3-4month trip in June...which way should we go?

Submitted: Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013 at 19:18
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Hi all. (I hope im posting this in the right place??) my wife and i are currently planning a 3-4month trip next year with our two kids (4yr old daughter and 12month old boy). Travelling in a Holden Rodeo towing a Jayco Swan camper.

This is all really new to us both so we were hoping to get some advice or suggestions from people who have done it before (espescially with kids) :)

We will be leaving from the cairns area around June next year.

My wife is keen to go down the east coast, do the great ocean rd and back up through the centre...whereas i'm keen to head west through NT, to Broome.

Just wondering if anyone has any thoughts on which way we should travel and what we could cover in this sort of time frame?

Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated, so thanks in advance!
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Reply By: John and Regina M - Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013 at 19:38

Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013 at 19:38
You should go west and she south.
Will save arguments later on.
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Follow Up By: Ado84 - Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013 at 19:47

Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013 at 19:47
Geez...that was really helpful!!!!
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Follow Up By: John and Regina M - Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013 at 20:48

Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013 at 20:48
No problems.
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Reply By: Member - blackbird1937 - Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013 at 20:18

Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013 at 20:18
Hi Ado. Leaving from Cairns in July, I would go west first as Victoria will be very cold at that time of year for banana benders. We are finding it cold now at Hawker in South Oz. Whichever way you go enjoy your trip.
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Follow Up By: Ado84 - Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013 at 20:55

Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013 at 20:55
Thanks blackbird Yeah that's what i've been trying to tell the wife. hehe
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Reply By: Member - Warrie (NSW) - Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013 at 21:01

Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013 at 21:01
Ado84, previous comment not really helpful but in the Ex Oz tradition was funny!! On a more serious note we southerners are all heading north in June, if we can, to avoid the cold. If you have 4 months you could easily do 25,000 km and you both could see what you mentioned. You may not care for more heat if you live in Cairns but I would stay in the north and do Kakadu then the GRR and Bungles. Is the Swan an off -roader?
Two days down the Tanami - even though it's as boring as - and you hit the Alice late July so it's frosty in the mornng. So the Great Ocean Rd in August could have freezing winds and rain but then you could hit the Vic or NSW snowfields mid August. Then go to the coast and drive north. We took a month Sydney to Daintree on a Qld beach hop - fabulous in August....... W

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Follow Up By: Member - blackbird1937 - Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013 at 22:00

Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013 at 22:00
Hi Warrie. I have a fair idea what Vic winters are like as I lived in central Vic for over 70 years and worked in most places around Vic for 35 years. I moved to Hervey Bay 14 months ago and noticed the difference in winter temps. We are on a trip around Oz but it is too cold to go further south at the moment. The daytime temps are good but we have had the heater on for a while the last 2 nights in our new full van. That is why I said to go west first. We were in The Alice mid October. It was cold enough at night for us.
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Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013 at 22:31

Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013 at 22:31

I don't think Warrie was referring to your "follow up" but rather the "reply" from John and Regina.

They were being funny which was in turn misinterpreted by Ado.

All is good again in the world.


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Follow Up By: Ado84 - Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 at 20:07

Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 at 20:07
Hey Warrie, Thanks for the input. I would love to do Kakadu and the Kimberly. The wife isn't too sure about these outback places as she is scared of creepy crawlies (snakes in particular) espescially with the kids, which is understandable, and the fact of the remoteness in case of emergencies. Yeah the swan is an outback model. Do you think it will handle the GRR that of year?
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Follow Up By: Member - Warrie (NSW) - Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 at 20:52

Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 at 20:52
Ado - have taken on - road Swan and off - road Dove on GRR. Keep speed at 80 even when tempted to do 100 because there will be long stretches where it looks OK. Do NOT overinflate tyres as this with speed = punctures. 28 psi all round was my magic no. - got no flats.Same applies to Oodnadatta Track, Birdsville Track which are roads really , just like the GRR.
As you have probably realised you can't see it all in one go unless you take a year or more. But there should be another time with older and easier ages for the kids...... W

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Reply By: Member - Chris_K - Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013 at 21:16

Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013 at 21:16
Perhaps head west over the Savannah Way - Darwin, then around the Kimberley Coast and then down to Perth via Broome, Cape Leveque and then back along the Great Central Road...at least you avoid the coldest months down south!

Some really nice (& warm) places if you go west first...

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Reply By: Motherhen - Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013 at 23:45

Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013 at 23:45
Hi Ado

Be aware of the seasons to go at times of optimum climate. Other than that, direction of travel will be the consensus of where you both want to go the most; highest priorities. Best idea is to get a map of Australia and each put a circle around half a dozen high priority places. See which ones coincide, and choose those in roughly the same area. Then you can look at other places that interest you nearby. Travelling with little ones you will not want to travel too far each day, and allow plenty of time for the four year old to run around.

