So you want to hop on your two wheels and conquer the Down Under?
Australia is extremely photogenic and breathtaking, but riding through it hot-headed with a “solo riding till I die” approach will only get you killed. I’m not even joking.
But if you approach it with preparedness, top-notch gear, and enough motorcycle spare parts, it’ll be a lifetime experience beyond comprehension!
Read BEFORE You Pack Up
Rider beware: touring Australia isn’t the same as touring the US. Heck, even the wildest European trip through the Alps can’t compare. Back there, most tours are several dozen miles, maybe even hundreds if you want to stretch. But in Australia, everything’s bigger. Tours included!
Instead of a couple of hundred, be prepared to travel several hundred, even thousands of miles through breathtaking desserts, sea coasts, and national parks. If I had to compare it to another continent, I’d compare it to Africa! If nothing else, because of the sheer abundance of wild, uninhabited expanses. I wish I could pour my experience of touring through Down Under, but my editor would probably have me hanging on the nearest post.
Long story short, whichever of the ideas below you choose, Australia will yield a touring experience that’s worth a thousand lives!
Before embarking on any of the adventures below, always pack:
- Spare air and fuel filters
- An extra can of fuel
- Water (there’s no such thing as a lot in this case)
- Spare motorcycle parts and first aid kit
- Camping and tool gear
- Satellite phone (there’s a high chance of zero phone coverage)
5 Must-Do Motorcycle Trips Across Australia That’ll Leave You Speechless
So you finally decided!
You packed your saddlebags, prepared your motorcycle, and brought enough canned beans to last you three lifetimes. But one thing is missing. From the vastness of the continent, which way do you go?
For those ADV addicts, which tour is a road less travelled that gives the most thrills?
For those cruiser weekend warriors, what is the most beautiful, breathtaking tour imaginable?
For those speed demons on Hayabusas, what is the longest tour you can conquer in the shortest time and still have the adventure to tell?
These are my 5 best self-guided Australian tours worthy of your two-wheeler:
1. The Coral Coast Tour
|Route Name||The Coral Coast Tour|
|Length||1,075 mi (1,730 km)|
|About||If you’re an ADV addict, the Perth to Ningaloo Reef tour is a must-do. The amount of adventure and epic scenery you’ll experience would give the Great Barrier Reef Tour a run for its money!|
|Difficulty||Moderate (for ADV riders)|
Starting in Perth, the journey begins either along the west coast or the Swan River. Going up north, you’re bound to stumble onto the vividly yellow pillars and sand dunes of the Pinnacles Desert, and then Nambung National Park. Here’s where the real journey and fun begin!
BMW 1200 GS, Honda TwinAfrica, or Yamaha Tenere 700 are the best ADV bikes to tackle the winding region of the Pinnacles Desert.
On your way north, don’t forget to base yourself in the small town of Kalbarri where you’ll get an Arizona vibe. Sitting on the riverside of Murchison River, you’ll be blessed to experience the epic river gorges and coastal scenery. Perfect for some ADV adrenaline adventure!
If you love petting dolphins, Monkey Mia at Shark Bay is your next destination. It’s a completely isolated area, protected by the World Heritage organisation, that gives an out-of-this-world experience.
But if you’re more of an Indiana-Jones kind of motorcycle rider, Shell Beach is your next destination. Eons-old fossils and stromatolites as far as the eye can see. A paradise for motorcycle archeologists!
Finally, you’ll arrive at the Ningaloo Reef. It’s the world’s longest fringing reef (270 km or 160 miles long), almost completely isolated from civilization. And it’s one of two Australian coral reef systems, the second being the more famous Great Barrier Reef!
Time to take off your motorcycle gear, boots, and helmet and jump straight into the crystal-clear waters of the amazing Ningaloo.
2. Cairns to Undara Lava Tubes Tour
|Route Name||Cairns to Undara|
|Length||390 mi (625 km)|
|About||Having an almost 200,000 years old and one of the longest lava tube systems in the world, even just Undara volcanic national park is worth the stretch. There’s also a guided tour taking you inside the lava tubes themselves!|
In its most straightforward variation, this road trip could take you from Cairns straight southwest to the Undara. But as you’ll see in the map below, I devised it so as to include some more sightseeing, which is why we’ll first go north as a detour, and then back south.
Cairns is a Bali-like, tropical type of city. Don’t go anywhere without a Gore-Tex jacket or a waterproof mesh undercoat because of Cairns’ hot and humid climate.
Things I recommend every weekend warrior should visit around Cairns are:
- Daintree Rainforest
- Port Douglas (don’t forget about the Mossman Gorge. It’s 20 km from the port)
- Kuranda Scenic Railway
- Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park
- Cairns Indigenous Art Fair
After sightseeing in the Cairns region, Mount Molloy and Atherton are your next destination. Before Atherton, you’re bound to pass by the Millaa Millaa and the Waterfall Circuit. A perfect place to take your gear off and jump into the soothing fresh waters of a thousand waterfalls.
From there it’s time to head west and reach your final destination – the Undara Laval Tubes.
