Perth to Sydney via Nullarbor - complete!

Submitted: Thursday, Mar 10, 2011 at 20:13
ThreadID: 84916 Views:3655 Replies:8 FollowUps:1
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Hello all!

A bit over a month ago I asked for advice on my proposed trip from Perth to Sydney... and got it! Armed with this and some creativity of my own, I started my trip on Monday, 14 February, and finished up on Sunday, 6 March.

1) Australia is beautiful

I stood knee-deep in the water at a beach and dolphins swam a meter away from me.

I took a hike around an island and discovered a penguin hiding under a bush while he molted.

I walked on a beach of fine white sand and watched the sun go down and the full moon come up.

There is a repeater big enough to live inside, which I did for two nights. I ate lobster that had been caught the day before down at the beach, and saw birds and plants that I had never seen before.

I stayed by the banks of the Murray River and saw and heard more cockatoos in one place than I have ever seen or heard in my life before.

In Sydney, I had a kookaburra alarm clock.

2) Nobody lives there

This was my opinion from Perth through about Bathurst. Across the Nullarbor - more or less the main highway between WA and the eastern half of the country - I was meeting a car coming the other way every two or three minutes, and somebody came up behind me maybe every 15 minutes. Here at home, I live near one of the five Interstates that link east to west; two lanes each direction and busy around the clock.

2A) They all live in NSW

This was my opinion after I drove from Bathurst into Sydney at about 16:30-17:00 on Friday. :)

3) Three weeks was probably not enough time.

Several people from the previous thread are free to say "I *told* you so" at this point. :)

A more detailed write-up, with photos, is probably forthcoming. Right now, here is a quick list of where I actually ended up staying.

14-15 Perth
16 Bunbury
17 Albany
18 near Bremer Bay
19-20 Esperance
21 Norseman
22-23 Eyre Bird Observatory
24 Nullarbor Roadhouse
25 Streaky Bay
26 Port Lincoln
27 Port Augusta
28 Berri
1 Griffith
2-3 Bathurst
4-5 Sydney

The total was something well in excess of 3500 km. The second RV (see below) turned over 30,000 km on the 90 Mile Straight, and it had about 33,500 km when I returned it in Sydney. I can work out the exact total from my fuel receipts, which I haven't added up yet.

It only took 2 RVs to finish this trip. :) The first one I got in Perth and it worked OK until the night of the 19th; mechanically it was fine but the house air conditioning quit. The rental company was unable to rouse someone in Esperance to fix the A/C, so I drove to Norseman and they sent a guy with a replacement RV (from Perth!) to meet me.

Both RVs were VW Crafter/Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis, 5 cylinder turbodiesel, clutchless 6 speed transmission. The first one was a four-berth, with the big box behind the van cab and the second bed over the cab, and 100 kW engine. Protip: Putting the right amount of air in the tires helps turn 18l/100km into 15l/100km. The second one was a two-berth; basically a long wheelbase high roof van, without the big box; 80 kW engine.

Conclusion: I have to come back some time and do Darwin-Adelaide. Plus some other trips. :)

I got a lot of useful advice and tips from this forum. Thanks!

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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Thursday, Mar 10, 2011 at 20:47

Thursday, Mar 10, 2011 at 20:47
Hi Matt

Great to hear you had a fantastic time. Looking forward to the more detailed write-ups and photos.


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AnswerID: 447872

Reply By: Member - Toyocrusa (NSW) - Thursday, Mar 10, 2011 at 20:54

Thursday, Mar 10, 2011 at 20:54
Hi Matt. i'm guessing you are from the USA and here for a quick visit.(Correct me if i'm wrong) Really glad you enjoyed your drive and that you did it safely. Hope you can come back soon and do it over a longer period next time. All the best,Bob

AnswerID: 447873

Reply By: skmaint (WA) - Thursday, Mar 10, 2011 at 21:32

Thursday, Mar 10, 2011 at 21:32
Hi Matt,

Glad to hear you had a great trip and enjoyed this fantastic country.


AnswerID: 447879

Reply By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Thursday, Mar 10, 2011 at 22:04

Thursday, Mar 10, 2011 at 22:04
Esperance would have to be one of the most beautiful see side towns around!! Michael

Patrol 4.2TDi 2003

Retired 2016 and now Out and About!

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Follow Up By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Friday, Mar 11, 2011 at 08:19

Friday, Mar 11, 2011 at 08:19
OOPPSS!! I meant to write SEASIDE!! Michael
Patrol 4.2TDi 2003

Retired 2016 and now Out and About!

Somewhere you want to explore ? There is no time like the present.