My best advice for shorter holidays (and two to three months with the size of Australia is a short time frame) is to travel to the first priorities in a leisurely and relaxing way, then when half way through the time frame try and find different roads home. There will often be some double up, particularly for us when getting to the other side often means crossing the Nullarbor. For advice about this sort of trip planning google "Travel time frames. See more with less driving and less cost".

I also have Blogs in My Blogs here of places such as the Kimberley and Central Australia (2008 and 2009), and the northern half of the Northern Territory (2009). The Great Ocean Road was in 2006, and the blogs from then are briefer.


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Follow Up By: Ado84 - Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 at 20:13

Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 at 20:13
Thanks for the tips Motherhen. Will be sure to check out your blogs to see what its all about. I agree... 3-4 months isn't really that long. If I had my way we would be selling the house and doing it for a lot longer and working along the way. Had to come to a comprimise to even get the wife to consider doing the trip in the first place. But now that we're starting to plan I can see she is actually getting excited about doing it which is great. Thanks again
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 at 20:44

Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 at 20:44
Best do it her way this time then Ado to ease her into it, but don't go south too fast or you may meet unaccustomed cold weather. Try and avoid wet climates with the Swan or it will not be fun.

We drove the Great Ocean Road early February and got rain one night and light showers driving through the Otways and along the cliff edge to the east of the Otways.


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Reply By: Rob d b. - Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 at 00:39

Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 at 00:39
Hi ado

Definitely go west for the winter. It will be pretty hot in the swan later in the year. It is beautiful up in the north west during July sept. It's a great trip from cairns across to the gulf then from the gulf right across to Broome. There is some fantastic country side to see. Save the great ocean road for closer to October. We are in port Hedland and spend most winters out in our swan outback. Get across to the territory and spend some time exploring there. Then kunnanurra through to derby along the gibb river road is a trip of a life time. After that across to cape levique and off to Broome. It's a long way to then head south with lots of country in between. From broom you could make your way across the tanami to the center then race down through Sa to Vic if you really want to. Big trip for four months.

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Reply By: tazbaz - Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 at 07:25

Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 at 07:25
A happy wife is a happy life. Go south young man.
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Follow Up By: Krooznalong - Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 at 14:07

Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 at 14:07
You'll live to regret it if you don't do as she wishes.
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Follow Up By: Ado84 - Thursday, Nov 14, 2013 at 19:14

Thursday, Nov 14, 2013 at 19:14
Yeah thats what my wife reakons to. Hahaha
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 at 09:45

Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 at 09:45
Hi Ado,
Yes you are in the right place. I suggest that heading west and exploring the Gulf, Kakadu, Gibb River Road and the rest of the Kimberley, Pilbara, then south along the coast to about Geraldton, then inland to Leonora and home via Great Central Road, Alice Springs and all the great places around there. Home via the Plenty Highway or Barkly Highway if you have had enough of gravel and corrugations by then. That route would more than fill 4 months, especially travelling with small children - and you still would not see everything. The country that you pass through will be very different to what you have around Cairns and will actually give you much more variety than going down the east coast.

If you go any further south than about Geraldton you will risk running into cold weather, with a good chance of wind and rain as well, as the winter fronts sweep up from the Southern Ocean. Certainly too cold for swimming down there at that time of year, and quite uncomfortable if you do happen to get caught in a really strong weather system. Even around Geraldton it can be very windy, and Alice can also have heavy frosts in winter.

The GOR is a long way from this area and best kept for another time, preferably during the warmer months.

We have written blogs from our trips in some of those northern areas (and the GOR) which might help with deciding which way to go.


J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

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Reply By: new boy - Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 at 10:43

Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 at 10:43
Hi Ado
Going west stay warm south ofcourse cold thats a given. Daughter 4 means school soon and young bloke 12mths gives you approx 17 years of being tied to the holiday periods. I would suggest you take the route that is NEW country not similar to what you can see in the Kimberleys and central Australia which you have west of Cairns and can be done during the school holiday it,s a lot harder doing the GOR ,bottom NSW and Vic in 2 weeks.
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Reply By: The Landy - Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 at 12:54

Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 at 12:54
Hi Ado

Sometimes I find it useful to ask myself what do I want to get out of this trip. What types of things do I want to see and experience. That will often help answer the “where do I go” question.

You have plenty of time, but despite that, don’t try and squeeze every possible thing in. Take the time to explore and relax, especially given you are travelling with younger children.

