Planes, trains and automobiles, best journeys across Australia

Australia is a vast country, where you can enjoy all environments from the charms of the desert to the thrill of the snow.

But it’s not always about the destination, sometimes the holiday is the journey.

With our vast distances that’s kind of unavoidable in Australia, so what are some of the best modes of transport to combine both a holiday and a journey?


Australia is ideal for an epic rail journey.

Flat, wide-open spaces are great for trains and we have some doozies for bucket-list adventures.

Perhaps the most famous is The Ghan, travelling from Adelaide to Darwin.

Sounds like looking at a lot of red dirt, but there are a bunch of side trips, which distill the best of the outback, including two nights in Kakadu as well as overnight stays in Darwin and Adelaide.

Okay, that’s north to south. What about east to west? Well, there’s a train for that too, and it’s called the Indian Pacific, travelling from Sydney to Perth via Adelaide.

It’s a great opportunity to check out Australia’s vast, varied landscapes from red desert country to the Blue Mountains.


Australians love a road trip.

One of the classics is the Great Ocean Road. It’s a great slice of southern Victoria with lush hills on one side and beautiful beaches and oceans on the other.

No rush here, stop over at the bustling seaside towns along the 664km route and be sure to take in the 12 Apostles before you leave.

Sydney to Brisbane, or the Legendary Pacific Coast, is a tad longer at 900km, but you’ll never be bored with the Hunter Valley, Port Stephens, Byron Bay and the Gold Coast along the way.

If the tropics are more your thing, why not try the Great Barrier Reef Drive from Cairns to Cape Tribulation?

With the two World Heritage sites in the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest on your way you may be in danger of nature overload.

Stop off at sophisticated Port Douglas for some rest, relaxation and cocktails along the way.


So. Many. Options.

A fave for Victorians is the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail. A good open track close to the area’s many excellent wineries, gourmet foods retailers and accommodation. Work off all that indulgence on the track.

Tasmania is well known for its bike trails for a good reason. Frankly, there are too many stand-outs to mention here, but if you want a centralised spot with multiple track choices then Derby is the town for you.

It’s the hub of the Blue Derby, which encompasses 125km of mountain bike trails with options to suit all skill levels.

Derby township has public showers, bike wash facilities and bike supplies and repair shops.


Air tours in Australia are expensive, so this lot is for the money-is-no-object crowd.

If you want to spend a lot of money in a brief time, check out the Captain’s Choice weekend outback options.

For a mere $4250, you can have two days in the outback. Yep, that’s right, two days.

They pack a lot in for that price, with trips to Broken Hill, Coober Pedy, Lake Eyre and the Birdsville Hotel, but still, it seems a lot.

If you want to spend a lot of money over a longer time there is always the Bill Peach Journeys. Top of the range is the 13-day Great Australian Private Air Tour taking in some of Australia’s best outback attractions including Uluru, Longreach and Broome.

Prices start at a mere snip at $28,995 per person. I feel poorer just reading that.


Well, we are one great big island, so there are many options. A good place to start is the Whitsundays, which has a terrific range from drive-your-own yachts to charter boats to fully serviced cruises. Day trip or multi-days available.

If you want to go inland, houseboat trips are a relaxing way to see some of our best rivers.

A good kick-off point is Mildura on the Murray River as the river is so wide at that point it’s hard to hit anything.

Another good starting point is the Hawksbury. It’s close to Sydney and you can hire anything from a two-berth romantic getaway to a 12-berth party boat.

Stop off at the restaurants and pubs on the way, tee off on a golf course and, of course, there is plenty of fishing.

Do you have a favourite journey that doubles as a holiday? Is it in Australia? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: First time cruiser mistakes to avoid

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


  1. Best rail trip: Brisbane to Cairns stopping for passengers at most larger towns and following the coastline. There’s a good buffet car, plenty of space but bring a cushion as the seats are hard This trip takes about 24 – 25 hours and is cheap travel for Q’land Seniors.
    Best Road Trip was from near Brisbane to Cooktown via Birdsville with our caravan. Notable western towns of Toowoomba, Miles, Mitchell, Charleville, Quilpie, Windorah, Birdsville, Boulia, Winton, Mt Surprise (Undara). Very hospitable towns, vast spaces, some of the roughest roads imaginable, hot artesian baths, Big Red sandhill, Waltzing Matilda Museum, Cosmos Centre, Min Min lights and of course Undara Lava Tubes. Then to Cairns, Mareeba and Cooktown with a return down the coast through sugar country with a stop at Rockhamptom for their Historic Zoo, The Caves (dry sandstone) and Mt Archer. Allow 5 weeks to enjoy.
    Best Australian Road Trip: Round trip of Australia in the anti-clockwise direction. Travel from near Brisbane west to Roma then head north through Emerald, Charters Towers, Townsville, Hughendon, Julia Creek (what a gem), Tennant Creek, Katherine (see the gorge), Kunnunurra, Broome, Karijini National Park, Carnarvon (NASA Space Museum), Kalbarri, Margaret River, Albany, Esperance, Kalgoolie, Streaky Bay, Narracoorte, Bendigo, Parkes (The Dish) and back to South East Queensland. Allow 13 weeks for comfortable travel times.
    Love this country of ours with a passion!!!!

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