Everyone has heard of the Outback, seen the Crocodile Hunter, and knows the energetic phrase, “G’day mate!” What would it be like to explore Australia? To explore the massive island, the country, the continent of Australia. Justin and I only spent one week enjoying our sample of Australia.
Australia is a huge country. The United States is larger geographically. However, Australia is approximately the same size as the 48 contiguous states. Australia offers enough nonstop adventure to easily fill a year or more. In fact, there are countless routes one could take in traveling by land. Here are 4 examples to help you imagine how you may explore Australia.
East Coast Drive 6-8 weeks
If you love the beach, then this is the way to explore Australia. Begin in Sydney and enjoy the beautiful harbor front with the iconic Opera House and all the FREE activities Sydney offers. As you drive north, hiking and wine tasting will begin the adventure around Hunter Valley. Since you love the beach, spend a day or two in Port Stephens where you may participate in various water sports. Continue driving north because there is loads of coast to explore, including Byron Bay, the Gold Coast, and the stunning Sunshine Coast. Adventure offshore and join a whale watching tour while visiting Hervey Bay. Towards the end of your East Coast drive, be sure to save time to consider sailing or even SCUBA diving in the Whitsunday islands along the Great Barrier Reef. However, ending your beach explorations in Cairns is wonderful, with their public swimming lagoon (overlooking the ocean) and many more opportunities to SCUBA dive.
You can’t spend every day laying on the beach with a book, because the coast offers too much to explore. This route is a great splash of urban and beach.
West into the Outback 6-8 weeks
This is a great route to explore the Outback while still having opportunities for wine tasting, some animals, and hours of endless rock formations and breathtaking scenery. Fly into Perth and savor your last few days while taking part in some urban exploration. Once you begin to drive east from Perth, the art galleries, bars, and restaurants will vanish rapidly. Make sure you camp on the Margaret River and consider surfing or wine tasting before arriving in Augusta. Here you will find Cape Leeuwin, and you might be able to see some whales off the coast. Even if you are not able to spot any whales, the giant old-growth forests of Southwestern Australia are next along the route, just before arriving in Albany to explore the amazing architecture and perhaps SCUBA diving (it’s some of Australia’s best). While driving along the south coast, Esperance will offer even more animals to explore with seals, penguins and sea birds. Kalgoorie Bolder offers a historic look into the ‘wild-west,’ and you can even have a miners beer. While driving along the coast to Port Lincoln there are countless beach towns, opportunities to learn to surf, or fish a while (tuna is a popular catch).
The Outback exploration takes over all of your senses when driving north of Port Lincoln, towards Port Augusta, and continuing on to Alice Springs. Rocks, canyons, and springs, oh my! Several national parks will adorn the route to Alice Springs. This route is quite the journey, and it can even be expanded to 2 months if you really want to take your time. Rent a camper van or bring a tent and be prepared to create your bed from time to time. Through bringing some food, water, and other supplies, you will be able to choose what you explore as you drive from the west into the outback.
Hinterland Route – Less Traveled 4-6 weeks
This is the lest traveled route that most tourists overlook. However, it’s a route that offers the Outback, rivers, National Parks and more. Melbourne is a great place to start while enjoying the art and cafe culture of an Australian city. Each National Park has something unique to offer, make sure that you allow enough time to explore. Hiking, wildflowers, rock climbing, or even renting a paddle boat to take down the Murray River. Broken Hill marks the middle of the route. It offers a great historical perspective through artists, poets, Aboriginal culture and the busy mining days of the past. If you enjoy wildlife, you will love the incredible Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo. Don’t worry there is still loads to see before Byron Bay. Amazing foliage, some historical buildings, the drive through Waterfall Way and more beautiful sights to explore. Hope you are still enjoying the vehicle you have been driving for the past several weeks because there is still a 2-hour drive from Byron Bay to Sydney before you fly home (unless you live in Australia).
This is a great option to explore Australia if you only have a month.
Cross-continent: One to two months
This is a long strenuous route with difficult driving (not all paved/sealed roads). Beginning in the north (Cairns) will lead to a tropical start. While continuing west, this route will take you through some old mining towns. Driving even further west will bring endless days of exploring the vast outback. The feeling of remoteness begins to end with gorgeous rock formations that appear along the Great Central Road. Finally, a wonderful site of the beach will end your long cross country experience.
This is a 2900 mile journey; only the adventurous should consider this path when exploring Australia. Road and weather conditions are unpredictable, so it is best to allow 2 months of travel time. In addition, much preparation is necessary to survive a drive as strenuous as the cross-continent route. The vehicle should be equipped with extra supplies including food, water, and gasoline or petrol. While interviewing a few individuals that have made this journey, I learned that many vehicles would even carry some spare car parts. Make sure to do the proper research and preparation before executing this journey. Want to explore Australia in an extremely wild, adventurous manner? Go cross-continent!
Part two of this mini-series will discuss the tools you will require to make these adventures a reality.