australian motorcyclist on road trip at sunset

A motorcycle brings you closer to the environment – the mountains, the ocean, the forests – than you can ever be in a car. There’s a feeling when you’re riding a motorbike that you’re part of the road. Your senses are heightened – it’s like being a kid riding your pushbike down an unexplored track with a head filled with possibilities of what might be around the next corner. You just don’t get the same experience in a car, perhaps because a car is a more like a mobile lounge room.

Motorcycles were built to explore vast distances and in Australia every distance is vast! Forget the spectacularly winding Transfagarasan Highway in Romania and the fabled Route 66 across America, our country has some of the best road trips in the world. Here are five destinations for you and your bike that will take you from one end of the continent to the other.

1. Redcliffe to Toowoomba – Queensland, 567km

This ride takes you the long way round, beginning on the Redcliffe Peninsula 30km north of Brisbane then heading up into the temperate rainforest of the hinterland for a visit to Mount Mee and the D’Aguilar National Park. Heading south at Yarraman, the road climbs into the rolling hills of the Darling Downs towards the region’s main centre, Toowoomba. Here you can spend the night before heading south on the New England Highway to Warwick and The Gap. Named after the ‘gap’ between Mount Coot-tha and the Taylor Range that took settlers inland, The Gap has amazing scenery and spectacular views as you cruise back to Brisbane.

2. Thunderbolts Way – NSW, 270km

Named after the bushranger known as Captain Thunderbolt, this ride from Armidale to Dungog in NSW follows the curves of the ridges. The best part for riders is the winding section that runs over the ranges through the Woko National Park. Its distance from Sydney means there are fewer cars than you might expect and there are a number of cafes along the route to stop and refresh.

3. Khancoban to Jindabyne – NSW, 108km

This route takes you through the iconic Snowy Mountains, where the once-majestic Snowy River is being nursed back to life. Close to the ski resorts of Thredbo and Perisher, Jindabyne nestles next to Lake Jindabyne, nearly a kilometre above sea level. Head west to Murray Gorge, then north through Kosciusko National Park to Khancoban along steep roads through alpine forests and beside clear, icy-cold creeks. 

4. Great Ocean Road – Victoria, 243km

Pretty much every advertisement for Victoria features the Twelve Apostles, large rock formations broken from the mainland and standing sentinel-like in the sea. The formations lie just off the Great Ocean Road, a breathtakingly beautiful stretch of coast from Torquay to Allansford on Australia’s southern coast (Torquay is about an hour and a half from Melbourne). Built by returned servicemen between 1919 and 1932, the road has a sheer drop to the sea on one side and vertiginous cliffs on the other.

5. Oodnadatta Track – SA, 620km

This ride offers you the Australia of Mad Max and Priscilla Queen of the Desert – an unsealed road straight out into the desert. The track is 620km long, starting at Marree and passing through Oodnadatta before joining the Stuart Highway at Marla. It follows a traditional Aboriginal trading route following the availability of water and skirting Lake Eyre. Make sure your motorbike luggage contains plenty of water and provisions in case you have a breakdown. You can ride the track in a day, but instead take your time. This is one of those experiences that brings you close to the red heart of our country.

These five rides will take you from Australia’s alpine heights to its dusty deserts, and from its rainforests to its rolling hills, proving there’s no better way to experience the country than from the back of your bike.