Comprised of nearly eight million kilometers, to say Australia is big is an understatement. In certain spots, areas the sizes of small countries are completely uninhabited and a person can drive for days without coming across a single soul. This raw expansiveness is what is both intimidating and enthralling about the world’s smallest continent. Indeed, the sheer amount of untamed nature is what captures the imaginations of locals and tourists alike. That’s why, year in and year out, backpackers strike out and hit Australia’s open road.
With that in mind, here are some tips both foreigners and nationals should keep in mind when embarking on that epic Aussie road trip.
Plan for distance/choose a region
As mentioned above, Australia is big. Even if a person had a fully functional Kombi van and an entire year at their disposal they still likely couldn’t see most of the country. And since most of those going walkabout are usually working with a few weeks at most, the trip should be planned within these time parameters.
The best thing road trippers and backpackers can do is separate the country into four quadrants: South Australia, Southwest Australia, Queensland/New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria. Each of these regions offers much in the way of untouched natural wonders, sweeping landscapes, expansive forests and pristine coastline.
Consider the weather
It’s best to take the season into account when deciding on a region of Australia in which to travel. Moderate weather is always ideal, but much of the north is subtropical and has a distinct rainy season from December to March that travelers will want to avoid.
Rent or buy a car
This is an important decision for any road tripper – especially in Australia. Of course, those locals who plan to use their own vehicles don’t have to worry about this consideration. Everyone else should weigh the pros and cons of renting as opposed to purchasing a vehicle. Rentals often provide reliability in the form of insurance, while purchasing a car or van often involves maintenance. Then there is always the pesky need to resell the vehicle once the trip is done, and this can be a headache. That said, standard rentals can be prohibitively expensive, so many travelers opt for rental relocation options, which can be found at bargain prices.
Gather the maps and the equipment
With over 16,000 miles of coastline and the aforementioned millions of land miles, even locals are going to want a map of the country. It’s also wise to invest in a personal GPS, as these days they can be found on the cheap from many retailers. Those with the GPS can then download Australian maps right to the unit. This makes plotting specific routes a breeze.
These are just a few things to consider before heading off down the road and into the Australian sunset. Of course, one other helpful tip for those intrepid travelers is to invest in a CAMPS book, which provides a veritable treasure trove of cheap/free campsites. But all that aside, the most important thing for any road trip anywhere in the world is to allow for a healthy measure of spontaneity.
Christopher McMurphy is a travel writer with a special focus on customs clearance and freight forwarding Australia.