This guide covers everything you need for travelling Australia in a Campervan. From costs to campsites, routes to road trip tips and all the highlights and hidden gems in between.
After travelling New Zealand in a campervan, we knew Australia was next on our bucket list. For us, campervanning in Australia is the best way to explore this epic country, the van life community here is unrivalled and the scenery makes those long road trips oh so worth it.
It can be challenging at times (hello crazy wildlife and insane temperatures!) however, armed with this guide you’ll have all our top tips as well as those we’ve learned along the way from locals and other campers.
Below is a quick summary of everything we’ll cover:
- Reasons to travel Australia in a campervan
- Best time to visit
- Rent Vs Buy – which is best?
- How to choose the best campervan
- How to find cheap campervan hire in Australia
- Cost/how to budget
- How to find campsites
- How to keep cool
- Cooking in a campervan
- What to Pack
- Top Tips
REASONS TO TRAVEL AUSTRALIA IN A CAMPERVAN
- Save Money Let’s start with the obvious – Saving dollar! When we priced up accommodation, plus flights, transfers and transport then dining out on top, campervanning worked out cheaper as you have your own kitchen and bedroom on wheels!
- Freedom & Flexibility: travelling Australia in a campervan provides the ultimate freedom to go wherever you want, whenever. You won’t be tied to hotel bookings, check in or out times or transport schedules. You can also change your travel plans on a whim, staying longer when you love a destination or moving on when it’s not your vibe.
- Family Friendly: We loved travelling Australia in a campervan as backpackers, so returned in 2023 with our toddler. A massive reason we chose a van again, was that we won’t have to unpack and repack all our stuff everyday checking in and out of accommodation. It’s also becomes a familiar environment so getting little ones to sleep or nap is easier compared to a new bed each night. The endless fresh air all day is a bonus too! It’s also easier to cook budget and family friendly meals or have snacks with you at all times as you’re literally travelling with a kitchen on wheels.
- Meet the locals: Staying in typical tourist accommodation, does mean you often only meet typical tourists. Australians LOVE camping, so we found meeting locals was easy (especially families) and they loved to share tips and recommendations. You’ll meet locals in one campsite who recommend another hidden gem or shortcut and so you never want your Australia campervan trip to end.
- Scenery: Travelling in a campervan allows you to immerse yourself in some insane natural beauty – from rainforests to deserts, cities to beaches. Not to mention, Australia offers some of the best stargazing spots in the world. As well as the star gazing capital – Coonabarabran in NSW other sites include Uluru, Perth Observatory and Kangaroo Island.
- Wildlife: We’ve found this is a huge reason preventing people from travelling Australia in a campervan – the wildlife! For us, it was a massive bonus. We woke up to baby ducklings below our van, koalas above our van, kangaroos fighting next to our van and our toddler nearly brought a wallaby into our van. We had zero interaction with snakes or spiders, so please don’t let the wildlife put you off.
- Minimal packing: There is nothing worse than having to travel all the way back to your hotel room because you forgot your raincoat/Mossie spray/ snacks/camera. With a van, you have everything you need, with you at all times. This is a MASSIVE bonus when travelling with kids, especially! Have we persuaded you yet to travel Australia in a campervan yet?
THE BEST TIME TO TRAVEL AUSTRALIA IN A CAMPERVAN
Firstly, it’s important to recognize Australia is MASSIVE! It covers approximately 7.7 million square kilometers (2.97 million square miles) making it the world’s sixth-largest country.
Thanks to it’s vast landmass, you can expect diverse landscapes ranging from deserts to tropical rainforests but this also means very different climates and seasons. For us, this made travelling Australia in a campervan like travelling several countries in one so here are our top tips to decide when and where to visit.
Best Season To Go Campervanning in Australia
The first thing to note when travelling Australia in a campervan is that the seasons are flipped in comparison to Europe.
- Summer: December to February
- Autumn: March to May
- Spring: September to November
- Winter: June to August.
As mentioned, the country is enormous, (nearly the same size as Europe) so remember different states also offer different seasons – just to make planning your road trip even more challenging. For example:
- Victoria: Victoria has a temperate climate with cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers, particularly in Melbourne. We even experienced zero degrees in Victoria which we’d never expect from Australia!
- New South Wales (NSW): NSW has a varied climate, it’s temperate along the coast (Sydney) but arid inland (known as the Outback). Coastal areas have mild winters and warm summers. For wildlife fans, prime whale-watching season is from June to November with peak months usually in July to October. Nothing can compare to witnessing these majestic creatures migrate from the comfort of our wee campervan, coffee in hand. A truly unforgettable experience!
- Queensland: Generally, there are two main seasons – wet and dry. Overall it’s a tropical climate with wet summers. Brisbane enjoys mild winters and hot, humid summers. In Cairns expect a more tropical climate and try to plan your road trip to avoid the wet season as flooding is common. Although we found this time of year, the best time to enjoy the Cairns waterfalls in full flow as they dry up in the dry season so it depends on what you hope to experience.
