Ultimate Guide To Planning An Australia Road Trip For Singaporeans Who Want An Adventure In 2024

Planning a road trip in Australia

There’s no better way to really explore a ginormous country like Australia than on a road trip. The well-maintained highways that largely follow a coastal route means that even though your drives may be long, we guarantee that they will be very scenic.

While it might seem daunting to plan a full itinerary, especially for your first time, here are some tips and route ideas if you’re planning an Australian road trip.

– Things to know before your trip –

1. Australian road rules

Good news, Singaporeans; you won’t feel like a fish out of water when driving in Australia since you’ll be driving on the familiar side of the road here as well – the left. Your Singaporean driver’s licence is also accepted for car rentals, so it’ll be relatively easy to set yourself up with a ride.

Just book a car in advance, and drive off to your destination straight from the airport when you land.

If your road trip somehow lasts for longer than 3 months or until your visa expires, just note that you’ll have to get an Australian driver’s licence.

While driving on Australian roads may feel kinda familiar, there is an unspoken rule that Singaporeans might not be aware of. It’s best to avoid driving once the sun goes down as a majority of the native wildlife is nocturnal – you wouldn’t want to start your road trip off on the wrong foot.

2. Best times to travel

The climate during the months of March to May or September to November is the best, where it’s neither too hot nor too cold to explore. Temperatures will range between 17°C and 28°C during this time, which is much cooler than the blistering heat of Singapore.

However, you could consider travelling during the Summer period from December to February as well if your squad is one that enjoys beach activities, so plan according to what kind of attractions or activities you like.

3. Planning rest stops along your route

Here’s a road sign you wouldn’t see in Singapore.

Image credit: Tourism Australia

Including restroom stops are a must on any road trip, but take note that pit stops at gas stations will require you to make a purchase. If you’re the typical kiasu Singaporean who already comes fully prepared, you could avoid this by planning restroom stops at tourist info centres

These centres can be found in most Australian towns and it’s where you can pick up useful tips from locals about the town you’re in. Driving into the sunset definitely gives off road trip vibes, but if you’re planning for late evening drives, you need to be extra cautious of animals such as kangaroos, koalas, and wombats crossing the highway.

– Road trip ideas across Australia –

For those looking for road trip ideas but are overwhelmed by the vast number of options,  we’ve got you covered. Here are some of the more popular routes sorted according to city and interests – whether you’re the outdoorsy type, the chill soul, or the adventurous eager beaver.

1. Cairns – Great Barrier Reef snorkelling & rainforest village

Route: Cairns – The Great Barrier Reef – Kuranda – Palm Cove – Cairns

Recommended duration: 3 days
One-way travel time & distance: ~1 hour, 56km

If you’re looking for a complete package, we hear you loud and clear. Head on over to Cairns for a mix of adventure, culture, and fine dining.

Image credit: via Instagram

When in Cairns, The Great Barrier Reef is a must-see for ocean lovers. There are several ways to enjoy the beauty of the reefs, one of which is taking a scenic flight to have a bird’s-eye view from a helicopter or small plane. The views of the various islands and deep blue waters are worth filling up the space in your camera roll with.

Book the Great Barrier Reef classic scenic flight from Cairns (S$ 203.39).

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming and you might be able to find Nemo yourself.
Image credit: @antypodd via Instagram

You can also dive or snorkel in Great Barrier Reef for the full experience. Book a tour and get on a 90-minute cruise that takes you to popular dive sites.

The instructors are able to provide an in-depth course for beginners or guide those who are already certified divers. You’ll get to learn more about the corals and wildlife to understand the efforts that Australia is putting in to preserve them.

Book the Great Barrier Reef full day tour from Cairns (S$ 190.95).

Image credit: @kurandavillage via Instagram

Be sure to set aside time for Kuranda Village which looks like it’s straight out of a fantasy novel. Built in a rainforest in the early 1900s, the renovated and modernised village is home to several attractions and sights and is just a 30-minute drive from Cairns city.

From local wares and crafts at the market to a free-flying bird enclosure with over 350 birds, there are activities for nature lovers and those who want to experience Australian culture.

Image credit: Kuranda

While it may be a road trip idea, you can consider taking a scenic train ride to the village. The railway from Cairns station to the village winds through the hillside forest and includes a 10-minute stop beside a 125m waterfall. The train dates back 100 years and has been preserved to maintain its original ambience. 

