Australia, with its vast landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and charming small towns, is a dream destination for road trip enthusiasts. From the rugged Outback to the picturesque coastal routes, the freedom of the open road beckons travellers to explore this magnificent country at their own pace.

Whether you’re planning to drive along the stunning Great Ocean Road, across the Nullarbor Plain, or discover hidden spots in the hinterlands, a successful Australian road trip requires a bit of preparation and some insider knowledge.

In this blog post, I’ll share essential tips to ensure your journey is safe, enjoyable, and unforgettable.

This post may contain affiliate links (of companies I book through). This means I may receive a small commission if you book through them. You can read the disclaimer for more information.

Planning Your Route

Taking an Australian road trip starts with one of the most exciting parts of the journey: planning your route. With such a vast and varied landscape, choosing where to go and what to see can be both thrilling and overwhelming. Here’s how to make the most of your planning phase:

Researching and Choosing the Best Routes

Australia is brimming with iconic road trip routes, each offering unique experiences and stunning scenery. Some popular options include:

  • The Great Ocean Road: A coastal drive along Victoria’s coastline, famous for the Twelve Apostles, beautiful beaches, and lush rainforests.
  • The Nullarbor Plain: An epic adventure across one of the world’s longest straight roads, offering vast, open landscapes and a sense of true isolation.
  • The East Coast: From Sydney to Cairns, this route takes you through bustling cities, pristine beaches, and the Great Barrier Reef.
  • The Red Centre Way: Exploring the heart of Australia, including Uluru, Kata Tjuta, and the stunning outback landscapes of the Northern Territory.

Tip: Take time to read travel blogs, guidebooks, and forums to gather insights and inspiration for your journey. Identify the highlights and hidden gems along each route to create a trip tailored to your interests.

Considering Distance and Travel Time

Australia’s size means distances between destinations can be vast. When planning your route, consider the following:

  • Realistic Driving Times: Calculate driving times and plan your daily itineraries to avoid long, exhausting stretches behind the wheel.
  • Rest Days: Incorporate rest days to explore destinations fully and recover from driving.
  • Weather Conditions: Check seasonal weather patterns, as some routes may be affected by extreme heat, cyclones, or road closures.

Tip: Using online maps and route planners can help you visualise your trip and estimate travel times accurately.

Highlighting Must-See Attractions and Scenic Stops

To make the most of your road trip, pinpoint key attractions and scenic stops along your chosen route. Some must-see highlights include:

  • Natural Wonders: Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef, the Blue Mountains, and the Twelve Apostles.
  • National Parks: Kakadu, Litchfield, and Daintree Rainforest, offering unique flora, fauna, and breathtaking landscapes.
  • Cultural Sites: Indigenous cultural centers, historic towns, and local markets provide insight into Australia’s rich heritage.

Tip: Plan your itinerary to include a mix of popular attractions and lesser-known spots, allowing you to experience both the iconic and the unique aspects of Australia.

the middle of caves road stretching out before you with trees lining each side of the road
Margaret River, Western Australia

Vehicle Preparation

Ensuring your vehicle is ready for the journey is a crucial step in planning a successful Australian road trip. The right vehicle and proper preparation can make all the difference between a smooth adventure and a frustrating ordeal. Here’s how to get your vehicle road-trip ready:

Choosing the Right Vehicle for Your Trip

The type of vehicle you choose will greatly influence your road trip experience. Consider the following factors:

  • Car: Ideal for solo travelers or couples looking for flexibility and comfort.
  • Campervan: Perfect for families or groups, offering accommodation and transport in one.
  • 4WD: Necessary for off-road adventures, such as exploring Fraser Island or remote national parks.
  • Comfort and Space: Ensure the vehicle has enough space for passengers, luggage, and any camping gear. Comfort is key, especially for long stretches of driving.
  • Fuel Efficiency: Given the vast distances in Australia, a fuel-efficient vehicle can save you money and reduce the need for frequent refueling stops.

Renting a Car or Campervan

Rental Considerations

  • Rental Company: Choose reputable car rental companies with good reviews and comprehensive insurance options.
  • Booking: Book in advance, especially during peak seasons, to ensure availability and better rates.
  • Insurance: Opt for full coverage travel insurance to avoid unexpected expenses.

