17,000 Kilometres on the Road in Australia – are we there yet?

You probably already know this but just in case you don’t, Australia is friggin HUGE!

I already knew this of course, but since we started our road trip around Australia I have a new appreciation of just how big our country really is.

Every now and then we’ll be driving along and get a little reminder of some of the distances we have to cover, like the other day when we were arriving in Rockhampton, Queensland.

We’ve been heading slowly north through Queensland and had already driven 740km up the coast, when I looked up and saw this sign:

1

I shook my head and said to Caz, “holy shit, how big is Queensland, it’s still another 1,071 kilometre’s before we reach Cairns“.

We’ve barely even made a dent in Queensland yet, let alone Australia.

17,000 kilometre’s so far

To date we have driven 17,000km in 8 months. Does that seem like a lot to you? It’s easily the most distance we have road tripped before but it has hardly been in a straight line.

If I was to plot the points on a map of our travels (we’ve done most of NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and half of Queensland) there’s been plenty of zig zag action going on.

We did our big u-turn to escape the cold in the south and be like the birds and the whales and migrate north for the winter.

If you haven’t read it yet in the first 6 months we did this.

So far we’ve spent approximately $3,400 on fuel. Each time we fill up costs us about $90 and from that we get roughly 450k’s.

Early on our fuel consumption was pretty good but we’ve noticed the difference now towing a camper trailer.

From the beginning, we called this a 1+ year road trip, but considering we still haven’t left the east coast it’s definitely going to be on the PLUS side of one year, maybe two.

In all honesty, you could keep going forever and never run out of things to see and do. I don’t know how people race around the country in like 6 weeks?!

The biggest is yet to come!

I was just thinking the other day about how long we’ll need on the rest of our trip. We still have the Northern Territory, Western Australia and finally South Australia to go.

Size wise those three states are three of the biggest in Oz. (More things to know before you visit Australia here)

Western Australia is 1/3 the size of the country in itself. Everyone always mentions how big Texas is, well WA is three and a half times bigger than Texas. Cop that Texas!

To put South Australia into perspective they have a cattle station the size of Belgium, and the world’s longest continuous fence (the dingo fence) which was built to keep sheep safe runs for 5,530 kilometres through central Queensland and South Australia.

Want to see a dingo in the wild? You don’t have to drive the world’s longest fence, they run wild and free on Fraser Island, Queensland:

Dingo on Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia

In the Northern Territory they have World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park. It’s a rather large park. If you were to take the map of Switzerland you could drop it inside Kakadu without touching the sides.

And then they have Uluru, Arnhem Land, Katherine, Alice Springs and Darwin.

Do you think we could lose ourselves in the NT for a while?

Yep, Australia really is HUGE

Here’s a few facts for some more perspective.

Australia’s coastline stretches 50,000 km and is linked by over 10,000 beaches.

Not sure how many beaches we’ve set foot on yet but we’re seeking out the best. Here’s our top beaches in Tasmania, best beaches in Melbourne, and best beaches on the south coast NSW.

If you were to drive from Sydney on the east coast to Perth on the west coast that’s a 4,000km drive and would take you 42 hours if you drove non-stop. Don’t do that.

I met a British guy many years ago who complained that he took a bus from Perth to Sydney and that it wasted several days of his trip and all he saw was red desert. I thought, dude, a little planning and common knowledge would have told you that. (don’t be that British guy).

It’s just as well I love driving

On this trip, I’ve sat behind the wheel about 99% of the time, and that’s fine by me.

Caz reckons I want to drive all the time so I don’t have to turn around and deal with any of the nonsense from our kids in the back seat. Partly true, ha ha.

But no, for all the driving we’ve done the kids have been awesome. Savannah is a bit more challenging being two years old, but they really have adapted well.

I honestly just love driving. I love being behind the wheel on the open road. It’s my down time. It’s my thinking time. It forces me to get offline and it’s one of the only times I get to sit still for five seconds and listen to some music.

I’d much prefer to drive then be the passenger. Maybe it’s the Virgo coming out in me and needing to be in control?

In any case, Caz is a better navigator than me which is a good thing because our nav system constantly sends us in the wrong direction.

It’s taken us around in circles and down a few dead end dirt roads and rarely do we go from point A to B without it screwing things up. It gets yelled at a lot.

But that’s ok. Nothin like getting lost in the Aussie bush:

Pretty Beach 126

Yep, we have plenty of driving still ahead of us.

There will be a few more, “are we there yet” calls from the kids in the back seat, dropped ice creams, rotten sandwiches stuffed under a seat, singalongs and “I spy” games.

Bring it on I say.

