From grey nomads in 30-foot caravans to overseas travellers in station wagons, cruising Western Australia on wheels is a popular way to see everything the state has to offer – and with good reason. With stretches of untouched coast to billion-year-old gorges in the space of a day, WA is like no other.
But the other thing that makes Australia’s most western state stand out is its size. Sprawling over 2.5 million square kilometers, you need to be prepared before setting out on the open road.
Remember petrol is pricey and hard to come by
If you’re a city slicker, you’re probably used to petrol stations with competitive prices on every corner. But in Outback WA, where the services are few and far between, prices start to climb – steeply.
Most travellers can expect to pay upwards of $1.50 per litre of fuel, but some have been slapped with as much as $2.50 per litre in remote areas of The Kimberley. While painful, it’s better than running empty on the side of a deserted highway.
For back-up, bring pre-filled jerry cans and emotionally prepare yourself for when your bank account takes a hit along the way.
Be realistic about time
When planning your trip, it’s important to be realistic about how much time you have to spare. Many of your days will consist of long drives (upwards of 500km at a time) with nothing particularly spectacular to see or do, so ensure you leave yourself enough time to actually enjoy the destination when you eventually get there. Don’t spend a whole day driving to hang out somewhere for a few hours.
As a general rule, allow at least a month to see all the major sights WA has to offer.
Choose your adventure wisely
On that, make sure you pick your spots wisely. Some attractions are hundreds of kilometers inland or off the highway, with retracing your steps the only way to get back on track. Weigh up the benefits of those out-of-the-way journeys wisely.
Find a place to call home
The Instagram version of #vanlife shows everyone parked on picturesque beachfronts, watching the sunset from the comfort of their vehicle. The unfortunate reality is that you’re not actually allowed to just pull up anywhere you want for the night. If you do, parking rangers and police will knock on your window at any time of the day or night to tell you to move along.
Pack everything (including the kitchen sink)
Because of WA’s size and remoteness, packing light is not an option. The things you’re used to picking up on a whim (like drinking water, for example) won’t be easy to find, so it pays to devise an extensive checklist of everything you could possibly need – and don’t skimp.
Find room for upwards of 40 litres of water, insect repellant, torches, toilet paper, a cooker, chairs, medication, a table… You can pick up the little things you think of along the way, and head to travel blogs and YouTube to get familiar with other travellers’ road trip necessities and smart storage solutions.
Change with the seasons
If you’re planning to do WA in its entirety (you should), you’ll head up north, meaning you need to work your way around both wet and dry seasons. Unless you’ve got a pretty mean 4WD set-up, dry season is probably the time of year to go. It runs from April to September, with weather in the state’s northwest usually reaching around 30 degrees Celcius during the day. This is considered peak season, so plan for surges in prices and company.
Need some inspiration for your WA road trip? Start with Margaret River:[media_embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxFR5hKzSAE[/media_embed]
(Lead photo: Michael Theis / Flickr)