Car Hire – To compare rental car company prices, I use Discover Cars, an award-winning car rental comparison website. They offer competitive pricing in over 10,000 locations worldwide and are have a high rate of customer satisfaction.

Tip: The earlier car rentals are booked, the cheaper it is with more choice of vehicles.

Ensuring Your Vehicle is Roadworthy

Before hitting the road, conduct a thorough check to ensure your vehicle is in top condition:

  • Maintenance Check: Have a professional mechanic inspect your vehicle, focusing on the engine, brakes, tires, and fluid levels. Ensure all scheduled maintenance is up-to-date.
  • Spare Tires and Tools: Carry at least one spare tire and the necessary tools for changing it. Know how to change a tire, and ensure your jack and wrench are in good working order.
  • Emergency Kit: Equip your vehicle with an emergency kit, including a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, reflective warning triangles, and basic tools. Also, consider carrying jumper cables and a tow rope.
a steel bridge with one arch like a coathanger

Packing Essentials

Packing for an Australian road trip involves more than just throwing clothes into a suitcase. Being well-prepared with the right essentials can make your journey smoother, safer, and more enjoyable. Here’s a comprehensive guide to ensure you have everything you need:

Creating a Packing List

A well-thought-out packing list is crucial for an organised trip. Here are some key items to include:

  • Clothing: Pack versatile clothing suitable for various weather conditions. Include lightweight layers for hot days, warmer layers for cool nights, and rain gear for unexpected showers. Don’t forget swimwear, hats, and sunglasses.
  • Toiletries: Bring all necessary toiletries, including sunscreen, insect repellent, and any medications. Travel-sized containers can save space.
  • Electronics: Ensure you have your phone, camera, chargers, and any other necessary electronics. A power bank is useful for charging devices on the go.

Important Documents

Keep all essential documents organized and easily accessible:

  • Driver’s License: Ensure your license is valid and bring an international driving permit if required.
  • Vehicle Documents: Carry your vehicle’s registration, insurance papers, and rental agreement if applicable.
  • Identification: Bring your passport or another form of ID for identification purposes.

Emergency Supplies

Being prepared for emergencies can make a big difference:

  • First Aid Kit: Include bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any personal medications. A well-stocked first aid kit is essential for minor injuries.
  • Tools and Spare Parts: Bring basic tools such as a tire jack, wrench, and spare tire. Include items like jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, and duct tape.
  • Extra Fuel and Water: In remote areas, petrol stations can be scarce. Carry extra fuel and plenty of water, especially when traveling through the outback.

Food and Cooking Supplies

If you’re planning to camp or travel through remote areas, packing food and cooking supplies is essential:

  • Non-Perishable Food: Stock up on non-perishable items like canned goods, pasta, rice, and snacks. Consider bringing a portable stove or camping grill if you plan to cook.
  • Cooler or Esky: A cooler can keep perishable food fresh for longer. Ice packs or portable refrigerators are handy for extended trips.
  • Utensils and Cookware: Bring basic cooking utensils, a pot, a pan, plates, and cutlery. Don’t forget a can opener and a knife.

Comfort and Entertainment

Long drives can be tiring, so pack items to keep you comfortable and entertained:

  • Pillows and Blankets: Comfortable bedding is essential for a good night’s sleep if you’re camping or sleeping in your vehicle.
  • Entertainment: Bring books, games, or a tablet loaded with movies and music to keep everyone entertained during long stretches of driving.
  • Camping Gear: If you’re camping, pack a tent, sleeping bags, camping chairs, and other necessary gear.
aerial view of a green headland and a sandy bay with turquoise water
Noosa, Queensland

Safety Tips

Safety should be a top priority on a road trip. This country’s vast landscapes, diverse weather conditions, and unique wildlife can present various challenges. Here are some essential safety tips to ensure a smooth and secure journey:

Understanding Australian Road Rules and Regulations

Familiarise yourself with the local road rules to avoid fines and ensure safe driving:

  • Speed Limits: Adhere to posted speed limits, which vary depending on the area. Be mindful of reduced speed limits in school zones and residential areas.
  • Seat Belts: Wearing seat belts is mandatory for all passengers.
  • Alcohol and Drugs: Australia has strict laws regarding driving under the influence. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.05%, and random breath testing is common.
  • Mobile Phones: Using a handheld mobile phone while driving is illegal. Use hands-free options if you need to make a call.