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FollowupID: 720246

Reply By: Member - Leigh (Vic) - Friday, Mar 11, 2011 at 08:43

Friday, Mar 11, 2011 at 08:43
Hi Matt
It is great to read your account and it seems that you have got this place worked out! Your obvious enjoyment makes giving hints worthwhile. Cheers
AnswerID: 447888

Reply By: steved58 - Friday, Mar 11, 2011 at 20:02

Friday, Mar 11, 2011 at 20:02
Hi Matt
Well I told you so
That is you will get hooked and want to come back and you are very welcome!

The Darwin to Adelaide trip is also fantastic remember to stop in Coober Pedi and camp underground a most unusual camp ground

Also thanks for the feedback sometimes we hear from people and then never hear of their outcomes it makes the site more interesting and gives us something to dream about inbetween trips

AnswerID: 447947

Reply By: MattR - Friday, Mar 18, 2011 at 18:41

Friday, Mar 18, 2011 at 18:41
Hello all!

I am gradually sorting through my pictures. I have the first few days' worth (through Esperance) online at . (The full-size pictures are 5 megabytes each and may take a few seconds to download.) I intend to add the rest of the pictures over the next few days.

AnswerID: 448584

Reply By: MattR - Saturday, Mar 26, 2011 at 23:41

Saturday, Mar 26, 2011 at 23:41
More pictures (through Streaky Bay) are up at the same place as before.

Also, I dug out all my fuel receipts and added them up; maybe this will be of interest to the gearheads. Both RVs were VW Crafter/Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis, 5 cylinder turbodiesel, clutchless 6 speed transmission.

The first one had a 100 kW engine.
Best tank: 7.005 km/l 14.28 l/100 km 16.48 mpgAlbany to Ravensthorpe
Worst tank: 5.356 km/l 18.67 l/100 km 12.60 mpgPerth to Bunbury
Overall average: 6.353 km/l 15.74 l/100 km 14.94 mpg

The second one had a 80 kW engine.
Best tank: 10.005 km/l 10.00 l/100 km 23.53 mpg Yetholme to Sydney (downhill all the way! :) )
Worst tank: 7.009 km/l 14.27 l/100 km 16.49 mpgCaiguna to Mundrabilla
Overall average: 7.815 km/l 12.80 l/100 km 18.38 mpg

As far as money, the cheapest fuel I got was at a Caltex/Woolworths in Port Lincoln, at 139.9 pence/liter. Most expensive was 1.835 p/l at Caiguna. The average for the whole trip was 1.491 p/l, and I used 743.32 liters overall.

I didn't have much trouble with the running gear of either RV. After cleaning several ex-grasshoppers out of the radiators of both vehicles, I understand why cars and trucks were running around with cloth stretched over the front grille or over the bullbar. The first RV was rented to me with about 56 psi in all six tires, but the placard on the seat pedestal called for 70 psi. (The placard from the RV manufacturer, not the one from VW for the bare truck.) After having bad luck with getting to the air hoses at the service station, I bought a little 12 V compressor and did up all six tires. It came in handy later too, after I discovered that some stations with easily accessible air hoses have the regulator set to 35 psi...

The interior hardware was not as reliable. I ended up taping the dish drawer shut in the second RV as I couldn't get the latch to work reliably. (Root cause: expecting 12 mm long wood screws into particleboard to hold up when being pounded repeatedly by a few kilograms of dishes.)

The electrics worked OK. The second RV had a house battery that claimed to be a 105 amp hour AGM; I think the first one had the same battery but I didn't look closely. In both vehicles, the house battery was accessible from the interior of the vehicle; I don't know if it was also vented overboard or not. I didn't have a problem with either battery going flat, but then again I didn't go more than 2 nights in a row with no 240 V power. Both RVs had a small solar panel in addition to the 240 V charger.

Both RVs had almost all LED lamps in the interior, which worked well. The first RV had a Waeco fridge, and the second had an Engel; I liked the Waeco better. It was a bit bigger overall; 2 liter bottles fit easily in its door - I had to either buy smaller bottles or lie the big ones down on the floor of the Engel. The Waeco's door latch was easier to use; just lift up on the top edge of the door and then swing the door open; the Engel had a peg on a chain. The Waeco also seemed to be quieter, but that may be down to the installation; the Waeco seemed to be just sitting on the floor and "floating" with respect to the cabinets, while the Engel seemed to be solidly bolted down.

I managed to never drive off while still plugged in. :) Although on both RVs, they were rented with the sullage/gray water drain valve open, which I discovered the hard way.

AnswerID: 449322

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