Financial questions like ‘How much does it cost to travel Australia?” are the most common topic we’re asked about from our community and readers, so we thought it might be useful to give some idea of what it could possibly cost you to do a lap around Oz.
Sadly, this question just like many others related to travelling is another “how long is a piece of string” question; one that is highly dependent on your own personal travel choices and desires. For that reason, I can’t tell you exactly how much it costs to travel Australia, but I can give some insight into the typical costs and expenses you’re likely to face on the road, and how some of your choices may help to stretch your budget or swallow it up with great speed.
The average cost we see thrown around tends to be $100 per day, lots of families spend more than this and lots spend less, it depends on your setup and how luxurious or frugal you’d like your travel to be.
If you haven’t started to plan your lap of Australia, then go here first for some insight.
The Biggest Expenses You’ll Face, Travelling Australia.
Your biggest expense on the road is usually one of three things:
For Us The Biggest Expense When Travelling Australia Is Fuel.
That’s because our chosen travel vehicle for our trip was a Nissan Patrol. It’s a great four wheel drive and will get us almost anywhere and it has a very generous tow limit (one of the best on the market), the pay-off for this, is that it is a heavy vehicle, and it likes to drink A LOT of diesel. So, for us, I think at the moment we are getting about 700kms to our 110 litre dual tanks. This can vary on how much of the time we are towing, and the terrain we are towing in. Without towing, we get over 800kms to our dual tanks, and lately, it’s been costing around $140-$160 to fill up. Of course, if we’re in smaller towns or remote areas, diesel is going to cost us a lot more and the cost of filling both tanks is likely to head to $200+.
So, this means for us, if we want or need to move long distances quickly, we’re going to pay the price with a large fuel bill. We spread this large expense out by travelling relatively slowly, and shorter distances at a time.
Free Camping Keeps Accommodation Costs Down When Doing A Lap Of Aus.
We almost always free camp or budget camp. If we aren’t free camping, we’re budget camping. By budget camping we’re aiming for $20 per night or less. If you don’t like free camping or are not set-up to be self sufficient, then the reality is you’re accommodation expenses are going to be much larger than ours, especially if you’re aiming to stay in caravan parks.
For a family of five to stay in a caravan park, we generally would be looking at paying from $35 (this would be a very cheap park) right through to $120+ per night. It’s really difficult to afford long term travel if required to pay an average of $100 per night for a family.
There is nothing wrong with caravan parks just know this option costs more: Caravan parks have their place, we were always staying in caravan parks before we chose to do some long term travel. Caravan parks are the perfect place for families to stay on holiday. Caravan parks are a wonderful way to take an enjoyable break from the rigours of free camping and enjoy wonderful facilities. Some families are able to budget to stay in caravan parks as part of their journey. For us, we just couldn’t afford it.
There is often tension between long term travellers and caravan park owners. I wish it wasn’t the case, but it occurs because there’s often a lot of pressure forced upon councils in certain areas to close free camping areas so that people stay within caravan parks only. What generally happens in this case is that families and travellers either bypass the area all together or stay only a day or two and move on instead of staying longer and spending more money in town.
There needs to be a balance, and you need to make the choice that is affordable for your family. Setting yourself up to be able to free camp before you leave, will make your travels cheaper in the long run.
Keeping Food Costs Low When Travelling Australia With Kids
The trick to keeping food costs low when travelling Australia is planning! Planning your food and meals helps you to not only cut down on the expense of the food you buy; it also helps you to minimise any food wastage. There are several points to consider when it comes to food:
- Larger towns and centres will mean cheaper food bills, it’s a good idea to stock up on non-perishables when you’re in areas with access to cheaper food prices.
- Getting creative with staples will help keep your food bills down. Things like rice, pasta, coconut cream, tinned fish, tinned tomatoes and other tinned veggies, flour, sugar and salt will help you rustle up a great meal even when other ingredients aren’t readily available.
- Take advantage of regional produce. While not everywhere in Australia is a food producing region; many of the areas you visit will provide access to beautiful fresh produce directly from the farm gate. Tasmania has an abundance of boutique food providers and food growers and our food bill there was great – unless you’re in a remote area as I mentioned already, then we had to buy smart!
- Plan your meals and DON’T overcook! You’re not going to have the storage space you’re used to in a house, and you won’t have access to a giant fridge either; this means that storage space for leftover is limited! When you do have leftovers, be sure to eat them for the next meal or at the latest the next day, often caravan and camp fridges can struggle so it’s best to eat them quickly and do be sure to re-heat thoroughly.