A few random thoughts and tips

  • Never drive in the Melbourne City Centre. Your navigation system will send you down Swanston Street, the main thoroughfare in the city for trams, and you will end up almost having a head on collision with a tram. You will be blocked in both directions by trams, and the locals at the traffic lights will look at you and think “who are these dickheads”. Just shrug your shoulders, make an illegal turn and get the hell out of there! Be like the locals, ride the trams!
  • Noosa has the most roundabouts in the world. Or should I say Noosaville. We visited a friends house for dinner and drove around about 30 roundabouts. I can still hear our nav system saying “leave the roundabout at the second exit”.
  • The Great Ocean Road cannot be done in one day! Don’t be like the tour buses.
  • Don’t believe what NSW people say about Victoria. You will end up saying sorry.
  • If you are a Virgo like me, and hate clutter, do not stuff your whole life and 2 kids into a car. Buy a camper trailer.
  • Actually, if you travel and run a business like us, don’t buy a camper trailer, buy a caravan or a motor home. It will save you 4 hours each time you move. (read more about how travel around Australia)
  • Never un-hitch your camper trailer and leave it on a public street overnight. Chances are, someone will park right in front of it leaving you screwed!
  • Without fail, that lady’s voice on our nav system always comes on when I’m trying to hear the sports update. Or the chorus of my favourite song.
  • Going to the Australian Open Tennis when it’s 43 degrees celsius is never a good idea.
  • Don’t think getting around Tasmania is quick. The roads are windy and narrow and take you three times longer than you think.
  • Get to know your hotel receptionists well. When your 2-year-old escapes from your room on the 8th floor and makes it all the way down to the lobby, they will happily sit them on their lap with an orange juice whilst you’re in a mad panic searching the building.
  • Don’t try and climb Mount Kosciuszko (Australia’s highest peak) in designer jackets and dress shoes. Even in the middle of summer it gets friggin cold and windy up there. Be prepared. Spend some money on HIKING clothes.
  • Eat a scallop curry pie in Tasmania.
  • There are some strange people in Eden, NSW. Sorry Eden, but it’s true.
  • We didn’t see one wild Kangaroo in three days in Kangaroo Valley. But we saw lots here.
  • Every town has “The World’s Most Famous Pies”. Or sausages!
  • Trying to Home-school your 6-year-old daughter must be like trying to teach your 16-year-old daughter how to drive. You will fight, often.
  • I wish all accommodation providers would have removable ladders on bunk beds. No seriously, when you have a 2-year-old be prepared for lots of climbing.
  • The best cider we’ve ever had is at the Bright Brewery in Victoria.
  • Stayz.com.au is a good vacation home rental site, but it sucks for last minute bookings if you have an unresponsive owner. Same goes for AirBnB IMO.
  • You can’t drive to the top of Mount Warning in NSW. Who knew?
  • Does anyone know a local on the Gold Coast? I mean local, local?
  • If you live in Melbourne get yourself to Wilsons Promontory National Park.
  • Phillip Island is not just about the penguin parade. In fact, that was probably the worst thing.
  • Never take a 2 year old to the Spring Carnival Horse Races in Melbourne. She will knock over not one, but two bottles of expensive champagne.

And there you have it. We have many more tips and stories to come.

Eight months has flown by and in a funny way it still feels like we are just getting started.

If you have any tips and suggestions for the Northern Territory, WA or South Australia, let us know in the comments!

27 thoughts on “17,000 Kilometres on the Road in Australia – are we there yet?”

  1. And this is where I’m hoping my husband will like driving when he learns – I don’t mind it, but I’d much rather stare out the window without thinking about all the other cars 🙂
    How hard is it to decide where you’re going next?

    1. You can always share the driving, but this works best for us at the moment. I also forgot to mention that Caz gets time to do some work in the passenger seat on our longer drives.

      Not that hard to decide where to go to next. We pretty much know the types of experiences we are after, and we get tips from you guys!! 🙂

  2. Love this post! You all are really an inspiration with all the kilometres you’re covering around Australia. My husband and I are thinking of driving from Brisbane to Alice Springs, then down to SA and back across NSW to Brisbane in 16 days. There will be some really long days of driving, but hopefully we’re not too crazy thinking we can do it. Regardless, this post is really making me want to get out on the open road!

