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I'm considering migrating to Australia, but before I can make that decision I want to explore the country. I've set my sights on Perth, but relocating through my employment will probably see me ending up in Melbourne or Sydney at first.

Because of work and the different climates of these places I feel like taking a couple of weeks vacation and see as much of the country as possible. I'm looking at camper-van trips, but these mainly focus on either east coast or west coast. I've seen nice itineraries for Melbourne to Cairns, and Perth to Broome. Ideally I'd like to combine them but I'm unsure if I should connect them by camper-van or a flight.

What are things I should consider when deciding for one or the other? My main concerns are travel time and expenses vs. the sights and experience I'd skip.

  • Australia is huge, you're going to spend days driving east-to-west. Some of the roads are probably not that good, I'm guessing that the view becomes tedious, and for a significant part of the journey you'll be far away from help if the car breaks. – Henrik Jun 28 '16 at 6:54
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    Voted to leave open. This Q is about traveling, not about migrating, as you can see if you read beyond the first lines. The OP is even transparent and links to his Q on Expats, so give him a +1 and answer his Q – mts Jun 28 '16 at 7:58
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    @mts the close vote is for opinion based (not by me), nothing to do with expats :) – Mark Mayo Jun 28 '16 at 8:11
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This almost comes under 'opinion based', but we can treat it as a compare-and-contrast option. Hi from Sydney, BTW.

Australia is huge. Literally similar in size to the US. That doesn't mean you can't drive across it, but you have to take things into account that don't occur to people compared with the US:

  • gas stations are few and far between in some places
  • there's long distances with nothing in-between
  • if you break down, you might not see anyone else for hours, or days.

There's a reason the main tourist trail is on the east coast - it's where most people live, and where most of the interesting stuff is in terms of variety.

A common backpacker route (if doing a circle route) is to go from say, Melbourne to Sydney (perhaps via Canberra), up the coast to Byron Bay, Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, Cairns etc, then perhaps inland/across to Darwin, down to Alice Springs (Uluru, woo!), through to Coober Pedy and Adelaide (with Kangaroo Island), and back to Melbourne, or at least a similar route with alternative starting points (perhaps Sydney).

Perth is usually considered a flight - most wouldn't consider driving, busing or training - although all are options. I've bussed from Adelaide to Alice Springs, and that alone is 20 hours.

I've had relatives who lived in Derby (near Broome) for a while, and there's not much else around. I'd love to do the drive from Perth to Broome, but it's long and there's not much in-between to look at.

So, it depends what you're after. If you've got the time to do a trip that you probably won't get much chance to head back and do again, maybe consider the harder Perth to Broome. If you're after seeing the sights and places that Australia is known for, then you're better off on the east coast.

If you're going to do both, fly or bus. You don't want to be the tired driver driving in twilight, dodging kangaroos and worrying about the gas light that's been on for 50km. Unless of course, that's your thing ;)

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    Thanks. The question is bordering on opinion-based, but I was indeed looking for things to consider and weight against each other when deciding how to combine the routes. You provided valuable information that is hard to 'eyeball' as someone who's never been to your country. You didn't provide opinions either, you present very plausible facts. So, thanks for answering against the odds of this question making the cut! – Marc Dingena Jun 28 '16 at 9:14
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    +1 for some variant of the circle route. It's a fantastic trip, and you can mix it up by flying some legs and driving/taking a bus for others, take the Ghan train for a segment, cut off part of the circle because of time and pick it up again on another trip, add a few days in the Daintree Rainforest, or whatever you'd like. – Zach Lipton Jul 6 '16 at 1:38
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TLDR: Unless you love adventure you should fly.

Perth is a beautiful city, with some amazing beaches and scenery. If you want to do a grand tour of Australia it's a must.

But there's several deserts between Perth and any other city. It's 2700km (1650mi) to Adelaide and you have to cross the Nullarbor Plain - a stretch 1,100 kms long on the edge of a desert. It's called a plain for a reason - it's very plain.

The Nullarbor Plain

If you're the adventuring type and you have a spare week, crossing the Nullarbor should be on your bucket list. But if not, you should fly.

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I have been in Australia as a tourist, traveled east to west with the Indian-Pasific, overland (with a tour) to Alice Springs (seeing the famous sights on the way,) flew north to Darwin and took the train south. (With a couple of tours to see things where I was.)

I love trains and sitting in a train for a few days, but even for me the Indian Pasific as sit up passenger was almost too much.

You want to see the parts of the country where you might get to live, if I understand you right, and you will not be living in the big stretches of nothing between the east and west coast. There is enough to see and do where you might get to life.

Unless you really want to see the interior, fly.

Don't take me wrong, I loved the interior parts of Australia, but those are worth a tourist visit, not an 'I am going to live here' one.

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    Thanks, these are some valuable remarks about the interior of the country which help deciding between flying and driving. You understood correct. While it's a vacation, it's basically an 'investigation' for us to see if this is where we want to grow old. – Marc Dingena Jun 28 '16 at 21:06

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