- Don’t Eat OUT!! Eating from cafe’s or takeaway stores will eat into your travel budget! Pack your lunch, take healthy snacks and only drink water out of a drink bottle you carry with you. This alone will save you thousands of dollars that are better spent elsewhere!
Other Tricks For Saving Money When Travelling & Keeping Costs Down
Don’t go to every attraction you come across: If you saw a zoo or a wildlife centre in the last town, really think about whether you need to visit one at your current stop. Some attractions are well worth the extra expense, some however will be a bit repetitive. Usually you will find free or gold-coin donation entry at local museums and historical centres which will often be a whole lot more beneficial for learning and understanding the region.
Keep Gas Stocked Up in Larger City Centres: We got stuck paying over $40 for a gas bottle refill in a remote area because we just didn’t realise there would be such a big price difference. We could have filled it up for $25 only 50kms before! It was a mistake we didn’t make twice.
Visit Visitor Information Centres For Discounts: Not only do visitor information centres offer a wealth of local knowledge, you’ll also find visitor booklets on display and you’ll often be nicely surprised by the number of coupon vouchers on offer! Any saving is a saving that helps you travel further!
How Much Do You Spend Travelling Australia?
There are so many variables for the cost of travelling around the country that your experience may well differ from ours. Have you got any tips for our readers on how much it costs to travel or how to save money while on the road? We’d love to hear it, just leave a comment below.
We get questions about this all the time. After months, or years of planning for their dream of travelling Australia with kids, the first few weeks of the journey could be described as little more than hellish. Constant fighting, tiredness, kids won’t do schoolwork, adults can’t stand to look at each other, nobody will pull their weight, men are grumpy, women feel unappreciated. Makes you want to plan your family travel around Australia right now doesn’t it?
Possible Causes of Tension for Travelling Families?
Let’s take a look at this shall we? Your entire world has just changed, the kid’s entire world has just changed.
- The environment is constantly changing.
- Nobody knows what the new ‘rules’ are for this new life.
- The accommodation is way more restrictive than a house; there’s no locking yourself away in your bedroom to escape each other.
- There’s packing up and setting up, a stressful experience in itself.
- Hours of driving to get to new destinations.
- Often the family diet goes through some changes.
- Schooling changes to something new & unknown.
- Homesickness happens, especially during tense and stressful times.
- There’s normally restricted ability to relax or tune out activities like watching television or playing video games, because power and electronics are much more restricted when travelling on the road.
- You have to get to really know each other as a family; not just exist together.
- There is NO HIDING from problems that existed before you hit the road.
Do NOT Despair, Family Travel Is Worth The Tough Times!
So, I’ve just shared the most common reasons for why there’s so much tension in your new travel lifestyle, and it may sound overwhelming. If you haven’t left to travel yet, it may be causing you to doubt heading off at all.
I promise, that although your trip around Australia may challenge you as a family; it is going to make you stronger, closer and create memories that will enhance your life in a way that isn’t possible any other way.
We get emails, and questions via our Facebook page asking if other people argue, is it normal, what can be done to fix it, and the answer is YES!
Most people we speak to have suffered the struggle of getting used to their new lifestyle. Generally at the beginning of the adventure, tempers are short, patience is thin, and it seems as though nobody will ever be happy about being on the road, but that just isn’t true.
Arguments are common, frustration is common and a feeling of uncertainty and even regret are all commonly reported by families who are starting their life on the road.
It does get better, and we’re going to take a look at what you can do to make travel as a family less stressful.
Strategies to Decrease Stress Related to Family Travel
So, now you know it’s ok to stress and feel tension, because truly, it happens to everyone; you want to know how to decrease the problem right?
Here are our top tips for keeping things stress free and happy on the road:
Allow at least 4-6 weeks to settle in to your new lifestyle. Adjustment takes time, and it’s OK if everything doesn’t feel perfect right away.
Find a nice place and stop for a while. The faster you move, the more stressful your travel is likely to be. If things are feeling tense, then find a lovely campsite and stop. What are you rushing for anyway? This time is meant to be spent bonding, getting to know each other better and enjoying your surroundings. Rushing helps no-one, so take in the surrounds, do some exploring and put some roots down for a short while; it can make all the difference.
