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 along Kennett River and admire shifting, shimmering sand dunes in the Outback on 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 views and monuments like the impressive 12 Apostles, a collection of enormous limestone stacks that rise out of the crashing surf. But it’s not all gazing at the horizon – the route’s varied attractions and activities make it appealing to 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 thanks to its powerful swells and dramatic, ocher cliff backdrop. Follow it up with fish and chips on the sand, as well as something sweet from the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery on the way to Anglesea. Then there’s Lorne, where you’ll find the Qdos Fine Arts Gallery nestled on a hillside and surrounded by gum trees. You can also walk through the rainforest to Erskine Falls.
Don’t miss the Cape Otway Lighthouse or the lustrous blue waters and yellow cliffs of Loch Ard Gorge. Look out for koalas in the trees along Kennett River and zip-line through the forest at the Otway Fly. Rent a car and follow this winding route 152 miles from Geelong to Warrnambool over a few days – you can do it in one day but need at least three to do it justice. Book a night at the family-friendly Freshwater Creek Cottages & Farm Stay along the way.
MONA, one of the best contemporary art galleries in the world full of fun for the entire family
A Tasmanian road trip will make you fall in love with Australia’s peaceful and strikingly beautiful island state, with lots to see and do. In the capital of 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 exhibitions and stimulating child-friendly activities.
There are plenty of landmarks to include in your itinerary—from Cradle Mountain to the panorama of Wineglass Bay—filled with wild swimming, short hikes, and bike rides with incredible scenery. Plan to stop along the way to check out gourmet restaurants and farms offering educational food and cooking experiences. Stay at MACq 01 Hotel overlooking Hobart harbor before taking 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 has some of the country’s greatest treasures, from cities like Sydney to the natural wonder of the Great Barrier Reef. Driving the entire distance from Melbourne to Cairns, or vice versa, takes at least several weeks, but you can break up the trip into smaller chunks. One idea is to head from Sydney and its grand harbor to the relaxed surf town of Byron Bay, ending 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 sailing trip around the stunning Whitsunday Islands, and a family surfing lesson in Noosa. There are countless national parks along the way featuring hikes through the 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 in the stunning vineyard scenery
Any family road trip starting in Perth should stop by Rottnest Island. Just a short ferry ride away, this protected nature reserve 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 few days.
It’s a famous wine-growing area with lots of places to stop along the way. Many wineries offer not only fantastic food made from local produce, but also playgrounds. Hop back in the car to discover beautiful white-sand beaches, forests, and vineyard-covered valleys – as well as cave, paddleboard, and wildlife tours for the more fearless. Stay at the family-friendly Bussells Bushland Cottages in Margaret River Town.
Embark on a journey to Kangaroo Island and admire the incredible diversity of its wildlife
For a vacation that offers something for everyone, South Australia is a good bet. 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. Any South Australian road trip must include 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.