By Chia Jeng Yang
To get over freezing and almost dying in the Himalayas, I decided to head down to Australia. The land of kangaroos, camels (Turns out, Australia has the largest camel herd in the world.) and vast open deserts seem to be the best place to warm up. I decided to bring beachwear and tank tops. In the south of Australia. In July. Where an Australian winter can reach 5 degrees. I painfully learnt of the need to research local weather temperatures, before happily relearning that lesson in Taiwan, but that’s a story for another time.
After a month in the cities of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, I was done exploring the pub crawls and the admittedly awesome speakeasies (hidden bars). I wanted an adventure dammit. And so I found myself on a roadtrip from Melbourne to Perth. It was the most amazingly meditative trip. This is how I did it.
After arriving in Melbourne from Brisbane, it took me 6 days to arrange my roadtrip. By the 6th day, I was in a family wagon with 3 other Dutch backpackers out of Melbourne. I did this with the help of a website called Gumtree, a Craiglist clone, and found Debora, Matt and Simon heading from Melbourne to Perth.
What we stocked up on:
- Tents/Pillows/Blankets: The desert nights could easily get to below 10 degrees, especially with the howling winds
- Maps and Lonely Planet travel guides: There’s no phone coverage in the deserts between Adelaide and the West Australia/South Australia border, near where the dotted line beside the car icon on the map above is. So expect 2 to 3 days of meditative retreat as you contemplate the likelihood of being discovered murdering your travel buddies. (Though my mobile plan was the cheaper, more urban based Optus mobile company. I am told that the mobile company Telstra, although about double the price, have much better rural coverage. But enjoy nature dammit!)
- Extra car spares: Bring extra car spares, like a tire and a fan belt. It won’t be cheap and funny being stuck somewhere where the nearest people live 1000km away. A fan belt cost us about 60 AUD, while I’m told it can reach 200-300 AUD in the desert.
- Extra water + Food: Our water supply was dangerously drained at times because we did not consider the water we used for cooking and washing up. This is especially crucial in the total-desert portion of the trip. We didn’t drink as much water as we would have liked but a good estimate would be about 3L per person per day. Chocolate was also good for morale. I slaughtered a bucket of Malteasers myself.
What you can expect to experience:
Cute koalas plodding alongside the road:
Sometimes just nothing:
The cliffs of Australia:
Random monsters of the desert:
Kick-ass rock formations:
- Birds with screes that sound like crying babies. Not funny at night.
- Staying in a hostel that turned out to be a popular drug den in Adelaide
- Figuring out where the hell to camp because even though it’s in the middle of nowhere, ITS STILL ILLEGAL TO CAMP IN THE WILD. Sometimes you can stumble upon campsites especially nearer to the cities, but it’s ridiculously expensive (around 20-30 AUD, almost the same price as a hostel room). Shortly after passing the desert, we were almost caught illegally camping. A park ranger drove up and talked to us, thankfully 15 minutes after we had packed up camp. This camp was a good 200km away from any town. ANYWAY, find somewhere secluded and relatively hidden from the main road and make sure to leave early in the morning, say around 8-9 am.
- Love the fact that you’re literally in the middle of nowhere
Total basic costs: (~400 AUD)
Petrol: 200 AUD
Tents/Blankets/Supplies/Food/Water: 100 AUD
Spare petrol can/fan belt: 100 AUD
Do you know any awesome adventure tips and tricks?
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