FIVE GREAT DRIVES
AUSTRALIA ISN’T OVERLY BLESSED WITH DECENT ROADS – THOUGH THE CUPBOARD’S NOT ENTIRELY BARE. THESE ARE WELL WORTH TAKING FOR A SPIN.
MThere are lots of contenders for ‘Best Sight in Australia’. Sunrise over Uluru, Mitchell Johnson on a tear. Or Jess Hart, even. But nobody claims we do roads well. Our country is simply too big, too flat and too sparsely populated to produce much in the way of Italy’s Stelvio Pass, Tennessee’s Tail Of The Dragon, or Norway’s Geiranger Pass. But look hard enough and you’ll fnd some inviting strips of tarmac. Speed limits to be adhered to, of course.
Lake Mountain, VIC
Still lined with conspicuous dead eucalypts – tombstones from 2009’s Black Saturday bushfires – the hill climb to the Lake Mountain Ski Resort, two hours from Melbourne, would be a drifter’s delight, if the road were closed. As you ascend out of the valley, huge alpine vistas open up along the 8km stretch from the MarysvilleWoods Point Road turn-off to the modest resort. It’s a pinch less spectacular than the Great Ocean Road, but you’re 36 times less likely to be stuck behind Wicked Campers ignoring the “DRIVE ON LEFT IN AUSTRALIA” signs.
Great Alpine Road, VIC
Driving the 30km riot of bends between Hotham and Harrietville is like tumbling through the small intestine of God in a hermetically-sealed suit. Beware of G-forces and keep an eye out for motorcyclists, whom, surging with adrenaline, routinely fling themselves over the edge and into the valleys.
Barrow Creek, NT
The 280km stretch of highway running to Alice Springs had its speed limit derestricted in January 2014 – allowing drivers to bang along as fast as conditions allow. It’s neither up-and-down, twisty nor untroubled by errant ’roos, so get on the gas in the NT and you can fleetingly feel what it’s like to be German – without resorting to lederhosen.
Macquarie Pass, NSW
Several of the Premier State’s best drives are swaddled in National Park, such as the Royal National Park’s Sir Bertram Stevens Drive, south of the highway, and the Blue Mountains’ Bells Line Of Road. Both are shaded by the black ribbon stretching west of Tongarra and finishing at the fabled Robertson Pie Shop in the Illawarra.