- South Australia: South Australia has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild winters. Adelaide, the capital, enjoys a pleasant climate but if you want to experience the biggest art festival in Australia, Adelaide Fringe Festival you’ll need to visit between February and March.
- Western Australia: WA is HUGE – we’re talking 2.5 million square kilometres so you can expect a very diverse climate. From tropical in the north to Mediterranean in the southwest. Perth has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers. In Perth, February is the hottest month, with an average high of 31.6 °C, and July is the coldest month, with an average low of 7.9 °C. Coming from Europe the flipped seasons took us a while to get our head around!
- Tasmania: Tasmania has a cool temperate climate, with mild summers and cold winters. Rainfall is distributed throughout the year. We travelled Tasmania in a campervan during April and May. During this time the seasons where transitioning from Summer to Autumn so temperatures were pleasant ( around 12°C to 20°C.) We found the West Coast to be be very wet and grey, but nothing compared to home in Scotland. The East Coast was warm enough we could swim in the sea, but not too hot that we struggled to sleep or keep cool in the van with our toddler.
- Northern Territory: NT features a tropical climate with a wet season in the summer, characterized by high temperatures and monsoonal rains, especially in Darwin. Don’t let the heat put you off however, we have tips for keeping cool in your van later in this guide.
RENT VS BUY FOR CAMPERVANNING IN AUSTRALIA
Now you know when to go, your next step of travelling Australia in a campervan is finding a van, more specifically whether to rent or to buy.
There are definite pros and cons to each, which we’ve summarized below based on our own experience and of many of our friends who also enjoyed campervanning in Australia.
Buying a Campervan in Australia: Advantages
- It’s yours: This means complete freedom to make it your home on wheels. This is particularly important if you plan on living in it full time, or working and living in it for an extended period of time.
- No Road restrictions: By buying a campervan in Australia you won’t be restricted to only sealed roads. Many rental companies enforce this rule due to insurance. So if you want to truly get off the beaten track, you’ll have the freedom to do so in your own van without the worry of losing a deposit or expensive fines from your rental company.
- You Blend In: We actually witnessed this in Nimbin, near Byron Bay where locals were shouting at a couple in a campervan “to go home.” In some areas vans are not welcome due to the mess, overtourism and poor infrastructure. To be honest, we get it to some degree. By buying a campervan in Australia your van won’t be adorned with massive logos or advertising. No one will know if you’re an Aussie or a tourist.
- Save Money: If you plan on travelling Australia in a campervan for a month or two, then rent. If it’s longer, it will be cheaper to buy your own.
Buying a Campervan in Australia: Disadvantages
- Selling it again: This is the hardest part about buying a campervan in Australia – selling it again! Ask yourself: do I have time to find, buy, road trip then sell a van within the time frame allocated? The supply and demand of campervans majorly fluctuated depending on the time of year. You may have more success selling your van at the start of the season (Spring/early Summer) as there is a higher demand, but then this is when you’ll likely want to be travelling.
- Cost: Although buying a van may work out cheaper long term than renting, the breakdown fees and repairs can be more expensive. In a rental van, you simply phone up the helpline and you’re either given a replacement vehicle to continue your trip or its fixed at the side of the road. With your own van, (depending on your insurance) you will need to fork out (and figure out) repairing it. This could mean weeks off the road and thousands in fees. We didn’t fancy that headache, so again this fuelled our reasons to rent a van for our Australia campervan trip.
Renting a Campervan in Australia: Advantages
- If you’re limited on time & Money: Whether you have five weeks or five months to explore Australia in a campervan, you won’t want to waste a minute stressing about trying to sell your van or sitting in a garage waiting on repairs. With a rental, you can make the most of your time.
- They come equipped: Buying a campervan in Australia also then means buying utensils, bedding and more. With a rental, they usually come equipped. When we travelled Australia in a campervan with our toddler, the company also provided a baby car seat, towels and useful extras such as tea, coffee, camping chairs, washing up liquid, etc. This can save you both time and money!
- Enjoy the discounts & Support: As Australian campervan hire is super competitive, many have arranged exclusive deals with campsites to encourage their customers to stay there. For example, we received a discount of 10% in certain campsites if we showed our keyring with the rental company logo on. One rental company we used sat us down with a huge map and explained a few highlights, top tips and hacks. While another we used had its own app with discounts and campsite recommendations. This again, saved us time (and money!) from figuring it out for ourselves.
- Help is always on hand: Although we’d experienced van life in New Zealand, we still didn’t feel brave enough to take on our own van and preferred the safety net of having the rental company on speed dial. From 24/7 roadside assistance or just general advice.
- Less Commitment: Travelling Australia in a campervan (both as just a couple and as a family) was an excellent way to test the lifestyle. By renting, it meant we had the freedom to travel, without being tied down to a single vehicle. You could choose different companies and campervans depending on the state (for example, we travelled Tasmania in a different van as it worked out cheaper than taking one across) and without the commitment of ownership.
