Australia is a diverse, vast, beautiful, and full of natural wonders country, just waiting to be discovered and admired. It is home to many natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef, the Heritage Listed Ayers Rock, Bungle Bungles, Twelve Apostoles, Daintree Rainforest, Kakadu National Park and many more.
Australia is also a country like no other. Because it is such a huge continent, all attractions are usually located far from each other. You cannot just jump in the plane and fly around to see all of them (unless you are a millionaire).
Obviously taking a plane is a good thing to get you to the starting point where your adventure really starts, but to see the places around you need to jump in the car.
Why do we think the best way to explore Australia is to take a road trip?
We have done it many times, starting from small, individual trips, then going around Australia, and later driving around Northern Territory and Queensland multiple times during the year.
We love taking a road trip as when you drive around and seek places you have a sense of freedom that makes you feel special. You can choose the music you listen to, places your stay and adventures you plan. But there is more…
Read below to get all the reasons why to take a road trip instead of flying.
#1 Create your own itinerary
You decide where you go. Your schedule is entirely up to you, as you have the freedom to go where you want. And the best part – you can change it whenever you want!
Also, the best part is that you don’t need to plan at all (maybe only during the school holiday), just pack, get in the car (or hire a campervan) and off you go.
I remember during our Lap Around Australia we had to have a paper calendar to mark what day of the week it was. This is what happens when you go hiking, fishing and sightseeing and you don’t have any obligations.
#2 Stop at nearby attractions
When you drive to your next destination, you go by many interesting places that you would miss if you took a plane.
Many of our stops turned out to be places that gave us great memories. Whether it was a hidden waterfall, amazing lookout, local museum, hot springs, or stunning gorge it was always worth to stop and enjoy the moment.
Even you have to take a small detour to see something special (even if it is a cheesy Giant Koala near Horsham), it is worth stopping as you may not have a chance to come back to the same place any time soon.
After driving 80,000 km around Australia, we already have a bucket list of places we want to return to.
#3 Pets are welcome (usually)
These days, most caravan parks and private camping grounds allow pets to stay with you and enjoy nature. Thus, with the exception of national parks (for obvious reasons), you can take your pet with you.
Most dogs love road trips, so don’t hesitate to bring your pets along for the ride, and add pet-friendly places and activities to your trip itinerary.
Our dog, Capri, loves any type of activity. When she stays in the car for too long, she is impatient after a few hours, but once she is out she enjoys the freedom too.
#4 Perfect time to listen to good music
There’s no better place to listen to music than in the driver’s seat, looking at passing-by scenery. Sometimes music could be better than caffeine, especially at night.
Make a playlist of your favourite road songs. After many years on the road, our playlist evolved to many flavors and it is still growing!
Now, we remember every and each song order, even we have over 10000 songs on our USB stick.
#5 Meet great people
People in Australia are usually very friendly and while you hike or camp, you often get some new friends who you, later on, meet in other parts of Australia.
Once, we met a man who showed us his collection of gems and gold nuggets. He collected them during his lifetime and told us stories of how hard fossil seeking is. That was on the way to Exmouth in Barradale Free Campground.
Another day, we found people traveling by camels, and they had great stories to tell. This comes from our Brisbane to Birdsville trip.
Lastly, we meet our best friends (Stan and Shirley) on a walking trail in Bungle Bungles!
The point is you will make a lot of friends along the way. To this day, we still keep in touch with some people we met on the track.
#6 Support local tourism
People living in remote places have a beautiful land to share, but due to its remoteness, usually, there are fewer job options. Tourism is a great way for them to share their culture and earn some income from either accommodation, food, or guided tours.
Look for small towns, festivals, markets, or local tours. Chat with the locals, hear about fun things to do, and go for it. There are hidden gems out there waiting to be discovered.
#7 Create memories for life
This is one of the best aspects of travelling by road. You can stop anywhere, take a great photo or shoot a short video.
What we did with our photos was to create a memory wall in our house that holds around 30 pictures from our trips. Also, we made many photobooks with our best memories to pass to the next generations.
