How much does it cost to Travel Australia by Road

Australia by road on a Budget: How much does it actually cost?

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I’m keeping a record of every penny we spend on this trip. I roughly budgeted for $1000 per week when I was planning the trip so out of interest I’m curious as to how much it actually costs us in reality.

Australia is not a cheap travel destination, however, by road it is possible to reduce the financial outlay with some planning. A vehicle with 2 fuel tanks has enabled us to buy more fuel in bigger towns where it’s cheaper and travel longer distances between re-fills. Carrying a freezer and a fridge has allowed us to do the same with food. (The cost of food in remote small towns is outrageous – it was $50 for a carton of coke in Borroloola). The occasional free camp reduces the accommodation expenses so the Camps 9 book with every free camp in Australia listed is a worthwhile investment and National Park camp sites are much better value than Caravan Parks.

The boring numbers that follow are the statistics for our first month of travel from Cairns in Queensland to Wyndham at the top of Western Australia via The Savannah Way with a detour up the Top End of the Northern Territory.

Month One Stats:  

Total Expenditure:  $2730.93   (For a whole month of travel this is pretty good – that would just be our airfare if we went overseas)

Broken into the following categories

Fuel:                           $ 906.83

Cheapest fuel in Darwin NT @ 1.26 per litre.

Dearest fuel in Doomadgee QLD @ $1.70 per litre

Accommodation      $527.40

6 nights in Caravan Parks @ $214

13 nights at National Parks @ $176.40

1 night in a Darwin Motel @ $77

4 nights at station campgrounds @ $136

5 nights free camping at roadside stops @ $0

Food                           $857.65

Miscellaneous          $241 (gas cannisters, cooker, phone charge, markets)

Car repairs                $213 (2 x flat tyres)

Nil Sightseeing Tours purchased in this period – we walked and swam everywhere and they are way too bloody expensive to justify.

So, we are in fact doing quite well after our first month, slightly better than forecast. However, as we head across the Gibb River Road I anticipate a catch up will happen. High fuel and accommodation costs are unavoidable and we want to see everything this time. No scrimping here. We are getting a car service done before we go in the hope that prevention is better than cure and cross fingers our tyres hold up. Kevin’s itching to swap the split rims with tubes for tubeless fatties (please, please no more flat tyres!)

Boring post over…………..

 

 

Departure Day

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SETTING OFF ON THE GRAND AUSSIE ADVENTURE

Departure day. Its finally arrived.

It kind of feels surreal.

We are actually really doing this.  I never thought we would be able to do it until retirement but we made it happen. Just goes to show that when you want something bad enough you’ll find a way.

Its a weird day because, after months of just sheer excitement,  we are actually full of nervous trepidation. A million things are frantically going through our heads. That will pass 100km up the road and turn into sheer joy but what a funny, strange sensation to have in the final straight.

There is relief too though. For so long the travel to the West for months has been just a pie in the sky concept. Not really feasible. Not really sensible. Just a pipe-dream.  A ‘gonna do one day’ thing that you never really expect to happen unless you win the lotto.

Well today we are doing it – hitting the ‘frog and toad’ with months of absolute freedom ahead of us and damn it feels pretty good. We feel brave. Running away from home. Bye kids. Bye jobs. Bye house. Bye rut. HELLO to really living. (I say all this with a cheeky grin)

With some heavy duty planning and saving by yours truly, all obstacles have been overcome and all contingencies covered. One manky gall bladder gone and one bank account nicely brimming with holiday cash. Although the tide went out a little with yesterday’s rock flung by whipper snipper into the glass sliding door trick ($600 emergency glass repair at the very last minute – bugger, bugger, bugger!) I obviously needed a quick lesson that not everything always goes to plan.

So now that this day has arrived we can finally just relax, go with the flow and have faith that my planning was good. Just live in the moment, let each day be an adventure and have absolutely no regrets.

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We have so, so much to look forward too. Its a beautiful country out there. Today the sun is shining, the open road beckons and in this moment of time we are free. Really, really free. Today is a great day.

Seeya later alligators and stay tuned for what is to come.

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The Great Packing Conundrum

Our Trayon has wonderful merits. It’s so quick to set up and pack down, its simple, its comfortable, has ten storage locations and every place we camp at it always attracts envious glances from other campers.  There is one aspect of it though where I need it to be more like the Tardis on Doctor Who. My clothes cupboard. Kevin and I have one cupboard each as our allocated storage space. That’s for clothes, shoes and other odds and sods. This is my space.

