If you are new to Australia or have come on vacation from abroad, there are situations you want to avoid and mistakes you just don’t want to make! We’ve traveled around the country and learned a few things along the way. Read on to discover 30 great travel tips for Australia that you need to know before you travel.
Top 30 travel tips for Australia
A road that traverses beautiful Shark Bay, WA.
Execution of actions
It’s sometimes hard to realize how big Australia is, especially if you’re coming from Europe. On our recent trip to Western Australia, we drove the equivalent of London to the other side of Turkey in just under 3 weeks!
Needless to say, it is not ideal for one person. Be sure to change drivers every 2-3 hours, as long stretches of foggy road can quickly throw you off course. Also, plan your trip carefully and try to break it up into several parts.
Upload your music
There is a lot of “middle of nowhere” in Australia, in fact most of the country probably falls into this category. There are two major cell phone networks in the country, Telstra and Optus, and each offers better coverage in different areas.
Telstra is the best option for reception in more remote areas, but even here there are many places where reception is poor or non-existent. If you don’t like driving quietly, you should load your playlists ahead of time.
We use Spotify Premium, which allows us to store music on our devices for offline use.
Avoid driving at night and at sunrise/sunset.
Seeing kangaroos is a big attraction when visiting Australia, but one place you don’t want to see them is in the middle of the road! Unfortunately, many kangaroos are run over by cars, as evidenced by the tracks they leave along the side of the road.
The vast majority of these accidents happen at night and sunrise/sunset, when the animals are most active. Spaces are vast and can cause a lot of damage to your vehicle, even in rural areas!
An additional tip: If you have to drive at night and you see a roo too late, it is better to hit it than to try to avoid it. Many serious accidents are caused by drivers turning at high speeds, and a damaged car is better than serious injury or death.
You must be able to change tires and carry spare parts.
There are many gravel roads in and out of the country and they are generally quite far from civilization. Gravel has a bad habit of puncturing tires, and here a tow truck can be 500 km or more away. They charge by the kilometer or hour, so you can imagine what it can cost per tire.
The simple skill of changing a tire is easy to learn if you don’t already know it. Make sure you have two spares if you know you will be doing a lot of off-roading. If you plan on towing a trailer or caravan, bring spares as well.
Check your vehicle
As mentioned earlier, mechanics outside of major cities may be few and far between, and they may not have an incredible amount of parts available either. Depending on how far you plan to drive, consider taking your car to a reputable repair shop and telling the mechanic about your plans.
If you stick to the busiest and most traveled routes, you should at least check your tires, oil and coolant. It may also be a good idea to carry enough oil and coolant to get you to the next town in case of a breakdown.
Help on the way
If your car breaks down despite a thorough inspection, you may need an emergency plan. Breaking down in the middle of nowhere can be a nightmare. If you have an older car or one whose reliability is questionable, consider a roadside assistance plan.
There are a number of providers that offer coverage wherever you are in Australia, and buying an annual plan can often be cheaper than a single call to a remote area. If you have a rental car, check that it is included in the price, otherwise consider buying additional insurance.
Check with your insurance company or dealer, as they can often give you a discount.
The best of camping on the beach
Keep a copy of the key in a safe place.
This is consistent with the previous advice, because locking your keys in your car means the same expensive phone call. The only alternative is to smash your own window, and that’s expensive too! A cheaper alternative is to buy a small safe from the hardware store.
These safes are equipped with a combination lock and can be installed outside your car in an inconspicuous place. Another option is to carry a spare with you during your trip. Make sure it is kept in a place that is always outside the car, such as a phone case or wallet.
Charging a card/destination
As with preloading music, poor or no reception can mean that you cannot enter routes into your satellite navigation system. Most applications have the ability to preload map areas so you can navigate without a signal.
I always charge a large area around where I am going, as long as I have a stable connection or am still at home. You can also enter a route in advance before leaving the signal area. As long as you don’t close the application, it will only navigate using GPS.
