Driving in Western Australia
On the roads of Western Australia
The most obvious thing first: Australia has left-hand traffic. This takes some getting used to at the beginning (if you are not used to it), but then there are rarely situations in which you fall back into old patterns (dodging to the left on a narrow road feels wrong, and probably some turning manoeuvre on a accidentally goes right to left…). But when everyone else is driving on the left-hand side, you do it yourself without thinking about it.
Good Information about driving in Western Australia has been compiled by the Road Safety Commission.
Consider how long distances are
We have been to other parts of Australia with a motorhome twice (before the Quokkamobil), and have made one experience above all: The distances that have to be covered must not be underestimated under any circumstances.
If you are used to driving long distances in one day (if you are from Europe, above all from Germany), you will have to accustom itself. From Zurich to Berlin (approx. 850km) in one day by car? Strenuous perhaps, but no problem. From Perth to Carnarvon (approx. 890 km)? With a normal car rather than with the camper, but even then: Not quite. Also note that traffic jams are not the biggest obstacle, it’s the long, tiring routes. Plus, the speed limit is usually 110 km/h.
Driving with a motorhome
The roads are well maintained (the 4WD roads are not feasible with the Quokkamobil anyway), but they are mostly single-lane. On the coast the wind tends to be quite strong, so it’s very exhausting to drive longer distances with higher speed. We often travelled at a maximum speed of 80-90 km/h.
But at least you don’t have to worry about the Road Trains – they are at least as fast as you, and overtaking them isn’t a possibility anyway.
The state of the roads
The main roads are in good condition, no problem at all, even with the motorhome. You have to be careful with small roads, often leading to the campgrounds in national parks. These are usually not tarmac, and it’s a good idea to check the comments in the WikiCamp app to see what the road conditions are like.
And even then you should keep in mind that for Australians the bar is higher than for tourists in regards to what “impassable” means… they are usually on the road with 4WD, and that makes everything a bit easier. Comments like “you might have to let your tires down” are clear signs that you can’t get through with a 2WD. With the 4WD you can let air out of the tires to make it easier to drive on rough or sandy surfaces. This is not possible with a motorhome, and would certainly not be advisable.
We all know these yellow warning signs. And they are very relevant, although in Western Australia they was much less roadkill on the side of the roads than we have seen in the south of Australia or in the outback.
But an accident with an emu (up to 1.80m tall and 40kg) or a kangaroo (smaller, but also up to 30kg) can be quite dangerous. Kangaroos have a similar strategy to rabbits, they try to be unpredictable when fleeing. It is possible that they suddenly make a 180° turn and run back onto the road if you already had the feeling that you had passed them safely.
The animals are particularly active in the early morning and in the evening hours, and here it is worthwhile to drive very carefully. Night drives are generally not recommended, and we have always avoided them.