A clockwise circuit of the Australian mainland over a year rewards those who undertake it with a unique perspective on their own country.

Story By Terri Cowley

It’s the dream of many an Australian family – to travel around this big country in its entirety; to stop and experience any place, without a schedule hurrying you to the next. A journey beginning on the east coast over the following 12 months covering approximately 50,000 kilometres delivers as much natural diversity as a trip to every country in Europe and covers considerably more ground. Travelling with young children presents its own challenges, such as on-the-road schooling, but rewards with the imparting of a different kind of education about geography, history, even art.
Setting out from Sydney in the dying days of 2012, a blistering heat scalds the tyres of the LandCruiser while it pulls a 7.5-metre caravan. New South Wales and Victoria are merely conduits on this journey, having been the subject of many previous travels and living. The lure of the west looms large.
Travel is in a clockwise direction, with time in Dubbo, NSW, to enjoy Western Plains Zoo. Victorian mother Dianne McDonald, who works for the YMCA, is feeling the heat. “It is searing, so we started early, and we’re driving around in our car to make the most of air-conditioned respites,” she says. “The kids’ favorites, and probably mine, too, are the giant Galapagos tortoises. They seem so other worldly and like a link from some distant exotic past.” Next stop is West Wyalong via the CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope (‘The Dish’) and the old goldmining town of Peak Hill.
Mildura, Vic, is 44 degrees Celsius – especially unpleasant when you’re living in a small, metal box – making the beleaguered Murray River an oasis. The city copes with the heatwave by packing out air-conditioned restaurants and gorging on Italian gelatos.

This Story is from Issue #95

Outback Magazine: June/July 2014