The first time we visited Australia we only had 3 weeks, and we started off by spending a few days in Sydney before picking up the campervan, and in total we spent 16 days on the road. When people asked us where we were going, we told them and they though we were crazy. Sydney to Cairns couldn’t be done in two weeks, but that was their opinion!
In January we got an opening and a big opportunity to take a month off in February/March, and we thought of Australia immediately. We got lucky and found cheap airfares, and Britz Campervans had a van available for us (in worst case we could used another company, but we preferred to go with Britz as we were so satisfied the first time), even if that meant we had to go for a smaller and simpler van (and cheaper). We didn’t have too much time to make a plan, but we knew we wanted to see more of the outback, and decided on visiting the Red Centre.
In this post we will take a quick look at our route, and look at some of the costs of the trip. Who know, you might be tempted. If you haven’t decided to take a great Australian road trip already though?!
Arriving Australia – Getting ready for a month on the road
When we arrived at the airport we had been traveling for over 30 hours, we would perhaps recommend spending the first night at a hotel even though we didn’t. We went straight to the Britz Campervans office, said hello to Julie who was an angle to us, so nice and helpful, sorted us out and fixed everything for us before we headed out on the road (you need to register for toll roads and small stuff like that). We loaded up the campervan with our bags, and after taking an obligatory picture for our followers we were back on the Australian roads, 1,5 years after the first time. We drove for a couple of hours the first day, heading south. We just wanted to find a campsite not too far away so we could relax a bit after the flights.
It was the first day, but already then we found this beautiful scenic drive by the coast. We also did some shopping for groceries, unpacked and organized the van – then we were ready for four whole weeks on the road.
On our way to the Great Ocean Road we stopped in Mogo to pan for gold, we hiked in McKenzie River Rainforest, saw the old gold rush city Walhalla, went to a beautiful beach in Wilsons Promontory NP and visited a Chocolate Factory on Phillip Island. We wanted to see the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island, but they were sold out.
The Great Ocean Road and Beyond
When arriving The Great Ocean Road it didn’t take too long before we spontaneously joined a scenic flight to see the Great Ocean Road and the Twelve Apostles from above, and it was such a great way to see this area. Later the very same evening we arrived the Twelve Apostles just in time for sunset.
The day after we tried to get closer to Adelaide and ended up in Naracoorte where we spent the night and visited a Fossil Museum. We then considered whether or not to take the ferry over to Kangaroo Island, and we decided to do so, and booked the ferry tickets for the day after.
KI is famous for the wildlife, and it was on this island we finally got to see a Koala in the wild for the very first time. It was amazing, and we loved our two days on this island.
Crossing The Country
After a quick stop at the Britz Campervans Office in Adelaide (just to pick up some extras) we were ready to conquer the next challenge: crossing Australia’s Red Centre, on Stuart Highway via Uluru. We had some crazy long days on the road; hours with empty roads and nothing to see, dry salt lakes, deserted roadhouses, simple camping and the feeling of being alone on the road. But that was an experience too and we had much fun. It’s no need to go to deep into details because we already have written posts about that; Stuart highway and Uluru/Kata Tjuta NP. But here is some stops on the way worth mentioning: Coober Pedy, Uluru/Kata Tjuta NP, Alice Springs, UFO Capitol of Australia, Mataranka Thermal Pool, Litchfield National Park and Jumping Croc Cruise.
Leaving Darwin behind we had to take a stop at Katherine and one of our favorite campsites (BIG 4 Katherine Holiday Park) before heading east. On our way down to the junction leading to the east coast we took a detour to avoid driving too much of the same road we already had driven. It’s the beginning of the Savannah Way, but we couldn’t drive all the way to the east on this road because of gravel roads. Back on the main road we headed to Mt. Isa, had a night in Longreach and from there over to the coast we had a stop at Pats Gems to do some fossicking for sapphires. Arriving Airlie Beach we went on a day trip to see the Whitsundays before heading north to Cairns for scuba diving tour at Great Barrier Reef (of course with some stops along the way to see some waterfalls).
Before ending our trip and returning van we had to go to Port Douglas to another favorite campsite (BIG4 Port Douglas Glengarry Holiday Park), and to eat the best Garlic & Parmesan Pizza Bread (at Rattle ’N’Hum) in town. Being in the area we visited the weekly Sunday market, and Wildlife Habitat in Port Douglas to interact with some animals.
At the end of the trip before returning the campervan we met a couple that had just started their road trip, and we gave them stuff we had bought that we didn’t need anymore; a fan, unopened water bottles, a gas burner, canned food etc.
We spent the last night at a cheap hotel, ate a great dinner at Waterbar and Grill Steak House at the waterfront in Cairns and just strolled around in the city. It was such a great journey, and one day we are going back again (we have yet to visit Western Australia and Tasmania).
- We visited 5 states: New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland.
- Camped at 21 different campsites, plus one night at a sketchy place out in nowhere (it was free to camp outside the bar, which looked like a strip club. Signs saying “Cheaky Monday” and “Topless Wednesdays”).
- We spent in total 939AU$ on campsites (powered).
- We drove 12.054km (at the most we drove 1.040km in one day)
- Used 1362l fuel, with the costs of 1801AU$ (stopped for fuel 33 times)
- 1 billion (give or take) insects was killed during the trip
- Scenic Flight: 568AU$
- Kangaroo Island Ferry 374AU$
- Hanson Bay (Koala Walk) 7.50AU$ p.p
- Jumping Croc Cruise 45AU$ p.p
- Whitehaven Xpress Day Trip 175AU$ p.p
- Tusa Dive – Great Barrier Reef diving tour (3 dives) 285AU$ p.p
Camping in Australia
We didn’t usually book the campsites in advance, but tried to make a call if we saw we were arriving late. Most places let you just drive in and find an available spot and register the next day (if they have closed for the day). But one place was a pain in the butt. We called to let them know that we were arriving late and to see if that was okay, and they said it was and that we could meet them when they had eaten their dinner. We agreed on a time, and arrived on time. No one to see… We waited for one hour before we called them again, and they got angry, made fun of us because (their words): “we were that stupid to wait so long”, and was really rude. But after arguing she agreed to come down to meet us (they lived there too). She was still angry, and we were close to just leave, but we were tired and it was getting too late to find another place, so we stayed.
(After outing them on our Facebook page they sent us an e-mail to apologize for their behavior. But after reading reviews online we could see that we were not the only ones having bad experiences with those people). They could just say no when we called the first time if they didn’t wanted visitors after hours…
We did a whole lot of kilometers in just one month, but we enjoyed every bit of the journey. The campsites are usually clean and with all the facilities you need, and a bunch of them even got a pool or two. There are lots of rest areas along the way with toilet, water and BBQ facilities, and we’ve never had problems finding a public toilet in the places we have been.
Australia is really a great place to go for a road trip, and a campervan gives you the freedom on road, to travel wherever you want whenever you want.
If you are still not convinced here is a short summary we’ve put together from our awesome road trip:
Australia, we will be back!