Ten great vrooms with a view

AUSTRALIA'S FIVE BEST DRIVES

The Great Ocean Road The perennial classic drive, taking in 243 kilometres of spectacular Victorian coastline, the Great Ocean Road is best done over a few days. Take the time to hike around the waterfall-filled forests of Lorne, see the Twelve Apostles and check out the wildlife in the Tower Hill volcanic crater. See visitgreatoceanroad.org.au.

The Gibb River Road 4WDs and a sense of adventure are advised for tackling this dry season-only route through some of the most rugged parts of the Kimberley. Stretching from Derby to Kununurra, the Windjana Gorge National Park and stays on cattle stations are the highlights. See gibbriverroad.net.

The Legendary Pacific Coast Big bucks are currently going into promoting the 930-kilometre drive between Sydney and Brisbane, but there's plenty to cram in. Sandboarding in Port Stephens, koala-spotting around Port Macquarie, hitting the surf at Nambucca Heads and kayaking with dolphins at Byron Bay are among them.

Adelaide to Darwin Crossing the continent, mostly along the trail of pioneering explorer John McDouall Stuart is one sure way of feeling very small. The highway named after him checks in at increasingly weird roadhouses, largely underground opal town Coober Pedy and Katherine Gorge. Detours to Uluru and Kakadu are obvious winners too. See southaustralia.com and travelnt.com.

The South West Loop Head from Perth to historic Albany via karri forests and bizarre granite rock formations, before hugging the coast on the way back. And that can include whale-watching at Augusta and wine-tasting around Margaret River.

FIVE GREAT DRIVES WORLDWIDE

The Irish Loop A week's perfect for the circular route from Dublin taking in the rugged Ring of Kerry on the west coast, cultural heritage in Cobh and the 5000-year-old Celtic tombs at Newgrange. Castles, fishing villages and national parks crop up regularly, without any grimly punishing stints behind the wheel. See tourireland.com.

The Fairytale Route From Hanau to Bremen in Germany, the Fairytale Route strings together 600 kilometres of sights linked to the Brothers Grimm stories - including Red Riding Hood's supposed house and a Snow White Museum. There are also plenty of cutesy mediaeval towns. See deutsche-maerchenstrasse.com.

The Mae Hong Son Loop Beginning and ending in Chiang Mai, this northern Thai circuit is a firm favourite with backpackers and usually tackled on a motorbike. Expect trekking and rafting around Pai, numerous gorgeous waterfalls and driving to the top of Thailand's highest mountain - Doi Inthanon. See travelfish.org.

The Southern Scenic Route Going around the bottom of New Zealand's South Island from Dunedin to Queenstown, this driving route takes in fur seal and penguin colonies, brooding coastal scenery, the Fjordland National Park and alpine lake cruise opportunities. See newzealand.com.

The Icefields Parkway Laced through the most spectacular section of the Canadian Rockies, this 232-kilometre drive links ski towns Banff and Jasper with many glacier views on the way. To make the trip truly epic, tag a bit more of Canada on at either end - start in Vancouver, wind up the British Columbia coast and finish in Calgary. See icefieldsparkway.ca.

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