Here at Places We Go, we are passionate about every different way to explore our country, but most of all, we love a good Aussie Road Trip. We are lucky in this country as there are many ways to tackle a driving adventure. From taking your own car and staying in hotel/motel/cabin accommodation along the way, hitching a caravan or camper trailer to the back of a vehicle and staying in Holiday Parks, packing your tent and camping along the way, hiring or buying a motorhome/campervan, or renting a vehicle at your destination.
We want to explore the differences between all of these options and share them with you in the hopes that one of them might inspire you to do the same!
So we thought we would start with the campervan/motorhome option. Obviously the size of these can vary, from the Toyota Hiace Van to the bigger Winnebagos. The size that suits you will depend on how many people you are accommodating, how many features you want (or don’t want) and how easily you want to be able to park and get around at your destination.
Having travelled more than 40,000km in their campervan around Australia, we couldn’t think of anyone better to give us the low down on their adventures and what this kind of road trip is like.
Since when have you been travelling in a campervan?
We purchased our campervan in 2015
Who do you travel with?
Patricia and I travel together.
What kind of campervan do you travel in and what are it’s features/facilities?
We own a Toyota Hiace van; which we have converted ourselves (with a little guidance from a builder). We designed a simple set-up; the bed lifts up and has lots of storage underneath, and it can be propped up on one side to be used as a lounge as well.
Our food and cooking utensils are stored in a custom-made cupboard which has a drop-down shelf on one side to hold a single gas burner stove to cook on. Our fridge rolls out from underneath, running on 12 volts and a 2nd battery which charges from the cars battery while driving. We also use a solar panel while we are camping.
We have roof racks, an awning attached to the side of the van which gives us a bit more room to relax while resting and a small portable fire pit.
Where have you travelled in your campervan and what plans do you have for future adventures?
So far we have managed to cover most of NSW and Victoria, the southern part of Queensland, and touched the border and coast of South Australia.
During the year and a half we have driven 40,000km. We have lots of places still on our list that we want to see, with Tasmania in the near future followed by the Northern Territory. Hopefully one day to do the big lap.
What have been the stand out highlight experiences you have had travelling in your campervan?
Our biggest highlight would have to be both a disaster and an awesome experience at the same time.
The planned trip was to head outback to Lightning Ridge. We had a wonderful day exploring Pilliga and its amazing heritage and culture. As afternoon approached we left Pilliga NSW on the Come By Chance Road which is about 100km to Walgett. The road starts off like any road but after 30 km it soon turned into a two-tyre goat track with a hump of grass in the centre.
The country side was beautiful after recent rain, we were cruising along admiring the scenery, and about halfway we got stuck in a mud puddle. We franticly worked for about 30 minutes to try and get the van out of the bog while battling swarms of mozzies. We gave up and decided to wait.
Day soon turned into night and 3 hours later a 4WD approached us (as we were stuck blocking the road). The young farmer was on his way home from the pub, and he soon pulled us out with his 4WD which took a few minutes.
We have seen some awesome jaw-dropping sights on our travels, but the Come By Chance experience will live with us forever, and a lesson was learnt.
Any places around Australia that you recommend everyone should get to and see?
There are so many great places we have visited. I’d have to say the Great Ocean Road would be a highlight for us. We have explored this road trip twice in 12 months and we will be definitely going back. On our last trip we left Wollongong and headed to Mt Gambier in South Australia then followed the coastline to Geelong in Victoria. This road and coastline is amazing, we enjoyed it so much and there is still more we would like to see in this area.
What attracted you to travelling in a campervan?
The easiness of it; we are contained in one vehicle which gives us a wider range of movement, we can park in smaller areas, the van is cheaper to register, insure and fuel costs are less than a bigger camper. If there is any trouble during the night we can simply get in the front of the van without getting out and drive off (We have only needed to move on once).
What are the advantages of travelling in a campervan?
The advantages for us are free camping and we don’t have the worry of where we can leave a caravan while we are out exploring for the day. It’s easy to park at shopping centres and small spaces.
And any disadvantages?
For us the disadvantages of having a small space is “cabin fever” in wet or very cold weather for long periods of time. Another small disadvantage is not being 4WD we are not able to get too far off the beaten track and still need to stay on maintained roads.
Do you still travel overseas?
Yes, we do a 5 week flash-packing trip to Asia each year; we are about to leave on a 5 week trip to Vietnam and Phnom Penh Cambodia.
Why did you choose a campervan over a car towing a caravan?
Patricia and I didn’t feel comfortable towing a caravan or not wanting to spend extra money on a bigger vehicle. The campervan suits our lifestyle of simple and easy.
What are your favourite ‘campervan hacks’ you have learned over your time?
Google maps, Willy Weather and Wiki Camps apps are our three greatest tools. Information Centres are a wealth of knowledge to get up to date information on road and weather conditions in areas. Inspiring pictures on social media have also been the foundation of many of our road trips. Our greatest tip is to keep it simple, travel light and avoid muddy roads.
Do you mostly stay in Holiday Parks or do you free camp? And what do you like about both?
We free camp most of the time, which saves us money. We also tend to spend a bit of money in those towns who offer free camping; many small towns will also offer a free or cheap shower. In return we will purchase lunch or supplies to help the local community. We generally will stay in a Caravan Parks on a longer trip to do washing, shower and recharge some of our electronics.
Why would you recommend others get in a campervan and hit the road?
No matter what kind of transport you select to travel, you need to feel comfortable and safe. Australia is an amazing country and we want to encourage people to step out of their comfort zone and see a different part each time they go away. Some forms of camping are extreme while others are suited for long stops in one place with luxury. Campervans are easy and affordable, find that middle ground and are not just for back packers. Our first adventure was in a hire camper for a week. We returned home and within a few months we had purchased a new van and started our adventure.
Have you travelled in a campervan around Australia and what were your experiences? Tell us in the comments, and feel free to ask any questions that we can pass onto Andrew and Patricia to answer for you!