Join in happy hour. For parents on the road, it can seem a constant battle to maintain healthy adult relationships. Get dinner sorted early, or have something easy, that way when all the child-free travellers are enjoying happy hour together (which normally happens around family dinner time in campsites) you’ll be able to join in too and share stories.
Talk it out! Unlike life at home where everyone could disappear into their own world, life in a camper or caravan doesn’t allow for dodging confronting emotions. Get things out of the way, sit down and talk honestly about what’s irritating you, how everyone else feels and make a plan to move forward feeling positive.
Have some alone time: This one can be tough, but if you like to read, make some time to do that. Like to visit the shops and there’s some handy then do a solo shopping trip. Go for a short walk, have a swim, whatever it is that will give you some inner peace, make time for it. This is really where parents need to work together to give the other time for a break. It really does make all the difference with being able to handle the more stressful events that travelling will throw at you.
Cut each other some slack: We all go into travelling with expectations of what it will be like and how ‘it’ will look. Chances are actually being on the road may look very little like your imagined trip of a lifetime. That is OK! Breathe, relax and let everyone find their sweet spot for travelling. If your children are older they may be missing friends, cut them some slack, let them call to say hi. If school work seems to do little but spark arguments, take a couple of days off, resentment won’t achieve anything positive anyway.
Be Flexible: This is possibly the most important tip of all. Travel should be about adventures and togetherness, not strict schedules and deadlines. Learn to be flexible, if everything isn’t perfect it doesn’t matter, if you’re late it doesn’t matter, if you need to stay an extra day or three somewhere it doesn’t matter. Let go of your preconceived ideas and enjoy what is, because it will be over before you know it.
Do you have any tips for easing stress for long term travel? Did you have a bumpy start?
Self sufficiency when travelling Australia is made possible through having the capability to carry plenty of drinking water, having enough fridge space to carry and keep perishables, having enough battery power to recharge devices, run lights and fridges, and generally having enough solar power, or a generator to keep the batteries healthy and topped up.
Being self-sufficient and having the ability to stay in free camping or budget camping areas will save you more money than anything else on your trip. If you are relying on caravan parks for the entire trip, then it is possible to pay more in site fees per week than you would to rent a 3 bedroom home, especially when there are some caravan parks charging over $80 per night for a family to stay on a powered site. Even the average cost of around $45 per night for a family camp site can eat into any income or savings fast.
That is not to say that caravan parks are not to be enjoyed, there are some amazing parks out there that provide a great space for travellers and families. For some people, staying in a caravan park is ideal for them, and the way they prefer to travel, and there is no right or wrong way to plan your lap around Australia, it’s just reality that to stay in caravan parks every night is going to cost you a lot more than to choose free camping options where possible.
Most families tend to do a mix of both, especially in the areas where free camping isn’t an option. While setting up with these extras may feel like an expense you don’t need when trying to save for your trip, the price of preparing for free camping before you leave is much less than the extra expense of long term caravan stays.
In order to make the most of free camping where possible we have:
- Porta-potti & pop up shower tent.
- 2 x 100Ah Batteries in the caravan
- 200w solar panels for the caravan
- 40w solar panel for the car
- 1 x Deep cycle in the car plus our main starter battery
- 60 litre water tank in the car
- 82 litre water tank in the caravan + spare 20l drum.
- 60 litre Fridge in the car.
- 90 litre Fridge in the caravan
- 800w generator
By making the choice to include all of the above in our travel set-up, we have allowed ourselves the flexibility to camp for extended periods without relying on powered campsites or caravan parks. A couple of thousand dollars in set-up expense will be quickly repaid in saved campsite fees; trust us!
This post is an excerpt from our book “How to fund your trip around Australia” if you’d like to know more about making the most of life and hitting the road, head over to our store and grab your copy now.
Sometimes, you need to leave a place to realise just how special it is; and it’s not that I didn’t always love Crescent Head, but when you live in an area like the Mid North Coast of NSW, you tend to take it for granted.
So, while we’ve been home doing the caravan renovation, Crescent Head has become a little haven for us. Somewhere we can escape for some family time, get some relief from the heat, and take in the awesome coastal views and kick back enjoying the outlook while the kids enjoy the creek.
Things to do in Crescent Head.
If you’d like to enjoy a beer or wine with a great view, there’s the tavern or the golf club, there’s great rock pools. If you’re looking for a camp ground, then there’s the super convenient caravan park right on the beach, or you’ve got Racecourse camp ground, Delicate Nobby or Point Plomer camp grounds that are all great too, with differing facilities.
