, such as Reynolds River Track, dotted throughout Litchfield National Park.
3. Nature’s Way
This 735-kilometre loop takes you from the Territory’s capital, Darwin, through World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, Nitmiluk National Park and then back up the Stuart Highway, through Litchfield National Park.
The main route is a sealed road and takes in spots such as the famous Aboriginal rock art galleries at Ubirr and the Bowali Visitor Centre, but taking the trip with a 4WD allows you to visit even more incredible waterfalls and waterholes such as Barramundi Gorge (Maguk) and Gunlom Plunge Pool in Kakadu National Park.
Whilst in Nitmiluk National Park, take a cruise or hire a canoe down Katherine Gorge and be sure to visit Leilyn/Edith Falls for a refreshing swim or a rocky bushwalk.
Whether you’re heading on the ultimate road trip or making a short visit to a new city for work, the last thing you want is to get hit with unexpected tolls or charges while on the road. The good news is that toll roads only exist in NSW, VIC and QLD, and driving an eTag-equipped Thrifty vehicle makes managing tolls a breeze.
To help you plan your trip, we’ve put together this handy guide to road tolls and charges in Australia, and what you can expect when driving on toll roads in a Thrifty vehicle.
About tolls and charges with Thrifty
When travelling through toll roads in a Thrifty vehicle, you don’t need to take any additional action.
All Thrifty vehicles should have an eTag present – if you notice your car doesn’t, don’t worry, as all vehicles are registered as well.
You can’t use your own eTag in a Thrifty vehicle
After using a toll road in a Thrifty vehicle, your credit card will be charged the toll fee + daily service fee approximately 10 business days after your rental
To access information on toll charges incurred during your rental:
Call: 13 18 65 or +61 2 8337 0712
You will need to provide the first 6 and last 4 digits of your card number or alternatively your rental agreement/tax invoice number
www.myetoll.com.au/thrifty – to access the invoice online you are required to enter the rental agreement/tax invoice number and surname
Thanks to the introduction of eTags, driving on toll roads in NSW, VIC and QLD no longer means scrambling around for change in your pockets or the centre console of your car. Even if you don’t have an eTag, there are alternative ways to pay online for your tolls before or after your trip.
And if you’re driving a Thrifty vehicle, you can rest assured that virtually all our cars, vans and trucks are fitted with eTags, so you don’t have to worry about a thing! If you notice that your vehicle doesn’t have an eTag, that’s ok too, because all our vehicles are registered and will be charged appropriately by the relevant toll authority.
How do I pay for tolls in a hire car?
If you’re driving a hire car in NSW, VIC or QLD, you could end up driving on of the toll roads and be charged for your trip. If this happens, keep in mind that you don’t need to pay anything on the spot or take any additional action. You also don’t need to provide your own eTag.
After using a toll road in a Thrifty vehicle, your credit card will be charged the toll fee plus a daily service fee approximately 10 business days after your rental. The fee charged is calculated by the toll provider for the toll road you used. In the case of car rentals booked under a corporate account, the method of payment will depend on the account setup – contact your Thrifty account manager if you have any questions.
Need help with road tolls, car rentals or anything else? Get in touch with the Thrifty team.
Easter is just around the corner, and if you’ve looked at the calendar and been savvy about requesting days off, you might even have organised for an extra long break.
Aside from eating chocolate for breakfast, Easter is a fantastic time to take a road trip while the weather is still warm, but not too hot, either.
Our pick for the best road trip to take this Easter break? Brisbane to Cairns. Brisbane to Cairns, distance-wise, is just shy of 1,700 kilometres, so you’ll spend roughly 19 hours making this unforgettable roadie.
Here are our top picks for things to see and do on your Brisbane to Cairns drive!
An unforgettable Brisbane to Cairns road trip
Day one: Brisbane to Bundaberg
Kick off from Brisbane with an early start to beat the traffic and make your first stop at the glorious Sunshine Coast for a paddle or a refreshing swim. There are plenty of markets in the Sunshine Coast, so pay a visit to stock up on fresh berries and other snacks for your drive.
