7 Best Cars For Road Trips In Australia

7 Best Cars For Road Trips In Australia

Written by Jordan Ballard | 13/01/22

There are few better ways to explore the beauty and diversity of Australia than a road trip. But choosing the right car for your trip can be a challenge. Travellers heading into the outback will need good off-road ability while campers will need lots of luggage capacity. And since you’ll be spending a lot of time in the vehicle, it makes sense if it’s spacious and comfortable to drive as well. Since we love a good adventure ourselves, we've come up with a shortlist of the 7 best cars for an Australian road trip. The criteria for our list was simple: the car needs to have excellent off-road ability, be easy to drive, and have plenty of luggage space. So get your bags packed and your route planner ready and check out our 7 best cars for a road trip across Australia.

1. Toyota Land Cruiser 300

Price from: $89,990 Plus on-road costs Economy: 14L/100 Km Towing capacity 3500 Kg Seating: 7 We had to start this list with the ultimate luxury off-roader. The Toyota Land Cruiser 200 was king of the hill for more than 14 years, but it was starting to feel a little long in the tooth. So we, like everyone else, were keen to see how the new 300 model stacks up against the old one. The new car is a giant step forward in dynamics and comfort. It’s easy to drive both on and off-road. The 3.3-litre V6 engine provides good fuel economy for a vehicle of this size and the interior is comfortable and has plenty of room for seven. So, if you can afford it, the mighty Land Cruiser remains the ultimate luxury off-roader. Pros Excellent off-road ability. The interior has lots of space and is a nice place to be. Easy to drive both on and off-road. Cons Expensive compared to the old 200 series. Cheap plastic on the underbody is not very durable. The third row of seats is tight on legroom.

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2. Nissan X-Trail

Price from: $28,990 Plus on-road costs Economy: 7.9L/100 Km Towing capacity 1650 Kg Seating: 7 (With the optional third row of seats) The Nissan X-Trail is one of the most popular SUVs in Australia, and it’s not hard to see why. The car is compact, making it easy to drive. But it’s also spacious, seating 7 comfortably. The X-Trail also comes well-equipped, has a range of engine options and it’s good-looking as well. With a base price of $28,990, the X-Trail is also one of the more affordable cars on the list. However, in the standard configuration, it is missing some items you may expect to be standard. For example, while it can seat 7, you’ll have to pay extra for the third row of seats. And by the time you specify 4-wheel drive and leather trim, it starts getting pricey. Pros Smart styling. Plenty of space for all the family. Easy to drive. Cons Expensive options. Seat 7 but the third row of seats is an option. It's a little bit dull to drive.

Related Reading: Top Tips For Road Trips In Australia

3. Kia Sorento 2022

Price from : $46,850 Plus on-road costs Economy: 9.7L/100 Km Towing capacity 2000 Kg Seating: 7 The original Kia Sorento proved very popular. This was thanks to its cost-effective pricing, reliability and excellent driving dynamics. The new model, clad in sexy new clothes, aims to step things up. As a result, it feels more upmarket and refined than before. The updated engines also include a range of petrol and diesel options. However, while the new Sorento comes very well-equipped, it has jumped in price compared to the old model. This is part of Kia’s move into the premium market segment, alongside cars such as the Mazda CX-9. But the new Sorento is nice to drive, has plenty of room and promises excellent fuel economy. Pros Upmarket styling Well equipped Nice to drive Cons Expensive compared to the old model No hybrid option available in Australia Dual-clutch transmission feels clumsy Limited luggage space

More: 2021 Kia Sorento Review

4. Jeep Gladiator

Price from: $65,450 Plus on-road costs Economy: 12.4L/100 Km Towing capacity 2721 Kg Seating: 5 The Jeep Gladiator is the car die-hard Jeep fans have been crying out for. The Gladiator is a dual-cab pick up that takes inspiration from the original Willys Jeep. Pickups like this are great for road trips because they allow plenty of space for camping gear. This is a competitive market space in Australia, however. So what makes the Gladiator stand out? Well, excellent off-road ability for a start, and it comes well equipped compared to rivals. Oh, and one final thing, you can remove the doors and windscreen for a truly unique driving experience. Pros Cool evocative styling Removable doors and windows Excellent towing capacity Cons Not the most economical Not as manoeuvrable off-road as the Jeep Wrangler Steering is a little vague

