Australia is at the absolute core of Europeans gap year travels, as well being snorkelling amongst retirees. Given the size of the country, there is so much to explore. Domestic flights miss out on the outback and famous sites between the cities, and so campervans have become a popular choice.
There are a few options here to choose from. Many travellers on a budget who aren’t looking for comfort, or to hang about inside their vehicle of choice, can opt for a stationwagon. These are usually just long cars in which you fold a few seats down and place a mattress. These are much cheaper to run than campervans, they are easier to park (they don’t violate any height restrictions) and they are perfect for people who are looking to also stay in hostels/hotels some nights, mixing the frugality of the vehicle with the facilities of the hostel. These cost around $40 a day to rent, or they can be purchased second-hand for around $4,000.
Vans can be a fun option, and are almost always associated with the purchasing of the vehicle and renovating. This is because the vans are often ex-commercial courier vans for example, that have been converted. If a purpose built one is found, it could be purchased for around $6,000 or rented for the same price as a stationwagon. A cheaper van could also be published, and around $2,000 spent making it liveable (this can vary widely depending on electrics, plumbing and insulation).
A purpose-build classic caravan which are intended for road-living for long periods are perhaps the more traditional vehicle of choice. These are for travellers who want the facilities of a stove and sink, but do not want to spend the time converting a van themselves. You will pay a slight premium as a result, with rent costs of around $50 per day, or purchasing one for over $10,000 (even second hand).
Buy or Rent?
Buying is a great option if you have the cash, but it may only be worth it if you’re travelling for over half a year.
If we take a 3 month trip for example, renting will usually give you 24/7 roadside assistance, a toll free service number and access to free camping grounds. The vehicle will already be filled with the living essentials, particularly if you pick the campervan. You know the stove will work, it will be in good running order and it will be many things off your mind, such as camping grounds. The major cost will then be the living costs of the campervan, such as filling up the water tanks, charging batteries, gas and general living costs.
It may come down to how much money you have, and how long you’re travelling for. If you’re okay with the added responsibility of maintenance and have enough savings, then purchasing a second-hand campervan outright will likely be cheaper in the long run. This way, upon selling, usually you will not lose too much value in depreciation, especially if it was already second-hand.
The buying option also gives you more freedom. You will be less worried about driving through dodgy tracks that may scratch the vehicle, you may want to add solar panels or rip out a fixture and fitting.
Parking in the streets with a caravan is generally considered to be illegal when sleeping the night. Many towns though will promote the idea of caravan tourism, and provide special places for them to park.
Generally, you are best paying $35 a night for a caravan park that will offer not only great facilities, but a place to meet other travellers and even offer communal kitchens and living areas.
Top 5 places to visit in the campervan
Tasmania: Rural and natural landscapes are in abundance of historic sites and beaches that feel like they’ve been kept a secret. There is also a new museum (MONA) of old and new art which is definitely worth a visit.
Uluru: Here, you will be exploring the true outback of Australia which is home to Ayers Rock. Perhaps discretion is advised with this one, it is in the middle of nowhere! This can be part of the attraction though, and can provide a primal experience to your campervan travels.
The Great Barrier Reef: This is a great visit for those who love the sea – everything is on offer here from snorkeling and scuba diving to boat trips. There is an abundance of exotic sea life, and the Great Barrier Reef itself is so large it can be seen from space!
Sydney Opera House: A visit to Australia would be strange without a visit to Sydney. Sydney can be a great hub of other travellers to meet each other, and the opera house itself is a stunning feat of architecture.
The Blue Mountains: The incredible Blue Mountains can be viewed as a slight detour from Sydney. It has everything from astonishing natural landscapes to horse riding, day spas and ecotourism gardens.