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Your Ultimate Guide To The Best Solo Road Trips Around Australia

According to new new stats by Tourism Australia’s Consumer Research, Aussies are really leaning into solo travel. In fact, about one in five of us are prepared to pop off on a jaunt without friends or family.

As someone who’s been a solo traveller for years and will tell anyone who’ll listen why it’s such an amazing way to travel, this makes me very happy. Trust me when I say, you will find more ‘off the beaten path’ experiences, form relationships with more people (especially locals) and head home with way more confidence than you’ve ever had before.

With 2020 being the year of domestic travel (whether we wanted it to or not), plus everyone’s leave days getting all messed up meaning many of us will find it hard to coordinate time off for trips with people we know (thanks corona), now’s your time to say screw it and take your fine self off for a solo adventure.

“We know people still want to travel and that they want to get out and explore,” says Phillipa Harrison, Managing Director of Tourism Australia. “Our recent consumer research showed over 60 per cent of Australians are keen to travel around Australia once restrictions ease”.

But where to go, how to get there etc etc?

We’ve rounded up some of the best trips around the country that you absolutely don’t need a plus one for. If hostels aren’t your scene but you’re still hoping to meet new people, Phillipa recommends jumping on a tour or day trip..

“Adding a class or tour to your itinerary is a great way to learn something new and hear from the locals about their part of Australia,” she says. “[They’re] are also a great way to meet local guides and fellow travellers. It’s often said that the people you meet along the way, end up being the highlight of the trip”.

Australian Capital Territory

From the distinctly ‘old England’ vibes of The Southern Highlands to the snow capped mountains of The Snowy Mountains, there are plenty of easy road trips out of Canberra for the solo adventurer.

Through Southern Highlands

 

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  • Stop 1: Bungendore is known for its art, craft, antiques and restaurants.
  • Stop 2: Mittagong is home to a few famous antiques and art and craft stores.
  • Stop 3: Bowral is home to award-winning Gumnut Patisserie so make this your lunch stop, but you should also visit The Bradman Museum while you’re there.
  • Stop 4: Take a break at the nearby Boorowa where you can spot platypuses on the river if you’re lucky.
  • Stop 5: Stretch your legs in Moss Vale with a walk around Leighton Gardens and Australia’s oldest jail. Then head on back to Canberra.

Around The Snowy Mountains

 

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Depending on the season your view will change, but it’s a year-round paradise no matter what. It’s an easy road trip from Canberra to check out the local towns and snow villages. We recommend:

  • Stop 1: Pick one (or all) of the region’s snow towns and hit the slopes, like Jindabyne, Thredbo, Tumut and Perisher.
  • Stop 2: Tumut is a perfect mountain escape. Get exploring on foot or with a bike, or just spend the day fishing and golfing. Take lunch at Tumut River Brewing Co for local craft beers and pub-style meals.

Northern Territory

This loop out of Darwin is just incredible with its unique desert landscapes cascading waterfalls and tropical walking trails.

Around The Greater Litchfield Loop

 

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  • Stop 1: Litchfield National Park is almost completely back open and an easy day trip. Check out Florence Falls and Buley Rockhole for a swim, then pitch your tent at Wangi Falls if you want to extend your adventure.
  • Stop 2: Dundee Beach offers world-class fishing and great camping options.

New South Wales

Near Sydney

 

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There are so many great trips around New South Wales, and most of them are easy drives out of Sydney so it’s no problem going it alone. We recommend:

  • Stop 1: Drive for an hour out of Sydney to Palm Beach. While there,  take the 800-metre (0.5-mile) walking trail to Barrenjoey Lighthouse and lightkeeper’s cottages for panoramic views over Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.
  • Stop 2: Newcastle is Australia’s second-oldest city and a world-famous surfing destination. Check out why at Merewether Beach or keep it chill at heritage-listed ocean pool, Bogey Hole.
  • Stop 3: the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area may have been hit pretty hard by the bushfires, but it’s started to burst back to life. Locals reckon the most scenic trip up the mountain is via Bells Line of Road stopping in at Bilpin for their 100% mountain-grown apple ciders. Of course, you’ve also got to stop at the Three Sisters.

