6 months in Australia by road from Sydney. Which way first?

Submitted: Friday, Aug 26, 2016 at 23:36
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I'm gonna take 6months off work and travel with my girlfriend in my campervan.
I'm starting around Sept-November and finishing about April. Im starting from Sydney. I'm confused about which way to go first. I know the North is too hot in the summer and the south is too cold in the winter.
I have mainly travelled Queensland before along the coast. I've never travelled to Victoria. I want to do Victoria and definately Tasmania and check out South Australia.
I really want to see Perth and those turquoise waters but I'm worried it may be too far to drive and when you get there, there's only one way back. I also wanted to drive do the route from S.A up through Alice Springs.
Not sure how to do it.
Any thoughts or advice and best times to visit certain places. Also any places that are must stops along the way.
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Reply By: Frank P (NSW) - Saturday, Aug 27, 2016 at 06:44

Saturday, Aug 27, 2016 at 06:44
South from Sydney then Vic , Tas and SA could easily fill 6 months. We spent 8 weeks in Tassie and didn't finish it! But we had no schedule :-)

If you find yourself with enough time to go west, then do it, even if it means returnjng the same way, as temps will be reasonably temperate.

If you decide not to do the west but go to Alice from SA, then be aware that inland SA and north to Alice get very hot in summer. Dry but very hot. I think I'd opt for the west, time permitting.


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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Saturday, Aug 27, 2016 at 11:42

Saturday, Aug 27, 2016 at 11:42
The replies below suggest going north to QLD. I didn't suggest that because

1- you said you'd travelled already mainly up the QLD coast and
2- You seemed to emphasise the southern and western states.

Yes, there's the FNQ inland, but Sept Oct, especially Oct in inland FNQ it gets bloody hot and humid and gets worse as the year progresses. Was in Palmer River gold country around Laura in Oct 2010 - 42 deg. Awful. Depending when you start your trip, if you went north, that's about the time you'll be there.

NSW south coast and southern states will be cool in Sept, but you bracketed your starting date Sept-Nov. In Nov it's glorious and as you go south those cool states will warm up. Feb-Mar is best for Tassie.

Though it's lovely, don't confine yourself to the coast - there are beautiful hinterland and inland Nat Parks to explore and plenty of free camping in some Nat Parks and all state forests. Just check for hunting in state forests and some Nat Parks - you and your GF probably don't want to mix it up with JD and Coke, guns and pig dogs, etc.

If you go to WA you could maybe make a bit of a circuit in NSW, SA and Vic - coastal on the way there, and once back from WA, do some inland stuff.Flinders Ranges (SA) are hot in summer but cool off in autumn and are spectacular with wonderful camping in the gorges.

Perhaps from there to Clare Valley wine region if you're interested,

Mt Remarkable NP (Mambray Ck campground, but there are others),

onto the Murray via minor roads and towns, find your own free camps, there are plenty (explore tracks off the road near creek and river crossings) eg Yanyarrie Creek north of Carrieton.

Explore some history along the Murray (both Vic and NSW sides) on the way to Mildura and Wentworth (confluence of Murray and Darling rivers),

then maybe Lake Mungo (two campgrounds - the back one is nice via a 70km loop, get the notes for interpretation and history and is relatively secluded),

Menindee Lakes, Broken Hill.

From Broken Hill consider Mutawintji NP, wonderful walks, aboriginal heritage (book a guide if you can)

and then outback NSW to White Cliffs (great drive, opals),

then various state forests, Nat Parks, free camps to civilisation.

Or do that circuit vice versa, but try to do it in springtime. A bit hot in summer, especially outback NSW - Broken Hill, Mutawintji, White Cliffs.