Renting a Campervan in Australia: Disadvantages
- Beware of the Small Print: There will always be small print with an Australian campervan hire. Many require a large deposit (or security bond) this will majorly impact your adventure funds. There is also the risk of dodgy rental companies who have kept the deposits for unfair reasons. There may be additional fees for cleaning, returning the fuel tank empty or restrictions on how many kilometres you’re allowed to drive. Don’t worry, we’ll help you find a reputable company!
- Restricted Access: This will vary depending on the rental company (we had zero restrictions in Tassie compared to mainland Aus) but some companies won’t allow you to use unsealed roads. This will restrict where you can drive and camp.
- They Look like Rental Vans: I know it’s vain, but due to the turnover of users, rental vans usually have the most basic, grey, boring interiors to minimize damage and dirt. The exterior is them emblazoned with logos, contact details and colour which can ruin those holiday photos and attract unwanted attention.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST VAN FOR CAMPERVANNING IN AUSTRALIA
Based on our tips above, you may have now decided to rent (like us) or opt for buying a campervan in Australia.
Regardless of your choice, we have a few tips to make sure the van go for for is suitable for your road trip, expectations and travel style.
1. Will you be using free campsites?
Free camping in Australia is permitted, but there are restrictions. In most states, your campervan must be a self-contained vehicle. This means your campervan has a toilet (even if its just a portable one) and access to water. If you don’t have this and are in a free campsite that specifically requests self-contained only, you can be fined. The laws are SUPER strict to protect wildlife, the infrastructure and local communities. Please be a responsible traveller when campervanning in Australia and only use free sites if you are self contained, unless they permit otherwise.
2. Are you old enough to drive in Australia?
This only really applies to renting, but it can affect your insurance when buying a campervan in Australia too. Generally, Australian campervan hire companies only accept drivers over 21 (some accept over 18.) If you are buying a van, some insurance companies may not insure you unless you have a International Driving Permit (IDP).
3. What’s best a campervan, a motorhome or a 4WD?
Even the most experienced drivers will find campervaning in Australia tricky at times. Darren has been driving for 10+ years but with narrow roads, road trains, wild weather and kangaroos galore, it’s not a challenge for the faint hearted.
That’s why we chose a campervan – motorhomes (sometimes called RV’s) would be too big to drive, park up and pay for fuel! As we didn’t plan on heading deep into the outback, we also didn’t think a 4WD was essential. The campervan we chose was compact but well equipped.
We also found (particularly in Tassie) phone signal can be limited to call for help or research routes.
4. How many people are you travelling Australia in a campervan with?
Please learn from our mistake here. When we were campervanning in Australia the first time, we opted for a 3 berth campervan. This is because we wanted a little extra space for storage, to work and because Das is 6ft 4 so he could stand up. We also spent a lot of time in the evenings cooking and working, so preferred extra space.
When we returned to Australia with our toddler, we assumed 3 berth would be fine again – after all, we were 3 people. Technically, 2.5. What we failed to calculate was HOW MUCH STUFF A BABY HAS! Despite being the same kind of van (a kuga campervan) the layout was also slightly different with the kitchen at the back and bed behind the driving seats. This felt much less spacious when it was the opposite way round in our other kuga.
If you’re a group of friends all contributing to the cost then you may want to go for a bigger van as you can afford to. Baring in mind, more people means less space.
You can watch the video below for a full van tour – cribs style! As mentioned, we opted for a Kuga not only for travelling Australia in a campervan, but in New Zealand too.
HOW TO FIND CHEAP CAMPERVAN HIRE IN AUSTRALIA
Step One: Travel Off-Season
Do not expect to find cheap campervan hire in Australia from December – February. This is peak season so the added demand comes with added cost.
If you can, experiment with dates. Even by starting your road trip a week or two earlier can affect the cost. As we’ve travelled in both Winter and Summer, we believe you shouldn’t let the weather dictate when you go if it means you can save some serious dollar. Opt for the off-season for the best deals as you’ll also find campsites cheaper and less crowded.
Step Two: Compare
We’re Scottish so naturally, bargain hunting is in our blood. When trying to find cheap campervan hire in Australia your next step is to use comparison sites. You can filter by dates, budget, berth and more.
For Australian campervan hire, we recommend the following comparison sites:
Step Three: Haggle
After a solid week of scrolling through the sea of Australian campervan hire companies we narrowed it down to three which were all similar in price. However, there slight pros and cons to each, for example one charged one way fees, another offered the baby seat free of charge, the third had a cheaper security bond and less excess.
We then emailed the companies directly, explained we were on a mission for cheap campervan hire in Australia and they’d made it to our top three. We then requested their for their best and final offers but the bargain hunting didn’t stop there.
Step Four: Booking The Best Deal
If you plan on travelling Australia in a campervan, do not miss this last step. BEFORE booking direct, take your quote (that you got direct from the company) and take it to a third party.
