Travelling Australia places to go travel cost lessons learnt
AUSTRALIA,  TIPS

TRAVELLING AUSTRALIA: PLACES TO GO, TRAVEL COST, LESSONS LEARNT

I remember how stressed I was before my first road trip across Australia. Despite planning the entire trip carefully, doing lots of research, and talking with many travellers, I kept on self-sabotaging myself. “Is it really a good idea to go travelling solo?” – I couldn’t stop asking myself. The idea itself turned out to be great, but some decisions I made could have been much better. In this blog post, I’m going to give you an overview of all my journeys across Australia, including mistakes I made, and lessons I learnt (the hard way)!

WESTERN AUSTRALIA 1.0 | DECEMBER 2020 – JANUARY 2021

This was my first road trip! I spent nearly 6 weeks travelling Western Australia, living out of my campervan, and enjoying some of the most beautiful places in the entire country. This journey kicked off with a long drive to Karijini National Park from Perth via Great Northern Highway, followed by a visit to Exmouth, Kennedy Range National Park, and Shark Bay. After that, I made my way down to Margaret River, and then drove to Fitzgerald River National Park. I finished the trip there, and turned back to Perth with a short stop at Wave Rock. For a longer read about the best places to visit in Western Australia, go to a separate post.

What mistakes did I make during my first road trip? I should have spent more money on the car, and chosen something more reliable for this drive. The fact that I did almost 8500 km in an old campervan from 2005 is quite impressive, but definitely not wise, especially that I drove all alone to very remote places with no reception and Internet. On top of that, I had zero auto mechanic skills, and in case of any car failures I would have had to ask strangers to help me out. In reality, if that happened in outback Australia, I could be waiting for help for a few days. Today I would surely take a more reliable car and a radio on this journey.

It’s not like my safety was not a priority to me. I just wasn’t aware how different travelling around Australia and travelling in Europe can be. Anyway, my emergency plan was simple. I had a supply of food and water for at least 7 days (in case my car broke down) plus my best friend had my full itinerary. She knew where I was going, and when I was meant to return, so she could call for help if I wasn’t back as expected. This plan wasn’t too bad in case of a car failure, but it would not suffice in case of a life-threatening situation (serious injury, snake bite). That’s why today I would also take a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) on this trip with me.

Time & duration: December 2020 – January 2021 (6 weeks)
Travel cost: 6630.42 AUD (flights to Australia are not included)
Accommodation: tent, campervan
Vehicle: Kia Pregio (2005)
Distance: 8467 km

SOUTH AUSTRALIA 1.0 | APRIL 2021

My first road trip taught me that I can’t be cheap on car rental, especially when planning a solo drive to outback Australia. Fast forward to April 2021, I had to choose a vehicle for my second road trip. The decision I made was much wiser this time. I went with a Mitsubishi Triton 4×4 Dual Cab, a very nice and reliable car. The price I paid was much higher though. The total charges for a two week rental were 1377 AUD, which is more or less what I paid for the old campervan for the entire 6 weeks. Anyway, it’s worth booking with Enterprise Rent A Car in Beverley, Adelaide. I highly recommend this company, and obviously the car too.

The Flinders Ranges are the largest mountain range in South Australia, one of the top places to visit in this state, and my huge bucket list back in 2021. I flew from Perth to Adelaide just to see this place and then go back. I went to see Mount Remarkable National Park too, but this was something I added to my itinerary on the go. Wondering what mistakes I made this time? Well… I found out that a 15 dollar KMART sleeping bag is not enough to survive a cold night in outback Australia. I couldn’t make myself comfortable at night, quickly decided to take down my tent, and sleep on the back seat of my car. Not ideal, but much warmer. Trust me!

Things I would do differently today include taking a –5°C rated sleeping bag, radio and PLB on this trip. The Flinders Ranges are a great destination for people visiting outback Australia for the first time, but it doesn’t mean you get full mobile coverage in the entire national park. Internet and reception can be found only in Wilpena Pound hence, driving around without a radio and PLB is quite risky. Cars always break down in the most unexpected moments, and that may happen while visiting some of the park’s remote locations. For detailed information about Flinders Ranges National Park, and its walking trails, go to separate posts.

