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Australian Road Trips - Highway 1

  • Published: 2009-03-11 (Revised/Updated 2015-03-18) : Author: Mairead Foley : Contact: -
  • Synopsis: Australian road trip on Highway 1 Australias coastal road over 24000kms the longest national highway in the world and definitely not for the faint of heart.

Quote: "The Great Northern Highway runs from Wyndham in the north and heads south-west towards Perth some 3200 kms away!"

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As Highway 1 is Australia's coastal road, you will be able to start from anywhere and end up back where you started. This road is over 24,000kms which makes it the longest national highway in the world and as a road trip definitely not for the faint of heart.

Throughout the 24,000 kms the quality of the road varies to a great degree. In most sections it consists of a Dual Carriageway, but in the cities it can be upgraded to a motorway and in some more rural areas it is little more than a dirt track.

You can start this road trip anywhere, but we will start ours from Brisbane, Queensland. Before leaving the city you will have much to see and do, we have detailed this in our Brisbane blog. Heading north along the Bruce Highway section of Highway 1 will take you as far as Cairns (runs about 1652 kms). The main attraction to see along this section of Highway 1 would definitely be the Great Barrier Reef, which is one of the top attractions in Australia. Other significant attractions include the Sunshine Coast, which is a major surfing destination in Australia; and Fraser Island, the world's largest sand island that is now a world heritage site.

Moving on from Cairns, you will be heading west into the Northern Territory and the town of Tennant Creek which is some 1664 kms from Cairns. This section of Highway 1 runs along the Kennedy Highway west to the Undara Volcanic National Park; it continues west along National Route 1 to Normanton; then turns south to Cloncurry (where Qantas was founded) and then from there on the Barkly Highway to Tennant Creek via Mount Isa (where you can see the Mount Isa Mines which produced lead, silver, copper and zinc).

From Tennant Creek you will once again head north towards Darwin on the Stuart Highway. Stuart Highway extends from Darwin to Adelaide via Alice Springs, so if you would like to fit Uluru into your road trip then this is your best opportunity (its only 950 kms from Tennant Creek). In fact you might possibly just keep going south after Uluru and head for Port Augusta and Adelaide. You will be cutting Australia in half but the only thing you will really be missing is Perth (Darwin if you didn't visit there first).

So if you do decide to continue on Highway 1 to Darwin you will be heading north for some 1000kms. The main attractions along this section of the route would be Kakadu National Park, Litchfield National Park and Katherine Gorge.

To continue along your road trip you will have to head back along the Stuart Highway as far as Katherine and then head west along the Victoria Highway. You will pass by the Gregory National Park and the Keep River National Park (this one in particular has some interesting sandstone formations and Indigenous Australian art). This will take you into Western Australia and meets up with the Great Northern Highway.

The Great Northern Highway runs from Wyndham in the north and heads south-west towards Perth some 3200 kms away! We will only be traveling along it as far as Port Hedland because there the Great Northern Highway cuts south and goes direct for Perth whereas Highway 1 continues along the coast towards Karratha. Along the way you will pass Eighty Mile Beach which is exactly what its name suggests, so that is definitely worth seeing.

Taking the coastal route will let you pass Exmouth, where you can have a look at the Ningaloo Reef or the Cape Range National Park. You will also pass Kalbarri where you can go Pelican feeding and visit the Kalbarri National Park, Murchison River Gorge and the Murchison River.

From Perth you will be continuing south along the South Western Highway towards Albany. On the way you will be passing Mandurah, Bunbury and Mt. Frankland National Park. In Bunbury you should visit the Dolphin Discovery Center, but only if there are Dolphins at the beach as there are no captive Dolphins in the center. In Albany you will have much more to see and do, so it is worth spending some time looking around here.

Continuing west along the South Coast Highway you will find yourself passing the Fitzgerald River National Park, passing through Norseman where you will join the Eyre Highway which will take you the rest of the way to Port Augusta in South Australia. Along this route you will pass the Nullarbor National Park and Yumbarra Conservation Park after you have crossed the border into South Australia.

In Port Augusta you will then turn south onto the Princes Highway which connects Port Augusta, to Adelaide, onto Melbourne and then to Sydney. This is the grand finale of the road trip and features many of the highlights that Australia has to offer. Adelaide is the sometimes overlooked city that is home to a great many fantastic festivals. Melbourne is a very popular city that has much to offer in a much more laid back manner than Sydney. And finally we have Sydney the crown jewel of Australia and definitely the best place to finish off your trip around Australia.

Reference: Mairead writes for where you can book low cost car rental at airports, ferry ports, rail stations, cities and towns all over the world. Visit for all you need to know before you take to the roads in Australia, like where to go and what to see with your car hire. To find some great deals on car rental in Australia visit our Car hire Australia ( page.


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Similar Topics

1 : Australian Road Trips - Highway 1 : Mairead Foley.
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3 : Day Trips Around Brisbane Australia : Mairead Foley.
4 : Driving Savannah Way from Cairns to Broome : Mairead Foley.
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