Recently we bade farewell our Japanese friend Kazuya who is off to take on the half-way-round Australia ultimate surfing road trip adventure. Having done this ourselves only last year, and spending hours with Kaz going over maps, giving advice and telling tales, I thought it fitting to do a blog giving you all some tips for the East to West round trip.
What a great place to start! Unfortunately, if you want to really get to know OZ and her surfing secrets, a car is totally essential. A 4WD will take you well off the beaten track and to some of this country’s most hidden wonders.
When buying a second hand car, do your research. Particularly in the Byron Bay and Gold Coast areas, backpackers and travellers sell junky vans at high prices, so be careful. Check how many kilometres the car has already done, ask to see recent mechanic paperwork, find out how much registration is left and don’t be afraid to ask to get a mechanic to take a look at her before you buy.
If you don’t want to buy and are choosing the rental option, Spaceships are the way to go. These guys offer affordable, reliable, like-new custom fitted van rentals with all the perks including camping gear and full roadside assistance cover for whoever is registered to drive the car.
Make sure you get a valid driver’s license. International license rules vary for each country so check with your embassy before departing for Australia. And I highly recommend you familiarize yourself with the road rules. Death by car accident is rife in Australia especially on the country roads. Make sure you are a proficient driver before you take on the round trip, there are more kilometeres to cover than you could ever imagine and driver fatigue is a big killer.
Just as important for the roaming surfer! In a country as vast as Australia, you need to be prepared for almost every kind of surf condition. Keeping petrol costs down would require you travelling light, so my recommended quiver for the roundie would be:
-Wide, thick, short twin fin
-Your comfortable ripping regular thruster or quad
-Single fin or thruster gun
-Wooden belly board
-Body surfing fins
-Snorkel and mask
-Ding repair kit
-Sticky Bumps wax for cold, warm and tropical water
-Bikini/board shorts, full 3mm full wetsuit, long sleeved spring suit (you will need a 5mm full suit if you plan to visit Victoria or South Australia during the winter months)
There are so many talented shapers around this country, many whom make boards especially for the local conditions. It’s often worth picking up a second hand board from one of the local shape rooms or doing a trade in. You’ll get a board suited to the conditions and be helping out the environment too.
Such a precious commodity to the roaming surf junkie. Buy five of them. Don’t lose them. Write all over them. Forget the Lonely Planet guide, instead invest in the Mark Warren Atlas of Australian Surfing. I have had a copy of this since I was 15 years old and still use it today.
Camping around the coast is the WAY to go. There are still so many secret free campsites in Australia but you have to do your research to find them especially around the built up areas. In my camp essentials kit I would include:
-Easy to throw together, water and wind proof tent
-Super warm sleeping bag, temperatures can drop overnight
-Simple butane gas cooker, the canisters are easy to find at supermarkets
-Reliable eating utensils
-Solar or hand cranked eco torch
-Swiss army knife
-First Aid Kit with Snake Bite Kit
-WATER and refillable BPA free containers
-Billy/cooking pot with lid
-Hammer, spare tent pegs, rope
-Petrol jerry can
-Tarp to create shade for the South West and West Coasts
You’ll need a good supply of money. Australia is insanely spacious and country town petrol prices will really break the belt. Particularly across the Nullarbor in South and West Australia you can expect to pay double for everything: petrol ,ice creams, beer! Carry some cash with you as there will be areas with no ATM access but also make sure you have access to a cashing bank account with debit card and a back up credit card just in case you run into any unforseen happenings such as car break down, etc.
The modern age of iPods is a blessing to the round OZ surf explorer, gone are the days where CDs would get hammered and CD players over heating from too much play. Don’t forget to pick up a car charger/connector to run your tunes through the stereo.
You have two options here, get a TELSTRA 3G prepaid and make sure it always has charge or go all out and get a TELSTRA Satellite Phone. The 3G network is the best outback coverage of any carrier in Australia but there will still be large areas of open road where you get no signal. If you are doing some definite off roading, go for the Satellite phone and just beware of the costs involved.
Although this is just a basic guide to going around OZ, no matter what your plans are you will need a smile. This country can throw it at ya: heat, rains, storms, crime…but most of all you are in for the adventure of a lifetime that is deserving of a good dose of daily smiles. And us locals love it when you slap us a big fresh smile!
ENJOY! Remember life is what happened whilst you were making other plans…so don’t forget to get on the road and live it!