Let’s do the big lap of Australia. Let’s make the decision. It’s a conversation starter, that’s for sure. What kind of lap? Are you going to go around clockwise, anti-clockwise or maybe a figure 8? Lapping Australia is definitely a big hairy goal, and there really is so much to see. It is also extremely rewarding with everyone who has ever done a big lap of Australia talking so fondly of the experience and how it changed them, their friends or their family.
Let’s look at 13 things you should consider when planning your own lap of Australia whether you do it as a family, a couple or just a bunch of friends. Some of these we touched on in our planning episode, but each of these we had to think through and plan before setting off on our own lap.
How long are you going to take to do a lap of Australia?
Australia is a massive place! If you were to drive just around Highway Number 1, you would cover over fourteen and a half thousand kilometers! And that’s without seeing Uluru, the tip or many other iconic locations or destinations on your trip. There’s simply so much to see around Australia and whatever your timeline, you just can’t see it all! Pick a duration that works for you, then think about how that time frame can best be used to see as much of Australia as possible.
Are you going to lap the mainland and Tasmania or just the mainland?
As mentioned above, Highway number 1 laps mainland Australia, but did you knownit also comtinues into Tasmania? It really is a beautiful place and you really have to see it. It’s a huge island off the coast of Australia, meaning that getting there is going to require a trip on the Spirit of Tasmania or flights over and car hire. This can certainly add to the cost and complexity of the trip, but the rewards of truly lapping Australia and seeing everything are there to be had. Tasmania is a beautiful place that shouldn’t be discounted if you can. Check out the 12 days we spent in Tasmania on a driving tour.
What are you going to drive around in?
You can’t fly, train or Uber your way around a country this big! Are you going to cruise around in a sedan or get off the beaten track in a four wheel drive. Will you be towing something? Will it be small or will it be big and heavy? People have been lapping Australia for years, some have done it in old sedans, maybe a Combi, and others have done it in state of the art motorhomes. You can do what works for you and your budget, but be aware of what you will ask your vehicle to do. Will it be your home as well? Maybe you will need a van to be kitted out with a kitchen and bedding. If towing, especially if it’s a large caravan, make sure you pay attention to what you are asking of your vehicle in terms of weights. Don’t put yourself in a situation where your car isn’t suitable for the job you ask it to do. Consider all of the options.
What are you going to sleep and live in?
Perhaps you are going to sleep in the back of your wagon, car or van. If it’s just one or two of you, good luck to you! You might need a tent, maybe on the roof, maybe beside the car. For many families, this won’t work. You might need a campervan, a pop up caravan, motorhome or even a caravan. Think about the time period you are going for, how often you will be stopping and setting up camp and what you need to bring along with you. All of these will help point you in the right direction for what to bring along to sleep and live in on the road. Got a great budget? Sure you can cabin, hotel and hostel your way around Australia, we did a driving tour of Tasmania, but you might miss out on some great and unique spots that Australia has to offer. You will certainly keep the costs down by taking your own accommodation on the road.
What is your budget for the big lap?
This will impact what you will be driving and what you will be sleeping
and living in, above. We can’t stress
enough, you can lap Australia on a budget that works for you. Maybe you have to work as you travel, skimp
on some of the attractions or experiences or perhaps you can have it all. But really, you have options.
Some people get around in old 4WD’s and tents, vans or combis all
kinds. We have already seen so many
people in old vans done up for camping, hire vans, old and new caravans.
Anything works, it just has to work for you and your budget. The general said budget is $1 per kilometer you travel around Australia. It’s a guide, and it has been proven again and again by travelling families as a great indicator. Some do it for less, others much more. Your big ticket items, after securing your vehicle and accommodation, will be fuel, followed by food, followed by other expenses. For us, we are aiming to do our lap inside $52,000, or $1000 a week.
How are you going to pay for it all?
Are you going to save up for your big lap of Australia? Are you going to sell some investments? Are you going to work your way as you travel, picking up jobs already in your profession or perhaps looking for seasonal work as you move around. Once you have identified your budget you can start to think do you save, earn or sell your way around Australia.
How much time are you going to spend in each State or Territory?
This one comes back to the opening points. How long do you have, and are you going to
see everything. Some people like to do
smaller trips, perhaps a lap of Australia over an extended time period. Others want to see everything in one continuous
lap. We met a couple who had been
lapping Australia for the past 3 years, and still don’t feel they have seen
everything. They felt 5 years would be a
good comfortable number, but if you are like us, that’s a little too hard to fit
Many aim for a 1 year lap of Australia, often overlooking their own home
state in favour of exploring elsewhere.
