Are you ready to do the big lap of Australia? Not sure where to start? This practical blog will provide you with 9 tips before you set off on this epic adventure.
The big lap of Australia which is also known as the big lap of OZ follows Australia’s Highway One. How many kms around Australia you might be asking. Well, this highway connects all mainland state capitals and it is the world’s longest national highway at 14,500 kilometres. Move aside Route 66.
If you have been dreaming about the big lap of Australia for a while, you probably have a few questions and hopefully, our tips will help you out to start planing.
9 Best Tips for the Big Lap Of Australia
1. Do some research
Doing research before you start the big lap of Australia isn’t just recommended, it’s an absolute must! You can read articles, blogs and even watch youtube videos of those who have done it or are currently travelling.
Everyone does the big lap of Australia in a different way, so it’s nice to get a better understanding to see what you like.
Planning your Big Lap of Australia is exciting, but can be overwhelming at times. How many kms around Australia will you lap take?
2. Choose the direction – clockwise or anticlockwise?
The big lap of Australia – which way should you go? Clockwise or anticlockwise? Honestly, it doesn’t matter! We think you should consider the date you leave home and look what makes more sense – go with the seasons. More about weather and seasons later.
We have started our big lap of Australia going anticlockwise from Melbourne, but due to the closed WA border (covid restrictions), we were forced to retrace our route back down along the East Coast. We spent the summer in Victoria and started the big lap of OZ again, this time clockwise, and officially completed the big lap in NT. Here is our itinerary from Brisbane to Cairns to give you some ideas on planning.
Honestly, it doesn’t matter which way you go :) Just go with the seasons, you don’t want to be travelling through the tropics in the wet season.
Choosing the right vehicle for your Big Lap of Australia is an important step
3. Decide on the right vehicle
Now, this is a big one. Although you probably already know if you are planning to do your big lap of Australia in a van, campervan, 4WD vehicle, motorhome, or caravan. Budget, age, and the size of your party (family or single person) are usually the main decider to choose a vehicle. There is probably a good reason why grey nomads travel in caravans and not in small vans or 4WD.
I’d recommend you visit Hema Maps website before your big lap of Australia. This has so much valuable information such as guides and digital navigation to help you plan properly, particularly if you wish to get off the beaten track.
But honestly, there is no right or wrong answer – every vehicle has its pros and cons. We suggest you consider renting one for a weekend to see how you go. We’d recommend checking out vehicles for rent with JUCY. There is nothing worse than buying a campervan to realise you needed more space. Or buying a caravan only and then finding out that since you can’t just see things along the way easily and therefore should have gone with something compact. Don’t forget how many kms a trip around Australia takes so fuel consumption is an important factor.
We have our trusty campervan, Frida – a high-top Toyota Hiace (Ex campervan rental) that was perfect for us. Compact enough to park, drive around cities and great for fuel. As it has a cooktop, fridge, water tank and secondary battery plus solar panel, it made our trip. And as you can stand up inside and has plenty of storage, it was a little big home on wheels for us.
This map shows how you can do drive around Australia with the seasons in a year
4. Consider the weather
Australia’s climate varies greatly throughout the eight states and territories. There are four seasons across most of the country and a wet and dry season in the tropical north.
The big lap of Australia will take you through the tropical north in Queensland and the Top End in NT as well as through Kimberleys in WA.
The best time to travel across the top is during the dry season from June until September so it’s important you plan your trip accordingly.
As for the south: Victoria, South Australia and South West WA are best explored and enjoyed during Aussie summer (December – March).
And make sure you pack some warm clothes. Once you head into some mountains or desert, it gets freezing at night. For example, we were snorkeling in 28 Degree around Exmouth and then drove 7 hours inland for Karijini only to wake up to 6 degree morning.
Where you stay on your big lap pf Australia will really impact your budget
5. Set your budget and time frame
How much does it cost to do a big lap of Austalia? The lap of Australia usually takes 30,000 km and you should budget about A$30,000 for a year for two adults when travelling on the low to mid-range budget. This means you stay in some pretty simple campsites, but mostly try to free camp and splurge here and there on caravan/holiday parks. You will cook your meals but every now and then go out. And it would allow you to spend some money on epic experiences such as snorkelling trips or unique day trips like the amazing ReefSleep in the Whitsundays, Queensland.
If you are happy to free camp as much as you can and stay in national park campsites and travel in a smaller vehicle with better fuel consumption you can squeeze in under 20-25K for 2 adults.
And if you prefer to eat out and stay in caravan parks or travelling with a family then $45-50K is probably more accurate. In fact, most families tend to spend around A$1000 a week.
WikiCamps is the best app and must for anyone doing the Big Lap of Australia
6. Get the apps
Nothing like apps to get you ready. The absolute must-have app is WikiCamps ($7.99). It is a user-generated database of campsites, caravan parks, day stops and so much more. You can filter a lot of options so you can find the next free camp, water or shower amenities. The users leave reviews which are super helpful when you plan your route or next stop.
Our favourite thing is that it lists fees according to users who have just visited. As there is no universal website to book campsites and caravan parks you can quickly look up places in your next destination and know what price you will pay.
Also, get Maps.me which is a very useful app for offline maps. Just download the whole of Australia and you will never be lost. It even has a hiking trail so you won’t get lost when walking.
The Petrol Spy app will tell you where the cheapest fuel is – so you can always fill up for the best price.
7. Join Facebook groups to connect with other travellers
There is nothing like a good community group and luckily when it comes to the big lap of Australia there are a few Facebook groups:
8. Don’t skimp on insurance and roadside assistance
This seems like a no-brainer to us but sadly we have heard of other travellers without insurance or decent roadside assistance.
Trust us, there is plenty of open, remote road on the big lap of Australia and you don’t want to be stranded somewhere without roadside assistance.
As for insurance we highly recommend CIL Insurance – they specialise in caravan/campervan insurance and were very helpful when we had our accident.
9. Don’t be afraid to change your plans
The lap of Australia is a journey like no other. The big lap of Australia is really a life-changing journey and you will discover places you never knew existed that will blow your mind. But don’t forget how many kms around Australia the lap is and it is not always going to be all perfect.
Don’t be afraid to change your plans once you hit the road. Sometimes you need to upgrade and stay somewhere for a week to just relax. Maybe you need to slow down or you find out that being on the beach or hiking every day isn’t as much fun for you. Just be prepared that not every day is going to be absolutely amazing. Such is life.
Just enjoy the journey and you will look back at it one day and be so happy you did it.
TRAVEL PLANNING RESOURCES
✈️ Flights:Skyscanner and Expedia are the best sites to search for the cheapest flights and great deals from your home country.
🏨 Accommodation:Booking.com, Agoda, andHotelsCombined are the top platforms to search for fantastic hotels and accommodation options at the best price.
🛌 Homestays:Airbnb is an ideal platform to book a local experience. We use Airbnb to reserve entire apartments for long-term stays.
🏥 Travel Insurance: Don’t forget travel insurance! Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. We recommend World Nomads or SafetyWing.
🚌 Transportation: We use BookaWay OR 12Go.Asia to compare and book Bus, Ferry, or Train Tickets.
A coffee lover, history junkie, former tour guide, and endless optimist. The mastermind of logistics and chief navigator for Very Hungry Nomads, two women on an adventure to visit EVERY country in the world. Marty is a social butterfly who describes her life as “just livin’ the dream".