1.MARGARET RIVER CIRCUIT (WESTERN AUSTRALIA)

Western Australia`s southern jewel and one of the top wine regions in the continent. Situated on the banks of fabulous Margaret River, the region lies amidst lush green pastures, eucalyptus forests and it stretches along the staggering coast of the Indian Ocean.

The area is a picturesque place to drive through, with historic wineries, farms and cellar doors, and every visitor should take a self-driving wine tasting tour to sample some of Australia`s finest wines. Besides, there are world-class surfing beaches, ancient karri forests, limestone caves and seasonal wildflowers that cover the whole region during the springtime

Pemberton, The Southern Forests (WA)

TRAVEL TIP

Follow the Caves Drive from Busselton to Augusta and return via the Nannup (200 km circuit, suggested time is two days). The highlights of the drive are Pemberton, Manjimup, Blackwood River, Boranup Forest, Dunsborough Caves, Hamelin Bay, Prevelly Beach & the Margaret River Mouth, Yallingup Beach, Cape Naturaliste, Augusta and Margaret River Town, Surfers Point Prevelly.

Surfers Point Prevelly, Margaret River (WA)

2.GREAT OCEAN ROAD  (VICTORIA)

This is one of the Australian top tourist drives, stretching for almost 300 km along the mountainous and heavily forested coastline, west of Melbourne. The narrow road with cliffs was manually excavated, and there are numerous spots where you can pull over and admire the fabulous views, and if you are an experienced surfer dare to catch a wave at the Bells Beach – a world-famous surfing location. You can meet the lazy koalas in Otway National Park and discover the natural beauty of the Port Campbell National Park.

Great Ocean Road (VIC)

However, the major attraction of the trip is the 12 Apostles and although there are just eight remain standing, due to the erosion caused by the sea and strong southerly winds, these extraordinary giant monoliths of rock offer mind-blowing views from several platforms.

TRAVEL TIP

Follow the Great Ocean Road from Geelong to Warrnambool and return via Colac (500 km circuit, suggested time is 2-3 days). The highlights of the drive are Torquay, Anglesea, Aireys Inlet, Lorne, Kennett River, Apollo Bay, Otway National Park, Port Campbell National Park and Colac.

The 12 Apostles, Great Ocean Road (VIC)

3. KAKADU TOURIST DRIVE (NORTHERN TERRITORY)

Kakadu National Park is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Area and it is the largest Australian national park that stretches over more than 20 000 square kilometres, including the whole South Alligator River – home to both freshwater and estuarine crocodile species as well as a wide range of butterflies, freshwater fish, kangaroos, wallabies, dingoes and water buffalo. Most of the land belongs to the indigenous (Aboriginal) people who have been living here for thousands of years, and still today it has a great significance for their culture.

Cahills Crossing, Jabiru (NT)

Kakadu attracts visitors with its tropical setting, gorges, waterfalls and swimming holes at their base. There are more than 5000 ancient sites of Aboriginal rock art from many different eras. Evidence showed that human occupation of this area had spanned at least 40 000 years, which is thousands of years longer than the civilisations such as those suggested by the Egyptian pyramids, the Roman roads, the Great Wall of China or Stonehenge.

NOTE that a 4WD vehicle is recommended for this trip as there will be dirt tracks and river crossings along the way.

4WD is recommended (and often essential) in Kakadu National Park

TRAVEL TIP

Follow the Arnhem Highway from Darwin to Jabiru and return via Pine Creek and Litchfield National Park (500 km circuit, suggested time is 3-4 days). Alternatively, extend the route by Katherine (200 km return) and add a couple of days to your itinerary. The highlights of the Kakadu drive are Adelaide River (jumping croc tour), Mary River (the highest concentration of ‘salties’ in Australia), Jabiru, Ubirr (ancient rock art), Cahills Crossing (road to Arnhem Land), Jim Jim Falls, Twin Falls, Maguk and Gunlom waterfalls, Litchfield National Park (Wangi and Florence Falls). If travelling to Katherine area don`t skip the Cutta Cutta Caves, Nitmiluk National Park, Mataranka Hot Springs, Katherine Gorge and Edith Falls.

