(Updated 24 May 2017)
The best way to drive around Australia is anticlockwise via its 14,000 km coastal road. This enables you to enjoy the seasons and strong prevailing winds. These winds may be a constant 40 km/h plus (25 mph) so travelling clockwise for the typical 17,000 km (10,600 miles) requires surprisingly more fuel.
The ideal is to leave Melbourne or Sydney toward the end of summer (April/May). Then slowly travel up the east coast so as to spend the splendidly warm winter up north. Then to travel across to Broome (in the far north of western Australia) such that you are there in August. It is advisable to avoid travelling across the north during Australia’s summer. It’s often not possible anyway, because of flooding between October – March. The climate then is also extremely hot and humid.
Australia – Pic: Main roads in Australia
From Broome, move slowly down the west coastal road. The enables you to enjoy the milder summer climate in the lovely Margaret River area in the south of western Australia. From there return via the Nullabor Plain from Perth to Adelaide. And then to your starting point.
Best way to drive around Australia – there’s not a great choice!
There is only one central (excellent bitumen) south-north road. It runs from Adelaide, via Alice Springs, to Darwin. The distance is a bit over 3000 km (1875 miles). This requires 30-40 hours driving. Ample fuel (but little else) is available along the route.
The only central east-west route is the Plenty Highway. It extends from Boulia (central Queensland to Alice Springs. From there, the Tanami Road (a 1000 km track) continues to Halls Creek in Western Australia. Much of the route is a wide dirt track that is slowly being bituminised. I have travelled it over 18 times each way, but in a very tough ex-mining truck (an OKA). I do not recommend it to any but reasonably experienced outback travellers.
A common detour (if time permits) is a detour from Darwin down to Alice Springs. From there, follow the Merinee Loop road to Uluru (Ayre’s Rock). Or if from Adelaide up to Uluru and Alice Springs. This is best done in winter. Australia’s centre is very hot in summer.
Best way to drive around Australia – available fuel, water and food
Apart from most of the east coast, towns are far apart. Fuel is typically available at not more than 350 km (about 220 mile) intervals. The fuel stations stock general supplies. Many have restaurants, showers and camping facilities. Drinking water is scarce (except for the east coast). Supermarkets and fuel stations, however, stock 12-15 litre casks of high quality drinking water.
For general information re Australia, buy the Caravan & Motorhome Book. If using a camper trailer – my Camper Trailer Book. Other books include Caravan & Motorhome Electrics. For solar, Solar That Really Works is for RVs. Solar Success for home and property systems. For information about the author Click on Bio.