Many talk about driving The Big Lap when travelling to Australia. Also known as Highway 1, which skirts the entirety of Australia at a whopping 14,935 kilometres long. You need 3 weeks to a month to finish driving it.
But for this post I will be covering a mini version of The Big Lap. Lets just call it, Yasmin’s Mini Australian Lap — only 1,780 kilometres long which can be done in a breeze within 8 days.
You can look at it as a guide covering route, logistics, vehicles, supplies, cost and more.
Australia is, by all means, a bloody massive chunk of land. And while many argue that Down Under is the world’s largest island (some say there’s really no real definition of a continent). Then again we can all agree that there’s plenty to explore.
There is no denying that the best way to see the country in all its glory is by jumping into a car, campervan or in my case, a station wagon and hit the road. From highways that are surrounded by vast lands of canola fields to the winding roads in the snowy Mount Hotham, from beach campsites in Mornington to the sandstone mountains in The Grampians.
There’s just lots of trails to cross, roads to drive and sights to feast the eyes. All of it leads to cool things.
Your best bet? Get yourself a trusty station wagon and circumnavigate the whole thing.
So here’s a complete guide on how to actually road trip without a hitch in Australia.
While I was on the road, I set my Google Maps to record the entire road trip and that’s how my map turned out. Oddly enough the route turned out to look like the top half of Tasmania.
Don’t bother zooming in and ignore the markers because you’re probably going to get confused. I’ve made a brief description of the route plus itinerary so you have a better picture.
To put things into perspective, going on this road trip solo is definitely possible. But you’re going to have to stop more. If you go with two or more people, less stop and more ground you can cover.
If you have something to go back to, eight days is more than a reasonable amount of time to do this road trip. Better yet do The Big Lap for the next 3 weeks if you have time.
Where Should I Stop?
Roads in the route I mapped out does a pretty good job at linking the towns together. Even though the road may seem like it’s never-ending, you will eventually end up somewhere.
My plan was to visit places outside of Melbourne city but only to explore spots within Victoria. Travelling the Great Alpine Road was a no-brainer. You can expect a diversity of landscapes and check out the Rutherglen and King Valley Wine region or hike in Bright.
The Great Alpine Road starts from Wangaratta and ends at Dinner Plains. It’s about 500 kilometers in distance. You can pretty much take your time at Beechworth’s historic gold rush town where the infamous bushranger Ned Kelly was locked up.
Or you can just drive through it, blast your stereo set and soak up the Aussie country vibe.
So If you’re up for some snow fun, stop at Mount Hotham for a ski. It’s along The Great Alpine route. Hard to miss. I, on the other hand, had a good taste of driving through the unmissable snowy, winding, slippery mountain road.
Don’t forget to roll down your windows and drive with caution at 30-kilometre speed limit. I know it’s super slow. But trust me, if you’re driving in the mist and can hardly see the next bend you’ll understand why.
Here’s a list of places I stopped
#2. The Cowes Pier Diner, Phillip Island
#3. London Bridge Beach
#4. Big4 Holiday Park
#5. Cape Schanck
#6. Capel Sound
#7. Quarantine Station, Point Napean
#8. Gibson Steps
#9. The Twelve Apostles
#10. Halls Gap Caravan Park
#11. The Pinnacle
#12. The Balconies
#13. Boroka Lookout
The Great Ocean Road is a quintessential abyss of vast ocean views you don’t want to miss. It’s littered with beaches and access to wildlife. It’s a 243 kilometres stretch of road at the skirts of the South-Eastern coast of Australia. Roughly a four-hour drive.
Choosing The Right Wheels
The first obvious thing to do is to find the right set of wheels. You need a trusty road companion to help you travel up to 2,000 kilometres without a hitch for eight days.
Renting a campervan is tempting. Why wouldn’t it? It has everything a home does—a comfy bed, toilet, kitchen, sofabeds, fridge and maybe even a shower. If you’re lucky.
I did some digging on good ol’ Mr Google and found Britz, Apollo, and Maui. They supply a range of high-end road homes. I didn’t opt for that because there was just two of us on the road and since I was looking to roughing it out for eight days, a decent Kombi or in my case a station wagon from Kollective Hire did just fine. I’ll talk more about the cost later.
And for those with less cash to splurge, Wicked, Hippie Campers or Jucy are good alternatives and always have deals on vans. I haven’t personally tried any of them myself because this was my first time doing a road trip in Australia and thanks to Outrex Adventure for finding Kollective Hire.
There’s also one ultimate thrift alternative. You can try a one-way relocation service which means you can get a set of wheels at just $1 AUD a day provided you get it back to where it needs to be on the allotted date and don’t mind making your own way onward from there.