Learn More About The Jeep Gladiator

5. Ford Ranger 2022

Price from: $30,190 Plus on-road costs Economy: 12.4L/100 Km Towing capacity 3500 Kg Seating: 5 The Ford Ranger has long been a favourite thanks to its excellent off-road ability. For 2022 Ford is launching an all-new Ranger. This comes with bold new styling, more fuel-efficient engines and updated suspension. The new model has some big shoes to fill, the original Ranger is one of Australia’s best-selling off-road pickups. Fortunately, they haven't done anything to break the mould. It uses the same trusty formula of a V6 engine mated to a choice of manual or automatic transmissions. So expect the same trusty Ford mechanicals in a sexy new body. Pros Bold styling Great off-road ability Excellent towing capacity Cons Some plastics feel cheap Not as cheap as it used to be No plug-in hybrid available at launch

Search For Ford Ranger's On Only Cars

6. Mitsubishi Triton

Price from: $29,190 Plus on-road costs Economy: 11.7L/100 Km Towing capacity 3100 Kg Seating : 5 The Mitsubishi Triton is often overlooked by buyers of off-road pickups. The more popular Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux dominate the sales charts in this segment. But the Triton is worth a look. If nothing else because it offers good value for money and comes with a 10-year warranty as standard. The Triton is available with a choice of diesel and petrol engines. The standard transmission is a six-speed manual but an automatic transmission is also available. On the road, the Triton is quiet and handles town and country roads well. But it can’t quite match the Ford Rangers pose off-road. All things considered, this is a great all-rounder that is easy to live with. Pros Competitive pricing Good fuel economy 10-year warranty Cons Not as good off-road as the Ford Ranger Long rear overhang Cramped rear seats

7. Hyundai Tucson

Price from: $23,700 Plus on-road costs Economy: 8.1L/100 Km Towing capacity 1600 Kg Seating: 7 The mid-size SUV sector is a crowded one, so why did we choose the Tucson? Well, because with prices starting at $23,700, it’s one of the best value SUVs on the market. Especially when you consider the car comes equipped with lots of safety equipment as standard. Despite its budget price, the Tucson doesn’t look or feel like a cheap car. The exterior is stylish and the interior feels like a car costing twice as much. While on the road the Tucson handles well both on and off-road, especially the 4x4 versions. The only real downside is that it feels a little underpowered compared to some of its rivals. Pros Competitively priced Well equipped Stylish Cons Not as economical as some rivals Feels a little underpowered Small cabin

Read Our Full Review Of The 2022 Hyundai Tucson

Final thoughts

So which is the right car for your road trip? That decision comes down to the size of your group, and whether you are camping or staying in hotels.

Our advice is for campers to go with a dual-cab pickup and families to go with an SUV . After that, it comes down to personal preference and of course, budget.

Ready to set out on your next road trip with a new car ? Get an obligation-free financing quote with Credit One - Australia's best-rated finance broker.

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Jordan Ballard

Automotive Content Editor

Jordan is a car finance and automotive industry specialist at Only Cars. With over 20 years of experience with frontline and management roles in sales, finance and other areas, Jordan has an incredible understanding of the automotive industry. As Automotive Content Editor, Jordan loves sharing his passion for cars with the Only Cars audience.


Driving the Big Lap of Australia - 12 things to know

11 January 2021


Dreaming about driving off into the sunset and doing a big lap of Australia?

Travel writer and photographer Lee Atkinson has just returned from an epic 10-month, 40,000km road trip around the country, and written a book about it (see below). Here are her top 12 road trip travel hacks you need to know before you hit the road.

1. What to drive

You don’t need a 4WD to drive around Australia, but you do need low range gearing to reach some of the most beautiful bits, because the really wild, wondrous places are almost always in out of the way places. If you are towing a van or camper trailer opt for a turbodiesel, because this type of engine works more efficiently than a petrol for towing and diesel is more readily available in remote areas. And go for an automatic, because autos allow you to just stick it in drive and concentrate on other things.

lower tyre pressure

Deep sand means it’s time to lower tyre pressures (photo: Lee Atkinson).

2. To tow or not to tow?

The number one mistake most people make when choosing whether to buy a caravan, motorhome or camper trailer is to think in terms of what it will be like to live in, rather than where they can take it. If you’re planning to spend most of your time on main roads and want to stay in towns or caravan parks, a caravan or motorhome is a great option. But if your idea of a good time is taking the roads less travelled and getting out into national parks and wild places a camper trailer or a roof-top tent is a better choice. Bigger is not always better. There’s an exponential relationship between the size of your caravan or trailer and the extent to which you can get off the beaten track.