We live in Victoria, so can see and experience Victorian locations and
attractions any time. Western
Australia? Well that is about as far
away from home as we can get, so we want to spend more time there whilst we are
over there, as we might not ever get back.
Think about what time period you want to allocate to each state to help
break up your trip. This will help you
identify direction, speed and things you can actually see and do as you travel.
Who are you taking with you?
Are you a family or a couple? Do you have young kids or are you a retiree? Perhaps you are going to do a lap of
Australia with a mate or two. We have
met every combination already, and in between.
Who you are taking with you will impact your trip. How far you can travel in a single day for
example. Perhaps those with a young baby
or young kids might need to stop more often than those with older kids. A couple in a car might be able to drive most
of the 24 hour day, whereas perhaps retirees or grey nomads might like to stop after
a few hours as they go. Each to their
own, but it will be impacted by your crew.
If you have kids, are they of school age? Do you need to include the ability to have
internet access and classroom time. Will
you home school them or use a distance education service. These all impact on your trip on what you
take, how often and where and when you move.
What are you going to do with your house or home?
Are you renting right now and is your lease up? You are set! Do you have a house you plan to sell to help fund the trip, or perhaps you want to rent it out to help cover costs whilst you are away. Many of us lapping Australia have had to make the decision, do I sell or rent out my house as I travel. It’s a personal choice, but one you have to make. Each option comes with its own risks or consequences. Will I be out of the property market and miss out on the gains? Will my home get damaged by tenants? All things to consider.
What are you going to do with your things?
Everyone has stuff, and if you are going on a lap of Australia, you are really going to want to take the minimum with you. Less weight, less stuff, means lighter loads, smaller accommodation and overall a cheaper lap of Australia. Can your family or friends store things for you, can you fit them in your own garage and lock them up away from tenants or should you use a professional storage company.
What are you going to do about safety and communications?
Even on highway number 1 there are areas with no reception. We found this our before we headed off on our
lap, and as a result we invested in some satellite technology. We have a Spot 3 Satellite Communicator, which
enables us to check in with friends or family, send an SOS if we get stuck or a
few other options depending on the situation.
Some people travel with satellite phones, others take the risk. For us with a young family, we wanted to have
a way to communicate if we got over confident and went down the wrong path in
the middle of nowhere one too many times.
Speaking of which, first aid is really important too. Australia have some great natural areas
perfect for hiking or exploring. There
are real risks for injury, and not just from the native wildlife. Having a great first aid kit, water and other
supplies on hand is really important no matter your plan for a lap of
Australia. Some training never hurt
either, and Steph has a current first aid certification. That certainly helps to have in your crew!
One last thing to think about is national roadside assistance and ambulance
cover. If the worst was to happen,
having coverage will make your life a whole lot easier with that kind of
Make sure you account for seasons and direction of your lap
There are so many opinions on the right way to lap Australia. Honestly, you can do what you like. You can go clockwise, anti-clockwise or a figure 8 either way. But the reason for all of those opinions really comes back to weather and local conditions. There’s also a bunch of different opinions on wind direction too.
You do not want to be in the middle of
Australia in the middle of summer with the temperature at 50 degrees plus! Equally, the heat of Queensland plus the rainy
season doesn’t sound like a fun time.
Cyclones up north are also a problem, and a really cold and miserable
Melbourne or Tasmanian winter might just spoil your trip.
The best thing to do is aim to be up north during winter and autumn, down south in summer and spring. Think about an imaginary line across the middle of Australia, and use that as a guide. For us, we ended up picking anti-clockwise and leaving Melbourne in Summer it made sense to head over and move up as Autumn and Winter draws near.
One last thing, think about the peak season, and if you can, try to avoid them to help your budget. July in Alice springs is peak season, Summer on the East coast. If you can aim near, but just off the peak time you can save some serious money!
When are you going to go?
Planning makes perfect, but sometimes just getting out there and doing it is really important. We ended up making our decision in October, and 3 months later we were on our way heading of on our lap in late December. Pick a date, work hard towards it and remember to go. You simply won’t regret it!
putting the wheels in motion to consider a lap of Australia is a great first
step. There is so much to consider, learn and understand, that the more
homework you can do the better. We did a
lot of research before we travelled, spoke to those that had done it and
planned it all out before pulling the trigger.
But per the above, everyone is different. Good luck with your own lap, and we hope to
see you out there!