Book a Kuranda scenic railway heritage class ticket (S$ 44.40).

Image adapted from: @nunurestaurant via Instagram

End off the trip with a beachfront fine dining experience at Nu Nu Restaurant, located in Palm Cove, 30 minutes from Kuranda. The menu consists of modern Australian dishes like wok fried north queensland mudcrab, sweet pork, chilli jam & all the trimmings (AUD148, ~S$131.81). 

While prices are a bit steep, you can’t put a price on the view you get to enjoy with the food. Nu Nu Restaurant is known to be fully booked for several months at a time, so check online for an available table as soon as your route has been finalised.

Address: 1 Veivers Road, Palm Cove, Queensland 4879, Australia
Opening hours: Breakfast 7am-11am | Lunch 12pm-3pm | Dinner 5pm-late, Daily
Contact: +61 7 4059 1880 | Nu Nu Restaurant website

2. Brisbane – Island resort, BBQ picnic spot & fresh food markets

Route: Brisbane – Redcliffe – Moreton Island – Rocklea – Brisbane

Recommended duration: 3 days
One-way travel time & distance: ~2 hours 35 minutes, 100km

All tourism ads of Australia proudly showcase its sandy beaches and impressive surfs. So, no surprise if you might be looking for a seaside holiday to suit the vibe.

Image credit: @izu_brisbane via Instagram

From Brisbane, drive 45 minutes towards the Settlement Cove Lagoon in Redcliffe. This man-made lagoon features a 95m pool right by the seaside. Take a dip surrounded by mini islands and palm trees – there are both shallow and deeper sides of the lagoon for both the young ones and confident swimmers. 

Find out why Australians are crazy about putting shrimp on the barbie at the various BBQ pits available around the lagoon. Or take a stroll along the quaint waterfront shops that sell clothes, gems and lollies for the little ones. The Redcliffe Markets by the jetty are held on Sundays only from 8am-2pm if you’re keen on getting some local crafts or souvenirs.

Address: Redcliffe Parade, Redcliffe Queensland4020, Australia
Opening hours: 7am-6pm, Daily

Oh, to take nice photos on beachfront property.

Image credit: @amod.acharya via Instagram

On the next day, drive 30 minutes from the lagoon to the Tangalooma Island Resort Ferry Terminal in Pinkenba. Here you can take a 90-minute cruise over to Moreton Island for a resort stay packed with beach activities such as kayaking and snorkelling. 

Road trips can be taxing on the little ones, so rest and unwind at Tangalooma Island Resort. Bigger families can opt for the beachside villas with a great view of the clear waters.

Book a stay at Tanglooma Island Resort.

Tangalooma Island Resort
Address: Tangalooma, Moreton Island, Queensland 4025, Australia
Contact: Tangalooma Island Resort website 

Image credit: @magic_is_around_us via Instagram

From island getaway to desert in just a short drive – explore the Tangalooma Desert in the resort’s backyard and try your hand at sand tobogganing. You’ll be missing out if you travel to Australia without surfing, be it on water or on land.

Video credit: @caitprovan via Instagram

Those who are more adventurous can go for a snorkelling tour of the shipwreck ruins in the waters nearby. Some of these boats date back to the 1960s and have since become home to corals and hundreds of fish friends – spot them while you’re down in the depths.

Book a Tangalooma wrecks adventure experience ($162.75).

Image credit: @goomagooma via Instagram

After a refreshing resort stay, head back to the mainland and drive out to Rocklea. Just 30 minutes from the ferry terminal, this town hosts the Saturday Fresh Market. You’ll be able to look around for some fresh local produce, knick-knacks or hot food from the stands.

If you’re lucky, there might be some performances by local artists to liven the mood with some good music. As the name suggests, it only opens from 6am-12pm on Saturdays so plan accordingly if you want to pay a visit.

Grab some grub and enjoy the live performances.
Image credit: @yorkshiregrowler via Instagram 

At this point, you might be tired out from the long drives and want something closer to the city. Eat Street Northshore is another street food market that is a good alternative to check out during the weekend. It gives carnival vibes but the food is not to be taken lightly – you can find beef briskets, freshly shucked oysters, and even Malaysian food.