Queensland

Whether you’re travelling from tropical paradise Cairns, capital city Brisbane, or anywhere else really, there’s a perfect solo trip. Try out:

Near Cairns

 

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  • Stop 1: Take a day trip from Cairns to Mission Beach, stopping for brekkie at Babinda Bakery. Once you’ve digested, take a dip in the swimming hole at Josephine Falls, or wander the 750m rainforest walk. Explore the local faves, Babinda Boulders, on the way home.

Near Brisbane

 

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  • Stop 2: An hour north of Brisbane the gorgeous Glass House Mountains of the Sunshine Coast’s hinterlands. Take the 2.8-kilometre  Mount Ngungun Summit walk or visit Australia Zoo.
  • Stop 3: Everyone is surprised to find a beautiful island so close to the Brissy mainland, but that’s exactly where North Stradbroke Island is. Leave the main hub and explore Amity Point — you’ll probably even spot a dolphin and koala.

South Australia

Obviously you’ll need to book a wine tour and spend a few days enjoying the world-class wines of the region while someone else drives, but there are plenty of other trips worth making too.

Near Adelaide

 

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  • Stop 1: Just an hour’s drive from Adelaide’s airport and CBD, on the Fleurieu Peninsula, is a quaint little town called Goolwa. It’s everything you want from a coastal town — easy-going, beauty and a little history. It’s also the only place in the world where you can board a steam train on Australia’s oldest railway.
  • Stop 2: Getting back to wine, you definitely need to head to McLaren Vale just 45-minutes out of Adelaide.  While you’re there check out Chalk Hill wines and Never Never Distilling Co, with a few pizzas from Pizza-tecca.
  • Stop 3: Head out from wine country and follow the secluded coastline. Check out Maslin Beach, which glows gold at sunset, or Aldinga Beach where you can drive on the sand. Stop for lunch at local favourite Salopian Inn, and stock up on local produce at Willunga Farmers Market.

Tasmania

I haven’t yet come across anyone who went to Tasmania and didn’t rave about it after. If you’re there now, or when the rest of us are allowed back in, there’s a few places perfect to do on your own.

Near Hobart

 

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  • Stop 1: Take a day trip from Hobart to visit the epic views of Freycinet National Park and Wineglass Bay. Afterwards you can drive through the cute seaside towns of  Orford, Triabunna and Swansea. Oh and don’t forget a lunch of fresh oysters or abalone at Freycinet Marine Farm.
  • Stop 2: Huon is absolutely loved for its foodie treasures, and it’s only 30-minutes from Hobart. It’s ever-evolving, but a must-do that stays the same are the orchards and berry farms of Cygnet. Then you need a feast at Fat Pig Farm, and check out the prized saffron at Tas-Saff, and grab some craft apple cider from Pagan Cider cellar door.

Victoria

Obviously you should check updated travel info for Victoria, but when you can, there is is so much for the solo traveller to explore.

From Melbourne

 

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  • Stop 1: The Great Alpine Road often gets overlooked for the more well-known Great Ocean Road, but you need to put it on your radar. You can get more details on the best stops here.
  • Stop 2: If you’re looking for a bit of solo time to unwind, take the hour-and-a-half drive from Melbourne to Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges. This is Victoria’s spa centre, so pamper yourself. There’s also plenty of native wildlife to spot.

Western Australia

Perth and the Margaret River are always perfect choices, but if you’re looking to head out on your own somewhere new, there are a few more places to consider.

Around Perth

 

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  • Stop 1: For a slice of Tuscany, take a short half hour trip out of the city centre to Bickley Valley. You’ll get rolling hills, market gardens, orchards and vineyards — what more could you want? Take a hike along the Piesse Brook interpretive trail, then reward yourself with a tour of Core Cider. If you want to stay overnight, try Bickley Valley Cottage, a B&B set on an asparagus farm.
  • Stop 2: Take the lesser travelled scenic route form Perth to Albany along the PUBLIC Silo Trail — WA’s largest outdoor art collection. Other stops along the way should include the bottlenose dolphins at Rockingham and a hike through Torndirrup National Park to see the wave-carved rock formations.

(Lead Image: Unsplash /Josh Withers)