3. Before you go…

If you’ve never been outback or off-road before sign up for a 4WD training course. It will teach you how to use the vehicle to its full potential, how to get yourself out of tight spots and, most importantly, how to use recovery gear. Google ‘4WD driver training’. Same goes for towing: not only do you get plenty of time, and traffic-free space, to learn how to manoeuvre and reverse park your vehicle with a caravan or trailer in tow, you’ll also pick up lots of technical and safety information and handy tips. Tow-ed operates courses in most capital cities and regional centres and will lend you a van if you want to learn before you buy.

Colourful campsite Rainbow Cliffs Arnhem Land

Colourful campsite, Rainbow Cliffs, Arnhem Land (photo: Lee Atkinson).

4. What tools do you need?

A basic tool kit should include a jack, jacking plate and wheel replacement tools, spare tyre, fire extinguisher, emergency fuel supplies (if heading off the beaten track), engine oil, coolant, jumper leads and spare radiator hoses and fan belts and the tools you’ll need to replace them – check out YouTube for DIY tips and bush mechanic lessons. Don’t even think about leaving home without ultimate get-out-of-jail repair kit: cable ties, gaffa tape and fencing wire – with these you can fix just about anything.

5. Getting out of trouble

Getting stuck is inevitable when you’re travelling off the beaten track. You can spend a fortune on fancy recovery gear but there are five things you really can’t do without: we took a pair of Maxx Trax ramps, which you put under the wheels when you’re bogged in sand or mud. They give the tyres something to grip and, as a rule, will launch you out of trouble easily. We also had a long-handled shovel for digging and a snatch strap for those moments when all else failed – all we needed then was somebody else to come along to pull us out, but it was never used. The best way to not get bogged in the first place is to drop tyre pressures to 20psi or less, so we also carried a quality air compressor and an accurate pressure gauge.

6. Essential kit

Never travel without a first aid kit and always carry extra drinking water. Mobile phone coverage can be non-existent in the outback. Hire (or buy) a satellite phone so you can call for help if needed. Some tourist information centres in remote areas have sat phones you can hire, or visit Satellite Hire or   Rent a Sat Phone .

Lee Atkinson's Big Lap map.

Lee Atkinson’s Big Lap map.

7. Map it out

Fighting over which is the right way to go is a major cause of holiday (and marital) breakdown. Don’t rely on the mapping app on your phone – invest in a good GPS. We used Hema Navigator, which features off-road tracks as well as major highways.

8. Keep in touch

These days you can get most of your bills, banks statements etc electronically, which means you can keep the home fires burning relatively easily. Skype is the best thing ever for keeping in touch with friends and family for next to nix. We carried laptops and a 4G mobile wi-fi modem which connects up to 10 devices. Telstra’s the only network that consistently works outside of capital cities.

Troubridge Point Yorke Peninsula SA

Coast hugging, Troubridge Point, Yorke Peninsula, SA (photo: Lee Atkinson).

9. Where to go when

Clockwise or anti-clockwise, that’s the million-dollar question when you’re about to head off on the Big Lap. Whether you turn left or right out of your driveway depends on when you go – if it’s summer, head south, if it’s winter, head north or aim for the red centre. The wet season, which cuts roads and closes national parks anywhere north of the Tropic of Capricorn, can be anytime from November through to May, although it (usually) really only starts to rain in mid to late December and can be all over by April.

The back way, Gippsland, (photo: Lee Atkinson),

The back way, Gippsland, (photo: Lee Atkinson),

10. How long will it take?

How long have you got? Know that however long you go for, it won’t be enough – Australia’s a big place and you could spend a lifetime and still not see it all. On the other hand, you’d be amazed at how far you can go in just four weeks. We spent 42 weeks on the road, and didn’t go where most do go, but did go where many people don’t.

11. How much will it cost?

Everyone’s trip is different, depending on what you drive, where you go, where you stay and what you eat and drink. We were in a 4WD and towing an off-road camper trailer. In terms of day-to-day expenses we averaged just under $150 a day, including fuel, camping fees and the occasional night in a pub if the weather was foul, food and alcohol – we probably could have got that down a little if my partner was a better fisherman, and if I’d chosen cheaper wine, but hey, life’s too short!

12. Can I take my dog?

Many caravan parks will accept well-behaved pets on a leash, but always check before you book rather than on arrival. Pets are not allowed in national parks, even for day visits or picnics. If you want to bush camp with pets, choose state forests instead.

You can read all about Lee’s epic road trip in her book, The Big Lap .

The Big Lap by Lee Atkinson

The Big Lap by Lee Atkinson.

“We took the road less travelled whenever we could, camping in national parks and other wild places where few other travellers go,” says Atkinson. “We found some truly amazing places and saw some fantastic things, and this book is the result, a showcase of some of the most scenic spots in Australia.” Featuring hundreds of beautiful images, the book is the pictorial diary of her journey with detailed captions telling the stories behind the images. The Big Lap costs $35, (including postage), from ozyroadtripper.com.au


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Comments (14)

Great tips, thanks for sharing.

