If you are planning a trip around Australia, the best way to enjoy it is to travel on wheels, either in a van, campervan, motorhome or car. The roads are in perfect condition and the scenery along the way is spectacular. In addition, the country is prepared for this type of travel with free and paid campsites throughout the territory. Keep in mind that Australia is a huge country and distances are quite long, so the best way to get around is by car. Every day our backyard changed and we woke up to spectacular views.
Buy or Rent Which is the better option?
If your trip is longer than 20 days and you are not in a hurry, the best option is to BUY a car or van and equip it for sleeping, or buy one that is already equipped. This way, you will save several dollars. In Australia, it is very easy to sell this type of vehicle, as road trips are very common and there are always backpackers looking for one.
Another way to save money is to make the famous "relocations". This is when a car rental company needs someone to move the vehicle from one point to another in a certain number of days. In this way, the company gives you the car for as little as 10 AUD per day or sometimes even free, and you only have to pay for the fuel. However, you must comply with the number of days that the company provides.
On this page, you can search for relocations: https://www.imoova.com/
If you don't have many days, the best option is to RENT. There are several sizes and companies available, it all depends on your budget and the number of people traveling. The best brands are Apollo, Britz, Maui and Travellers. We rented a motorhome from Maui through this page: https://www.motorhomerepublic.com/
Tip: If you are renting a car or campervan, be sure to check what is included in the rental, as many camping items may not be included in the price. If something is missing, it is best to buy it at Kmart, BIG W or Target, as these items are sold at very low prices and are found all over the country.
How to find a place to sleep or campsite?
Australia is full of campsites, both free and paid. There are several apps that you can download to your mobile phone that will help you find them:
Another search method we used was Google Maps. We put CAMPSITE in the search engine and it showed us all the ones around. We recommend you read the reviews or call before you go to see if it is still open and to see what amenities it has.
This is how we found a campsite full of kangaroos!
Free campsite vs paid campsite
One of the best ways to keep the budget down on an Australian roadtrip is to stay in free campsites. These usually have only toilets with no showers or sinks, although they may not even have toilets at all!
So if your idea is to stop at this type of campsite, it's best to be well prepared, with a fully equipped kitchen and a torch. Public toilets are very common in Australia and most of them have showers, as well as petrol stations.
Paid campsites have toilets, showers, a shared kitchen area, sometimes also laundry and more amenities.
When booking a place in a campsite you can choose between a site with electricity or without electricity and prices will vary accordingly. There are several things in the vans that require a power connection in order to work (microwave, air conditioning, 220v sockets), hence the sites with electricity.
A site with electricity costs around 30AUS per Van for 2 adults, if more per extra 10 to 15 AUD.
A site without electricity costs around 20 AUD per Van including 2 persons.
There are also campsites in the national parks, which you need to book on the website beforehand. These campsites are usually paid and usually do not have many amenities. You can check prices and make reservations on the national park websites of each state.
TIP: As soon as the day starts, try to plan your route and determine where you are going to sleep so that you can look it up on the internet and if it is a campsite, you can pay to book it, as the offices often close at dusk.
Grey water discharge and disposal point
This is not the most pleasant part of the roadtrip, but it is necessary to pay attention to it. If the vehicle you are travelling with has a toilet and a shower/sink, you need to be aware of the places where you can discharge these wastes.
Most toilets flush into a "box" - a septic tank - which must be cleaned every 2-3 days. This box must be emptied into special flushing points that are found in most campsites. Because of the chemicals used in this type of toilet, you must dispose of the waste in a designated flush point.
Water waste from the shower and washbasin in a motorhome / campervan is separate from toilet waste. It is called grey water and its disposal is different from that of the toilet. For this, you need a grey water disposal point. You can also find them at the campsites or via the apps we recommended at the beginning.
Clean water for the shower/sink also needs to be refilled every few days. Water refilling can be done at some paid campsites or service stations.
A litre of petrol in Australia costs around AUD 1.3 per litre, in areas further out of town the price can go up a little.
On the first day try to calculate how much fuel your vehicle consumes, so you can determine roughly how much fuel you need per km.
Along the route you will see signs informing you of the next petrol station, shop or hotel. Don't miss any of them. There are many stories - urban legend or not - of backpackers stranded in the middle of the outback with no fuel or mobile phone signal, 40 degrees in the shade and little food or water.
Once you are well prepared, drive and enjoy the road. Always do it during the day. Firstly because there are some incredible places that you won't be able to see at night and secondly because at night the animals are the masters of the road. It's amazing how many dead kangaroos you can see on the side of the road!
The best thing about travelling in a self-catering car is that you can save a lot of money as you don't need to eat in restaurants. Plus your dining room changes daily and always with spectacular views.
Australia is known for being an expensive destination, so one of the best ways to keep your budget in check is to cook and avoid eating out.
Try to buy supplies in larger cities or towns, as smaller places tend to have higher prices.
For a roadtrip it is best to always be connected so that in case of any eventuality you can ask for help and have a map available.
From experience we recommend TELSTRA, as they have coverage all over Australia. On the roadtrip we did around WA Charo was with Vodaphone and rarely had signal while Marcos with Telstra had signal all the time!