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Driving Australia west coast

We are looking at driving from Perth to Darwin along the west coast and east to Cairns ..How long should we allow? Where do we get good car / jeep hire ? Where best / cheap to stay

Any help appreciated
Target dates July 2016

Posted by
2899 posts

Pat - as you're no doubt already aware distances in Australia are vast. That's a long, long drive with not a lot of pretty scenery to justify the 7-9 days on the road ... in my humble opinion. Might suggest flying between 2 or more of those cities, renting a car on arrival to explore the area, and using the saved time to explore some other places...Uluru comes to mind.

Posted by
6113 posts

I drove from Perth to Yardie Creek near Exmouth, which is only about half way to Darwin a few years ago. We hired a campervan and didn't rush the journey, so it took c a week. Driving constantly, this part could be done in a few days, but there is no point not stopping. It was one of the most boring drives I have ever been unfortunate to undertake and I would not recommend it to anyone.

Once out of Perth, there are relatively few places to visit and the countryside doesn't vary much over several hundred miles. There are no houses between towns, just mile after mile of scrub. The petrol stations told you how far away the next one was, say 200k and often there was absolutely nothing between them. Places such as Coral Bay are great to visit, it is just the drive between that is the problem. We met a couple who were driving round the whole coast in a campervan and they had been going 2 years and were nowhere near finishing!


Posted by
4630 posts

There is no direct route from Darwin to Cairns. I will say that the drive from Katherine NT to Townsville QLD on the coast is dull beyond the describing of it. There are some real gems in the Outback but the time commitment to covering the distances in between is high. As long as you are up for it.

Posted by
47 posts

Hi Pat, my first question is how long have you got? This is the sort of trip that is popular with the grey nomads, retirees with plenty of time on their hands. As pointed out the distances are vast and unless you enjoy the beauty and solidute of the Australian bush the journey could be rather boring. If you haven't already, try googling things like "road trip Perth to Darwin" preferably with a map in front of you for reference, to get a feeling for what there is to see and how long it will take. Many locals doing this trip would tow a caravan or drive a camper van and stay in caravan parks, camps sites etc. again the internet should be able to give you some detail around that. Other accomodation choices may be limited in some places. I am not sure about the costs associated with one way car rental, try looking at the major players Avis, Europecar and Budget to get some ideas. July is the dry season in northern Australia, not too hot and less rain but it is also peak time in terms of travel so costs are higher for accomodation and some transport. Another thing about costs is that the cost of petrol and food in remote areas is considerably more than in the cities, worth bearing in mind for the budget. If you have limited time and a must do list of destinations it would be worth looking at flying in between major centres. It would be a brilliant trip, can I come too?

Posted by
75 posts

Thanks for all the replies. As we only have 2 weeks we will look at flying and local car hire