Next stop, Noosa! Visit the Noosa National Park to swim in the enchanting fairy pools, and spend the afternoon relaxing on the sparkling golden white sands of the Main Beach.
Finish your day in Bundaberg. The town is known for its Bundaberg Rum, and once you’ve parked your rental car for the evening, you can head down for a tasting or two and even a guided tour before the day is out.
Day two: Bundaberg to Yeppoon
As soon as you hit the road, make a bee-line from Bundaberg straight to the town of Seventeen Seventy. This historic seaside town is where James Cook landed in 1770 (hence the name), and is perfect for a casual morning stand-up paddleboard session and a quick swim.
Once you arrive in Yeppoon, you’ll quickly spot the spectacular scenery in all directions, as this coastal town is known for its tropical climate, beaches, and islands dotting the shoreline. Spend your evening on a sunset cruise to make the most of this landscape.
Day three: Yeppoon to Airlie Beach
Load up your favourite road trip playlist and continue up the coast to Mackay, affectionately known as Australia’s sugar capital. Here you can dive in at Bluewater Lagoon, which is a free-entry waterpark with pools, slides, a waterfall, and family-friendly picnic areas. Or, take a Willy Wonka tour at the Sarina Sugar Shed to find out why the town is such a sugar mecca, and learn about how the sweet stuff is produced.
Follow the Bruce Highway a little farther and make another stop, this time at the Cape Hillsborough Tourist Park. The kangaroos and wallabies here are a little more used to being around people, so it’s the perfect place to catch a glimpse of these Aussie icons. If you have the time, stay the night at Cape Hillsborough and get up early to head down to the beach, where the local kangaroos population visits each morning at sunrise.
Airlie Beach almost needs no introduction. Not only are the beaches in this area even better than what you’ll see on postcards, this is one of the easier starting points for cruising to the Whitsunday Islands. Again, if you have the time, spend it here.
Day four: Airlie Beach to Cairns
This final day presents a solid drive, so make an early start and stop at some of the gorgeous golden beaches along the way that Queensland is known for, such as those at Bowen and Townsville. Make a final stop at Mission Beach for more stunning seaside scenery before cruising into Cairns.
If you don’t have much time off, this road trip can certainly be completed quickly, and you’ll save yourself plenty of driving time along the Bruce Highway if you book a one-way car rental from Brisbane to Cairns, then simply fly back! For those who have managed a solid week off work, you’ll want to spend every minute of it exploring the beaches and sights along this unbelievable stretch of Queensland coastline.
As if you needed another reason to book your Brisbane to Cairns adventure, we’ve gone ahead and sweetened the deal! By booking at any Brisbane location and returning within Brisbane, you can score a free upgrade! This deal is only applicable if you book before April 19th and return after April 26th. For more details, click here!
From arid desert to lush rainforest, from balmy beaches to unforgiving mountain ranges, from lively cities to cosy small towns, Australia truly has it all.
And the best part? You can see it all with a car rental in Australia, your favourite car snacks, and an epic road trip soundtrack.
Eight states and territories, unlimited road trips, and thousands of unforgettable memories (and photos to match) from all corners of our beautiful country. So what are you waiting for?
Road trips in New South Wales
Grand Pacific Drive
The Grand Pacific Drive is one of Australia’s most beloved road trips. The 140-kilometre Grand Pacific Drive route starts in the Royal National Park just south of Sydney, and takes you through the gorgeous seaside cities and towns of Wollongong, Kiama, Shellharbour, and Shoalhaven. The drive passes through lush rainforest, and over the spectacular cantilever Sea Cliff Bridge (sometimes known as the Grand Pacific Drive bridge) for an ocean view that literally takes you out over the water.
Even though this Sydney coastal drive would only take a few hours to complete, you could easily spend a lazy long weekend winding your way down the coastline. In Wollongong, you can check out the fishing and surfing spots before exploring the city’s restaurant scene. When you arrive in Shellharbour, you can spend your time relaxing on the beach, diving, or exploring the cute Shellharbour Village. In Kiama, you’ll have to visit the famous blowhole and treak the beautiful Kiama Coastal Walk, all before making your way to Shoalhaven for its beach vibes and exceptional food and wine.
