Driving across Australia

Destination: Australia

Driving across Australia can be one of the most interesting and rewarding adventures that you can take. It can also be a bit dangerous at times, though for most people there is no worry. The East cost of the country is heavily populated and driving from Melbourne to the north will take you through magnificent scenery, beautiful coastal towns and major cities too. In the south it is quite dry and in the north it is a tropical paradise. All along the way are many places to stay, eat and fill up your tank. In Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Coast you have consider that parking will be a fairly big expense.

Great Southern highway snakes through the Grampins after you leave Melbourne and eventually come out along the great ocean road with some very dramatic scenery along the coast. As you head north towards Sydney, you will pass through vineyards and small towns featuring fantastic restaurants and quirky inns. To the north of Sydney, you will find the Artist towns of Byron Bay and Mulumbimby. Just a short ways further and you are in Queensland.

Gold Coast to Brisbane may seem like one long town with high rises along the beach but if you stay on the main road you will miss a lot of the traffic and head inland slightly. There are fantastic national parks in the area, with loads of nature walks and quint little towns. When you get to Sunshine Coast, the road heads inland for a bit. You will find that the further north that you go in Queensland the more lush and tropical that it gets. If you ate feeling really adventurous, then you could continue your drive to Darwin in Northern Territory. This is some of the most amazing scenery in the country

Like the U.K, Australians drive on the other side of the road (right hand drive) and while this initially takes some getting used to, it is not difficult at all. If you are planning to drive around the country, it is a good idea to rent from one of the more reputable agents, as if you have any trouble you can get a new vehicle pretty easy in most places. Gasoline is more expensive than in the U.S, but much cheaper than in Europe. Because there are sometimes very long distances between gas stations, it is recommended that you fill up every time you see a station (except along the east coast, where you will find many.)

Australia is a huge country and not all of it is fit for the average driver to just hope into a vehicle and transverse. Unlike the States, where you will find a gas station at least every miles (with perhaps the exception being parts of Texas), there are parts of Australia where you would have to not only bring extra gas with you, but also food and plenty of water too. And if your car breaks down, you best know how to fix it.

Thankfully this is not what most of the country is like. In fact if you stick to the sealed roads, even in the outback, then you will always find roadhouses along the way where you can buy fuel, have a meal and get accommodation. Many are slightly quirky and have small towns built up around them, but don’t expect to find a mechanic. They are really just stops along the way with vast distances in between.

If you decide to take one of the great trips across the Eyre Highway or the Victoria and Great Northern Highway, be very careful when driving at both dusk and dawn. Visibility is low at these times and because this is cattle country, there are often cattle in and around the road when it is cooler. You also need to watch out for kangaroos and wallabies as you never know when one will decide to cross. You should never attempt the drive alone and you should switch drivers regularly, as the distance and lack of things to look at can make you quite tired. If you are driving along one of the great highways in the north during the rainy season, you really have to be on the look out for flash floods. There are times when you might find a bridge at a river crossing submerged under many feet of water.

Driving off the sealed roads in the outback is possible, but you need to bring a first aid kit, plenty of water and if possible travel with two cars together. That way if anyone gets in to trouble you have a second car to get out of there. It is really best attempted only by 4 wheel drive vehicles, and drivers with lots of experience. Sometimes the roads out the are nothing more than little dirt tracks and if it rains even a little, they can turn into mush.

Australians will often give you dire warnings about traveling off the main roads in the outback. Take head of what they say. If you don’t know what you are doing or exactly where you are going you can get lost out there. And in a country the size of this, it could take a week to find you, and that is even if you told someone where you are going. If you do run in to trouble in the outback, stay in your car. The temperature can get up to 40 degrees Celsius out here and it is not a safe place to be wandering around in.

All in all, Australia is a pretty safe country to drive in. The traffic never really gets bad except for in Sydney and Melbourne, and even then only during rush hour. The best thing to do when driving here is to take your time, spread your trip over several days or even weeks if you have time. That way you can get out and really explore the countryside, the culture and the scenery.

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