Righto, you’ve purchased your ePack – either a 5, 10, or 15 night bundle that lets you stay for less at YHA’s 80 hostels around Australia. Now you just need one of these epic road trips to use it on.
Australia’s most famous touring route straddles the Victorian coast, passing through pristine surf beaches, dramatic clifftops, lush rainforest, and serene seaside towns. Head from Melbourne to Apollo Bay and the Otway Ranges then wind along the Great Ocean Road to the charming fishing village of Port Fairy. The historic port marks the end of the Great Ocean Road but you can continue your journey into South Australia, stopping at the top-rated beachside Port Elliot YHA – with 270-degree ocean views, if you don’t mind – before rolling into Adelaide.
You don’t quite realise just how big Australia is until you conquer this pilgrimage from Adelaide to Darwin through the continent’s beating red heart, a vast expanse of ochre red dust only interrupted by a few dry shrubs and an endless strip of bitumen known as the Stuart Highway. A roundabout on the south side of Alice Springs is the trickiest navigation test you encounter in the 1200km after Port Augusta, then it’s another 1500km in the chariot until you can put your feet up at the poolside bar at Darwin YHA – Melaleuca on Mitchell.
With 20-odd YHA hostels lining the East Coast of Australia, a road trip from Sydney to Cairns is a ‘choose your own adventure’ scenario. The beaches of NSW’s North Coast. Hippie hotspots like Byron Bay, Nimbin and Murwillumbah. Surfing on the Gold Coast. Diving on Stradbroke Island. The Great Barrier Reef and tropical islands in North Queensland – we’ve even got an on-site wildlife sanctuary at Magnetic Island YHA packed with koalas waiting for a cuddle. Hey, there’s so much to do on this route, why not buy two ePacks to make sure you don’t miss anything along the way!
There’s no shortage of treats waiting for travellers on the West Coast, either. Head north from Perth to the sandboarding and windsurfing hub of Lancelin, then pop into the iconic Pinnacles Desert on the way to Kalbarri and its arresting national park. Feed the dolphins in Monkey Mia before stopping in Exmouth for your Ningaloo Reef whale shark experience, then continue north to Broome, the multicultural resort town boasting famous sunsets over Cable Beach. Intrepid road trippers can then bash their way through the stunning gorges and waterfalls of the Kimberley to Kununurra. The gentler coastal drive from Perth to Esperance via wine-making country is another great WA road trip.
Every visitor to Australia has Sydney and Melbourne near the top of their to-do list – and rightly so, too. But flying from one of the country’s two biggest cities to the other skips over stacks of scenic terrain. Just three hours south of Sydney is Canberra, home to a treasure trove of great (and free!) museums and attractions as well as an increasingly cool food and drink scene, then it’s another three hours to Thredbo, a winter ski resort that’s equally worth a visit in the warmer months for its bike trails and alpine hikes, including Australia’s highest peak, Mt Kosciuszko.