Have you always wanted to do the big lap of Australia but you simply don’t know where to start? I got you! I’m delighted to say that I recently completed a 110-day trip covering the big lap and more of the land ‘down under’!
Today I’m coming to you with a breakdown of all the costs involved, the time you need, and everything you need to know on the big lap. I’m basically going to be covering all the FAQ’s and all the concerns that I had before starting my lap down under.
- Choosing Your Vehicle
- Planning Your Route
- The Best Time of Year
- How Long Will It Take?
- Packing Necessities
- Where to Stay
- How much does the Big Lap cost?
A British Guide to the Big Lap
If you’re from the UK, you’re in the same boat as me. There are many Brits travelling Australia; whether they’re working over here, or they are simply just taking a gap year, chances are they’re on the 417 Working Holiday Visa. I’ve talked about our specific Visa before, but there are also other types of Visas that you can get – simply visit the official Immigration website to find out more.
Choosing your Vehicle
There are various options to consider when travelling around Australia. You can buy, rent, or not even drive at all…
- Car and Tent – This is the option that we chose. We originally started off with a Nissan X-Trail. After our ‘trial run’, we decided personally that we didn’t feel it would be the best fit to travel around the country with. This was due to concerns with the transmission. In the end, after looking at Subaru Foresters and various 4x4s, we decided to opt for our Volkswagen Tiguan.
In terms of tents, we also ‘upgraded’ this too. Our first tent was an ARB Simpson III Touring and as ours was second-hand, we found it quite frustrating to put away. We ended up with the Kings Tourer X. It took us around the country with no problems, and I miss it every day!
If you can, we would highly recommend buying or renting a four-wheel drive if you are opting for the car option. Australia has a lot of roads that require the most robust of the pack when it comes to cars. Unfortunately, we chose one that would fit 4 people so we weren’t able to tackle some roads that we would’ve liked.
- Campervan – We saw heaps of these driving around the country. If you didn’t know, we actually used to have a Volkswagen T4 back in the UK which we used to travel around the North Coast 500. There have been times whilst I’ve been in Australia that I do miss this way of travel and I wholeheartedly wish I lived in a van full time. I would still love to pursue this one day.
Some popular models over here are; Toyota Hiace, Mitsubishi Express and a Ford Transit.
- Caravan – I’m not sure I can cover much on this one as I’ve not really had any experience in owning a caravan, nor do I know anyone who’s travelled around Australia in one. However, we did bump into a lot of people (majority Aussies) who were taking their caravan on their lap. Since I don’t know much about this one, I’m gonna pass the spoon, or the hat (I’ve forgotten which one) over to Driva, who has you covered.
- Backpacker Bus – Initially, our trip was going to be a group trip, but that soon changed when the others got here. They changed their minds and decided to get the backpacker bus on the East Coast. Of course, we curiously did a bit of research on this. Here are some companies that will take you around Aus: Greyhound, Why Not Bus, and The Magic Bus.
- Rentals: Jucy/Britz/Apollo/Wicked Campervans/GoCamper/MightyCampers/Travellers Autobarn
Planning Your Route
There is no right or wrong way to plan a route around Australia. It is all down to personal preference. Our first point of call was for me to make a list of all the things I wanted to see. After that, Liam topped it up and we planned our trip from there. I have a whole post dedicated to planning a road trip! Why not check it out here.
The Best Time of Year
It will probably come as no surprise to you but Australia is a hot country. Not only do the summer months come with hot sunshine but they come with some pretty extreme rainstorms too. We opted to take on the big lap just at the start of winter.
We chose to head North from Perth and across to the East Coast. By the time we hit Darwin, it was still around 35 degrees celsius, and this was in the middle of June. By the time July came around we were in Tropical Queensland. The majority of nights meant we had to wake up to a wet tent, and as we got further South we found ourselves buying more and more warm gear.
Here’s a list of our add-ons (all K-Mart):
- Sleeping Bag ($12)
- New Duvet ($10)
- Socks ($6)
- Oodie ($12)
- Wooly Hat (that we had to convert into a balaclava because I couldn’t feel my face) ($4)
In total, that was $48, or £24… so, it wasn’t really a big stretch in our budget but it made a big difference. Our lowest night got to around 0 degrees. This was when we made the most of our campfires.
I wouldn’t change our trip timing for the world. I’m so grateful that we were too cold at night and not too hot. You can always add layers on, but you can only take so many off!
How Long Will The Big Lap Take?
As previously stated, it took us 110 days to go from Perth up and around Australia with our finish line being Esperance. We could’ve finished the Big Lap in 115 days but we’d already been on a casual South-West road trip earlier in the year.
We keep getting told that we sped around the big lap of Oz. Which I don’t think we did as we saw everything we wanted to see. Before setting off, we had planned to do it all in 3 months, and we weren’t far off. Although, I do recall some of the surprised-looking faces when we told our fellow travellers of our plans.
We spent an average of 4 nights in cities, and the rest were pretty much flying visits. Though we spent 3 nights in the Blue Mountains even if the temps were less than ideal (that was the 0 degree one with no signal).
Here is our recommendation for the main spots around Australia:
- Perth – 5 Nights
- Geraldton – 2 Nights
- Denham – 2 Nights
- Broome – 2 Nights
- Darwin – 3 Nights (in the region)
- Cairns – 4 Nights
- Daintree – 2 Nights
- Airlie Beach – 3 Nights
- Brisbane – 3 Nights
- Sydney – 3 Nights
- Melbourne – 2 Nights
- Adelaide – 5 Nights
- Esperance – 1 Night
- Margaret River – 2 Nights
It’s hard to tell what I packed on the Big Lap as I picked up a few bits on the way. I’m going to do a full post covering how we essentially made our car ‘home’ for 3+ months. This is a list of clothes I came back with:
- 14 x Undies (I packed every pair I had but double-knotted them to save space)
- 9 x Socks (+ 6 more from Kmart)
- 3 x Bras
- 10 x Swimwear, but I only wore 1… twice
- 7 x T-Shirts/Vests
- 3 x Shorts (-1 I wrapped in my bedding and left it at the hostel in Darwin)
- 4 x Long Pants
- 5 x Dresses (including one unitard)
- 2 x Jumpers
Where to Stay
As a rule of thumb, there are rest stops scattered around the major parts of Australia within 2 hours of each other, so they’re easy to find on the Big Lap. I think the furthest inland we went was Tennant Creek, or it may have been Gwalia Ghost Town. Each state has its own management for rest stops but they are completely free and most of the time they have toilets, and sometimes they have showers! Although, we never found a hot one.
When we got to the major cities (Sydney/Adelaide/etc) we made sure to pre-book a hotel or campsite so that we could stay a few days.
How much does the Big Lap cost?
Over the course of the trip, Liam tracked our spending on the Big Lap just for this segment of the post… thanks Liam! I’ve narrowed it down to this nifty table. Hope this helps! We were quite conscious of spending when we were in supermarkets and our ‘go-to’ was Aldi, when it was available. We made sure we had staples in the car for when we weren’t in easy access to a shop. Things like noodles, pasta, and tinned goods were always in our boot.
We mainly treated ourselves to eating out when we were in major cities and rarely participated in night life. However, this wasn’t due to the cost, it was simply down to our personalities. We tend to like to chill but we did have a bit of a wild night in Darwin.
|Converted Price (£)
|Fuel (31 fills)