No worries, Ian. Is there a Big Lap in your future?

Any tips for solo female travellers doing The Lap?

Hi Jill, Lee recommends: “sat phone no.1 thing for safety. Really use commonsense if camping alone in remote places. And know how to change a tyre. Best of luck on your Big Lap. Let us know how it goes. Cheers,

Kimberley ! Love it! Best holiday ever!!

Great write, Four of us planning a full lap trip, which in google maps i calculated roughly 20,000 kilometers. Where to hire the camper trailer and 4WD ? any reference will be helpful. and what time of the year is better for the round trip, which we plan to start at melbourne, canberra, sydney, brisbane, Seisa QLD, Darwin NT, perth, adelaide and end in melbourne. any suggestions will be great.

Big lapping it as we speak… 6 weeks into our 12 months. I totally agree that its common to make the mistake of picking a van for the inside rather than where you can go. Next time I’d love to have a off road option as we’ve already had to miss out on some amazing spots (but with a 7 month old baby size and comfort won this time around so we opted for a big family caravan).

To anyone thinking about it, just make it happen.

You definitely rock the road Lee. You are certified traveller touring around Australia for 10-months. For sure your books defintely has lots of amazing stories with your travel. Need to have one, I been planning for a road trip for a week self-driving. Never done that before and your blog post helps me a lots how to prepare for a long drive.

I’m 63 and have always been interested in walking around Australia’s perimeter for charity, I’m fairly fit and just trekked Everest Base Camp. How long approximately do you think it would take if I don’t have to stop to long because of possible blisters, then maybe u might say how long is a piece of string

Good advice. I am planning a 100-day big lap trip August-November, counter-clockwise from Sydney. I live in the US, so I won’t be able to bring too many things on the plane. Things like ramps to get my car unstuck will have to buy in Sydney before I head out. But I will be bringing my tent. What kind of car should I get for good clearance? I DO want a 4Wd because I plan to do off-the-track places like Cape York and Gibb River Road.

Well said and interesting reading

Enjoyed reading your comments on “The BIG Lap”, have been planning a BIG LAP trip for sometime now and due to the pandemic here in Victoria it’s on hold for now. My wife and I are semi retired and looking forward to getting on the road as we are keen Caravanner’s and rough it campers, do you recommend storing a caravan at a caravan park to venture off the track? A good example might be leaving the caravan in Alice Springs and go camping at one of the gorges.

Thank you !for inspiring me to’Just do it!

Thanks for sharing such an incredible post. Very well written and contain important information on driving big lap.

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Home / best cars / 10 Best Cars for Road Trips in Australia

10 Best Cars for Road Trips in Australia

image for 10 Best Cars for Road Trips in Australia

While some vehicles are more suited to short hops around the urban jungle, buyers looking to get out and about on weekends and holidays have certain engines and fuel economy requirements , while the right suspension hardware and interior designs and features can make a huge difference when it comes to pleasing a crowd.

Need help narrowing down your choices?

Get in touch with one of our Car Buying Specialists today

With that in mind, let’s begin unpacking ten of the best cars specifically for long-distance road trips here in Australia, so let’s jump in and take a look at your best options.

Toyota LandCruiser Prado

If you’re planning on hitting the road and like the idea of getting your tyres dirty on some off-road adventures, then Toyota’s LandCruiser Prado has you more than covered.

The Prado offers seating for up to seven people, or a five-seat layout for smaller families looking for more boot space, with a spacious interior package that is perfect for long holiday drives and a heap of power for off-roading and towing .

The Prado comes powered by a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel producing 150kW of power and 500Nm of torque, which is enough to tow loads up to 3000kg and offers 7.9L/100km combined fuel economy figures.

Better still, you’ll benefit from Toyota’s famously tough designs and impressive build quality that offers a heap of confidence when you’re hours away from civilisation and comfortable suspension hardware that makes light work out of Australian roads.

Subaru Outback

The Subaru Outback has long been a favourite of Australian buyers looking for a versatile platform that can tackle school runs and isn’t afraid to get its toes dirty.

In its latest form, Subaru has given the Outback a brand new 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine option pushing out 183kW of power and 350Nm of torque, joined by an additional 400kg of braked towing capacity which now stands at 2400kg.

Inside, the Outback’s cabin is perfect for road trips here in Australia, with a generous amount of occupant space and comfort features in the front and rear of the cabin, complemented by a generous 522L boot.

