How long does it take to drive around Australia?

How many km around Australia? The total distance around Australia is about 15,000 km’s via National Highway 1. Travelling around Australia could be managed in less than a month, there would very little time to stop except to sleep, no time to divert off to places like the Gibb River Road in the Kimberley, or The Great Ocean Road in Victoria.

A limited number of people would want to do such a big drive without stopping to see the places Australia is famous for. Travelling around the country with a caravan or off-road vehicle and trailer is popular and many families take their kids on travels, often long term, working around Australia as they circumnavigate the continent.

What is the best way to travel around Australia?  

 This all depends on how much time is available. Driving across Australia from Melbourne to Perth, for example, is just over 3,400 kilometres and generally takes about 3 days, at least. Plenty of time is needed for any travels here, a holiday of 2-4 weeks would be best done by flying between destinations or concentrating on just one area. See a size comparison of Australia compared to other countries here, to get an idea of distances.

Backpackers often buy a car or campervan, working around Australia as they go, mostly on a budget which is affordable. Free camping grounds and picnic areas can help save money along the way.

Many different combinations of caravans, motor homes and off-road campers are to be seen on the road in Oz. Many people do the trip in style and comfort but it can also be done with a regular car and a tent or staying in paid accommodation. To get off the beaten track here does require an appropriate vehicle but many incredible sights can be seen in a 2 wheel drive also.

Do you need a 4WD to Explore Oz?

A 4WD will give you access to many remote regions that an ordinary car simply cannot cope with. Research needs to be done to weigh out the costs of buying a suitable 4Wd before a big trip.

  • How long will the trip be for?
  • Are you experienced enough to drive in remote regions on difficult terrain or prepared to gain the experience beforehand?
  • Will your accommodation be in tents that can be in the vehicle or will you need an off road camper or trailer?
  • What will the extra costs be with maintaining and fuelling a 4WD vehicle?
  • Depending on your time frame for the trip, would it be better to use a regular car and then take organised tours into the remote regions?

Travellers have used regular vehicles to tour Australia since the motor car was invented. These days you will see people driving every type of vehicle around Australia. An old VW Beetle was seen not so long ago coming from the famous Gibb river Road, the beetle was painted gaily with a grinning driver waving victoriously – this is a road that is not generally considered suitable for anything other than a 4WD as it has river crossings and corrugations, plus remote regions that can be explored.

But, it still leaves the question of how long does it take to drive around the country?

Doing the ‘Big Lap’ of Australia is a trip many Australians dream of. Hundreds of people are on the road doing just that at any point in time, circumnavigating Australia on our National Highway. Passing through all the major cities on route, Highway One comes under a number of names as it crosses each state or territory.

Families, couples, and singles do the big lap of Australia, often taking 12 months or more to explore. Home-schooling or accessing Distance Education as they go. Australia’s backyard is their classroom.

Which Direction is best for a road trip around Australia?

This depends on personal preference as well as where the journey around Australia is starting from, plus the time of year.

Summer in Australia means it is hot in most places, but it is also the wet season up North, not ideal perhaps – it has the advantage of enabling people to see places when they are green and lush, plus has a totally different feel to when it is dry. Places like Kakadu in the Northern Territory open up a to a whole different experience – BUT, many roads, towns, and communities are cut off due to higher river levels, plus it is extremely humid.

May to August is generally considered the best time to head north, warm dry days for the most part, though can be very cold overnight in central Australia. Most unsealed roads are accessible at this time. During these months it is winter down south, so a great reason perhaps to head north.

Map of Australia – Distances between major cities and approximate driving times

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How long does it take to drive around Australia

 

 Detailed driving times between major Australian destinations:

Driving around Australia on Highway One - Melbourne to Sydney

Let’s start this ‘virtual’ journey in Melbourne, Victoria and head anticlockwise… Melbourne to Sydney on Highway One goes along the coast mostly, passing through some gorgeous towns and National Parks. Travel just on the main highway can mean missing out on some awesome sights, but it’s a great drive all the same. MELBOURNE TO SYDNEY 1062 KM / 659 MILES ~ 13 HOURS & 40 MINS

Driving around Australia on Highway One - Sydney to Brisbane

Sydney to Brisbane, travelling north on Highway One, passing through outrageously beautiful coastal regions and famous places such as Byron Bay. SYDNEY TO BRISBANE 922 KMS / 573 MILES ~ 10 HOURS & 30 MINS

Driving around Australia on Highway One - Brisbane to Cairns

Ooooh, awesome… Heading north from Brisbane to Cairns in Tropical North Queensland now… on-route will be Fraser Island and many points to experience the Great Barrier Reef. BRISBANE TO CAIRNS 1705KMS / 1060 MILES ~ 20 HOURS & 40 MINS.

