10 Tips for an Australian Road Trip

australian road trip guide

Australia is a nature lover’s paradise—a diverse region renowned for its unique wildlife, coastal cities, expansive wine regions, rainforests, and friendly people. And if you’re driving a car or campervan by yourself, you get to witness these things at your own pace—arguably the best way to go about travelling. However, a fair warning. The sheer size of Australia is often underestimated by many overly enthusiastic tourists. Case in point: if you visit an Aussie beach daily, it will take you 27 years to visit each one.

10 Tips for an Australian Road Trip

Another neat fact? Australia is so huge that it covers six different time zones. Australia can also experience contrasting climate and weather conditions depending on your region. In fact, some places can shift from warm to cold in one day depending on your elevation and latitude. While the diversity and scale of Australia can make for a unique road trip experience, planning a road trip can’t be done on a whim. It’ll need ample preparation and meticulous planning on your part. Having said that, when done right, an Australian road trip can be an unforgettable and breathtaking experience. If you want to minimise the chances of things going awry, here are ten tips to help you make the most of your upcoming Aussie road trip.

#1. Plot Your Days!

The first tip is a crucial one: know where you’re going on each day of the trip. Australia is an incredibly large piece of land, and driving from town to town can easily wear you down if you’re not prepared to cover the distance. As such, it’s crucial to plan your days ahead of time. Typically, driving 100 to 300 kilometres a day maximum is the sweet spot if you’re driving on motorways and paved roads. This distance is enough for you to divide the trip into segments and manage each day with more control. While there’s beauty in spontaneity, doing your research ensures that you’ll not be left behind or encounter any major setbacks during the road trip. And besides, you can always plan to slow down the pace beforehand and dedicate a few hours of relaxed exploration.

#2. Pack Enough For the Trip!

Whether you’re embarking on a 4-day road trip or a month-long trip, you’ll need to have the necessary gear and supplies. This is especially true if you plan on trekking the vast wilderness and rugged terrains Australia has to offer. For starters, bring weather-appropriate clothing, a first aid kit, a sleeping kit, food, water, and hygiene products to sustain you throughout your days on the road. Make sure that perishables are packaged tightly to avoid spoilage and spillage. It’s also essential to bring extras and spares of parts that are susceptible to breaking—such as tires and flash-lights. You should also consider bringing a can of fuel with you if you’re expected to traverse vast stretches of unpopulated land. Bring tech gear too! A smartphone and power bank are very helpful for days when you’re driving in and out of town. You may also bring entertainment options for down days.

#3. Make Bookings in Advance!

Tourism booms in Australia tend to happen in waves, with warmer seasons like December to March getting the most busy for both local and international travellers. If you plan to travel during this peak season, you’ll inevitably encounter some competition for you when you’re booking hotels, accommodations, bus tickets, and rental cars. As such, it’s important to make all the necessary bookings ahead of schedule. This not only secures your slot for when your trip approaches, but it also saves you a couple of extra dollars if you’re booking months in advance. Booking during shoulder seasons may be less busy, but some parts of Australia like Tasmania may not have enough hire car options upon arrival. As such, it’s always a safe bet to book in advance.

#4. Avoid Driving in the Dark!

Australia’s rural regions are teeming with wildlife. Even when you don’t see them during the day, they may pounce around at night. From wallabies to kangaroos, these creatures often make pit stops in paved cement during dusk or dawn time. Driving at high speeds in the dark may cause accidents, resulting in an unsightly mess and a damaged hood. As much as possible, refrain from night driving. But if you have to, then try to keep your speeds below 45 kp/h as much as possible.

#5. Do Vehicular Maintenance Checks and Evaluate Your Car Hire!

It’s important to review your car’s condition and determine if it’s fit for long distances. Begin with a comprehensive check of vital functions: brakes, tires, engine oil, coolant levels, and lights. You can have it evaluated by a repair specialist if you want an expert appraisal. If you’re using a car rental, take pictures and videos of your hired car before setting out on the road. This will help protect your name if there are accident claims made against you that you didn’t do.

#6. Bring Maps, Satellite Phones, and GPS Equipment!

Mobile coverage can be finicky the farther you are from town. To avoid getting lost, you should consider getting maps or GPS equipment to help you navigate through unfamiliar territory. You can buy physical maps or download offline maps of the areas you’re passing through. Furthermore, you should also get a satellite phone or an EPIRB distress beacon to contact emergency personnel in a pinch.

road trip in australia tips and advice

Furthermore, some car hire companies include an activated GPS tracking system in their vehicles. They come at an additional cost in most cases, but they can be incredibly handy if you’re traversing far from major cities.

#7. Don’t Skimp on Insurance and Roadside Assistance!

Accidents on the road are a traveller’s worst nightmare. Not only can they cut a trip short, but they can also be injurious and cost a fair bit of money. We don’t need to tell you to drive safely to avoid accidents, because that’s pretty much a given. However, accidents can happen to even the safest of drivers, so it’s best to be prepared. To ease the blow of accidents, ensure that you have adequate insurance coverage for your vehicle. If you’re driving a Subaru, for instance, consider getting car-specific insurance like ROLLiN' Subaru Insurance. Besides that, you should also pay that little extra fee for roadside assistance. This will help you save a lot more on towing fees.

#8. Watch The Weather!

It’s important to have at least a general grasp of the weather conditions of the places you’re going. Driving in freezingly cold temperatures can cause ice to build up on the road, increasing the chances of skidding and accidents. Conversely, driving in fog can greatly reduce visibility, so it’s best to time your travel to avoid it as much as possible. Sunny days and rainy days must also be adequately prepared for! Make sure you have enough sunscreen to keep your skin safe from Australia’s notorious sun rays. An umbrella and jacket are also always a must-bring.

#9. Know The Local Laws!

States in Australia all have different laws and regulations, and you need to familiarise yourself with them before hitting the road. For instance, the NSW government prohibits free camping or sleeping in your camper van unless they’re in designated park-grounds. South Australia’s government is generally looser than this, but sleeping in designated camps is always the safest bet. Furthermore, some areas and national parks may be closed to visitors during specific times or months. It’s important to keep abreast with these opening times to ensure that you’re not wasting time and gas driving to restricted territory.

#10. Have Fun!

Last, but not the least, enjoy the ride. A road trip in Australia may feel overwhelming for first-timers, and things may go wrong, but it’s something that you’ll surely carry with you for the rest of your life. Whether you experience more of the good or the bad, you’ll surely have stories to share with your pals and relatives back home. Happy trails!

What about you, have you ever been on a road trip in Australia? Feel free to share any tips & advice below!

Share this:


We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


    Disqus Comment
    Facebook Comment
comments powered by Disqus