Importance of Rest and Avoiding Driver Fatigue

Long drives can lead to fatigue, which is a major cause of accidents. To stay alert and safe:

  • Take Regular Breaks: Plan rest stops every two hours to stretch, hydrate, and rest. Utilise roadside rest areas or scenic spots to relax.
  • Share Driving Duties: If travelling with others who can drive, take turns behind the wheel to avoid fatigue.
  • Get Adequate Sleep: Ensure you get a good night’s sleep before long driving days. Avoid driving during hours when you would typically be asleep.

Wildlife Awareness and Driving at Dawn/Dusk

Australia’s wildlife can pose a hazard, especially during certain times of the day:

  • Drive Cautiously: Be vigilant, especially in rural and remote areas where animals like kangaroos and wombats are common. Slow down and scan the road ahead.
  • Avoid Driving at Dawn and Dusk: These are peak times for wildlife activity. If you must drive during these hours, reduce your speed and stay alert.
  • Use High Beams Wisely: Use high beams in rural areas for better visibility, but dim them when approaching other vehicles to avoid blinding oncoming drivers.

Weather and Road Conditions

Australia’s weather can be unpredictable, and road conditions can vary:

  • Check Weather Forecasts: Stay updated on weather conditions for your route. Be prepared for sudden changes, especially in tropical and outback regions.
  • Road Closures and Conditions: Before setting out, check for road closures and current road conditions. Websites and apps provide real-time updates on road status.
  • Floods and Bushfires: Be aware of the risks of floods and bushfires, particularly in certain seasons. Never attempt to cross flooded roads, and follow local advice in case of bushfires.

Emergency Contacts and Communication

Stay connected and know who to contact in case of emergencies:

  • Emergency Number: The emergency number in Australia is 000. Save it in your phone and know when to use it.
  • Stay Connected: Carry a charged mobile phone and consider a satellite phone for remote areas with no mobile coverage. Inform someone of your travel plans and check in regularly.
  • Roadside Assistance: If you have a roadside assistance plan, ensure you have the contact details handy. Many rental companies offer this service as part of their package.
This image features Uluru (Ayers Rock) in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Yulara, Australia. The large red sandstone monolith stands against a clear blue sky during what appears to be late afternoon or early evening, casting deep shadows and highlighting its unique texture. The surrounding area is covered in sparse vegetation typical of the arid landscape.
Uluru by Tourism Australia

Navigating the Outback

The Australian Outback is one of the most remote and awe-inspiring regions you can explore. Its vast, rugged landscapes offer a unique adventure, but traveling through the Outback requires careful planning and preparation. Here’s how to navigate this iconic part of Australia safely and enjoyably:

Special Considerations for Remote Areas

Traveling through the Outback presents unique challenges:

  • Isolation: Remote areas mean limited access to services, including fuel, food, and medical help. Always inform someone of your travel plans and expected arrival times.
  • Road Conditions: Roads in the Outback can vary from paved highways to rough, unsealed tracks. Ensure your vehicle is suitable for these conditions, particularly if you plan to venture off the beaten path.
  • Weather Extremes: The Outback experiences extreme temperatures, with scorching heat in summer and cold nights in winter. Prepare for these conditions with appropriate clothing and supplies.

Staying Connected

Maintaining communication is vital in remote regions:

  • GPS and Maps: While GPS devices are invaluable, always carry physical maps as a backup. Ensure your GPS device is updated with the latest maps and data.
  • Mobile Coverage: Mobile coverage is sparse in the Outback. Invest in a satellite phone or personal locator beacon (PLB) for emergency communication.
  • Local Information: Before heading into remote areas, gather information from local sources such as visitor centers and ranger stations. They can provide up-to-date advice on road conditions and safety tips.

Water and Food Supplies

In the Outback, it’s crucial to be self-sufficient:

  • Water: Always carry plenty of water, as it may not be readily available. A minimum of 5 litres per person per day is recommended, with extra in case of emergencies.
  • Food: Stock up on non-perishable food items such as canned goods, dried fruits, nuts, and energy bars. Plan for meals that require minimal preparation.
  • Cooking Equipment: If you plan to cook, bring a portable stove or camping grill, along with enough fuel. Be mindful of fire bans and regulations in certain areas.

