Now that we’ve been home a few days and worked our way through the unpacking and cleaning, we’ve had a chance to sit back and take stock of the ‘big trip’.
What were the big expenses? (No prizes for guessing that one … fuel!)
And did we really spend that much on … alcohol, bakeries and tours???
In all, we were away a week shy of six months – 177 days, or five months and 24 days.
And in that time, we covered a total of 30,080 kms.
That’s an average of 1,200 kms each and every week! A lot of distance every week, especially given how we stopped regularly in places for up to a week, to rest, recharge and explore. Yet, as you can see from the map above, we barely scratched the surface of this magnificent country of ours. How people do the whole ‘Big Lap’ in six months or less is beyond us.
We also snapped our way through 11,950 photos and videos during the trip, which equates to 113 GB of data on the trusty laptop! That’s an average of 68 pics or videos for every single day we were away.
Breakdown of major expenses
The pie chart below breaks down the trip’s main expenditure types.
Naturally, fuel was the kicker. Major costs included:
- Fuel costs ($11,000) accounted for almost a third of total expenses
- Groceries ($5,400) were the next largest expense
- Tours ($4,000), including scenic flights, national park entry passes etc
- Accommodation ($3,900)
- Eating out & take-aways ($3,675)
- Sundries ($3,200), such as gas bottles, pharmaceuticals, medical and dental, laundry, gifts, magazines etc
- Car & van maintenance ($2,500), which included three car services
- Alcohol purchases ($2,500) (Really? Ouch!)
Fuel costs – facts and figures
- Total fuel costs: $11,000
- Average cost: $437/week
- Cheapest fuel:
$1.399 / litre at Kununurra, WA (and our local station when we arrived home!!)
- Most expensive fuel:
$2.175 / litre at King’s Canyon, NT
- Number of fuel stops: 93
- Special mention is warranted for the Fuel Map Australia app for highlighting the cheapest fuel options in a local region (i.e. where there is choice!). This little gem has been known to save us up to 40 cents / litre between servos in the same town!
The driving experience
Overall the driving was a relatively easy experience.
However, without a doubt, one of the most frustrating things was the number of travel days spent towing the van into headwinds, especially in Western Australia. The majority of the highways we travelled were in good condition and, given the distances between towns, the traffic was well spread out. The exception to that (there always has to be one!) was the side trip from Port Hedland to Karijini National Park and back on WA’s Great Northern Hwy, where it felt like there was a 50-60m long road train every kilometre. Having said that, all the road train drivers we talked to via radio were pleasant and provided assistance with overtaking when asked.
And so, the stats. First, some context: Our tug was a 200 series Toyota Land Cruiser diesel with roof rack and solar panels, pulling a Kokoda Salute 20′ van, with a combined mass of 6,300 kg.
- Total fuel: 6,665 litres
- Distance towing van: 22,000 kms
- Distance without van: 8,080 kms (local touring)
- Overall economy: 22.1 litres / 100km
- Best economy (towing): 19.5 l / 100km, from Balladonia to Mundrabilla (Nullarbor), with a 40km/hr tailwind
- Worst economy (towing): 33.3 l / 100km, from Kings Canyon (NT) to Erldunda Roadhouse, with a 45km/hr headwind
- Tug was serviced three times (Darwin, Carnarvon, Port Augusta)
- Total accommodation costs: $3,900
- 53% (93 nights) in van parks
- 46% (82 nights) in free or low-cost camps, and
- 1% (2 nights) in a cabin at Mount Augustus – not cheap!!
- Average cost: $20.10 / night
(excl 2 nights in a cabin)
- First half of trip (88 nights): 75% van parks v. 25% free or low-cost camps
- Latter half of trip: (89 nights): 54% in free or low cost camps v. 44% van parks (plus 2% in a cabin)
For the purpose of this exercise, ‘low-cost’ camps are those that cost ≤$20/night, and generally include national parks and those ‘free’ camps for which a donation is requested.
Our accommodation patterns (and, therefore, costs) differed significantly between the first and second halves of the trip. This partly reflects the relatively higher accommodation costs in major tourism centres, especially in Central Australia, the top end of the Northern Territory and the major centres in Western Australia’s Kimberley region. While free and low-cost camping sites are certainly plentiful throughout these remote regions, this is not the case in close proximity to the major tourism centres. As this was our first time visiting many of these places, we chose to base ourselves in many of these tourism centres – and such is the price of doing so. If we ever travel through these places again, we no longer need to do the ‘tourist thing’, and will be more prepared to explore the more remote free camps away from tourist hot spots.
To highlight the difference in costs, almost two-thirds of our entire accommodation costs occurred in the first half of the trip (ie in central and northern Australia), where 75% of nights were spent in van parks, at an average of $35 / night. By contrast, 54% of nights in the second half of the trip were spent in free or low-cost camps, reducing our average accommodation costs in the second half of the trip to just $15.60 / night.
And a couple of tidbits to finish
We published 54 blogs (including this one) on the trip … with a few more to come!
And (drum roll, please) … we each lost a kg or two of weight – that’s despite all the wining and dining over the last six months!
And on that note, we might wind up this blog while we’re ahead!
In the next blog we’ll start to explore the good (and maybe the bad, and the ugly!) parts of the trip. Our favourite moments, the places that are a ‘must do’ (and those that, ahem, aren’t!), the best campsites, the most mind-numbingly boring drive, etc. Stay tuned!