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Follow Up By: Crusier 91 - Sunday, Aug 28, 2016 at 07:49

Sunday, Aug 28, 2016 at 07:49
If his starting Sep-November you'd want to head straight for the Flinders. After those months the Flinders is basically closed over the summer.
Personally I think it's the wrong time of the year to start the trip with the places you want to go to.
Better off starting April head South and work back up through the Flinders and then across to Perth by mid June and then up north.
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Reply By: Member - Boobook - Saturday, Aug 27, 2016 at 06:47

Saturday, Aug 27, 2016 at 06:47
I'll have a stab at it.
Camerons Corner
Alice and Ayres Rock
Down the Coast of WA ( will be windy)
Now you are in Perth later in the year and it's getting warmer down south.
Port Lincoln
kangaroo Island
SE coast
Great ocean Rd
Tassie. ( or save some time and just wave to the SoT at Port Melbourne)
Up the South Coast
Home in time for dinner.
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Follow Up By: TomH - Saturday, Aug 27, 2016 at 09:37

Saturday, Aug 27, 2016 at 09:37
All in 6 months???? Wouldnt have time to stop for anything. Took us a year to do that and still didnt see everything.
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Saturday, Aug 27, 2016 at 11:37

Saturday, Aug 27, 2016 at 11:37
True Tom, You could do it in 3 years and still not see everything. Or 5 years. everything is relative.

Just trying to help the OP with the locations he asked about.

Everything is a compromise but with a few 1500km faster sections you could cover it well.

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Reply By: Kenell - Saturday, Aug 27, 2016 at 08:22

Saturday, Aug 27, 2016 at 08:22
I am guessing your set up is 2 wheel drive rather than 4wd. In other words you are really looking for sealed roads predominantly. If Tassie is one of your key targets perhaps work around that. You need to book in advance to get your car on the Spirit of Tasmania and costs vary with tourist seasons. Spring in Tas can be windy and still cool whilst late summer to autumn are great. I would leave it until Feb / March. The SA and WA coasts are spectacular but again the westerly winds are blowing onto the WA coast in early spring.
Rule of thumb - Oct to Dec in northern Australia is "the build up" - humid and starting to warm up. Jan - April is hot and humid and should be raining - a lot !! Hasn't worked that way lately. Can also get cyclones in coastal areas. The heat / humidity can be ok for travellers but rain coming down for days on end at 25mm an hour isn't. Inland Australia in mid to late summer is very hot i.e. 40 + regularly. Spring is best time to see the inland. Southern Australia is just waking up now. Spring and summer is when it is at its best.
Hope this helps and enjoy your visit.
AnswerID: 603889

Reply By: Les - PK Ranger - Saturday, Aug 27, 2016 at 10:13

Saturday, Aug 27, 2016 at 10:13
Tend to agree with many comments about doing part of the country well, save other sections for another trip.

I'd head up the coast to north Qld, as far as you feel like going (maybe Daintree / Cooktown way), then down through some nice towns through central Qld to say Birdsville, down Birdsville Tk and maybe up Oodbadatta Tk to Oodnadatta to come out on the Stuart Hwy, then down to Adelaide.

From there go around the coast to Melbourne (Limestone Coast and Great Ocean Rd) maybe check out the high country a bit, then over to Tas and see that gem of a state.

This way you will be through the north and back south for the 2 coolest temp places in the country for the warmer months (Vic high country and Tas).

The drive up the coast from Melb to Sydney will also be reasonably nice to do over a week or so.

You should have time to see a lot and take your time a little more.

Next visit, hire from Adelaide, up the Stuart to Darwin, across the top of WA and down that coast, Nullabor back to SA.

Enjoy :)
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Reply By: Zippo - Saturday, Aug 27, 2016 at 11:48

Saturday, Aug 27, 2016 at 11:48
Only one way back from Perth? Nah, there are three "main" routes (and variations on each) - Great Northern Hwy via the Kimberley, Great Eastern Hwy via the Nullarboring, and Great Central Rd.

Your timetable is unfortunate in climatic terms. You'd ideally do the tropical north in May-August, and if you wanted to be anywhere in Dec-Feb it would need to be the southern strip and Tassie, which will be fairly busy aka crowded in many towns.

A lot depends on how much you expect to do sightseeing (as distinct from driving), and how capable you/GF/vehicle are on outback unsealed roads.

If you do get a September start (next week!) I'd personally start heading into Qld, see inland centres then do the BV/Ood Tracks as Les suggested. From Oodnadatta to Marla then head UP the Stuart and then across to the Rock. Then transit to Perth via GCR (*) and return via Nullarboring to Vic south coast and Tassie if any time remains, returning to Siddley via Vic of course.

