Ideal small town stops for your summer road trip.

by Afterpay
Oct 09, 2022      5 min read

I don’t know about you, but I’m counting down till summer arrives. Bring on crop top season. Ice cream season! Bring on road trip season, baby! The long days and warm nights of summer are the perfect time to bundle into a car with your best mates and head off on an adventure. But road trips are just as much about the journey as they are the destination, and Australia is full of small towns that are worthy of a half-day or weekend stopover.

Here are some of the must-see towns in Australia that are ideal stops for your summer road trip, as well as the essentials you should stock up on before you hit the road. Bonus: there’s some great shopping to do in these lovely locales! And when you shop with Afterpay you can split your payments over time so you can have more money for the adventure. Perfect. 

East coast road trips

Just over three hours drive from Sydney and the halfway point in the Sydney to Coffs Harbour road trip, Forster is an idyllic beach town with legendary surfing. You can even drive 20 minutes south to Pacific Palms to visit Boomerang and Blueys Beach, and follow it up with a drink and live music at Sips at Moby’s. Make sure you’re stocked up on swimwear and sun protection – we’re talking SPF 50, linen shirts and super stylish sunnies.

If you’re kicking off in the Gold Coast, jump in a rental car and head to Noosa (stop in Caloundra for lunch at the Kings Beach Tavern on your way through), where you’ll find a beautiful national park and a thriving shopping scene. Take your time wandering down Hastings Street, where you’ll find stores like MECCA, Alterior Motif, Noosa Longboards and Bow and Arrow Trading – all of which take Afterpay in-store, FYI.

Western Australia road trips

Kicking off in Perth, it’s just an hour and a half drive north to Lancelin. This absolute must-visit town is famous for its sand dunes, which you can experience first-hand by renting a quad bike or sandboard and then riding down at high speed.

If you’re heading down the coast, your first stop should be in Margaret River, a three hour drive from Perth with amazing local stores (and world-class gourmet experiences). You’ll find beautiful swimwear and beach accessories at Marine and Co., Isla Samsara and Ghanda Clothing – and then you’ll be ready to continue onto Lucky Bay, a sheltered stretch of beach 60km outside Esperance. It’s the perfect camping spot for a night or two, with fine white sand and breathtaking picnic spots. There’s a treat in store for craft beer lover, too – the award-winning Lucky Bay Brewing serves woodfired pizzas and their own beers, sours and seltzers.

Red Centre road trips

Begin in Darwin by booking a table at Smith Street Local. This rooftop bar and restaurant has classic pub food, classy cocktails and good vibes, and you can pay for your meal with Afterpay. 

Darwin might be the capital of the NT but can you truly say you’ve seen the Red Centre if you haven’t been to Alice Springs? The Red Centre is 4WD territory, so make sure you’re properly prepared for some of the most unforgettable experiences of your entire life. Watch the sunrise from a hot air balloon, learn about Australia’s native flora and faun and ride a camel through the desert. You should also make like the locals and pop into Uncles Tavern, which boasts “the coldest beer in Alice Springs”. 

The town is also a great base to explore the rest of the NT. Don’t miss your chance to visit Kings Canyon (3.5 hour drive away) for clifftop hikes, moonlight dining and unique chances to learn about First Nations culture and the West MacDonnell Ranges (1 hour), which are home to natural waterholes, natural walking tracks and rare, native plants and wildlife.

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