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Trip List by DrMatt

7 days driving tour of Australia

7 Jan 2007  
4.0 of 5 stars based on 11 votes

2 blokes, 1 car, just 7 days to see as much of Australia that we could, starting and ending in Sydney.

  • 1. Wanderers on Kent

    This was our base in Sydney. We decided on a whim one day to hire a car and drive into the outback. We didn't have much of a plan, but we knew we wanted to see Broken Hill and Melbourne... The Wanderers on Kent is a large hostel on Kent St, Sydney, just around the corner from Darling harbour. Not the most centrally located place to stay, but you can walk to most major sites should the mood take you. Had a great time and met some brilliant people...

  • 2. Katoomba
    Katoomba, Blue Mountains

    After escaping Sydney we drove west into the Blue Mountains. This would be a great place to base your exploration of the local area. The town has all ths amenities you'd expect, althought the sandwich shop we found was the stingiest place ever. People moan about English food but here my beef sandwich had one slice of wafer thin beef.... I hardly noticed it was there. The spinach pie was good though. Sights include the Three Sisters and Echo point, but when we were there the fog meant visibility of about 20 metres, so Katoomba ended up being just another town.

  • 3. Dubbo Backpackers YHA
    Dubbo Backpackers, Dubbo, New South Wales

    1st night. 250 miles approx. There were, I'm sure, a few stops between Katoomba and Dubbo, but this was a few years ago and none stick in my mind. Dubbo was out first overnight stop and we stayed at the YHA. As hostels go, I've been in worse... I've been in better too, but we slept and washed, so that will do. You get what you pay for and it was cheap. Dubbo itself is a good sized town. For sone reason its hospital attracts British doctors. The town has a zoo, although we didn't actually see the town in daylight so I can't comment on that. The pubs are friendly though. We easily struck up conversation with some locals over a pint of Tooheys Black... When we enquired why the town seemed so quiet, one guy told us it was because everyone was at the cinema. I have to admit that I laughed at this at first, but, sure enough, at around 10pm, a whole load of people suddenly started filling the bars, I guess that the cinema is popular in Dubbo. That night stands out for one thing however, the superb prime rib at the Hogsbreath restaurant. The best steak I had ever had at that point.

  • 4. Cobar
    Cobar, New South Wales

    We stopped here for lunch on day 2. The stand-out point here is the excellent visitors centre where we learnt all about the local mining history etc. There are various things to see and do around town, mostly based around copper mining. There was something we really liked about this town, but we couldn't stay as long as we would have liked.

  • 5. Broken Hill
    Broken Hill, New South Wales

    Our destination on day 2, a 470 mile drive from Dubbo. This town is relatively well known to the British through the 80's show "Flying Doctors", and is a good base to explore a host of "local" attractions. I say "local" because the distances covered are immense by UK standards. A big attraction is the hill itself, with its trail leading to the top covered with sculptures. The idea is to get there for a spectacular sunset. My only advice to you is to purchase a fly-repellant hat e.g. with netting to cover the face. Otherwise, it is truly amazing. There are a host of art galleries, precious stone dealers etc in town.
    One attraction that we didn't visit is White Cliffs, apparently an underground opal mining community much like the more famous Coober Pedy. Apparently the roads to the town are not all tarmaced and our car hire conditions prohibited us from going there. We spent 2 nights in Broken Hill.

  • 6. Mario's Palace Hotel
    The Palace Hotel Broken Hill, Broken Hill, New South Wales

    This was our hotel in town. I was reading Down Under by Bill Bryson during the trip, on my first night here I realised that it was the same place that he stayed in. The walls are covered in fantatsic murals by a local artist and are well worth seeing. The hotel itself was almost empty when we were there, and the staff were a little... odd sometimes. I remember ordering some drinks at the bar, getting them, and then the barman disappeared... completely. I guess he's decided one was enough for us...

  • 7. Silverton

    A little town about 20 miles from Broken Hill. Has a great gaol museum ,well worth a look around, but is more famous for having the Silverton Hotel, used as a location for umpteen films and tv series including Mad Max and A Town Called Alice.

  • 8. Menindee

    We drove here from Broken Hill, a distance of about 70 miles. The attraction is the lake, with watersports and wildlife abound. Some people may find it all quite familiar, however, as one of the most amazing sights is that of dozens of dead trees rising from the water, something that has appeared in print hundreds of times.

  • 9. Melbourne
    Melbourne, Victoria

    Our next stop was Melbourne. Thats a drive of over 500 miles from Broken Hill.... This wasn't our original plan, but the cricket was on at the MCG so we thought we'd try and make it. We failed, but we did get to Melbourne before sunset which is pretty good going. Unfortunately we didn't experience much of the towns along the way.
    Melbourne, for those who haven't been, is amazing. One of the best cities on Earth, and one that is often described as the most "livable", whatever that means. We spent 3 days there, staying at 2 different hostels and did loads. I won't list everything but if you do go, don't miss: The Crown casino, St kilda beach, Lunapark (we saw Shane Warne...), Pin Oak Court (thats Ramsey Street for the Neighbours fans) and make sure you experience the nightlife. We stumbled across a fantastic pub that had live jazz upstairs (we didn't know, just walked up some stairs to see what was going on). I regret not spending more time there, will definitely go back.

  • 10. Batemans Bay
    Batemans Bay, New South Wales

    A mere 470 miles brought us here, a lovely coastal resort east of Canberra (We would have gone to Canberra but Bill Bryson wasn't too complimentary in his book so we came here instead... good choice). We stayed in a guest house, met a few people and generally had a nice time. I recall a decent crazy golf course and some great food, but there is also Birdland if you like birds.

  • 11. Sydney
    Sydney, New South Wales

    Just 170 miles on this day. Sydney is, perhaps, the worlds greatest city. I won't go on about all the things to see and do because we'd be here for ever.

    By the end of our journey our car had recorded over 3500 km, which accounts for the various day trips and detours we took. We had seen a huge amount in a few days, driven across the outback, long, lonely highways where a bend in the road is something to look forward to, seen a variety of different towns, all with their own charm, and stayed in 2 of the worlds great cities. We'd seen wild kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, and bugs of all types. We'd had the worlds worst chinese in Broken Hill, the worst sandwich in Katoomba, and the worst hangover in Sydney. We'd seen a roadsign advertising the next nearest MacDonalds (125km!!), and learnt all about Australias mining history. By any standards it was a great trip, and we did it all in daylight (apparently driving at night risks a high-speed collision with a kangaroo).
    For anyone thinking of doing something similar I offer the following advice.
    1) Carry lots of bottled water and some non-perishable food such as tinned beans/ fish etc
    2) Get petrol at every opportunity when driving across the outback, and carry spare if you can.
    3) Don't drive at night unless you have bull-bars on your car.
    4) Make sure you have some good CD's
    5) Ensure at least 2 people in the party can drive
    6) Make the most of every stop, if a small town has a museum, have a look round. Chat to the locals, they'll know where's good to eat and whats interesting around town.
    7) Set yourself a realistic goal for the day. 500 miles is do-able in Australia, but less so in the UK because of congestion (and cars don't float), but a distance like that means you won't see much along the way.
    8) Take a days break from driving every now and then. It's really nice to wake up in the morning and not have to think about driving for 8 hours.
    9) If you get tired, and there's no one else to drive, its always better to stop in a town that you didn't plan to, rather than push on.
    10) Enjoy it. Roadtrips are supposed to be fun. If you find that the driving it becoming all consuming, change your itinery.