We contacted Rat Pack Travel who claimed to “beat any quote” and explained after comparing and contacting directly this was the best deals we could find. They went above and beyond to ensure we booked with them. They managed to secure a deal that was nearly $200 cheaper than what we could find after weeks of research and contacting directly.
They also offered customer service via whatsapp, easy deposit and payment plan and had round the clock customer care in addition to our hire company’s customer care.
Although this may seem time consuming, it is definitely worth it if you want to find cheap campervan hire in Australia. For our first trip we used Traveller’s Autobarn (who we also used in New Zealand) and for the second time campervanning in Australia we went with Cheapa Campa (owned by Apollo, booked via Ratpack Travel.)
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO TRAVEL AUSTRALIA IN A CAMPERVAN
Despite our best efforts at research, we found over and over again, there is one thing no one discusses about campervanning in Australia – COST!
This is likely because there is a massive amount of factors that determine how much you’ll spend. For example, the first time we travelled Asutralia in a campervan we were backpackers who cared more about our wine fund so opted for more free sites. Second time round with a toddler in tow, we needed paid sites with access to playparks, decent showers etc.
As a general guide, as of our latest trip in 2023 this how much we’d recommend budgeting for travelling Australia in a campervan.
HIRE: $150 per day
This is the approx hire cost for a 3 berth high top campervan. The cost will depend on campervan size, time of year, duration of your trip and additional extras.
FUEL: $2 per Litre
This will vary depending on the day and state. There are a few handy apps and websites you can use to check fuel prices and find cheap fuel near you. For example, Fuelprice.io which shares fuel prices in almost real time at 9,700 petrol stations across 230 Australian towns/cities. Or, Fuel Map which shows gas stations nearby as well as prices and you can track how much fuel you’ve used each day like a diary.
CAMPSITES: $0 – $50 per night
This could technically be $0 if you’re in a self contained vehicle and skip the home comforts for free campsites only. From all the paid campsites we used it averaged at $40 a night. These campsites had kitchens, laundry facilities, showers, playparks, toilets and sometimes even swimming pools and restaurants.
Expect to pay more near major cities or famous attractions. Privately owned campsites (not chains such as Discovery Parks etc) will also be cheaper.
FOOD / DRINKS: $150 per week
We planned our meals to keep costs down (more on that later) then did a big weekly shop in Woolworths, Aldi or Coles which averaged $150 a week for three people. This was breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. We did eat out occasionally, usually for lunch as it was cheaper and we are partial to a shiraz or seven so this was more expense ontop.
It’s so hard to put a price on this. One of the many joys of travelling Australia in a campervan is that many of the activities are free – beaches, hikes, waterfalls, wildlife watching etc. However, if you want to visit the more famous attractions, join a tour or spend time in the cities then it can get super expensive.
Budget Tips for Campervanning in Australia
- One Way Fees: If you are finishing your Australian roadtrip in a different location than you started, rental companies add an additional fee called a “one way fee.” This is usually around $150-$200. Travel in a loop to avoid this.
- Save on Fuel: Daz the excel enthusiast created a rough route, calculated the total distance, then worked out how many km to the litre of petrol we would get. This gave us an approximate budget for fuel prior to travelling Australia in a campervan. As mentioned you can download fuel apps to compare prices as they vary per town and per day. You can also join fuel reward schemes to earn discounts.
- Save your receipts: Another way to save on fuel, is to save your receipts as some supermarkets like Woolworths or Coles offered a discount off your fuel (usually around $0.04 – $0.06 per litre).
- Plan Your Food Shop: Shopping for groceries is insanely expensive in Australia so plan your meals and also your food shop for when you reach larger cities. Small towns have convenience stores such as IGA which were crazy expensive and very limited on choice.
- Avoid Tolls: Tolls soon add up when you’re travelling Australia in a campervan so use Google Maps and set your route to “avoid toll roads.”
- Additional extras: Even if you have found a cheap campervan hire in Australia or a bargain van to buy, keep in mind the additional extras on top. This includes insurance, ferry transfers, break downs, food, fuel, campsites and parking fees plus any attractions on top.
AUSTRALIA CAMPERVAN RELOCATION
If you are short on time and money you can still travel Australia in a campervan thanks to this sneaky tip.
Australia campervan relocation is essentially when rental companies or garages have an imbalance in their fleet. They may have too many campervans in one city or region and not enough in another.
To address this, they offer special deals to customers who are willing to relocate a campervan from one location to the other. Sometimes its free, sometimes its at a seriously reduced rate (sometimes as low as $1 a day.)
Australia campervan relocation is an excellent way to save money while still getting to experience van life. The biggest disadvantage is that there is usually a strict deadline. The vehicle needs to be in the new location by a certain time and date.
If you are happy to travel via these deadlines, here are a few companies to look into that offer campervan relocation in Australia:
You can also contact the rental companies directly, as many offer relocation through their own websites.
WHAT IS THE BIG LAP OF AUSTRALIA?
You’ve maybe heard of the big lap. If you really wanted to explore Australia in a campervan, this would be the ultimate road trip as you drive the entire coastline. The total distance is approximately 14,500 kilometers (around 9,000 miles!!)