Take advantage of free/cheap camping – wikis
Australia is blessed with great opportunities for outdoor recreation. There are free campsites throughout the country, as well as a range of budget campsites run by the government. The latter often have amenities such as toilets and barbecue areas, but each campsite has its own peculiarities.
You can search and reserve camping sites at the following addresses:
WA – https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/park-stay
QLD – https://qpws.usedirect.com/qpws/
SA – https://www.parks.sa.gov.au/booking
VIC – https://www.parks.vic.gov.au/where-to-stay/camping
New South Wales – https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/camping-and-accommodation
CAS – https://parks.tas.gov.au/where-to-stay
NT – https://nt.gov.au/leisure/parks-reserves/camping/fees
If camping is not your thing, the next step is a private campground or trailer park. They often have more facilities and services, such as hot showers, electricity, restaurants, bars and stores. They often offer many options, from simple camping to luxury cabins, and can still be much cheaper than a hotel or private room elsewhere.
Use the toilets in the tourist information centers
If you travel long distances by car and have already stocked up on food and drink, you may not feel comfortable buying food and drink on the way to the toilet at home. Usually you drive when you refuel, but if you get caught, there are tourist information centers.
Most smaller Australian cities have such a place. They have free and well-maintained restrooms. They often offer unique exhibits and information about local attractions and give you tips and information about places you didn’t know you were going to visit.
Take your time.
If you are reading this and you are from abroad, don’t miss it because it seems obvious! Having lived in other countries, I can tell you that Australian police are much more likely to pull you over if you are driving, and we also have many hidden speed cameras.
Unlike other countries where there are 12 warning signs, in Australia the radar is hidden in the bushes so you never see it. The fines are also astronomical. Be prepared to pay about $100 for the cheapest and over $2,000 for the most expensive, depending on the state you are in.
Driving on the beach is just one of the benefits of a car trip to Aus!
Determine the best locations before you leave
Given the distance you have to travel in Australia, you don’t want to leave your hometown to discover what you missed when you see something great. You also don’t want to spend an entire day driving somewhere only to be disappointed.
Detours can often mean a whole day of wasted driving time, so read some guidebooks and look at some photos of the places you want to visit to make sure they are worthwhile and you don’t miss anything.
Planning a trip to WA? Follow our 10 day itinerary from Perth to Exmouth to make sure you don’t miss any of the highlights!
Bring kitchen utensils and a refrigerator/freezer.
Cooking on the go is good when you’re on the road. The further you get from Australian cities, the more expensive everything becomes, especially food.
In addition, not all campsites have kitchen facilities or can be very crowded. You can save a lot of money by shopping in supermarkets and preparing most meals yourself.
If you have dried meat (it is colder in Australia), buy more meat than you think you will need. Ice cream takes up a lot of space and beer goes down very quickly under the beautiful Australian sun!
have the capacity to produce and store energy
Depending on where you plan to stay, this advice may be more or less useful. If you plan to go camping or spend a few days in the wilderness, a light source and the ability to charge your gadgets can make your life easier.
If you want to save money on campsites, this will also help, as unused campsites are often much cheaper than meals and are generally available even when most other campsites are already fully booked.
We use a flexible solar panel combined with a large lithium battery with AC and USB output. This allows us to keep all camera equipment charged and light at night.
Bright colors on the road from Perth to Exmouth.
Consider investing in a 4×4 vehicle
Depending on where you plan your trip, this will be more or less useful. Of course, in some parts of Australia the best spots are hidden in narrow sandy paths. With an all-terrain vehicle, you can reach hidden areas and much less crowded beaches.
In the backcountry a 4×4 is a must, at many free campsites and even at many campgrounds you have to drive on dirt roads or hilly dirt roads. The amount of equipment to be transported is also not suitable for a normal vehicle.
