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How to Survive an Aussie Road Trip

Nowhere else in the world is made for road tripping in the same way as Australia. An Aussie road trip is an adventure of epic proportions; the destinations - and the roads - are endless.

You can drive the Great Ocean Road, from Adelaide to Melbourne, head into the dusty red sands of the Outback, or hop from city to city on the east coast. Driving through a country as vast as Australia though, comes with its own unique quirks and challenges, and for a first-timer, it can be a daunting experience. There are kangaroos to avoid on the roads, hundreds of miles of emptiness and in remote Australia, little food or fuel. But there are also incredible sights and beautiful beaches, and it’s a journey like no other.

Here’s how to survive an Aussie road trip!

Don’t Underestimate the Distance

“It’s just down the road”, you’ll inevitably hear the locals say when you are driving around Australia. Don’t be fooled. While ‘down the road’ in the UK quite literally means down the road - perhaps a 10-minute drive - in Australia, it can be anywhere from one hour to a whole day’s driving. This is important to know if you’ve just asked where the nearest petrol station is.

It’s not really down the road at all, but so vast are the distances in Australia, that you can go an entire day without passing through another town. Be prepared for long journeys - the Nullarbor Plain, for instance, is home to the world’s longest stretch of straight road - and never underestimate the distance.

Don’t Underestimate the Weather Either

Australia is known for its scorching hot weather, but until you really experience that heat, it’s easy to underestimate it. Keep hydrated and keep covered up, and if you’re renting a car, then make sure the air-con works before you drive away, because you’re going to need it out there.

The weather gets more extreme the further north you go and in Outback Australia, you can be hit by torrential rain and cyclones during the wet season. Be careful, because you don’t want to be on the news after getting stuck in the middle of a river, surrounded by hungry crocodiles.

Watch out for Kangaroos

Australia is home to plenty of deadly animals, from fearsome saltwater crocodiles to those sneaky redback spiders hiding under the toilet seat. It’s unlikely though that you’ll ever actually come into contact with these potentially dangerous or venomous creatures. It is likely though, that you’ll see plenty of humble kangaroos, and unfortunately, they can be the deadliest Aussie animal of them all.

The kangaroo population is almost double the human population, and being nocturnal, they love to run across the roads in the dark when you can’t see them. Try not to drive at night in rural areas, or you might have a dangerous run-in with a roo.

Watch out for Road Trains

When you get out of the cities and onto the long highways that stretch across the country, you’ll soon realise that kangaroos aren’t the only menace on the roads. Just as you’re settling in and getting comfortable, as the scenery is flying past and it’s just a few hundred miles to your next stop, you’ll be dragged out of your monotony by the sight and sound of road trains hurtling towards you.

These mechanical beasts are terrifying monstrosities to encounter for the first time, but keep calm and don’t panic. Road trains are enormous trucks, some stretching for three carriages in length, and they literally can’t stop. Just keep left and hope for the best!

Learn to Love Roadhouses

Roadhouses are a curiously Australian institution. They are petrol stations, mini-supermarkets, hotels, camping sites, restaurants and even bars all rolled into one. You’ll find them all along the highways, and sometimes they’ll be the only stop for the next few hundred miles. You’ll have to learn to love them because you might not have anywhere else to stop!

That means getting used to increasingly high petrol prices the more remote you get, dealing with indifferent, lost souls stuck working in the middle of nowhere and learning to savour the taste of a greasy sausage roll because these aren’t exactly gourmet diners.

Water, Water, Water

Load up on fuel and supplies before you head off on your adventure, but in particular, make sure you’ve got plenty of water, because in remote Australia, H2O can be as rare as petrol. Take a jerry can and fill it with water, and keep it topped up where you can, because you can’t always find drinking water on the road. You don’t want to be that backpacker that’s dragged out of the desert in a state of delirium after breaking down and running out of water while waiting to be rescued in the Outback.

Get the Playlists Ready

Did we mention that you’re going to be driving for a long time when you’re road-tripping Australia? A really long time. Before you head out on the road, make sure you’ve got a cracking playlist ready, and make sure it’s downloaded too, because once you’re out of the cities, you’re not going to find much in the way of 3G service.

Camp Out Under the Stars

The best part about road tripping around Australia is the nature, and across the country, you’ll have the chance to camp out under the stars and to really immerse yourself in the great outdoors.

Camping will beat any basic roadhouse accommodation out there, and in many cases, you won’t have a choice anyway. You can invest in tents, kit out your car for sleeping, or hire a camper-van for the ultimate luxury while you are on the road.

Fancy planning your own Aussie adventure? Our friendly Travel Consultants can tailor-make you a holiday you won't forget!

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Written by Richard Collett

I'm Richard, The Travel Tramp, I'm an adventure traveller who can't stop getting off the beaten track. I write travel blogs with a dash of journalism and take photographs along the way!

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