Australia trip itinerary - 5 weeks visting Sydney, Red Centre, Kangaroo Island, Great Ocean Road, Tasmania and more

Our Australian Road Trip (5 Week Itinerary)

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Our Australian road trip dates from a few years ago, but last week a reader asked about our complete itinerary, so here it is. We spent more than a month in Australia with kids and visited many different regions. We started our Australia trip in Sydney and the Blue Mountains, explored the Red Centre, visited Kangaroo Island, drove the Great Ocean Road, spent 10 days in Tasmania, and ended our trip in Melbourne. Below is our 5-week Australia road trip itinerary in a nutshell.

Would I change anything to this itinerary? Not much. I would add some extra days here and there, but this pretty much covers all the highlights in each place. And who has so much vacation time, right? We could only do this trip because our kids were still young and we weren’t tied to school holidays at that time.

There are a few areas we didn’t cover during this trip that you could add if you have even more time – the Great Barrier Reef and the Northern Territories around Darwin, maybe also Western Australia. We skipped the Great Barrier Reef because we had been there in the past and because our kids were too young to go snorkelling. We left Darwin for another time as well because we visited Australia in November and it’s rainy season in the North. But if you have more time, I definitely recommend adding these two areas to your Australia itinerary as well.

So here it is – our Australia road trip itinerary. I split it into separate blocks per region, so you can easily mix and match to plan your trip Down Under and create your own itinerary using our tips and information below.

Australia trip itinerary featuring Sydney and the Blue Mountains, the Red Centre, Kangaroo Island, the Great Ocean Road, the Grampians NP, Melbourne, Tasmania and more - plan your trip! #Australia

Sydney and The Blue Mountains – 4 days

TIP: You can either rent a car for the last two days or spend more time in Sydney, stay in the city and book a day trip to the Blue Mountains. If you travel without kids, I think it’s a much better option to just stay in Sydney. Unless you want to spend more time exploring the Blue Mountains, of course. In that case, you may want to stay there for a few more days.

Sydney is a must in any Australia trip itinerary

Sydney is a must in any Australia trip itinerary

Blue Mountains Australia

Blue Mountains

 

Australia’s Red Centre – 6 days

Below is a short version of our daily schedule. Here you can find our detailed 6- day itinerary for Australia’s Red Centre.

TIP: You will need a 4WD for this itinerary. It’s possible to do this trip driving only paved roads as well, but in that case you will need to cover the distance of almost 700 km between Glen Helen and Kings Canyon on the paved road (instead of 250km via the Mereenie Loop). If you decide to do that, then take your time to explore the gorges of the West MacDonnell Ranges a bit more and spend a night in Alice Springs again, before continuing to Kings Canyon. If you are only planning to drive from Alice Springs to Uluru, you can do it in a regular car. You can find the best outback car rental deals here.

Australia Red Centre itinerary for the most complete road trip including all the highlights like Ayers Rock, Kings Canyon, West MacDonnell ranges and more

Uluru

West MacDonnell Ranges in Australia's Red Centre

Glen Helen Gorge – West MacDonnell Ranges

 

Adelaide and Kangaroo Island – 5 days

In one of our previous posts you can find our detailed Kangaroo Island itinerary. Here’s a short version:

TIP: You will need to rent a car in Adelaide and take a ferry to Kangaroo Island. We rented a car from Adelaide to Melbourne and after Kangaroo Island continued our road trip via the Grampians National Park and the Great Ocean Road (see further).

Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island Australia

Remarkable Rocks – Kangaroo Island

Seals on Kangaroo Island Australia

Seal Bay – Kangaroo Island

 

Kangaroo Island to Melbourne via the Grampians NP and the Great Ocean Road – 7 days

  • Day 16: Kangaroo Island to Robe. Stay in Robe for 1 night. There isn’t much to see in Robe, but you need to break the long drive somewhere in the area.
  • Day 17: Robe to the Grampians National Park. Stay in Halls Gap for 2 nights.
  • Day 18: The Grampians National Park.
  • Day 19: Grampians to Warrnambool. Stay in Warrnambool for 1 night.
  • Day 20: Warrnambool to Lorne (Great Ocean Road). Stay in Lorne for 2 nights.
  • Day 21: The Great Ocean Road. TIP: try to spot some wild koalas at the Kennett River first thing in the morning.
  • Day 22: Lorne to Melbourne Airport and flight to Tasmania. Stay in Hobart for 1 night.

As you can see, we skipped the city of Melbourne at this point and flew straight to Tasmania. This is because we came back to Melbourne at the end of our Australia trip for the flight back to Europe (see further).

The Great Ocean Road is one of the must see places in Australia

The Great Ocean Road

Wild kangaroos in the Grampians NP Australia

Wild kangaroos at our hotel in Halls Gap

 

Tasmania – 10 days

You will need to rent a car in Hobart.