If you’re taking a round trip from Sydney, you can either head back north along the same route and revisit your favourite stops along the way, or take the inland route, which is slightly longer, for a change of scenery.
Waterfall Way is easily one of the most gorgeous-sounding road trips in the country. This scenic drives covers 185 kilometres between Coffs Harbour and Armidale, and is jam-packed with spectacular views every step of the ‘way’.
The drive takes you through Dorrigo, which is the gateway to the Dorrigo National Park, and right next to the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre, both of which will let you stretch your legs in a beautiful rainforest and on the Skywalk Lookout – and of course see a few waterfalls. Both the Dangar and Ebor Falls are worth a visit before making your way to the Wollomombi Falls, which are over 200 metres high, and were once considered to be the tallest in Australia (it is now known to be the second highest). There are multiple hiking options, cool-climate wineries, and other national parks to visit as well, so the more time you allow yourself, the more you’ll be able to see.
This route takes roughly 2.5 hours each way, so you could complete it in one big day, or you could stay the night in Armidale for a less rushed visit to this beautiful area.
Even though Silverton is located in the Broken Hill area of New South Wales, this town is so far west that it would be easier to rent a car from Adelaide or Melbourne to reach it. These drives take just over six hours from Adelaide, and just over nine from Melbourne, so you’d need to plan a few stops along the way to break it up.
So why visit Silverton NSW? And what makes this such a fantastic road trip?
Silverton is the filming location for Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. It’s where (a very young) Mel Gibson cruised the outback roads in Australia, helping to defend innocents from a gang of savage nomads. When you visit, you won’t find any angry nomads, but you will find that this town has thoroughly adopted the film’s heritage. You can visit the Max Max 2 Museum, where arguably the world’s biggest Mad Max 2 fan has curated a collection of vehicles, props, and more from the film, such as the Ford V8 Interceptor. You can also top by the Silverton Hotel, which featured in the films, and serves an excellent outback meal.
If you can’t get enough of the Mad Max film, continue your road trip into Victoria to small towns such as Clunes and Little River to visit more Mad Max filming locations made famous by the cult classic.
Road trips in Queensland
Cairns to Cape York
Even for many Australians, the far north of Queensland is something of a mystery. This wild and wonderful peninsula is the northernmost tip of Australia, reaching up almost to meet Papua New Guinea. And what better reason for a road trip than to explore something so unknown?
A Cairns to Cape York road trip is a large undertaking, with over a thousands kilometres of peninsula to drive before you reach the northernmost tip – but every new sight, each new experience, is well worth the time along the road to Cape York. Even in the depths of winter, the Cape York peninsula still relishes in the high 20s, which is ideal for the smorgasbord of outdoor activities you’ll stop to enjoy along the route (in fact, winter is easily the best time to visit). From bird watching and hiking to fishing and camping, the entire region is an adventure lover’s paradise.
You’ll likely spot tropical birds, cute wallabies, and plenty of crocs (signs will warn you to be extra careful), and you’ll never get tired of the lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and clear blue waters. Keep in mind that this area is aptly known as Queensland’s final frontier, so a 4WD hire for Cairns to Cape York is a good idea. There are regular petrol stations and food places along the way, however, WiFi and mobile phone signal is a rarity, so bring a map as a backup if your GPS fails.
Cairns to Townsville
For a quintessential Australian holiday that’s all about beaches, sunshine, and relaxation, set your GPS for a road trip from Cairns to Townsville (or even Townsville to Cairns). This drive covers 350 kilometres of Queensland coastline, and would take a little over four hours if you were to drive non-stop.
That said, you’d have to be crazy not to want to stop every few kilometres to check out the local sights, scenery, and activities. If you’re new to Cairns, this is the perfect place to pull on your snorkelling gear and take a peek below those sparkling clear waters before you even think about hitting the road. Then, just an hour south of the city, you’ll be out stretching your legs to see Babinda and its many beautiful waterfalls. A little further along you’ll stop at the paradisiacal Mission Beach, complete with palm trees, golden sand, and water as blue as the sky. Continue south to Townsville to make a stop at Reef HQ to learn all about this incredible natural wonder, before heading out on a tour to the Great Barrier Reef to experience for yourself.
