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We awoke from our slumber, the air brakes of a truck not far away welcomed us to the new day.

I opened the door and climbed out of the car, a stretch and a yawn and a look around at where we were. Our rest area looked different in the pre-dawn light. We had arrived a few hours earlier in the middle of the night. Time for a rest, a kip and a refresh. Ah, the delights of the Aussie Road Trip, a right of passage for all Australians.

As I surveyed the horizon, my thoughts returned to the day before, 1,200km, an average of 10.1l/100km, not bad for a 6.0 litre V8, 3 hamburgers, 6 potato scallops, 5 coffees, 2 red bulls and countless barley sugars.

The road ahead would bring us to our destination late in the day. The vastness of the drive in Australia is what it is all about, miles and miles of nothing. Such a different experience to driving in Europe with the landscape constantly punctuated by towns and villages.

As the volcanic  ash cloud caresses the jet stream around Australia, interstate travellers have had their travel plans thrown into chaos. Combine this with major annual events like the Canon Australian Institute of Professional Photography Awards (APPA’s) in Sydney this weekend and you have a recipe for many enforced road trips by drivers not prepared for this type of travel.

With family all over Australia, I have done the road trip countless times. Here are some of my top tips for a hassle free road trip:

  • Check your vehicle before departure; coolant, oil, tyre pressures, windscreen washer.
  • Pack a thermos of hot water so you can stop at rest areas for a coffee break. This gives you flexibility in where you stop, saves dollars and time wasted as you wait for a coffee shop to make you a coffee.
  • Pack some snacks, cake, chocolate, bikkies.
  • Print maps of where you are going. The RACQ has maps for members.
  • Pack an emergency comfort kit for the car; include pillow, torch with fresh batteries, toilet paper, water bottle of drinking water, snacks, lollies, deodorant.
  • Australia’s low highway speed limits and modern cars cause fatigue, plan to stop every two hours for a stretch, pitstop, quick snack.
  • Many towns have been bypassed by modern highways, places to stop for fuel are not as prevalent as in days gone by. If your tank is less than 1/3rd full, fill up at the next available stop.
  • I always stow bags in the boot away from prying eyes.
  • With so many people on the road, travel safely, be patient. Keep 2 seconds between you and the car in front to avoid nose to tail crashes.
  • If driving in cold areas, beware black ice, it is often on bends under trees. The crash photo above is an image I took in Waterloo, the accident happened right before my eyes. The cars were going too fast for the icy road, they lost traction, went sideways, BANG! Fortunately, there were no injuries.
  • Drive safely and think of other road users, no one wants to die on the roads this week sadly approximately 35 people die every week on Aussie roads.
  • If driving with others in the car, make-up some driving games, it’s a giggle and keeps everyone awake.