Want to drive around Australia? Here’s how

drive Australia beach

While days on the open road through barren tracts of land have their own inherent appeal, distances can be very long in Australia, especially through the vast Outback. Still, there’s no denying the freedom that comes with having your own wheels, whether it’s exploring one region in depth, getting far off the beaten path, not worrying about a schedule or enjoying one of Australia’s iconic road trips.

If you’re travelling around Australia for an extended time, you might want to consider buying a vehicle when you get here. Otherwise ridesharing is also an option, and a short-term, local car rental to explore an area before moving on via plane, bus or train is also a great way to travel.

Although petrol/gas can be expensive in the outback, Australian roads are generally in good condition and road rules are straightforward. Driving in Australia can be an excellent way to see the country!

Wanna, Port Lincoln, South Australia
(Credit: Robert Lang Photography/South Australian Tourism Commission)

Related articles:

TIP: If your home country licence is in English, that’s all you need; otherwise you’ll need an International Drivers License

Vehicle options

Rent a car
  • Major car rental firms operate across Australia (rates are competitive)
  • For exploring remote areas, a 4WD is essential, while for the ultimate freedom and adventure, a campervan lets you roam at will
  • Most rental rates include unlimited kilometres, but be sure to confirm this
  • One-way rentals of any vehicle type can incur a hefty surcharge
Buy a car
  • Can be economical for an extended visit to Australia
  • The complexities of buying, selling and licensing the vehicle are labyrinth
  • Each state and territory has its owns rules and regulations

Iconic road trips around Australia

Australia is full of popular driving routes that both capture the country’s essence and offer superb scenery, from east coast road trips to epic Outback voyages. Here are some of our favourite road trip ideas:

1) Great Ocean Road
12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road
Great Ocean Road: This 243km drive covers world-class coastal scenery, including the iconic 12 Apostles, towering rock formations jutting out of the ocean (Credit: Michelle O’Connor/Pixabay)

Book your Great Ocean Road hotel here

2) Red Centre Way:
Outback drive through Red Centre Way
Red Centre Way: A 5-day road trip from Alice Springs that captures the scenic drama of the Outback (Credit: Kevin Rheese/Flickr)

Book your Uluru hotel here

3) Great Barrier Reef Drive:
Great Barrier Reef Australia
This 140km east coast road trip from Cairns to Port Douglas takes in the namesake world-class wonder offshore and the fabled Daintree Rainforest on land (Credit: Richard Ling/Foter)

Book your Great Barrier Reef hotel here

Rome2rio, based in Melbourne, Australia, is organising the world’s transport information. We offer a multi-modal, door-to-door travel search engine that returns itineraries for air, train, coach, ferry, mass transit and driving options to and from any location. Discover the possibilities at rome2rio.com