A 3-week Australia Itinerary: Road Trip to National Parks and Wildlife


sydneyAustralia is an island, a country, and well, a continent. So think large, broad, massive, when it comes to travel in the famous destination down under. With so much to explore, you might have a hard time planning your travel to Australia. If you like the play in the great outdoors and observe wildlife, here is our 3-week Australia Itinerary for your reference.

If you are looking to budget travel in Australia, check out our travel tips on how to save money down under.

3-Week Australia Itinerary

We packed a lot during our Australia 3-week itinerary. Looking back, I am amazed at how much we did and saw. The route below is a combination of taking internal flights, renting a car, and spending some time on a boat. Of course, feel free to modify the order; some items can be skipped depending on your preferences and time allocation. 

Whatever you do, Australia is such a fantastic country; you will find something incredible to do and see! So have a look at what we suggest for 3 weeks in Australia.

3 Week Australia Itinerary Road Trip National Parks Wildlife // Outback Driving in Australia

Outback Driving in Australia

3 Days on Kangaroo Island from Adelaide

While you will most likely arrive in Australia via Sydney, you can book your final destination to another Australian city. We decided to make our first stop in Adelaide, and head to Kangaroo Island.

There we spent three days driving through the island, visiting the Flinders Chase National Park, watching kangaroos and koalas in their natural habitats, searching for the elusive Edchinas, and driving by stunning coastlines.

Day 1:  Arriving in Australia

Flight from home country to Sydney. Note that depending on where you are flying from, you may lose an entire day because of the time difference.

Day 2: Adelaide to Kangaroo Island 

Land in Adelaide, rent a car, drive along the coast, and board the ferry to Kangaroo Island.

While you are driving from Adelaide, explore some of the small towns and villages, where you can stop for lunch while enjoying the scenery.

Day 3-4: Kangaroo Island

Spend the next two days exploring Kangaroo Island. The large island is an outdoor paradise. Visit the Flinders Chase National Park, where you can camp for the night. Make sure to go on a Koala Night Tour at the Hanson Bay Sanctuary. Seeing the furry animals in their natural habitat was priceless.

For more ideas on things to do on Kangaroo Island, check out our Kangaroo Island itinerary.

3 Week Australia Itinerary Road Trip National Parks Widlife // Koala at Hanson Bay Sanctuary, Kangaroo Island

Koala at Hanson Bay Sanctuary, Kangaroo Island

What to do around Kangaroo Island:

Day 5: Adelaide to Alice Springs

Leave Kangaroo Island behind and drive back Adelaide, where you take your flight to Alice Springs.
Upon arrival, drive to the McDonnell Range, where you can spend the night in a campsite.

5 Days around Uluru from Alice Springs

Day 6: Watarrka National Park  

Go hiking in Kings Canyon, the main attraction of the Watarrka National Park. A stunning view from the top makes the walk a must-see in our mind.

Day 7-8: Ayers Rock

One of Australia’s most iconic monuments, Uluru as Ayers Rock is also known, requires several visits. Go at sunrise, go for an Aboriginal walk tour, enjoy a sunset dinner, or even admire from above on a helicopter ride. The UNESCO World Heritage Site, Uluru is sacred to the Aboriginals, so please respect their traditions by not hiking to its top. With all the things to do in Ayers Rock, you can easily spend two days in the area.

3 Week Australia Itinerary Road Trip National Parks Wildlife // Uluru - Ayers Rock

Uluru – Ayers Rock

Day 9: Kata Tjuta

Also called the Olgas, the area is the second section of the whole Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The rock formations are different than Uluru, and you can spend a day hiking exploring at your own pace.

What to do around Uluru and Kata Tjuta:

Day 10: Alice Springs to Darwin

Return to Alice Springs in time to catch your flight to Darwin. Upon arrival, leave the Northern Territory city and drive to Kakadu National Park.

5 days around Kakadu National Park from Darwin

Day 11-13: Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park is an impressive park, and you can easily spend three days there. Make sure to stop at Ubirr to admire the rock art, check the Jim Jim Falls, and board a cruise on Yellow River for a chance to spot large alligators. The park is also a bird watching paradise, so bring your binoculars and long lenses. 

3 Week Australia Itinerary Road Trip National Parks Wildlife // Ubirr Rock Art, Kakadu National Park

Ubirr Rock Art, Kakadu National Park

Day 14: Litchfield National Park & Nitmiluk National Park 

Leave Kakadu National Park behind and drive to the Litchfield National Park where you can admire the great termite mounts. The thin Magnetic Termite Mounds are two-meter-high, and the giant Cathedral Termite Mounds can reach four meter high.

Then head to the Katherine Gorge and Edith Falls in the Nitmiluk National Park for a refreshing dip.

3 Week Australia Itinerary Road Trip National Parks Wildlife // Magnetic Termite Mounds, Litchfield National Park

Magnetic Termite Mounds, Litchfield National Park

Things to do in Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks:

If you are planning on visiting several national parks and travel Australia on a budget, consider getting a national park to save in the long run.

