Australia is an enormous country to behold. Some people decide to traverse distances via plane, but that way, you miss everything in between your destinations! On the other hand, a road trip down under is a true blast. There so many highways and byways you can follow, including some of the world-renowned routes. They give you a chance to witness awe-inspiring scenery, meet welcoming people, and spot adorable wildlife. Then again, challenges and obstacles on the road are not to be underestimated. Planning and preparation is the key to avoiding unpleasantness and having smooth sailing.
Working out a Roadmap
Taking into account vast distances and sheer size of Australia, you really need to plan ahead. There are roughly 16,000 miles of coastline and land area amasses to 5 million square miles. Besides, a road trip is a long and isolated endeavor. You are mostly on your own out there and your choices matter a great deal. The Land Down Under is a place of extremes: wet, dry, hot, lush, desolate, you name it. Therefore, take your time figuring out the optimal route. Select a section you would like to visit and stock on maps.
You0 can purchase detailed maps for your route or download them to your GPS. Note that gauging distance by just looking at the map is rather misleading, so always calculate the mileage. When in doubt, you can go for classic road trips such as The Great Ocean Road. It is a breathtaking coastal route that stretches for 160 miles along South Australia. Even more popular is a trip from Cairns to Sydney, which is a 1,700-mile East Coast ride. Of course, to properly enjoy everything this route has to offer, you would need around two weeks.
Furthermore, if you seek something a different, you might want to consider Nullarbor (Latin for not trees). It takes you to the desolate interior, from the Great Australian Bight to Western Australia. The revered “Red Center” is worth considering: it involves iconic wonders of nature like Uluru, Alice Springs and Katharine Gorge. Bear in mind that many tracks in the Outback are dirt roads, while East Coast has 80% of one-lane roads. Again, it is proven that Australia really has it all.
Your vehicle must be absolutely ready for trials and tribulations ahead. You really do not want to have it break down in a middle of nowhere. So, call professionals to check your car beforehand and ensure everything is working like a charm. I hired a reputable mobile mechanic in Gold Coast and thorough inspection revealed some technical faults. If you are in a rush, you can also check fire stations. Firefighters in Australia are often part-time mechanics that are willing to help or at least provide referrals.
Moving on, examine the level of fluids and top them up to stay on the safe side. Gauge the tire pressure and condition. Know that petrol is relatively cheap. One interesting detail, though, is that fuel prices rise during the weekend. So, it may be wise to fill your reservoir midweek. More importantly, remember that in scarcely populated areas, gas stations are few and far between. Do ask people when the next one is. The golden rule is: always have extra water, fuel, and every other essential liquid.
Wherever you choose to go, there are some general rules to adhere to. First off, it is a good idea to pick towns and places of interest between four and eight hours apart. There are always some surprising attractions along the road, so remain flexible and leave some time for unplanned exploration. Just look out for wildlife. Kangaroos may seem friendly at first glance, but they have a track record of injuring unsuspecting tourists and their vehicles.
Determine whether you want to stay overnight in luxurious hotels or some backcountry camping. The latter option is always a treat; just organize everything well ahead of time in case you want an official site with facilities. The same goes for accommodation in hotels and hostels, especially if they are on a well-known route. Availability, of course, depends on the time of the year. The peak of the summer season is in December, which means that Christmas is the hottest time of the year in terms of tourist crowds.
Timing is also an important factor due to the weather fluctuations. In the Northern regions, the climate is tropical. There is a wet season, which culminates in high humidity and cyclones from December to March. River floods are not uncommon and the temperature in the Outback reaches 100 Fahrenheit. In any event, the sun does not always shine in Australia like some people assume. Thus, it is recommended to get familiar with the seasonality of each state you want to travel.
Set the Wheels into Motion
The best way to explore the immense and diverse country of Australia is by your own four wheels. Road trips are a highly practical and flexible vacation for individuals, groups, and families. They make the journey as memorable as destinations. Just do your homework before embarking. Dedicate enough time – for most routes, you need between one and two weeks. Double-check your vehicle and the route. Cruise alongside sun-soaked rugged coastline or set out in the timeless heart of the continent. Hit the road and forge a travel experience to cherish for a lifetime.