It’s worth heading to Big Hill to do the rainforest walking track. Spend a couple of hours and enjoy the beautiful views from the headland. To get there head along Point Plomer road until you get to Big Hill, which should be about 15 kms, and the walk leaves near the picnic area.
We had lots of fun watching the Santa Surf on Christmas Eve, and if you’re ever in the area over the Christmas period then it’s definitely a must-see! Great atmosphere and lots of fun. I think we might even let the kids participate if we’re back again for Christmas.
You can spend your time fishing, surfing, swimming and just relaxing. There’s always a great friendly atmosphere in town, and don’t forget to follow the road up through the houses to the water tower where you can look out.
Facilities Near Crescent Head.
You’ll find everything you need in town, there’s a small supermarket and all supplies you will need for camping or a day trip. Kempsey is close by with major supermarkets and Big W and Port Macquarie is about a half hour drive south with major shopping complexes, movie theatres and more beaches.
Really, if you’re after some time out, in a beautiful, peaceful part of the coast, where there are secluded natural wonders just waiting to engulf you in peaceful, sun-filled bliss, then a visit to Crescent Head should definitely be high on your list of priorities. I really think we’ll miss it when we leave the area again soon.
I’ve written many times about how we fell in love with Tasmania, but perhaps one thing I haven’t spoken enough about, is the Indigenous history of Australia’s island state.
There’s a reason for that; during our 3 months in Tasmania, although we learned a lot of history, I’m sad to say we didn’t learn much about Tasmania’s first peoples. There were snippets on a couple of signs, and a small amount I managed to track down at Port Arthur, but sadly I don’t feel there’s enough information in general tourist areas. There may be more accessible information on Flinders Island, Bruny Island or Maria Island but we didn’t make it to any of those, so perhaps that’s why we didn’t see more?
As someone majoring in Indigenous Studies, and because I wasn’t satisfied with what I learned, I’ll tell you what I know myself, and I hope, if you visit, you’ll track down something wonderful and send me information. I do intend to re-visit Tassie and track down more for myself.
I set off on our adventure keen to uncover how settlement may have affected Indigenous peoples in Tasmania, who before settlement knew the island as lutruwita (lu-tru-wee-tah). In 1803 settlers arrived to form Australia’s second British colony at Risdon Cove, and it was named Van Diemen’s Land as part of the New South Wales settlement. In 1856 the island was granted self-government and the name officially changed to Tasmania. Of course, I realised that just like every part of Australia, settlement was likely a destructive time for Indigenous populations, but how destructive? What happened? Did any clans survive on their own lands? What was the initial reaction from either side?
Unfortunately, the story isn’t a kind one.
Before settlement it is believed there were nine Indigenous Nations living on Tasmania, who traded with European sealers with very little animosity, but once settlement began, Indigenous peoples were pushed off their lands in order for settlers and convicts establish colonies and farmland. Land would be fenced off and distributed for farming and cropping, but when Indigenous peoples rely on their homelands for food and water, to fence this off means desperation and lack of ability to survive.
If you’d been living peacefully on lands for no less than 35,000 years and all of a sudden found your lands fenced off resulting in your family starving, what would you do? Of course you would need to fight, you would be driven to fight; fight for the right to eat, and stay alive.
Most people don’t understand that for the most part, Indigenous Australians were not historically a nomadic peoples, instead they existed in designated lands which they cared for and used to sustain all they needed, sometimes trading with neighbouring Nations for tools or foods they may not have access to on their own Country. So it was not as simple as being kicked off one area of land by settlers and moving on to somewhere else, Indigenous peoples could not just take over someone elses lands. Sadly this is the theme right across Australia, not just Tasmania, but on an Island state so small, losing lands would have had horrific consequences.
Lieutenant-Governor Arthur declared martial law in 1828 resulting in Aboriginal clans being forced out of areas and away from white settlers, murdered or incarcerated. Those who were not forced out were decimated by European diseases which killed many Indigenous peoples who had no immunity to such health issues.
Surviving Indigenous Tasmanian peoples were forced onto Bruny Island, Flinders Island, and other areas, where most died due to poor conditions and disease, before a settlement at Oyster Cove was formed and those who survived were mostly left to their own devices there.
