It's about 4000km from Darwin to Perth, then add our visit to Margaret River plus diversions en route and we clocked about 5000km.
That's like driving from Cape Reinga to Wellington five times. But here's the thing: Aussie's as flat as the first pancake you cook. You know the one? It's edible, but has the odd dimple and pimple.
In the lucky country these things are invariably national parks with gorges, clear rock pools, gorgeous waterfalls and quirky rock formations.
As for the rest, well, clocking up miles in our campervans was a cinch. Set the cruise control at 100km and drive. After about 30km you might turn a corner and head along another arrow-straight 30km – or not.
Locals drive distances daily that we Kiwis would baulk at, thanks to those straight roads and because they've got no choice.
My main concerns ahead of our six-week jaunt were the daunting distances and food. Would there be fresh veg in remote areas? The food was great and, anyway, the things you worry about never happen. On the tourist trail every decent-sized town had a Coles with fresh everything.
If we had a long day – our record was 600-plus km – we'd leave near daybreak and be at our destination by mid afternoon. We never did two long days straight.
We didn't free camp as much as we expected because it was hellfire and brimstone hot. That night without air conditioning. Ughhh!
Campervans have about nil natural air circulation and I didn't buy the farmer's idea of leaving the door open. What, so a curious snake could join us?
The beginning threw learning curves about food, accommodation, activities. It was essential to pre-book powered sites in camping grounds; prices ranged from about $A30 to $50.
Our campervan had a built-in barbecue so we cooked and ate outside till just before Perth when the temperature dipped. Cafes got our custom and sometimes we ate such mighty lunches on day trips – to the Bungle Bungles and a diamond mine, horizontal falls, a cattle station where a French chef served us on a long table on a shady lawn - dinner was an egg or nothing.
It was dark by sevenish so we turned in early and churned through books we'd bought along the way, only changing our habits in Perth where we dined out and watched Manchester United make toast of Perth Glory at Optus Stadium. Last weekend the Wallabies repeated the trick against another team.
We learned how to ask the right questions at tourist information centres. Some staff wanted to discuss only local activities when we needed to book and plan ahead. Others would hand over brochures, but some were gold. They'd secretly recommend one camp ground ahead of another (thank you!) and encourage us to book popular activities so we didn't miss out. That sort of info made a real difference.
Now back home, we are clear that had we not invested in some big ticket activities our holiday would have been all about driving on straight roads amid gum trees and termite mounds by the million. The cost of the flights we took was eye watering, but they were among the standout experiences.
And you know how the top half of a gas gauge descends slowly and the bottom half plummets. It's a real thing. You don't want the gas light beaming in the middle of the Aussie outback.
Helpful maps told us which roadhouses sold diesel plus the location of rest areas and which were set up for overnight stays or lunch stops with rubbish bins and toilets. The big box of water we bought at Darwin wasn't necessary because most campgrounds provided drinking water. They also had dump stations.
Most vehicles we met were caravans and campers, so services for the freaky phenomenon called 'grey nomads' were essential.
We met plenty of road trains – massive trucks with up to three trailers. They were less intimidating than expected, but you wouldn't want to meet them at night. But we didn't drive then, or at dawn or dusk. That's when animals roam and chances of an encounter are high. A road train wouldn't feel the impact, but a campervan would.
We set off from Darwin with a vague idea of our route with guidance from travel company websites and a friend's diary. We stayed one, two or three nights at camps depending on what each locality offered and somehow rolled into Perth on due date – good and ready for a real bed but with fond memories of the simple life on the road that have become even fonder now we're back in real life and winter weather.