Who would have thought that we would end up in Australia! We certainly didn’t. Back in Switzerland, it did cross our minds to visit Australia, but after we checked the prices for campervans, hostels, and car rentals, it soon became clear that we weren’t keen on spending that much money on one country. But plans change. Especially when they are not set at all. On a few rainy days on the Banda Islands, we were thinking about where to go next and checking a few options online. Surprisingly, we found campervan rentals on offer. Turned out that they were affordable after all! With rather cheap flights from Bali to Australia, the decision quickly stood: We were going to travel Australia!
Our plan for the two months was to drive from Sydney to Melbourne, from there to Adelaide and then up to Uluru and Alice Springs. As we couldn’t quite tell how much time we would need for all that, we left it open whether we than would head east to Townsville and up to the Daintree forest or straight up to Kathrine and finally Darwin. Turned out that the two months were enough time to do all of it. Tough, people still were right warning us about the distances: We did A LOT of driving. In fact, it was somewhat over 14 000 km!
As you can imagine, we saw and experienced a lot during those two months. That is why we decided to split our articles about Australia into little pieces, posting one every remaining day of our trip. For us, a really big experience was living in a campervan. We are kind of surprised how easy it was though. Even if our van was rather small, it didn’t feel that way and we enjoyed it a lot to have our home on wheels with us all the time. Still, there are a few things we learned about renting a Campervan in Australia and would like to share that with anyone who is interested in doing the same. Not interested in Campervans? Wait for the next posts about all the destinations we visited in Australia!
Campervan rental and other things to know
As I already mentioned, we got a pretty good deal on the campervan. Apparently, this is not even rare, if you are flexible enough on where to visit. For this time of the season, the offers were all for a campervan pick up somewhere in the south and a drop off in the north and only on for the period between April and May. This makes perfect sense considering that the southern states were just starting off-season at that time of year and the northern parts of Australia start their high-season in May. I reckon we did the car rental company a favor in driving their car up to Darwin, so that they have it available for high season. Of course, there are heaps of different offers for campervan rentals. We went with Britz and had a great experience so far. When we went to pick up our van, it took them a while to get everything ready and they weren’t that well organized, but eventually we got there. And off we went! First of course we had to do some or better say lots of shopping. The Britz offices do have a leftover shelf where people can leave everything that’s left from their journey when they drop off their car. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much on that shelf when we were there. We didn’t really bother though, as we were so looking forward to going grocery shopping again! The first shopping mall we stopped at was somewhere in the suburbs of Sydney and had an Aldi and Coles store. So, we compared prices of the two before we started buying the basics. We found out that Aldi is over all a little cheaper. Its selection is somewhat smaller but still quite big. A tip for food storage: get zip bags to store all kinds of leftover foods in your fridge. As fridge space is very limited, this allows you to fit in more. Two other essentials before you start the trip are the Campermate App and Fuel App. Campermate tells you where camping spot are located and roughly how much they will cost. The Fuel app shows you where the gas stations are and how much fuel costs at the respective station. Here in Australia fuel prices vary a lot from one station to the other. They can even be next to each other and one can still charge 10 cents more per liter. Both apps are user-generated, so its reliability always depends on how long ago the last entry was done. But in general, both of these apps were incredibly helpful. The great thing about being on the road with a Campervan is that you have your home always with you. There is no need to pack anything and this gives a great deal of flexibility. In an expensive country like Australia you get to save up quite a lot of money when staying on the free campsites. Of course, you will need a powered site every now and then to charge up the batteries (in our small campervan manly used for the fridge). And depending on where you are, there aren’t a lot of free campsites available. On average, we stayed about every third night on a paid campsite and didn’t pay extra for the other nights. Another good way of saving up some money is to avoid renting the add-ons like chairs or an awning. We were lucky and found two chairs and a table laying around on the sidewalk, so we took them. If you are not that lucky, just go and buy chairs and a table at K-Mart or Big W. You’ll end up with about half the rental price (if staying for a longer period of time). What you don’t need on the other hand is an awning. We thought that this could be our live safer on the hot and sunny Australian continent. Well, the first time we even bothered setting it up, was on our second last week in Australia. The problem is, that this awning is only helpful if the sun is straight above you. Usually we were out exploring or driving during that time of the day. Earlier or later in the day the awning is of no use as the sun will shine beneath it and also because you’ve got enough shade of the van anyway. Also, you don’t need to rent an extra GPS, as it is in the van anyways (just without Wifi). For some internet, you are better off getting your own SIM card and mobile data than buying the one that Britz offers. Keep in mind though, that there is very limited phone connection if you are leaving the highly populated east coast. All of the bigger cities and even most of the small towns get some reception. Apart from that, there is not much else to know. Just be aware to drive on the wrong side of the street.