When Australian’s talk about the “big lap” they mean the idea of circumnavigating Australia, generally on Highway 1. It’s an awesome adventure, and one that can be undertaken by a conventional vehicle as you don’t have to go off road. Its just if you have a 4WD you will have a lot more options! Just remember its over 30,000km and you will need at least 6 months and preferably a year to make it comfortably!
The Big Lap Route
Can start anywhere and go in either clockwise or anti-clockwise (check the weather prior make a final decision) but assuming you are in Sydney and traveling clockwise.
Sydney, Princess Highway south along the coast to Melbourne, following the coast, along the famous Great Ocean Road and then north to Adelaide. Follow Highway 1 west all the way to Perth via Port Augusta, Ceduna, Nullabor Plain and Esperance, bringing you up the Western Australia coast to Perth. Heading north its a long way to the Coral Coast and Broome. The sealed road then cuts inland and northeast to the Northern Territory and east to Katherine. Following the tarmac further east involves heading south to the prosaically named Three Ways roadhouse and then all the way east via Mt Isa to eventually see the sea again at Cairns. Now its all the way south to Sydney via the Great Barrier reef and some of the world’s most famous beachse, including the Gold Coast.
Advantages of the Big Lap route
Flexible – can start anywhere!
You’re see as much of the coast as is easy to do and take in all the major cities of Australia, the world famous Great Barrier Reef, wonderful, beaches, spectacular rainforest and other National Parks, remote outback towns and the true never-never country.
Disadvantages of the Big Lap route
You miss out a couple of big international destinations: Alice Springs, West Macdonalds, Kings Canyon and Uluru (Ayers Rock) are nowhere near the coast. Adelaide is the closest major town point at 1290km (800 miles) from Uluru.
You also need to dogleg north from Katherine to hit Darwin and the top end attractions of Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks – but you can loop through these 2 minimising the amount of backtracking.
Its a long way – if you have less than a year to complete it – consider only tackling a portion of the whole trip.
Advantages of a 4WD on the Big Lap
Add Cape York by heading north from Cairns
Take the dirt road of the Gulf Savannah from Normanton through to Mataranka.
Explore the Kimberleys via the Gibb River Road.