Australia is one of the most popular tourist destinations for apparent reasons: rich culture, vast national parks, coastlines, mountains and historical sites, you name it. In such an enormous country (world’s sixth largest), all you need are some wheels to navigate the breath-taking Australian nature and wildlife habitats. The trick is to choose an Australian road trip itinerary that exposes you to the best attraction sites. Here are some recommendations.
Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park
A road trip in Australia almost feels incomplete if the itinerary doesn’t include a stop at a game park. National parks are more than just a habitat for wildlife though. They project the country’s dedication to protecting its heritage and animals. They also protect endangered species.
If you’re planning a road trip towards central and western Australia, you should include a stop at the Kata Tjuta National Park. Formerly known as Uluru (Ayes Rock-Mount Olga) National Park, this 500+ square mile park boasts massive geographical plains that dominate a more significant portion of central Australia.
The sandy plains harbour some of the oldest cultural and traditional belief systems of the world. Indeed, on your road trip, you’ll meet aboriginal landowners belonging to Anangu and Uluru-Kata Tjuta tribes. Rich culture and traditions might keep you much longer than you intend to stay, but this is not the only attraction down the plains.
Coastal Drives of Ningaloo
Nature’s scenic beauty is made up of many little pieces from incredible sunset views over Olga George Valleys to the Wind Trail. You can also enjoy the coastal drives of Ningaloo and catch shocking photos of the longest near-shore reefs of the East Indian Ocean. The reefs cover 604,500 hectares and provide a home to a fully-fledged fish and aquatic populations.
Annually, a marine gathering comprised of whale sharks and sea turtles find their way into the underground caves and conduits as well as ground watercourses. If you take a drive along the coastline, you can see some rare marine wildlife species that aren’t anywhere else in the world.
In this region, marine life increases to an estimate of 300-500 whale sharks annually because of the presence of reefs and lagoons. It’s also home to different species of mammals and reptiles. As covering such a vast area can be a task, having a scratch off map of the world can come in quite handy as you traverse rocky shores, mangroves, and sandy beaches.
Riversleigh and Naracoorte Fossil Mammal Sites
Taking a turn towards Eastern Australia on your Australian road trip exposes you to 35 million years of history representing the evolution of mammals. This trip leads you to the world’s most significant fossil sites and astounding historical collections.
According to UNESCO, some of the fossils found in Riversleigh date back 10-30 million. Naracoorte also has vertebrate fossils that are at least 530,000 years. In addition to relics, this region boasts a wide variety of both classic and modern fauna species ranging from marsupial tigers to amphibians, mice, reptiles, snakes and birds among others.
If you want to learn more about how humans evolved through history, then Riversleigh and Naracoorte are the top stops on your road trip. With trips to both North and South East Australia, you’ll come face-to-face with some of Mother Nature’s exclusive creatures and learn their complicated relationship with humans. Besides giving you a glimpse of the world’s most diverse continent, this road trip down the history lanes will also educate you on many different levels. This is generally a one-day trip, but you can revisit the fossils at any time if it sparks your interest.
Queensland gives you a feel of the wet tropical regions and nature of northeast Australia. This Australian road trip takes you down a winding coastal stretch that’s the hallmark of tropical rainforests covering around 450 km of land.
The area is home to rare endangered wildlife and plant species. Marsupials and diverse bird species also reside in these tropical wetlands. Cedar Bay and Daintree River also offer exceptional scenery that comprises white sandy beaches, coral vast, coral reefs and rain forests.
Some Final Tips
There are several other routes you can pick when going for an all-Australian road trip for wildlife and nature lovers. It all boils down to your preferences. Australia offers a diverse landscape that features everything you may be looking for. From wildlife to tropical forests, historic sites, fossils and traditional cultures, coastlines and vast beaches, this island continent has some of the best tourist attractions in the world. It’s particularly ideal for road trips, camping and sightseeing.
Like most countries, Australia has a national legislative act that protects all the heritage sites in the country. The 1999 EPBC Act (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation) protects and regulates all listed heritage sites, including flora and fauna. Violating this act can earn a hefty penalty, so it’s essential to take some time and read through the rules.
Rules help you enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer without causing any negative impacts on the environment and local cultures. In fact, the board of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park voted unanimously to ban climbing Uluru because of the spiritual significance of the site.
Plan Your Road Trip Through Australia
For more information about the road trips described in this article, see:
More Places to Visit in Australia and New Zealand
About the Photo
The photo in the header above is of Uluru / Ayers Rock, which is a large sandstone rock formation in the southern part of the Northern Territory in central Australia. Photo by Holger Link @photoholgic
About the Author
Rebecca Siggers is an experienced travel blogger from Australia.
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