Sue Bell, our product manager here at Turquoise spent her early 20’s as a Jilaroo (cowgirl) in an Australian outback station. From then on Sue’s passion for Australia has grown and is very much our guru here at Turquoise for everything down under…One of our clients recently gave her a grilling on Campervan Trips in Oz so I thought I’d share her words of wisdom!
I would love to do a campervan trip around Australia…however I’m worried about the long distances and that I’ve underestimated how long it will take me!?
Distances are vast in Australia, especially when travelling through the Outback and so we suggest flying between some of the major cities and then plan shorter self-drive itineraries based around the specific regions. Another tip…storage capacity can be limited in campervans so we recommend choosing a soft bag rather than a hard suitcase!
Are the Australian road networks easy to navigate?
Some roads and parts of Australia such as the Kimberley in the north-west are difficult to navigate at certain times of the year (the North of Australia can be extremely limiting in terms of road access during the wet season from December to March). Certain roads also require permission from the campervan rental companies and/or other local authorities so it is best to discuss your planned itinerary at time of vehicle collection.
I’ve heard the Australian authorities are very strict about parking campervans anywhere but campsites and dedicated areas… is this true?
Each state and territory in Australia has different rules with regards parking of campervans and ‘freedom camping’ i.e. camping literally anywhere – so it is important to plan a route carefully and liaise with relevant visitor centres and local authorities accordingly. It would be worth getting hold of a comprehensive Australia Camping Ground directory as you will need powered sites to use air-conditioning and to dispose of waste (note that obviously for safety and environmental reasons, toilet and waste water must be emptied at approved sites). Gas bottles generally last up to 2 weeks but this depends on how much cooking is being done – so again careful planning is required. The fridge is a big power user and if the weather is hot, you will obviously use a lot of power keeping the fridge cold – so it would be preferable to park at a powered site fairly regularly.
Air conditioning in a campervan!? Amazing! Do many campervan companies provide such luxurious campervans?
Generally, the air-conditioning in the living area only works when plugged into a power source. GPS units and satellite phones can be included in your rental cost – and we recommend a company such as KEA who offer some of the best and more modern vehicles in Australia. They have depots in the major cities – Adelaide, Alice Springs, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. Vehicles can be taken across to Kangaroo Island and Tasmania – but not to any of the Queensland Islands such as Fraser Island. Kitchen and living equipment is included as is bedding – and camping equipment such as tables, chairs and a GPS navigation system are including when booking the recommended all-inclusive rate (which also includes full cover insurance with NIL excess).
We were thinking of maybe investigating taking our van across Australia via train, do you know if this is possible?
On the major train routes (the main rail journeys being the Indian Pacific between Perth and Sydney – and The Ghan from Adelaide – Alice Springs – Darwin), height and width restrictions do apply for campervans – and can only be taken with prior approval. Width must not exceed 2.20 metres and the height restriction is usually about 2 metres. Most 2-berth campervans are at least 2.7metres in height so unfortunately, so unfortunately, this does mean that you will not be able to take a campervan on the trains
For more information on all things Australia call us on 01494 687400