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Australian Motorhome Tour in WA and NT PDF Printable Version E-mail
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The South West
Broome and the Kimberley
NT Loop


A Motorhome Journey Through West and Northern Australia

From Perth to Darwin      

By Dr Paul Walsh

May to June 2004

Paul and NT_05.jpgGenny WNT_20.jpgalsh live in a house they designed themselves, overlooking Lake Macquarie in New South Wales. A Senior Lecturer at Newcastle University, Paul is also an inveterate traveller by whatever means are the most appropriate - for sea journeys he prefers cruises!

We first met this intrepid couple, with their well-travelled teenager John, when we were all in Monemvassia in the south-east corner of the Greek Peloponnese. We were on Paradise Camping; they were free-camped down by the harbour. We argued all night about Thatcherite economics!

For this challenging journey, up the empty West Coast of Australia and across the 'Top End' to Darwin, the most appropriate vehicle was a hired motorhome. The images are at present in a separate gallery (click here to view), but will be added to the text shortly. 


Plan, start, flight, hotel then van

In the past couple of decades, only a few years have not included a trip to Europe; indeed recently only 1997 and 1998 had been spent largely in this part of the world. 2004 was to be another, as the impact of AF on my confidence and on my eligibility for travel insurance favoured local adventures. Thus the long put off outback experience was explored in more detail. Travelling from home by caravan necessitating at least 10,000 kilometres on a direct route to Darwin and back did not appeal, while buying a new motor home was contemplated though economic madness. Finally attractive Virgin airfares and 'off-season' motor home hire rates ($70 per day) resulted in the choice of a trip from Perth to Darwin of some nominally 4,000 kilometres over two months.

We flew to P_04.jpgPerth on Friday April 30th, arriving tired and bored after a long minimum service flight. They even ran out of wine after the first ¼ bottle. No meals, no movies, how they are missed when absent. Nonetheless the fare of $119 each for such a long trip (5 hours) somehow compensated. In contrast, the first few days were to be spent in comparative luxury in a good hotel in the city of Perth itself. Thus we had the chance to explore the various delights of the city area, shopping, art galleries, museums, Swan River cruise, stroll in Kings Park and Yum Cha in the café suburb of Northbridge.

Having made a pretty good effort at exploring Perth we were ready albeit a little apprehensive for the next phase.

On Monday morning, we fronted the Maui desk to claim our home for the next couple of months – a Mercedes Sprinter - converted to a two-berth motor home. The van was superb, only a few months old with a substantial turbo charged diesel to transport the 6½ metres of solid construction. Within the van, the conversion was fairly minimal though there was at least a good shower and toilet, air-conditioning front and back and an efficient hot and cold water system. However, cupboards were low and inadequate, while the equipment was Spartan. For example, only two sets of cutlery and crockery were provided. The toilet did not even feature a toilet roll holder or a mirror. Most of these minor matters were attended to at a cheap shop, though it was intimidating buying when the life of the purchases was likely to be only the 7½ weeks of the hire.

Before venturing North where shops and services may be rare, we planned to spend the first week exploring the interesting South West as well as checking out for any problems with the vehicle. So with some apprehension, we set off towards Fremantle as our first stop.