You can easily complete this road trip as a round trip over a cruisy long weekend and drive Townsville to Cairns in half a day on the way back, or you can simply arrange for a one-way car hire Cairns to Townsville if that better suits your travel plans.
Gold Coast to Brisbane
The Gold Coast and Brisbane are both world-class destinations in their own right, and at just 80 kilometres apart from one another, the drive makes for a fantastic quick getaway for when you’re short on time. The road trip between the Gold Coast and Brisbane, or a Brisbane to Gold Coast drive for that matter, will take roughly one hour to drive, but there are numerous stopping points along the way that make it even more worthwhile.
Surfers Paradise just out of the city is an excellent first stop for its glorious beaches. Another must-see stop on this Gold Coast road trip is Helensvale, where you’ll find a collection of theme parks including Dreamworld, Movie World, and Wet’n’Wild. You could easily spend a full day at each testing the limits of your bravery. Another must-see on a road trip between Brisbane and the Gold Coast is Tamborine Mountain. A stunning natural area where you can venture to the top for 360-degree views of the region, or spend time visiting the glow worm caves, strolling through the lush Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk, or visiting the multitude of cafes, historic pubs, and boutique wineries in the area. Roughly halfway to Brisbane lies Beenleigh, a small town known throughout the country as the first producer of rum in Australia, where you can visit the distillery to see how it’s made, and even taste a few samples (so long as you’re not driving!).
Road trips in Victoria
The Great Ocean Road
Possibly the most famous of all of Australia’s road trips, The Great Ocean Road is a thing of beauty that has absolutely earned its place as one of the best drives in the country. Technically speaking, the drive begins in Torquay, then takes the scenic route south-west along the coastline, covering 238 kilometres before arriving in Allansford. However, many travellers will begin the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne, adding roughly 100 kilometres (another hour) to the route.
So what is it that makes such a small stretch of Australian coastline so world-renowned?
It’s hard to pinpoint the best part of a Great Ocean Road trip. In Torquay, you can try your hand – and your feet – at surfing at Bells Beach, or simply stroll through the surfing museum to learn about the spot’s famous oceanic history. You’ll certainly make a stop at the Twelve Apostles, a famous collection of towering limestone stacks just off the coastline, and the Great Ocean Road London Bridge, another fabulous stone structure. If you’re driving in winter, make a stop at Logan’s Beach to spot blue whales as they pass by the coastline. And be sure to visit the Hill State Game Reserve, which is packed with walking tracks and awesome wildlife such as kangaroos, emus, and koalas, all of which roam freely through the park.
If any contender can stand up to the greatness of the Great Ocean Road, it would be the Great Alpine Road, a true treasure of Victoria. The official route is from Wangaratta to Metung, a drive of 339 kilometres or roughly 4.5 hours. Many people, however, will simply drive a round trip from Melbourne.
There’s a little bit of everything for the traveller who takes a road trip along the Great Alpine Way. You’ll drive over Australia’s highest year-round accessible sealed road (note that the Great Alpine Road in winter can receive snow), passing through mountain ranges, valleys, and forest, before arriving at the Victorian coastline. You’ll stop for vineyards, fresh local produce, hiking tracks, and even skiing at Mount Buffalo and Mount Hotham if you arrive in winter. Be sure to make time to visit Danny’s Lookout, which promises unforgettable views out over the Alpine National Park no matter the season. After the mountains, you’ll pass through the historic mining town of Omeo, and slowly approach the Gippsland Lakes district, which offer endless boating, fishing, and swimming opportunities. Metung itself is a gorgeous seaside town, and well-worth spending the night for a little more time in the area.
From Metung, it’s roughly a four-hour drive directly back to Melbourne.
The Macedon Ranges
The Macedon Ranges are only an hour out of Melbourne, making the area the perfect spot for a quick day break, or a relaxing weekend getaway from the city. No matter what your idea of relaxation is, you’ll find it all at the Ranges, so allow for as much time as you can take when planning your road trip to the Macedon Ranges.