Saturday Fresh Market
Address: 385 Sherwood Road, Rocklea, Queensland 4106, Australia
Opening hours: Sat 6am-12pm (Closed Mon-Fri & Sun)
Contact: +61 7 3915 4277 | Saturday Fresh Market website

Eat Street Northshore
Address: 221D MacArthur Avenue, Hamilton, Queensland 4007, Australia
Opening hours: Fri-Sat 4pm-10pm | Sun 4pm-9pm (Closed Mon-Thu)
Contact:  +61 4 2848 5242 | Eat Street Northshore website

3. Sydney – Vineyards for locally produced wine

Route: Sydney – Hunter Valley – Sydney

Recommended duration: 1 day
One-way travel time & distance: ~3 hours 20 minutes, 244km

Image credit: @mandaandchris via Instagram

The sprawling fields and vineyards in Hunter Valley make for some picturesque moments. Live out your dreams of moving to the countryside as you take in the scenery and check out the many wineries along the stretch. You can do this free and easy or go on a winery tour.

We recommend leaving your car behind and taking a guided winery tour by bus – it wouldn’t be fair to the designated driver that’s missing out. You’ll get to visit some of the best vineyards, distilleries, and restaurants Hunter Valley has to offer – taste as much wine as you like without worrying about driving after. 

Book a Hunter Valley wine and cheese tour (S$173.19).

Location: Hunter Valley on Google Maps

4. Melbourne – Beach picnics, forest route & penguin parade

Route: Melbourne – The Redwoods at Otways – Melbourne

Recommended duration: 1 day
One-way travel time & distance: ~3 hours 15 minutes, 205km

Image credit: @federicacacho via Instagram

Nature lovers, take a 3-hour drive from Melbourne to the Redwoods at Otways, located in the Great Otway National Park. This park was initially an experiment back in 1963 where the saplings for redwood trees were brought over from California to see if they would grow in other climates and land. 

While they aren’t as old as their relatives over in the United States, the redwood trees here are still 150 years old and over 60m tall. The forest is a sight to behold and makes for a nice drive or a peaceful walk. 

Image credit: @laurenffffff via Instagram

Those who love trekking can take on the numerous walking trails available ranging from the easier 1.7km Fern Canyon Loop Trail to the lengthy 8.5km Boy Scout Tree trail. Spot a number of waterfalls and wildlife along the way, and avoid straying from the pathways.

Address: Binns Road, Beech Forest, Victoria 3237, Australia

Route: Melbourne – Brighton Beach – Phillip Island – Melbourne

Recommended duration: 1 day
One-way travel time & distance: ~2 hours 20 minutes, 149km

Image credit: @ronnnnnj via Instagram

This route is a combination for beach and animal lovers alike. Start at the famous Brighton Beach, which is 45 minutes from the city and is famous for its 82 differently coloured shacks. These shacks were made during the Victorian times for women to change into their bathing suits but today, they make for colourful and fun photo backdrops.

Visitors to Brighton Beach usually make a day of it with a picnic. Just remember to stop by and pick up some food along the way as there are very limited options for food in the area.

Look at those happy feet.
Image credit: Phillip Island Nature Parks

Plan your time right, because you’ll want to head over to Phillip Island in time for the sunset. A 2-hour drive will get you there, and you might just be able to catch some penguins waddling their way back to shore after a long and hard day out at sea. The island is also home to other Australian wildlife like koalas, wombats, and dingoes. 

Do note that visitors aren’t allowed to take photos of the animals as they are highly sensitive to lights or sudden flashes, but it’s an experience you’ll never forget.

Book tickets to the Phillip Island Nature Parks Penguin Parade ($24.60).

Address: 1019 Ventnor Road, Summerlands, Victoria 3922, Australia
Contact: Phillip Island Nature Parks website 

5. Perth – Dolphin spotting & desert stargazing

Route: Perth – Mandurah – Myalup – Perth

Recommended duration: 1 day
One-way travel time & distance: ~5 hours, 469km

Video credit: @lexisargeant via Instagram

Families can consider these stops for a not-your-average family road trip. Drive down south for about an hour to Mandurah and take a cruise to spot the adorable Bottlenose dolphins. You’ll also get to enjoy the sights of other marine life such as blue swimmer crabs and the Mandurah Ocean Marina as the cruise takes you along the coastal city.

