Since arriving in Australia Conor and I really wanted to get a camper van and it is without a doubt the best way to travel Australia! There are heaps of tours and organised trips you can join to travel Australia but it doesn’t give you the same freedom as driving yourself!
When deciding we were going to buy a camper we researched for hours and hours, looking at which vans were the most economical, cheapest, biggest with the best engines. There are lots of helpful tips online from fellow travellers like myself recommending vans. We were pretty overwhelmed by all the information but had lots of help from friends too. We started searching online in July, which is winter here in Australia so we didn’t know whether there’d be a lot for sale but there was!
There are tons of places to find camper vans online, but before we started our search we set our budget. It’s important to set your budget when looking for vans otherwise you can get carried away, we also made sure we had some extra cash to buy some bits and pieces to make it our own. Our search started on Traveller Autobarn , this is a good website which rents and sells campers but we realised there vehicles were pretty overpriced compared to buying privately, we also checked out Facebook groups in Melbourne where we found a few vans but we found the best bet to be Gumtree. You can grab some great deals especially if backpackers are in a rush and leaving the country.
We weren’t in any rush to buy a van so took our time and looked at 3 or 4 before we found our baby. We always went to the viewing with a checklist, it’s so important to ensure your camper is in good nick before buying otherwise you could be left with a dodgy camper and a lot of bills to fork out. Here’s our checklist
- Petrol or Diesel
- 2WD or 4WD
Neither Conor or I know much about cars but we research what to look for before viewing, some vans we viewed had way too many kilometres so we crossed it straight off our list. Another van had really bad rust underneath that was another big no. We looked at the Toyota Hiace and Kia Pregio but neither had the spec we wanted.
Buying & upfront costs
We found our camper on Gumtree, a 2001 Mazda E2000 with 250,000 km which seems like a lot but you’ve got to remember Australia’s a big country so we arranged a viewing in St Kilda, Melbourne. Before viewing we had messaged the seller with some important questions, the camper was advertised at $5,000 negotiable. We viewed the camper in daytime to get a good look inside and out, the cosmetics weren’t perfect but we knew once we’d given it a clean and put our stamp on it, it would be our own. We took the camper for a test drive and the engine ran perfectly. Buying a car or camper in Australia isn’t quite as easy as at home, we didn’t realised there was much to do. Cars in Australia don’t have a yearly MOT and service like at home, no they only get roadworthy checked when the car is getting sold. Each state is different in Australia but in Victoria the camper had to have a RWC or Roadworthy Certificate which some people were selling without this, meaning you would have to fork out to get it checked which could cost a small fortune. Luckily our camper came with a RWC and Rego for the next 11 months. A Rego is a vehicle registration which I guess is like car tax at home, this can be done every 3, 6 or 12 months. Once we’d knocked a little off the price, bringing it down to $4,750 we agreed on the sale. As it was Friday afternoon we had to rush to VicRoads as they closed at 4.30pm, where we had to transfer the vehicle registration from the sellers name to mine. Another upfront cost we didn’t realised but we had to pay $147.50 to change names as well as present the RWC, my identification and proof of living in Victoria from a bank statement.
Insurance & Breakdown cover
After exchanging the money, the camper van was ours, we were so pleased with our purchase! Unlike England insurance isn’t essential in Australia however the first thing we did was buy insurance, we thought it would be best to cover the van as well as all our belonging in the camper whilst travelling Australia and it only cost $55 a month through Bingle. It is also really important to get breakdown cover, I’d hate to get stuck in the middle of nowhere with no idea what to do.