If you know that your itinerary is completely fixed and that you will be staying in a hotel for the entire trip, then of course you ignore this point!
Bring enough cooking gas for a long time.
Depending on the type of cylinder, it can be difficult to find a replacement if you are far from town. Supplies can also quickly become scarce during peak holiday periods. It is best to buy a cylinder large enough for your needs and make sure it is full before you leave.
If you use small cans that you place directly into the stove, they are often easier to find in small towns than a gasoline filling service. Supermarkets in rural areas often have them.
Do-it-yourself stores are the best option for replacing or refilling bottles. See which type is sold along your route if you think you need a refill.
Buy an annual pass for the national park
Most, if not all, Australian states have some form of annual national park pass. Depending on the length of your stay in a particular state and the number of parks you wish to visit, this can be much cheaper than paying an individual entrance fee.
Many campgrounds are located in national parks, so you have to pay a camping fee in addition to the entrance fee. Many of the best campgrounds are also located in national parks.
In three months we have already saved more entrance fees than it cost us with our Western Australia All Park Passes. The pass is only valid for one vehicle, so the whole family is covered by one pass.
It always pays to have a 4×4 to see such views!
Know the seasons
Tourists often get the impression that Australia is warm and sunny all year round. Depending on the time of year, you may get rain and cold! It is therefore important to know what time of year your trip falls in, so that you can prepare for these conditions.
Below are the best times of year to visit each part of the country.
Northern Territory, Darwin – May to October is the dry season in the north and the best time to travel by car.
North Queensland, Cairns, Brisbane – Like NT, it is best to visit this corner of northern Australia during the dry season to avoid heavy rain and flooded roads. The destination is from May to October.
Perth, Melbourne, Sydney – In lower Australia, the summer months last from December to February. Blue skies and days of 30 degrees, what more could you want?
Upstate Washington, Exmouth, Broome, Kimberly – The dry season extends from April to September, an ideal time for car travel in upstate Washington. The rest of the year, you can expect high humidity and unpleasant temperatures.
Transport tips for remote areas in Australia / Remote Australia
Tell someone about your trip
There are vast areas of the interior where cell phones have no reception and you can spend days without being able to communicate with the outside world. One way to reduce the risk is to register with someone who is aware of your trip and knows when you are likely to arrive at your next destination.
That way, they can set off an alarm if you are gone for a certain amount of time. In some areas, you can also register your route with the local police or emergency services.
Carry an EPIRB or satellite phone.
If the above advice proves too limiting for your projects due to fixed time control, consider investing in an EPIRB or satellite phone. That way you can call for help wherever you are.
The EPIRB is a personal tracking beacon. Once activated, it alerts the emergency services that there is a problem and at the same time provides them with your location.
Satellite phone plans can sometimes be introduced for a fee, so that once you have invested in a phone, you only have to pay for a period that covers your travel.
Endless red gravel roads in the middle of nowhere
Bring plenty of food and water.
When off-roading, never underestimate the amount of water you will need. If you pause at 50 degrees and don’t have air conditioning, you’ll burn out quickly. Always have an adequate supply of water for emergencies and for all activities, such as hiking.
The same goes for food. Make sure you have enough extra supplies to survive, in case you run out of food in the middle of nowhere and have to wait a few days for rescue.
Able to perform basic repairs
If you can learn some car repair skills before a long journey through the sparsely populated regions and areas of Australia, it could save your life. Skills like changing belts or hoses, changing air or oil filters, as well as simpler things like fixing flat tires and replacing fuses can save your life.
For the cost of investing in simple and relatively inexpensive rooms and the time spent watching many videos on YouTube, you can avoid being stuck in the middle of nowhere for hours or days.
You can’t drive yourself off the road or save yourself.
Whether you want to brave the great 4×4 trails of Australia or explore the most remote beaches, it’s always good to have a spare.
If you get lost or find yourself in a situation from which you cannot escape, it will be extremely difficult to find help for you, and there are several services that offer the recovery of 4×4 sticks.