Hyundai Palisade

Hyundai’s biggest SUV package is also one of the best currently on sale in Australia when it comes to comfortably transporting a family of eight.

On the open road, the Palisade is a dream thanks to its soft suspension that floats over bumps and irregularities while feeling rock-solid and confident on a mix of Australian roads.

Power is supplied by your choice of a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel or a 3.5-litre V6 engine that have fuel economy ratings of 10.7L and 7.3L per 100km respectively.

The high-riding SUV package offers a heap of standard equipment which will keep the family happy with features like three-zone climate control, heated and ventilated seats, sunblind's and a panoramic sunroof.

In a world brimming with SUV packages, it’s easy to forget just how comfortable and practical sedans and wagons really are, with the Mazda 6 being a perfect example of a hidden gem in the Australian landscape.

When it comes to long-distance trips, the Mazda 6 hits the ground running with its comfortable suspension platform and a choice of two petrol engines that offer healthy power and torque figures, and a seriously engaging driving experience.

Space and comfort inside the Mazda 6 is excellent, with a heap of leg and headroom on offer in the rear of the cabin, and a large 474L boot for the sedan that expands to 506L in the wagon variant.

There’s few cars that offer the same rugged versatility of the Isuzu MU-X while remaining a comfortable option for transporting a large family on road trips.

Thanks to the fact the majority of the MU-X sources its parts and platform from the D-Max ute, it performs exceptionally well when put under the stress of an off-road trail, or while towing a load up to 3500kg thanks to its 3.0-litre turbo-diesel engine.

Inside you’ll find more than enough space for a family of seven to sit back and get comfortable for a long road trip, while the heavy-duty suspension takes care of all the bumps Australian roads can throw at it.

The MU-X in its cheapest form comes well-equipped with a set of bi-LED headlights, keyless entry & start, 17-inch alloys wrapped in all-terrain tyres, and a 7.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto.

Ford Ranger

While the ute segment might have originally been designed for worksites in mind, these days, utes like the Ford Ranger are a great place to spend a long holiday road trip.

The updated Ford Ranger has a heap to offer Australian families when it’s time to hit the road, with the added benefit of a generous amount of power and torque to tow large objects, and hardcore underpinings making for a great off-roader.

Power is supplied by a choice of four engines, three turbo-diesel units and a fire-breathing twin-turbo V6 petrol for the flagship Raptor that sprints to 100km/h in just 5.5 seconds while remaining silky-smooth on the road.

Space and comfort in the back of the Ranger’s cabin is massively improved over the previous model, however, if you’re planning on some seriously long road trips make sure you’re not squeezing any adults in the rear of the cabin.

Mitsubishi Outlander

Mitsubishi’s update for the Outlander has resulted in one of the most impressive value propositions for the seven-seat SUV segment, and is perfect for Australian road trips.

Considering just how many variants there are on offer, the Outlander range is accommodating to a wide range of budgets, the majority of which come powered by the same 2.5-litre four-cylinder producing 135kW/244Nm and is available with an AWD platform for added stability.

There’s even a plug-in hybrid option that gains a healthy power and torque premium over the standard model, while the suspension sitting underneath works wonderfully at ironing out bumps on long distance road trips, making for a great and practical touring SUV option for large families.

Kia Carnival

For large families, the Kia Carnival remains one of the best and most comfortable ways to transport up to eight people and makes for a very versatile package both in town and on the open road.

Within the Carnival range you’ll find a choice of a 3.5-litre V6 petrol producing 216kW/355Nm and a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel producing 148kW/440Nm, both of which are paired with a slick eight-speed automatic that powers the front wheels.

Inside, the Carnival’s cabin is every bit as practical as it is spacious, with a clever adjustable seating design that allows you to configure your preferred setup, and the added benefit of a large 627L with all three-rows standing.

While it might not be one of the most exciting packages on the market, it is undoubtedly one of the most practical and spacious ways to transport a family of eight for hours on end without hearing complaints from children seated in the rear.

Genesis G80

If you’re looking for a more premium road trip companion, Genesis has you covered with its latest G80 sedan and wagon variants that are absolutely sublime on the road.

The range comes powered by a choice of three engines including a turbocharged four-cylinder petrol, turbo-diesel and a twin-turbocharged V6 petrol in the range-topper that makes the G80 feel like a silky-smooth rocketship on the road.

Underneath, the G80’s suspension has been tuned specifically for Australian road conditions, while the flagship variant gains adaptive dampers that stiffen up for agile handling and cushion bumps in the comfort setting.

The G80’s interior is every bit as spacious as it is luxurious, with a huge amount of detail paid to its design and packaging that makes it feel incredibly special to sit inside and means some journeys just won’t be long enough.