Jim Jim Falls is one of Kakadu`s highlights

5.FLINDERS RANGES SCENIC DRIVE (SOUTH AUSTRALIA)

Likely the most isolated, yet the extraordinary – the Flinders Ranges is the gateway to the central desert of South Australia. Red earth, rugged ranges, rock formations and caves, Aboriginal rock art and historic mine sites will take the visitors back to the days when early settlers were eager to uncover its valuable capital – gold, silver, lead, zinc and but also had to deal with the unforgiving Australian Outback.

The Flinders Ranges (SA)

From the township of Hawker you can head off the highway to the Flinders Ranges National Park via Strzelecki Track to discover its marvellous Wilpena Pound and its sacred sites, there some jaw-dropping views on the way. Those who fancy this dirt track the rugged landscapes continue forward joined by Strzelecki and Innamnicka Reserves and finished off by the glorious Simpson Desert.

TRAVEL TIP

Follow the Flinders Ranges Way from Port Augusta to Hawker, then turn off the highway to the ranges, connect to the same road via Parachilna town to return. (450 km circuit, suggested time is three days). Alternatively, extend the route by Strzelecki and Innamnicka and add a few more days to your itinerary. The highlights of the drive are Quorn, Pichi Richi Railway, Hawker, Death Rock Ruins, Kanyaka Historic Site and Yourambulla Caves.

Flinders Ranges Way – if lucky enough you might even spot an Australia feral camel

6.GRAMPIANS LOOP (VICTORIA)

The Grampians National Park is regarded as one of the most magnificent nature reserves in Australia and one of the most photographed ones. This unspoiled region attracts many nature admirers and mountaineers with myriads options for outdoor activities. A network of walking tracks and mountain biking trails throughout the park allows the visitors to explore cascading waterfalls, rugged ridges, abundant wildlife and seasonal wildflowers.

The best way to explore the region is driving; motorists can enjoy numerous scenic drives with spectacular lookouts, lakes and rivers a rich Aboriginal Heritage and several important rock art sites. Halls Gap is the tourist centre with a wide range of accommodation and excellent facilities.

The Grampians National Park (VIC)

TRAVEL TIP Start at Horsham and drive to Halls Gap, continue to Dunkeld, Cavendish, Mooralla and return to Horsham. (450 km circuit, suggested time is 2-3 days). A major attraction on the Central Grampians Scenic Drive, The Balconies, Zumsteins, Wartook Reservoir Mirranatwa, Victoria Valley, Green Hill Lake, Lake Beaufort, Lake Hamilton and Lake Bolac

The Balconies, Grampians (VIC)

7.BAROSSA VALLEY (SOUTH AUSTRALIA)

Not far from Adelaide Hills, the charming Barossa Valley is a renowned wine region of South Australia, and it can be reached via a gorgeous scenic drive. The region`s German heritage is obvious and driving through the romantic villages of Lobethal and Hahndorf you will encounter all you would imagine a small country town of Germany to be; old beer houses and cosy wine gardens, bakeries, art galleries, antiques and handicraft shops, dazzling atmosphere and rustic environment.

Hahndorf, Adelaide Hills (SA)

Barossa Valley is an extension to the German heritage and most of the cellar-doors have their own cafes and restaurants, breweries, bakeries and shops that offer organic gourmet products like cheese, jams, relishes but also coffee, home-made beers and ciders.

TRAVEL TIP

Follow the South Eastern Freeway from Adelaide to reach Hahndorf, continue towards Lobethal, and drive to Barossa Valley (via Eden Valley Rd) until you reach Nuriootpa and Tanunda – the tourist centre. In Tanunda there is an iconic Barossa Heritage Drive – is an easy, 57km-long loop trip around the wineries and vineyards of Barossa Valley. Return to Adelaide via Williamstown (250 km circuit, suggested time is 1-2 days). The highlights of the drive are Adelaide Hills, Lobethal, Hahndorf, Birdwood, Mount Pleasant, Eden Valley, Stockwell, Rowland Flat, Nuriootpa, Lyndoch and Tanunda.

