Backpacking in Australia: Campervans

Australia is a large country with wide expanses. To get out and see the sights, a car is essential. A campervan doesn’t just get you around. It also provides you with accommodation and facilities to store and prepare food. Which means you can design your own unique and cheap holiday. Free and cheap campsites are plentiful and are often in idyllic locations.

Where can I hire a campervan?

Campervans can be hired in all of Australia’s Capital cities as well as some major centres such as Cairns and Alice Springs. An online search will provide you with the options available in your city of choice.

You can prebook online prior to your arrival if you choose. There are several companies that offer colourful vans aimed at the young, backpacker market. It’s worth looking around online and comparing prices to ensure you get a deal that suits you. In some cases, you can return the hire vehicle at a different location. This is ideal if you plan to travel across Australia – from Sydney or Brisbane to Perth for example. Or you may prefer to fly to a city and then take a self-drive tour before returning the van prior to your departure.

What facilities do campervans have?

Campervans come in a range of sizes and shapes. A basic van will sleep two adults, but larger models can sleep up to four, with two accommodated in a rooftop tent. Van hire includes bedding and towels as well as cooking and eating utensils, a sink and tea towels. Vans are equipped with a fridge, water tank and cooktop fueled by either gas or butane and in some cases, a microwave. Outdoor chairs and tables can be hired at an additional cost.

Most campervans do not have a toilet or shower facilities.

Driving considerations

In Australia, vehicles drive on the left-hand side of the road – a different experience for many travellers. Most vans have an automatic transmission which simplifies the tasks of driving. Valuable when you are unfamiliar with the roads. Vans are fueled by either petrol or diesel and have large capacity tanks. Some have Jerry cans for carrying additional fuel.

Visitors can drive in Australia using the drivers’ license for their own country. There may be additional charges for drivers under the age of 25 due to insurance costs.

How much will it cost?

Campervans come at a range of costs. The liability fee is probably the largest expense – this is a sum charged to your credit card and reimbursed when the vehicle is returned. Most companies offer a range of options for reducing the liability cost so you can be sure to find an agreement that suits you.

Where to stay?

Once you have chosen a campervan and collected it, the options for travel are unlimited. It’s worth installing a camping app on your phone – there are several available cheaply. Camping apps will provide information not only about caravan parks but also free and cheap campsites. Some campervan hire companies offer itineraries on their websites – a useful starting point for planning your campervan adventure. Here at Backpacker Tours Australia, we are huge fans of the WikiCamps app.

Caravan parks generally cost between $25 and $45 per night depending on the location. This includes access to 240-volt power, shower and toilet facilities and often a camp kitchen. You can also wash and dry your laundry in laundromat style facilities.

Free and cheap campsites are widely found – some are in national parks, or beside the beach or rivers and other waterways. Some camps charge a small fee – from $7 to $10 per night is common. Facilities are limited – a drop toilet and rubbish bins are common, but showers less so. Nevertheless, these camps are worth seeking out – not just because they will save you money, but because they offer you the opportunity to experience some of the most beautiful natural areas Australia has to offer.

If you are hesitant to go solo, or just prefer to travel in a group, Campervan tours are an ideal option. A campervan tour is designed to take you through the highlights of the area you want to visit. Travelling in a convoy is a great, stress-free way to explore Australia. You’ll visit some amazing places, have good company at stops and during the evenings when you set up camp together.