You can travel through Australia in several ways. A lot of travelers follow the highway by car and spend their nights in hotels, motels or hostels. But if you really want to discover and experience the country, you should go camping. When traveling by camper you’ll enjoy total freedom. If you like to keep it simple, a car with camping gear is a good alternative to a camper. Australia is a perfect country to hire a camper and go camping, there are thousands of campsites and camping areas on the continent. They are situated nearby the cities, next to the ocean, close to the rainforest or in remote areas. There are thousands of commercial campsites and caravan sites with good sanitary facilities, campsite kitchens, playgrounds and perhaps even a swimming pool. You can also go camping in the wild and stay at one of the numerous National Park Camping Areas. Here you won’t have a lot of luxurious facilities but it will make you experience Australia to the fullest. If you’re lucky you might spot some native animals like kangaroos, koala’s, possum’s, blue fairy wrens, king parrots and rainbow lorikeets. In most cases there are good places to go for a walk nearby the camping grounds, especially in a National Park. And if it’s allowed you can enjoy a campfire at night and listen to the sounds of the forest under a beautiful starry sky.
To make your vacation successful it’s very important to make a good itinerary and keep to it. If you only have a couple of weeks, it’s better to travel through a small part of the continent to be able to keep a nice and relaxed pace when traveling by car or camper, this way you’ll have the time to enjoy and visit all the sights worth seeing on your itinerary. Here are some itineraries we see a lot but which are wrong in our opinion:
- Traveling from Melbourne to Cairns, including the Great Ocean Road, in 3 weeks or less.
- Going from Sydney to Adelaide in 8 or 10 days.
- Traveling in only 3 weeks by 4WD from Darwin to Perth via Karijini NP and the Gibb River Road.
- Taking only about 9 days to travel by 4WD from Broome to Darwin via the Gibb River Road and Kakadu NP
- Doing the itinerary Sydney - Cairns - Alice Springs - Melbourne - Sydney in 6 weeks or less. Or the same itinerary starting and ending in one of the other cities.
- Thinking you can see most of the sights of the Red Centre in only 3 days.
- Traveling through Tasmania in 7 days or less.
The same counts if you do the first 5 itineraries in the other way.
This kind of itineraries won’t let you enjoy your vacation, it will be all about long days traveling and having to pass on a lot of sights you planned to visit. You should be aware that traveling speeds can be very low, especially on the (South-)East-coast because of the road-system and the recurring roadworks. In other parts of the country, because of the dirt roads, the speed will be lower than one would expect. So take your time and make a realistic planning and itinerary! You don’t want to spend a lot of money to drive rapidly through the country with your car or camper. Just so you know, we once did a long itinerary in a short amount of time, and we will never do this again.
It’s important to limit the things you want to see in just a couple of weeks, because the country is too big to see it all in such a short time. However, there are many travelers who want to visit a lot of sights in a short time. They usually plan to drive about 250 km per day, thinking that Australia is overall sparsely populated and that they can drive quite fast on the highways. However, this isn’t possible in a lot of areas, especially on the (South-)East-coast and on Tasmania. Numerous sights aren’t near the highways, they are off road, this means it takes some time to reach them. Most people forget, when they plan the itinerary, that you will have to buy provisions quite often and that you will have to look for a new camp site every day, which can take a lot of time. Especially In December and January these things will take you some time because this is the high season and most camp sites, especially on the South-West-coast and the South-East-coast will be fully booked.
A good example is the itinerary from Sydney to Cairns (and vice versa); based on our personal experience, we highly recommend to take at least 22 to 25 days to make this trip. This way you can enjoy a relaxed vacation driving by different points of interest than you would usually do. Unfortunately a lot of travelers think differently about this and do this itinerary in just 12 to 14 days and think they’ll be able to visit all the beautiful sights in New South Wales and Queensland in this short amount of time. Once arrived, they realize that this will not be possible and have to cut things from their program.
Something people tend to forget is that most sights are (far) away from the highway, even on a big part of the coast.
If you plan to travel through Australia with children, don’t hesitate to contact us. We have done this several times with our kids, aged from 11 months to 15 years old. Our children have travelled with us by car/tent combination, campervan, motorhome, bushcamper, 4wd car with off road caravan and 4wd car with off road campertrailer, for periods varying between 6 weeks and 6 months. We traveled through all the federal states, except for the northern part of the Cape York Peninsula: Through areas like the South-West, Tasmania, the Kimberley, the Pilbara, on Kangaroo Island, in Far North Queensland, on the Great Central Road, in Outback NSW, along the Gulf Track, Plenty Highway, the Eyre Peninsula, via the Tanami Road, in the Red Center, Top End, and in and through lots of National Parks which don’t get a lot of tourists etc. We often traveled through the same area several times.
We feel like we can say that we are very experienced regarding traveling through Australia with (small) children per car or camper. The (South-)East and the South-West of the country are especially suited for a family vacation.
Most children love traveling through Australia and want to go back during the next vacation. Australia has a lot to offer to your little travelers, and this will make your vacation to a big succes. Think about all the child-friendly campsites, the long beaches and the numerous playgrounds you will find during your trip. But they can also go spot a lot of beautiful birds, kangaroos, possums, koalas etc. They often really enjoy staying on a National Park campground because they have a lot of space to play and run around. It gets even better when you’re allowed to make a campfire.
Planning is very important. Some adults like traveling fast, and only staying at the same place for a short time. Children are different, they prefer staying a bit longer so that they can play and discover the area. For example, if you decide to travel from Darwin to Perth in 21 days, this will possibly get quite frustrating for the children because of the long days they’ll have to spend on the road in the car or camper. This will not make the vacation fun for you nor for your kids. Another planning we see quite regularly is the long itinerary from Cairns to Adelaide (or in the other way) in 28 or 30 days, which is to short in our opinion. Most of the time the parents don’t think of how the children would want to travel when they make their planning, though this is very important. So take your time!!