Highway One: world’s greatest road trip

By Catherine Lawson 7 November 2013
Reading Time: 2 Minutes Print this page
Catherine Lawson and David Brisng with baby Maya, are doing a lap of Highway One, the road that circles Atow, aloustralia.

WHEN TRAVELLERS TALK about doing a ‘Big Lap’ of Australia, it’s Highway One that excites imaginations, providing access to some of our most celebrated destinations as it skirts the mainland’s coastal fringes (and also makes a short skip through central Tasmania).

At around 14,500km, Highway One is one of the longest designated road routes in the world. When the first section of the route was signposted between Brisbane and Adelaide in 1955, it was Australia’s only true national highway. Today, although more direct routes crisscross the country, none are more scenic than Highway One.

Linking seven of our eight capital cities, Highway One incorporates classic drives across the Nullarbor, through the Kimberley and along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. It provides access to New South Wales’ string of seaside national parks, passes through coastal towns along Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef, and curves beneath giant karris in Western Australia’s southwestern forests.

Travelling around Australia on Highway One

Travelling our own Highway One adventure for Australian Geographic, photographer David Bristow, our five-week-old baby Maya and I are on the first leg of our journey, a 4300km drive west from our home base in Cairns, across the Top End to Broome. The trip includes a 700km stretch of red dirt corrugations from Normanton, past barramundi capital Burketown, through Hells Gate and across the Northern Territory border to Borroloola.

After following the Stuart Highway north to Katherine, Kakadu and Darwin, we’ll backtrack and continue west for another 1500km on a lonelier path through Vic Country and across the border to WA’s Bungle Bungles and the Kimberley, following the good light to Broome.

Read the full story about Catherine and David’s adventure in #106 of Australian Geographic – and follow the next five installments that will feature in the print edition of the journal throughout 2012. Online we will be posting a video blog update from Catherine and David every two weeks.

…More Highway One articles
Top 5 great Aussie road trips
Australian Geographic’s top 100 icons of all time
Top 10 Autralian outback experiences
Darwin makes list of top 10 cities to visit in 2012
Australia’s 8 greatest surf spots
6 great Australian train trips
Best winter escapes in Australia
Travel photography tips
10 best kayak day trips in Australia
18 of the best day walks in Australia