When my partner James and I envision the trip of a lifetime, we see a vast land of golden hues, rainforests meeting the oceanside and days full of exploring. We see endless possibilities, infinite wandering and limitless experiences. That’s where Australia comes in for us. It offers all of that and more. Much, much more.
We decided we wanted to embark on a trip around Australia two years ago, and have never stopped working towards it since. The notes section in our iPhones has been growing day by day, with the very first place typed in being Karijini National Park in Western Australia. However, this list has grown immensely since.
Being active #vanlifers, we set off on weekend trips almost twice a month. Fitting short adventures in whenever we can! (Our favourite spot so far? Seal Rocks. It’s our go-to destination – and the place we got engaged!)
Because of this, our van has been decked out ready to go for some time. We’ve also had the chance to change and rearrange anything we knew we could set up better!
Van staples for the road
There are definitely some essential items needed for a trip around Australia. These should all be considered before fitting out your van.
We have a dual battery set up. The second battery is 125 amp/hr which runs all our lighting, USBs, fan, fridge, etc. Then a 1000w inverter that converts power to 240v which can run laptops, a NutriBullet (if you can’t leave it at home), battery drills, etc. On top of this we have a 120w folding solar power panel for when we want to stay that extra bit longer – it’s not hard to miss the sun in Australia.
We couldn’t live without our Dometic 41L fridge. It fits everything we need in it. All of our vegetables stay fresh and we have icy cold drinks whenever we need them.
4WD recovery tracks & snatch strap
Luckily, we haven’t had to use our recovery tracks yet, but know we will most likely get ourselves into a tricky situation sooner or later and you can’t always rely on others.
If you haven’t purchased your mode of transportation yet, consider purchasing a vehicle that takes Diesel. Petrol in Australia is quite expensive.
And plenty of it! It can be scarce in remote destinations, even if you are in a popular area. Making sure you have your own water supply will be a lifesaver! You can pick up a 10L collapsible water container to maximise space when you aren’t using it.
If you’ve opted for a fitted out van like us, it’s a good idea to create your own shower. The beaches won’t always have them, and they will become scarcer as you go inland. We’ve set up a solar tube out of storm water pipe which we then sanded and spray painted black. We put all the necessary fittings on the ends and now we have 40 litres of backup water just on top of the van.
We originally started out with small propane cans that we would use about three times before throwing out. We now have a refillable gas bottle that is much bigger and reduces our environmental impact.
Mapping out the journey
When we are mapping out our journey, these are the main points we consider:
Travel times with the weather – Depending on where you are travelling, you may hit wet and dry seasons. It’s really important to do you research before you arrive to your destinations to avoid any mishaps.
Keep your hours to a minimum – If you have time in your favour, limit your driving to 4 hours per day as you’ll miss too much! Australia has so much to offer. (However, there is a long stretch between Seventeen Seventy and Airlie Beach in Queensland which we do recommend driving straight through!)
Drive in daylight – Kangaroos really are everywhere!
Camp spots – Whilst our days are spontaneous and we never know what National Park we’ll end up in, we’d be lying if we said we didn’t love knowing when we would be checking in to a holiday park for a nice warm shower and a comfy bed! We love Reflections Holiday Park at Seal Rocks. Their new Premium Villas are super luxurious and the perfect comfort.
Our essential apps
Having certain apps downloaded and ready to go can really make the journey that little bit easier. The apps we use are:
Telstra 24×7 – this one is a no brainer for us. We love going off the grid, but we love our 4G. Being with Telstra gives us access to free Wifi ports all around Australia.
Can I Fly There – we own a couple of drones, making this app essential for us. Knowing where we can and can’t fly helps us respect the rules, and saves us from huge fines.
Star Walk 2 – Being out in such open spaces presents the stars like you have never seen them before. We love matching up the stars on the app, discovering all of the constellations.
Fuel Map Australia – Plan ahead with your fuel stops. Especially when you start going into more remote places. This app is a lifesaver!
Gas Finder – Need to fill up your gas bottle? No problems! Just look it up on the app!
World Surfing League – (Of course). We love a bit of surfing action and it’s the perfect sport to unwind to after a long day at the beach.
Whales NSW – Bush walking to the top of an untouched headland and filming whales is one of our favourite adventures to do in the morning. During the middle of the season, whales are everywhere! However, you can use this app to find them. Our dream is to find Migaloo. Filming and watching this gorgeous albino whale from an aerial perspective would be amazing.
Enjoy the experience
We believe travelling around Australia offers real, authentic experience. For us, we’ll be moving from destination to destination, taking photos that celebrate the land in all its beauty. We know our travels won’t always go to plan, but being well prepared will ensure we get the most out of this amazing adventure!
Check out more of James’ aerial photography here.