But hey, unless if you plan to do a temporary trip which will only take you to a few places, you could face time constraints if you plan to go on a road trip by using this service.
They say the best set of adventure wheels are the ones you have. Even if your hire is a hooptie that’s not a gas guzzler, has roadside assistance and is fully serviced, you’re pretty much set.
Packing the right tools and supplies
When you want to do a proper road trip around Australia— without a hitch, regardless whether your budget permits you a plush caravan, a stylish Kombi or a rusty station wagon, there’s definitely some essentials you’re going to want to acquire or install.
Water Supply – I personally need water on a daily basis. Water pretty much gets me going, especially after walking a 4.1 kilometre trail, after eating and as soon as I wake up from a sleep. You tend to get dehydrated from the fast climate change. Your skin can dry up easily when you’re outdoors all the time.
Cooking Gear – An average meal can cost $16 to $30 AUD. A good restaurant with a slightly better portion or quality can cost $40 AUD per meal. But if you buy groceries for a total of eight days, will only cost you $12 AUD a day and that’s for at least two meals a day.
The station wagon from Kollective Hire includes cooking gears for five. Pots and pans, plates, bowls, mugs, eating and cooking utensils plus two butane burners. Somedays it was tough for us to cook at the back of our station wagon because of rain and strong wind. A campervan or a Kombi might not have the same issue.
Using the campsite camp kitchen is usually the next best alternative.
Mini Inverter Generator – This is a useful tool to have. It’s portable and can charge your gadgets or a mini portable heater if you have one. If you’re camping out at night in a tent like I did, it’s a good tool to have. But if you don’t, campsites usually have powered sites where you just need to have a long wire extension and you can use it to charge.
Other Basic Tools – Spare tire, car jack, some wrenches, screwdrivers, and a hammer. A jerry can could be useful for transferring fuel in case you have car trouble. Australia has a strict rule for transferring fuel with anything other than a jerry can or a can that is made for fuel purposes. There are a set of rules for where you carry the jerry can in your vehicle. Different states have different rules. Best to check with your hire company.
Where to snooze?
Having the option to snoozing in your trusty wheels is a massive blessing in Aussie. Rain, wind, sun, mosquitos, deadly snakes and spiders are somethings to consider factoring in. Whether it equates to a comfy homie caravan with a good supply of heater, freshly laundered sheets or a sleeping bag at the back of a van. It’s always nice to shut a door or block the view outside with a curtain.
Then again, a tent, camping mat, and a hammock can be just as good in the right weather.
Free campsites can be found easily online but once you set up camp, everything is at your own risk. No toilets, no showers, no camp kitchen and you maybe at risk of encountering dangerous wildlife.
Be ready to bring lots of water, source your own firewood and take your own rubbish with you.
If you want to rough it out but still love the luxury of showering and using an actual toilet to take a dump, paying at caravan parks is a good alternative. Caravan parks are a huge business in Australia. They usually come with camp kitchen fully equipped with all your cooking needs such as stoves, hot plates, fridge, kettles, toasters, sink, and coin-laundry facility.
Some (not all) have strong wifi connection and tv.
Prices can be from as low as $15 AUD up to $130 AUD during peak seasons. But the caravan parks I camped at ranges from $30 AUD up to $45 AUD per night.
Big4 Holiday Caravan Park – $31 AUD per night
Capel Sound Foreshores – $41 AUD per night
Halls Gap Caravan Park – $30 AUD per night
My total cost…?
Budgeting can be a pain. But if you’re able to come up with an estimate, you won’t be burning a hole in your pocket. In fact, you might even be spending much lesser than your estimate. These figures are an estimate specifically for this trip. It’s a rough calculation for nine days.
$30 x 7 = $210 x 2 pax = $420
$60 a day
$60 x 9 days = $540
Note that we had to rent the station wagon for nine days factoring the return of the station wagon to Kollective Hire. It is due to my return flight ticket which fell on day 8 at night. So my friend (who is based in Melbourne) had to return it back on day 9 — cleaned washed and with the tank full.
Total distance expected to cover: 1,800 kilometres
Fuel consumption 10 Liters: 100 kilometres
Fuel Price Max: $1.40 per liter
10L x $1.4 = $14
$14 x 18(1,800km) = $252
Fuel price fluctuates every day. The lowest I’ve seen can go down to $1.21 per liter. Always be on the lookout for fuel prices if you see a petrol station. You can save a ton on fuel.
Groceries: $94.05 for eight days
$1,306/2 pax = $653 per pax
Many thanks to Outrex Adventure for helping me customize the estimated cost for this trip.
That’s it. Now go plan your ultimate Aussie trip, book a time, take leave from work if you have to, find your set of wheels and start roadtripping already!