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My Big Adventure Drive

Updated on May 31, 2016
KeemaWolf profile image

Fiona is based in SE Qld and is an enthusiast of all things art & crafty. She is a qualified Library Technician, amongst other things.

Just me and Red the Ute from Brisbane to Tasmania and back again.

To celebrate my 26th birthday, I decided to embark on a 3 week long driving holiday, just me and Red the Ute.

It's a pretty big deal, going on a large driving holiday by one's self, particularly when I'd never done anything of this magnitude before. The logistics of planning any trip can be quite large, but three weeks of solo driving, with regular pit stops, accommodation each night to be considered, petrol costs, sight seeing opportunities, time frames for boat connections and booked events... you begin to see the challenges!

I've tried to put together the details of my planning and the results from my trip.

Sit back and enjoy the ride. I sure did!

Without taking the Tasmania leg into account, I travelled over 4573km, or 2841.5 miles!


The Planning Stage - Probably the most important part, other than the actual trip!

I'd only really started seriously thinking about the planning and logistics of the trip about 3 weeks before I left, although the thought had been in my head to do this trip for quite a bit longer than that!

As with any trip, there are a lot of things to take into consideration.

The itinerary for the trip down to Tasmania was pretty firm from the word go. I'd had the idea months before hand when I'd decided to use a large portion of my annual leave to take some time off for my birthday. I had three weeks up my sleeve, and instead of just kicking around the house, thought I should actually DO something. And so was born the Big Adventure Drive.

Brisbane -> Coffs Harbour -> Sydney -> Canberra -> Melbourne -> Devonport -> the rest of Tasmania.

The Outbound Road To Be Travelled

Brisbane QLD, Australia

get directions

Starting point. Home. Left about 10am in the morning.

Coffs Harbour:
Coffs Harbour NSW, Australia

get directions

First overnight stop on the drive down. Stayed at a nice cheap place walking distance to the water. They had free wifi ;-P

Sydney NSW, Australia

get directions

Spent two nights here staying with my cousin and his lovely wife. First night was to recover from the drive, second after exploring town.

Canberra ACT, Australia

get directions

A very short leg of the trip south, this time staying with a dear Apex friend. Wanted a short leg for this day, as the next leg is very long.

Melbourne VIC, Australia

get directions

The biggest leg of the outbound trip. Canberra to Melbourne is ~ 7hrs. Add in a few hours exploring Glen Rowan and getting lost in the CBD - !!

Devonport TAS, Australia

get directions

This is where the Spirit of Tasmania docks. Spent a night here to recover from the sail.

Hobart TAS, Australia

get directions

The end destination, where another Apex mate kindly home hosted me for the week.

The plan was to leave on Monday, 15th of March at about 0800 hours, and head to Coffs Harbour, there to spend the night. I had hoped to get there early enough in the afternoon to explore a little, and then explore some more in the morning, before leaving for Sydney, there to (hopefully) catch up with my oldest friend, and "cousin", Flip.

Whom at time of original planning, didn't know I was coming. Yet....

Two nights in Sydney, the first to recover from the drive, the second to recover from a day spent exploring, as I hadn't really done the tourist-thing in Sydney on my (very brief) previous visits.

From there, an easy drive to Canberra, with a stop in at Albion Park to visit an old Fono Friend from the Girls' Brigade years, before spending the night at M and R's place.

The longest leg of the Outbound journey next, from Canberra to Melbourne, via Albury for lunch, and any other interesting places I happened to find along the way.

Two nights in Melbourne staying with an old friend, Anne. Again, the first to recover from the drive, and the second to recover from sight-seeing.

Then an early morning drive to the Port of Melbourne, and a cruise aboard the Spirit of Tasmania, which will bring me to the ultimate destination - TASMANIA!

Red the Ute

Red the Ute
Red the Ute

Confirmed Itinerary as at 28/02/2010

Week 1: Home to Melbourne

Monday 15th of March: Home -> Coffs Harbour

approximately 4.5 hours of driving and 393km travelled. Purchase accommodation.