I`m positive that every female reading this has just gasped in horror and said `no way!`.

Unfortunately this is the sum total of my space for up to 6 months of travel. Travel that will include warm weather in the North and frigid weather in the Central deserts. Every thing from swimming togs to ugg boots and beanie. Not to mention all my lotions and potions and hair brushes, toiletries, a couple of books.

So I laid out my clothes on the bed for starters. Bear in mind that this is the already thinned out, must have, totally essential pile!Its a collection of purely daggy, long wearing camping gear. Stuff that is great in the bush and around a campfire. Nothing flash enough for a fancy restuarant or a night on the town. Just tees, shorts, jumpers, tracky daks, togs and of course my ugg boots. There is no way I can leave my ugg boots behind!

ITS THE GREAT PACKING CONUNDRUM. How do I fit this much stuff in a space that small?

Kevin thinks I`m crazy getting organised 2 months in advance. He packs the day before. One jumper, four tee shirts, 2 pairs of shorts and enough jocks so that he can wear one pair inside out and then back to front before he needs to change them. Its a guy thing. He’s more interested in the tool box. I always have the last laugh though because the inevitable happens. He runs out of clothes. Then he has to wear mine. Its true . Here’s the proof.

So pretty in my purple jumper.

Anyhow where there’s a will there’s a way. Everything that was on my bed is in that cupboard. Packing pods is the answer. Everything is separated into categories and packed in a pod. Going across Northern Australia first so the winter woolies are at the back, shorts, tees and togs at the front. Even got 4 books in ready for lazy days on beautiful beaches. High five to me.

(Anything extra can always be snuck into Kevin’s box anyway. He`ll never know until he needs to wear it)

The Map on the Dunny Wall

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I get so much value from planning a trip; almost as much as the trip itself. It’s the anticipation, the imagining and the dreaming. I look at a map and I paint a picture in my mind of how it’s going to be. From a tiny splodge on a map I can visualise some version of paradise.

So I like to plan a holiday. I like to organise the finer details. It’s not a chore because it gives me so much pleasure using my imagination.

So let me tell you about the map on the dunny wall.  It’s a big map; really big.  After all Australia is a big country with vast distances and I was planning a workable format for this big adventure. I was having trouble picturing the complete journey. Google, such a wonderful resource most times, kept leading me along the black top roads. We want dirt.

So I found a big dusty map of Australia in the dark recesses of a disused drawer and a black marker pen became my best friend.  That black line that I drew on it travelled from Cairns along the Savannah way all the way to the Western Australian Coastline. Along the way, in my head, we canoed along peaceful gorges, frolicked in natural hot springs and created clouds of billowing bull dust as we explored remote 4WD tracks. Such pretty mind paintings. When we got to Western Australia those paintings became staggeringly beautiful, an explosion of colour. Corrugated dirt tracks leading to picturesque waterfalls on Mitchell Plateau, red sand and turquoise sea near Broome, red ochre gorges with enchanted fern laden pristine water holes at Karajini, the sublime vast views from the summit of Mt Augustas and swimming in the azure Indian Ocean with the whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef.  I could see us throwing in a line and lazing aimlessly on the most beautiful white beaches, where ‘the only worry in the world is the tide gonna reach my chair’ (Thanks Zac Brown – that’s my theme song).

Wow. That great big partially torn map with its ugly black scribbled lines is just the most beautiful work of art I have ever seen.map of 2017 holiday

So, over the last couple of months it has taken pride of place on the dunny wall. A location where one has the time just to sit and ponder. It has provided inspiration, reminded me to stay focused on the end goal, to budget and save furiously and remember that in a few short months we are going to be really following that black squiggly line.Map take 2

 

Defeating the ‘But’ Monster – Planning a lap of Australia

Our dream has been to travel remote Australia without a time schedule, to have total freedom, to be whimsical.

My heart has always said ‘just do it’, after all life is unpredictable.  It’s not wise to procrastinate and say we’ll do it one day. One day may not happen. The only moment is now.

My head however is under the domain of the infamous ‘But’ monster.  For the benefit of my sons I must add that, no, this has nothing to do with anuses so don’t even go there………. (It’s a boy thing)

The ‘But’ monster is the stifler of dreams because it thrives on fear.  It’s been sitting on my shoulder for years and whenever the possibility of following our dream was raised, it was smothered by BUT, BUT, BUT.