You’ll find boutique shopping for a little retail therapy, and heavenly massages and treatments at the Macedon Ranges Hotel & Spa. You can take a swing at the Kyneton Golf Club, and stroll through the lush beauty of the Forest Glade Gardens and the Gardens of Tieve Tara. A visit to Hanging Rock is a must, as this small, steep volcano offers incredible and unique rock formations such as the Cathedral and the Black Hole of Calcutta.
And of course, no holiday is complete without seriously good wining and dining – and there are plenty of Macedon Ranges wineries to choose from. Hanging Rock Winery and the Mount Towrong Vineyard both serve delicious tastings, and if you keep an eye on the calendar, you might find a summertime music concert at Hanging Rock Winery. As for meals, you can walk into almost any eatery along the route and enjoy fantastic local produce.
Island getaways are often the key to exploring places of incomparable beauty – but the logistics of arriving there and getting around when you can just drive over can be a real deterrent. Not so with a road trip to Phillip Island from Melbourne! You can drive just two hours directly there, crossing via bridge instead of fussing around with ferries.
Once you arrive, the island is your oyster. In fact, if you like oysters, you’ll find some of the best fresh seafood in Australia in markets and restaurants around the island. Naturally, the ocean plays a big role in Phillip Island’s culture, and it’s an ideal place to get out and enjoy the water with activities such as surfing, fishing, kayaking, boating, and even stand-up paddle boarding.
For animal lovers, this Melbourne to Phillip Island drive will put smiles on faces for young and old alike with two animal reserves at your destination. The Phillip Island Nature Park, and the Koala Conservation Centre both let you observe some of Australia’s cutest and coolest animals, including watching Phillip Island penguins! The penguin parade lets you observe as these fantastic creatures return to shore at sunset. Should you arrive around winter, you may even be able to spot Southern Right whales as they pass by the coastline between May and October.
Road trips in South Australia
The Flinders Ranges are far enough away from Adelaide to feel like a completely different country, yet close enough to spend a long weekend away exploring this untouched gem of the Australian Outback. From the city, you’ll drive 450 kilometres north – a road trip of approximately 6 hours non-stop – to reach this rugged and breathtaking region and the Flinders Ranges National Park.
The ranges are in fact the largest mountain range in Australia, covering more than 400 kilometres from Port Pirie to Lake Callabonna – so you’ll need as much time as you can spare to see as much of them as possible. While there, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to outdoor adventures. The Arkaroo Rock is a fascinating historic location where you’ll find ancient Aboriginal paintings in ochre and charcoal, all set amongst a gorgeous outdoor space. The Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary is another great stop, as it’s South Australia’s first legally protected wilderness sanctuary, and includes granite peaks, gorges, waterholes and mountains, as well as wildlife such as the yellow-footed rock wallaby, and more than 160 species of birds.
When your stomach starts rumbling, stop in at Flinders Food Co for a kangaroo burger, or even the Woolshed Restaurant for a phenomenal meal in the middle of nowhere. And if you’re looking for Flinders Ranges camping options, there are plenty in the area, such as the Koolamon Campground, and the Youngoona Camp Site.
Road trips in the Northern Territory
Alice Springs to Darwin
If it’s not on your bucket list already, it will be after you check out what is install for the Alice Springs to Darwin drive. This epic adventure crosses a huge swathe of arid Australian outback, covering 1,500 kilometres over more than 16 hours of driving time, and offers a once-in-a-lifetime road trip that you’ll be talking about for years to come.
One of the biggest drawcards for driving this particular route is to visit Alice Springs, the heart of Australia and home to Uluru, also known as Ayer’s Rock. The Red Centre is an awe-inspiring place, where you can go on hikes and take guided tours to see the rock art, wildlife, and the monolithic in the middle of it all.
