Road Trip Australia – how to organise an unforgettable one

Fernanda sitting on a chair in front of a motorhome watching the full moon on the horizon in Australia

This post is also available in: Português

A road trip is probably the best way to see Australia. The country, which by the way, is the world’s sixth largest and has amazing and well-maintained roads to drive through all around. Whether you fancy visiting some buzzing capitals, untouched nature or some of the most scenic coastlines, Australia has it all.

We spent just a bit more than three months in Australia and did a road tip from Melbourne to Brisbane. It was indeed an unforgettable experience and allowed us to see many places that otherwise we wouldn’t.

So, if your feet are already itching and your heart pondering just to imagine all these scenarios, keep on reading this post as we will explain you now everything you need to know to organise a road trip in Australian.

Fernanda in front of a sign saying Brisbane during our road trip in Australia with buildings in the background

Why is Australia perfect for a road trip?

Australians have a culture of road tripping themselves, which means their infrastructure is pretty good for this sort of travel. For instances, you find public toilets, showers and even barbecues everywhere! Also, their roads are usually well-maintained and signs are everywhere to make sure you are heading the right direction – and doing the right thing. We didn’t get lost at all and we visited some places that were just us and nature.

We all know Australia can be an expensive destination. However, there are barely tolls on the road and petrol is quite cheap. That means a road trip in Australia can be a great option to see the country without going bankrupt.

Buying VS renting a car in Australia

Fernanda sitting on a chair in front of a motorhome watching the full moon on the horizon in Australia

Rental cars are everywhere and this is definitely a good option for those looking for travelling for shorter periods. However, if you are planning a longer journey, buying a car can be a much better option. Particularly because renting a car is not that cheap in Australia. And if you take account of dropping off in a different place where you picked it up, it is going to cost.

Vehicles in Australia are commonly cheap and you can find great options of used cars on sites such as Gumtree. To buy one will not just give you a lot more flexibility to change routes and dates, but it can be a lot cheaper than renting.

If you go for the latter, make sure to get your car insured and to add all the amenities you may need for your Australian road trip, such as a tent and a water supply system for taking a shower and so on.

We did a road trip in Australia with a motorhome. We used Indie Campers for that and we really do not regret. It was perfect because it allowed us to sleep and cook pretty much anywhere. We paid a little more for that, but didn’t spend a penny in restaurants and accommodation.

You might be interested to read our article about exploring the famous Garden Route in a motorhome in South Africa!

What type of car to have for your road trip

Aerial view of a camping site by the beach surrounded by nature visited during a road trip in Australia

The roads in Australia are quite easy to drive on, so any regular car would do. But, if you are planning to visit the inhospitable Outback and other pieces of the country that will surely lead you to dirty roads, then you should definitely look for a 4×4. We didn’t have the opportunity to go to the Outback, but we plan to come back for that though!

What you need to know about driving in Australia

They drive on the left side

If you, like us, are not used to driving on the left side of the road, driving an Australian car can be a bit confusing at the beginning. You might punch your door while trying to change the gear, or turn on the wiper blades instead of the indicators on the first days (perhaps weeks), but you will soon get used to it.

Petrol stations

A petrol pump saying I paid 148.87 Australian dollars for 67.7 litres of petrol

They can be found pretty much everywhere, even on the not-so-much navigated roads. Still, it is worth having an extra gallon of petrol with you at all times, specially if you plan to visit the Outback. You may also like to know that some petrol stations in Australia offer free resting areas for you to take a nap or even to spend the night in your car.

Animals on the roads

The biggest concern you may face while driving in Australia are the animals on the road. In fact, kangaroos are the number one cause of road accidents in the country. That being said, we strongly recommend you to avoid driving during the night, so you have a clear vision of the road. Another advice is to buy a Car Whistle Device, a small device you can attach to your car that produces an imperceptive-to-humans-sound that keeps animals away.

A kangaroo jumping carrying a baby in the belly in a grass field

We never drove during sunrise and sunset, because that when animals are attracted to the car lights. But the amount of killed kangaroos, koalas and other animals on the shoulder of the road was impressive. Do be careful!

Where to sleep during an Australian road trip

Having the possibility of sleeping in your own car is one of the best things about road tripping in Australia. There are lots of free or cheap camping sites scattered around the country and you can find them on the WikiCamps app or at Free Camping Australia website. Of course, there are also plenty of hotels or rental properties available as well. Find your best accommodation here.

What is the best time for an Australian road trip?

A swimming pool by the beach completely empty
As you can see, Australia can be cold

As mentioned above, Australia is one of the world’s biggest countries. Therefore, the best time to visit it depends entirely on where exactly you’re going to. Bare in mind that winter goes from June to August and summer from December to February.

Winter – South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and south of Western Australia will be very cold. But it’s perfect to travel around Queensland and the Northern Territories, especially the Outback!

Summer – On the other hand, impossible to go to the Outback as temperatures are unbearable. Queensland and the Northern Territories will be very hot. But South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria will be perfect!

We did our road trip in Australia during the winter. We really struggled from Melbourne to Byron Bay. In fact, many places and beautiful beaches we would love to have stayed longer, but it didn’t make sense as it was really cold.

Where to go for an Australian road trip

The twelve apostles in the Great Ocean Road during a road trip in Australia

The main Australian cities were developed by the coast, so there are plenty of routes in these areas. In fact, one of the coolest road trips in Australia is the Highway 1, a whopping 14,935 kilometres long road that goes through every mainland state capital. Spare at least a month for this. The very least!

Some other scenic and adventurous road trips in Australia include:

  • The Great Ocean Road, a 250km long road from Torquay to Warrnambool;
  • The Pacific Coast, from Sidney to Brisbaine for around 950 km;
  • The Tasmania’s East Coast, which goes from Hobart to the Bay of Fires for around 260 km.

One option, is renting a car for small trips, such as going to Kangaroo Island and join some on some tours, like this one to the 12 Apostles, where is harder to find accommodation.

If you are going to Sydney, look at these fascinating facts about the Sydney Opera House.

Not to forget when packing it up!

The city of Melbourne in Australia at night
Melbourne at dusk

Last, but not least, here you are a few things you can’t forget to buy or bring for your Australian road trip:

  • camping gear: a tent and a sleeping bag;
  • cooking gear: stove, gas, pots and pans;
  • a torch;
  • spare fuel tank of the car;
  • a good offline GPS: we recommend the app, which has saved us countless times, whether we were on a bike journey, on a road trip or on a walking hike;
  • basic tools: a spare tyre; a carjack; some wrenches, screwdrivers and a hammer.

We hope this guide on how to organise an Australian road trip has been helpful! If you can’t find an answer to something you were looking for, leave us a comment below and we’ll get back to you asap.