* From Leonora you can cut across to the west coast via Leinster/Mt Magnet and then travel south down the coast to Perth.

What does this miss out? Lots, but your time window doesn't really accommodate to many options. Alternative would be Qld outback, NT via ThreeWay and up to Katherine (*) and across to the Kimberley and down the west, return from Perth as above.

* Darwin/Kakadu definitely as long as your start date allows you to get in there and out before the wet breaks with a vengeance.

Many will disagree with me. Yours is the type of enquiry that will get many different responses - consider them all. "Make sure your vehicle is in top mechanical condition, etc etc" is about the only common thread.
AnswerID: 603892

Reply By: TomH - Saturday, Aug 27, 2016 at 14:38

Saturday, Aug 27, 2016 at 14:38
My thought is that it would be a good idea to say what make and model your campervan is. Not much good getting advice to do outback tracks if the vehicle isnt capable of going there.

When asking for advice the more detail you provide, the more accurate the answers.

As far as travel areas are concerned. With a 6 month time frame I would concentrate on Victoria, south Australia and Tassie if you have time.
To go west and north you would spend endless days driving and not have time to sightsee.
AnswerID: 603898

Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Saturday, Aug 27, 2016 at 14:40

Saturday, Aug 27, 2016 at 14:40
Agree 100%. In my posts above I assumed standard 2WD campervan, not lifted and hence the routes I suggested - as well as climate considerations.


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Reply By: Member - Robyn R4 - Saturday, Aug 27, 2016 at 21:26

Saturday, Aug 27, 2016 at 21:26
Don't be afraid to cut stuff out of your plans and put it into the "to be done later" file.
We went to the Kimberley last year and didn't go to Broome because of our set time frame. I had been there before and told hubby that Broome was a week or two in itself (at least!!) and that we'd do it another day in FIFO style.
Just a thought for you to consider...skip past the closer stuff and put it onto the agenda for "another day". You'll have such a damn good time that you'll be planning "next time" while you're only part way through this trip! Victoria is much closer to you than WA and could be perhaps done in a few smaller trips. Tassie could be covered later as a separate holiday, too.
Just suggesting.
When you're not a grey nomad with all the time in the world (lucky devils!!) you have to learn to get value out of your km in your own style.
And as for what to see?
Mate, whatever you can!
Don't ever be put off by friends in the future talking about the fact that they saw all gorges along the Gibb River Road or that you missed something really good by not going to such-and-such...whatever you get to see in your 6 months will stay with you for life!
Don't fret if "bucket list things" are not ticked off. Hubby and I still haven't made it to Tassie but the other great trips are great alternative memories.
If you want to do the inland, I'd suggest to do it first up. After October the flies are even worse, the heat oppressive and the traffic less regular(should you need help).
I've seen a lot of Oz (in "non-grey nomad" style, with less of a luxurious time frame and in little bits and pieces over 20 years!!) and if I had the luxury of 6 months, I'd consider heading west to Port Augusta, up the middle, across to WA and home through SA and the Vic coastline. If it's too hot down south you can skip along the coast and cover the beaut stuff in the middle another time.
Whatever route you choose and however you choose to attack your wonderful dilemma, I'm jealous and hope you have a wonderful adventure.

Robyn :)
AnswerID: 603903

Reply By: Motherhen - Saturday, Aug 27, 2016 at 22:52

Saturday, Aug 27, 2016 at 22:52
Three months in Tasmania would be great. Tour Victoria for around six weeks getting there and coming back. That would allow you to be in Tasmania for the hottest months.


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Reply By: Full of nothing - Sunday, Aug 28, 2016 at 00:05

Sunday, Aug 28, 2016 at 00:05
I'm in a camper van 2WD. Sealed roads or easy dirt roads only. Thanks for all the replies. I want to see all the good things in 6months. I wanted to go to Perth too I don't know if its realistic driving there AND back. But I love the camping lifestyle so I need my van.
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Follow Up By: Michael H9 - Sunday, Aug 28, 2016 at 09:03