Take a friend for a walk or meet someone along the way to accompany you. If you must drive alone, make sure you are equipped with a four-wheel drive vehicle with self-directing capability.
Australia has an abundance of amazing coastal tours
A reliable first aid kit
On any adventure, not just car trips, it is important that you are able to take care of yourself in case of an accident. A first aid kit is one of those items that is hard to spend money on and can be kept with you until you need it urgently.
In general, the more isolated you are on the road and the longer your trip lasts, the more equipment you should bring. When you travel, you are not only at risk from a car accident, but also from all the activities and equipment you perform or use during the trip.
If you are traveling to the outback, you need to consider all the risks you will encounter. Of course, you should also take a course that teaches you how to administer first aid effectively.
Refuel where possible and carry spare fuel.
Gas stations are rare in the outback. You absolutely must fill up when you come across one. There are often signs reminding you how far the next one is, so you don’t forget.
You also need to know the size of your fuel tank and how many KM you can get out of it. You don’t need to fill up to the end if the next station is 600 km away and you can only get 500!
If you don’t have enough fuel, invest in portable jerry cans. Make sure they are stored safely outside your vehicle.
Pass trains with caution and stop for vehicles with flashing blue and red lights.
Parts of Australia, particularly northern Western Australia and inland Queensland, are huge mining areas. You will see some absolutely incredible vehicles driving on narrow, single-lane highways.
If you see a car in front with yellow lights coming towards you, it usually means that a large car is allowed to pass, but that you should slow down. If you see a police car or a regular car with blue and red lights, make sure you stop.
There are also road trains, which are trucks that pull up to 4 huge trailers and can be over 50 feet long! Of course, if you want to overtake these vehicles, you need a long straight stretch of road where you can see far ahead.
Shower and toilet BYO
There aren’t many conveniences when you’re away from civilization. But wilderness camping doesn’t mean you have to live in poverty. Any good camping store in Australia can provide 12-volt hot showers and portable toilets.
In many wilderness camps, “walking in the bush” is often not enough and portable toilets are a must. It is also unpleasant when other people pollute the camp environment.
It’s cool to drive in Western Australia!
Consider a solar energy system
If you invest in a good solar system with backup batteries, you never have to worry about running out of batteries or not being able to charge your equipment in the wild. When you go out into the wilderness, it’s almost a necessity.
With proper installation, you can operate all kinds of appliances in your camp, such as a refrigerator/freezer, kettle, toaster, etc. Make sure your power supply matches the expected usage and only use appliances that are suitable for camping.
It is cold at night in the desert.
Deserts are really fun environments, the temperature differences between day and night can be enormous and surprise you. If you are going into the bush, check the day and night forecasts and pack your gear accordingly.
On Nullarbor, there may be cold nights and even snow. You may need a thicker sleeping bag than you expect.
Beware of unpaved roads
There are many unpaved roads in the Australian interior. After driving on highways and getting used to the speed limit, turning onto an unpaved road can be dangerous. Reduce your speed to a level that allows you to react to sudden changes in road or wildlife conditions.
These roads can be beautiful and suddenly be half washed away or have huge potholes. Loose gravel can also be very slippery, especially on curves. If you are not used to driving on such a surface, take your time.
How to charter a car in Australia
Do you need to rent a car for your trip? No matter what part of the world we travel to, we almost always use Rentalcars.com to book a rental car. It’s easy, hassle-free and they always have a great selection of providers to choose from. Check rental car availability using the form below.
More information here:
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Frequently asked questions
What is the best trip to Australia?
Australia’s 10 most emblematic trips – Tourism Australia
What are the good tips for driving on a long trip?
9 travel tips for a safe and comfortable trip – Nationwide Blog
What do I need to take with me when I go to Australia?
Preparing for a trip to Australia – Checklist and tips for hikers
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