With its long stretches of road and endless supply of gorgeous scenery – an Australian road trip is classic bucket list fodder. Thinking about adding it to your list in 2016? Then here’s exactly what you need to think about…
Plan your Trip
The first problem you’ll have is deciding where to go. If you’re a fan of vast open spaces then consider a drive through the outback taking in sites like Alice Springs, Kata Tjuta and of course Uluru. If you’d rather visit famous beauty spots like Fraser Island, Whitsunday islands and Byron Bay then the ever popular East Coast would be a better option. Western Australia is often overlooked but it would be a good route for those looking for laid back surfing towns with a few national parks thrown in for good measure.
After you’ve made the most important decision, you can get stuck into the finer details. Download an Australian road map for your Sat Nav and plot your route by choosing the places your want to stop at between four and eight hours apart. Most National Parks in Australia charge for entry so don’t forget to include these in your budget.
Choose the time of year wisely
When people think of Australia they usually think of endless hours of sunshine, but it’s not always like this and erratic weather patterns could easily make or break your trip. For starters if you’re going to tour through the outback then you should be aware that temperatures can reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and then plummet at night. During December to March, the tropical Northern part of Australia has a humid rainy season which peaks from December to March. During this period rivers can flood and roads have been known to be completely washed away.
Don’t forget the small towns
Australia is filled with world-famous beauty spots but after spending three months travelling around the country I know that if you skip over the smaller places you’ll be seriously missing out! For example one of my favourite memories of our Australian trip was staying in a hostel/commune in an idyllic spot located near the hippy village of Nimbin (New South Wales) and a fellow traveller was so enthralled by the laid back coastal town of Broome (Western Australia) she ended up staying four months!
Pick your vehicle
Depending on the length of time you’re planning to be on the road, buying a camper van just might be the more cost effective option for you. Generally speaking if you’re planning to hit the road for 6 weeks or more then look into buying instead of hiring. If you own your own van then you’re likely to worry less about bumps or scrapes and if you look after it well you can sell it on afterwards without making too much of a loss. You’ll just have to remember to register it, make sure its passed a safety inspection and then sort out your insurance and breakdown cover (essential if you’re planning to travel long distances in Australia).
To find a vehicle to buy then start your Australia journey in Kings Cross Sydney. There is a huge backpacker community in Kings Cross and here you’ll find camper vans to buy on hostel notice boards or adverts in the local paper. Also check popular high traffic websites like the Gumtree or eBay, just make sure you avoid car dealers due to the hefty middle man commission they always whack on.
Plan your accommodation
If you’re planning your Australian road trip in a camper van, then be aware that you can’t actually just pull over and camp where you like. There a quite a few restrictions and you can’t park up overnight inside a city, at the side of the road and sometimes even rest areas. Thankfully though, Australia is well geared up to organised camping and sites are dotted all over the place. Campervan sites with power will set you back up to $40/night, and un-powered sites can cost up to $25/night, just make sure you call ahead if you want to stay in an official campsite with facilities. If you’re thinking of staying in either hotels or hostels then book well in advance on more popular routes, especially if you’re travelling during the Australian summer or school holidays.
Last but not least, make you whoever you’re planning on going with that you get on well – you’re going to be spending nearly every waking (and sleeping) minute together. Even better, test drive your prospective travel companion on a shorter road trip before hand, but of course most importantly remember to have fun! Australia is an incredibly beautiful country and a road trip could easily be one of the highlights of your life!