You’ll be seeing a lot of this on road trips.
One of the many things Australia is famous for is its huge distance between cities and towns. When the country is the size of the continent it’s considered normal for a trip to the nearby grocery store to take several hours in some regions. A flipside from this geographical blip is that long road trips are inevitable and it gives you the opportunity to stop at fun sites and small towns along the way! Most of my friends have driven down the East Coast of Australia fromTownsville to Melbourne while some have chosen to drive North of Townsville to the Waterfall Circuit, Paluma National Park, and Cape Tribulation.
A few things that I’ve learnt for any future road trips I’ll be planning is that…
Who you’re travelling with dictates how fun the trip will be. You could be at the beautiful Whitsunday Islands but if the company you’re travelling with has been incessantly complaining about the heat and hordes of tourist, it will dampen the mood and you’d be tempted to just pack up and travel solo. Choose your travel mates carefully and try and get at least 2 drivers to ease the driving distance. In a recent trip it took us 1500km to get to Noosa from Townsville and there were some stretches (MacKay to Rockhampton) where the road was nauseatingly straight with nothing to look at or stop in between. You’ll also be spending lots of time with them and it goes without saying you’d rather spend it with people you like.
My travel buddies! (At the Capricorn Caves)
Who you travel with will in turn determine what sort of road trip you will experience. If your travel buddies are adventurous and love trekking off the trail while some might be wary, this could cause unnecessary arguments where one party might feel they are constantly compromising. Similarly, with the budget, some people are alright with camping and eating budget food the whole time whereas others might want an actual accommodation, and it’s important to sort these details before the trip starts, i.e, how much everyone can/is willing to spend.
We took a detour and found this amazing (but extremely hidden) spot in the Town of 1770.
This leads us to the budget! If you have a budget in mind, I suggest taking that amount and adding another $300 or $400 to it. There are so many miscellaneous and sudden payments along the way that if you haven’t meticulously planned your trip to include where and what you’ll be doing each day, you will go over your initial budget. There are entrance fees to sites, island tours will cost at least $100 or more, eating at restaurants will quickly add up (expect at least $10 per person), detours cost more fuel, and this excludes any shopping you might be planning to do or unexpected situations such as car break-downs and lost wallet/items.
Fraser Island was pricier than we expected but it was worth it to swim and witness these beautiful lakes.
Ultimately, comfort and cost are at opposite ends and it depends how much you’re willing to compromise one for the other. For example, after comparing prices and looking out for deals I opted for an Airbnb at Airlie Beach because I was splitting the cost with 3 other people and it only came up to $27/night whereas a hostel was usually $20/night. We had our own pool and bathroom and cooked enough food for the next 2 days and our host was happy to share her groceries with us. Another Airbnb host even provided us with free breakfast.
Cooking for the group at our Airbnb.
We also avoided driving at night because there are not many streetlights in Australia and kangaroos tend to be more active at that time and we didn’t want to risk the chances of hitting one and damaging the car (the most Australian problem you have to consider). Although insurance would definitely cover the damage we didn’t want to waste time. This meant increasing travel days as we could only drive in the day and forking out more for motels. It’s also important to remember that most small towns close at 4.30 – 5pm and if you arrive past that time attractions will most likely be closed and dinner will be sourced from the nearest late night grocery store.
I’m a planner and I like having things sorted, if you’d rather wing it and decide along the way, you’ll have a different road trip than I did in Australia but one that’ll be just as amazing!
Don’t forget to buy a beach towel with Australian road signs on them.