Road Tripping Western Australia – Our Top Tips
Western Australia is an amazing destination to explore with its Indian Ocean views, Outback settlements, desert and goldfields.
You can read about our Western Australia road trip adventure here.
It can be remote and we mean remote.
Did you know that Perth is one of the most isolated cities in the world?
We had a fantastic time, road tripping for seventeen days from Perth, up the Indian Ocean coast then inland to National parks and the Goldfields before returning to Perth.
It’s not a cheap trip but with our tips, you might realise it’s more affordable than you may have thought.
So as they say, in no particular order, here are our top tips for a Western-Australia-road-trip.
Tip One – Choose your route wisely
Western Australia is huge, no really it is.
Driving distances can be very long and you can drive for hours with the same scenery either side of the road.
What do you want to see on your road trip?
How much time do you have?
There are very few roads covering Western Australia so you need to plan out your journey so that you don’t have to backtrack too much or misjudge how long the trip will take you.
Do you want to see the beautiful Indian Ocean and swim on the pristine Ningaloo Reef?
Would you rather drive through the goldfields of the outback?
We chose to do a bit of everything by driving up the West coast, then inland and back down through the outback and it took us 17 days.
Get yourself a map and have a look at where you’d like to go, then work out the distances and times it will take.
Tip Two – Research Your Vehicle Carefully
The type of vehicle you have will determine what kind of road trip you’ll have.
Will you rent a car in which case you’ll be limited to staying in hotels or camping or will you rent an RV or camper van that may give you some more flexibility.
We don’t usually go for RV’s as they are pretty expensive to run and even though you don’t have to pay out for accommodation you still have to pay campsite charges.
Things are a little different in Western Australia though.
You can wild camp extensively except in cities and large towns.
So this made the choice of a vehicle a bit more interesting for us.
We looked at RV’s but they are very expensive and you need to hook them up to electric plus dump your waste if they have a toilet on board.
We wanted to keep things simple and as low budget as possible so we went for the smallest camper van we could find that would accommodate the three of us.
Now when you look at campers you have to research carefully, what’s included or not included.
Are there unlimited miles included?
Can you have more than one driver?
A lot of camper van rentals have limited daily mileage so if you go over that, then you have to pay extra.
We chose to rent from Apollo who is a huge RV and camper rental company.
They had nice little Toyota High Top van that would accommodate the three of us comfortably.
It was also the cheapest camper they had.
It was basic with bench seats that became a double bed, a foldable platform that created a second sleeping area in the roof space, a sink with a pump tap, a fridge, microwave oven and a two ring gas hob.
The gas bottle we were supplied with, lasted the whole of our trip.
We also just needed to fill the water tank up where we could find a supply.
It was fine for us but realise it may be too basic for some others.
If you want to try to do things on even more of a budget, then there are a number of sites, Apollo included that have relocation specials.
Basically, there are campers all over the country that need relocating back to their origin so camper companies will advertise that they need a camper relocated from say, Darwin to Perth.
They’ll usually give you a certain amount of days to complete the journey at a ridiculously low cost, maybe one dollar a day and then sometimes you can rent it for longer at a higher rate but it usually has to be back by a certain date.
Sometimes they’ll even throw in a tank of gas for free.
It’s a great deal but means you can’t be so flexible as it’s usually a straight through journey.
Nothing came up for the time we wanted but it’s definitely something we would do if the right trip came up.
Our Toyota High Top Camper
Tip Three – You Don’t Need To Stay In Expensive Campsites
People think that having a camper means that you need to stay in campsites.
Yes, usually if you have a large RV you will need to stay somewhere now and again to use the electric supply or empty your waste.
But if you have a small camper van or you’re in a car and camping, you can wild camp in lots of locations for free.
During our 17-day road trip, we only stayed at 4 paid sites.
The secret is you need to know where these free sites are.
You have to make sure you can overnight in the sites as many are just day use only.
And how do you find out where the sites are?
Well, you can download an app like Wikicamps!
Wikicamps will give you all the sites, overnight and day use, free bathroom, washroom facilities and also local places of interest.
We stayed in some beautiful locations thanks to Wikicamps.
We camped right on the beach, we camped in the bush, we even camped on the Tropic Of Capricorn.
Sometimes there were other campers or sometimes it was just us out in the wilds, far from anywhere and anyone.
Of course, by wild camping, we couldn’t run the electric appliances, such as the fridge and microwave but we still managed fine without them.
Camping On The Beach
Tip Four – Watch out For Wildlife
On a Western-Australia-road-trip you’ll be travelling in some remote areas out in the countryside and there’s wildlife everywhere so you need to watch out.
Don’t drive after dark as this is when most wildlife is active.
Actually, we think dusk is pretty active so its best to be off the road before dusk.
In the outback wildlife can be on the road before you know it.
We had a kangaroo run out in front of us that appeared from nowhere and so fast that we hardly had time to react.
Keep your speed down and you’ll have more chance of avoiding the wildlife.
We saw lots of kangaroos and other wildlife that had been hit and killed on the road.
A huge monitor lizard also ran across the road in front of us as well as an Echidnas, which is also known as a spiny anteater that will puncture your tyres if you run over it.
One evening as the light was just fading (when we should have been off the road ) we saw an Emu running alongside the road plus a Dingo right by the road edge.
So, as you can see, there is a lot of wildlife around that you need to be aware of and drive carefully for your own safety and that of the animals.
An Emu Close To The Road
Tip Five – Fuel Up
Like I mentioned before, distances in Australia are huge and it’s easy to misjudge them.
Some places are very remote so always make sure you have plenty of fuel in your vehicle.
There’s no need to carry extra unless you’re really going off road into the outback, but if you’re on normal roads then a full tank is enough.
We always filled up when there was an opportunity to do so.
There are remote roadhouses where you can fill up on fuel and stock up on supplies but they are quite expensive.
We mainly got supplies in supermarkets where we could and fuelled up there as well, but it was also necessary to fill up at roadhouses.
You never know where the next fuel stop may be so don’t take chances, the consequence of leaving it may be dire.
The Billabong Roadhouse
Tip Six – Enjoy The Ride
Yes I know, it sounds obvious but remember, your road trip is supposed to be fun.
Don’t put yourself under too much stress to do too much or travel too far.
Keep things flexible.
Road trips are all about feeling free on the open road so give yourself the opportunity to take things as they came.
You’ll get a lot more out of your trip by going with the flow.
Your plans might change altogether and you go a completely different way to what you thought, so build the possibility of change into your trip.
Our best experiences have been the ones we’ve least expected, the views, the campsites, the people.
Give yourself time to take everything in and make the most of it all.
And remember to have fun out there.
Camping By Shark Bay