Australia's most scenic routes: 10 road tips with the best views

From peak-filled panoramas and high-altitude outlooks to far-horizon seascapes and picture-perfect perspectives, here are 10 of Australia's best roads with a view.

Great Alpine Road & Bogong Alpine Way, Victoria

Mile for mile, the mountain-top touring loop combining the Great Alpine Road and the Bogong Alpine Way (Bright to Omeo via Dinner Plain and back via Falls Creek) packs in more oh-wow-will-you-look-at-that moments than just about any other road in the country. The former's open all year, but the latter, which includes a detour up to the highest driveable point in Australia, Mt McKay (1842 metres), is closed by snow in winter. The whole thing will take around five hours flat-out, but take the time to enjoy the views. Best photo op: you can see almost all of Victoria's highest peaks from the top of Mt McKay. How far? Around 250 kilometres. See www.visitvictoria.com

Captain Cook Highway & Bloomfield Track, Queensland

There are views of all types – long and short – on this tropical drive between Cairns and Cooktown in far north Queensland. The first section, to Port Douglas, hugs the coast, one eye-stretching sea view unfurling after another. Northwards it's all about close-up views of the Daintree rainforest. Beyond Cape Tribulation a 4WD (or SUV) is best and there are some creek crossings that get tricky in the wet, but in the dry it's about as much fun as you can have on four wheels. Best photo op: switch your camera to panorama mode to capture the full view of Trinity Bay from Rex Lookout, around 56 kilometres north of Cairns. How far? Around 255 kilometres. See www.drivenorthqueensland.com.au

Driving the road that circles the heart of Australia's outback

The 1130km route links the Red Centre icons of Uluru and Kings Canyon with the should-be-more-famous West MacDonnells region.

Stirling Ranges, Western Australia

In a state known for its wide brown empty spaces, the rugged peaks of the Stirling Ranges, about an hour's drive north-east of Albany in the southern corner of WA not far from Mount Barker, take most travellers by surprise. So too does the notion that these peaks are actually high enough to occasionally be dusted by snow. The Stirling Range Road runs through the middle of this astonishing landscape. Go in spring for spectacular wildflowers and drive west to east for best views. Best photo op: snap sweeping views of both the Stirling and Porongurup ranges from Central Lookout. How far? 42 kilometres. See www.parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/park/stirling-range

Flinders Ranges, South Australia

There's no shortage of good views in the Flinders – pick a road, any road, that crosses this weather-worn range in outback South Australia and you'll be treated to a higher-than-average quota of knock-your-socks-off landscapes of the type immortalised by painter Hans Heysen, and the backdrop of countless movies. Top three are Moralana Scenic Drive, Brachina Gorge Road and Blinman-Parachilna Road. All three are unsealed and rocky, and while an SUV or 4WD with decent clearance is handy, you don't need to be a hard-core off-roader to handle the tracks. Best photo op: capture the classic lonely road twisting through the mountains shot from Razorback Lookout overlooking the Bunyeroo Valley on the Brachina Gorge Road. How far? About 30 kilometres across the range, 120 kilometres north to south. See www.frc.sa.gov.au

Meerenie Loop Road, Northern Territory

Tick off all the icons of outback Australia in one trip – Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon, the West MacDonnell Ranges (aka the West Macs) – on a loop from Alice Springs. This is legendary scenery, all spinifex-studded desert plains, rocky ramparts and icy-cold waterholes in hidden gorges. If you've never been outback before, this road trip is the perfect place to start – half the trip is on bitumen, the other a dusty ribbon of red dirt, but all of it is an outback adventure like no other. Best photo op: you can't go home without at least one shot of you and that big red rock, but the view from Mt Sonder Lookout opposite Glen Helen Gorge is worth a stop as well. How far? 1130 kilometres. See www.travelnt.com

Grand Pacific Drive, New South Wales

It might not be as long as Victoria's Great Ocean Drive, or as world famous or indeed as traffic choked, but the sweeping curves of NSW's Grand Pacific Drive between Sydney and Wollongong certainly deliver the goods when it comes to stunning sea views. A highlight is Sea Cliff Bridge, coiling round the cliffs cantilevered 50 metres out to sea. If you're coming from Sydney it's worth doing this trip twice, as the views are best heading north. Best photo op: stop at Stanwell Tops for a great view of the bridge. How far? About 100 kilometres. See www.grandpacificdrive.com.au

West Coast Wildness Way, Tasmania

Almost all roads in Tassie lead to somewhere beautiful – think Cradle Mountain, Wineglass Bay or even the End of the World (a storm-lashed lookout on the north-west coast), but the road that really punches above its weight when it comes to knockout views is the stretch between Lake St Clair in the centre of the island to Strahan on the west coast. It's alpine wilderness at every turn, until you get to Queenstown with its barren hills and hair-raising hairpin turns to finish at the mouth of Macquarie Harbour, the second-biggest natural harbour in Australia. Best photo op: there are some picture-perfect (not to mention picnic-perfect) spots beside Lake Burbury. How far? 130 kilometres. See www.discovertasmania.com

Barrington Tops Forest Road, New South Wales

Rainforest blanketed in snow is just one of the views that can pop up on this gravel road between Gloucester and Scone, in the upper reaches of the Hunter Valley north of Sydney. It's a twisty, windy road through World Heritage-listed rainforest and national park and across impossibly bucolic farmland. The high point is Polblue campground and picnic area, 1.5 kilometres above sea level. Pack a picnic and some walking shoes and take your time, as this is a place best explored slowly. Best photo op: legend has it that notorious bushranger Captain Thunderbolt enjoyed the view from the lookout that now bears his name. How far? 150 kilometres. See www.visitbarringtontops.com.au

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Grampians, Victoria

The road between Dunkeld in the south and Halls Gap in the north spears right through the heart of Grampians National Park, and offers one spectacular mountain view after another on one of the most scenic mountain drives on sealed roads in the country. Once you're at Halls Gap, head west towards Wartook for several lookouts (Boroka, Reed Lookout and the Balconies) that will leave you gasping, often at the fearless (and foolhardy) backpackers who jump the fence to pose on the edge of the ledge. Best photo op: Boroka Lookout provides vertigo-inducing panoramic views over western Victoria and the MacKenzie Falls make a great back drop – it's worth the walk down to the base. How far? 95 kilometres. See www.visitgrampians.com.au

Great Ocean Road, Victoria

When it comes to roads with a view, no list is complete without The Great Ocean Road. Australia's most famous scenic drive lives up to the hype, although its popularity with rubberneckers ogling the twisty chain of wave-washed views between Torquay and Warrnambool can make it a bit of a slow drive on summer weekends: go midweek in the cooler months for a crowd-free run. Best photo op: everyone snaps a pic of the Twelve Apostles, but the Bay of Martyrs (near Peterborough) is just as insta-worthy, especially at sunset when the islands are backlit by the setting sun, and usually crowd-free. How far? About 300 kilometres. See www.visitgreatoceanroad.org.au

See also: The 10 spectacular Australian roads that no one drives

See also: 16 weird road signs you could only find in Australia

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