  • Day 23: Hobart to Freycinet NP. Stay in Coles Bay near Freycinet NP for 2 nights.
  • Day 24: Freycinet National Park.
  • Day 25: Freycinet NP to Scamander or Saint Helens. We stayed in Scamander and this is one thing I would have changed in our itinerary. I suggest to drive further till St Helens and stay there instead. Visit the Bay of Fires. Stay in St. Helens for 1 night. 
  • Day 26: Saint Helens to Launceston. Stay in Launceston for 1 night.
  • Day 27: Launceston to Cradle Mountain NP. Stay in Cradle Mountain for 2 nights.
  • Day 28: Cradle Mountain National Park.
  • Day 29: Cradle Mountain to Strahan. Stay in Strahan for 2 nights.
  • Day 30: Strahan.
  • Day 31: Strahan to Hobart. Stay in Hobart for 1 night.
  • Day 32: Flight from Hobart to Melbourne. Stay in Melbourne.
Cradle Mountain National Park in Tasmania

Cradle Mountain NP in Tasmania

Russell Falls at Mt Field National Park in Tasmania

Russell Falls at Mt Field NP in Tasmania

 

Melbourne

  • Days 33-35: Melbourne and flight back to Europe.

If you like visiting cities, you can easily spend several days in Melbourne. If you are looking for more things to do near Melbourne, you could also visit the nearby Philip Island, see the penguins, etc.

Flinders Street Station in Melbourne Australia

Flinders Street Station in Melbourne

 

So this is our 35-day Australia trip itinerary in a nutshell. As you can see, I link to some more detailed itineraries per region here and there, so you can find more information in the related posts. I never found the time to write about all the places we visited, so feel free to leave a comment if you have any specific questions about the areas that we visited, but which are not covered on the blog. In our previous posts you can also find our best tips for planning a trip to Australia for the first time as well as our tips and information for visiting Australia with kids.

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Comments

  1. Great itinerary, Jurga! We are a family of 4 planning to visit Australia for 6 weeks starting in October. Our boys will be almost 2,5 and 4 by then. Most likely we are going to follow your itinerary. Wondering how you would use the extra week? Which places would you add extra nights or would you add new places to visit?
    We don’t like cities; the kids especially love to see and experience animal encounters.

    Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

    1. Author

      Hello, I think it really depends how you like to travel. This itinerary is rather fast-going, so you see a lot in little time. Some people would find it too fast with kids, so if you rather travel slower, you could easily add a few days here and there and make it a week longer and more relaxing.
      Some places we could have potentially liked to stay longer were: Blue Mountains near Sydney, The Grampians NP, maybe also a day or two extra on the Great Ocean Road, especially if you like beaches. Also West MacDonnell Ranges in the Red Centre was a place we could have stayed a day longer I think.
      If you rather add one other region to this itinerary, then I’d strongly suggest visiting the Great Barrier Reef. It’s so beautiful there! We haven’t been there with kids, but visited years ago and loved it. On the other hand, snorkelling might not be a good option with such young children, so not sure…
      As for wildlife, Kangaroo Island and the Grampians NP, as well as Cradle Mountain NP in Tasmania were the places where we saw the most animals during this trip.

  2. Hi Jurga,

    Chanced upon your really well written blog about your Australia trip with your little ones. I am planning a trip with my 7 year old son next year, just the two of us! I have around 2 weeks below but hoping to keep it within 12 days (not many days of annual leave). My itinerary is roughly based on yours but I skip the 4WD part at the Red Centre. Would really appreciate if you think there is anything I should improve on my itinerary below. For day 7 after visiting Kata Tjuta NP, is it viable to stay at the same place as Ayers Rock Resort? Do you think this itinerary is too packed? Too loose? I am actually hoping to cut short a day somewhere in between, where do you think I can do it to cut one day short?

    Day 1 Arrive Sydney airport
    Stay Sydney

    Day 2 Sydney
    Stay Sydney

    Day 3 Drive Sydney – Featherdale Wild Life Park & Blue Mountain
    Stay Leura

    Day 4 Blue Mountains
    Stay Sydney near airport

    Day 5 Fly Sydney – Alice Springs
    Stay Alice Springs

    Day 6 Drive Alice Springs to Uluru (Ayers Rock) – 6 hours
    Stay Ayers Rock Resort

    Day 7 Drive Urulu – Kata Tjuta National Park
    Stay where?

    Day 8 Drive Kata Tjuta NP – Alice Springs
    Stay Alice Springs

    Day 9 Fly Alice Springs – Adelaide
    Drive Adelaide – Kangaroo Island – 4 hour
    Stay Kangaroo Island

    Day 10 Tour Kangaroo Island
    Stay Kangaroo Island

    Day 11 Tour Kangaroo Island
    Stay Kangaroo Island

    Day 12 Drive Kangaroo Island – Adelaide
    Stay Adelaide

    Day 13 Depart Adelaide airport

    Forgot to add. We are planning early-mid June 2019!

