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Your Australia itinerary – How to keep it realistic

Australia is a big place to travel around. Working out a simple Australia itinerary will give you the freedom to relax, without feeling pressure to rush to the next place. A realistic itinerary gives you a sense of how far you can go, and how much time you’ll need to get there.

Here are some simple steps to building your own itinerary.

Lombadina beach, Cape Leveque - empty except for us!

Start with the big picture

  1. Get your hands on a basic fold-out Australia map.
  2. Circle your ‘must-see’ places on the map. You might discover (like I did) that you don’t actually know where some of these places are…exactly.
  3. Cross out any places you don’t want to go, have been before and could skip, or that you know you won’t have time for. We had been to Tassie and the Red Centre before, and both places needed a big time commitment. So we crossed them out.
  4. Look at the most remote regions on your map. The places you can’t easily jump on a plane to, the ones furthest from home. Highlight them, even if you don’t quite know what is there (yet)… you may soak up more time here that you could imagine.

You may already find that you can ‘join the dots’ and have the start of an itinerary. At the very least, you will start to see which roads you need to travel to get to the places you’ve marked. 

Choose your direction

Choose whether you will go left, right, up or down. We heard that anti-clockwise around the coast was better for fuel economy, since you travel with the prevailing winds. This has more impact on caravans than camper trailers, since they are less aerodynamic!

Ultimately, you should make a decision about your direction based on weather. Be north in winter, south in summer. The right direction for you is one that puts you in the right place at the right time to maximise the seasons.

Chunk it up

Now you are ready to build your own Australia itinerary. Start by joining the dots, then work out some time estimates. Here are some tips when you do this:

  • Keep it ‘hanging loose’, you’re not on a package holiday.
  • Plan month-by-month, not day-by-day. Once you’re on the road, you can plan the details a few weeks at a time.
  • Allow for pleasant surprises. Over-estimate the time you will spend in each area, because you will find unexpected gems. It’s nice to have the time to explore these.
  • Think about where you might be during really busy holiday times. You could book into a caravan park, which locks you in to a specific date. Otherwise plan to stay in a free or low-cost camp and arrive a few days earlier than the masses.

It's a long way around Oz

How much time do you have? Can you get all the way around? Take a good look at your potential travel distances before deciding on your final Australia itinerary.

For us, a long driving day was anything over 300km. The furthest we travelled on one day was 530km…there was always so much to see in-between!

  • Estimate the maximum distance you would comfortably drive in one day. Include time for camp pack-up and set-up.
  • This gives you a feel for how long it will take you to cover big distances.
  • Try to avoid being in your car for days on end. Even if you are comfortable driving 1000kms in a day, you may not feel like doing this regularly on your trip.

Be realistic

Yes, you can get all the way around in six months. IF you are okay spending a long time in your car looking at bitumen. You may drive by some of the best spots too. Here are some other options if you have six months or less:

  • Australia has lots of great regions. Choose to travel a chunk, instead of the whole country.
  • Drive up the middle of Australia fast, then down either the west or east coast slowly.
  • Leave the coast and short-cut through the NSW or Qld outback. It’s a great experience!
  • Do Tasmania properly. We met people who spent months there alone. Travel distances are short, but the ferry is expensive. Spend some quality time in Tassie, or drop it for next time.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

If it gets too hard…don’t stress, you could probably just wing it. Better to do that than to ‘over-plan’ and lock yourself into an unworkable Australia itinerary. Please, pretty please...

Give your itinerary enough padding. Then you will truly stop and see Australia, not just travel the roads.

Once you are finished building your basic Australia itinerary, reward yourself and buy a really great quality road atlas. This will be your bible on the road, and start to give you a glimpse of what’s to come.

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