Volvo has become synonymous with comfort and style, and the latest XC90 builds upon that reputation well with its road trip-ready platform and large interior that is perfect for families.

The XC90 has recently picked up a plug-in hybrid engine option, joining the turbocharged four-cylinder sitting at the base of the range and the turbo and supercharged petrol engines that produce generous power and torque figures.

The plug-in hybrid Recharge variant offers a massive 340kW of power and 709Nm of torque which gives the XC90 a heap of personality and makes for a lightning-fast long-distance tourer.

Inside, the cabin is exceptionally well-crafted and spacious, offering buyers a large 709L boot, while the suspension works well to keep everyone inside extremely comfortable, with the added bonus of adaptive suspension in the range-topping XC90 Recharge.

Request a Quote

If our list of the 10 best cars for road trips here in Australia has sparked your imagination, click here to get in contact with one of our car-buying specialists .

Alexi Falson

Alexi is an automotive journalist and road tester hailing from Byron Bay. He has an affection for both cars and motorbikes, a great admiration for the simplicity of old-school engineering, and a fascination of new technology making its way to modern cars. When he's not road testing, you'll find him surfing, hiking or helping people find their dream cars.

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Traveling Australia by car: do’s and don’ts for first-timers

August 7, 2018

Traveling Australia by car, use travel cubes to safe space

This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my link.

Traveling Australia by car for a month was one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life so far. Only imagine having the freedom to see all of the best things Australia has to offer, from Great Barrier Reef to Melbourne .

Of course, starting off such a big trip is stressful as it is and you wish everything to go as smoothly as possible. Though road tripping is rarely adventure-free, here are a few tips for traveling Australia by car for first-timers that will hopefully make it easier.

  • Do spend some time considering what would be the right type of car for you. Station wagon or a camper van? Bought or rented? Automatic or manual transmission? The f irst thing you want to do is select the right one. You can check the car rental prices in Australia here . We have traveled in a rented station wagon and it was a perfect choice for us. First of all, because it had automatic transmission which made driving on the left side easier. Second, it was perfect enough to fit two people for sleeping.  

Traveling Australia by car, how to select the right one.

  • Don’t take too much stuff. Going away for so long you will be tempted to pack everything that comes to mind, from hair straightener to a pillow. And while some things (such as hair-straightener, of course) might be very crucial to have on the road, too much stuff will clutter the car that is your home for a few weeks, if not months. It will overload the car, eat more of the gas and also, you’ll have less room for stretching your legs.

best vehicle for travelling around australia

  • Don’t drive at night. Though i t might seem like a good idea to cut in some distance faster, it is dangerous. In Australia, wildlife is everywhere and it becomes more active when it gets dark. So, there is a good chance you can run over an animal (we’ve seen many dead animals on the road, they don’t look cute) or get into an accident because of it.
  • Do   read signs carefully. Australia is full of them and that is for a reason! I cannot tell you how many times we drove past a perfect beach and no one was swimming. Often, there might be deadly stingers, sharks or even crocs in the water, so be cautious and read signs carefully. If it says there are crocs in the water, most likely there are.
  • Do have some food with you as you will never know where you’ll end up staying for the night. You don’t need much, as it might get spoiled , but some places are very far from any form of civilization, so just be prepared.

Traveling Australia by car, picnic

  • Don’t even hit the road without a GPS, be it google maps on your phone or a separate GPS device. I cannot imagine how people used to drive without it, to be honest. Anytime you take a detour or a wrong turn, it will put you back on track.
  • Do stay online, at least for the sake of knowing where you need to go next. Being stuck in the middle of nowhere without communication is not what you want. If you don’t have an Australian phone plan, get Skyroam , a portable 4G wi-fi device that doesn’t need a sim card and will keep you online wherever you go.

Staying overnight

  • Don’t think that you’ll easily find an overnight parking spot once you get to your destination. There’s nothing worse than trying to find a camping spot or a hotel when it is getting late and dark and you are already tired.

Traveling Australia by car- overnight bush camping

Staying powered-up

  • Don’t forget to charge up wherever you can! You don’t want your camera’s battery to die right when you got the perfect proximity to that friendly kangaroo. Charge your batteries and devices as soon as you have a chance when you stop in a hostel or go to a coffee shop. Many of the camp spots are not powered.
  • Do bring an extra power bank with you just in case your device needs charging on the road.

