Australia's longest drives

Counting down Australia’s Top 7 Longest Drives

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Who doesn’t love a good road trip? Fresh country air, the open road and a final destination that you’re so eager to reach. 

Whether you’re travelling with a partner or the whole family, if there’s one thing we can all agree on is that a road trip can really test your patience.

Being confined to a small space for 300-400kms can start to bring out the worst in people, that’s why we always recommend in-car entertainment. But what about those really really long drives?

We’ve all probably driven down south to Margaret River (270km from Perth CBD) or Pemberton (324km from Perth CBD) at some point in time and that’s already a fair distance, but what about travelling 1053km down Tanami Road all the way to Halls Creek? 

This kicks start our countdown to Australia’s top 7 longest drives.

7. Tanami Road  — 1053km

Also known as Tanami Track and the Mcguire Track, is an unsealed orange dirt road that is the major link between Central Australia and North West Western Australia, the Kimberley. It provides the most direct route from just north of Alice Springs to Halls Creek while passing through the Tanami Desert. With empty creek beds, sharp bits of gravel and large bulldust holes, we recommend travelling in a 4WD, as you will need to be very well prepared and self-sufficient. 

Average trip length: 35h

Note: This road is closed for most of the wet season.


6. Burke Developmental Road — 1079km

Starting approximately 120km west of Cairns in the far North of Queensland is Burke Developmental Road, which crosses the base of Cape York Peninsula to Normanton at the south end of the Gulf of Carpentaria, and then south towards Cloncurry, 100km east of Mt Isa. The track is frequently used by miners, graziers, remote communities, and tourists of more recent due to it’s design. The scenic route takes you through a savannah-like desert that features thousands of cattle and acres of savannah-like woodland country. Due to a cyclone in 2009, some sections of the road were damaged and can be quite hard to cross during the wetter seasons, so we recommend travelling in a 4WD.

Average trip length: 28h


5. Mitchell Highway — 1105km

Apart from being one of Australia’s longest roads, it’s also one of the deadliest in Western NSW, claiming a total of 27 lives by 2017. This has prompted safety upgrades to be made by the NSW government’s Safer Roads Program to the deadly stretch of road that is frequently used for transport and freight companies.

Fact: in 2014, a truck carrying 52 tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploded, destroying two road bridges and a rail bridge. A 600km detour was created until completion of early 2016, when the highway was re-constructed with new bridges.

Average trip length: 12h

4. Eyre Highway — 1675km

As one of Australia’s longest roads, Eyre Highway is also known to be one of the longest and loneliest stretches of road, with a 146.6km straight without any turns. The highway links Western Australia and South Australia together across the Nullarbor Plain and starts at Norseman in the Goldfields region of WA, and ends in Port Augusta in SA. 

Tips: 

  • Don’t drive tired — fatigue is high risk along this long, remote and lonely road
  • Take regular breaks to stretch your legs
  • Expect wildlife
  • Avoid driving at dawn and dusk
  • Be prepared, the highway is remote

Average trip length: 17h

3. North West Coastal Highway — 2,465km

Is not only one of Western Australia’s longest roads, it’s also one of the most beautiful and scenic coastal drives Australia has to offer. The road is completely sealed, which means it can be driven on by all vehicles, and links the coastal city of Geraldton all the way to the town of Port hedland.

Tips: 

  • Avoid driving at night
  • Expect wildlife
  • Don’t drive tired
  • Be prepared, the highway is quite remote and largely arid
  • Road trains are common
  • Mobile phone coverage is varied
  • Can get quite busy

Average trip length: 25h

2. Stuart Highway — 2834km

Known as “the Explorer’s Way”, Stuart Highway is one of Australia’s major highways that runs from north to south straight through the middle of Australia. It starts in Darwin in the NT and travels through Tennant Creek in Alice Springs and all the way to Port Augusta in SA. The almost 3000km stretch features many major tourist attractions such as Devils Marbles, Berry Springs Nature Park and Alice Springs. Majority of the road is asphalt so most 2WD shouldn’t have any trouble, but we do recommend using a 4WD when traversing through remote regions.

Tips:

  • Fuel up at every station you see, some services are 200km apart
  • Extreme temperatures — come prepared for near freezing at night and scorchers during the day
  • Be self-sufficient with food and water 
  • Expect wildlife
  • There are road trains
  • Don’t drive tired — take regular breaks

Average trip length: 29h

1. Great Northern Highway — 3195km

Thus brings us to the longest drive in all of Australia — the longest most remote paved road in the world, Great Northern Highway. This great stretch of road is Australia’s ultimate road trip that takes you through every kind of terrain you can think of with an ever-changing landscape; the best Australia has to offer. Top sites to visit along this journey can include Mimbi Caves, Palm Springs, Sawpit Gorge, Mangkaja Arts, Karijini National Park, Wolfe Creek Crater, and many more tracks to explore.

Tips:

  • Be self-sufficient — plenty of drinking water and food
  • We recommend 4WD to explore off-road tracks, 2WDs are capable as it is a sealed road
  • River crossings only for the experienced and well trained
  • Avoid driving at night
  • Requires proper planning and preparation
  • Expect wildlife
  • Flooding can happen between November and May
  • Extremely dusty during the dry season and boggy/washed in wet season

Average trip length: 35h

Safety first

Before embarking on any long road trip, we recommend inspecting your vehicle to make sure everything is in good condition, this includes the windscreen and tyres. A chipped or cracked windscreen weakens the overall integrity of the vehicle and in an environment that is prone to stray rocks and flying random objects, you need maximum protection. 

To make replacing your windscreen effortless while on a road trip, Dean’s Autoglass conveniently has 3 locations, including Perth, Newman and Kalgoorlie. So if you think you’re out in the middle of nowhere with no help, just contact Dean’s Autoglass and we’ll get you back on the road in no time at all.

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