Tips From Experience of Driving Australia

January 11, 2010 · 9 comments

For a good set of tips, see my previous post, and reverse everything mentioned:  How Not to Travel across Australia.

However these are a bit generic and a given, you’ll see them everywhere, common sense really. But it’s the small things that you learn on route that can make big differences on a long trip.

Here is some tips that have helped me a lot navigating Australia’s outback and trip planning is what you can do to enhance your experience:

Buy a windscreen shield. These cheap devices ($5-10) help a lot in cooling down your vehicles interior. Window tint all around is good but illegal on the windscreen, so this helps complete the effect (bonus tip: figure out where the sun will raise in the morning and put it up pointing in that direction, you’ll get yourself an extra 40 minutes sleeping this way).

When you can't afford tints, these bad boys do the job

When you can't afford tint, these bad boys do the job

Shared driving is a lot easier; breaks are good, and fatigue can be fatal. Resting whilst on the move is a good way to make pace. You can divide the driving between fuel stops, hours, 1/2 or 1/4 days, etc. I found 1/4 days to be the most comfortable but everyone will be different.

cool-box-with-ice

Ice is nice

Get a coolbox (Esky) and fill it with ice, ice, ice. Not actually necessary on a cool day, but heaven sent during the Australian summer. Nearly all ice is filtered so you can drink ice cold water once it has melted too.

Cold water sometimes is better out than in. Keeping topped up on water is great, but if you really want to know how warm you are, throw it over your head. Even warm water will feel cool this way, most of the heat in your body is at the top, don’t be afraid to cool it down rapidly.

Cans are better than plastic bottles. Cans are smaller (better for packing in coolbox) crush down once used, recycle better, and instantly come in a rationed size. We found 2 litre bottles going quickly but 2 litres split in cans lasted longer, making up for the price difference. They also seem to hold a lower temperature as aluminum conducts better than plastic.

Buy fruit, meat and dairy fresh. With the exception of milk for tea (UHT or powdered is good enough). All these items are readily available everywhere on route, so just buy when you need it.

Don’t worry too much about stocking up on food, there is plently of IGA’s in small towns (Budget supermarket), avoid buying at fuel stops though as the convience comes at a price.

There really is a lot of people doing the same route as you. I never drove more than 30km without seeing another vehicle (marked normal roads), considering the size of Australia, you shouldn’t worry about finding yourself isolated if you stick to the main routes.

Toilets and showers are plentiful on route too. As is the sea if you go via the coastal route, which works well for a refresher and a break.

Sweets are good for sugar rushes and keeping concentration up, but make sure you pick the right type, I found a lot of sweets just melt in the heat of the vehicle (although this isn’t such a problem if you are air conditioned).

Finally, for fun, wave to oncoming vehicles when you are on your way. It’s nice to put a smile on peoples faces and show friendliness to people on such long drives, about 80% of people waved back I found providing you give them enough time to respond.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Vi @ Travel Australia January 11, 2010 at 8:57 AM

Also when you are passing gas station check how far away is next one. In Western Australia going North from Perth roadhouses are not so close to each other. When I was driving there and used to refuel almost in every of it because my campervan was using a lot of fuel and had small tank.
.-= Vi @ Travel Australia´s last blog – Free wireless internet in Bangkok airport (BKK) =-.

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AdventureRob January 11, 2010 at 1:38 PM

Definitely no harm in keeping the fuel tank filled up :-)

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Candice January 11, 2010 at 7:11 PM

Heh, that’s so cool about the waving thing. I never think to do that while driving.
.-= Candice´s last blog – Mystery and Murder in St. John’s: A Review of The Republic of Doyle =-.

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AdventureRob January 12, 2010 at 12:15 AM

The further away from a city you get the better odds are that people respond, it’s one of the better things about WA – more isolated so people are happy to see someone else.

Not just campervans but the guys in the road trains wave back too if you can see them.

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Vi January 12, 2010 at 12:16 AM

@Candice, in Australia you would start doing it without thinking , especially in WA and SA :)

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Jules @ Lovely Las Vegas January 13, 2010 at 12:46 AM

Great tips! Thank you for sharing. Your experiences are so cool!

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AdventureRob January 13, 2010 at 11:31 AM

You are welcome Jules, thanks for stopping by :-)

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Amiee January 15, 2010 at 5:14 AM

Damn that van looks like so much fun!
.-= Amiee´s last blog – On Wisconsin: A Photo Essay =-.

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