Australia is one the biggest countries in the world with nearly 3 million square miles of landmass alone. This enormous country makes the improbable combination of tropical rainforests, grassland, and vast dry deserts on a single island a possibility.
Most Australian cities line areas near the stunning coastlines and may be linked by limited and expensive transportation (after all, the distances covered are vast.) While it’s possible to fly between Sydney and Perth, or Brisbane and Darwin, you would get only a brief hint of the truly diverse landscapes encompassing a coast to coast journey.
For these reasons and more, the only way to truly experience Australia is via road trip, already one of my absolute favourite ways to explore the world (thanks to my first road trips driving across Canada and the USA). Road trips are the ultimate freedom in travel. Choose your own hours, stops, destinations and explore the hard to reach places, all on your own time.
How to get started
Determine your Timeline
It would be too easy to spend years on the road in Australia. From beach bum camps, flat rugged outbacks, nights under Ayer’s rock and tropical landscapes of Gulf country. So start by figuring out how much time to you have, then select your highlight destination based on a reasonable trajectory. Be sure to allow extra time for all the little surprises along the way.
Timeline will also help you decide whether it is wiser to rent or buy a vehicle in Australia.
Determine your Budget
Needless to say that gathering a small group to share in the costs of the road trip will remove a significant financial burden. The cost of the vehicle, insurance, gas (petrol to some of you) and even the exhaustion of mapping and driving can be split with others.
Consider the type of accommodations, mileage and food expenditures to reach your average daily cost. Quick online searches will give you idea of how much campsites, hostels or hotels run both in rural and urban areas. Couchsurfing is a great way to cut down costs as well get to know the locals, and their secret destinations.
Choose the right vehicle
Australia has something for every type of car, but if you are planning to get adventurous, make sure you choose a car, truck or camper with the same spirit. Small sedans or hybrids are definitely cheaper vehicles, but you may find yourself sadly parked outside the boundaries of 4WD only trails.
Getting a camper vehicle with built up 4WD is an efficient way to save on accommodations without sacrificing the power to go down any road.
Rent or Buy
Unless your timeline is very short, buying a used car is the best way to go. Rentals are very expensive and often charge exorbitant fees if they know you will be driving across particular areas. Buying and then selling a car after the journey is the ultimate freedom of road trip and as long as there is no unfortunate encounters (like those pesky kangaroos), you can likely recover most of your investment at the end.
The process doesn’t have to be complicated. You can easily find cheap cars on Australian sites like Gumtree.
Get your road trip on!
Now you have all you need to get started. Don’t forget to bring a ‘real’ map and a your wild sense of adventure.