The time it takes to drive around Australia and complete the loop depends on various factors. This includes your driving speed, stops along the way, road conditions, and detours to explore specific regions.
In reality, at an absolute minimum you’d need three months to complete the big lap of Australia. However, some people take a year plus!
BEST PLACES TO VISIT AUSTRALIA IN A CAMPERVAN
Now its time to get to the fun part – planning your route for campervanning in Australia!
Unless you’re planning on the big lap and have all the time in the world, it’s easier to choose a particular state or route and take your time than it is to cram in too much and whizz through it all.
There are eight states with each one offering a very unique experience for campers. As a very general guide we’ve summarized a few highlights for each one to inspire your travels of Australia in a campervan.
New South Wales Highlights
- Sydney: Even though we were on a budget, we loved our 4 days in Sydney (We even squeezed in a bargain show at the Sydney opera house!). The Bondi to Coogee walk is particularly impressive.
- Free camping: As a tip, we found the most free campsites in NSW. One of our favorites in particular was called Lake Wallace. It had showers, an incredible view and SO much space. It was one of the biggest free campsites we came across while campervanning in Australia and the sunrise here was an incredible start for our Blue Mountains day trip – another highlight.
- Whale Watching in Eden: We loved this small coastal town, not only because the campsite there (Eden Gateway Holiday Park) had an outdoor swimming pool, but also because it’s one of the best places for whale watching in Australia.
- Beaches: A few of our favorite beaches included Jervis Bay (also famed for whale and dolpins), Toowoon Bay and the beaches around Narooma.
- Byron Bay: Yes it’s super touristy but we loved every minute here. We even tried our first surf lesson and partied until 4am. We camped here during Australia day weekend so it was particularly busy, but a definite highlight from our time campervanning in Australia as there is a massive vanlife community here.
- Watagans National Park: Heading inland, we loved this area. Not only is it an excellent spot for stargazing, but we went on some epic hikes where we met huge monitor lizards and even an abandoned plane in the forest which made for some epic photography opportunities. There were also many free campsites here such as Gap Creek Campsite and Watagans HQ campground.
- Melbourne: We lived in Melbourne for 8 months in 2019, then returned here for another three months in 2023 so we might be a little biased, but it’s our favourite city in the world. For food, for the people, the nightlife, the street art – we love it all.
- Great Ocean Road: No trip to Australia in a campervan would be complete without a drive along the famous Great Ocean Road. We’ve done it three times – each time in a different season so we’ve learned some epic top tips for camping on Great Ocean Road if you’re planning on taking a van along this world famous road trip. We’ve found it the best place to find koalas in the wild and the great ocean road waterfalls are out of this world.
- Day Trips: There are endless day trips from Melbourne which we loved so much we camped afterwards. These include: exploring the Yarra Valley (you’ll need to camp after all the wineries!) exploring the stunning landscape of Wilsons Prom, meeting the penguins of Phillip Island and hiking in the incredible Grampian Mountains. You could spend months camping in Victoria and would never get bored (but you might get a little cold if you’re there in Winter!)
- Mornington Peninsula: For another breathtaking drive, follow the coast from Melbourne via Frankston which will take you through the picturesque Port Phillip towns of Mt Eliza, Mornington, Rye, Sorrento and Portsea. We even took our campervan on the ferry across to Sorrento. There are so many things to do in Mornington Peninsula, in particular we loved the Peninsula Hot Springs and enjoying the art and wine at Point Leo Estate.
- Cairns: Many people associate Queensland with crocodiles and creepy crawlies but we found it a tropical paradise with white sandy beaches and incredible wildlife. We used Cairns as a base, as there are so many epic day trips from Cairns that you’ll never want to leave. Highlight include snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef, exploring the Kuranda markets, the stunning road trip from Cairns to Cape Tribulation (where the reef meets the rainforest) and finally, the stunning Cairns waterfalls dotted throughout the region.
- Whitsundays: Heading down the East Coast you will find Airlie Beach, which is the gateway to the Whitsundays. We left our van on the mainland and instead enjoyed a sailing trip around the Whitsundays so we could enjoy the mind-blowing Whitehaven Beach.
- Gold Coast: The city itself is quite surreal as there are literal sky scrapers on the beach. We found a great campsite in the centre of the city and just steps from Miami beach called Ocean Beach Tourist Park.
- Noosa: Home to stunning beaches and hikes as well as fab foodie spots and stylish shops. It is surfer territory so we found the area quite welcoming to campervans.
- Fraser Island: There is so many things to do on Fraser Island, but as it’s the the largest sand island in the world, we didn’t brave driving our campervan there. You can camp on Fraser Island, but 4WD is essential or visit with a tour like we did. It is home to the famous dingos and 75-mile beach.
- Magnetic Island: Another highlight from our time campervanning in Australia as there are so many things to do on Magnetic Island (including camping with koalas!)
