Taking a road trip around Australia is the perfect opportunity for seeing this spectacular country at your own pace and have the adventure of a lifetime. Just be sure to take the time to plan your excursion in advance so that you not only outline your preferred route, but are equipped with everything you need to prevent any unpleasant surprises. Remember when you are road tripping Down Under to always expect the unexpected!
While in Australia, visitors require an international driving permit or must have a valid driver’s license from another country, and don’t forget that you must drive on the left hand side of the road! Think twice before indulging in partying before driving, have a designated driver if you plan on stopping for a meal or a drink, or better yet, arrange to stay the night in the town you are stopping in. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.05, which equates to one drink per hour for most of us. If you aren’t familiar with Australian road signs, or you have never driven in the country before, make sure you brush up on road safety and have a look online to familiarise yourself with Aussie road signs.
Many take road trips around the famous Australian Outback, making a point of seeing popular sites that include Alice Springs, Kings Canyon and Uluru. These and other destinations around the country offer spectacular scenery and exciting activities. Just remember, driving through these places requires going for kilometres on end before finding communities and resources. At most times of the year, the climate will be harsh and hot. Prior to leaving on a road trip, have your vehicle serviced at a reputable location. Have the fluid levels checked or changed and the tyre pressures checked. Have a professional give the vehicle the once over for any possible leaks or malfunctions. Make sure the vehicle has a spare tyre and fill the fuel tank before embarking on each day’s journey. One of the most important things of all, is to make sure you have enough distilled water for your car’s engine, as the heat of the Australian desert can cause overheating in even the newest cars.
Road trips provide an economic means of experiencing Australia. Travellers will find innumerable rest areas and camping facilities scattered around the country if you stick to the mapped areas. Pack a tent and sleeping rolls and create a planned route with designated stops along. Spend the night at a great location and spend the next day exploring the area. Hostels (or “Backpackers”) are another inexpensive accommodation option for finding a bed for the night and generally supply all the comforts of home. The national parks in Australia provide the perfect destination for experiencing the animal and plant life of the country. Keep in mind that some parks may require an entrance fee if you intend to camp for the night and don’t stray too far off the beaten track.
Besides taking the appropriate wardrobe, make sure your pack is filled with everything you might need on your trip. Naturally when venturing to so many different scenic locations, a camera comes in handy for capturing spectacular scenery, this could be a once in a lifetime voyage! Create a photographic journal of the adventure for lasting memories. Bring a cooler (or Esky, as they say in Australia!) for storing water or other beverages along with snacks or foods for meals along the way, and buy ice when you can. Try new or unusual foods and have a memorable time; the native communities in the outback have a strange and wonderful ‘bush tucker’ cuisine that is sure to pique your interest. Check out farmer’s markets or grocery stores for restocking foodstuffs and exploring new possibilities.
While some may believe that smart phones offer reliable GPS functions, in rural areas these devices can fall short if the data connection fails or your battery does. Consider bringing an up to date GPS device and printed maps for back-up. Remember that much of the Australian outback is unmapped, and can be dangerous to veer down an unexpected path.
Leave your planned destination and route with someone at home before embarking on your adventure. Perhaps make arrangements for contacting someone every day or two. Friends or family at home can easily alert authorities when travellers fail to make a daily contact or return from the road trip at the predetermined time. Enduring a flat tyre or running out of fuel while on a deserted road is not the time to realise that cell phone service does not exist. Generally, dialling 000 contacts emergency services throughout Australia. Find and write down road side assistance or road services numbers and keep them handy.
Remember to travel smart and have an amazing trip of a lifetime. The Australian outback can be unforgiving, but with prior planning, a good tolerance for the heat and a sense of humour you will make it one to remember.
Photo by: Nelson Minar