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Driving the west coast

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific Driving the west coast

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1. Posted by JoCush (Budding Member 6 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Hi guys,

My boyfriend and I are going rtw and plan to spend around 2-3 months in Oz. I lived in Melbourne for 6 months a few years ago, so want to see alot of the west coast this time around. How much time would we need to give ourselves to drive from Perth to Darwin. We dont want to rush through it and want to do it independently. Also if anyone has any tips on where would be the best place to buy or rent a cheap car it would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance

2. Posted by Aussie42 (Budding Member 18 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Maybe this website can be of assistance, especially the campervan section: Since you have lived in Australia for six months, you are aware of the wet season up north, the extremely hot weather during summer and the unique wildflowers in Spring (not quite the same as the red poppies in Turkey or the lupins in Scandanavia).

Enjoy yourselves and safe driving.

3. Posted by Buckra (Budding Member 61 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Well you got some good advice already with that website on cars. You could also try some of the backpacker hostels because these days there seems to be a car sale yard in just about every conceivable place just for backpackers and put up by the same. They, like you, buy a vehicle and travel from point A to B then sell at the other end when they have no further use for them. They will be cheaper than trying to buy from a used car yard where the prices will be inflated and at least a backpacker will tell you of the foibles of the vehicle. As for travelling up from Perth to Darwin that depends very much on when you go. It is true it gets very warm as you approach Darwin but then it also doesn't begin to rain all that much until about November on and sometimes not until mid November. You would probably need to plan on a good fortnight to three weeks to do it and to travel comfortably and see a few places on the way. Out of Perth on the way up places like Karratha, Port Headland, Derby, Broome, Wyndham, Kununurra then across the WA/NT border probably through Timber Creek into Katherine and see the beautiful forge at that place. Then it is about 310km to Darwin on beautiful highway. Darwin is a backpacker's heaven. Head for Mitchell Street and there are places galore for you to go to as well as there being a place to unload (sell) your vehicle. Don't pack heavy clothing for the WA/NT trip except it may get slightly cool at night in the West. Have fun. :)

4. Posted by jaxstar84 (Respected Member 415 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

my bf and i travelled from perth to exmouth last year, and we had 2 weeks to do it, and it was ok, tho we spent alot of time driving... this was partly our fault, as we were too keen on seeing what the next place offered!

we spent a few days in geraldton, since my bf is a big kitesurfer, and its pretty windy there. its a nice city tho, i really liked it. its one of the last places you can buy things, get stuff repaired etc, as pretty much all places north of gero send things to gero or perth to get them repaired etc. if you need speciality things, get em in perth, and try your luck in gero, after that you wont find it!

in my opinion you can save time by missing shark bay. its nice there, but its small, expensive, and theres not much you can do there for free... actually no i take that back, there are some plaes you can camp there for one night, for free. theyre outta town, but right on the water mostly, which is chill. you have to go to the shire office to see if theres a spot free. but what you spend on petrol getting there, is prolly the same as the cost of a place to stay anyway.

we also went to gnaraloo, which is a 4wd road, so if you don thave a 4wd its a rough drive.. but its hard to get accom there as its often packed out. its a surfers mecca, and the snorkelling there was mint, better than exmouth i thought. but its off the highway, and once you get there, youve gotta backtrack to go back onto the main road, which is annoying...

coral bay isnt worth an overnight stay either. park ur car somewhere and go for a snorkel and leave is my advice really... esp if its school holidays, theres NOTHING available re accomodation and its quite expensive. just check out the coral (which isnt THAT impressive i didnt think) and then go on ur way.

exmouth is worth a longer stay, as the national park, i thought, was great. the snorkelling is also good. just be aware its quite windy there too.... and the dust is red. camping can be a pain in the arse there as you can get completely dusted!