When you’re ready to start driving, it’s all about you, the outback, and the small towns along the way. In Ti Tree, you’ll be in the actual geographical centre of the country, which is also a hub for local artists. In Barrow Creek, you can make a stop in the pub for a meal in a town with an official population of just 11 people. By the time you reach Humpty Doo, you’ll feel like you’re back in the big city, as this town has a population of 5,000 people, plus one gigantic boxing crocodile sculpture. As you reach Darwin, you can stroll along the waterfront, visit the night markets, and enjoy fresh tropical fruit before returning your rental car and flying home.
Of course, you may find it easier to plan a Darwin to Alice Springs road trip if you’d rather start in the city and fly out from the red centre!
Road trips in Western Australia
Perth to Kalgoorlie
A road trip from Perth to Kalgoorlie is a wonderful way to experience Western Australia – and Australia as a whole. As this drive is really a Perth road trip, you’ll first have a chance to enjoy the lively city life – such as shops, bars, and restaurants – before making a beeline for the desert. The Perth to Kalgoorlie route follows the Great Eastern Highway and covers a distance just shy of 600 kilometres, and will take roughly seven hours to complete one way.
Like any great Western Australia road trip, those seven hours will disappear quickly as you make numerous stops along the way. Start with a visit to historic Fremantle, then wind your way from the city via the Swan Valley to see (and taste) the vineyards in the oldest wine region in Australia. As you continue inland, you’ll make a stop at the historic Goldfields Weir Hotel, which has been serving gold miners, locals, and visitors for over 100 years. You’ll stop in tiny towns, get out to take a photo of the Big Camera in Meckering, and cruise through the ghost town of Coolgardie, all en route to Kalgoorlie, a small but bustling town and home to Australia’s largest open-cast gold mine still in operation.
Finally, if you’d prefer not to turn around and drive back again when you arrive, remember that Thrifty has a location in Kalgoorlie, so you can organise for a one-way rental and fly out from Kalgoorlie Airport!
Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin
For those who only have a short space of time, but want to experience some of the best of what Western Australia has to offer, a Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin road trip could be just the ticket. This drive only takes 90 minutes each way, covering roughly 115 kilometres, but includes so many wonderful attractions and landscapes that you’ll be hard pressed not to stop every 10 minutes to get out and take it all in.
The Cape Naturaliste lighthouse is a popular spot with phenomenal ocean views. Some people even begin here to walk this cape to cape track, which takes roughly a week on foot. A stone’s throw down the coastline, you’ll make your first stop at Meelup Beach for a dip in the water, and even a snorkel or a hike. Another 15 minutes down the coast lies Ngilgi Cave, a real drawcard for the area thanks to its spectacular cave crystals and history – so be sure to book a tour to take a look. The wineries of the Margaret River region could waylay your trip for days, and the Boranup Karri Forest is a magical natural spot perfect for a picnic. Once you reach the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse, you’ll be in the most south westerly point in Australia, and no doubt ready for an exceptional dinner.
While you can easily pick up a car rental in Perth and drive south along the coastline to start this road trip (this would take roughly three hours), you could just as easily arrange a rental car in Bunbury, which is much closer to Cape Naturaliste.
Road trips in the ACT
Sydney to Canberra
Getting out of New South Wales for a change of scenery doesn’t have to mean jumping on a plane or driving for hours on end – Canberra, in the Australian Capital Territory, is just 3.5 hours away by car. A road trip from Sydney to Canberra offers an easy escape from the big city, and one with plenty to see and do along the way, as well as once you arrive.
The shortest route from Canberra to Sydney or vice versa is via the M5 Freeway, which runs through Gouldburn and gives you the chance to see another of Australia’s Big Things – the Big Merino.
The alternative option is to take the longer (but more scenic) route along the NSW coast, which takes closer to six hours to drive. Not only does this give you several hours of coastal views (and chances to jump out for a swim) along the way, but you’ll be able to explore towns such as Wollongong and Ulladulla, check out the blowhole at Kiama, and go kayaking in beautiful Bateman’s Bay. Make a quick photo stop at the awe-inspiring Capital Wind Farm on the way in, and leave plenty of time to explore capital city Canberra once you arrive!
Canberra to Melbourne
From the country’s capital to a state capital, this Canberra to Melbourne coastal drive will let you explore two of Australia’s most magnificent cities, and many of its smaller,..