Why and why don’t I want to travel Australia?
While some people came to Australia with their work and holiday visa to travel, I came with different intention, work hard and earn dollars. Some people laughed and thought I was weird; why would I come to Australia and spent most of my time in one city? Neither get a car and drive along the east coast, nor do the farm work. Well, I might sound cocky to say this but the reason why I didn’t do all those stuffs, solely because I wasn’t interested. Australia has never been on my bucket list. I came to Australia because it’s the only country where I, as an Indonesian could do work and holiday, and worse, only for a year.
Secondly, traveling in Australia is no joke, in terms of money. Guidebooks mentioned; expect spending $100/day to travel Australia. Why would I spend that money when I had no interest? A month in Australia can be equal to 3-4 months in Asian countries, it’s ridiculous. Expert never lies.
However, that’s not how I travel. I don’t presume myself – Okay, I’m in Bangkok, I’ve been to Thailand, or, I’m in Sydney, I’ve been to Australia. That’s not me. I like to explore and indulge more into the culture. I believe traveling is not just about the destination, it’s about experience. That’s why I decided to travel more in Australia while I’m here cause I’m pretty sure I’d never come back to Australia once I left it.
My plan was not having too much plan. I’ve secured three flights; Sydney-Hobart, Launceston-Melbourne, and Perth-back home. The rest, I had to figure out how I got to Perth from Melbourne without flying. Road trip was the answer, I owned no car. How? That’s the challenge. Here I’ll break down what I’ve done and where I’ve been for a month in Australia. I’ll write the details more on my upcoming posts, enjoy!
Week 1: Tasmania
I often heard good reviews about Tasmania. Some people said Tasmania was like a tiny version of New Zealand, known for its wonderful nature. It’s the only island state outside the mainland of Australia. I spent my first three days exploring the city while waiting for Maria, a Canadian girl who came after with the same plan, so we decided to rent a car and travel together. The only thing that concerned me the most was the weather. But, we always came to the right place in the perfect time, we were so lucky.
Mostly our trip were done by camping, except some nights when we really need a shower or it’s too cold to camp then we opted for a shelter. During our stay in Hobart, we’re lucky enough to stay in a hostel that enabled us to borrow some camping gear for free! There’s one night in Devonport where we had to check-in to a pub. It’s kindda like a new thing for me, sounds a little bit creepy. I imagined drunk men walked through the dark corridor and did stupid thing, lucky it’s just in my imagination, apparently it wasn’t that bad.
The route that we did was Hobart-Wineglass Bay-Ross-Cradle Mountain-Marrawah-Devonport-Launceston. It was a good drive, Tasmania wasn’t that big so we spent maximum 3 hours drive a day, mostly looking at a huge green land with herds of sheep and cattle. I love Tasmania, it’s so peaceful though sometimes it could be too quiet.
Also Read: Tasmania in A Glance
Week 2-3: Melbourne-Adelaide
Tasmania was lovely. However, I missed big city. I couldn’t be more happier when I flew to Melbourne, ready to find out what the city could offer. I caught up with a friend, Vivi, together we strolled around the city for four days. We did all the sight-seeing, from the old railway station to the state library, admiring the grandeur of Anglicans Cathedrals, and took lots of selfie in one of the artsiest lane in Melbourne, it was so much fun. The more I walked, the more I fell in love with the city. European-style building, trees as the natural canopy on the street, adorable cafes along cobbled lanes, I think I should consider moving to Melbourne and live there.
I later found this Belgian guy, Jef, who planned to drive to Adelaide and did some stops on the way. Good timing! I tagged along with him without having any idea about the places that we would visit. We went to Phillip Island-Wilsons Promontory-Great Ocean Road-Grampians-Adelaide with different group of people. It’s interesting how we could pull it together and met cool travelers from Facebook. This was the real road trip for me. We camped, we cooked all the time, we kept our budget low.
Also Read: 18 Free Things to DO in Melbourne
Week 4: Adelaide-Darwin
Before driving to Adelaide, I kept checking all my social media and websites trying to find a lift to Perth but I couldn’t find any. Everything went wrong from here. Somehow I felt weird, my trip had been too smooth like a silky road and now, here come the obstacles. I found a host in Adelaide as precaution so I could stay longer and maybe got a lift to Perth. Worst case, I had to fly to Perth and it’d cost me $200. Suddenly, I had another idea, maybe I should go up to Darwin and fly back home from Darwin. It’d cost me the same, $200. I found two lifts, Adelaide-Alice Spring, Alice Spring-Darwin. I decided to go up to Darwin.