Driving around Australia on Highway One - Cairns to Darwin

Yikes! Getting into serious outback territory now. Sadly, Highway One does not extend up to Cape York, North of Cairns at the very tip of Queensland… but you could detour as an option! Cairns to Darwin crosses the top end of Australia! CAIRNS TO DARWIN 2850 KM / 1771 MILES ~ 34 HOURS

Driving around Australia on Highway One - Darwin to Broome

Heading south again from Darwin to Broome and the famous Cable Beach… keeping on our National Highway, with a stop in to visit Kakadu or Litchfield National Parks. But the route will mean passing by the Gibb River Road and the heart of the Kimberley with world famous spots such as Windjana Gorge (A 4 wheel drive vehicle is required for the Gibb)… but you could easily pop into Purunulu / Bungle Bungles National Park from Highway One. DARWIN TO BROOME 1871 KMS / 1162 MILES ~ 21 HOURS 13 MINS

 Read about the remote Gibb River Road here…

Broome to Perth

Another massive distance! Broome all the way down to Perth on Highway One. A stop to go visit places such as the Ningaloo Reef will be more or less required!… BROOME TO PERTH 2811KMS / 1747 MILES ~ 30 HOURS

Driving around Australia on Highway One - Perth to Adelaide

Once in Perth, it would be a shame to miss a drive down south to the Margaret River Area and over to see smashing spots such as the Big Trees walks... Highway One now takes travellers across the incredible Nullabor Plain! PERTH TO ADELAIDE 2696 KMS / 1675 MILES ~ 29 HOURS

Driving around Australia on Highway One - Adelaide to Melbourne

Adelaide, South Australia….yes, another diversion off Highway One, on the road trip around Australia, will take visitors down to Kangaroo Island or up to the Flinders Ranges… Keeping on Highway one to Melbourne means forgoing the Great Ocean Road… hmmm, definitely need another diversion… ADELAIDE TO MELBOURNE 738 KMS / 459 MILES ~ 9 HOURS & 6 MINUTES

Driving around Australia on Highway One - Devonport to Hobart

Tasmania! To complete the big road trip around Australia on Highway One will require either flying to Devonport or an overnight crossing on the wee ship to Devonport… DEVONPORT TO HOBART 280 KMS / 174 MILES ~ 3 HOURS & 16 MINS

Adelaide to Darwin

Ooops… Highway One does not pass Aussie Icons such as Uluru/Ayers Rock or Kings Canyon. To add that section in, the drive has to cut right through the very centre of Australia! DARWIN TO ADELAIDE 3027 KMS / 1881 MILES ~ 35 HOURS

Our Recommended minimum time to Road Trip Around Australia?

A suggested minimum tour all the way around Australia would be 3 months, this would involve constantly being on the move in order to take in the awesomeness of this continent. Ideally, 12 months would be a great length of time to tour Australia.

Phew. The Big Lap of Australia! All these distances have been calculated courtesy of Mr/Mrs Google. 

Driving constantly, not a good idea of course, following Highway One and not allowing for crossing the Bass Strait to Tasmania.

MELBOURNE TO SYDNEY 1062 KM / 659 MILES ~ 13 HOURS & 40 MINS

SYDNEY TO BRISBANE 922 KMS / 573 MILES ~ 10 HOURS & 30 MINS

BRISBANE TO CAIRNS 1705KMS / 1060 MILES ~ 20 HOURS & 40 MINS.

CAIRNS TO DARWIN 2850 KM / 1771 MILES ~ 34 HOURS

DARWIN TO BROOME 1871 KMS / 1162 MILES ~ 21 HOURS 13 MINS

BROOME TO PERTH 2811KMS / 1747 MILES ~ 30 HOURS

PERTH TO ADELAIDE 2696 KMS / 1675 MILES ~ 29 HOURS

ADELAIDE TO MELBOURNE 738 KMS / 459 MILES ~ 9 HOURS & 6 MINUTES

DEVONPORT TO HOBART 280 KMS / 174 MILES ~ 3 HOURS & 16 MINS

Highway 1 Australia -14, 935 km’s / 9,280 miles ~ 171 hours & 7 minutes. Give or take some time depending on traffic conditions!

Have you driven around Australia? How long for? Best Experiences? Do you have any advice to share?  Comment below and Share!

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