3. A Journey into the Continent’s Heart: The Red Centre Tour
|Route Name||Red Centre Tour|
|Length||360 mi (585 km)|
|About||You consider yourself the dare-devil, survivalist on two wheels? The famous Ayers Rock, Kata Tjuta, and West MacDonnell Ranges will test you and your bike to the core!|
|Difficulty||Moderate for ADV riders|
Ah yes, the Red Center (or Centre, to be more precise). Australia’s most dangerous desert region!
Only the bold off-road riders with a loose screw or two embark on this journey. But let’s say you’re ready to tackle this desert adventure – where do you start?
Yulara, a small desert town near Uluru (Ayers Rock), is your starting destination. Environmental sustainability and cultural preservation are the second name for this friendly town.
But before you head east, I suggest you take a look around! Going south is the epic Uluru. Visiting at the sunset and stargazing at night gives this tour a more sci-fi experience. Right next to Uluru, it’s the Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) that’s waiting to meet the trails of your tires.
Don’t forget to say hi to black-footed rock wallabies. They’ll be your most frequent travel buddies when visiting the Olgas.
The next stop is Alice Springs Desert Park.
The park’s location is in the Arrernte country and has significant cultural and spiritual importance to the local indigenous people. So, don’t be a culture vulture and get to know their culture and tradition. Conquering the Australian outback can wait a day or two.
Your final destination is the West MacDonnell National Park. Several must-see destinations in the park are:
- Standley Chasm Angkerle Atwatye
- Redbank Gorge
- Ellery Creek Big Hole
- Glen Helen Gorge
- Serpentine Chalet Dam
4. Tasmania Tour
|Route Name||Tasmania Tour|
|Length||730 mi (1,170 km)|
|About||You’ll be seeing nearly half of the Tasmanian island. However you improvise the route, do not forget to rest at the Bay of Fires! You’ll thank me later.|
|Difficulty||Moderate to Advanced|
It’s worth knowing that Tasmania is the land of the highest motorcycle ownership per capita in the whole south-east hemisphere with a whopping 47,000 registered two-wheelers.
But where to begin?
When visiting Tasmania, I always recommend starting from Devonport. A cute coastal town that’ll set you up for your touring success. From there, head east alongside the Bass Strait coast until you reach the Bay of Fires or the Bay of Barbeque.
Its mouth-watering white beaches and turquoise ocean will make you stay for a day or two.
From there, visiting the Freycinet National Park and Wineglass Bay is a MUST! It holds the reputation of one of the top ten beaches in the world to visit, alongside the Hazards mountains.
Going south, experiencing the Isle of the Dead, and the second oldest city in Australia – Hobart, is an adventure on two wheels of its own. From chilling convict stories to drinking your favorite ale on the shores of Hobart’s Lindisfarne Bay, this side of Tasmania is worth every gas penny.
Mount Field National Park, Lyell Highway, and Cradle Mountain are your next location. The infamous Tasmanian devil calls Cradle Mountain their home. So be prepared to see your toasted beans missing while you’re on your camping “big break” (happened to me a couple of times).
Going north from the Cradle Mountain to the Bass Strait and back to Devonport, sew it up by taking gazillion photos of epic showy alpine scenery you won’t find even in Switzerland.
5. Great Ocean Road to Melbourne
|Route Name||Great Ocean Road to Melbourne|
|Length||825 mi (1,330 km)|
|About||This road trip will give you anything and everything: from rugged, snowy mountain landscapes straight into a delicious cup of coffee in Australia’s southernmost city.|
|Difficulty||Moderate to Advanced|
After petting (or more likely not!) a Tasmanian devil, it’s time to head north to Melbs! If you like, you can even make this tour an extension of your Tasmanian adventure by taking the “Spirit of Tasmania” ferry across the Bass Strait, from Devonport to Geelong. You’ll be sailing for 10 hours give or take, but it’s a nice chance to place your behind on a solid surface that doesn’t vibrate!
In that case, you might want to take this trip in reverse direction, from Melbourne up.
Anyway, if you opt for the direction I did, the best way to Melbs is through the Snowies. By which I mean the alpine mountain range in the Kosciuszko National Park, which is so striking it’ll make you feel like riding through the tops of Italy or Switzerland.
Coming down the mountain range, Victoria Highlands is every ADV rider’s wet dream. Wide plains and open roads go through tiny cute settlements that’ll lure you into staying forever. If you have a sweet tooth, right after Victoria Highlands, the town of Castlemaine and Daylesford has some of the best bakeries this part of Australia has ever seen!
Before setting yourself on the Great Ocean Road, you’ll pass by the Halls Gap.
The Great Ocean Road wouldn’t be so great without visiting these places:
- 12 Apostles
- The Grotto
- Loch Ard Gorge
- London Bridge
- The Arch
Finally, you reach the coffee capital of Australia even Milan and Paris are jealous of – Melbourne. Since I’m from Europe, the sight of a vibrant yet very citizen-centered city and its charming alleys wasn’t very striking or unfamiliar to me. Still, I totally get it why it’s very high on the list of Australia’s, and even the world’s, most liveable cities!