Australian songs for the ultimate road trip playlist

AC/DC live on stage

Tom Hounslow

Posted January 18, 2022

Enjoy the best music each state in Australia has to offer with this playlist, designed to have you rocking across the country.

Australia has as much musical talent as we do open road, so why not fuse the two on your next cross-country road trip and test the limit of your sound system?

For your next long-distance road trip, rather than pumping out the same top 20 (mostly American) most-popular pop hits, expand your musical horizons and check out the best local artists from the past and present in each state of Australia.

Keep in mind that musical taste is subjective and there are thousands of artists to check out across the country. The following are just some of the best to get you started and to get your road trip off on the right note.

Music for each state of your roadtrip


Kylie Minogue – Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia’s highest-selling female artist of all time has a library of albums spanning five decades – more than you’ll need to cross the state.

Nick Cave – Originally from the small town of Warracknabeal, Australia’s answer to Johnny Cash has a brilliant discography, but not one that should be listened to if you’re looking to brighten the mood.

Jet – Skyrocketing to international stardom with their 2003 album Get Born, Jet managed to pick up six Grammys in one night at the 2004 awards.

Crowded House – Don’t hold it against frontman Neil Finn that he is technically a Kiwi, the Melbourne-based band are as much a staple of Melbourne culture as trams and overpriced lattes.

The Living End – Shooting to fame in 1997 with their punk rock single Prisoner of Society, these now-40-year-olds are still touring and rocking as hard as ever.

Vance Joy – Taking out the top spot on Triple J’s Hottest 100 in 2013 with Riptide, James Keogh (aka Vance Joy) gave up a promising career as an AFL player to follow his musical aspirations. Good call.

Honourable mentions: Hunters & Collectors, Daryl Braithwaite, The Cat Empire, Something for Kate, Airbourne, Taxiride, Area-7, Killing Heidi, Little River Band.

New South Wales

AC/DC – Founded in Sydney in 1973, AC/DC are the unquestionable kings of Australian rock and roll. With almost every track designed to be blasted down a highway, every song is perfect roadtrip material.

Silverchair – Fronted by iconic frontman Daniel Johns, Silverchair’s legacy have spanned decades, generations and genres – including grunge, rock, and alternative scenes.

Midnight Oil – Founded in 1978, Midnight Oil are one of Australia’s most politically charged bands which would see the band disband in 2002 as Peter Garrett pursued his political career. The band reformed in 2016.

5 Seconds of Summer – Here’s one your kids will know, though they might know them as ‘5SOS’. Founded in Sydney in 2011, this pop rock outfit has already sold more than 10 million albums and boast more than 7 billion digital streams.

INXS – Inducted into the ARIA hall of fame in 2001, the legendary new wave band fronted by the late Michael Hutchins are one of the few Aussie acts to have been nominated for a Grammy, ARIA and MTV award.

Honourable mentions: Spiderbait, Grinspoon, Troy Cassar-Daley, The Kid LAROI, Wolfmother, The Presets, Hoodoo Gurus, Moving Pictures, Mental As Anything, You Am I.


Peter Garrett Midnight OIl

Peter Garrett from Midnight Oil still has the Power and the Passion. Image: Getty. 



Powderfinger – With five consecutive number-one-selling studio albums, there isn’t a radio station in Australia that hasn’t played Powderfinger – a true Aussie favourite across all ages.

Savage Garden – Exploding onto the scene in 1993, The Brisbane duo’s brand of pop rock earned them international fame almost instantly. Road trip challenge: sing any verse of I Want You flawlessly. Good luck.

Amy Shark – Being awarded eight ARIA Awards from 29 nominations is no small feat for any singer, but over the course of only five years makes this one singer worthy of our ears.

Christine Anu – One of Australia’s most beloved female artists, Christine Anu’s rendition of My Island Home continues to be heralded an Australian anthem.

Regurgitator – The Brisbane-based trio’s second studio album, Unit, was released in November of 1997 and has since gone triple-platinum featuring the hit I Like Your Old Stuff Better Than Your New Stuff and Polyester Girl.

Honourable mentions: Custard, Violent Soho, Sheppard, The Go-Betweens, The Amity Affliction, The Saints, George.

Northern Territory

Yothu Yindi – While their song Treaty will forever be synonymous with the Northern Territory, the indigenous rock group will be remembered for bringing Aboriginal culture to the world.

Baker Boy – As the winner of Triple J’s Unearthed National Indigenous Music Awards in 2017, this young RnB artist has already opened for 50 Cent and performed at the AFL Grand Final.

Jessica Mauboy – Discovered on the fourth season of Australian Idol in 2006, Jessica Mauboy is now an acclaimed musician, actress, tv judge - and reached 20th place at the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest.

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu – Known as Gurrumul and Dr G. Yunupingu, began his career as a backing vocalist for Yothu Yindi. Gurrumul went on to create triple-platinum albums telling stories of the land.

Leah Flanagan – While the singer-songwriter has collaborated with Paul Kelly and appeared on shows such as Spicks and Specks and Rockwiz, her newest album might be her greatest achievement yet – nominated for the 2021 NIMA Album of the Year.

Honourable mentions: Ted Egan, Nokturnl, Gus Williams, Martine Locke, David Blanasi, Isaac Yamma.


Jessica Mauboy

Can I Get a Moment to sing Jessica Mauboy's hits on the drive? Image: Getty. 


Western Australia

Birds of Tokyo – Having recently released their sixth studio album Human Design, Birds of Tokyo are arguably the current reigning royalty of Australian rock music.

Jebediah – Formed in 1994, the alternative rock band was a regular main-stager at the historic Big Day Out and Homebake festivals during the 90’s and early 00’s.

Tame Impala – Though the psychedelic pop group Tame Impala is known as a band, all songs are written, recorded, and performed in the studio by Kevin Parker.

John Butler Trio – While the trio may be more aligned with Byron Bay than Perth, this rock band had three albums debut at number one during the early 2000s.

Eskimo Joe – Born out of Freemantle, these schoolmates have stuck together for more than 20 years and are still touring regularly.

Honourable mentions: End of Fashion, Baby Animals, Pendulum, Little Birdy, Gyroscope, Brian Cadd, Karnivool.

South Australia

Cold Chisel – Fronted by Jimmy Barnes, Cold Chisel is without doubt Australia’s quintessential pub rock band, certain to feature on every barbeque playlist nationwide.

Paul Kelly – One of Australia’s greatest storytellers, the Adelaide-born singer-songwriter has been rocking Australia’s music scene and radio waves for almost 50 years.

Sia – While the faceless singer has her own impressive music career, she has written songs for international pop icons including Rhianna, Beyoncé and Britney Spears.

Hilltop Hoods – The kings of Aussie hip hop debuted in 1991 and have released an impressive eight studio albums, six of which have peaked at the top spot on Australia’s album charts.

Kasey Chambers – The Adelaide-born country music superstar was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2018 following her incredible fourteen ARIA Music Awards.

Honourable mentions: The Angels, The Superjesus, Orianthi, No Fixed Address, Wolf & Cub, The Masters Apprentices, Redgum.


While Tassie's music scene is yet to produce an international household name, here are some of the up-and-coming bands that are making a splash in the mainland Australian music scene: Reuben Koops, Heart Beach, Tiger Choir, The Sleepy Heads, The Innocents, Christopher Coleman Collective.

RACV Emergency Roadside Assistance gives you peace of mind on your journey.
Discover more →