Time & duration: April 2021 (2 weeks)
Travel cost: no data available
Accommodation: tent, car
Vehicle: Mitsubishi Triton 4×4 Dual Cab (2019)
Distance: 1432 km

TASMANIA 1.0 | SEPTEMBER 2021 – OCTOBER 2021

Here we go with my third huge trip, and very first visit to Tasmania. Honestly speaking, I was well-prepared for this one. I had a 3-season tent with me, as well as a –5°C rated sleeping bag, and was ready to rent a PLB for the most demanding hikes. The plan was easy, to spend a total period of 5 weeks in Tasmania, one week in Hobart, and the following four in the Tassie wilderness. These are the places I got to see while exploring the island by car and obviously on foot: Wellington Park, Port Arthur, Tasman National Park, Freycient National Park, Launceston, Maria Island, Queenstown, Meander Falls, Montezuma Falls, Mole Creek Cave. 

Good news is that a 2WD car is absolutely sufficient to get you around Tasmania, and there’s no need to spend a fortune on a 4×4 vehicle. Having said that, I went with a Mitsubishi ASX Compact SUV, rented out from Budget in Hobart Downtown. The total rental cost for 31 days was 1631 AUD. Quite a good deal, given that I used this car not only to drive around, but also to crash in it from time to time. Besides that, I also spent many nights in my tent, and sometimes stayed in hostels and hotels, which unfortunately couldn’t be avoided. Tassie is well-known for its unpredictable weather, and that helped a lot with getting my gear dry.

I have literally no idea how many kilometers I did around Tassie in my car, but I can tell you how many I walked. In short – a lot! I was hiking almost every day, and completed a couple of stunning multi-day hikes. That includes: Cape Pillar Circuit, Freycinet Peninsula Circuit, Walls of Jerusalem, Frenchman’s Cap, and the very famous Overland Track. Happy to say that I made zero mistakes during this trip. However, please keep in mind that October is a little risky to go travelling Tassie as the weather keeps changing unexpectedly, to say the least. I chose this month on purpose, but you may consider planning your trip a bit later in the year.

Time & duration: September 2021 – October 2021 (5 weeks)
Travel cost: 6582.09 AUD (flights to Australia are not included)
Accommodation: tent, car, hostel, hotel
Vehicle: Mitsubishi ASX Compact SUV (2019)
Distance: no data available

WESTERN AUSTRALIA 2.0 | DECEMBER 2021 – JANUARY 2022

Shortly after my Tassie trip, I decided to cease my skilled visa and as a consequence leave Australia, and move back to Poland. The clock was ticking, I didn’t have too much time left, so I packed my bag, and went travelling again. My goal was to go down south to see places I didn’t get to see in Western Australia during my first road trip in 2020. That included Esperance, Cape Le Grand National Park, Cape Arid National Park. I also happened to revisit some of my favourite places in WA’s South West as I truly wanted to make the most of this trip. For a longer read about the best places to visit in Western Australia, go to a separate post.

Can’t tell you how much money I spent on this trip, but I’m pretty sure it was the cheapest adventure so far. Mostly because I wasn’t travelling solo anymore or at least for the time being. My travel buddy owned a very nice ute, so I didn’t have to rent a car, which always takes up a big chunk of my budget. We also shared some expenses together, so it all helped a lot to keep this trip low-cost. Holden Colorado 4×4 was equipped with everything we needed to drive off-road, including a radio, compressor, and recovery tracks. That gave us a chance to explore a little bit off the beaten path, in addition to very popular, top tourist destinations.

Is there anything I would do differently during this trip? Absolutely not! Everything went to plan, and I had a great time. Although it’s worth mentioning that December in Australia is not the best time to go camping if you are heading to popular places, wish to avoid crowds, and do not plan your stays well in advance. Most campsites are packed with people over Christmas, and a year-in-advance reservation is no surprise. That’s why we couldn’t stay overnight in Lucky Bay as it gets booked up for that period of time several months prior. It made us drive back and forth from a different location, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t that bad.

