The ultimate dream road trip for plenty of Australians is the one known as ‘the big lap’. It’s about as Aussie as you can get and as the name suggests, it’s one big ol’ gigantic route around Australia.
The big lap is one of those road trips you remember for a lifetime. Many people talk about doing it, but only those with the heart of an explorer ever make it on the open road. Have you considered doing the big lap?
In this blog we’ll cover everything you’ll need to know about planning, packing and driving with your camper trailer on the open roads of Australia. We’re sure we don’t have to tell you, but the land down under is a place with countless destinations to visit and explore.
Keep on reading to find out about what you’ll need to consider in your research phase, what you’ll need to bring before you go and all the places you simply can’t go past on your journey around the country.
What To Consider
There are a thousand and one questions you’ll be asking before you wish to embark on perhaps the longest trip of your life. Driving around Australia is no small feat, and it’ll take careful planning and mapping before you go.
Where, When And Which Way?
Do I go left or do I go right? While this isn’t exactly the question you’ll be asking, going clockwise or counter-clockwise might be the hardest choice you’ll have to make. Don’t stress; there’s a heap of questions you can ask yourself to help make your decision.
Depending on where you live you might want to consider timing your stay in the northern or southern regions of Australia, depending on both the time of the year and your preference for weather.
Plotting where you want to be at what time of year is a great way to impact which way you go. Perhaps you’ll want to be north with family during Christmas, avoid the rainy season, or visit the southern parts of Australia during a specific holiday event.
The activities you wish to do will also impact which way you go. Winter is one of the worst seasons for camping and travellers, but if you plan your journey strategically, you can spend your winter in a warm, dryer climate that also allows you to explore Australia.
Distance, Driving And Sleeping
Setting off on a journey around Australia is by no means a small journey or a quick one. The big lap is roughly 15,000 km. There isn’t a right length of time to make this trip. It all comes down to where you want to go and how long you want to stay there.
One important detail about the big lap that many people aren’t aware of is that you can do it on one highway. Highway 1 is a network of highways that navigate to and from the state capitals with a total length of around 14,5000 km. Sure, some parts might involve popping your car on a ferry or a barge, but it gets the job done.
There is a fantastic article from car advice, about a group of four guys who have the world record for travelling along highway 1. They were able to do the lap in just over five days of straight driving. Of course, this trip only involved stopping for food, toilet breaks and petrol, but its an interesting story, none the less.
We don’t suggest you make the trip in five days unless wet wipe showers and seeing absolutely nothing is your style. Many travellers do it from as short as 14 days to over six months.
The length of time you wish to travel for is usually the first issue to consider, but the other major factor that comes into the picture if the budget. Obviously, the longer you’re on the road, the larger your budget needs to be.
Knowing how much it will cost can seem like a guessing game, but depending on how you eat and sleep, you can save a lot of money. One example is taking advantage of free camping grounds as appose to fully catered caravan parks.
Other ways to do it on a budget include using non-perishable food, cooking on the road and bulk buying when possible. Free activities, attractions and national parks are another way to save money but still see the best of Australia.
It is recommended that you consider a budget of around $150 a day to include food, petrol and park fees where you need to. There are some fantastic resources online outlining budget spends. Trip in a van has a great one here.
What To Bring
Embarking a road trip around Australia that is as big as this one will require many different gadgets and utilities. Here is a handy little list of the essentials you’ll need for a road trip of this size.
Road Trip Essentials
The list of must-haves for your big trip comes down to the type of adventure you’re embarking on and the mode of transport you wish to use. There are many trusty items you need but none more reliable than a camper trailer.
For any holiday of this magnitude, you’re going to want something that’s versatile, safe, reliable and most importantly comfortable. A Mars camper trailer is your all in one companion for any camping or road trip adventure.
For more on our range of on and off road camper trailers visit our website.
Beyond the vehicle you wish to drive in, there are many other handy gadgets and tools you’ll need. Our top 3 include the following:
1. UHF radios
3. Solar input and camper chargers
We could go on for days about some of the fantastic camping gear that will help make your next adventure amazing. However, we don’t have all day, so we’ll have to settle for our top 3.
Ultra-high frequency radios are one of the most reliable ways to contact friends and family while camping. Granted, you’ll need the second device to be with the other person you wish to contact within a given range. It’s also handy if you find yourself in any trouble.
However, using a UHF radio is the most reliable way to stay in contact with your family, friend or love one on the road. Mobile phones can be very unreliable, and reception can be sparse, so knowing you have that contact at all times can be very reassuring.
A GPS is perhaps not even essential because everyone has a phone, navigation system built into the car or a satnav device. But for those who haven’t invested in this technology, we highly suggest it!
The last piece of technology you’re going to need is a BCDC charger and solar blanket. The BCDC charger and solar blanket give you the option of being able to charge and power your devices on the road.
Relying on your car battery can be a terrible idea, especially if you’re going on an extended road trip for months on end.
While this is a top 3, we’d also like to take a chance to give you a list of runner-ups that we couldn’t resist telling you about:
* Reversing camera * 5 in 1 jacket * Stackable kitchen utensils and flat kettles
Where To Go
Knowing where to go is a tough decision for any traveller. Despite the fact you’re likely to go past everything along highway 1, it can be difficult to know when and where to exit the highway and take a breather, what’s worth pressing on past and what you simply can’t pass up.
Let’s go state by state and give you our top picks for places you MUST visit when you cross the border. —
New South Wales
* The Blue Mountains, New South Wales
Right on the doorstep of Sydney are the Blue Mountains, a dramatically luscious and green landscape that has people from around Australia coming there for the views.
There are many natural landscapes to like waterfalls and forests
* Kakadu & Litchfield National Parks, Northern Territory
Kakadu and Litchfield are two separate national parks that are next to each other. Litchfield is the small of the two and is less touristy, while Kakadu is much larger and more popular.
Both national parks are a must see when up north due to their ancient rock art; diverse flora and fauna; camping options and natural waterways.
* Lawn Hill Gorge, Queensland
Queensland has no shortage of holiday destinations or things to do. But if you’re looking for a more peaceful getaway outside of the bustling holiday destinations like the Gold Coast, then Lawn Hill Gorge is the place for you.
The Boodjamulla national park, known as Lawn Hill, has some of the country’s best canals, lakes and rivers for you to even dip into. If you’re looking for a quick dip or boat related activities, you’d best stop here.
* Eyre Peninsula, South Australia
This triangular peninsular is a must-stop destination to visit when passing through South Australia. The region boasts some of the best seafood in the country as well as luxury wine, accommodation and aquatic activities.
* The Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is one of the most iconic roads in Australia. There are so many must-see destinations along this strip as well as free camping grounds, food options and tourist activities for all ages.
* Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia
Wait, hang on, a reef that isn’t the Great Barrier Reef? The Ningaloo Reef is one of the best places in the country to see natural wildlife unique to WA. This coastline is home to turtles, manta rays, humpbacks and whale sharks.
All of which you can swim with if you’re lucky. Once you’re done, you can nip back to your beachside camping with glamping and free camping options.
No matter which state or territory you’re in, always get there in style and safely with a Mars camper trailer.
It doesn’t matter if you’re going away for a weekend or six months, you’re going to need something that’s safe, reliable and comfortable. The entire team at Mars Campers is here to help you find the right camper trailer to suit your next adventure. Take a look at our wide range of camper trailers or talk to one of our Mars team staff to discuss how we can help you today.