Around Australia: The art of the great Aussie road trip

Australia is a huge country, with a very, very long coastline (nearly 36,000km in fact – and a third of that is just my home state, Western Australia!). It’s also pretty beautiful, and varied – as you’d expect across that distance – and it just seems to be sitting there on a map, asking you to drive around it.

My first Australian road trip

When I was 12, my family went on a two-month trip in a campervan to see Australia. Still fairly fresh from our six months of road-tripping in Europe, I guess my parents decided that we needed to know more about our own country, too. Back then (we’re talking 1988 …) it was still prohibitively expensive to fly across the country and I’d never been outside of Western Australia. So off we went.

Because we had to do this trip in the summer holidays – I was in high school by now, so disappearing for many months was less feasible than it had been a couple of years earlier – we ended up doing a “half” circumnavigation, due to the weather and distance.

Some highlights of my first Aussie road trip - Sydney, Hervey Bay and Kuranda

Some highlights of my first Aussie road trip – Sydney, Hervey Bay and Kuranda

Starting from Perth, we headed across the Nullarbor (and its name is derived from “no trees” for a reason, let me tell you!), then shot quickly up to northern Queensland before then spending the next six weeks meandering down the Queensland coast, through New South Wales with a detour to Canberra, down to Melbourne, then Adelaide, and back across the Nullarbor and along the incredibly beautiful south coast of Western Australia.

A future great Aussie road trip

There are plenty of retired people out there circumnavigating Australia, and quite a few backpackers too, and even a growing number of families with young kids taking a few months or longer away from home to build some great family memories. My life at the moment doesn’t quite lend itself to an extended road trip around Australia but it’s certainly something I’d like to do properly down the track.

Like many Aussies, I’ve spent far more time travelling overseas than I have looking at my own country – but I know there’s lots I’ve missed her. I know most of the cities well, and a few other parts I’ve spent more time (like Tasmania, one of my favourite parts of Australia), but I have never been across the northern coast or through the Kimberley region, to name a couple.

Australian road trips

My take on the art of a great Aussie road trip means:

  • Travelling with an open-ended plan. (Or maybe that’s not a plan at all!) I’d love to just keep going round, stopping when I want to, and staying as long as I want. There are always places that appeal to you more for one reason or another, and it’s often hard to predict these in advance. Or you might meet some fellow travellers and decide to stick around with them for a while. My favourite open-ended travellers are Rich and his cat Willow, who will sometimes stay a month if they love a place. Why not, I say!
  • Getting outside a lot. Sure, our cities have become much more cultured places to visit in recent decades, but I think a road trip is really all about experiencing the incredible nature Australia has to offer. Driving around Australia for me means pulling over and sitting at a park bench near the side of the road for an open-air lunch, and sitting around an outdoor table at night with a snack and a drink.
  • While most of my long tripping before has been in a campervan or motorhome, I don’t think I’m a big van driver myself and would rather do it in a car (easier to get around) and stop in a mix of cabins at camping sites, bed and breakfast places and even more Airbnb spots as they spring up around the country. If you’re not already in Oz, then it’s easy to buy a second-hand car on Gumtree (which is basically our Aussie equivalent of Craigslist, for my American readers) and hit the road!
  • Seeing pretty much everything. I mean, most towns, most tourist spots, most of the national parks. Obviously, Australia is huge and you can’t see it all, but because it’s also very sparsely populated it’s not that difficult – if you’ve got the time – to visit most of the inhabited parts of the country. It’s not such a crazy proposition as, say, trying to visit every town or village in Germany.
  • Really feeling that positive stereotype of what we imagine Australia is. I can’t even explain this – but from my younger years the song “Sounds of Then” by Gangajang seemed to sum it up for me – have a listen below and you might (or might not!) see what I mean.

Would you like to drive around Australia? What are the important parts of an Aussie road trip to you?





  1. I would love to travel around Australia one day.
    Loved getting to know the story of Rich and Willow, what wonderful adventures they are having!

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