Is there anyway to travel Australia other than in a campervan?
It was our dream when we arrived in Australia to get a campervan and after 8 months in the country that’s exactly what we decided to do! Let me tell you there’s positives and negatives of living out of a campervan.
Unfortunately due to our first van being written off (for no fault of our own) we’ve had two campervans both of which have been very similar, one first a Mazda E2000 and our 2nd a Ford Econovan!
One thing I’d say when buying a camper – the bigger the better! It may cost a little more for a pop top or a Toyota Hiace but think about how long you’re going to be living in this van? Are you just going to use it for short trips or like us live and work out of it instead of rent accommodation! The bigger the van the more comfortable you’re going to be. Having known what I knew now when I bought our camper I may have splashed out a little more and got a bigger van.
Buying our first van in August in Victoria our first concern was not air conditioning but heating! With no insulation in our vans the inside sucks in the heat or should I say cold. In August let me tell you it was freezing and I was wearing two jumpers to bed as well as a duvet and blanket but January in Queensland was a different story! As soon as the sun rises in the morning the van becomes a heat box, we’ve got used to sleeping with the boot and doors open all night long – I just hope we don’t get joined by any creatures one night!
Storage is another big factor, minimalism is best in terms of luggage. Our first van had great storage under the bed and the bed was pretty high so you could fit deep boxes underneath however our second van is partitioned into three areas in which you have to lift the hole bed up to get under. I’m sure you can image how annoying this is when you need to get something from underneath. Living in a small confined space and sparing it you learn to how to live of the basics, which of course including an inflatable thong and boogie board.
There are heaps of great campsites in Australia and I’d advise to use them! Free camping can have big fines, up to $2,500 in Queenland. We’ve only free camped once in Sydney right next to a railway line and I’ll leave the toilet to your imagination. It’s safe to say I didn’t sleep well at all that night, thinking someone might be knocking on the door anytime to tell us to move on! Wikicamps is a great app, $7.99 or CamperMates which is free for recommending campsites, caravan parks & budget hostels all over Australia. We have used this app with no end on our travels in Australia and will continue to do so. We also travel with our own camp stove and gas canister but we’ve noticed that most campsites in Australia have great camp kitchens with hobs, hot plates, BBQs and most also have microwaves, kettles and toasters so we hardly use our stove – unless the kitchens really busy then it comes in handy.
An open mind and a good sense of humour is always good for living out of a campervan, we have had many moments where we have just had enough (and checked into a motel for the night). Sharing a confided space with your significant other can put a strain on any relationship but you’ve got to laugh a the small things. Just like when I left the headlights on one night and arrived to drive my parents to the airport the next morning and the battery was as flat as a pancake, we had to call out someone costing $70. Or when 3 days later in the pouring rain Conor accidentally locked the keys in plain view in the van and we had to call out roadside assistance for a 2nd time costing $200. It might not have been so funny at the time but we have to laugh now!
Buying a campervan is an investment which can save you money in the long run. Running low on cash we haven’t had to folk out for accommodation as we’ve been able to sleep in our campervan and travel places as we’ve got our transport as well. We’ve met friends travelling the coast on public transport that have wanted to stay places longer and had to phone up Greyhound and hostels to rearrange there accommodation and transport but we don’t have to worry about. We also get to visit amazing secluded and secret places which you otherwise might not be able to visit on the Greyhound bus.
Although there’s tons of great things about living out of a campervan there also comes the negatives. The security – as we found out with our first van the security is not topnotch or central locking. Our old van was well old, 2001 model and didn’t have the best locking system and unfortunately we were subject to a break in whilst completing our farm work which actually lead to the van being written off. And lets be honest two people living in a campervan is confided quarters and that other person can really get on your nerves sometimes (love you Conor)! Unless you have a huge Maui or Winnebago you ain’t going to get a toilet or shower in your camper which can sometimes lead to a stinky van.