Take in Australia’s diverse scenery on any of these five road trip routes that are not only spectacular but also family-friendly. Spot koalas in the trees at Kennett River and admire shifting, shimmering sand dunes in the Outback on some of these unforgettable trips.
The Great Ocean Road
On The Great Ocean Road, your kids can play on the beach with the 12 Apostles as the backdrop
The Great Ocean Road in the state of Victoria is famous for its extraordinary coastal vistas and monuments like the mighty 12 Apostles; a collection of enormous limestone stacks that rise up out of the crashing surf. But it’s not all gazing at the horizon; the route’s varied attractions and activities lend it an appeal for all ages and interests.
Stop for a surfing lesson in Torquay’s world-famous Bells Beach, host of the prestigious annual Rip Curl Pro event on account of its powerful swells and dramatic, ochre-hued cliff backdrop. Follow it up with fish and chips on the sand, and something sweet from the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery en route to Anglesea. Then there’s Lorne, where you’ll find the Qdos Fine Arts Gallery nestled on a hillside amid the gum trees, and you can walk through the rainforest to Erskine Falls.
Don’t miss the Cape Otway Lighthouse or the iridescent blue waters and yellow cliffs of Loch Ard Gorge. Look out for koalas in the trees at Kennett River, and zip-line through the trees at the Otway Fly. Hire a car and follow this winding route 244 km from Geelong to Warrnambool over a few days – it's possible to do it in one but you need three minimum to do it justice. Book a night at the family-friendly Freshwater Creek Cottages & Farm Stay on the way.
MONA; one of the best contemporary art galleries in the world and fun for the entire family
A Tasmanian road trip promises to make you fall in love with Australia’s peaceful and visually arresting island state, with lots to see and do. Starting in the capital, Hobart, you’ll find MONA, The Museum of Old and New Art. Often described as the best contemporary art gallery in the world, this playful and prestigious space features plenty of interactive exhibits and stimulating child-friendly stuff.
Whether your itinerary takes in all the great landmarks or not – from Cradle Mountain to the panorama of Wineglass Bay – there’ll be wild swimming, short hikes and bike rides with incredible scenery. Expect plenty of places to stop along the way, including gourmet restaurants and farms offering educational food and cookery experiences. Stay at MACq 01 Hotel, overlooking Hobart harbour, before setting off on your road trip adventure.
The East Coast
Explore the wonders of the world's largest coral reef with your loved ones
Australia’s East Coast lays claim to some of the country’s greatest treasures, from cities like Sydney to the natural wonder of the Great Barrier Reef. To drive the entire distance from Melbourne to Cairns or the other way requires a trip of several weeks minimum – but you can break up the coast into smaller chunks too. One idea is to head from Sydney and its grand harbour to the relaxed surf town of Byron Bay, finishing up in Fraser Island (the world’s largest sand island, with miles of gleaming white beaches).
East Coast must-dos include a day trip to the world’s largest coral reef, a tropical sailing trip around the stunning Whitsunday Islands, or a family surfing lesson in Noosa. You’ll find countless national parks en route, featuring hikes through ancient rainforest to lookout points along the coastline. Book a few nights at the family-friendly Ingenia Holidays Cairns Coconut in Cairns.
Perth to Margaret River
Indulge in fine wine tasting while your children play amid stunning vineyard scenery
Any family road trip starting in Perth should stop by Rottnest Island. This protected nature reserve is just a short ferry ride away and is home to the quokka, a small marsupial famous for its friendly, curious nature. Next, head south to the Margaret River region, a 3-hour drive that’s best broken up into a trip of a few days.
Being a famous wine-growing area, there are abundant places to stop on the way – many wineries not only offer fantastic food made from local produce but have playgrounds, too. Hop back in the car to discover more beautiful white sand beaches, forests, and vineyard-covered valleys – with cave, paddleboard and wildlife tours for the more intrepid. Stay at the family-friendly Bussells Bushland Cottages in Margaret River Town.
Embark on a journey to Kangaroo Island and witness the incredible diversity of its wildlife
For a holiday that offers something for everyone, South Australia is a good bet. And a road trip from the capital, Adelaide, will reveal how diverse Australia’s southern state really is. There are wild and rugged white sand beaches, empty outback expanses and cosmopolitan city culture. Admire the sand dunes and ancient rock formations while eating fresh fish for every meal on the Eyre Peninsula. Or drive to McLaren Vale or the Clare Valley for wine tastings.
For nature-lovers, hiking through the Flinders Ranges National Park should hit the spot. And a must-do add-on to any South Australian road trip has to be a trip to Kangaroo Island, one of the best places to see native wildlife including seals, sea lions, kangaroos and koalas. Just southwest of Adelaide, car ferries run regularly from Cape Jervis on the tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula, and take 45 minutes. Book a peaceful stay at Jalilla Village on Kangaroo Island.