Western Australia Highlights
- No crowds: When it comes to campervanning in Australia many people don’t make it to the West (including us!) as it’s HUGE and sparseley populated. Western Australia takes up a third of Australia’s land mass but only 11% of the country’s population. This makes it ideal for vanlifers who want peace away from the crowds.
- Bucket list Destinations: Home to Perth, one of Australia’s most vibrant cities, stunning Rottnest Island where you can selfie with a quokka and camping with the kangaroos at pristine Lucky Bay.
- Pinnacles Desert: We’d also love to visit Nambung National Park as the Pinnacles Desert sounds out of this world. You can drive or hike through the unique rock formations as well as wake up to incredible sunsets here.
- The Kimberley Region: This remote and rugged area is known for the Bungle Bungle Range with bee-hive shaped domes, the majestic Mitchell Falls and the horizontal waterfalls at Talbot Bay. We’d love to fall asleep under the stunning starry skies here one day!
- Margaret River: Famous for world-class wine, stunning beaches and lush forests, this region certainly sounds like our kind of place. The region boasts picturesque surf beaches, such as Surfers Point and Yallingup, and the stunning Boranup Karri Forest.
South Australia Highlights
- Barossa Valley: After completing your Great Ocean Road trip in Victoria you will enter South Australia, home to Adelaide but most importantly – Barossa Valley also known as wine country! We set up camp then hired bikes to enjoy as many wineries as possible but with over 50 in the region, we’d probably need a few months here!
- Robe for the seafood fans: Fish fans need to head to Robe for some of the best seafood Australia has to offer.
- Kangaroo Island: Use the sealink ferries to take your campervan across to Kangaroo island. Often referred to as “Australia’s Galapagos,” it is a wildlife paradise where you’ll find kangaroos (duh!), wallabies, sea lions, and koalas in the wild. The island also boasts pristine beaches, and the iconic Remarkable Rocks.
- Hahndorf: One of the reasons we loved travelling Australia in a campervan is stumbling upon random little places like Hahndorf, Known for being Australia’s oldest German settlement. Walking around here we genuinely felt like we were in a German village it was a quirky experience we’ll never forget!
- Flinders Ranges: The Flinders Ranges are famous for their rugged red-tinged peaks, deep gorges, and unique geological formations. Wilpena Pound, a natural amphitheater, is a popular spot for hiking and exploring ancient Aboriginal rock art and enjoy insane stargazing at Arkaroola International Dark Sky Sanctuary. It’s only five hours drive from Adelaide to Ikara-Wilpena Pound, or embark on the ultimate road trip along the Explorer’s Way.
Northern Territory Highlights
- Uluru (Ayers Rock): Perhaps the most iconic natural landmark in Australia. This massive sandstone monolith, known for its vibrant red color, rises dramatically from the surrounding desert landscape. Witness the changing colors of Uluru at sunrise and sunset, explore the base walk to see ancient Indigenous rock art, and learn about the cultural significance of this sacred site to the local Anangu people.
- Kakadu National Park: Kakadu is Australia’s largest national park and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Highlights within the park include ancient Aboriginal rock art sites at Nourlangie and Ubirr, the stunning Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls, and the opportunity to see a wide range of wildlife, including crocodiles, wallabies, and various bird species. The park is also known for its cultural significance and offers a chance to learn about the traditions and heritage of the Bininj/Mungguy people.
- Darwin: As the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory, Darwin is a vibrant tropical city known for its multicultural atmosphere, outdoor lifestyle, and proximity to natural wonders like Kakadu National Park. Learn more about Australia’s Indigenous culture, and enjoy the beautiful waterfront areas along the Timor Sea.
- Top Tip: As a tip, we never actually made it to The Northern Territory during our time campervanning in Australia. This was partly because of time, but also because we were in a rental van. Many rental companies do not allow you to go on unsealed roads which were common here and the red dust will stain all your belongings, body parts and vehicle a lovely orange tinge so be warned!
Capital Territory Highlights
- Canberra: Fun Fact – this territory only exists due to Sydney & Melbourne squabbling like siblings over who gets to be Australia’s capital. It is home to Canberra, the country’s capital and to be honest, very little else.
It is roughly half way between the two cities but during our time campervanning in Australia we didn’t have time to squeeze in a visit and many locals told us not to bother. Let us know if you do and if it’s worth the detour!
- Best Road Trip Ever: we LOVED exploring Tasmania in a campervan but highly underestimated the size of this island. We only had a week here but realised it’s not much smaller than Scotland so had to squeeze in alot in a short amount of time. Allow longer if you can, as there are many highlights such as:
- Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park: This stunning national park is renowned for its rugged landscapes, pristine lakes, and diverse wildlife. Cradle Mountain, one of its iconic peaks, is a favorite for hikers and photographers.
- MONA (Museum of Old and New Art): Located in Hobart, MONA is a unique and unconventional art museum known for its contemporary and thought-provoking exhibitions. The museum itself, carved into a sandstone cliff, is an architectural masterpiece and like no other art gallery we’ve ever been to!
