Australia is the perfect road trip country and if you’re here for any significant amount of time, you’d be doing yourself, and the country, an injustice by not hitting the open road. From the Red Centre Way to the Nullabour Plains, from the East coast to the West side, the Great Ocean Road or the Kimberleys, there’s a whole heap of this great land waiting to be explored by track, road and highway. So get prepared for your awesome road trip adventure by taking note of the 10 things I reckon you shouldn’t hit the tarmac without.
1. Good Wheels
First thing you’ll need if you’re going to road trip Australia is a decent set of wheels. Many backpackers opt for campervans, which are a great way to see the country cheaply because you can sleep in them as well as drive. However, they’re not known for being the most reliable vehicles and certainly won’t get you too far off the beaten track. If you prefer something a bit more heavy-duty, then opt for a 4wd – this will allow you to get off the bitumen and see the more remote parts of Australia. Whatever type of vehicle you go for, always check it has a road worthy certificate and get it looked over by a mechanic before you buy it. If it’s already registered, better still.
2. Good Mates
Half the fun of a good road trip is the people who take it with you, so make sure you round up a good group of people to enjoy this Aussie adventure. There are several key factors to consider when choosing a travel buddy, but having the same interests and rough plans for your trip is a good start. Road tripping with others will also make things cheaper as, with everyone chipping in for fuel and food, the costs are bound to be lower.
3. Good Tunes
No road trip around Australia is complete without an awesome sound track, so make sure you get this organised before you head off. First, check the radio and speaker system in your vehicle and make sure it’s working and to your liking! Then buy any additional cables or parts you might need. Finally, start getting your sound track together. Consider buying Spotify Premium as this allows you to download playlists you can listen to without wifi reception. Otherwise, club together your library playlists and make your own.
4. Good Maps
You’re definitely going to need some good navigation tools for your Australian road trip as this large country sure is easy to get lost in. While you have phone reception, good old google maps via your smartphone is always handy. Once you get away from the coast and into some of the wilder parts of Australia however, it doesn’t take long for the signal to drop out. As such, consider investing in a GPS system – many can even be hired these days from popular rental companies. If that doesn’t take your fancy, then it could just be the old-fashioned paper maps you’ll have to settle for. Hema maps are great and can be bought in service stations, book stores and newsagents around the country. Otherwise, head into tourist offices as you make your way through Australia and round up the tons of free map resources they have.
This is, without a doubt, the best app money can buy when it comes to road tripping Australia. Costing only $8 AUD, you can download wikicamps onto your phone and use it to discover thousands of free, budget or luxury campsites along your road trip route. Wikicamps also gives you info on popular attractions, picnic stops, rest areas as well as towns and, with reviews from other travellers, it’s one of the greatest sources of info out there
6. Tons of Water
Do not underestimate the amount of water you’ll need to carry on board during your road trip. Even if you’re not going remote, all that driving can be thirsty work and don’t forget you’ll need water for the vehicle too. If you’re going out bush, then it’s best to be prepared and take extra water you can wash yourselves and any clothes / dishes with. I recommend at least 5litres per person per day in this instance, more if you’re travelling in summer or through desert areas.
7. A Telstra SIM Card
No, this isn’t an advert for Telstra, it’s just a fact! Telstra have the best signal range in Australia – period – and, if they’re not your phone service provider, you are going to struggle to get reception anywhere out of the major towns. Trust me I know – my boyfriend has a Vodafone SIM and I have Telstra. Permanently having one measly bar at best causes him endless frustration on our long road trips. They might be a bit more expensive, but you will get your money’s worth with Telstra!
8. A Tent
Taking a tent with you, so that you can camp out under the stars, is a key part of the Aussie road trip experience. Not only will it save you money, but it will also allow you to experience some of the country’s great national parks, many of which have camp accommodation facilities only. If you’re taking a campervan or you can sleep in the back of your car, a tent isn’t so important, but nevertheless, it’s a great idea if you want to go hiking or simply sleep outside and soak up the balmy night temperatures.
9. A Stubby Holder
Crucial for keeping your beer cold at the end of a long day driving, your life will be miserable if you don’t take a few stubby holders on your Australian road trip. Cheap, light, easy to carry, these gems really are worth their weight in gold when it comes to getting the best out of your frosty one in the strong Aussie sun.
10. A Torch
Do not, I repeat do not, even consider going on an Australian road trip without a torch. Do you know how dark it can get out there and do you know how many potential creepy crawlies you may encounter on your way to the toilet in the night? Enough said. Plus, it’s really helpful when trying to cook and/or eat and/or set up a tent in the dark. Believe me, I know.
So that’s my list of the 10 things you can’t go without when road tripping Australia. What’s on yours?