Australia’s Greatest Road Trips for Wildlife
Australia is home to some weird and wonderful creatures found nowhere else on earth. From the adorable koalas and kangaroos to the downright strange looking platypus, Australia offers the perfect destination for the wildlife enthusiast.
Australia is a massive continent filled with incredible landscapes including the iconic Outback, Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest, and of course a never ending coastline. The only real way to fully experience all Australia has to offer is to see it by car.
Australia offers some of the world’s greatest road trips where driving is safe yet adventurous. As distances between Australia’s highlights can be quite long, it is recommended you set aside a good deal of time to enjoy several of its finest touring routes.
You’ll be in no hurry to get back on a plane as reaching Australia usually involves very long flights due to its isolation from the rest of the world. It is this isolation, however, which has created such an abundance of rare and unusual flora and fauna.
Australian Road Tips and Safety
Driving across Australia is an incredibly epic experience, but before we get into Australia’s greatest road trips, here are a few things you need to know before hitting the open roads down under.
Acquiring a Car
First things first, you’ll need a car. You may find rental car rates are considerably higher in Australia; therefore it may be far more economical to purchase a used vehicle for your extended travels around Australia.
Gumtree is by far Australia’s best place to search for second-hand cars as their easy website search tool allows you to easily search for the make, model, and vehicle price range you are looking for no matter where you are beginning your journey. Gumtree also allows you to search for camping gear, roof racks, kayaks, bikes, and anything else you may want for your road trip.
Generally if you plan to travel across Australia for more than 2-3 weeks which is highly likely, you’ll want to purchase a vehicle rather than rent. Many iconic Australian road trips require a 4WD and most rental car companies also do not allow their vehicles to be driven on unsealed roads which will greatly impact where you can travel, especially in national parks. For young drivers, purchasing a vehicle may be your only option due to age requirements imposed by rental companies.
Australian Road Rules
It is important to know several Australian road rules like the fact they drive on the left hand side of the road which means the steering wheel is on the right. Take note that you may mix up the turn signal and windshield wipers the first few times.
You’ll have to get used to distances and speed measured in kilometres rather than miles, and be aware of red light/speed cameras. You also must always be on the lookout for crossing kangaroos especially at night, as they can inflict a lot of damage on a vehicle.
In most Australian states and territories, with exception to the Northern Territory, you are able to drive on a foreign licence as long as it is current. Depending on your country of residence you may be required to have an International Licence translated into English if not already.
Australia provides a great network of quality roads and 4WD tracks but it is always smart to carry spare tires and fuel as service stations in more remote areas can be few and far between. Other things to be aware of is the blood alcohol limit is 0.05% throughout Australia, seat belts are compulsory, no phones while driving, be sure to obtain third party insurance, 40kph in school zones, and learn how to negotiate roundabouts as they are numerous.
Australian Road trips
So now that you are equipped with your vehicle and know the rules of the road, it is time to check out all Australia has to offer. With nearly all of Australia’s major cities located near the ocean, it makes sense to start along the coast. From there you can work your way into the interior to experience some of Australia’s greatest road trips such as these.
Great Ocean Road
The state of Victoria offers one of the world’s greatest scenic drives known as the Great Ocean Road. Stretching for over 150 miles, it offers never ending natural attractions where you are bound to encounter some of Australia’s most iconic wildlife.
Witness the Twelve Apostles rising out of the ocean as well as Cape Otway National Park which offers a scenic lighthouse, numerous campsites, and access to The Great Ocean Walk.
Search for Southern right whales off Warrnambool’s Logans Beach and check out the Australian fur seals of Apollo Bay. A quick stroll through the Kennett River Area should reward you with koala sightings and Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve is home to echidnas, kangaroos, and emus.
Great Tropical Drive
Queensland’s Great Tropical Drive provides access to both the Daintree Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef. The Daintree offers the world’s oldest rainforest which is filled with some of Australia’s rarest and most endangered animals.
Keep an eye out for massive cassowaries, tree kangaroos, vibrant butterflies, forest dragons, and numerous colourful parrot species.
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system that offers over 900 islands to explore, notables including Hamilton, Fitzroy, and Lizard. The reef is home to sea turtles, manta rays, clownfish, sharks, giant clams, sea snakes, lionfish, and the dangerous box jellyfish.
Sydney to Brisbane
Although this drive includes some of Australia’s largest cities with notable landmarks like the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge as well as numerous theme parks, you will also find incredible national parks teeming with wildlife.
You will find beautiful national parks like Royal, Springbrook and Lamington as well as impressive zoos, botanic gardens, and wildlife parks. Wildlife can readily be seen within the cities as well as the parks and include rainbow lorikeets, grey kangaroos, wallabies, powerful owls, cockatoos, possums, and flying foxes.
The island state of Tasmania offers an abundance of endemic wildlife not found on mainland Australia like the Tasmanian devil. The state’s low human population coupled with an absence of predators such as foxes, has made the island a safe haven for numerous species.
The state offers many iconic driving routes such as the Tarkine Drive and East Coast which will give you numerous chances to spot platypus, sea eagles, wombats, bandicoots, potoroos, quolls, pademelons, and more.
Explore the beautiful Maria Island as well as Freycinet Peninsula and Cradle Mountain. You’ll experience some of the world’s freshest air and clearest waters.
A road trip around Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula will provide you with some of the most concentrated wildlife the country has to offer. The island is home to endemic plants found nowhere else as well as one of the best places to spot koalas in the wild.
Visit the Seal Bay Conservation Park for up close and personal views of fur seals as well as Flinders Chase National Park which offers numerous walks like the one leading to Remarkable Rocks.
Keep an eye out for glossy black cockatoos, Rosenberg’s goanna, echidnas, platypus, and the adorable fairy penguins.
Adelaide to Darwin
No trip to Australia would be complete without experiencing the Outback. Cut straight up through the heart of Australia with this route which will allow you to experience Uluru, Australia’s most notable natural monument.
The roughly 30 hour drive will take you through Adelaide which is home to several wildlife parks and then onto the opal mining town of Coober Pedy. Continue on through the Red Centre as you watch for Wedge-tailed eagles, thorny devils, red kangaroos, dingoes, camels, and more.
You’ll end your journey in Darwin but not before passing through many national parks, gorges, and refreshing water holes. From Darwin you can easily explore the iconic Kakadu National Park which is home to Aboriginal rock art sites, massive saltwater crocodiles, and billabongs teeming with birdlife such as the black-necked stork.