Need to recharge the batteries? There’s nothing better than a road trip to get your mind and body back into cruise mode. And the good thing is a road trip needn’t be of Thelma and Louise proportions — even a day out of the big smoke can recharge the batteries.
No doubt you’ve already got a weekend favourite destination, but what about just a day? A few hours when you replace the electronic superhighway with the real thing, minus a few lanes.
You can waste most of your day and send your temperature sky high just trying to cross town in the Harbour City so choose wisely. If you’re south of the CBD, head south. If you’re north, head north. If you’re west, head for the hills. And if you’re east, well, buy a boat.
One of our favourite Sydney day drives seems just a hop skip and a jump from the southern suburbs and takes in the wonderful twisties of the Royal National Park. The speed limits are well enforced but the combination of untouched bushland and the occasional wildlife are reason enough to slow down and smell the … banksia.
Keep heading south and you’re rewarded with fantastic coastal views at Stanwell Tops and then the elevated Sea Cliff Bridge at Coal Cliffs. Cue new car TV.
After soaking in the views and selfies, slip into The Gong and refuel at one of the growing number of seaside cafes. After there’s a touch of fun left on the climb up the escarpment and a freeway to deliver you home.
Eat at: Bulli Beach Cafe
Take: a hat!
Day trippers are arguably less challenged by congestion in Melbourne, so the whole town can enjoy this one.
Head east from the CBD aiming for Lilydale and on through to the Warburton Highway and Yarra Junction where the drive properly starts.
You’ll pass through Warburton – once a company town but now undergoing a foodie makeover – and look for the signs to Narbethong and the Acheron Way. This is a classic road for drivers with a little gravel but then great bitumen that winds through a forest of giant gums. Mountain Ashes, my sawyer grandfather used to call them.
At Narbethong turn back towards Melbourne and you’ll cross the Black Spur and arrive at the foodie ‘capital’ of the Yarra Valley, Healesville where Innocent Bystander is noisy but has great wood-fired pizza. Take the longer way home from here and you’ll pass galleries (Tarrawarra is a favourite) and wineries aplenty. Just remember who’s going to be doing the driving!
Eat at: Innocent Bystander
Take: a box to stash your Tarrawarra Pinot Noir
The idea that our northern metropolis somehow beats at a slower pace is not often shared by Brisbane business. It’s just as dog-eat-dog, so escaping for a day of wheel time is equally as important.
The two coasts might attract many but that’s replacing the daily grind with a weekend version. There’s a different world just over the ranges to the northwest.
Head for Enoggera and on to some of the best roads on the east coast to Mount Nebo and then on to and over Mount Glorious. Perfect your cornering technique – slow in, fast out. But be aware parts of this road takes no prisoners!
After the tight stuff, the roads and the views open out past Wivenhoe Dam and you circulate anticlockwise to eventually find yourself at Esk. Here Julie’s at the Rectory is somewhat of a hidden gem. At least for us Southerners looking for a decent cup of coffee.
From Esk, it’s a lazy cruise back to Brisvegas – and another dose of reality.
Eat at: Julie’s at the Rectory
Take: a co-driver who doesn’t get carsick. Mt Glorious road has glorious corners
Wine and driving don’t mix. Concurrently at least. A day drive from Adelaide almost certainly involves picking a wine region to visit, but just for once let’s be different.
Instead let’s eschew the demon drink and head south past Mclaren Vale (sigh, whimper) and toward the Fleurieu Peninsula proper.
From the cyclists favourite climb at Willunga Hill head anticlockwise on a jaunt that takes in Cape Jervis (jumping off point for Kangaroo Island) and on to the charming seaside town of Victor Harbour. At times half of Adelaide seems to be here so make this a weekday escape or wait for winter. The big boulders and white sand remind of the far south west of WA but are much much closer to home.
Heading back to Adelaide try a route past Kangarilla. No, there are no sips for the driver but that doesn’t mean everyone in the car needs to miss out.
Eat at: Café Bavaria, Victor Harbour
Take: surf fishing gear. When the salmon are running the beach fishing is tops.
The Apple Isle’s capital is blessed with light traffic and myriad choices of drives – with amazing views and food options aplenty.
The best Aussie city from which to day trip? Perhaps.
We’ll stick to the water theme from the city that hosts the finish of the Sydney to Hobart. And from Constitution Dock follow the signs to Sandy Point and beyond. The suburbs last longer than you expect but soon you’re enjoying panoramic views of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel and Bruny Island.
This time we’re heading clockwise around the cost and at around 7:30 start heading north to Cygnet and on to Huonville – from here there are chances to extend or short-cut back to the city.
If Masaaki’s at nearby Geeveston is open you’ll get the best sushi in Australia! Alternatively, take in the Targa Tasmania road rally route via Longley and detour to head to the top of Mount Wellington for a million-dollar view of Hobart.
Eat at: Masaaki’s, Geeveston
Take: an esky and buy fresh salmon
Normally we’d be saying beach again but we’re shark averse!
The Swan Valley wine region is just a short drive north east out of Perth and offers plenty more than just vino: galleries, antique stores and more. The local tourism burgers suggest their 30km-odd Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail – but we power day-trippers probably have more imagination than that. Mandoon Estate in Caversham gets TripAdvisors top spot to eat and we’d concur.
Worth a look further afield is New Norcia, claimed to be Australia’s only monastic town. The Benedictine monks are bakers (and brewers) so gluten intolerants stay home.
Eat at: Mandoon Estate, Caversham