Vehicle Preparedness

Your vehicle must be ready for the challenges of the Outback:

  • Fuel: Fuel stations can be few and far between. Carry extra fuel in approved jerry cans and refuel whenever you have the chance.
  • Spare Parts and Tools: Bring spare parts for your vehicle, such as tires, belts, and hoses, along with a comprehensive tool kit. Know how to perform basic repairs.
  • Tire Pressure: Adjust your tire pressure to suit the road conditions, especially when driving on unsealed roads. Lower pressure can improve traction on sand and gravel.

Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Be ready for emergencies with the right equipment and knowledge:

  • First Aid Kit: A well-stocked first aid kit is essential. Include items for treating common injuries, snake bites, and stings.
  • Survival Gear: Carry a basic survival kit with items such as a multi-tool, matches, a whistle, and a high-visibility vest.
  • Navigation Skills: Brush up on your navigation skills. Knowing how to use a map and compass can be invaluable if your GPS fails.
aerial view from scenic flight over the Bungle Bungle Range, Purnululu National Park Western Australia
Bungle Bungle Range, Western Australia

Accommodation Options

Australia offers a wide range of accommodation options. Here’s how to choose the best places to rest your head during your adventure:

Choosing Between Camping, Motels, and Unique Stays

Australia’s diverse landscape provides various accommodation choices:

  • Camping: Ideal for nature lovers and budget travelers. National parks, caravan parks, and free camping sites offer opportunities to connect with nature. Ensure you have the right gear, such as tents, sleeping bags, and cooking equipment.
  • Motels and Hotels: Perfect if you want comfort and convenience. Motels are abundant along highways and in small towns, providing basic amenities. Hotels in larger towns and cities offer more luxurious options.
  • Unique Stays: For a memorable experience, consider unique accommodations like farm stays, eco-lodges, or glamping sites. Websites like Airbnb and Stayz offer a wide range of distinctive properties.

Booking Ahead vs. Spontaneity

Deciding whether to book in advance or stay flexible depends on your travel style and the time of year:

  • Booking Ahead: During peak travel seasons (school holidays, summer), popular accommodations can fill up quickly. Booking ahead ensures you have a place to stay, especially in high-demand areas.
  • Spontaneity: If you prefer a more flexible itinerary, booking on the go can be exciting. Use travel apps and websites to find last-minute deals and availability. Just be prepared to compromise on location or amenities if necessary.

Utilising Apps and Websites for Last-Minute Bookings

Technology can simplify your search for accommodation:

  • Booking Apps: Apps like, Airbnb, and make it easy to find and book accommodations on the go. They offer user reviews, photos, and filters to help you choose the best option.
  • Camping Apps: Apps like WikiCamps Australia and CamperMate provide information on campgrounds, caravan parks, and free camping spots. They often include user reviews, amenities, and GPS coordinates.
  • Travel Forums: Websites like TripAdvisor and Facebook groups can offer recommendations and tips from fellow travellers, helping you discover reliable places to stay.

We use for most accommodation bookings as they offer free cancellation on most rooms, have a loyalty program (Genius), a price match guarantee, the site is user-friendly and they have great customer support. We also book through Stayz for private accommodation as they are often cheaper than Airbnb.

Check availability and prices on now

This image features a vineyard in Marananga, Barossa, South Australia, during a sunny day. Rows of grapevines stretch across the landscape, leading to a modern winery building with the name "Langmeil Winery" visible. A few people can be seen enjoying the lawn area near the building, and the surrounding area is dotted with trees and gentle hills, creating a picturesque and serene scene typical of the Barossa wine region.
Barossa Valley, South Australia by Tourism Australia

Budgeting and Expenses

With careful planning, you can make the most of your funds and enjoy your adventure without financial worries. Here’s how to budget effectively and handle expenses:

Estimating Fuel Costs and Managing Your Budget

Fuel is a significant expense on a road trip:

  • Calculate Fuel Costs: Estimate your fuel consumption based on your vehicle’s mileage and the distances you plan to travel. Use online calculators or apps to get accurate estimates.
  • Monitor Fuel Prices: Fuel prices can vary widely across Australia. Use apps like FuelMap Australia to find the best prices along your route.
  • Set a Daily Budget: Allocate a daily budget for fuel, accommodation, food, and activities. Keep track of your spending to avoid overspending.

