Pauline and Doug have done what many dream of but very few actually do. The ambitious Brits drove a full lap around Australia in the only vehicle worthy of the World’s Ultimate Road Trip: a Land Rover Defender (courtesy of Bear Rentals). Henry Brydon interviewed Pauline for the down-low on this incredible road trip around Australia.
First things first, tell us about your route around Australia?
We took a pretty crazy route around Australia. We were tourist-tastic and pretty much did everything we could on the go. The journey took us one hundred and six days and 23,984km in total!
Why did you pack up a Land Rover Defender and embark on this journey?
We both work with the Oil & Gas Industry within Aberdeen and are in the fortunate position of both being able to take a six-month sabbatical. Once we decided on a road trip around Australia/NZ we started to look at the options possible, including buying our own rig and even transporting our own motorcycles over. When both of those were knocked off the list for feasibility, we then looked at the rental options. One of our key concerns was the time that we would be on the road and sleeping. A mobile home was one option, however we found that very few had a bed that was actually going to be long enough for Doug to enjoy a decent night’s sleep.
We stumbled across Bear Rentals through Trip Advisor. An email query to Brendon, followed by several more asking many, many questions confirmed that what he could offer was exactly what we needed. It was almost too good to be true! We booked the rig there and then. Functionality, EPIRB, unlimited mileage, self-containment, mountain bikes and ease of everything were perfect, the icing on the cake being that the camping trailer contained a ‘proper’ queen size mattress.
What was so great about using Bear Rentals?
The service Bear Rentals, Brendan, Ian and Kate offered was incredible. From the very start, any queries we had about the rig through to providing information, guidance and suggestions for our trip was always forthcoming and in a very timely manner. As the start of our Australian road trip approached, recommendations for the first couple of nights camping, purchase of SIM cards, provision of everything that we asked about, nothing was too much trouble. Collection from the airport, an escort out of Sydney via supermarkets, contact numbers all made everything so easy.
Tough question – what were the highlights of your insane trip?
There were many for different reasons! Doug is a keen photographer and has been able to take some fantastic photos. We enjoy the outdoors and an active lifestyle. Some areas in Western Australia were awesome, the scenery and land formations that we enjoyed were mind-blowing. Karijini and Purnululu National Parks were incredible, we enjoyed the walks and could hardly believe we were the only people there at times. We didn’t see another soul for three days in Purnululu.
On the way to Broome, we stayed at 80-mile beach and during the night watched a sea turtle come in and lay her eggs. Incredible! I enjoyed the opportunity to cuddle a Koala near Adelaide. We also went to a Crocodile farm. Feeding the seventy Salties at such close proximity is something you wouldn’t get to see at the Australian Zoo!
Driving across the Tanami to Alice Springs and then over the Plenty Highway to Winton won’t be forgotten easily. I can taste the dust just thinking about them, let alone the amount of kangaroos, cattle, sheep and wild horses that we managed to avoid (minus two Roos now!). We even camped at Wolfe Creek and survived…
I loved the quirky Tin Horse Highway from Kulin, it took us over three hours to go 11km as I insisted getting a photo of every one of them!
Crossing the Nullabor wasn’t as bad as we thought. Doug played the longest golf course in the world (1384km I think) which was fun and made for some interesting stops. There were golf holes on an aeroplane strip, across a shooting range and at one point a crow watched and actually stole our golf ball.
The Atherton Tablelands were lovely. We stayed at The Canopy Treehouses and had a great interactive couple of nights with the local wildlife and birds, enhanced further by a night spotlighting tour and a full day tour guided by one of the Tablelands most renowned naturalists, Alan Gillanders. These are both highly recommend.
We dived the Great Barrier Reef, my first time and what a way to start. It was a challenge driving with the trailer on Fraser Island at times however great fun! We had a great week near Glencoe on a cattle farm after making some new friends on a wine tour and taking them up on their offer to visit.
The hospitality and friendliness of everyone throughout our trip has been outstanding. We have been your ultimate tourist-tastic couple. If it was in the guide books, we were there. Our timing was great as it was the off-season almost everywhere.
What was your favourite part of NSW?
Jervis Bay was lovely. We really enjoyed our time in Sydney, spoiling ourselves with a night in the main Opera Theatre, the Sydney bridge climb and chasing the start of the Hobart boat race on the water on Boxing Day. The Blue Mountains were awesome. Again Doug got some great pictures of sunrise. The area surrounding Glencoe and Tamworth were stunning, the greenness reminding us of home.
Craziest thing that happened on your road trip around Australia?
Cheeky. Favourite driving tune?
Doug had made up some great playlists for us with a huge variety, an eclectic mix ranging from New Soul through to Hard Rock and Dance. Our top hits ranged from All Summer Long with Kid Rock to country with Dolly Parton, especially as we headed towards the Tamworth country music festival. We struggled with ‘season lag’ as Christmas approached, so plenty of cheesy Christmas songs also kept us going!
Wild scary Cassowaries, close up crocs, hand feeding the roos, possums, birds of paradise and of course my cuddly koala. The funniest was a freshwater turtle rush for hand feeding on a river, and we were also rewarded for waiting patiently by several Duckbilled Platypus providing a feeding and playing display right in front of us whilst at the Tablelands. During our spotlighting and nature day with Alan Gillanders we were fortunate to see the courting ritual of the rare Golden Bowerbird and several Tree Kangaroos in their natural habitat.