#8 Great bonding experience
A road trip with someone you love is a great way to get to know each other and explore the person from another perspective. Very often during road trips, people open and share interesting stories from their life.
Travelling to beautiful places and camping is always more fun when you have someone to share it with.
#9 Spend a great time playing car games
No matter how close you are to your family, you will learn new things about them after spending so much time together.
We have our favourite car games like trivia or ‘what is the country name starting from letter A’. Thanks to them, Nell learned the names of countries all over the world when she was five.
We can play them for hours, sometimes we laugh so hard. This is such a good way to spend time together while driving.
#10 Try local food
We love to try new things. Sometimes it is a challenging, but often a very rewarding experience.
For example, we tried and loved a camel pie in Birdsville, crocodile sausages at Hartley’s Crocodile Park, or donkey stew served by a fellow traveler in Mataranka.
Occasionally, we visit local breweries that make craft beer or local wineries. The best part about them is that you often get a very custom, personal experience that you cannot have when visiting a liquor store. They usually have also great food on the menu.
#11 Sleep in amazing places
Road trip camping can take you to some unique spots that are off the beaten path. Very often you camp close to nature and get an amazing thousand stars sky at night. When you wake at night you only hear dingo howling and nature sounds.
There are places that we will remember forever: Agnes Creek (our first free camping), Tjukayirla and Warakurna Roadhouse off Great Central Road and Arthur River off Plenty Highway, Koolpin Gorge (Kakadu NP), Daintree Rainforest and many others.
But, there is more to explore!
#12 Get off the grid
Why not get lost and distance yourself from civilization for a while. Forget about mobile phone reception or the internet and direct your thoughts to nature and animals. It is so good to reset a brain.
The road trip is the perfect solution to relax your body and brain from everyday problems. Visit the outback or other remote places where there is no TV, radio, or mobile signal.
This works wonders for our teenage daughter. As for us, we love camping, hiking, and old outback pubs, so it’s a win-win scenario.
#13 Cheaper than flying
Taking a road trip can be actually cheaper than flying, especially if you have to buy an airfare ticket for the whole family.
Remember, when you fly to your destination, you always have to pay for food and accommodation, but that is not everything. If you want to explore, you have to go on an organised tour to see different attractions, and for every attraction, you have to pay separately.
When you go for a road trip, you usually have a fridge or cooler, and cooking equipment so you are able to save money by preparing meals yourself.
However, the most important is that you can go and explore any locations you want because you have your car with you.
#14 Escape the crowd
By going to the Australian outback, you may end up in very isolated places. Crowds? What crowds? Sometimes you don’t even see a single car for the whole day!
#15 You can take a big bottle of soap with you
Yes, you can pack whatever you want, and there is no security check like in the airport.
Indeed, you can take with you whatever you want. Pack your car with all the good stuff and off you go.
Do you need some inspiration to take a road trip?
We always liked camping, but what inspired us to go around Australia was the Australian movie Charlie & Boots. It is a touching and often very funny story about a father and son going on a road trip from a country town in Victoria to the northernmost tip of Australia in Cape York.
Are you inspired now to take a road trip?
I hope you are. Please let us know other reasons why it is better to take a road trip instead of flying. Drop a comment below.
Recommended 4WD equipment for an off-road trip
- GPS Navigator or compass
- Maxtrax – if you get bogged, you can use it for additional traction
- Tyre Deflator – deflate tyres quickly when going on dirt or 4WD
- Air Compressor – inflate tyres quickly after going back on bitumen (we use MM)
- Tyre Repair Kit – to fix the tyre by yourself when you don’t have access to the tyre shop (we use Oztrail)
- Shovel – if you get bogged, better have it
- UHF Radio – for communication with your mates and in emergency
- Full Recovery Kit (with Dampener Blanket) – must-have if you are going on real off-road
- High Lift Jack – useful if you do serious 4WD tracks
- Fuel funnel with water filter – additional protection when fueling up in dodgy places
- Additional fuel canisters