There is, today a Tasmanian Indigenous population who have worked hard to revive and continue Indigenous language and connection to land and culture, so as proven right across Australia, our First Peoples are resilient and determined and this should be celebrated.
My Most Treasured Indigenous Insight While In Tasmania.
One area we did visit that holds Indigenous significance is Recherche Bay.
Many people would have heard of Truganini (1812-1876), a brave and amazing Aboriginal woman who survived the destruction and decimation of her peoples, caused by white settlement.
Truganini was born in Recherche Bay, daughter of the leader of the region. While much of Truganini’s family were brutally killed, Truganini travelled with her partner Woorraddy who accompanied George Robinson, serving as a guide and interpreter, during attempts to relocate Indigenous populations to several island settlements. During this time, Truganini became disollusioned with Robinson’s mission, realising that his attempt to remove and relocate Aboriginal peoples would all but remove the chance for traditional Indigenous life in Tasmania, and instead urged her peoples to stay and with them settled at Oyster Cove.
Truganini passed away in 1876, and is believed to have been the last surviving full-blood Tasmanian Aboriginal person. While fighting occured when her remains were recovered from the Hobart Female Factory site in 1878 after much protest and fighting, in 1976 her ashes were scattered on the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, fulfilling her wishes almost one hundred years after her death.
I, stood, one small person looking out the the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, and Recherche Bay, and with my standing, felt the gravity of settlement, the pain of a peoples who did not ask for us to be here, and the pain of one woman who fought for survival for herself and her peoples.
In all this sadness I felt a renewed hope that as a country we can move forward. We can never undo what has been done during the devastation caused by settlement, but we can be mindful and reflection and acknowledge that while we have grown into an amazing country, this has not been without loss and pain.
Together, as a united country we must not lose sight of the most important part of this country. The land. It has nurtured a culture now considered the oldest continuing living culture in the world, and we must care for the land so it continues to nurture the people who now call it home.
Do you have an interest in Indigenous History or special memories of Tasmania? Share below.
Well, I just downloaded all the photos we’ve taken of the caravan renovation during our reno adventure. If you’ve been following along on Facebook, then you’ve likely been seeing updates pop up as we go, but simply because of the busy nature of trying to get the renovation done, I haven’t updated anything on the blog.
While the plan is, to post a chronological step through of what we’ve done; the irony is that until we’re done I just won’t have the time, so I’m posting a few pictures that highlight the process we’ve been through and are getting closer to finishing.
This is the original lounge, I need to find some more of the internals before we started stripping, then in the one below you can see Matt stripping out the internal wall lining, after he’d ripped out the kitchen and the lounge and old beds.
There is so much work in stripping out just in order to put it all back together again, but we got it all stripped out, took out all the old wiring, part of the floor, and had a clean canvas to begin rebuilding.
Then there was re-wiring the entire van and deciding where we wanted our phone charging points, lights, stereo and other goodies to go. There is a LOT of wiring running in the van. We got heavy duty dual core so it should last forever and a day. You can see in the photo below, we’ve repained, and insulated as well by this point.
Once many, many hours of work went in, we started to re-line the van.
After many, many more hours, we began to get to some of the detail work, we laid a new floor which I love. It feels and looks like old floorboards.
It also included painting… the kids helped to do the undercoat, and then once all that was over we could begin constructing the furniture.
This is the new lounge in progress, it doesn’t have the dividing wall up in this picture, but you’ll see that in the next one down. It’s a big taller than the old one but we wanted storage space, and you just have to figure these things out as you go.
So, at the moment, we have the entire van lined, wired, painted and the bunks and lounge, and new dividing wall between the lounge and our bedroom installed. We have the kitchen and our bed to go.
The triple bunks are mostly finished, just some cosmetic work to do, the kids love them and I can’t blame them! It will be lovely for them to have their own space. We utilised the old cupboard to turn it into pigeon holes for them to store toys and goodies. We then created new pigeon holes at the entrance of the door to house the fire extinguisher and blanket, a speaker and charging point. It will be handy to store things like sunscreen, hats and things we need handy daily.
There’s so much we’ve done that hasn’t made it in here, including putting new springs and axle underneath, installing solar wiring and a new aerial, scraping the entire outside edging to be re-sealed, but I’ll do individual posts for those processes once we’re kicking back and enjoying what we’ve created.
This has been one of the most challenging but rewarding journeys of our lives I think, and it isn’t over just yet.