Summer isn’t the only time to hit the road - a winter drive can be just as enjoyable. With fewer cars to share the road with, lower prices on your flights and car rental and much less risk of suffering seat belt burn, we’d even say winter is a better choice. Disagree? You might see it our way after exploring a few of the best winter road trip holiday destinations in Australia.
Summer in the Flinders Ranges typically means days that can reach upwards of a sweltering 40C, so winter really is the best time to venture into this dramatic landscape five hours north of Adelaide in your rental car. And don’t worry that you’ll be shivering the nights away in a leaky tent - luxury accomodation and glamping options abound. Spend a night under the stars thanks to glass panel ceilings in a eco-villa at Rawnsley Park or wake up in a luxury tent (complete with a king sized bed) at the Ikara Safari Camp. After a gourmet breakfast, you can head out on a 4WD tour, join a guided trek or take in the red landscapes from the sky with a scenic flight.
Hot springs? In the Northern Territory? At any other time of year you’d be saying no thanks, we’ll take the beach, but in the cooler months, these flowing crystal clear pools might actually appeal. Fly into Darwin and book your car hire at our airport branch - you’ll find Katherine a three hour drive south. Once you’ve soaked yourself into a stupor in the thermal pools of the Katherine Hot Springs, get your heart racing again with a boat trip down the nearby Katherine Gorge, where you’ll glide past sleeping crocodiles who watch for stray tourists with one eye open. Keen to extend your trip even further? Winter also happens to be the best time to visit Kakadu National Park, thanks to sunny days and cooler temperatures, perfect for a pitstop on your way back to Darwin.
With average daytime temperatures reaching 20C all throughout the winter months, you’ll barely even need to pack a jacket for a trip to tropical north Queensland at this time of year. Just leave the beaches along the coast for another season and instead head inland to explore the waterfalls, rainforest trails and delicious produce of the Atherton Tablelands. Starting your car hire in Cairns, you can do a roundtrip in a long weekend, making room on your itinerary for tasty stops like Coffee Works, Mt Uncle Distillery and Gallo Dairyland before chasing waterfalls on the aptly named Waterfall Circuit. Brave the icy waters for a dip if you dare - the crystal clear pools at the likes of Dinner Falls and Josephine Falls are enticing no matter the temperature.
For anyone who wants to experience a true winter without heading for the slopes, Tasmania is the perfect destination to book a cosy cabin, pack a few books and plan to do nothing but curl up by a roaring fire. Of course, with the island’s impressive scenery made all the more dramatic by a dusting of snow, you might also want to spend some time exploring - so consider packing waterproof boots. Even if your preferred level hiking only extends to walking from the carpark at the top of Mt Wellington to the viewing platform overlooking Hobart, you’ll still find plenty to get you out of your rental car on a drive from the capital to Launceston - take a detour to historic Port Arthur, stretch your legs at Freycinet National Park and the Bay of Fires and find a secluded winter wonderland at Cradle Mountain.
A quick drive from Sydney is all it takes to get to this rugged region, but with cosy cabins, B&Bs and even a clifftop cave to spend a few nights in, we’d suggest making a weekend of it and exploring every walking trail and mountain view the range has to offer. There’s plenty of bushwalks to get you warmed up, including the heart stopping Giant Stairway, with 998 steps venture down. Don’t worry if you can’t face the climb back up - a scenic railway will take you back up the steep incline to the top of the ridge, no aching calf muscles necessary.