2020 has been, it’s fair to say, an absolute charley of a year. Bushfires, Covid, and floods in some areas as the year wound down, have stopped a lot of what we Aussies like to do and kept us housebound.
As things changed and loosened up, the call of the open road was heard from coast to coast. A morning cuppa, some brekkie, and into the Kingswood we went. But where?
Victoria is blessed with a couple of the country’s most popular and picturesque roads. The Great Ocean Road is world famous and an absolute must do for anyone serious about a good drive.
It’s a beautiful 243 kilometres in length and starts from Torqauy on the western side of Port Phillip Bay, and wends its sinuous way to Allansford, just a couple of minutes east of the seaside town of Warrnambool.
Another great drive is found to the north east of Melbourne, and takes us to near Mt Buffalo. Head east to Traralgon or Sale, perhaps even Bairnsdale and turn left. There are roads here that will take you to Bright, the base for most expeditions to the Victorian Alps in winter, but when not snowbound, provide some stunning vistas and plenty of engagement with the tarmac.
New South Wales isn’t short on driving roads either. The famous Macquarie Pass, a couple of hours or so south of the CBD is a popular one for motorcyclists and sports cars. It rises from near sea level, cuts through the once sea covered cliffs, and exits at Robertson on the eastern border of the Southern Highlands and home to some of the best pies and sausage rolls in the state.
From here it’s a short hop to the home of “The Don” and the cricket museum in Bowral. Then there is “The Hume”, old or new, to choose from. For the more easy going types, the Old Hume Highway is the pick as it joins towns and coffee shops, and plenty of places to take pictures.
On the other side of Sydney is the back road to the Hunter Valley. Head to the northwestern historic towns of Richmond and Windsor, and there is a choice of heading to the river crossing at Wiseman’s Ferry and beyond, or the longer route via Colo Heights. Both have you arrive at the southern parts of the Hunter.
South Australia doesn’t shout its roads, but hit the tracks for where Targa Adelaide was once held, and you’ll find plenty to like. It covered, in the hills east of Adelaide, a route that left the city, passed through Upper Hermitage, Kersbrook, and Mount Lofty.
It went north to Castambul and here one could branch off to the super tight and twisty Gorge Road to the north-east, and divert to Gumeracha and the Big Rocking Horse. Head south and follow the signs to historic Hahndorf before heading west back to Adelaide.
Go further west and head to the south of Perth. The Mitchell Freeway arrows south through Mandurah and takes you to Bunbury and Busselton, two historic seaside towns, the gateway to the Margaret River wine region, and a cracker drive in Caves Road.
This follows the coastline out to Dunsborough and the Cape Naturaliste peninsula before heading inland and southwards, paralleling the coastline.
The geography here is undulating, full of limestone caves, hence the name, including Mammoth Cave. There are plenty of small towns with their own history, plus plenty of boutique breweries and vineyards, before terminating at Augusta. The Bussell Highway loops back to Busselton and Bunbury via Margaret River itself, and although it could be a long day, it’s an appealing set of roads for a good drive.
See You in the N.T. and the road south (because according to Darwinites, everything is “down south”) is a beautiful way to sample the broad, open spaces of the N.T.
There’s a sensational loop road that starts near the quaintly named Humpty Doo and depending on choice, you can go through Batchelor and Rum Jungle to the unbelievably stunning Litchfield Park before heading west and north to Tumbling Waters or go anti-clockwise for the same sights.
Or one can choose the longer path travelled and look eastwards to the Kakadu via Wak Wak, Mount Bundey and end at Jabiru, the doorway to the Kakadu before heading through the endless plains to Pine Creek and northwest back to Adelaide River.
Queensland and for the hardy there is the drive to the Cape York Peninsula. This requires a dedicated 4WD vehicle, plenty of planning and time, and no doubt some permits for certain areas.
Townsville and there is the highway out to the beautiful and rugged White Mountains National Park or for those in “Brisvegas”, go west to Toowoomba and use the town as a base for visiting the numerous national parks sites that encircle Toowoomba.
Our final state of the drive is Tasmania and pretty much any road here. Go southwest from Hobart and the historic, and eerie, Port Arthur, via the gorgeous Eaglehawk Neck.
Spin the compass 180 degrees and there is the set of roads that get you to the wonder that is Cradle Mountain and the wildlife reserves in the area that are battling to find a cure for the horrendous cancers afflicting the Devils.
However, there can be only one way to fully enjoy the vista of the Apple Isle and that's by joining the Targa Tasmania event, or, simply driving the same roads outside of the event itself.
Tell us your favoured roads that you drove, during Covid, in Covid-safe conditions.