This is the story and a few photos of our road trip up the Eastern Coast of Australia. We started in Sydney, and drove all the way up to Cairns, stopping in at the Whitsundays, Byron Bay, and lots of neat little towns along the way. Whenever we saw something interesting, we’d pull off and check it out.
We didn’t really have a time limit for when we wanted to get to Cairns, but we knew that’s where we were headed, we hoped to get jobs on a dive boat and we were told that was the place to go.
The drive from Sydney to Cairns is about 30 hours, but it really didn’t seem that long, because we did it over about two weeks, with longer stops in Byron and Airlie Beach.
We were sleeping in the car most of the time, we bought a Subaru that was quite roomy once the seats were laid down, and we bought a cooler and a few utensils and things so we could stop in at a grocery store every few days, and not have to spend money on eating in restaurants. It worked out really well, although there came a point where I was sure I would never eat rotisserie chicken ever again.
We had our towels, the sarong I had to buy in Cambodia so I could go into Angkor Wat, and a few sweatshirts that we hung around the windows to block out the light, and we bought two yoga matts, two pillows, and a quilt to sleep with.
We actually bought four pillows, because at first we were just trying to save money everywhere we could so we bought the $5 pillows, but they were really terrible, so we had to go back and get better ones a few days later.
Let me tell you, if there is one thing you shouldn’t skimp on when you are sleeping in the back of a car, it is pillows. Splurge on the $10 ones, you will be glad you did.
As for bathrooms and showers, if you are going to be living the gypsy life, there really isn’t any better place than Australia. Every town has a beach with a nice bathroom and showers, and a lot of them even have free electric beach BBQ’s that anyone can use.
That was one of the things I liked most about Australia, is that they have all of these awesome free amenities for people in their towns to use. At least 4 of the towns we stayed at had huge, free pool/waterparks along the beach for anyone to use, as well as BBQ’s, fitness equipment, and free wi-fi. And people seemed to take care of these things, so they were always nice for the next person to use it.
I was astonished that I didn’t see a single trace of graffiti penis, and nobody had thrown any of the playground equipment in the pool. I guess some people can have nice things.
All in all, we made it up to Cairns without major incident (if you don’t count how horrible it was to see so many kangaroos dead on the side of the highway), we didn’t have any car troubles at all. We got pulled over by the cops twice for speeding, but we only got a ticket once (it was ridiculously expensive though, $225 for going 113 km/h), and we never had any issues with sleeping in the car, except for one night when we tried to sleep in Byron Bay.
Because Byron is such a big tourist area for backpackers, and there are so many hostels competing for business, they don’t want people camping illegally, or sleeping in their cars, so they hire a private security officer to prowl the town at night looking for offenders, and the tickets are about $1,000 per person.
Luckily a friendly local knocked on our window and told us about the by-laws before we got into any trouble, and we moved one town over for that night.
Our months in Australia were completely amazing, and being able to see so much of such a massive country in such a short time was definitely part of the reason.
It was so nice to not be tied down to a schedule, and to just see everything at our own pace, and follow our whims, discovering new destinations along the way.