I’ve always been a massive fan of road trips. Nothing beats a spontaneous adventure to a new and exciting place – turning up the tunes and cruising down the coast or outback desert road. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a local exploring the backyard of your own country or a tourist looking for something a little offbeat, embarking on a road trip is all about welcoming randomness. And it’s the perfect opportunity to let your hair down and discover this diverse country in the process.
Living in Australia means there’s an opportunity for greatness just begging to be explored. Pockets of untouched wilderness, world-renowned beaches and tropical wonders at the tip of your fingertips. It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune to jump in your car and find a cool destination either. Slightly planned or impulsive, it’s those last minute decisions to get up and go that really change your life. Flying across the world takes months of planning, but road trips are all about saying goodbye to uniformity and organisation and going with the flow. Here are the top Aussie road trips and the best albums to soundtrack them to. Because let’s face it, a road trip without the right music is just a commute.
1. Western Wonders on the Gibb River Road | Perth to The Kimberley
WA is one of the most overlooked states in Australia and many people rarely venture over because it feels so far from the rest of the country. But those that do make the journey, or the locals that are willing to get out of the comfort zones to really explore it, will be mind-blown by its natural beauty, exquisite landscapes and secluded spots. As one of Australia’s last true remaining wilderness, The Kimberley is a must for every travel enthusiast’s bucket list.
The drive along the West Coast to Broome and the Kimberley region is not for the weak-hearted. It’s long and strenuous – but the journey and everything you experience along the way is well worth it. Check out Lake Argyle, swim in the stunning gorges and relax on one of the world’s best beaches, Cable Beach. Tackle the Gibb River road for one of Australia’s ultimate four-wheel drive adventures. There are some fantastic Gibb River road tours for the best of the highlights to consider checking out too.
The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main Street: This sound is made for road trips with its attitude and swagger – two feelings we all experience on any epic adventure! Exile on Main Street, in particular, is The Rolling Stones’ most rebellious sound which makes it perfect for tackling the Gibb River road. The shaking blues and rockin’ tunes will elevate your Broome and Kimberley road trip experience to new heights.
Red Hot Chili Peppers, Californication or Blood Sugar Sex Magick: It’s hard to just pick one Chili Peppers album. Both of these records are full of epic, journeyman funk to provide the ultimate fuel for your trip. Not to mention, the iconic Road Trippin’ track will really set the mood.
2. The Great Ocean Road | Victoria
If you’re a water baby or love those ocean views, then Victoria’s Great Ocean Road is the trip of a lifetime. This drive isn’t to be rushed either, so commit to at least a weekend so you can slow down and appreciate all this world-famous expedition has to offer. Here you’ll see the rugged ocean and the dramatic Twelve Apostles, swim in crystal blue waters and go on some magnificent rainforest walks when you need a break from driving.
Incubus, Morning View or Make Yourself: Cruise along to 11am to disconnect from that tedious regular routine you’ve just escaped from and float down the Ocean Road to Incubus’ all-round relaxing, moody vibe. Experience The Warmth of your road trip and those beautiful summer days. Block out the hard realities for a few hours with one of the most mind-numbing albums ever created. I mean that in a good way too, Morning View is an album that makes you want to be on a secluded beach somewhere soaking up happiness. Bliss.
Oasis, (What’s The Story) Morning Glory: Tracks like Wonderwall, Roll With it, Don’t Look Back in Anger, Champagne Supernova, Talk Tonight and The Masterplan are simply legendary. The album is a pinnacle in music history and comes complete with definite singalong classics. Whilst the tone is a little darker, its deep reflections allow you to get lost in the ocean landscapes effortlessly.
3. Grand Pacific Drive | NSW
If you’re driving direct from Sydney, this road trip takes you along the coast towards Wollongong and over the famously beautiful Sea Cliff Bridge (pictured below). Moving along you can check out Jervis Bay which is truly magical. Complete with pristine beaches, the Scottish Rocks at Green Patch Beach and a small-town drive which proves to be one loaded with things to see and do.
The Doors, Best Of (or for the true Doors’ fans, LA Woman): Riders on the Storm is a road trip classic that should be on every playlist. Morrison’s bluesy, hypnotising vocals and the band’s powerful anthems as a whole have become the definitive backdrop for many long drives. And the best part about these songs is they never get old.
Almost Famous Soundtrack: This feel-good album has a few iconic hits on it that are an essential component to any epic road trip. Sing along at the top of your lungs with the music cranked up loud, the coastal breeze on your face and NSW’s picturesque marvels zipping past you. Heck, you can even pretend you’re on a tour bus busting out Elton John’s Tiny Dancer.
4. The Great South West Edge | WA
Summer days are the best for this road trip to make use of the National Parks, tasty wineries and some of the country’s best waves. Road trip along the coast from Margaret River through to Augusta and east to Albany, Esperance and beyond. One of the best things about WA, besides our beaches, is the wine region and down south is really where it’s at. Sure, you are on a road trip – but it won’t hurt to take a day off, check into a motel or find a camp spot and down a few vinos! The coastline and forests are easy to explore without a 4WD and you’ll be able to find some sneaky spots of wild remoteness to disconnect from the world for a bit too.
Shinedown, The Sound of Madness or Threat to Survival: Both of these albums are just too damn good to narrow down to just one. The powerful rock riffs, driving bass beats and ‘big band’ sound will get you energised for the mission.
