Barry Humphries once said, “Australia is an outdoor country. People only go inside to use the toilet. And that’s only a recent development.”
Australia attracts adventure loving souls from around the world eager to take on its lethal beauty. Even so, many areas have become tourist oriented and maybe even possess a little less of the heart pounding raw wildness it is so well known for. The good news is, Australia is a very big country with plenty more untamed wilderness. It is the type of place you explore when you are trying to get lost. The vast beauty and stretches of coastline make it one of the most exciting places to take a road trip.
Actually witnessing the landscape up close and navigating the terrain is a totally different experience than flying in and see the top of attractions before flying back out. If an Australia road trip is something you have always dreamed of doing, definitely consider Gibb River Road in Western Australia. It has long been proclaimed as one of the “last serious adventures” in Australia, and it makes for an epic off-road trip. Traveler be warned, only serious adventurers need apply. If an amazing road trip in Australia is right up your alley but not in your budget, there are plenty of ways around those purse strings. Here are some tips for staying on budget for your epic trip.
When looking for airfare, be sure to do your research in private browsing mode. This will insure that those prices don’t inflate as you go from site to site as your browser search history tracked. When you repeatedly search a trip, the enabled cookies in sites are trying to persuade you into booking quickly by making the prices rise as you search. If you do your searching in private browsing, it will help provide you with neutral price estimates for your trip, and help you find the best deal.
Do some serious searching on a variety of sites for the best possible deals. Did you know there is such a thing as an error fare? Airlines actually make mistakes when promoting deals which means you can snap up flights at crazy cheap from time to time! Be careful though, many airlines will cancel error fares so book them at your own risk. I prefer to go with great deals instead. AirfareWatchDog is great for setting fare alerts, and Skyscanner, Kiwi.com and JetRadar all offer up some of the lowest fares and best deals for flights. If you’re sticking to a tight budget, you’ll spend time upfront scouring the web for discounts, but be patient. All that hard work will be worth it when you find an amazing deal that affords you the trip of your dreams! Be sure to do complete research on what is the best day to book, the best time of year to book, and if it coincides with all you want to do on your road trip. If you can be flexible and travel in the shoulder season (right in between high and low season), you can get the best of both worlds…great weather, medium crowds and reasonable airfare.
While you search for the best airline deal, start mapping out your route and everything you will need. This will help you determine how flexible you can be with timing.
A great way to cut down on costly hotels each night is by using a trailer or campervan to take the road trip. You’ll be able to enjoy the basic comforts as you go, without having to worry about where you will sleep each night. It also means you can take groceries along with you to cut down on your food budget. Just stock up at markets and grocery stores along the way, so you always have what you need. On our last long road trip, it was irritating to have to rush to the next hotel in time, or deciding last minute that we would have liked to stay and explore a certain area longer. Driving your “hotel” gives you the freedom to do the things you didn’t know you wanted to do.
This option is actually so popular for traveling in Australia that many road-trippers purchase trailers or campervans from Gumtree, use them for their road trip, and then use Gumtree at the end to sell them when they are done. If you take great care of your purchase, it’s entirely possible to sell it for close to what you purchased it for, cutting out a large portion of your accommodations budget. As an added bonus, you also cut out your car rental budget if you choose a campervan over a trailer that needs to be towed.
Must See in the Australian Outback
In the 1960s, Gibb River road was constructed as a means of transport for cattle, and its dusty path winds over 400 miles through some of the most wild and beautiful sights in all of Australia. Starting in Derby, this road trip has a wide variety of attractions as it takes you through the heart of northwestern Australia all the way to the eastern border of the region and ending in Kununurra.
The road runs through Kimberly in the north western corner of the country where the vast, empty miles open up to reveal gorges, waterfalls and rivers. While Kimberly is three times larger than England, it is sparsely populated, mostly with aboriginals, and it is one of the last few frontiers that has remained wild. In this wilderness there are also rock art galleries that are believed to be some of the oldest in the world. The remoteness of this road trip is part of its charm as well as its draw for adventure seekers. It is best to travel the road between May and October for better conditions, and a 4WD is a must if you want to travel the entire road. However, portions of the road can be traveled without 4WD, depending on the length of your trip, so plan your route accordingly.
A road trip like this needs plenty of time for exploration. You may be tempted to try and pack everything into a small amount of time, but this is one destination you should definitely take your time and enjoy the trip. Don’t push yourself to crazy lengths just to fit everything in. Usually when you rush to fit it all in is when something goes awry. To help stay on budget for longer trips, enjoy the places with free admission, skip the souvenirs, and make lots of stops along the way to appreciate the beauty Australia has to offer. Below are some the major highlights along the way.
This remote location isn’t too far off the beaten path, and it is a nature lover’s paradise. On the tip of Dampier Peninsula, there are white sand beaches set against the pristine ocean waters and rising cliffs. It is the perfect spot to take a break from the road with plenty of spots to camp from basic sites to cabins.
Located in Mitchell River National Park, the chain of four waterfalls is a spectacular experience in this remote area. The falls are the main attraction in this protected area, and it is the perfect place to spend an entire day hiking.
The El Questro Wilderness Park contains some of the most amazing and wild parts of Australia. You do need to purchase a visitor’s permit to enter, but it allows access to gorges and waterfalls as well as thermal springs and the mud and salt flats. There are also mountain ranges and rainforests to explore allowing for days of adventuring. The park offers plenty of guided tours including helicopter and airplane, and you can spend the day hiking or off-roading in the wilderness on a self-guided 4WD tour. You can camp or rent a variety of accommodations within the park and spend a few days seeing all you can fit in.
Bizarre Horizontal Waterfall
If you are going to splurge on a tour, the Bizarre Horizontal Waterfall is a must. The McLarty Mountain Range in Talbot Bay is known for the rushing waters that stream through the twin gaps at a breakneck pace and create “horizontal” waterfalls, essentially. The falls are found in the Buccaneer Archipelago and can be see from the air or by boat providing a thrilling view of this natural phenomenon.
This once in a lifetime adventure road trip is totally possible on a budget with a little hard work and careful planning. When you want to travel outside of the box, you may have to get creative to make it work for your wallet. One great way to save money that isn’t often thought of is just buying anything major that you may need once you arrive and then sell, or trade any items you might need or need to get rid of once the trip is over. I like to think of it as investing in assets, instead of just throwing money away on expenses. You can make some money back by selling anything you don’t want to drag home with you.
If you end up falling in love with Australia (I wouldn’t blame you if you did!) and decide to stay longer, you can use Gumtree to search through local odd jobs or even post an ad with your skills to get hired and make some extra cash to extend your trip. Or if you’d like to get off the open road, you could search for house sitting jobs and get paid to stay in a city you fell in love with!
This is a partnered post. All opinions remain my own.