Travel Itinerary

  • Don’t forget to stop wherever you like. If you are road tripping in Australia, you are getting the freedom that is so unique – you can visit any place you want! Not just the one where buses go to. Take a detour from highway once in a while and see the beauty of outback Australia.

best vehicle for travelling around australia

Traveling around Australia? Check out these other guides:

  • How much does it cost to be travelling around Australia by car for one month?
  • How To Transform Your Car For Your Road Trip: The Best Equipment Revealed
  • Kick Off Your Shoes – You’re in Australia! Typical Aussie Things That Surprised Me.
  • Forget the Top Things to Do List: This is How You Should Really See Melbourne!
  • How to Spend 48 Hours in Sydney Without Hurting Your Budget.

Which places in Australia are you looking forward to visiting? 

Like It? Pin It!

best vehicle for travelling around australia

I have driven from Adelaide to Melbourne …wish I had read this.post then..it’s comprehensive…I am off to Perth again next week ..wondering if we will have some driving to do..

best vehicle for travelling around australia

This is such a helpful, comprehensive guide! Would love to road trip around Australia one day, and will definitely keep this guide around!

best vehicle for travelling around australia

Great, practical tips – and great photography, too! (also, love your blog design!)

best vehicle for travelling around australia

As someone who has driven a decent amount in Oz, this is really good advice — especially about reading the signs! Everyone’s always going on and on about how Australia is a death trap, but they do a pretty decent job of warning you of all the dangers if you ask me (which I know you didn’t).

best vehicle for travelling around australia

Haha, you are right! You have to blind not to see the amount of signs they have on the road with all sorts of precautions. I think this was by far the easiest country to drive in in terms of roads and signs.

best vehicle for travelling around australia

It’s really a nice and helpful piece of information. I’m happy that you shared this useful info with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

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How to pick the right car for your road trip in Australia

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Top tips to help you choose the right car for your road trip in Australia.

Australia is a vast place. It’s huge, in fact, and most of it is a barren desert stretching for miles and miles. But there’s a stunning beauty to be seen and adventure to be had in the land down under, and a perfect way to combine both is by taking a road trip.

A road trip is a daunting task, especially when it’s in Australia , and picking the right vehicle for a said road trip is not easy. Do you choose a station wagon or a campervan? Or maybe you plan on going off-road and need a 4WD? Do you prefer to own the vehicle or rent it? There are many factors to choose from and need to be given good thought.

The Starting Point

Every Australia road trip idea begins and ends somewhere . The first important choice is your destination. Do you plan on sticking to major highways or sealed roads, or do you take the unsealed ones or maybe remote routes? This is the most crucial first choice because different cars perform differently on different roads. If you need inspiration, read our travel guides to the most beautiful places in Australia , Melbourne and Sydney .

While no car has a distinct advantage on a sealed road, it’s not the same on unsealed ones – sedans can handle them, but an all-wheel drive might perform better. If you prefer remote or extreme tracks, an all-wheel drive is not as good as a dedicated 4WD. And another factor to think about is the remoteness of the destination. If you’re going to be isolated for extended periods of time, it’s best to have a long-range fuel tank or at least the ability to have one installed.

And lastly, but just as important, make sure you have a budget and that you stick by it, especially if you’ve never had a road trip in Australia. Road-tripping in Australia is a great adventure but be aware that, like any other trip, traveling by car has its pros and cons . Talking about budget, we have an article with a few ideas to help you start planning a road trip on a budget . 

Things about you itinerary before buying or renting the car for you road trip in Australia.

Choosing a Vehicle for Your Road Trip in Australia

Do you choose one because it’s comfy? Or maybe efficient? Do you like bigger or more compact ones? There are as many decisions to make, as there are cars in the world.

Station Wagons

A great choice for a small group of friends, this type of vehicle is considered trustworthy and reliable. A great point to make about station wagons is that they are generally cheap and affordable, and many mechanics have an easy time fixing or prepping them up. Station Wagons are almost always automatic, and have decent space in the trunk to sleep in if you prefer not to sleep in motels or hotels all the time. A great choice for wagons would be the Toyota Corolla .

While they might be more expensive, they do come with extra comforts, such as a kitchen, fridge, gas stove, and fridge. They’re perfect for groups of two that prefer to stay out in the open for extended periods of time. Campervans are generally manual shift, and take a bit more skill in maneuvering, but perform great. A great example is the Ford Transit.

Generally considered some of the best cars to experience Australia in, they’re the most expensive type of vehicle for a road trip, but it’s almost always worth it. They’re for people that prefer to sleep in hostels and motels and night, and those that prefer to drive manual and explore Australia’s remotest regions. Great choices would be the Toyota Rav4 and Suzuki Vitara.

When you have your car sorted out it's time to thing about costs, supplies and details that will make you road trip in Australia unforgettable.