Book the Mandurah dolphin and scenic marine cruise experience (S$133.25).

Mandurah Cruises
Address: Mandurah Cruises, 73 Mandurah Terrace, Mandurah WA 6210, Australia
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 9am-4pm | Sat-Sun 9.30am-3pm
Contact: +61 8 9581 1242 | Mandurah Cruises website

Image credit: @old_coast_road_brewery via Instagram

In the afternoon, drive another hour to the Old Coast Road Brewery in Myalup which has fun activities for both parents and children alike. 

Check out the mini golf course (AUD20/adult, ~S$17.80 | AUD10/child, ~S$8.90) for fun with the whole fam. The 18 holes are based on natural icons like Wave Rock, Rottnest Island, the Pinnacles, and Mount Augustus. The more you score, the more of these you get to explore. 

Image credit: @old_coast_road_brewery via Instagram

Kids can also make use of the field to play games like soccer or frisbee. You can rent equipment for the games and get back the deposit when you return them. Don’t forget to say hi to the horses out in the barn.

When it’s time to feed the tummy, head to the restaurant where there’s so many seating options – out on the open grass area, under the sheltered beer garden, or the air-conditioned indoors. The menu has kids meals and an extensive selection of vegan dishes too.

Address: 1238 W Break, Myalup, Western Australia 6220, Australia
Opening hours: Thu 11am-3pm | Fri-Sun 11am-5pm (Closed from Mondays to Wednesdays)
Contact: +61 1300 792 106 | Old Coast Road Brewery website

Route: Perth – Cervantes – Perth

Recommended duration: 1 day
One-way travel time & distance: ~2 hours 20 minutes, 197km

The Pinnacle Dessert also features some cool limestone formations.
Image credit: @teruki.mk2 via Instagram

The desert isn’t somewhere you’d normally bring the family, but stargazing at the Pinnacle Desert in Cervantes will leave mouths agape. Of course, you’ll have to stay till dark in order to enjoy the night sky experience – so leave your car behind to avoid driving back in the dark. Driving up here in the day is still an option, but it’s just not the same when the sun sets.

To experience this breathtaking view, the safest option is to opt for a tour. They also come with extra experiences including a sunset dinner right in the middle of the desert. Tour guides can also provide more information on the place as well as point out some cool constellations and planets during the stargazing session. 

Book the Pinnacle Desert sunset and stargazing Day Tour from Perth (S$ 173.19).

Address: Pinnacles Drive, Cervantes, Western Australia 6511, Australia

– Travel tips –

1. Car rentals in Australia

Don’t wait till you land to stress out about finding a car rental service. Using platforms like Klook, rent a car as soon as you’ve decided your route. You can choose the pick up and drop off locations as well as timings that best suit your schedule. 

Image credit: Klook

You’ll also be able to check the details of the car model and features, such as luggage capacity.

There are a wide variety of vehicles available including vans with 7 seats for larger groups. Some car rentals also have free cancellations within a certain time period should you need to make adjustments to your plans on the fly.

2. Booking tours and tickets for attractions

Image credit: @simonlakey via Instagram

It is advised that you book tickets or slots for tours as early as possible as they may be hard to come by during peak seasons. In order to not miss these bookings, schedule some extra time for travelling or extended stopovers that will give you some wiggle room.

3. Accommodations during the trip

Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort.
Image credit: Klook 

Budget-conscious travellers who just need a place to sleep can also book suitable accommodations on Klook. They’ve got everything from hotels and villas to apartments and hostels to suit your fancy

Alternatively, campervans are a great option for unplanned stays outdoors if you stumble upon a camping spot you like. Best part is, you can book them on the go. 

Start planning your road trip to Australia

Australia has a lot to offer for the city explorer, nature enthusiasts, and the super adventurous. You can go from diving at the Great Barrier Reef to a village in the forest, or from close encounters with the wildlife to stargazing all in a single road trip.

Ensure your road trip runs smoothly when you book car rentals, activities, and accommodations on Klook. Get ready to set off on Australian roads the moment you step out the airport doors with their airport pick-up option and begin your road-trip on the right pedal.

Rent a car for your next Australia road trip


This post was brought to you by Klook.
Cover image adapted from: Kuranda, Klook
Originally published on 29th June 2023.

Raiz Redwan

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