Top five great Aussie road trips

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There’s no better way to experience this big sunburnt country of ours than by hitting the open road. The great Aussie road trip has become something of a tradition for people of all ages, with the growth in grey nomads packing up their RV and travelling from one beautiful part of the country to another, continuing to rise.

According to Tourism Research Australia, there were around 2.6 million caravan trips taken by Aussies aged 55 to 70 in 2011 – an increase of 12 per cent from the previous year, and up 90 per cent since 2000.

On an individual level, the tourism organisation also found that grey nomads had stayed in more than 20 caravan parks in the past five years and tended to travel anticlockwise around Australia, like many domestic travellers.

But before you head off make sure you and your loved ones are protected for accidents, no matter how big or small, with a reliable, comprehensive car insurance policy and roadside assistance, which is a cost-effective way of protecting you 24/7 for when something goes awry with your motor vehicle on the road.

Although we’re spoiled for choice in this beautiful country, here are five of the best road trips every Aussie should experience.

1. It has "great" in its name for a reason

The Great Ocean Road is the stretch of road that hugs the coast between Adelaide and Melbourne, and is a must-do for every grey nomad. Watch the surfers down at the famed breaks of Bells Beach and get plenty of photographs of the dramatic rock sculptures known as the 12 Apostles. The Great Ocean Road extends from Torquay in the east to Allansford in the west, with the stretch of tarmac between Lorne and Apollo Bay offering the most scenic views. Huge cliffs and rock stacks, raging surf, endless panoramas over the great Southern Ocean, and lush forests are just some of the spectacles you can expect along this route. If you’d like to take your exploring a little further, go for a detour inland to The Grampians, a wonderful national park that’ll easily entice nature lovers. There’s so many things to see and do along this stretch of road, so do a little research beforehand to determine your priorities.

2. Take in Tasmania – all of it

Never been to Tasmania? Great! Hire a car, create a self-drive itinerary and experience this entire state from top to bottom. It can be done in a couple of weeks, or longer if you’d like to take an easy, relaxed pace. Soak up the hive of activity on the River Derwent in the state’s capital or immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Huon Valley – a place that’s becoming more and more popular with mainland retirees. Many grey nomads start in Hobart and plan a coast-to-coast itinerary, travelling from Hobart to Port Arthur and on to Bridport. From there they head to Launceston and on to Stanley and Cradle Mountain, continuing on to Lake St Clair and New Norfolk, before the homeward journey to Hobart. On route, you can explore the state’s biggest national parks, including Freycinet and Cradle Mountain, as well as the World Heritage-listed Port Arthur Historic Site, Australia’s most intact and evocative convict site. Dating from the prison’s establishment in 1830, it has more than 30 buildings comprising of ruins and restored period homes.

3. A food and wine lover’s trail

When some people think of Western Australia, images of its golden outback near Kalgoorlie, Geraldton or Broome are more likely to come to mind. But, what about lush green forests, rollicking hills in wine country and dramatic cliffs that dangerously drop to jagged rocks below? Known as “Down South” by locals, the drive from Perth to Albany, bypassing Busselton, Margaret River, Dunsborough and Walpole is a different world. Margaret River is one of the biggest regional centres in this part of WA, and for good reason. It offers a smorgasbord of local produce, from full-bodied wine and hand-made chocolates to delicious gourmet cheeses. It’s about a three-hour drive from Perth and while many people stop at Margaret River before returning to the city, continue on and be amazed by the beauty of the south coast. Whether it’s stretching your legs on one of the scenic walks around Geographe Bay or immersing yourself in the majestic forests of Walpole, there’s plenty more to see further down this way. Not to mention Albany. Spend a few days here and learn all about the town’s whaling history and its badge of honour as the first settlement in WA – three years before the Swan River colony was settled, which became Perth.

4. Go on an adventure to the red centre

If there is one sight every Aussie should see at least once in their lifetime, its sunset at Uluru. Be amazed as this iconic Northern Territory landmark slowly changes colour through moody hues of blue to purple. From the coast to the country’s red heart, begin in Adelaide and plan for about 10 to 14 days at a leisurely pace. Expect to see wild outback towns, the world’s largest salt lake and stunning desert that many Aussies only see in postcards at souvenir shops. Alice Springs, the only town in this area, is about a six-hour drive from the natural wonder, with Kings Canyon in the middle. However, getting here may be best tackled with a 4WD.

5. Capture the beauty of NSW’s Snowy Mountains

If you’re looking for a short drive that’s packed with photo opportunities, you can’t go past the Kosciuszko Alpine Way. This 175 kilometre stretch of road from Canberra to Sydney threads its way through picturesque mountain valleys, past historic country towns and power stations tucked away in the Australian country. Begin the journey from our nation’s capital and head towards Cooma, the gateway to the Snowy Mountains and a beautiful little town. If you’ve got the time, a short detour to Mount Gladstone, about three kilometres west, offers spectacular views of the Snowy Mountain ranges. It’ll take about three days to get to Sydney if you’re planning leisurely stop-overs, which would be well worth it, particularly on the drive to Jindabyne. Experience the beauty of Mt Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest mainland mountain, with a chairlift at Thredbo. A great photo opportunity is at Geehi Hut, which was constructed from river stones and concrete in 1952 and was once used by mountain cattlemen. 

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