- Gordon River Cruise: We highly recommend booking exploring the pristine wilderness of the Gordon River. Most cruises stop at Sarah Island so you can learn about the history of this notorious place and gain insight into the harsh conditions faced by convicts.
- Freycinet National Park: Alongside The Bay of Fires, this area was one of our favourites. Home to the iconic Wineglass Bay, Freycinet National Park is a haven for hikers, campers and families.
ESSENTIALS FOR CAMPERVANNING IN AUSTRALIA
Due to the country’s unique terrain, invasive wildlife and diverse landscape, you need a few niche items for travelling Australia in a campervan.
In addition to our road trip essentials, we have also created a detailed camping packing list, which again you can download and use offline – perfect for when you’re campervanning in Australia and have no signal!
As a tip, we use our Osprey backpacks in the van instead of suitcases as we find they take up less space and are easy to store out of sight when needed.
Where to Buy Camping Gear in Australia
Missing anything from our camping checklist? Here is where to find the best equipment for campervanning in Australia:
- BCF: We needed a mosquito net for our van and found staff here so helpful. They explained how to fit effectively fit the net on our rental campervan without causing any damage.
- Bunnings: It’s like an Aussie B&Q,it has a huge selection of camping gear, BBQs, tarpaulins, Gazebos and eskies/cool boxes.
- Camping World / Tentworld: If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the stores above, you’ll definitely find it in here.
- Kathmandu: Ideal for all things outdoors including camping stoves, backpacks and clothing.
- Facebook Groups / Gumtree: If you are only travelling Australia in a campervan for a few weeks, don’t buy new. Instead use Facebook Groups or search local Market Places or Gumtree. Cheaper and better for the environment!
- Big W / K-Mart: You’ll find these budget stores all over Aus. They have a huge selection of sleeping bags, cool boxes, camping chairs and more. We purchased our sunshades that we used when parked from here as they were the cheapest, we could find and we couldn’t fault the quality.
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MEAL IDEAS FOR TRAVELLING AUSTRALIA IN A CAMPERVAN
We know travelling Australia in a campervan isn’t cheap. That’s why we try to save as much money as possible by cooking up a storm in our wee kitchen on wheels. Lucky for you, we have SO many guides and top tips to help you save money on campervan cooking all while ensuring you are not limited to boring pasta.
Although we found most campsites had kitchens, we understand some people in a campervan may only have a little camping stove so our recipes are ideal for those limited on time, space and equipment as all meal ideas are quick, cheap and easy.
Not to mention we have an entire cookbook you can download and use offline to save you scrolling the internet when hanger strikes!
The Best Camping Recipes
- One Pot Wonders: If like us, you are campervanning in Australia with kids or simply only have one ring to cook on you might appreciate our one pot camping meals – they require minimum ingredients, time and washing up but promise big portions and flavour!
- For Vegetarians: It can be tricky to store meat in a campervan, so we swear by these vegetarian camping recipes. They are all super quick and easy, perfect after a long day on the road!
- For Campervans: Before you begin, we recommend our cooking in a campervan tips with storage ideas, recipe suggestions and more.
- A Recipe for Disaster: Finally, if you fancy a giggle we have a whole series of cooking videos on our YouTube. Please be warned these were made after a wine or two in New Zealand so we can’t promise you’ll learn much but it might inspire a camping recipe or two.
Why not take a copy of our campervan cookbook?
- Recipes with ideas for breakfast, lunch & dinner
- Digital E-book so you can download instantly
- Use offline on your phone, tablet, laptop or print off
- Recipe ideas without the need for bulky cookbooks or Wi-Fi
HOW TO FIND CAMPSITES WHEN TRAVELLING AUSTRALIA IN A CAMPERVAN
With limited Wi-Fi and a country the size of Australia it can feel overwhelming trying to find campsites.
Luckily for you these are our 4 tried & tested methods for finding clean, safe and affordable places to sleep each night.
We have also created a more in depth video which explains each of these methods in detail as well as a few favourite hacks to finding campsites while campervanning in Australia.
1. Use Camping Apps
There are a tonne of apps you can use to find campsites, showers, water points, petrol stations, toilets and more. Here are the main apps we recommend while travelling Australia in a campervan:
- Wikicamps Australia | $7.99 | Apple/Google
- CamperMate | Free | Apple / Google
- Travellers Autobarn| Free | Apple/Google
2. Ask Locals
If there was one thing we learned from camping in Australia its that locals LOVE to recommend shortcuts, hidden gems and share their secret camping spots.
Although some areas are quite remote, we found by popping in to local coffee shops or chatting with dog walkers you are bound to learn a tip or two about the local area and where your next night’s sleep will be.
When campervanning in Australia, we always found the best campsites were the ones only locals know about so don’t be scared to ask!
From Facebook to an actual book. Millenials might roll their eyes but internet or phone coverage can be extremely limited at times when travelling Australia in a campervan. That’s why we recommend keeping an Australia camping guide like the one below handy so you have a back up when your phone battery dies or you’re stranded without signal and sleeping arrangements.
