Take the long way home

En­thu­si­ast or day-trip­per, you can savour the scenery of the Carsguide crew’s favourite roads

Herald Sun - Cars Guide - - COVER STORY - BLACK SPUR

FANCY a drive in the coun­try these hol­i­days? You’re in luck. Car com­pa­nies scour Aus­tralia for the best roads to launch their new mod­els and the Carsguide staff has sam­pled them all.

We’ve put to­gether a list of Aus­tralia’s best roads for driv­ing en­thu­si­asts. Whether you’re vis­it­ing from in­ter­state or tak­ing a Sun­day run out of town, these de­liver some un­for­get­table drives.

WESTERN AUS­TRALIA Caves Road, Bus­sel­ton

Caves Road, which links scenic Bus­sel­ton to surf­ing mec­cas Duns­bor­ough and Yallingup and on to Au­gusta, is a twist­ing roller­coaster of a road that scythes its way through jar­rah forests, vine­yards, dairy pas­tures and tun­nel-like canopies of tall tim­ber.

The ocean is close by but never in view along the 110km drive — the road runs along a solid sand ridge atop more than 100 caves.

There are count­less winer­ies, art gal­leries, ho­tels and tourist caves to ex­plore via coun­try lanes off the main road, and many trav­ellers take days, rather than 90 min­utes, to do the trip.

If you have time, the joy can con­tinue from Au­gusta to Man­jimup, about 140km east, with a slightly faster and more flow­ing road that snakes through some tow­er­ing karri forests, where some of the trees top 90 me­tres, be­fore reach­ing the state’s cherry cap­i­tal.

NEW SOUTH WALES Bathurst

The spir­i­tual home of Aus­tralian motorsport is also the lo­ca­tion of some of the best roads in NSW.

Head west from Syd­ney over the Blue Moun­tains to­wards Lith­gow. Just be­fore Lith­gow town­ship turn left at the Shell/ Coles ser­vice sta­tion on to Mag­pie Hol­low Road. You may want to re­fuel there be­cause there aren’t many op­tions be­tween here and Bathurst.

Fol­low the road past Lake Lyell un­til you reach a dog­leg, at which point it be­comes Sod­walls Road. This is an epic piece of pave­ment but the road dips sharply and many cor­ners are blind, so take care. Con­tinue west to­wards Tarana and turn left once you hit town, into Mut­ton Falls Road. Stay on this stretch un­til you hit the T in­ter­sec­tion on O’Con­nell Road. Turn right and fol­low the signs into Bathurst.

From Mel­bourne, turn left off the Hume High­way about 20km north of Gunda­gai to­wards Coolac and Coota­mundra. At Blayney, turn off to New­bridge and from there take Wim­ble­don Road. Your next turn is left on to Trunkey Road to­wards Perthville. Con­tinue north­east to­wards Or­ton Park, just to the east of Mount Panorama. You can di­vert right into La­goon Road for a side trip to the pic­turesque Chi­fley Dam.

QUEENS­LAND Gold Coast hin­ter­land

A short half-hour drive from the Surfers Par­adise tourist strip lie some spec­tac­u­lar driv­ing roads. The Gold Coast hin­ter­land has quiet twist­ing roads through spec­tac­u­lar rain­forests, as­ton­ish­ing views of the coast­line be­low and lush green val­leys dot­ted with farm­houses.

From the Gold Coast Air­port, head south back into New South Wales and take the Tweed Val­ley Way turn-off to­wards Tum­bul­gum and Mur­willum­bah.

Soon you’ll be climb­ing twist­ing roads into her­itage­listed na­tional parks. Turn off at Chilling­ham and fol­low the signs to Nerang through the Nu­min­bah Val­ley.

The Nerang-Mur­willum­bah Road winds past the Hinze Dam and even­tu­ally sends you back to­wards the coast, but if you turn off at Beech­mont Road just past Ad­vance­town there are some tight and twisty roads as you climb the moun­tain. At the top, find Rosins Look­out — the views are breath­tak­ing.

