If you’re heading to Australia, are in Australia, or are Australian. These are some less- obvious things that made our road trip along the entire Australian coast just that little bit easier.
Australians drive on the left and they love their cars. You’ll inevitably see lots of burnouts, drift marks, and totalled cars along the road. That is why if you drive a van like ours, which maxes out at around 100-105km/h, you need to prepare yourself for a lot of tailgating.
One of the most relaxed country in the world is seemingly one of the most in a rush. We managed to get tailgaters in regions where we hadn’t seen a car on the other side of the road for over 20km. Keep your calm, try to move to the side and give them as many opportunities to overtake as you can. Slamming the breaks or getting into an anger fit over it, will not improve the situation. For all the tailgaters – please know that some people do wish they could drive the speed limit without driving at a rev speed which drinks 25L/100km.
Try not to drive at night. Due to the heat, Australian wildlife is mostly active at sunrise, night, and sunset.
When you overtake a road-train, or one overtakes you, keep in mind their entire 50-60m vehicle needs to pass. That’ll easily be a 800m overtake in some cases. Most truckies just need to get to their destination so allow them to pass. If you find yourself at a stop sign – talk to the guy or gal that is working there. They are often full hearted and with a good sense of humour. It’s good way to kill some time.
When you’re driving in Australia make sure you know if your road is going to be sealed (with cement), unsealed (dirt road), corrugated (lots of little bumps along the road), or a 4×4 only road. Don’t let it hit you by surprise. Finally, pay attention to your mileage and speed. Sometimes you can save a lot of money over the long drives by driving just a bit more carefully. (See Fuel Maps)
Use gas stations to your advantage for showers, bathrooms, filling up water, and some human interactions! Some even have restaurants if you feel like trying some local parmie or a beer at the end of your drive. Caravan parks are also scattered along the Australian desert. They often allow non-park residents to use the showers for a small fee. They are little Oasis’ in the middle of nothing. Use free beach showers, local councils and Public Toilet Map Australia & Wikicamps apps! There are really a lot more public toilets and showers in Australia than you might think!
Get a Vehicle
Australia is a massive continent. If you haven’t seen the pictures online, check out this one, or this, or even this one. Be sure to really drive the distance. A lot things might be a 300km detour away. We know, in Europe this could mean 3 different countries. Nonetheless, dedicate the time to it. Karijini, the Ningaloo Reef, and the King’s Canyon, all would be very difficult to reach without a car.
Now that you have a car, make sure you meet a mechanic in the outback. As we said earlier, Australians do love their cars. They are extremely knowledgeable about them. We learned how to service our own car thanks to Nate, our in-house mechanic at our job on Kangaroo Island. It’s also a great conversation starter and a useful life skill to have!
Fuel Maps & Park Passes
Once you’ve got a car and realise how far you have to drive, make sure you split the costs. Either by carpooling or making friends. Record your car/van fuel usage and mileage by using Fuel Maps. This is extremely helpful to help you sell your van at the end of your stay or even to help you cut down on fuel costs. We only began using it half way into our trip.
This is our data when we were driving on 100km/h roads:
km / Liter: 8.04 km
L / 100km: 12.4L
km / $: 5.04km
(over a distance of about 4,000km)
This is our data when we were driving 92 on 100km/h roads
km / Liter: 10.06 km
L / 100km: 10.05L
km / $: 6.32km
(over a distance of about 20,000km)
Of course this will all depend on your car and the fuel prices in the region. But we noticed that driving 7km/h slower drastically lowered our fuel costs. After driving 24,000km, we were able to save about 800$ worth of fuel over the last 6 months. The app will also give you maxes, mins, averages per fill, and totals. Keep in mind our driving would change as we entered and left towns and slowed due to traffic, wildlife, and roadworks. It’s a rough estimate but the numbers speak for themselves!
Use Park passes to your advantage. This is important. You will save a lot of money because a lot of Australian beauty lies in their national parks. All states have one (most are free entry in Queensland!).
Telstra, Telstra, Telstra
No, this is not an advertisement. But we did the test. Simo’s phone has a dual slot sim card. We traveled around the entire Australian coast, as well as to Alice Springs, Kangaroo Island and Rottnest Island with Telstra and Optus sims. There were less than a half dozen times where Optus had better coverage than Telstra. Most of the time, it was Telstra coverage that was available. In towns and cities, Optus might make more sense as they both cover well, and Optus is cheaper. If you intend to travel. I truly recommend Telstra.
You’re going to love Australia. I have yet to meet someone who came here and had a terrible time. The people are amongst the friendliest in the world and if you approach them with positive intentions you can’t go wrong. Learn your local lingo – in Australia everyone’s your mate. Discover new favourite beers through the local drinking culture and the local breweries. Don’t forget to always bring something to be a barbecue. And for the love of god, wear suncream.