Tuesday 16th of March: Coffs Harbour -> Sydney

approximately 6.5 hours of driving and 535km travelled. Staying with cousin Flip and his Lady.

Wednesday 17th of March: Sydney

Sight seeing. Take a train to town and wander.

Thursday 18th of March: Sydney to Canberra

approximately 3 hours of driving and 285km travelled. Staying with The Boys, M and R.

Friday 19th of March: Canberra to Melbourne

approximately 7 hours of driving and 665km travelled. Staying with Mum's friend, Anne.

Saturday 20th of March: Melbourne

Sight seeing. Use public transport and wander.

Sunday 21st of March: Melbourne to Devonport

9am departure on the Spirit of Tasmania. 10 hours of cruise time, arrive 6pm that night in Devonport, Tasmania. Purchase accommodation.

Week 2: Tasmania

I haven't got a set itinerary for this week yet, as I'm not quite sure where and when I'm going to go on Tasmania. I have some particular places I want to go, but haven't done the number pushing or kilometre planning as yet.

However, I DO have to be back in Devonport for the boat back to the Mainland, and that time is set. Kindly home hosted by Phil.

Monday 22nd of March: TBA

Tuesday 23rd of March: TBA

Wednesday 24th of March: TBA

Thursday 25th of March: TBA

Friday 26th of March: TBA

Saturday 27th of March: TBA

Sunday 28th of March: Devonport to Melbourne

9pm departure on the Spirit of Tasmania. 10 hours of cruise time, arrive 6am the next day in Melbourne. Accommodation not required.

Week 3: Melbourne to Home

Monday 29th of March: Melbourne to Mount Gambier

approximately 5.5 hours of driving, 426km travelled, accommodation arranged: staying with cousin E and family.

Tuesday 30th of March: Mount Gambier to Bendigo

approximately 5.5 hours of driving, 427km travelled, accommodation to be arranged.

Wednesday 31st of March: Bendigo to Wagga Wagga

approximately 5 hours of driving, 434km travelled, accommodation to be arranged.

Thursday 1st of April: Wagga Wagga to Dubbo via Bathurst

approximately 6 hours of driving, 530km travelled, accommodation to be arranged.

Friday 2nd of April: Dubbo to Goondiwindi

approximately 5.5 hours of driving, 508km travelled, accommodation to be arranged.

Saturday 3rd of April: Goondiwindi to Toowoomba

approximately 2 hours of driving, 217km travelled, accommdation sorted: the Fox Family.

Sunday 4th of April: Toowoomba to Home

approximately 2 hours of driving, 143km travelled, accommodation sorted: HOME!

Some folks would call me ____ to go on such a big driving trip by myself

See results
Petrol bowser
Petrol bowser

Some fairly important numbers

Calculating some cost factors

A budget for a trip like this is pretty important (the last thing I need is to run out of petrol and the funds to refuel in the middle of no-where!). In order to get an idea of what I will likely be looking at in terms of petrol costs, I know that around town, I get approxiamtely 500km to the tank, which costs me approxiamtely $100 to fill. I think it's an 80 litre tank, or there abouts. On the open road, I get about 750km to the tank.

So if I look at things this way, perhaps I will come up with some figures:

Home to Coffs Harbour

Fill up at home, 1 full tank = $100

392km to Coffs Harbour, plus a little bit of driving around town. Say, 400km all up for the day.

Coffs Harbour to Sydney

Fill up in Coffs Harbour, possibly only half a tank = $50

534km to Sydney, don't plan to drive around much tonight, catch up with Flip and meet his Lady and get an early night.

Day in Sydney

No driving. I plan to utilise the local public transport system. Perhaps I can venture an opinion as to how well it works compared to Brisbane's. Maybe.

Sydney to Canberra, via Albion Park to visit the Manley Family

Fill up in Sydney, possibly a full tank = $100

312km to Canberra, including the side-trip to Albion Park.. Hopefully stop in to catch up with Cousin Jess on the way to The Boys' place.

Canberra to Melbourne

Fill up in Canberra, should only need half a tank = $50

665km to Melbourne

Day in Melbourne

No driving. Planning to explore the city, utilise the public transport. Again, the opportunity to compare the local system to Brisbane's.