Sunday, Aug 28, 2016 at 09:03
I've done Sydney to Perth return on a 2 week road trip so I think you can safely fit it into 6 months. :-) I've been to The Flinders, Uluru and Darwin in January and it's very hot and uncomfortable (Darwin especially), but still worth the trip. I've seen most of Australia in little 1, 2-3 week trips, visiting the same places multiple times. I have my own business and there's not a hope in hell of even getting away for a month so I have to do it that way or not at all. I even drove from Sydney to the Birdsville Track ferry over a long weekend plus the friday just to ride on the ferry. I had a great time.
However, if I was you and had the luxury of 6 months, I would head south and follow the coast as much as possible until I reached Perth. On the way back, I'd just take the shortest route. Allow a week to easily drive back from Perth at around 600 kms per day, although 1000kms per day out there isn't hard.
If by some chance you don't reach Perth, then do it next time.
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Reply By: Member - nick b - Sunday, Aug 28, 2016 at 08:22

Sunday, Aug 28, 2016 at 08:22
I would head up north b4 it gets too hot !!
Work your way down the west coast as it warms up , peth for xmas , spend the summer in the south ..... central Aust as winter comes on .
Central aus is to hot November to march .
I think 2wd is fine for most road just take your time...... 6 months is also fine you will never see it all. Better to see something than nothing .....
We just did a cape york trip from SA 6 weeks 10,000 ks , pleanty of time 2 c things . staying 1, 2 & 3 night at places of interest.
Kimberleys ( grr ) is a fantastic location for camping . Spend your time at the greatest distance away from your hometown where your not likely to return.....
Cheers Nick b

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Reply By: birdnerd - Sunday, Aug 28, 2016 at 10:09

Sunday, Aug 28, 2016 at 10:09
Lucky you, 6 months! On our road trips we share the driving and will put in a whole days driving to get to our destination then spend a few days there. Sightsee as much as possible at your destination and maybe have a sit around / tidy up day here and there. The travellers who have endless time on their hands will possibly only drive for a few hours in the morning then set up camp somewhere, and sometimes for a lot longer than you or I could. They of course they will take longer to get around and see everything. Spread out a big map of Australia and take some suggestions from the replies you have received, start making a list of what you want to see, lots of Internet research here. We usually work our way backwards from when we have to be back home. You have not got much time if you are leaving in September so get to it! Remember, leave some bits to explore next time, gives you an excuse for another road trip! Enjoy, this is an amazing country with so much to see. As Robyn said, very jealous!
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Reply By: Echucan Bob - Sunday, Aug 28, 2016 at 10:30

Sunday, Aug 28, 2016 at 10:30

Sadly, the preceding posts have all been way off the mark. So just ignore them ;-)

From Sydney I'd head west through NSW to Broken Hill.

Then to Port Augusta in SA, turn Right and head to Alice Springs. A few weeks here.

From here up to Darwin, then the Northern Hwy to Broome and down the WA coast to Perth. A month in WA.

By now it is December, so head East back to Port Augusta, turn Right to Adelaide. A month in SA.

Adelaide into Victoria. A month in Victoria.

Ferry across to Tassie for a month.

Back to Melbourne, turn East and along the coast to NSW. Slowly up the South Coast of NSW to Sydney.

Six months is heaps of time. The distances aren't an issue. Pushed, you can get fromMelbourne to any point in Australia in less than two days.

Have a great time.
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Follow Up By: Michael H9 - Sunday, Aug 28, 2016 at 12:44

Sunday, Aug 28, 2016 at 12:44
Its 5000kms to Broome....I'm a bit of a driving machine but averaging 100kph for 50 hours straight would be extremely tough and 2 days is only 48 hours. :-) I like your can do attitude though.
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Follow Up By: Echucan Bob - Monday, Aug 29, 2016 at 16:30

Monday, Aug 29, 2016 at 16:30
Its shorter by the Tanami - less than 4000.

I used to do some crazy drives by myself when I was younger - Cloncurry to Canberra in 24 hours, Mundrabilla to Canberra in 25 hours. Sadly, I keep falling asleep now.

In July two of us drove back from Yulara to Echuca in 25 hours. We detoured through the APY Lands were we spent some time exploring on foot. One slept for a couple of hours while the other pressed on. It was pretty easy really. I reckon we could get to Broome like that in less than 48 hours. Not Cape York though.
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