How Long to Travel Around Australia

How long does it take to travel around Australia?

The distance around the Australian mainland (via highway 1 without including Tasmania) in a single lap is about 5,000 km (9,300 miles). Many areas such as Cape York are not included in this highway one lap.

According to caradvice, the “highway 1 to hell team” consisting of three drivers did it in 5 days 13 hours and 40 minutes.

Theoretically, I guess one driver could do this trip in a couple of weeks, however, you wouldn’t see much except the white lines.

Many people do “the lap around” in about a year visiting all the main tourist spots. I believe it is best to concentrate on one major area at a time starting with the most distant to you, the far north West or East. Spending extra time in each area means you do get to see so much more. Shorter distances then become easier to achieve later on.

Some places are a great distance apart with only one major road in and out, such as the Far North of Western Australia and through the centre. The great distance, avoiding the wet season, and the fuel cost, become major contributing factors that discourage repeat visits. Therefore, take the time to see and experience everything while you can.

how long to travel around Australia

I spent 3 months in the northwest region as I moved from Western Australia to Queensland in my early 20’s. At the time I had a car, tent, very little money, and needed to get to Queensland to find work. I know I missed seeing many wonderful sites.

As I restart my travel journey, I plan to spend the first 6 months in Far North Western Australia.

Always remember that if you plan to travel for the next 10-20 years (or longer if your health holds out), you don’t need to do it all at once.

The remote areas of Western Australia, The Northern Territory, The Gulf, and Far North Queensland (the Cape) can be done in different years from late Autumn to early Spring.

If you choose to work, you may stay in a major center such as Cairns, Darwin, or a town in the North West of Western Australia before continuing on when the wet is over.

The heat is an issue that stops some people from doing this, but we are all different and if you can handle the hot weather, you have options.

What do you do in your spare time?

Finding yourself stationary in the top end during the wet may cause you to consider what you would find to do in your spare time?

When you stay in a major center during this time, many tourist attractions may close for part of the time, but I find there is always something to do.

Every season is different. When there is a shorter, or dryer wet season, you are often able to visit local attractions that would normally not be accessible.

This may also mean you may be able to continue on your journey sooner or visit local attractions before the tourists arrive en-mass.

Of course, in the North, you do need to be aware of stingers (in the ocean) and crocodiles (in the ocean and rivers). The local travel advisory center is a good point of reference to ensure you are fully aware of the dangers of the north.

However, you can always enjoy your normal hobbies as most hobbies can be done, in some form, in any location.

In every location, there always seems to be something to do and somewhere to walk and enjoy the view. I discovered a love of photography, even though I have zilch talent.

Internet access needs to be considered.

If you stay around townships you have internet access in most locations within Australia. This enabled me to work on this blog during the evening. It also means you can access skype and keep in touch with family and friends.

In many places, once you leave townships the internet is not always available. I have had problems with the internet and phone service 100km out of Melbourne, let alone in the remoteness of the north. You must take this into consideration.

What mindset should you have to do the big lap around Australia?

I believe that the worst mindset is to consider your lap to be a holiday. A holiday always comes to an end too soon. If you plan to see everything you can no matter how long it takes, then you are less likely to ‘rush’ and miss things.

I understand some people may have limited time due to family and other commitments, but if this is not the case then why do you need to be in a hurry to return to base?

If you have commitments, plan your get-away.

How long to travel around Australia

I realize that at some point in our lives we cannot just up and leave because we have family or other commitments to consider including our own health.

This is why I decided to sell up before I hit 50. If you can not possibly leave full time please don’t think you can’t leave at all.

Have you considered taking a 3-month holiday every year or two, to have a break from your commitments.

If you feel you will have commitments in the future, I recommend you do the biggest trip first. If you are in the West then do the North East, if in the East, do the North West.

Each subsequent break can do a closer or smaller area.

Where can you find information to plan your trip?

  • Facebook Groups. There are many groups of travelers who can give you ideas on where to stay and what to see in an area of your choice.
  • Camps Australia Wide Books. Camps Australia Wide will point out many free and low-cost campsites along with cheaper caravan parks. There is also information on the facilities at each site such as phone signal, dump point, water, toilets, pet friendliness, and more. Each site is verified, so no nasty surprises. You can add photos, reviews, and give a star rating. The book gives you a hardcover version but there is also an app available for an annual fee. You can download your trip itinerary in advance so that the information can be accessed offline.
  • Wiki Camps. Wiki Camps is an app that will guide you to free camps, showers, points of interest, dump points, fishing spots, and more. You can set filters to ensure that you find answers that suit your personal requirements. The current fee is a one-off payment of $7.95. The only disadvantage of this app is that the information is gathered by users and sometimes the information is not correct. One person’s idea of plenty of space may be OK for a car or small van but does not apply if you have a bus. You can download your trip itinerary in advance so that the information can be accessed offline.
  • Tourist Information Centre. Your local tourist information center will have information on the local area, state, and even interstate.
  • Eventfinda. The website is a guide to events by State, Region, and Townships. This can help you plan your trip to coincide with special events that you may like.

We can be limited by our imagination.

Unfortunately, many people are limited by their imagination.

We were in a 4×4 only accessible location at Litchfield National Park in the Northern Territory. To reach the campsite you need to go about 25m up a creek which was quite rocky and the water was reasonably high at the time.

When we arrived there were some overseas tourists in a 2wd petrol Wicked Van.

We were astounded and asked how they managed to get in. “Oh, we just waited for a 4×4 to come along and tow us through the creek” was the response.

Where there is a will, you will find a way if you want it bad enough.

What is stopping you?

What is stopping you from beginning your journey?

I began my journey a long time ago and plan on continuing for a long time yet. Love to meet you on the road somewhere.


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