But the kids have school, but we have to pay for the kids university expenses, but we have a mortgage, but we have bills, but the car isn’t right, but how can we travel without an income, but we can’t save enough money, but we have to save for our future, but we are too young to give up our jobs, but we are too old to give up our jobs, but maybe we should pay off the house first, but what do we do with our house, but what if we rent it out and have bad tenants, but we have a cat, BUT WHAT IF A GREAT BIG BLOODY METEOR CRASHES TO EARTH AND DESTROYS OUR PLANET.

You know what? The fact is that there will never be a precisely ‘right’ time where all the planets line up to say “go now”. Life just doesn’t work that way.

So the ‘But’ monster, although it still hovers, has been banished from the Preston kingdom, because now I know the formula to successfully following our travel dream.

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Opportunity is a bit random and involves some planetary alignment, but 2017 happens to be a year when for the first time our kids are independent. University is done and dusted. Two of those kids are currently living in the family home this year. So that eliminates the house issues. We have house minders and with a bit of persuasion (or blackmail) some rent keeping the mortgage afloat. Plus our ancient cat can live his life out at home still. That is opportunity.

Preparation is the key though and preparation is all about money. We decided over a year ago on the all important ‘when’. This is so important as it gave us a budget time frame.  We then worked out how much money we would need IF we went for 6 months. Significant research and calculations are required here on everything you envisage spending money on. ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING including spending money, remote expensive fuel, supermarket food, pub meals, camping fees, tours, entry fees, gas bottle refills, all the bills back home, mortgage interest, vehicle accessory purchases, emergency car repair funds, car services and spare money to survive a couple of weeks when we return with no jobs. The figure is staggering and we divided that enormous mind boggling figure by the number of saving weeks. Amazingly, with some discipline, it was possible. That is preparation.

We have both kept our employers well informed of our intentions and although we have to resign to go away for such an extended period of time, there is a really good chance we may get our jobs back again.

So that folks, is how you resign from your jobs, and travel in complete freedom, worry free, for up to 6 months without any income. That is how you triumph over the ‘But’ monster and live your dream.

For us preparation and opportunity will meet on the 26th of May 2017 to be precise – with a bit of good luck being the icing on the cake. The wet season has been amazing this year so the West Australian and the Northern Territory landscapes will be stunningly vibrant.

Haha ‘But’ monster – I laugh in your face!

Michelle’s countdown begins

mapsKevin and I have gypsy hearts. Australian gypsy that is – the kind who craves the pure, unfettered freedom of life on a dusty, outback road. A simple longing for red sand between the toes, sapphire blue skies, crystal nights under carpets of stars, wafts of lazy campfires, the sky ablaze with colour at sunrise and sunset and the chorus of budgies and galahs.  A longing for a life that is simple in a vast land that is quite simply stunning.

Of course reality dictates that such an unfettered life of freedom is just a pipe dream except in short joyful bursts of annual leave. We have jobs, debts, bills to pay, house to maintain, obligations and schedules.  We work hard at our jobs to earn money to pay for this life and in the evenings we sit inside our four expensive brick walls blankly watching reality tripe and bad news on a TV.  That carpet of stars is out there but we don’t see it. We don’t see the sunrise or the sunset except in brief glimpses while we are doing something else. It’s wrong. We know that. We have known it forever but it’s the life we have been conditioned to live in.   We are blessed to have our health, food on the table, shelter over our heads, a collection of ‘stuff’ to make life comfortable and of course an occasional adventure. But we want more and we want less if that makes any sense. More of the extra-ordinary and less of the ‘stuff’.

So 2017 is our year. We have put ourselves in the position to give our gypsy hearts a glimpse of the freedom they are seeking. We have saved hard and put a little money aside each week for the ‘big trip’.  The one where we resign from our jobs, leave our house in the hands of our children and run away into the sunset. Towards the west where the sun sets into the sea and that great big Kimberley moon makes a staircase. And oh the anticipation.

Not forever. It’s just a taste. One of two things will happen. It will either get it out of our system for a while or we will enjoy the taste so much that we will yearn for more and have the courage to dismantle the shackles that bind us.  But that’s for later. In the here and now we have 54 days until we hit the red dusty road that’s paved in gold.