The scourge of younger children is long travelling hours in a car. So make it interesting for them, stop often!

For sure, the southern areas might be colder at that time of the year, but that brings with it landscapes that you may not always see living in the north, so don’t rule it out.

Like most things, it ends up being a compromise along the way, just make sure enjoying yourselves is at the top of the priority list!

Cheers…The Landy
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Follow Up By: Ado84 - Thursday, Nov 14, 2013 at 19:17

Thursday, Nov 14, 2013 at 19:17
Hey Landy, You make some good points and its def something we need to ask ourselves. And like you said...I def dont want to be trying to squeeze everything in on this trip as i do want to take the time to relax and enjoy ourselves. Thanks again
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Reply By: Member - John D, Wandong (Vic) - Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 at 13:35

Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 at 13:35
Hi Ado84,
I guess it depends on what you are trying to achieve, are you trying to decide between...
[a] a trip to the west
[b] a trip down south
[c] a trip that covers both

If you want to do both, I would leave Cairns as late in June as possible (even early July) and head across the top to Kakadu, down to the Kimberley, Gibb River Rd to Derby/Broome. There's plenty to see and do in 8 weeks (July/Aug) in these areas!

Sept generally sees the weather begin to warm up a little down south, you have the choice of going Broome to Pt Hedland and down the coast to Perth and across the Nullabor, or Pt Hedland and go inland to Newman and down to Kalgoorlie and across the Nullabor, or Newman to Leonora and across the Great Central Rd and down the Stuart Hwy.

Check out the Flinders Ranges, Wilpena Pound is a very nice spot.
Your choice on which way you take to Mt Gambier (check out the Blue Lake) then on to Portland.
Follow the coastal route (Princes Hwy) through Port Fairy/Warrnambool to link up with the Great Ocean Rd.

Re your wife's thoughts on doing the east/south coast at that time of year is not a good one, unless she is planning on seeing the snow fields, as mentioned by someone else, Victorians head North for the winter...as I do!!

Cheers, John
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 at 19:31

Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013 at 19:31
3-4 months is not enough time to see much of Oz.
Select 3 or 4 places and plan to see them "properly", then 'join the dots' between.
Me? The Kimberley is without peer, followed by the Pilbara and the Cape. Chuck in a few deserts along the way and I am happy.

OKA106 Motorhome
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Reply By: RBH - Friday, Nov 15, 2013 at 14:40

Friday, Nov 15, 2013 at 14:40
G'day Ado84,

First up - good on you for getting out while the kids are young! Our kids are a bit older now (girl 6 and boy 3 1/2) but I can really relate to your situation. Only difference perhaps is that we spent a lot of time travelling/camping in remote areas pre-kids so I'll try and take your "new-ness" and your wife's concern about critters into account in any suggestions I make. :)

We did one 2.5 month trip 2 years ago with kids just the same age and stage as yours and had a fantastic time. It really cemented their friendship as he was just getting big enough to join in with her in playing and exploring. They are best mates now and we reckon that 10 weeks on the road together was a big contributing factor.

Lot's of different things for you to consider. The 2 main things to take into account I reckon are:
1. When you look back on this trip you'll recognise it was as much about the family experience as it was about the destinations, so plan to experience things you will enjoy as a family (swimming, walking, campfires, seeing animals, exploring the bush, etc) as well as checking out the great destinations Australia has to offer. eg. Our kids weren't "amazed" by Wilpena Pound but they loved following the baby emus along the track and "rock climbing" while we had lunch (our 4 year old walked 6.5 of the 7km!).
2. As others have recommended there is definitely a "best" time to visit most places, so you should either lock in your time before choosing a route, or choose your route then go at the right time. For example, there's a big difference between leaving in early June for 3 months, or leaving in late June for 4 months if you want to get down south for a while.

My initial thought would be (3 months from early June) stay north and check out the top end, Kimberley and home via the centre (maybe back across the Plenty Hwy to Fraser Is and home up the coast). Or ideally, for 4 months from the end of June - Top of NT, down through the centre, explore SA (the hidden gem of Australia I reckon - Flinders, Eyre Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula, Kangaroo Island) and home via Great Ocean Rd, Vic High Country and up the coast.

I'd better get some work done now, but feel free to ask any questions. There's definitely some good tricks to travelling with young kids (we don't have dvd's in the car!) and you will find your own rhythm, but happy to let you know what works for us.

Good luck,
rehillhouse (at) yahoo.com.au

P.S. We're currently thinking about a trip to the Kimberley (from NSW) at the same time so we may cross paths.
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