Massive Attack, Mezzanine or The Eagles, Hotel California: If you’re after something a little more chilled, both of these albums offer that cool, summer vibe to cruise too. Massive Attack will pull you into a trip-hop dream-like state and The Eagles will have you grooving to their classic Hotel California guitar solo.
5. Red Centre Way | NT
A 5-hour road trip from Alice Springs to Uluru gives a very different perspective of Australia. As renowned as our country is for its turquoise beaches, the red desert dirt also makes up a huge part. And if you haven’t seen it with your own eyes, it’s time to get out there and experience it for yourself. The desert journey weaves you in and out of stunning landscapes, epic landmarks like the Kings Canyon and Ormiston Gorge and interesting Australian history if you make the time to stop and delve deep.
Bush, Sixteen Stone: This album is gritty, streamlined and groove-grunge rock music at its finest; making it a kick-arse album choice for road tripping along Red Centre Way. Sixteen Stones is poetically deep with a blatant hookiness that grabs you hook, line and sinker. Similar to the scenery of an outback desert road trip.
Jimi Hendrix, Electric Ladyland: Hendrix’s final album is a ripper, there’s no denying it. His vision was off the planet in Electric Ladyland and thus, it’s filled with the all the classics vital to a rockin’ road trip adventure. Hendrix’s magic stems from having the will to go places no other had gone before, which ties in nicely with this trip.
6. The Nullarbor Plain | SA to WA
You’ll want to put aside a good few days for this one with some 2,000km to cover. The Nullarbor Plain has a reputation for being a very dry and harsh environment – but that doesn’t mean it’s unattractive or boring. It’s not a desert like the Red Centre Way drive, but a long stretch of dead straight road through three different time zones. This road trip is an adventure with the Bunda Cliffs, whale spotting at Head of Bight and old characteristic road houses along the way to drop into. Check out Border Village, the 90 Mile Straight (Australia’s longest road), Port Lincoln and the Honourable Mentions.
Stone Temple Pilots, Thank You: The positively buzzing effect of this album really draws you into a landmark record in rock music history. Thank You includes some brilliant pop tunes which are a staple for a good road trip. Along with the album’s crunching rock riffs, dreamy acoustic ballads and stylistic range, it dabbles into a bit of everything to make for an entertaining drive.
Foo Fighters, The Colour and the Shape: This album is crafted into a musical masterpiece from the first song to the last. It’s laid out perfectly for the ultimate listening experience and switches between blistering energy to unexpected softness. And Everlong alone could make any music playlist flawless for a road trip.
7. Cradle Country | Tasmania
One of the most diverse trips on this list is Cradle Country. The sweeping landscapes, agricultural hubs and unique architecture create an intense visual experience filled with colour and multiplicity. Tasmania may have a reputation for being small but Aussie’s most southern state showcases a sheer expansiveness you wouldn’t expect. Allow ample driving time though because the sites don’t stop there. If you need some great spots to stay in between road tripping, check out these luxury Tassie getaways.
The Smashing Pumpkins, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness: Fuelled by ambition and scope, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is Cradle Country if it were an album. Whilst I would normally prefer Siamese Dream, the fuzzed-out ballads and distorted sonics create an inspiring soundtrack for the Tassie road trip.
The Beatles, Rubber Soul: An album that’s a full body of work with as much diversity as Cradle Country itself, Rubber Soul creates that warm nostalgia feeling any great road trip should have. The album incorporates sounds from psychedelic rock, classic pop, folk and R&B so there’s a little something there for everyone in the car to enjoy.
8. The Great Tropical Drive | QLD
If you’re one for lush landscapes and tropical wonders, this journey will impress travellers from all walks of life. Explore the Great Barrier Reef, indulge in the tropical splendour day in day out and soak up the golden savannah outback. Whilst this drive is true to its name – sultry and tropical, the Savannah Way gives a taste of WA with a Broome and Kimberley feel. Between the two World Heritage areas and the Great Barrier Reef is where the views are the most spectacular. Make sure to cool off in the waterfalls along the way too.
Third Eye Blind, Self-Titled: Do your car (and your ears) a favour and put this baby on shuffle for your next road trip. Like Goo Goo Dolls, Third Eye Blind is one of the most underrated bands. There’s so many great sing-along songs, fun rock-fuelled vibes and modern day classics to enjoy.
Elton John, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: An absolute masterpiece of an album with Elton’s most identifiable work. Add Rocket Man to the mix too and you have yourself one hell of an awesome playlist for The Great Tropical Drive.
Need an extra dose of music to add to your road trip playlist? Here’s a handful of some more favourites that would suit any of the destinations above too:
Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
Soundgarden – Superunknown
Deep Purple – Machinehead
The Strokes – This Is It
Goo Goo Dolls – Dizzy Up the Girl
Metallica – Black and Self-Titled
Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon
Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited
Nirvana – In Utero, Unplugged in New York and Nevermind
The Notorious BIG – Ready to Die
Michael Jackson – Thriller
Radiohead – OK Computer
Velvet Revolver – Contraband
Slash – Apocalyptic Love
Eminem – The Marshal Mathers
Rage Against the Machine – Self Titled
Counting Crows – August and Everything After
Snoop Doggy Dogg – Doggystyle
The Shins – Oh, Inverted World and Port of Morrow
AC/DC – Back in Black and Highway to Hell
Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion I and II
What albums or artists would you add to your playlist and where would you go for your road trip?
This is a post on behalf of Instyle Adventures – a local family owned tour company specialising in unique experiences and tours in the North West region of Australia.