    1. Author

      Hi Khim, your itinerary looks ok to me, just in the Red Centre you’ll have two very long driving days very quickly after each other (days 6 and 8). But if you’re up for it, then I think it’s ok.
      Days 6 and 7 you should stay at the same place – Yulara, also called Ayers Rock. There are just a few accommodation options there and it’s really the only place to stay.
      Day 9 – make sure to check the ferry schedule so that you can actually get to Kangaroo Island in the evening. Also, book the ferry tickets in advance. Keep in mind that June is autumn/winter there, so probably low season with fewer boats/ accommodation options. I really have no idea how the weather is there in that period – make sure to do some research on that. I guess you saw it already, but just in case here you can read about visiting Kangaroo Island.
      Hope this helps. Sounds like an exciting trip – enjoy it!

      1. Many thanks Jurga, you are so quick to respond! Really appreciate that you highlighted about the 2 long drives within 2 days, and that makes me rethink my itinerary. I had a thought about it and think we will probably join the 3d 2n tour from Alice Springs to Uluru, Kings Canyon, Kata Tjuta etc. That will save me from having to drive long distances, and I really love the idea of sleeping in a tent/ swag in the wilderness 🙂

        Yes I love your post about Kangaroo Island. I think my son will love seeing all the animals. I did some research on KI during winter and surprised to learn that it is the best season to visit! And thanks for reminder about the ferry schedule, they have ferry going to KI in the late afternoon so I guess that is my best bet, will book in advance 🙂

        Did you spend much time in Adelaide itself? Worth seeing with kids? I am wondering if I have one more day I should spend one extra day in KI or in Adelaide.

        1. Author

          Hi Khim, yes, I think that joining a guided tour for the Red Centre for a few days can be a really good idea. Camping in the desert will be a very memorable experience for you and your son! I found a few 3-day tours here, in case you are still choosing :).
          As for Adelaide, we only spent a couple of hours there, just enough to walk around, find a playground and a restaurant. It felt like a cozy town, but we didn’t really see enough of it to form an opinion. So no, I have no tips for you there. We’re more nature people so given the choice we always tend to spend more time in the nature and less in the cities, but I’m sure Adelaide can be fun too. It’s really about you and how you like to travel.
          Have a great Holiday Season!

          1. Thank you Jurga for the recommended tours.

            I contacted two tour operators and apparently they only accept children age 9 and above. Mine will be 7.5 at the time of travel. Now I am rethinking my itinerary. If I were to give up the Red Centre portion in my itinerary (days 5-8), which gives me 4 days to plan for another place, which part of Australia do you think will make a good balance for the trip – between seeing animals, and a bit of city (Sydney), and nature (now that Red Centre is gone)?

            Thanks and Merry Christmas to u!

          2. Author

            Hi Khim, oh, it’s a pity they don’t allow younger children on those tours… I guess they’re a bit worried with camping in the desert and all…
            If you rather look for another area, I think you’d really enjoy the Great Barrier Reef. White sand beaches, snorkelling, and plenty of nature nearby. Probably the best place to stay for day trips etc. is Cairns (it’s also the best place to fly to) or Port Douglas.
            Take a look here for some day trips you can do from Cairns and from Port Douglas.
            Alternatively, you could stay in the South of Australia a bit longer and visit Melbourne – Great Ocean Road area. We loved the Grampians NP as well!

  3. Good itinerary. Will help me tremendously in planning my next vacation to Australia. Thanks Jurga.

    1. Author

      Good to hear that. Have a wonderful trip!

  4. Excellent itinerary, Jurga. I am in the planning stage of our trip early 2019. We are retired so we have time flexibility and hope we can see more. We are hoping that we will spend 8-10 weeks.
    Thank you….., your site is an inspiration to my planning.

    1. Author

      Wow, that’s a lot of time you have in Australia, Nadia. If you base yourself on this itinerary, then I’d say add a few days at the Great Barrier Reef, visit Whitsunday Islands, etc. Then maybe a week in the North – Darwin and the National Parks there (avoid rainy season), and then maybe a week in the West, starting from Perth. Or focus on fewer areas and explore more… Just whatever you do, don’t drive really big distances with not much to see in between… 🙂 Have a wonderful trip!

      1. Thanks again!

  5. Great trip….but you missed the best part of Oz….the whole of WA! Of course I am a bit biased!!

    1. Author

      🙂 I know, Trudy. We will get to Western Australia one day too. Australia has just too many amazing places and impossible to see in one or two trips. We’ll definitely be back to explore Western and Northern Australia.

  6. I don’t want to miss out that seal when my boyfriend and I visit Australia. We’re still planning our 2 week trip in there. We are still planning carefully our Itinerary to car rental deals and our budget for the trip. Thanks for sharing your trip there . I am super excited to experience ours there.

    1. Author

      2 weeks in Australia is really short so try to focus on fewer places or you’ll end up driving/flying all the time. Enjoy it!

  7. Good itinerary Jurga. We are off to the red centre at Easter and have already visited Sydney (not so keen) and Melbourne (loved it) Far Northern Queensland next on our list and probably Tasmania. It’s an expensive country to visit but well worth it – so much to see! Ps Brisbane is worth a visit too ?

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