Fol­low Beech­mont Road to the trendy town of Mount Tam­borine be­fore be­gin­ning your de­scent into Surfers. Views of the sky­line and coast will reg­u­larly come into view on the way down. Just don’t get too dis­tracted as the cor­ners are tight and the drop-offs are steep.

TAS­MA­NIA Stra­han to Stan­ley

The home of Aus­tralia’s fa­mous Targa tar­mac rally, Tas­ma­nia is syn­ony­mous with great roads.

Targa me­an­ders more than 2000km from Launceston to Ho­bart but our pick is a 250km “wilder­ness” road that stretches from Stra­han up the re­mote west coast to Stan­ley.

One of the high­lights of the trek is Pie­man River ferry cross­ing, where you can stop for a bite to eat on the ve­randa of the Cor­rina pub.

The road north is un­sealed in places, with some tight bends and steep climbs, and re­quires care, par­tic­u­larly be­tween Cor­rina and the Lind­say River Bridge.

You don’t need a 4WD, though — we did it in a Holden Epica sedan of all things.

You can do it in a day or take your time and stop along the way. But it pays to check road con­di­tions be­fore leav­ing be­cause it can be­come im­pass­able in bad weather, with patchy or no phone re­cep­tion most of the way.

SOUTH AUS­TRALIA Ade­laide to Goolwa

Great drives are not al­ways about wind­ing roads me­an­der­ing off into the hills. This run isn’t about cor­ners and scorch­ing the tar­mac, it’s more about savour­ing the sur­round­ings.

The drive from Ade­laide to the mouth of the Mur­ray River at Goolwa has plenty of at­trac­tions along with a good smat­ter­ing of curves.

Out of town find the A13 which takes you down the Fleurieu Penin­sula through the pic­turesque and his­toric McLaren Vale wine area, through lush mixed farm­land dot­ted with quin­tes­sen­tial South Aus­tralian stone homes. Stay on the A13 past McLaren and Mount Com­pass then take a right turn onto the B57 (Alexandrina Road) for the short run into Goolwa, where the mighty Mur­ray meets the sea. The drive should take about six hours all up, in­clud­ing a stop at Goolwa for a fish and chips lunch on the old wharf and an af­ter­noon tea break on the way back at Mt Barker just be­fore you pop over the Ade­laide Hills into the city proper. Try to stop at one of the many look­outs to view Ade­laide, sprawl­ing im­pres­sively be­low.

VIC­TO­RIA Black Spur, Healesville

The Great Ocean Road may dom­i­nate the post­cards and travel brochures but for driv­ing en­thu­si­asts the Black Spur is God’s coun­try.

The 30km stretch of tar­mac be­tween the tourist towns of Healesville and Marysville is renowned for its breath­tak­ing rain­for­est scenery and wind­ing passes.

Healesville, in the mid­dle of the Yarra Val­ley wine re­gion, is a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for week­end get­aways, as it’s only an hour and a half north­east of Mel­bourne on the Ma­roon­dah High­way.

From Mel­bourne, take the East­ern Ar­te­rial to the Ring­wood by­pass. Then turn left on to the Ma­roon­dah High­way and you’ll end up in Healsville.

The Spur was carved through an­cient rain­for­est, so the road is lined with ma­jes­tic moun­tain ash trees and lush ferns.

The road it­self is in ex­cel­lent con­di­tion but it de­mands full at­ten­tion with its tight hair­pins and curves.

The road is of­ten in shade so cau­tion is ad­vised early in the morn­ing when the com­bi­na­tion of wet tar­mac and leaves can make it slip­pery.

At the base of the Black Spur, the Fern­shaw pic­nic area is per­fect for recharg­ing the bat­ter­ies.

It’s best en­joyed in a con­vert­ible with the top down, so you can savour the smells and sounds of the for­est.

GOLD COAST

BATHURST

GOOLWA

CAVES ROAD

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