There’s no better way to experience Down Under than by van or RV.
Taking a road trip from capital city to regional town – or “out the back of Bourke” as the locals say – can be a rewarding and breathtaking experience.
Stopping at Byron Bay, traversing the Daintree, or setting up camp at Wilson’s Promontory – there’s no shortage of activities and destinations you can visit.
Here’s how to prepare for your Australian road trip so you aren’t caught short in more ways than one.
Set a realistic itinerary
Australia isn’t called the Great Southern Land without good reason.
Australia is HUGE. 7.7 million km2 huge – and even grey nomads who take a year or two off struggle to fit everything into their “big lap” of Australia – not to mention anything of the interior.
Sometimes, sticking to one or two states or certain regions (such as the Mid North Coast, ranging from South East Queensland to Mid New South Wales) can yield a better, more in-depth trip than trying to fit absolutely everything in.
Buy or rent? Van or motorhome?
When you come to Australia, you need to decide if you want to buy or rent a vehicle, and whether you want it to be a car, a van, a motorhome, or a car with towing capacity and a caravan or camper trailer.
In Australia, buying comes with added costs such as stamp duty (which varies by state), registration, and compulsory third-party insurance.
Renting can also add up – though discounts may apply if you rent for extended periods.
Remember to factor in availability, fuel costs, and potential maintenance (some unsealed roads can be particularly nasty!) Also, you have to be insured.
Insurance – Travel and Vehicle
In Australia, being careful is the norm. You have to make sure you’re covered with adequate travel insurance that includes medical, baggage or personal possession loss or theft, and emergency repatriation. Remember to check the fine print to see if you’re covered for extreme or unusual activities.
You also need to keep in mind that you’ll have to pay for comprehensive car insurance if you buy a motor vehicle as a condition of sale.
In every territory and state, you’ll also have to spring for compulsory third-party accident insurance.
International licences and road rules
Australia is one of the few countries that drive on the left; and it can catch right-handed drivers out sometimes.
Make sure you take out an International Licence before you set off for your journey – and if possible, practice driving on the left during low traffic periods (early in the morning or late at night.)
Remember to read up on Australian road rules; some may not carry over from your home country – and you don’t want to end up with a fine or ticket!
If you're interested in travelling around Australia and need to brush up your driving skills or convert your license to be compliant with Australian regulations, check out EzLicence.
Survival equipment - Be prepared
If you’re travelling around remote Australia, you might find that help is hard to find if things go wrong.
Be prepared to be in wide-ranging areas that have little or no mobile phone reception.
If you don’t have UHF radio, satellite phone or other satellite communicator, then at the very least make sure you carry a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) which you can activate in an emergency to get help.
Make sure you have adequate water, food, fuel, first aid, and survival gear handy in case you break down – it could take a long time for help to arrive.
Though this is rare – you don’t want a down under trip become unforgettable for all the wrong reasons!