My wife and I set out to fulfil the great Aussie dream back in 2003, that is, to travel Australia and explore Australia’s many diverse destinations, indefinitely….
What a travel adventure we were to embark on. Australia is an enormous continent and most of us who are born and bred Australians are guilty of not experiencing much of our country at all.
We were guilty of same. My wife and I were in our late 20’s when we decided that our opportunity to freely travel was becoming less and less. Kids and mortgages were on the horizon and we were keen to make a major change in our lives before the prospect to do so as easily was diminished.
We started planning some eight months before we finally left. It made it really hard to concentrate on work, knowing such an exciting Australian holiday was on the horizon.
I thought I’d put this article together to quickly jot down a couple of pointers that might help anyone else who is thinking of doing the same trip we did. That is, travelling Australia, anti clockwise, taking in Cape York, The Gulf Country, The Top End and Kimberley along the way. We completed a lap of Australia in just less than 12 months and covered around 45,000 kms along the way.
I would also like to offer anyone the opportunity to contact us should you want to discuss ideas or need suggestions about planning your own big journey. Either write notes below the article or send me a message via My Place.
We drove a 2001 Nissan Patrol, 4.2 diesel – poverty pack. Steel wheels, plastic floors, non turbo. Great car but not much chop on sand with the thinner wheels and no turbo.
We towed a Goldstream Link Camper Trailer also 2001, which we purchased ex hire for around 16k. It had off road tyres and reasonable clearance but came with a standard coupling, single axel and leaf suspension, where now days I know you can purchase much more robust rigs. Mind you, we towed the van on Fraser Island and most of the way up the Cape and around the Gulf without too much hassle. Though we did offset the axel a touch when we drove through a wash out at top speed….
We had a tinny on the roof of the car, mountain bikes on the back of the van (until they fell off) and golf clubs in the boot…. I’d like to say everything but the kitchen sink, but we had one of them in the van, so I guess we covered the lot….
Great Places to Stay and things to See
I will provide more details on places we went in my reviews on the site but some of our favourite locations along the way were: Bemm River, Gipsy Point, Lake Conjola, Fraser Island, Cania Gorge, Emerald, Cairns, Cooktown, Weipa, Cape York in general, Karumba, Lawn Hill, Limmen Bight, Kakadu, Daly River, Mataranka, Kununurra, Broome, Cape Keraudren north or Port Hedland, Karijini National Park near Tom Price and Coral Bay to name but a few. I’ll add more links in this article over time. We went to many places some good, some not so exciting….but all worth the effort to see what makes Australia, Australian towns and Australian people tick.
My Uncle asked me the other day, would I do anything different if I was to travel again. What car to buy, what would I tow and so on. On one hand I thought we had a really well rounded set up. On another, I think there are lots of things that I would do and equipment I would change that would really enhance the experience.
One of them is a crazy idea of getting rid of the van and towing a larger tinny (boat) with a 4x4 boat trailer. Sleeping in tents – which are so good, easy to set up, comfortable and cheap now days and using the boat to keep the equipment in as we travelled. A van is really a bit of over kill in northern Australia. It didn’t get below 25 degrees or rain for at least 8 - 9 months of our journey and in the occasions further south, when tents were not suitable you can stay in a cabin. This is still cheaper than getting a big van, especially with the cost of fuel and depreciation. It would also make you much more flexible.
Having a boat on the roof was in short a pain. The effort to rig it up meant that you really needed to be stationed at the location for a longer period of time. Short day trips to explore the local waterways were not practical. Packing up a boat when it is 38 degrees and you are covered in fish bait is far from fun.
Different strokes for different folks, happy to share some ideas if anyone wants to email me through the web site.
Things to do
We both wrote our travel journals come travel diaries in the old fashioned A4 note book. Now days I’d keep a blog on a site like this. A travel blog (replace word blog with journal) is a much cleaner way to keep notes on a trip. Laptops are so cheap now days and internet connections so portable, again, I would not go anywhere without a lap top. They make for great storage devises for your photos as well.
Photos and writing. Don’t underestimate the time you might spend documenting your trip. We did. We took pen and paper and a film camera as digital cameras were not that popular yet. Despite how exciting the thought of travelling for an extended period around Australia is, you can still get a little bored. I never thought I’d get sick of hiking, looking, fishing, swimming and reading but you can. When we travel again, I’ll set myself an assignment to keep a comprehensive travel diary and document my experiences using a laptop. I’ll take a better digital camera and get those shots onto my PC frequently, writing notes on the image, where it was and why it was taken. This assignment gives your trip a purpose and helps define your activities and enhances the experience somewhat.
I’ve done that on smaller trips more recently and felt much more excited about the journey than I have before.
That’s about it for now,
- Melbourne CBD and Suburbs
- Melbourne, with so much to see and do in the centre of this vibrant city, it is best explored in specific sections. For those wanting to shop there is the Central Retail District which is the heartbeat of Melbourne's shopping trade. Bourke St Mall is a popular site for big-name department stores. Not too far away, Melbourne Central is a 20-storey tower with cafes, restaurants and shops. Worth investigating are the Royal Arcade and Centre Way for their specialty shops and historic significance. The Block Arcade is very exclusive, while Howey Place and Australia on Collins are less so, but also popular shopping spots. Chinatown is found in and around Little Bourke St, where Chinese business, commerce and culture have been thriving since the gold-rushes of the 1850s. A popular destination for fans of authentic Chinese cuisine, Chinatown is also home to the Chinese Museum, The Greek precinct, Swanston St is largely a pedestrian mall, overtaken by pavement cafes and shops. Meander along the mall and down the surrounding streets and view some of Melbourne's most historic buildings, such as St Paul's Cathedral, Flinders Street Station, Young and Jackson's Hotel and Melbourne Town Hall.