Week in Tasmania

Sadly, I still haven't sorted out what I'm going to do this week, so it will obviously throw out my count. At least it will be pay week *grins*.

Melbourne to Mt Gambier

Fill up in Devonport before getting on the Spirit = $100

426km to Mt Gambier, with lunch in Ballarat.

Mt Gambier to Bendigo

Fill up in Mt Gambier, maybe only half a tank = $50

414km to Bendigo

Bendigo to Wagga Wagga

Fill up in Bendigo, maybe only half a tank = $50

433km to Wagga

Wagga Wagga to Dubbo, via Bathurst

Fill up in Wagga, maybe only half a tank = $50

530km in total

Dubbo to Goondiwindi

Fill up in Dubbo, maybe only half a tank = $50

508km to Goondiwindi

Goondiwindi to Cambooya

Fill up in Goondi, maybe only half a tank = $50

21km to Cambooya

Cambooya to Home

No need to fill up, what's left in the tank will get me home.

143km to Home.

All up, it looks like I might be using approximately $800 worth of petrol! WOW!

Journal 12/03/2010: It's nearly time!

..and I'm starting to get a little bit excited! Not long to go now! Had my last day at work today (although typically I left something at home, so I am going to swing past tomorrow to drop it in!), and tomorrow I have dinner with some family and friends for my birthday. The rest of the weekend will be spent in frantic packing, cleaning, and planning. Or at least, last minute map-reading!!

Cape Byron Lighthouse
Cape Byron Lighthouse

Day 1 in Review

There are some photos from today, however I have to shrink them all - individually - before they will be acceptable for Squidoo to let me load. Sigh.

I left at 0830 Brisbane time this morning, after stopping at the local Plus Petrol to check the air in the tyres.

I then jumped on the freeway south, following the signs that said "Sydney" and the instructions of my Navman.

The weather has fluctuated between bright and sunny, brightly overcast, and pouring. And I do mean, POURING . It was difficult to see the road more than 6m in front of me on at least 3 separate occasions. Apparently I can expect more of the same, and North Queensland is bracing for cyclones again.

I don't know whether to be thankful for my timing, or wish I was back helping everyone at work.

The first stop on my trip today was Byron Bay, specifically, Cape Byron Lighthouse. What a stunning piece of architecture! And the bluff is sits atop is stunning! the cliff drops fairly sharply, all black crags, and falls straight into a sea as green as anywhere I've ever seen. The lighthouse is all white, with the tower rising tall and proud from the middle of a smaller building that surrounds it, which looked a little like a castle's keep.

The old lighthouse keeper's house was gorgeous: a fire place in every room, but so small! But then, I guess we are spoilt for the size of houses, now days.

From there, I drove on until I arrived at the Macadamia Castle, where I stopped for lunch and a stretch. After that I kept driving until I came to the Big Banana, where I stopped only briefly for a photo opp before continuing on to my destination for the night.

I'm staying at a place called the Hawaii Sands Motor Inn about 200-300m walk from Park Beach. I had a lovely dinner at the local bowls club before strolling over to see the beach for possible sunset photo opp. Alas, the sun was setting in the wrong direction. I did get a shot of what might have been the Cape Byron Lighthouse in the far yonder. It was A lighthouse, at any rate, whether it's the Cape Byron one or another, I've no way of knowing just the now.

I have realised I'd forgotten to transfer the 2011 Apex Queensland Convention presentation onto my smaller computer to take along with me. I am sincerely hoping that is ALL I've forgotten this trip! Oh, and a mouse for the computer would be helpful,but non-essential. It just means I have to take a little more time shrinking the photos to make them fit on here. Dammit.

Ihave learned today, that it is hard to get a car seat in just the right comfortable position for long trips. I spent much of today fiddling, and trying to ease my back. I''m ok this evening, only because I packed my neckroll to use as a make-shift lumbar cushion. More experimentation tomorrow, as it is a longer trip, 6.5hrs, give or take.

To bed now, I think, and tomorrow: Sydney!

