When you go to Western Australia (WA) you have to rent a camper and do a road trip. That is of course also what we did. We drove from Perth to Denham and back in nine days. In this blogpost you will find out about everything you need to know how to pimp your road trip and the route we took.
1. Make enough time for your road trip
We had just nine days and eight nights. For sure that’s way too less time for the amazing landscapes and roads you can drive. We will recommend three weeks at least to see Coral Bay and Exmouth as well.
2. Plan your route for the trip
Because we haven’t had much time for it we planned our route properly. We decided to drive straight to Denham in two days. That allowed us to get known to the camper fast and to realize how much time we have for the way back.
Here is our route: Perth – Indoon Lake – Hamelin Pool – Francois Peron National Park – Denham and Shark Bay (Whalebone Camp) – Kalbarri - Greenough - Jurien Bay.
3. Be an early bird and start the day from the pole position
You will see that in Perth a lot of people have the same idea as you. Many people rent campers for a road trip. Make sure that you get to the rental service very early because it can take a while to get ready. We have been at Apollo around 9.30am and got the 4WD two hours later.
4. Choose the right vehicle for you
There are a lot of opportunities to rent a camper. Decide what you really want during the trip. For us it was important that we get a 4WD because we love off-road driving. A new but very great thing was the rooftop tent. After experiencing it you will never want to lay on the ground in a normal tent anymore. And in Australia it’s a safer thing to sleep on your car.
5. Shop the basics in Perth or Geraldton
Make sure to shop your basic groceries in the bigger cities like Perth or Geraldton. There you will find everything which makes your road trip more special. We e.g. shopped some wine and good cheese for the sunset or sweets like Ferrero Roché for the morning tea.
6. Get used to left-driving by communicate with each other a lot
When you are not used to driving on the left side it could be tricky in the beginning. And even after some days it was still a bit awkward for us. We found some nice phrases to remind each other how to drive correctly. We always said: “Take the ‘small left’ and the ‘big right’” when we turned into a big street.
7. Prepare lunch for the next day
As you can imagine it’s getting really really warm during daytime in Australia and that will make you lazy (and sometimes crazy). While lunchtime you will not be in the mood to cook. The best thing to do is to prepare a lunch box the night before. We made noodle or lentil salads by ourselves which we keep in the fridge. So every lunch was very delicious and we could enjoy it in the car without flies.
8. Accept that the Australians are outstanding helpful
We got stuck a few times during our road trip and it wasn’t always easy to get out. We really found nice, very relaxed and patient locals who helped us in every situation without cant or hassel. They didn’t care if it takes hours or they had to drive home twice to get the right tools to help us. They even showed us how to drive better and gave us their head. Amazing!
9. Park your car wisely
If you don’t know yet you will realize quickly that Australia has strong winds and is a pretty rough country. That’s why it is important how to park your car during night time, especially when you sleep in a rooftop tent. Make sure that the “nose of your car” always stands in the wind or you park in a slip stream.
10. Drive during noon
Normally that’s the time of the day you rest and do nothing. But we experienced that it’s actually not a bad idea to drive during this time. You are sitting in your car with AC and drive through the hottest time of the day. It’s better you get up early to explore the surrounding in the morning or after 4pm when it get’s cooler.
Three things in addition for camping and driving through WA
Accept fish from a local: Fishing is a big thing in Australia and the local people are very proud of their fishing skills. During our road trip there was a fishing competition in Kalbarri with really interesting people. At Francois Peron National Park we got a fresh Flathead from Ben, the nice son of our rangers. It was the best fish we ever tried so far.
Book a campground and get a permit: In Denham you have to book the campgrounds at the Shark Bay in advance because there are just four vehicles allowed. In the Shark Bay - World Heritage Discovery & Visitor Center you can get a permit for it and they will show you all available camping sides.
Make sure that you get there in time because you can only book on the very day you want to camp there and only till 2pm.
Don’t drive in twilight or nights: During twilight and night time the wildlife of Australia is getting really active. When it comes to driving that could be a dangerous time where kangaroos or emus crossing the roads. Make sure that your insurance for your camper covers that because normally it doesn’t. We counted more than 37 road kills during our trip and unfortunately have seen more death kangaroos than alife.