Day 15: Darwin to Cairns

Drive back to Darwin to board your flight to Cairns, the last leg of your three-week Australia itinerary. Pick-up your vehicle from the Cairns Airport car rental if you plan to explore around Cairns. If not, spend the afternoon walking around the city.

4 Days Great Barrier Reef Diving from Cairns

Day 16-19: Great Barrier Reef Liveaboard

Whether you are already a diver or not, the Great Barrier Reef is a must-see while in Australia. Take a PADI class to learn how to dive, improve your skills, or snorkel the different dive sites. Whatever you do, you are in for a treat.

A longer diving cruise will let you reach diving sites in more remote locations.

3 Week Australia Itinerary Road Trip National Parks Widlife // Great Barrier Reef Diving

Great Barrier Reef Diving

Check out our diving experience on our TAKA liveaboard.

Scuba-Diving and Snorkeling Activities:

5 Days around Cape Tribulation from Cairns

Day 20-21: Cape Tribulation

As you return from your dive trip, drive to Cape Tribulation, towards the northern tip of Australia.

Visit the Daintree National Park at you go. Daintree National Park features some of the oldest rainforests on earth and is home to the endangered cassowary.

3 Week Australia Itinerary Road Trip National Parks Wildlife // Daintree National Forest

Daintree National Forest

Day 22: Cairns

Return to Cairns where you can spend the day relaxing by the beach, take the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, or rent a motorbike to explore the small villages in the countryside.

3 Week Australia Itinerary Road Trip National Parks Wildlife // Beach along the Cairns to Cape Tribulation Coast

Beach along the Cairns to Cape Tribulation Coast

Cairns Activities:

1 Day in Sydney

Day 23: Sydney to Home

Fly early from Cairns Airport, and spend a couple of hours in Sydney before your flight home. Head to the harbor, walk by the Sydney Opera House and have lunch around Circular Quay.

Australia Itineraries 

Looking for alternatives to our Australia Itinerary 3 weeks suggestion?

  • If you are not diving, you can turn it into a 2-week Australia itinerary.
  • You can also switch the time from Kangaroo Island to spend more time in Adelaide. 
  • Instead of driving to Cape Tribulation from Cairns, you can explore from Cairns to Townsville, and even do Cairns Airlie Beach in a day drive
  • If you cut Adelaide and Darwin, you can also create an Australia 10-day itinerary focusing on two of Australia’s top attractions: Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef, and Uluru and the red Outback
  • If you are around Canberra in March, check the Canberra Balloon Festival!  

Australia Road Trip: Internal Flights

Though we traveled by car in each destination, we had to fly from one place to the other. We could not have visited so many places in a 3-week period otherwise. We had booked our internal flights as soon as we booked our international tickets, so we saved a bit by being able to plan. 

Australia Road Trip: Car Rental

Our first action order when landing in a new destination was to pick up our car rental. Renting a car allowed us to be flexible and independent, and maximize our travel time.

Australia Road Trip: Accommodation

From camping to hostels and boats, we did it all. Australia is boasting camping sites, cheap hotels to luxurious resorts, so you are bound to find something you like. Camping was the best way to travel in Australia on a budget.

Australia Travel Tips

  • The sun is fierce. Make sure to bring good sun protection
  • Watch the seasons, especially if you drive in the Outback. From scorching temperatures to flooding, the extreme weather can make road tripping challenging
  • Wildlife is well, wild. In parks like Kakadu National Park, alligators and crocodiles are present in most rivers, lakes, and ponds. Ask the Park Rangers before going swimming or even walking close to the water edges
  • The same advice applies to beaches and estuaries. In the ocean, also watch for stingrays and jellyfish. Especially for the box jellyfish which sting is extremely painful and can be deadly to humans
  • Be careful driving at night (and even during the day) as kangaroos, wallabies, and other animals can jump in front of your car out of nowhere
  • Driving long distances can be tiring – make sure to take some breaks to rest
  • Keep your fuel up especially if you drive in the Outback. An important Australia travel advice as you don’t want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere! 
  • Always have some water and snacks with you
  • If you are diving, don’t forget to have good diving insurance like (Divers Alert Network), the industry leader for scuba-diving coverage
  • Bring a good map or GPS device to stay on track! One of the Australian travel warnings is not to trust Google Maps as previous travelers took a wrong turn and ended up far away in the desert.
  • Travel to Australia on a budget is possible – check out our post on about saving money and traveling Australia on a budget.
  • For travel guides, Australia, check our suggestions below.

We hope you enjoyed this post from our travel blog Australia. Have you been in a similar Australia itinerary? Or do you have other suggestions on Australia itineraries? Missing other tips for traveling to Australia? Feel free to let us know! We would love to hear from you, so leave us a comment!

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Giant Cathedral Termite Mounds, Litchfield National Park, Australia Travel

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