Sure, you could spend winter relaxing in front of an open fire, with a good red and a good book – or you could hop in your car and get out on roads that are best explored in winter.
Here are four winter road trips that will warm your car engine and your cockles.
Gibb River Road, Western Australia
Although you can only drive on Gibb River Road in the dry season (generally most of winter), the trip is anything but dry, with river crossings, spectacular waterfalls and gorges.
Gibb River Road starts in Derby and continues for over 600km through the Kimberley to Kununurra, which is the gateway to Bungle Bungles. It’s an epic journey, although maybe not as epic as you think (it’s certainly no Burke and Wills expedition), because some of the road is covered in bitumen and regular maintenance work is carried out in peak season to make sure it stays in good condition.
Having said that, it’s a (mainly) dirt road through one of the most remote areas in Australia, so you’ll earn your adventure badge after completing the drive. And once you get to Kununurra, you still have to work out how to get home.
Stuart Highway, South Australia and Northern Territory
Start in the cold and end in the warmth as you drive the Stuart Highway from Adelaide to Darwin. Unlike many other winter treks, the Stuart Highway is all-vehicle accessible, from a push bike up to the biggest road trains in the country. At over 3000km long, you’ll be glad of the good road conditions by the end of your drive.
So, what will you see if you travel this section of Highway 1? Be prepared for long stretches of similar landscape, spiced up by some of the best roadside attractions in the world, from Karlu Karlu (Devils Marbles) to the thermal springs at Mataranka, to the Red Centre itself (and its centre, Alice Springs).
The Savannah Way, Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia
The Bungle Bungles. Lake Argyle. Katherine Gorge. Bitter Springs. The Lost City. Lawn Hill Gorge. Undara Lava Tubes. Atherton Tablelands. These are only some of the attractions you’ll come across on the whopping 3700km Savannah Way. This is some of the most remote and wild country in Australia, with all the spectacular beauty you’d expect of a route passing through Arnhem Land and the Kimberley.
Connecting Cairns and Broome, the Savannah Way is a series of connecting highways and roads. It’s mainly 2WD-accessible, except for the stretch connecting Queensland to the Northern Territory which is a serious dirt road with river crossings – just what you need to spice up the trip.
Murray River, Victoria
Although not quite as dramatic as the rivers on the Savannah Way, the Murray is the steady brown heart line of the southern states. Starting in the alpine region, it meanders its way along the border of Victoria and New South Wales before crossing into South Australia.
Just like the Murray River, you should take your time enjoying this stretch of country. Start in the booming town of Wodonga or across the river in pretty Albury (the more famous of the twin towns), pass through Rutherglen and sample some famous port before heading portside in Echuca (make sure you take a ride on Echuca’s famous paddlesteamers). Continue your current alongside the river all the way to the major town of Mildura in the north-west of the Victoria.
For more information on road trips, take a look at our Complete Motoring Atlas.