Making Your Itinerary

Before you embark upon the logistics of planning for your trip (vehicle setup, camping gear) it is essential that you have made some sort of an itinerary. Making an itinerary helps you and your passengers work out what is achievable and realistic, and therefore safe - essential ingredients for a happy holiday.
Article By: ExplorOz Team
Created: November 2006
Revised: September 2012
Latest Feedback: February 2015

What kind of Traveller are you?

First of all - ask yourself "what sort of traveller am I?" Many publicised travel destinations in Australia are located in the extreme far reaches of Australia's rugged outback so you need to think about how you are going to get there, if indeed the area is accessible during the time of year you are planning to be there.
  • Will you need a 4WD?

  • What's the best way to book a Tour?

  • What accommodation facilities will you require?

  • Will you go somewhere that only offers bush camping?

  • How will school holidays affect you?

  • Will local events impact upon your plans?

  • Have you calculated the distance between supply points?

  • How long will it really take?
  • What is the best route there - the shortest distance or the offroad track?

  • What else can you do along the way?
Resolving all these questions before you focus on setting up the vehicle are important. All these initial questions need to be addressed in your own mind (and that of your travelling companions) before adding specific destinations to your itinerary.

If this is your first trip and you're not really sure what vehicle or rig will suit you, we suggest you browse the Vehicles section of our articles for more information such as Choosing a Vehicle, Buying an RV and othe relevant topics that will help you in setting up the vehicle with accessories, tyres and recovery gear.

What's Feasible?

One of the biggest mistakes people make when planning a trip is attempting to do too much for the given timeframe. All experienced travellers will say the "journey" itself is the trip, not the destination. Just because you've set your thoughts on the destination doesn't mean to say that there's nothing of interest on the way there! If you've allowed enough time you can pull over by the side of the road and amble through ruins, wait for the right light/time of day to take a beautiful photo, take a side-track, visit a local museum/gallery etc. Just browse your way to where you're going - you may never get a chance to get back there. Some of the most wonderful experiences can be had just sitting for an hour in the local pub or cafe. You're not likely to be ignored - in fact, the local townsfolk are often proud of where they live and want to encourage you to explore their region so stop, stay and listen - you may just pick up some fabulous bit of local knowledge that will completely change your trip and open up a whole new world of adventure for you. So what's feasible?

The Short Break - 1 week

If you live in any of Australia's capital cities then use your short break to get to know your backyard a little better. Aim for a single destination that only requires 1 overnight and 2 driving days maximum to get there. Setup a base camp and explore the region from there. There are many wonderful National Parks that would be ideal for this sort of trip. For ideas see Camping Guides in the Books section of our Shop and then cross-reference ideas you find to our Trek Notes for detailed driving notes, and practical suggestions of what to do.

The Annual Holiday - 4 week trip

This length trip is ideal for anyone planning a trip from anywhere in Australia to the centre, to see places such as Uluru (Ayres Rock), the Simpson Desert, Chambers Pillar or the Channel Country. Obviously you can go a lot further and see more places with 4 weeks, however this is your holiday and don't want to be driving everyday of it. Planning a trip from Sydney to the Kimberley is really too far. Stick instead to planning a trip on the same side of the country as you live, or in Winter, Central Australia is the perfect destination.

ExplorOz has published a number of treks, which cover everything from 15-day adventures in the outback to weekend trips out of the capital cities. See our Trek Notes for comprehensive destination information for over 100 great trips.

The Big Trip - 6mths +

This sort of trip requires very special planning and most people say they're going to travel "around Australia". Unfortunately for many hundreds of travellers, the reality is that to fully appreciate each region as you circumnavigate Australia, you will need to plan to be on the road for at least 9 months to do a full loop. Ideally, 18 - 24 months would be better for this would give you time to experience each region in its prime season. See Climate for why.

6 months is definitely too short a period in which to attempt to drive 30,000 kilometres around Australia - you will quite simply find yourselves constantly driving. But, 6mths will give you the ability to fully explore at least one half of Australia so focus on the season - what time of year will it be and what part of Australia is at it's prime at that time. Whatever your situation I'm sure you'll find more than 1 trip in the ExplorOz Trek Notes to suit you.

Climate

The majority of Australia is a harsh and rugged terrain. The west coast is predominated by soft sandy tracks and the east coast by rocks, headlands and lots of rain. The top half of the country experiences a tropical climate so it is practically inaccessible during the wet season while the interior can be very dusty and oppressively hot in summer. It is a country of great changes so it is imperative that you do a little research on each region before you travel so you can be well equipped and prepared.

No matter where you begin your trip you will have to carefully consider the seasons before selecting your route as the whole top half of Australia is relatively inaccessible, or at the very least very uncomfortable, from late October - March every year.

The general rule of thumb is: Summer - head to the coast or south, Winter - head north to the tropics or inland to the deserts. See the live Weather and satellite images on ExplorOz - view by state, using zoom controls to gain further detail.

Offroad or Highways?

Although it is possible to travel the entire way around Australia on bitumen roads (the National Highway) doing this would be a great shame. One of the most unique features of Australia is its remote areas - almost all of which are inaccessible by tarred roads. It is for this reason that 4WDs are extremely popular in Australia. See our National Road Conditions reports, which are updated a minimum of once, but sometimes 3 times per week.

Quarantine

Restrictions apply to each State and Territory to protect Australia's valuable plant industries from a range of pests and diseases and to maintain access to valuable local and overseas markets. These restrictions operate under State and Territory legislation. For Quarantine regulations and checkpoints see the Quarantine section within our Food & Water article. Call Quarantine Domestic on freecall 1800 084 881 for uptodate information.

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