If you’re looking to spend your gap year somewhere famous for natural wonders, open spaces, and vast metropolitans, then Australia should be at the top of your list. Perhaps one of the most exploration-friendly countries in the world, Australia is the ultimate destination for self-discovery. As a Student, you will need to be extra careful with your finances when travelling, but there’s one way to trim your budget, without limiting your adventure – driving.
Australia is the perfect driving destination, with its long stretches of road, countless landmarks and scenic spots to discover. Flying over the country may be faster, but you’d miss out the beautiful nature and up-close experiences within the country’s most unique, and secluded havens. Australia is such a diverse nation with varied cultures, during your trip, you’ll find tonnes of hidden gems that aren’t as accessible without a car, everything from quirky shops and cafes, to boundless national parks. Before you embark on your journey, you should follow these steps, to ensure your trip runs as smoothly as possible:
Plan your route, before booking flights
There are tonnes of routes to explore, from the endless coastal scenery of ‘The Great Ocean Road’, to the stark, dusty roads of the Outback seen through ‘The cross-country beast’. Even if you prefer to play it safe, sticking to the city roads, driving from Melbourne to Sydney will present some stunning worldly wonders
Before you book your flights, you need to decide on your route. Whilst we don’t recommend a strict itinerary, it’s important that you have a vague overview of your trip. This allows you to organise your flights based on your starting and finishing destinations, so you have a rough idea of your time-scale and you don’t have to go back on yourself. Be sure to do some research on the different routes you can explore prior to booking your trip – this Y Travel article is a great starting point.
Choose the right car for your journey
Having confirmed your destination and driving route, you’ll need to pick your method of transport. The car you choose will be dependent on your budget and route. If you’re planning a city-to-city trip, you’ll manage with a small city car, or a convertible if you’re feeling flush.
If you’re planning on roughing it in the wilderness, you’ll probably need something a little more robust. A vehicle with four-wheel-drive might be necessary to get you through the beaten track, and out of any hidden marshland. If you’re planning this type of journey, ensure your vehicle is well stocked with food, drinks and blankets. The Outback can be a lonely place, and in the unfortunate event of a break-down, you need to be prepared.
For the ultimate traveller experience, you may want to consider a long-term campervan hire. This will give you a great sense of freedom and will save you from the hassle of finding reasonably priced accommodation. Australia is renowned for being expensive, so having an RV gives you total flexibility, park up at one of the many national parks and enjoy an Aussie style BBQ.
Learn the rules of the road
Though most of the roads are endlessly straight for miles at a time, the speed limit in Australia remains a modest 68mph. The country has a no-nonsense policy to its driving regulations, so you’ll need to be well-versed in what’s acceptable. We always advise sticking to the speed limit, even on the most derelict road, as police can be hidden around any corner. Also, if you opt for a campervan, you need to be mindful of where you’re parking. Look out for signs labelled as:
- No stopping – motorists are not allowed to pull over and stop.
- No standing – You may pull over, but must remain in your vehicle for 3 minutes, max.
- No parking – No vehicle abandonment, only dropping off/ picking up.
- Ticket – Pay and display area.
- Permit zone – You need a permit from the council to park here (usually residential areas).
- ‘1/2P’, ‘1P’ etc. – Refers to the hours allowed for free parking.
- ’15 minute’, ’20 minute’ etc. – You can park for the specified number of minutes.
- ‘P’ – You can park here without cost or time limitations.
- ‘6:30am – 6 pm Mon-Fri’ – You can park at the specified times.
- ‘Loading Zone’/ ‘Bus Zone’ – Only for busses/ loading vehicles.
Failure to comply with these rules could see you finishing your trip with some hefty fines.
Australia is limitless, every town/ city offers a new and unique experience. Driving allows you to branch out and have a more inclusive trip. With enough time, you can explore everything the endless coastlines; the rugged outback; the urban cities; and the rural national parks (to name a few!). Plus, the consistently warm climate means that you’ll always be able to find a sunny spot to relax in after a long day’s drive.