I knew it’s gonna be insane, 1532 km, around 16 hours from Adelaide to Alice Spring in a day, literally pain in the ass. Only two of us taking turn driving. What hurt me most was I got a message offering a lift to Perth that day, few hours after I left Adelaide. Why is life’s messing around with me? If only I chose to stay longer in Adelaide.
That’s not the only problem. I didn’t know that Uluru and Kings Canyon was before Alice Spring, fool me. It means I had to make a detour to see them both. I didn’t even ask the other guy if he’d do Uluru and stuff, apparently when I met him, he told me that he had done them both and now it’s time for him to move up to Darwin. I’m not leaving Australia without visiting to Uluru while I’m in Red Centre, no way. I ended up not going with him.
I was all over the place trying to figure out what I should do. I checked Facebook again, there’s a guy doing Uluru but he’s going down to Alice Spring. I had no choice beside joining three-day tour to Uluru. It sucks cause I’m not a tour person and for sure, it’s way more expensive.
Also Read: Discovering Uluru in Three Days
I tried not to let this thing ruined my trip, well, let it go and enjoy. Uluru, Kata Tjuta, and Kings Canyon were stunning in their own way. Frankly, I got more insights about Aboriginal Culture and the history from the tour guide. I could read everything from the cultural center, however, it’s utterly different when the guide explained everything in interactive way. It’s like you absorbed the essence of the whole story.
I had to stay few more days in Alice Spring till I found another lift to Darwin. Another German girl named Suzy (p.s. she’s in the same group with the guy that I saw in FB going to Uluru), both of us were driving up to Darwin. It was a short two days but I had great time talking to her. I didn’t do much in Darwin. Five minutes out and I was sweating like river stream. 34 degrees with 100% humidity, how could I handle that?
Highlights of the trip
Definitely all about the road trip experience. Camping, cooking, meeting new people, bushwalking, seeing wild life. I’ve seen so many colorful birds, wallabies and kangaroos jumping around, maybe drunk koalas lazily hanging on the tree, emus, even wild whale. Some places that impressed me the most were; Cradle Mountain, I love the iconic rugged shape of the mountain, Ross, a little cute town that captivated my heart. The Twelve Apostles for its exceptional landscape, it looks way bigger than the picture. Uluru, no wonder it becomes a magnetic pull over the travelers. The sunset was breathtaking and they story behind it was “eye-widening”. Last but not least, Valley of the Winds in Kata Tjuta, there’s just something magical about this place that I couldn’t explain by words.
Whether you want to buy a car or just renting a campervan, there are different ways to accomplish your road trip dream. You can find many travelers/backpackers selling their car from $1500-$7000 fully equipped with beds cooking utensils, and camping stuffs. Make sure you check the kms, rego, and car condition. You don’t wanna stuck in the middle of nowhere especially in the outback. You can find them in Facebook groups such as; Australia Backpackers, Sydney Backpacker, etc.
Renting a car is another good option if you don’t want to worry about selling them after. Some companies allow you to return the car in different location. Check Jucy, Wicked Campers, Maui, Britz, etc. There’s an interesting site called imoova, basically it’s a car relocation website. You can rent a car as cheap as $1/day in return of driving the car to specific location.
Or, you can find lift or ride share like I did. Easy, you just need to be flexible and of course, willing to split cost. Again you can find them in backpacker groups in Facebook, forum like Gumtree, and Coseats.
Next step you have to know is finding campsites. Download “Wikicamps” application in your phone to find the location. In Australia, you’re not allowed to camp wherever you want. You get caught, you’ll get fined. Wikicamps can show you the location of free campsites or paid campsites. Free campsites normally have no facilities, whereas paid campsites have facilities such as hot shower and kitchen, normally around $30-$60/car/night.
The road condition is fairly good and sealed. You don’t really need 4wd unless you wanna drive in unsealed road at the outback. Europeans might not use to left side driving, beware of that, and better not to drive in the dark cause it’s the active time for wildlife. I’ve seen many roadkill and it can be dangerous for driving. Driving in Australia is generally safe with clear road signs, speed limit, and overtaking lanes (I love this!), and enough rest area. I find the drivers are pretty generous. They’ll give you sign when it’s safe enough for you to overtake them.
Regarding how much it cost, again it depends on individual. Average price for dorm room is $20-30/bed, food is about $10-20, and gasoline $1.25/liter. A day tour would normally cost you $100.
The climate can change depends on the location. It can be really cold in south coast and can be really hot in the red center, make sure you check the weather and bring clothes accordingly. When you’re driving in the outback especially red centre, bring enough supply of water. Also, consider about the distance and the fuel. You can download “Fuel Map” for offline database of petrol stations and fuel prices from all across Australia.
Traveled in 02-31 October 2016
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