Saving Money on Food and Accommodation

There are plenty of ways to save on food and lodging:

  • Self-Catering: Cooking your own meals can save a lot of money. Stock up on groceries at supermarkets and prepare simple meals using portable stoves or campground kitchens.
  • Affordable Accommodations: Choose budget-friendly options like camping, hostels, or motels. Look for deals and discounts online.
  • Free Attractions: Take advantage of free or low-cost attractions such as national parks, beaches, and hiking trails.

Unexpected Expenses to Plan For

Prepare for unforeseen costs to avoid surprises:

  • Vehicle Repairs: Set aside a contingency fund for potential vehicle repairs or maintenance.
  • Health Emergencies: Ensure you have travel insurance that covers medical emergencies. Carry a basic first aid kit and personal medications.
  • Entry Fees: Some attractions, national parks, and campgrounds may have entry or parking fees. Research ahead to include these in your budget.
aerial view of little beach in albany wa with a bay of white sand and turquoise water
Little Beach, Albany, Western Australia

Environmental Considerations

Respecting the environment is crucial while traveling through Australia’s beautiful landscapes. By minimising your impact, you can help preserve these areas for future generations. Here’s how to travel responsibly:

Respecting Natural Environments and Wildlife

Australia’s natural beauty and wildlife are its treasures:

  • Leave No Trace: Always clean up after yourself. Dispose of waste properly, recycle when possible, and leave nature as you found it.
  • Wildlife Safety: Observe wildlife from a safe distance. Do not feed animals, and be aware of the potential dangers they pose, especially when driving.
  • Stay on Designated Paths: Stick to marked trails and campsites to protect fragile ecosystems and avoid getting lost.

Minimising Your Footprint

Travel sustainably by reducing your environmental impact:

  • Reduce Waste: Use reusable water bottles, bags, and containers. Avoid single-use plastics and opt for eco-friendly products.
  • Conserve Water: Water is a precious resource, especially in arid regions. Use water sparingly for washing and drinking, and collect rainwater if possible.
  • Energy Efficiency: Turn off lights and unplug electronics when not in use. Use solar-powered chargers and batteries.

Participating in Eco-Friendly Activities

Support sustainable tourism by choosing eco-friendly activities:

  • Eco-Tours: Look for tour operators that follow sustainable practices and support conservation efforts.
  • Volunteer Programs: Participate in conservation programs or community projects to give back to the places you visit.
  • Educational Experiences: Engage in activities that educate you about the local environment, culture, and conservation efforts.
aerial view of the bright pink lake on rottnest island western australia
Pink Lakes, Rottnest Island, WA

Enjoying the Journey

A successful road trip is about more than just reaching your destination; it’s about enjoying the journey and creating lasting memories. Here’s how to make the most of your adventure:

Capturing Memories

Document your journey to relive the moments later:

  • Photography Tips: Capture the beauty of your surroundings with quality photos. Experiment with different angles and lighting to create stunning images.
  • Journaling: Keep a travel journal to record your experiences, thoughts, and feelings. It’s a great way to remember the details of your trip.
  • Social Media: Share your journey with friends and family through social media.

Embracing Spontaneity and Local Culture

Allow room for spontaneous adventures:

  • Local Experiences: Engage with local communities, visit markets, and try regional foods. Learning about local cultures enriches your travel experience.
  • Flexible Itinerary: While having a plan is essential, be open to detours and unexpected discoveries. Some of the best experiences come from unplanned moments.

Connecting with Fellow Travellers and Locals

Meeting new people can enhance your journey:

  • Travel Communities: Join travel groups or forums to connect with fellow road trippers. Share tips, stories, and recommendations.
  • Local Advice: Locals often know the best spots to visit and can offer valuable insights. Don’t hesitate to ask for suggestions or directions.


A successful Australian road trip requires careful planning, preparation, and a spirit of adventure. By following these tips, you’ll be well-equipped to handle the challenges and make the most of the incredible experiences that await. Whether you’re exploring coastal routes, navigating the Outback, or discovering hidden gems, the journey promises to be unforgettable. So pack your bags, hit the road, and enjoy the ride through the diverse and breathtaking landscapes of Australia.