Day 1 - Home to Coffs Harbour

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Beautiful Byron Bay.Cape Byron Lighthouse.The Macadamia Castle.Cape Byron Lighthouse.The Big Banana.
Beautiful Byron Bay.
Beautiful Byron Bay.
Cape Byron Lighthouse.
Cape Byron Lighthouse.
The Macadamia Castle.
The Macadamia Castle.
Cape Byron Lighthouse.
Cape Byron Lighthouse.
The Big Banana.
The Big Banana.

Day 2 in Review

Well, eventful would probably sum up today.

I left my accommodation in Coffs Harbour after a petrol stop and breakfast pick up (Woolworths Plus Petrol and McDonalds respectively), before leaving at 0830 local time. To be honest, I don't really remember the names of the places I stopped at for leg stretches today, except for Taree, where I had lunch and tried to upload the photos from yesterday again. As you can see, it didn't work. AGAIN. Stupid photo gallery module!

A couple of hours up from Taree, I pulled into one of the Stop, Revive, Survive places that regularly dot the road on both sides in both directions. When I was attempting to get back onto the freeway, I wound my window down partially to see the on coming traffic more clearly than through the wrinkled tinting. Once I was safely driving along, I tried to put the window back up, to no avail. I tested it to see if it would wind down.

Let's say that the wind DOWN went just fine. It just decided to STAY DOWN.

I stopped in Parramatta on my way out to Cousin Flip's at the first mechanic place I could find. The obliging lad took off the inside of the door and, while not being able to repair the problem, has at least established that the motor in the power windows has jambed and needs replacing.

At this point, I would like to publically thank Trent A, who, from Brisbane, located me the name and phone number of an auto electrician up the road from Cousin Flip's, who I will be calling first thing in the morning. Thankyou so very very much, Trent!

So, tomorrow morning will entail a trip to the auto electrician, and then, hopefully, a not-too-long wait for repairs, before wafting into Sydney City for some cultural sight-seeing.

How the Sydney Opera House works

How the Sydney Opera House works
How the Sydney Opera House works

Day 3 in Review

on the Vampire
on the Vampire

Today was quite a big day. I had to drop Red off to get her driverside window issue rectified, and from there caught a bus and then a train into Sydney itself.

I think Brisbane has the edge on user-friendliness there. At least in Brisbane you can figure out which train line you need, and the bus timetables in the shelters tell you where the buses go!

After some adventuring on the trains (well, I figured out which line to get on!), I arrived in Circular Quay, from where I had access to the Harbour Bridge, the Rocks, and the Opera House. I have some nice photos of the Bridge and the Opera House, which will be uploaded later.

I had a bit of a stroll along the Rocks, but didn't really have the time to make much more than the most cursory of observations.

After a bit more mucking around trying to find my way into the CBD, I bought a ticket for the monorail, and took it to the Maritime Museum. There, I explored HMAS Vampire, HMAS Onslow, and HMB Endeavor. The James Craig was in dock also, but a much further walk around the docks, and I simply didn't have time to see it too, if I was going to get back and picck up Red in time.

Another adventure home on the train, then Cousin Fiip and his Lady took me out to dinner at a place called Mounties, I think. The Kilpatrick oysters were marvelous, and I thoroughly enjoyed the reef and beef.

I would like to thank Flip and Ang for having me for two nights - it was really nice to catch up and spend some quality time with my oldest and one of my dearest friends. live would be an awfully big adventure...!

-Peter Panning/Peter Pan from movie 'Hook'

© 2016 Fiona Findlay

A penny for your thoughts..

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    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 

      6 years ago from Virginia

      Awesome, I have enjoyed your road adventure vicariously thus far ( always wanted to use that word and hope I did it justice) and want to see even more!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Adventure, fun & telling about it -- encourages and inspires more -- blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      8 years ago from Central Florida

      What fun. I loved Tasmania, especially the big tree ferns and getting to hold a wombat. Tells us more about the trip.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I look forward to hearing all the little stories of your grand adventure. Your planning is much more detailed than previous trip, I hope that it runs to schedule.


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