Time & duration: December 2021 – January 2022 (2 weeks)
Travel cost: no data available
Accommodation: tent, hotel
Vehicle: Holden Colorado 4×4 (2012)
Distance: no data available

TASMANIA 2.0 | JANUARY 2022 – MARCH 2022

I started planning my second trip to Tasmania before I even left the island in October 2021. The abundance of walking tracks, the variety of landscapes, and the true wilderness made me come back for more. So here I was, back in Tassie for another two months. Seems like a lot, right? I get it, it does, but I planned to do a couple of very remote multi-day hikes, and that’s the reason why I needed time, to walk and rest, and then to do it again. These are the places I got to see during this trip: Mount Field National Park, Bruny Island, Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park, Ben Lomond National Park, north-west & north-east Tassie.

I had zero issues with the car I rented during my first Tassie trip, so I was completely fine going with the same one, and renting out from Budget in Hobart Downtown again. Driving Mitsubishi ASX Compact SUV for 61 days cost me 2116 AUD, and that was really my cheapest option. Fun fact is that I stopped tracking expenses after quitting my job in December 2021. Not having any income gave me some sort of anxiety, so I preferred not checking my bank account, rather than checking it and feeling preoccupied. That’s why I can’t tell how much money I spent to make this trip happen, but I was doing my best to save as much as possible.

Since my budget was tight, I spent most of the nights on the back seat of my car, and camping in a tent. Sometimes I did stay in hostels, and a few times even in hotels, but that mostly happened after huge, exhausting hikes, and when I needed some privacy. Those big treks I did are some of the toughest multi-day hikes in Tasmania. That includes: Mount Anne Circuit, Western Arthurs Traverse, and Federation Peak. If you are new to Tassie, and not sure what to expect in the mountains there, go and read my guide to hiking in Tasmania first. This blog post covers everything you need to know about the Tassie trails before you go.

Time & duration: January 2022 – March 2022 (2 months)
Travel cost: no data available
Accommodation: tent, car, hostel, hotel
Vehicle: Mitsubishi ASX Compact SUV (2019)
Distance: no data available

VICTORIA 1.0 | APRIL 2022 – MAY 2022

Last couple of weeks in Australia, and a big decision to make. Where to go and what to see before flying back home. It was getting quite cold down south, so jumping on a plane to Queensland seemed reasonable. I ended up staying in Victoria though. Mostly because I knew more about this state, had some friends in Melbourne, and they were willing to put me up for some time in the city. On top of that, I could finally go and explore Victoria as I wanted two years earlier. I used to live in Melbourne in 2020 for 9 months, but didn’t really see too much as I spent most of my time in harsh lockdown… just a ruthless pandemic reality.

Car rental prices in Victoria knocked me out. After researching the topic online, I realised that I was super lucky with my Tassie deals, and that I can’t afford renting a car from commercial companies anymore, or at least I can’t do it in Victoria. My plan was to seek advice from my friends hoping that someone would know a local rental company with more affordable prices. The truth is, the longer you live abroad, the more friends you have, and that always helps. After posting about it online, I got offered by a friend of a friend to take his private car. That’s how I ended up driving with Nissan Patrol 4×4 for 6 weeks for 500 AUD, and a full tank.

Victoria cools down in autumn, so sleeping in a car was no longer an option. I had to book standard accommodation due to low temperatures more often than I expected. It wasn’t too cold during the day, in fact, I don’t really like it to be too hot, but rainfalls were pretty annoying. Victoria does get quite a lot of rain during this time of the year, so I had to change my plans several times because of that. Overall I don’t regret staying in Victoria as I got to see some of the best places in this state: Mount Buffalo National Park, Wilsons Promontory, the Grampians. I also did a few walks in the Australian Alps, and drove the Great Ocean Road.

Time & duration: April 2022 – May 2022 (6 weeks)
Travel cost: no data available
Accommodation: car, hostel, hotel
Vehicle: Nissan Patrol 4×4
Distance: 3912 km

My sixth road trip across Australia
My sixth road trip across Australia: Victoria 1.0

That’s all about travelling Australia. Do you have any questions about the places I went to see? Let me know by leaving a comment below!


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