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Get your motor running, head out on the highwaaaay, and maybe grow an awesome handlebar moustache? Yep it’s time to leave air travel behind, rent a car and hit the road... It’s the only way to REALLY experience Australia!

These days, so much travel is all about the destination and getting in and out as quickly as possible. And you can understand that - if you only have limited time off work, you need to fly in, enjoy yourself and then get home in time for the daily grind to begin all over again.

There are some destinations however that lend themselves perfectly to an epic road-trip, where the getting-there is as important as the end result. On that sort of trip it really doesn’t matter how long it  takes. That’s what a road trip is all about.  

And guess what? There’s nothing like exploring Australia by road and it is home to some absolutely spectacular routes, although the road network is not always the best – many are rough, ready and seemingly unending (where’s your sense  of adventure?).  

The must-dos include the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Queensland’s Savannah Way and the Nullarbor, driving from Adelaide all the way to Perth (it’s an epic!). 

And the cousins across the Tasman have their fair share of cracking routes as well – but of course, you won’t be able to get your rental car all the way over there (so it’s good job there are loads of NZ hire car companies isn’t it?). From Queenstown, a popular winter hang-out for those keen to smash the slopes, Milford Sound is a couple of days’ drive away and one of the country’s top attractions. And if you’re on the North Island try Paihia to Auckland. Start your engines...  

 

GREAT OCEAN ROAD
Is the Great Ocean Road really that great? Er, YEAH... it’s not called GREAT for nothing! Originally built by returning veterans as a memorial to those who died in WWI, it’s beautiful coastlines make it one of the most photogenic stretches of tarmac on earth and an absolute must-do.  

photo credit: iStock

Driving south from Melbourne, it takes about an hour to get to Geelong and then you head along the coast to Torquay. Even if it’s too cold for you to take a dip in the  ocean (it is winter), there’s still plenty to enjoy and it’s the official start of the Great Ocean Road (as well the unofficial home of the nation’s surfing capital). Torquay oozes cool and you can’t not go to Keanu Reeves, erm, we mean the iconic Bells Beach - sorry, the image of Keanu on a surfboard has been carved into our memory ever since watching Point Break. Well, sort of. You see, Bells is supposedly one of the locations of the movie but it isn’t. The beach at the end where Patrick Swayze rides “the wave” is meant to be Bells, but it was actually filmed in America to save money (tight!). 

Anyway, get down to this surfing mecca and try and catch a few ways at one of its quality surfing sports, enough to build up an appetite which you can satisfy at Bomboras with a few pizzas (bomboras.com.au) and then celebrate the day’s achievements with a couple beers at Growlers (growlers.com.au), one of the Surf Coast’s favourite waterholes.  

Down the road in Lorne and Apollo Bay, you’ll find even more unspoiled beaches. Apollo Bay acts as a popular base camp for Great Ocean Road explorers with the Apollo Bay Hotel (apollobayhotel.com.au) naturally taking on the role of HQ. Right in the heart of town, the hotel holds prime position overlooking the bay and is the epitome of an Aussie beachside pub. The al fresco dining area and relaxed indoor bistro serve up authentic pub grub with some Asian alternatives mingling in with the Parmigiana and fishermen’s baskets. With classically simple beer garden decor, the foreshore watering hole needs nothing more than some sunshine and a salty sea breeze to transport you to never-never land. 

The route then takes you inland through Otway National Park and lush rainforests. Check out the Otway Treetop Walk (otwayfly.com), a unique attraction which features the 600m long and 30m high steel structured treetop canopy walkway that enables you to experience the sensation of being high above the forest floor.   

Once you’re done with the trees, head back on the road for some dramatic cliff landscapes between Princetown and Port Campbell, where you’ll visit the famous rockstars the Twelve Apostles (there are actually nine), the towering limestone stacks off the coast. Check out the fishing village of Port Fairy before heading back towards Melbourne via the Grampians (or you can keep going west and hit up Adelaide). PS, there’s another reason the Great Ocean Road has such a grandiose title – and with little gems spotted along the iconic bitumen – the stunning drive easily turns into the Great Ocean Pub Crawl! visitgreatoceanroad.org.au


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