Last Updated on May 4, 2021 by Red Nomad OZ
I was WAY too young to remember much detail from my first Aussie road trip.
I’m a road-tripper from WAY back!
But the photo of me and my sister on the Mt Kosciuszko summit in the good old days when you could actually drive almost to the top of the highest point in OZ is a dead giveaway.
That trail-blazing family adventure holiday was the first of many Aussie Adventures on many thousands of kilometres on roads covering much of Australia I’ve had since then.
SO … that gives me some serious road-tripper cred, right? RIGHT???
Well, not quite.
Because although I’ve been on lots of different variations of the great Aussie road-trip, there’s one version missing from my repertoire. That’s the great Aussie sea-trek – and it’s all about cruising in Australia.
What makes a good road trip?
Australia’s vast distances make turning your holiday into an Aussie Adventure easy. It’s absolutely the best way to a) see a LOT of Australia up close; b) see a LOT of your travelling companion/s up close; c) see a range of attractions from the ridiculous to the sublime as you trek from A to B; and d) make unforgettable memories – all in one (sometimes life-changing) (and mostly BIG fun) journey.
Changing the top three trip variables – Transport, Accommodation, Budget – will majorly determine the type of journey you have. The secondary trip variables – Distance, Stopovers, Travelling Companions – will determine just how life-changing and fun it really is!
Of course I don’t know how far you want to travel, how many stopovers you’ll take, and with whom you’ll choose to travel – that’s all up to you. But take a quick squiz at this snapshot of five Aussie Adventure trip variations – all with different choices of transport, accommodation and budget.
Yep, they’re all several kinds of fun, but only YOU will be able to tell which would be the MOST fun for you and your travelling companions.
#1 – The Relationship-Tester
Self-drive, take your own accommodation – tent, camper, caravan – and save money by staying in no- or low-budget camp-grounds for a ‘no frills’ Aussie Odyssey. Long days on the road, then setting up camp with limited facilities and planning meals each night means you and your fellow travellers will be together 24/7.
Lower costs make this option good for a longer trip, or even a Big Lap (right around OZ, geddit?) but it won’t take much to turn ‘Relationship-tester’ into ‘Relationship-breaker’ if your travel buddies aren’t as committed to pitching in and helping out as you are!
#2 – The Cop-Out
Self-drive, but when you’re done driving for the day, stay in a motel, cabin, cottage, B&B, farmstay, guesthouse – or go glamping! Staying in smaller towns will help keep costs down AND you can contribute to the local economy by eating out at the local pub, cafe or bakery. Or all three. You’re still spending 24/7 with your travel companions, but there’s not so much post-driving work to be done at the end of each day.
Try this option for trips with more accommodation choices in towns along the way such as Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, especially if you don’t like booking ahead.
Actually, this one’s only called the ‘Cop Out’ by people who’ve survived #1. That’s because they want YOU to suffer by roughing it as much as they did.
#3 – The Half-and-Half
Yep, this is exactly what it sounds like. Fly/train/bus there, then hire a car and drive back. Or vice versa. You can even use your own car if you drive across the Nullarbor then put it (and yourself!) on the Indian Pacific to get back home. Or fly to Darwin, hire a car and drive home.
This one’s best if time is limited, because although it’s more expensive, you can fit a LOT more sightseeing into your adventure because you’ve got a LOT more time on the road!
This option is also sometimes called the ‘Cop Out’ by people who’ve survived #1 or #2.
#4 – The Outsource
When your own vehicle isn’t up to the road standard of your proposed adventure route, there’s no shame in saving it (and costly repairs) by outsourcing the transport and booking an all-inclusive tour in a suitable or sometimes purpose-built vehicle. This one’s best for treks like the Gibb River Road – 600 km of tyre-shredding rocky road surfaces, rugged river crossings and endless bull dust – impassable in a standard car.
It’ll cost more, but you won’t have to do any planning as meals and accommodation are provided. Sure, you can’t choose your travelling companions, but you won’t be with them 24/7 unless you’re sleeping in a dormitory!
This option is also known as a ‘Major Cop Out’ by people who’ve survived #1, #2 or #3.
#5 – The Sea-Trek
Switch your transport from car to ship, your tent for a stateroom and the dodgy highway for the sea when your Aussie Adventure is an Australian cruise.
You’ll still travel thousands of kilometres and have sightseeing stopovers in interesting places along the way.
your transport is an all-purpose eating, entertainment and exercise area, purpose built for recreation while you’re on the road at sea!
If, like me, you know very little about cruising, take a look at Celebrity Cruises 13 day/12 night Great Barrier Reef Cruise from Sydney to Cairns and return as an example of what to expect.
With stopovers in Newcastle, Airlie Beach, Cairns, Port Douglas, Willis Island and Brisbane, the cruise covers a good cross-section of the east coast and offers a range of shore excursions.
What’s the Difference?
In comparison, spend the same 13 days driving the 2400 km (1500 miles) each way from Sydney to Cairns, and at 400-500 km per day you’d spend 9-10 of those days in the car.
Afraid you’ll max out the budget?
Compare the total costs for fuel, accommodation, food, entertainment, vehicle wear and tear and sightseeing you’d have on a 12-night road trip with the one-off up-front cruise cost covering everything (except on-shore excursions) and you’ll find the gap isn’t as large as you think.
There’s only one way to find out if the Sea-Trek really IS the new road trip – so next time you’re aboard, look out. That redhead languishing in the lounge, champagne cocktail in hand, just might be me!
Disclosure: This post was prepared in partnership with Celebrity Cruises and contains a sponsored link. All cruise photos are courtesy of Celebrity Cruises.