Barossa Heritage Drive (SA)

8.BLUE MOUNTAINS SCENIC DRIVE  (NEW SOUTH WALES)

Only a short drive from Sydney, Blue Mountain National Park is one of the most visited tourist destination and extremely popular day road trip. Designated a World Heritage site, the area has been largely preserved along with its major attractions – the Three Sisters, Wentworth Falls or the Everglades Gardens.

The 3 Sisters – the major attraction in the Blue Mountains (NSW)

The 26 European-style towns and gracious villages that make up the city of Blue Mountains are almost legendary for their elegant cafes, antique shops, historic guesthouses, craft galleries and refined gardens. Further inland, Lithgow is the gateway to the ancient Wollemi National Park that is the largest wilderness forest left in NSW. It features Jurassic-age tree Wollemi Pine and many fascinating caves with glow worms, rivers and canyons, especially in the Kanangara-Boyd National Park.

TRAVEL TIP

Follow the Great Western Highway from Sydney via Penrith to Bathurst and return via Bells Line Road/from Lithgow. (300 km circuit, suggested time is 1-2 days). The highlights of the drive are Katoomba, Three Sisters, Wentworth Falls, Blackheath, Lithgow, Kanangara-Boyd National Park, Bathurst, Jenolan Caves, Wombeyan Caves, Abercrombie Caves.

Wentworth Falls, the Blue Mountains (NSW)

9.ATHERTON TABLELANDS TROPICAL DRIVE (QUEENSLAND)

The Atherton Tablelands is a highland region in the hinterland of Cairns and a heaven for all nature lovers. The landscape comprises of rainforest, wetlands and savanna that is home to abundant birdlife and wildlife like tree kangaroos, cassowary and wallabies.

The region is well-known by tourists for the Waterfalls Circuit on the Palmerston Highway that includes Barron River, Millaa Millaa Falls, where the forested setting is a favourite of photographers. Nevertheless, there are myriads scenic drive options around Cairns to choose from.

The Atherton Tablelands (QLD)

TRAVEL TIP

Follow the Kennedy Highway from Cairns via Kuranda and return by the Gillies Ranges Rd from Artherton(250 km circuit, suggested time is 1-2 days). The highlights of the drive are Cairns, Kuranda, Mareeba, Atherton, Millaa Millaa, Malanda, Crater Lakes National Park, Danbulla, and Gordonvale.

The Waterfalls Circuit, watch out for the world`s most dangerous bird – cassowary!

10.TASSIE BIG ISLAND CIRCUIT

One of the most picturesque regions of all, Tasmania might be the last frontier, yet the prettiest one. Whether it is the charming port of Hobart, the rolling hills of orchards and vineyards around Launceston, the perfectly shaped Wineglass Bay, Bay of Fire where you can meet the native Tasmanian Devil and other Australian animals, the alpine splendour of the Cradle Mountains or the western wilderness at Gordon and Franklin Rivers, Tasmania cannot fail to delight.

The Cradle Mountains (TAS)

With spectacular beaches, unspoilt national parks, abundant wildlife, fine wines, dairy products and seafood of the highest quality, but also a fascinating history, so often associated with notorious prisons and British convicts. 

TRAVEL TIP

The Big Tassie Circuit starts in Hobart, follows the east coast to Launceston and returns to Hobart via the West Coast (3000-3500 km circuit, suggested time is 10-20 days). The highlights of the drive are Hobart, Tasman Peninsula, Wineglass Bay, Coles Bay, Bay of Fires, Ben Lomond National Park, Launceston, The Great Lakes, West Coast, Strahan, Strathgordon, Cradle Mountains, Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, Southwest Conservation Area.

Jacob`s Ladder, Ben Lomond National Park (TAS)

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Eva Bodova

Eva Bodova

Sunday 4 August 2019

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