From the Top End to the Center, across the Nullarbor and down the Sunshine Coast, Australia is made for a road trip. Even tiny Tasmania (roughly the same size as Scotland) is scarred by curious highways and meandering paths.
Saying goodbye to Oz won’t be easy, with so many destinations left to visit. As my partner and I relocate to New Zealand, too many places cling to the top of our Must-See list. Queensland and Broome, the Blue Mountains and Torres Strait. Next time, we’ll rack up the odometer. Next time, we’ll potter north until we break down…
But for now, I’ll placate myself through songs. For if there’s one thing every road trip needs, it’s a proper travel playlist. And an exploding Aussie music scene means the only thing more vast than the cross-country kilometers are the local musicians who sing about them.
Wolfmother – Vagabond
This is your send-off song, the lyrics that will replay in your quiet moments and ornament the front page of your travel journal. “Cause I’ll tell you everything about living free.”
Empire of the Sun – Walking On A Dream
“We are always running for the thrill of it, thrill of it. Never looking down I’m just in awe of what’s in front of me.” Bowie-esque costumes and oriental backdrops mingle present and future in an ode to movement. Whether it’s physical or mental, the dream keeps you pushing forward.
Miami Horror – Holidays
Traveling with a partner tests relationships unlike anything else; but, with an upbeat hint from Miami Horror, may your road trip wash warmth and laughter over whomever you’re with.
Hungary Kids of Hungary – The Vacationer
With pop melodies similar to Vampire Weekend, this Aussie band warns you not to let it go to far. “You left your shoes at my front door. Said you’d be back but I’ve heard it before.” Then again, isn’t that the solace you seek on a vacation? Going past the point of familiarity?
New Navy – Zimbabwe
The mantra for anyone who’s fleeing a desk job or corporate dungeon; “You need a holiday away from here.” Not every traveler is a runaway, but every trip is pointed toward some paradise, an improvement on the scenes you leave behind.
Mia Dyson – When The Moment Comes
Sometimes, the best decisions are spur of the moment: a stop here, a stay there, a change of direction. “Don’t look back, don’t look down… you will know what to do when the moment comes.” Rule #1 of a road trip: Trust your gut and go!
Gypsy & The Cat – Time To Wander
Is there a season for leaving, a necessary time to go? Like migratory birds, are we born to relocate? “When it’s time to walk a line I’ll find a destiny . . . Goodbye now don’t wave to me.” This is an assurance for anyone who’s feeling philosophical about the trip.
Cut Copy – Where I’m Going
Sounding far more British Invasion + synthesizer than in their previous hits, Cut Copy creates a cheerful chorus that has all the potential of running through your heads for hours. Which is handy, because that’s often the smallest duration of time between roadhouses and pit stops in the Outback. 6 hours and counting . . .
Sally Seltmann – Catch of The Day
It’s nearly impossible to drive through Oz and miss the coastline. Thus so many songs contain references to the ocean. You can take Seltmann’s catch literally and stop for some Adelaide oysters; or, you can use it as a metaphor for finding the destination. Better yet, letting it find you . . . “Down the road or around the bend, and the rest is history.”
Deja – Holiday
“I’m finding more that where I turn is right. And that the past won’t ever mess with that.” It’s ok to be a bit whimsical or sentimental during the drive. Late afternoon, when the sun sets over wide landscapes and casts pastel shades on the Eucalyptus trees, is an ideal time to relax and reflect on the day’s adventures.
Van She – Jamaica
Things Jamaica and Australia have in common: fresh seafood, unique accents, beach parties and a chilled-out, island attitude.
Birds of Tokyo – Lanterns
Along with unusual mammals and martian-esque rock formations, you discover a new sense of identity on the road. While a camera will immortalize the first koala sighting, this song will define that exploration of self. “Without question, without doubt, In the light that we have found, it is finally clear . . .”
San Cisco – Rocket Ship
What do we pack for a trip away from home? A reminder of where we come from? “I fold a piece of paper and put it in my pocket, Cause I’m about to board the world’s first rocket.” Here’s hoping the wildness and rural characters influence your opinions of Oz, without completely changing the person you were when we landed.
Lisa Mitchell – Spiritus
Save this one for those moments when you pull away from a person or place that’s inexplicably touched you. Save it for a proper, awe-inspiring goodbye. Mitchell captures everything: the regret and sadness, mixed with comfort and gratitude, that surrounds each traveler’s “See you later.”
Dead Letter Chorus – Run Wild
Of course, there will be road bumps, challenges, arguments and annoyances. As Robert Louis Stevenson once said, the journey is more important than the destination. Even when it gets messy, keep your eyes on the horizon. “Experience is a truth, it will set us free. But for now, let’s run wild . . . ”
Jinja Safari – Source of The Nile
And so to the end – not of your travels, definitely not; but, to the end of the music that will soundtrack your way. Maybe, through this road trip, you’ve returned to the source of your own fears, worries or contentment. Maybe you’ve merely had one hell of a weekend.
Now, chuck a few stubbies in the esky (throw a few bottles in the cooler), grab a few snags (stock up on sausages) and give a wave to the wallabies for me: nothing’s stopping you from an endless highway- except, of course, the sea.With African drums and Jinja’s echoing lyrics, don’t head home until you’re ready.
Have a few more liters in your petrol tank? Continue traveling with this classic rock Australian playlist!