The car which took me across Australia in 2007
I had purchased my Suzuki Swift only a few months before I moved to Fremantle, before I had even considered moving west. At that point in my life I was working sales for a window shutters company whilst completing my architecture degree. I was driving all over Sydney most days meeting potential clients, and as much as I loved driving my 1964 EH Holden wagon – my dream car which had been my everyday drive for the past 4 years – it was not so great when wearing a suit in the middle of summer. Enter the Suzuki Swift, my first new car and a car which would soon be my means of crossing Australia.
When I began to consider moving west, a matter of 6 weeks before I left, I had planned on flying to Perth and having all of my ‘things’ trucked over, including my newly purchased Swift. The closer I got to the planned leaving date and the more I looked into the cost of these plans the less likely they seemed. Driving across Australia hadn’t even entered my thoughts at that point and when it eventually did it seemed so ridiculous, to drive 4000km alone, I simply laughed it off and kept on hunting around for cheaper options. Fortunately for me, given the adventure I was unknowingly about to experience, this hunt led me right back to that laughing matter. The options slowly became an option… which was to drive across Australia or not to go at all? To stay or to escape? To remain or to change? Well we all know what I chose!
Firstly driving my 1964 holden 4000km wasn’t something I was willing to do. I am sure it would have made the distance, but I couldn’t put my beloved car through it. Plus at that stage the plan was to return to Sydney 10 months later meaning the EH would need to do the trip twice. So the Swift it was. After all the Swift was far more fuel efficient, had air-conditioning, cruise control, leather interior and plenty of air bags. Next I bought myself a canvas cargo bag to sit on some roof racks, which I also purchased for the trip, to hold my gear whilst keeping it dry (seen in the photos below).
To keep costs to a minimum I stayed at caravan parks/camping grounds. On average they cost me $7 – $10/night. All I needed was a shower and a safe place to pitch my tent. Although beware of emus! Even the friendly looking ones found in ‘safe’ caravan parks. Myself and my Swift were attacked by one on the morning of day 2, at a caravan park in Nyngan.
I would have a destination to aim for each day by dusk. These destinations (camping grounds) were phoned or texted in from my Dad each morning as he had the benefits of internet access. Most days there were a couple of options and typically I would push myself to the furthest one.
Why by dusk? Because my little Swift would not have done too well against a kangaroo. During the day I saw plenty ‘sleeping’ (dead) on the edge of the road along with ‘alive’ goats, cattle and emus. Kangaroos grow big inland and as much as I wanted to get to Fremantle as quick as possible, I wasn’t willing to risk totalling my car and possibly me in the middle of no where. So, ironically here I am falling for my country, but at the same time being attacked by an emu – one of the animals on the Australian Coat of Arms – one morning and the rest of the time scared of being killed by the other… a kangaroo.
I would stop for lunch in whatever town I passed through closest to midday. Once I reached that days destination I would put up my tent, un-roll my sleeping bag and have a shower before I went to the local pub for dinner. Steak, chips and salad with pepper sauce each night! Yum! I thought why not try to find Australia’s best pepper sauce, best steak and best chips while I had the chance? I’ll let you know my results in another blog post soon. After dinner I would cruise on back to my tent, grab my laptop, camera and chargers and search around the camp grounds for a room with a power point. Most nights this was the laundry. While my things were recharging and my photos where downloading I would call friends to update them on my adventure, before heading back to get some well needed rest… ready to hit the road again the next morning.
Overall I think it cost me between $400 – $500 including Petrol to get from Penrith to Fremantle compared to about $1500 if I was to fly and truck my gear over.
The first photo below is of my Swift, fully loaded and ready to go, out the front of my parents house in Penrith. This was taken the morning of the day I left, Monday the 16th of April 2007. I arrived in Fremantle 4.5 days, 3960km and 46 hours of driving later on Friday the 20th April 2007… thanks to my Swift.
I kept my Swift until August 2008 at which point I traded it in for a new four door Jeep Wrangler… my first 4WD and a car far better suited to my new WA lifestyle. I will post a blog about my Wrangler soon.