After six weeks and 12000 kilometers of driving, I’m leaving Australia. Time for some reflections!
Flying in from Thailand, the cost of things in Australia was quite shocking to me. I tried to live cheaply to offset this, for example, I only had to pay for 5 campsites and never spend any nights a hotel/hostel. On the other hand, I did buy tons of iced coffee :). Looking back on it, it seems my efforts paid off. To give you an idea, here’s what I approximately spend on the important things:
- Van + insurance: €2700
- Fuel: €1600
- Food: €520
- Accomodation: €30
Of course, there’s some extra stuff, small costs such as a USB charger, SIM card top-ups, …
Considering the distance I covered and the fact that there’s no way to save on car rental and fuel (unless you simply decide not go out and see Australia), I think that worked out rather well! So, I guess the costs are really not very different from Belgium after all.
Of course, the important thing is nature :). The nature in Australia is really beautiful, what I found most impressive was the West MacDonnel mountain range. I’m definitely still thinking about the 223km Larapinta trail which winds its way through this range. Karijini NP is another good example of awesome nature. The hike through water-flooded gorges there was so much fun and beautiful to boot! And then there’s of course Exmouth and Coral Bay where you can do some amazing snorkeling, litterally right off the beach in water less than 2 meter deep.
The many animals different are fantastic as well. I saw an amazing variety of them during the section of my trip from Exmouth to Geraldton, which made that part of the trip really amazing! Many typical “exotic” animals which you can go see in a zoo in Belgium, simply show up at your campground or hop across the road while driving. So cool!
That’s the good. The bad is that everything is really far apart. Especially when driving by yourself this can get boring at times, because there is very little to see along the way. Even more so when you rent a 2WD vehicle, as I did. There’s a ton of unsealed roads to beautiful areas, none of which you’re allowed to be on with a 2WD rental.
Even if you rent a 4WD vehicle, you’re still pretty limited by what you can do, since you need a written permission of the rental agency for every single unsealed road you want to drive on… Yeah, no way to go exploring with your fancy 4WD rental.
Which brings me to my next point: if you do a road trip through Australia, it seems to me the best way to do so is with your own 4WD vehicle. Even better is a high-clearance 4WD, because some parks, such as Purnululu, are rather tricky to get into without. Of course, 4WDs aren’t exactly cheap, even if they are 2nd hand, so unless you’ve got money to burn, it’s probably best to do such a trip with 2-3 people and clear at least 3 months in your calendar. Also, if you actually plan on doing this, buy your car in Victoria, the laws governing buying & selling cars are much more convenient there.
As far as culture goes, naturally it’s pretty similar to Europe. Of course, there’s also the Aboriginal culture, which most often isn’t very visible in everyday life, except in certain places such as Uluru. It’s really interesting to read about how they lived in the unforgiving outback. All the people I’ve met in Australia were really, really friendly. That goes especially for my couchsurfing hosts, Dee & Dave and Brent. They made my stay in Darwin and Perth very memorable, way better than any experiences I would have had staying in a hostel.
That’s all I can think of right now. I’ve probably forgotten to touch upon quite a few things, but well… Guess you’ll have to go to Australia and experience it all for yourself ;).