Driving in Australia: The Joy of Road Trips

magI’ve done a lot of driving lately, some of you may have noticed. If you haven’t noticed it, just click on this link to my recent road trip posts, you will soon see what I mean.

So that’s what I wrote about for a recent Australia and New Zealand magazine article; driving around in my car in Australia. Compared to the UK. This article appeared in the September edition of their magazine this year.

Driving in Australia

Driving in AustraliaThe first time ever I drove a car would have been in England in the 70s. The roads weren’t too bad then and I really enjoyed driving my car. The last time I drove a car in England would have been around 2007, when the M25 was well established.

Driving my car wasn’t so much fun by that time. I hated the M25 back then; I think I would dislike it even more now. I’ve heard that some sections no longer have a hard shoulder, because they’ve grabbed it to make an extra lane.

And they call it a ‘smart’ motorway!

Now that I am living in Australia though, driving my car is fun once more. Going on ‘road trips’ is again as enjoyable for the journey as it is having fun at the destination. What I’m talking about here is driving outside of our biggest capital cities.

Our back roads, roads that you will find 45 minutes or so outside the major cities, are a drivers’ delight. Just drive out of any city and it’s not long before you hit a quiet and scenic country road. Even Sydney, our most congested city, is only 75 km away from the twisting hilly roads of the Blue Mountains.

If you prefer flat straight roads, head towards the Hunter Valley instead. Melbourne is blessed with the nearby Great Ocean Road, the twisting ride that hugs the coastline of Victoria.

Head out of Perth in a southerly direction and you would be on your way to the spectacular Margaret River. That’s a three hour straight drive with hardly any other traffic once you’re out of the city.

Adelaide has the nearby Adelaide Hills.

Adelaide viewed from the hillsHobart and Darwin are even closer to the open roads. Just recently I drove from my house in Brisbane and headed to the Northern Rivers Countryside, just over the border in New South Wales.

That’s a round trip of some 500 km. I took the back roads and I don’t think I passed through more than half a dozen traffic lights during the whole weekend.

My record distance of driving without seeing any traffic lights though has got to be my journey from Alice Springs to Uluru. No lights in something like 450 km, just one simple right hand turn.

And that is the difference.

I know you can drive out of town in the UK and very soon be hitting the countryside, but then within 20 minutes or so you’re driving into another major town. That’s how most of the UK is. Where I lived in South East England I had five major towns all within 10 km of me.

Driving out of town here is different, and I love it.

I have done all of these journeys, the Great Ocean Road being my favourite, but I haven’t even covered the half of it. There are plenty more road trips waiting for me out there. At some point I would like to do the ultimate Aussie road trip, ‘The Big Lap’, all 15,823 kms.

For now though my next road trip will be the 2,000 odd kilometre coastal drive north to, eventually, Port Douglas. Highlight of that one, I’m sure, will be the Great Green Way, just past Cairns.

As the song says, “I like driving in my car“.

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