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Ticking off the bucket list: Road trips for international students

International students in Australia can start ticking off their bucket list this summer for weekend day trips to experience the sights and sounds of their bustling cities and neighbouring iconic sites. For those who are not enrolled during the summer term, now is their opportunity to explore and go on an adventure with friends, be they classmates or work colleagues. A few days under the bright Australian sun would be quite an experience.
Australia is known for its scenic drives, being a country with diverse geographic features contained in an area of 7.692 million square kilometres. So there is always something interesting for international students to see, whether they are based in Melbourne, Sydney or Perth – and best of all, there are no entrance fees to admire them in their natural splendour.
For long drives, it is best to come prepared with fuel and supplies such as water and food, although there would be lots of dining options and petrol stations along the way. They may want to check road and weather conditions before they go on these adventure drives. It is also best to wear comfortable and sensible summer clothing including hats and sunglasses and, of course, lots of sunscreen lotion.
For Melbourne-based students, must-have road trips include the Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island and the Silo Art Trail. For Sydney-based students, the Blue Mountains, Hunter Valley and Sydney’s northern beaches are top three choices. For Perth-based students, the Sunset Coast, Perth Hills and Ningaloo coastline are a must-see.

Great Ocean Road

This 243-kilometre winding country road is an Australian National Heritage site that provides a breathtaking panoramic view of the Victorian coastline. Student groups can drive from Melbourne to Torquay and learn about the surf culture at the Australian National Surfing Museum or simply soak in the beach atmosphere if they have time for a bit of surfing, swimming or frolicking in the sand. Then they can wound their way along the coastal road to the 12 Apostles and other rock formations like London Arch (formerly London Bridge), Loch Ard Gorge and the Grotto for picture-perfect, instagrammable moments. Students should be prepared with a map of the scenic route or a GPS to follow the suggested route to Allansford near Warrnambool, the largest city along the road.

Phillip Island

Only 90 minutes from Melbourne, Phillip Island is a must-see for nature lovers. It is home to a colony of the world’s smallest penguins that parade home across the beach each evening. It is suggested that students visit the Koala Sanctuary, which has raised boardwalks that allow visitors to get shoulder height with the koalas. They can also book with Wildlife Coast Cruises for a good vantage point for spotting whales, seals and dolphins.

Silo Art Trail

Australia’s largest outdoor gallery, the Silo Art Trail is worth going on a road trip for. Students can go on a day tour and see large scale murals painted on wheat silos. Some 200 kilometres of rural Victoria have been transformed into a street art experience as the artworks decorate wheat silos, celebrate rural communities and draw crowds from the city to parts of Victoria they wouldn’t normally see.

Blue Mountains

Just two hours west of Sydney, the Blue Mountains is a World Heritage-listed region and an ideal place to visit not only in the summer but all year round. It is a popular tourist destination because of its stunning natural beauty. It is best to come in comfortable walking shoes and clothing when going on a hike to the National Pass at Wentworth Falls, a 4-hour scenic nature walk through sandstone cliffs, leafy gum trees and numerous waterfalls. Otherwise, paying a visit to the town centre’s historic pubs and cottages and taking hundreds of instagammable photos while soaking in the scenery would be just as nice.

Hunter Valley

The Hunter Valley is one of Australia’s major wine regions, a two-hour road trip north of Sydney. This is an area where students can relax and discover superb vineyards, wineries and indulgent food. They can visit the Broken Back Range to sample Hunter Valley’s produce at the farmer’s markets. They can also opt for food and wine tasting tours or a scenic hot air balloon ride.

Sydney’s Northern Beaches

(Photo: Nothern Beaches Council)

When taking a road trip to some or all of Sydney’s North Beaches, the student groups can start with the iconic Manly Beach, where the 1st World Surfing Championship was held in 1964. The students can then drive north with 30 kilometres of stunning beaches from Manly – Freshwater, Curl Curl, Dee Why, Long Reef, Collaroy, Marrabeen, Turimetta, Warriewood, Mona Vale, Bungan, Newport, Bilgola, Avalon, Whale Beach and Palm Beach – and enjoy the friendly communities for a quieter and less densely populated beach experience.
Manly Beach with its pristine waters and peaceful surroundings

It would be wise to bring a map of the Northern Beaches and refer here for suggestions on the local attractions or highlights on the beaches. Swimming is advised only between the yellow and red flags.

Sunset Coast

This 11-kilometre route on the West Coast Highway goes past the 19 stunning beaches that dot the coastline. Simple and straight-forward, this leisurely road trip will be done and dusted in a day. A detour from City Beach to Reabold Hill is suggested for sweeping views of Perth city from the highest natural point along the coast.

The Perth Hills

Kalamunda zigzag trail (Photo: Destination Perth)

A drive to the hills via the Mundaring Weir to Kalamunda is another road trip that can be taken in a day. Only 35 kilometres away from Perth, this drive is ideal for groups of students who would love to go hiking through the bushland along the Mundaring Dam for a few quick snapshots. The drive goes past the Bickley-Carmel Valley for a glimpse of beautiful forests, wildflowers, bushwalking trails, bird and animal life, creeks and waterfalls. The last stop would be the Kalamunda orchards before returning to Perth via Zigzag Road.

Ningaloo coastline

This road trip is not for the fainthearted because of the distance and long travel hours that need to be spaced out for it to be an enjoyable trip. But it’s all worth it. This Western Australian coastline is a sight to behold not only because of beautiful shore reefs and numerous marine species at Ningaloo Coast but also because the roadsides get covered in a stunning carpet of colourful wildflowers from June to September. The 1,200-kilometre drive along the Ningaloo coastline via Cervantes, Geraldton, Monkey Mia and Carnarvon is where the red outback desert meets the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. The Ningaloo Coast is a UNESCO World Heritage site.