How to save money on campsites in Australia:
- Read our guide: We have an entire guide to camping in Australia that covers our favourite campsites, tips for free camping and more. Start there!
- Visit in the shoulder season: We found campsites to be anywhere between $25 – $70 during peak Season (December to February.) but around half price in the Winter (July-September) From all the paid sites we used when travelling Australia in a campervan, we averaged at $40 a night.
- Book more than one night: When camping in the tourist hotspot of Byron Bay we found a “5 nights for the price of 3” deal. These are common throughout Aus and a great way to save money in popular locations.
- Book directly: Although we love the convenience and comparison tools on third party sites, there is often discount codes or special offer pages when booking direct. You won’t find these deals elsewhere!
- Join a loyalty scheme: Through our campervan rental we received a Top Parks & Discovery Parks G’day Rewards Keyring. This gave us 10% off ALL of their campsites as well as earn loyalty points & money off local attractions – every penny counts!
- Use Unpowered Sites: If you’re equipped for it, unpowered sites are usually cheaper than powered sites. When campervanning in Australia we mixed things up and only used a paid, powered site every three or four days. The remaining nights we used free campsites or unpowered sites.
HOW TO STAY COOL WHEN TRAVELLING AUSTRALIA IN A CAMPERVAN
As a Scottish redhead, it was never going to be the wildlife that I feared in Australia but instead, the heat. Especially as we began our Australia campervan trip in Summer when high humidity and heatwaves were common.
Luckily for you, we sweated it out and even I survived with thanks to these have 10 tips for keeping cool in a campervan in Australia. While some may seem like common sense, we learned ALOT from locals and other camping pals we found on the road. I highly recommend a read, even if you are not travelling in Summer as Australia in general is quite a cosy camping destination.
TOP TIPS FOR CAMPERVANNING IN AUSTRALIA
- Before of Wildlife: Firstly, try and park up at your campsite for the night around dinner time (5-6pm.) Driving at dusk is a major risk when campervanning in Australia due to kangaroo activity. Always store food in sealed containers to avoid critters invading and read up on the correct first aid prior should any bites occur. Finally, be a responsible traveller and never feed the wildlife as this can encourage aggressive behaviour not to mention mess up the natural eco-system.
- Forbidden Free Camping: Do not risk free camping if it’s forbidden, or there is signage for self-contained campervans only. If you do, you can expect an expensive fine.
- Don’t fuel Bush Fires: Portable BBQ’s or a wee campfire under the stars may seem harmless but unfortunately bush fires are super common. You’ll also find controlled bush fires in certain areas, so don’t be alarmed, these are created safely on purpose to prevent more devastating fires. If campfires are allowed, follow the rules, use established fire pits and always fully extinguish before leaving.
- Drinking Water: It should be common sense but before embarking on a huge drive or before parking up for the night always check you have enough drinking water. Some campsites only have rain water which isn’t always safe to drink, this will be called “potable water.” so you’ll need to bring with you.
- Fuel Planning: Keep an eye on fuel levels, as petrol stations can be far apart in remote regions. Carry extra fuel containers if needed, and use the apps we mentioned above to track locations and prices.
- Park legally: Darren actually got fined for this so beware of this particular parking rule when travelling Australia in a campervan. Legally, you MUST park facing the same direction as traffic in the adjacent lane or line of traffic. It’s a rule in the UK but not one you get fined for if you break it, in Aus however they strictly enforce it.
- 4 Wheel Drive: Whether its red dust, driving on the beach, unsealed roads or flood risks, areas are marked for 4WD only for a reason. You will not be covered by insurance if you take a rental on these roads (not to mention how long emergency vehicles and breakdown vehicle will take to access you) so only enter them if you are well equipped and experienced to do so.
- Caravan Free Roads: On a similar note, some roads are so narrow and corners so tight that campervans or caravans are prohibited entirely. These rules are for your safety and others on the road.
- Keep It Clean: Instead of just leaving a campsite as you found it, aim to leave it even BETTER than you found it. We love the Aussie ethos of “pick 3 for the sea” and ensure any campfires are definitely out before leaving.
- Navigation Tools: Finally, invest in good navigation tools and maps, as GPS/phone signal can be unreliable in remote areas. No one wants to be lost in the outback when campervanning in Australia so save your route offline before you set off.
We trust that our guide to travelling Australia in campervan has ignited your wanderlust, debunked any misconceptions and answered all of your questions.
We genuinely believe that opting for campervanning over traditional accommodations, like hostels, has enriched our journey with countless cherished moments. There’s a reason we keep going back for more and taking our children along too!
Whether you crave heading off the beaten track to bask in the country’s remarkable scenery, want to connect with welcoming locals, or fall asleep under the stars – there is so much to love about having your own home on wheels (even for a week or two!)
We’d love to know your favourite campervan spots and any ingenious tips for touring Australia in a campervan so more of our readers can embark on an awesome Aussie road trip!