    1. Glad to hear it Lauren. Oz is meant to be driven!!

      That’s quite an ambitious itinerary you have. Yes you will be spending a lot of time in the car. I would rethink this a little. Can you take longer, or cut out some destinations?? 🙂

      1. Thanks for the advice. We’ll try to squeeze more days in, but the problem is always getting enough days of annual leave. I’m afraid if we keep putting off the road trip to try to have more days free, then we’ll never do it! We spent a lot of our honeymoon driving through Utah and Arizona and loved it, so hopefully we’ll enjoy the long days of driving in the Outback 🙂

  3. “Without fail, that lady’s voice on our nav system always comes on when I’m trying to hear the sports update. Or the chorus of my favourite song.” – I’ve just discovered the voice directions on my Iphone maps. If you turn that on while the Iphone is hooked up and playing through your car speakers (music, podcasts, audio books etc) it automatically pauses the music while it gives you directions, then turns it back on. So handy, especially in cities!

  4. Yep!! We did a QLD driving trip last summer holidays and some of the places we took in were…..Roma….Charleville…Longreach…Airlie Beach….Rockhampton….Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast. It took us about a month with 4 kids and 2 adults in an RV!! We had an amazing time but we definitely needed more time. QLD is so huge and it’s not until you are on the road and not just looking at a map that you realise that!!

  5. Great blog! Hope to travel Australia next year, if not then in 2016 with my wife. We plan to do so on a Harley though and use couchsurfing as a means of keeping expenses to a minimum.

  6. Haha, you know we feel your pain! After planning a month in Tassie, then staying for three we gave up giving ourselves any timelines at all haha. Now we’ve been at Matt’s Nan’s spending time with her for 3 weeks and counting and were aiming for one. i guess that’s the best part of choosing a travel lifestyle is the opportunity to be flexible.

    Agree with scallop pies in Tassie – AMAZING!
    Agree on the Swan – we’re about to sell ours we think and get a solid walled van, really is a big time chunk and sucks watching others pull up and drive off so freely!
    Agree on Great Ocean Road, we had to do it in 2 days and can’t wait to go back, it wasn’t long enough!
    Victoria is AMAZING!

    But lastly, I am so glad our kids are a bit older these days, I have distant memories of days of toddlers and preschoolers running around!

    At this rate we’ll never catch you, we’re definitely moving much slower, but here’s hoping xx

    1. Hey Loreena, great to hear from you! Yep, love having flexibility. Wow, you’re selling the Swan. It has crossed my mind also but going through with the action of selling and then buying a caravan might be a hassle also. But I guess we could also trade it in and make the transaction easier and quicker.

      Keep having an amazing time and who knows we may cross paths.

  7. You guys are doing a tremendous job! I agree with you that Great Ocean Road can’t be done in a day. We did a tour bus, which was a bad idea. I hope to explore it again at my own leisure someday.

  8. I really enjoyed this post!

    So true about every small town bakery in Australia claiming to make the best pies in the world! Why is it always pies? I never fall for that one anymore, haha… although I do think the pies in Denmark on the south coast of WA would have to be among the best, as do the sausage rolls from the Sourdough Bakery in Berry, NSW!

    I can also relate to the chirpy posh voice of the GPS lady rudely interrupting a good song.

  9. justinmorision

    It looks like you have a great time going away to your destination. We should make a proper plan.Road trips might be a little hectic at times, mainly as it has not well planned Australia is one of my favorite country to visit. Learn of all this that you so brilliantly described above! Thank you for the virtual guided.

  10. Hey Craig,
    such a great blog! I’ve spent one year travelling Oz most of the time in WA. You guys really have to see Rottnest Island. You will love the little fellows called Quakkas. The Ningaloo Reef and the Valley of the Giants also were some of the nicest places to visit.

    Cheers, Nadine

  11. Wow! This all sounds very exciting for you guys! Australia really is enormous it seems! Aside from how far it is from London, one of the reasons I haven’t made it there yet is because I know that I need a really good amount of time there if I’m going to go all that way so need to figure out some way I can manage that one day!

    1. Yeah, you need at least 2 weeks in my mind if flying from London, then that would be pretty rushed. Hope you find the time someday!

  12. Really sounds like an amazing trip you guys are having! I can’t imagine doing something like this. I love the idea of a road trip (I haven’t really done one since 2003, and that was Atlanta to the Grand Canyon and back in the span of 10 days) and Australia seems like a wonderful place for it. I’m glad you’re still planning on going to Western Australia and Northern Territory, I’m really looking forward to reading about that. Also, I really liked the comparison with certain parts of the country and countries in Europe. Truly does put things into perspective. I try to compare countries in Europe to states in the US for people when they think they can see all of Western Europe in a 2 week vacation. Italy is twice the size of FL! Anyway, I’m glad you’re having a good time despite the bumps!

  13. Definitely check out Cleland Wildlife Park in SA! It was one of my favorite parts of our road trip in Oz!

  14. Great post – some interesting facts there. So many tourists arrive in Australia and expect to drive half of the country in a few days; it takes a while for the size to sink in! Let me know when you guys are in WA!

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