Thursday, December 29, 2011

Road Trip to Coral Coast, Western Australia Part 1 Planning

Went on a 3 weeks road trip along Coral Coast, Western Australia in June this year. The last time we did a road trip in Australia was when A was 15 months, from Adelaide to Melbourne. She is now 4 years old. We learnt a lot from that trip so we are more ready for another road trip, this time, with 2 kids in tow. As it was a long road trip, we spent almost 8 months researching and making sure everything was in place before we flew.

Coral Coast stretches from Perth up north, pass Jurien Bay, Geraldton, Kalbarri, Monkey Mia, Carnarvon, Coral Bay and finally Exmouth. The first thing we looked up is the climate. Children are very sensitive to climate changes so we wanted to make sure we have chosen the right place. The average temperature in Exmouth in summer is around 38 degrees Celsius while it is at a cool 25 degrees Celsius in winter. Winter it shall be then. We started looking out for cheap airfares to Australia for the period of June. When Singapore Airline had their sales, we jumped on the wagon even though it was a good 10 months before our departure.

We tried asking friends who have been to Australia before about Coral Coast and Exmouth but it turned out that they have not ventured into this stretch before. We did not have any first hand account to rely on so we did a lot of research online. We also went to the NATAS fair to speak to the Australian Tourism Board. Of course, we came back with many informative booklets and that helped us in our planning greatly. You can also download brochures from Western Australia website. The whole stretch of Coral Coast is very long, which means we would need a lot of time on the road. We finally decided on the leap frog travelling method. Leap frogging on road trip means stopping at alternate stops on your way up to the final destination and stopping at the ones you didn't, on the way down. In this way, you can cover more places without spending too many hours on the road. For example, we went from Perth to Greenough (near Geraldton), to Denham and Monkey Mia, and our final stop, Exmouth. On our way down, we went to Carnarvon, Kalbarri, Geraldton, Jurien Bay and finally Perth.

Next, comes the transport. We decided on a motorhome because we needed to have access to water and toilet whenever the girls need to. The long hours on the road between each destination makes it more justifiable to get a motorhome than to get a car. With a motorhome, we can stop anywhere we want and whenever we need to, and have everything we need. This would save us a lot of time eventually. We have no prior experience so it would be fun. We emailed a few motorhomes rental companies in Australia, asking for quotes and of course, a few burning questions. Afterall, we are green when it comes to motorhoming. All of them took a few days or a week to reply, with only the quotes, except one - Trevor and Jane replied our email promptly and was generous in their answers to our concerns. They shared a lot of tips and gave several suggestions on how to better enjoy our time in Australia. They did not sound pushy and even though I wasn't sure of the motorhome I have selected (I asked for a few different quotes for different vehicles), they were very patient throughout. They even arranged for our motorhome to be sent to the caravan park directly so we would not need to rush should our plane was delayed (I am so glad we listened to them because our flight was delayed for 1 and a half hour!) They did up all the paperwork necessary for the transfer of motorhome to the caravan park (the usual practice is for the customers to pick it up from the motorhome company directly) and even called us from Queensland (where they stayed) to ensure that we had gotten all the paperwork over the email. On top of that, they emailed us after our trip to ask how it was. I am absolutely in love with their service. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to hire motorhome, campervans and 4WD.

Packing was done a good 3 weeks in advance. I can't deal with last minute packing, not when I need to pack for 2 different climate and for 2 kids. As we are going in winter, Perth would be about 9 degrees Celsius while Exmouth would be a cool 25 degrees Celsius. Medication for the long trip also needs to be provided for. Appointment was made with the girls' pediatrician to make sure they are in good health for the trip. Powered sites for the motorhomes also have to be reserved. In fact, I started emailing the various caravan parks 6 months prior to departure. Quotes got to be compared, reservations got to be made early especially since it is the whale shark season in June. All the email correspondending took me 2 months to complete. Lots of logistics...but when the day finally came for us to take flight, we were excited and ready.

Late afternoon sun at Exmouth, Western Australia

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