[ Edit: Edited on May 5, 2007, at 2:55 AM by jaxstar84 ]

5. Posted by sunicol (Full Member 93 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

I'm just back from a Perth to Darwin trip. We took a month which is absolute minimum, longer would be much better. Not fussed on Perth itself, check out Margaret River, Freo, Cottesloe & Rotto instead. Once you head north, Pinnacles Desert is worth a look but no need to overnight, keep going to Kalbarri. Some people stop at Lancelin for surfing and sand boarding but we didn't. Kalbarri national park was great (flies not so much) and def worth a goo. After there you have to decide if seeing Doplhins at Monkey Mia is for you as if it's not it's a long way to go. I was very cynical but pleasantly surprised and if you stick around for a couple days they are known to come up to you when swimming :)

I really enjoyed Coral Bay and took a few days out from driving to chill in the water, snorkelling, kayaking etc. We had booked a whaleshark tour but that was cancelled. One of the group did a Manta Ray one and said it was amazing so a possibility when you're there. Exmouth didn't have as nice a feel to it but good diving and cape range good as well. Lots of driving from Exmouth to Karijini but well worth it and you can camp in the park. Lots of gorges to check out. Port Hedland was rough enough so I would suggest keep going to Broome and catch the amazing sunsets on Cable Beach instead.

After that, The Gibb River Rd is a must (was closed when I was there) and Wolfe Creek was a bit of fun. We had been advised not to stay in Halls Creek so set up in a rest stop about an hour north but others we met said the caravan park in Halls Creek was ok so up to you. Bungle Bungles are an absolute must but you need a 4wd so worth planning ahead. Really amazing and would be a crime to miss them. We only used Kununurra and Katherine as stop offs on our way to Kakadu so don't have much to tell you about them but Kakadu was fantastic. Recommend Ubirr for the sunset. Litchfield was ok, nothing spectacular and Darwin was fun.

Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip, it was the best part of Australia for me :)

6. Posted by JoCush (Budding Member 6 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Thanks for the great info guys, I'm so excited to go now.:) Did any of you rent a car to do the drive? I'm not sure if I can pick up a rental in perth and leave it in Darwin? I know car rental places in New Zealand do that, just not sure about oz. Thanks for all your advise.

7. Posted by PhilAndDen (Budding Member 2 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Quoting sunicol

We had been advised not to stay in Halls Creek so set up in a rest stop about an hour north but others we met said the caravan park in Halls Creek was ok so up to you.

We are heading around the country in a caravan starting from Perth in late July, and am interested in why you think Hall's Creek should be given a miss. We are intending to overnight there on the way to Kunnunurra from Derby.


8. Posted by sunicol (Full Member 93 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Hi Phil,
I'm not saying don't stay there just that everytime we asked an Aussie who had been that way about our trip and distances etc to see what was realistic, they ALL said don't stay there. Maybe it was because we were 3 girls and they thought it was rough. The caravan park has two security fences and is patrolled by a security guy with a dog so I guess it should be fine. We stayed in Fitroy the night before in the Fitzroy lodge which was a bit of a splurge but the pool was worth it :). The rest stop we stayed in an hour north of Halls Creek was Lycesters rest (poss spelt wrong) and it was basic, grand and plently of others there. Lots of bugs tho so we kept our lights to a minimum!
Best of luck, Suz

9. Posted by aharrold45 (Travel Guru 1281 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek are definitely places to avoid staying in if it hasn't changed its way since I was there over a decade ago (which I highly doubt it has). When I was there I can remember Fitzroy Crossing being basically a town where only aborignals lived and it had a few sites like Geiki Gorge that were worth a visit, but getting out of your car or walking anywhere near the pub would be a serious personal safety issue. I can remember us driving past there fairly slow due to a lot of aboriginals standing on the road fighting with each other and then having the car hit by people and it having empty bottles of beer thrown at by a lot of drunken aboriginals. I'm sure if you stepped out of your vehicle near the pub one of them wouldn't think twice about using you as target practise or a boxing bag. Halls Creek was a little better but not much. If the place hasn't changed its ways, Halls Creek would be safe enough to overnight, but I certainly wouldn't want to stay more than that.

I hope they have now learnt how the real world acts up in that region of Australia now, because they were sure not acting like the majority of Australia's population and gave indigenous Australia a bad reputation until you see more places where they acted more like the majority of the population of Australia.

If you are going to be travelling around Australia for 2-3 months rather than working some of that time, I'd definitely be checking out the newspapers to see if a cheap camper or better still a cheap 4WD so you can explore some of the rougher tracks in North Western Australia which have hidden treasures. I had a look at campervan rental rates the other day and for just hiring for a week it cost almost as much as a cheap 2nd hand car and with rentals you aren't able to take them on unsealed roads (well you aren't meant to).

Have a great time.