Make sure the car is in good condition

Once you’re sure which mechanic to take the car to, have him check every single thing before you set out. Some things to look out for are brakes, tires, rust, oil leaks, air conditioning, glass, exhaust, and many more.

Fluid leaks are some of the most common oversights because most people don’t look under their vehicles. Other is smoke coming out from the exhaust, rust in particular areas like the roof, and being aware of the maintenance history of the vehicle. If you’re getting a second-hand vehicle – which is considered a smart move for a road trip in Australia – then make sure that the previous owner took good care of it.

And lastly, get insured and your car registered . The importance of insurance can’t be overstated, but don’t go overboard and ensure for it things you definitely won’t need. There are plenty of insurances in Australia, consult with them to find out what you’ll need the most.

Stock up on supplies

One of the main reasons that the size of the car is important for a road trip in Australia is that you need lots of provisions and some gadgets. Stay stocked up on water – it’s incredibly important and easy to overlook. Get spare tires, some flares, and a GPS – it’s incredibly important. If the car has one, then great. If not, definitely get one. Mind the size of the fuel tank, and have spare fuel just in case because Australia is an easy place to get lost in.

And before hitting the road, read our post about how much it cost to travel in Australia so you can plan your travel budget according to your Aussie road adventure.

best vehicle for travelling around australia

3 thoughts on “How to pick the right car for your road trip in Australia”

Random Q: What is your dream Aussie road trip start and finishing point?

To cover Sydney to Perth 🙂 quite a long journey!

Would love to do this by 2022 🙂

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Ben & Michelle

Road Trip Around Australia | Getting Set Up

Posted on Published: October 14, 2020

  • So you’re planning a road trip around Australia?

We’ve been through that same exciting process of planning to travel Australia by road: but finding the answers to the many questions I had, proved time-consuming and a little bit frustrating. Though we searched high and low, the answers were all over the place.

So we decided that we wanted to help others; those that are as excited about travelling around Australia as we were, who have a seemingly insatiable desire to read everything they can about the topic, and who love planning everything that they possibly can before they go.

I mean, if you’re anything like me, then the planning, the anticipation, the lining-all-your-ducks-up, is almost as fun as the going.

But don’t get too bogged down in planning your road trip.

Sure, do it because it’s exciting and helps the time before the trip pass more quickly. But don’t wait until you have absolutely everything sorted out.

And that’s half the fun of a trip like this, the learning and experiencing and changing tack because you discovered something new.

So heads up, this is a loooong post…

best vehicle for travelling around australia

So before you start reading, I just want to warn you that this is not a short post.

Coming in at over 16,000 words, this is the most comprehensive post I’ve ever written and it covers EVERYTHING I could think of that would be important for getting set up for a road trip around Australia.

I recommend that you use the table of contents below to guide you to the sections that are most important to you.

And bookmark this page so that you can refer back to it, or pin it on Pinterest.

1. The benefits of a road trip around Australia

2. the mistakes we made (that maybe you can avoid), 3. understanding the different types of vehicles, 4. how to rent a motorhome or caravan in australia, 5. how to buy a motorhome or caravan in australia, 6. how the camping works in australia, 7. how to set up your rig for self-sufficient camping, 8. being prepared for disaster, 9. how to keep in touch with friends and family when you’re on the road, 10. how to plan your route around australia, 11. how to pack for a road trip around australia, 12. how driving in australia is different to the rest of the world, 13. how much does it cost, 14. how to fund your road trip around australia, ready to make a road trip around australia a reality.

And at the end of the post, I’ve provided a planning checklist to help you gather together everything you’ve learnt and tick them all off the list as you go through them.

Since this post is so large and comprehensive I have to warn you that it is not for everybody!

DO read this post if you:

  • Want to drive around Australia and will camp each night.   That may be camping in a motorhome, caravan, campervan or tent and it could be in a caravan park, national park or a free camp.
  • Are coming from outside Australia.  International travellers, I answer all your questions in here too.  With that in mind, there may be a few times where Aussies reading this article will think, ‘well duh, of course you can drink the tap water’ but that’s not obvious for someone from another country. (Whether it tastes any good is another story.)
  • Are going for 2 weeks, 12 months or heading off full-time.

DON’T read this post if:

  • You’re after a travel guide of all the things you must see while you’re in Australia .  There is soooo much to see and it all depends on whether you’re a city person or a bush person, whether you’re into museums or waterfalls, and it certainly will depend on your budget. There is so much information to be found on the internet of all the places you can visit, so I’m not covering that here.
  • You are already travelling around Australia.  There’s nothing new or ground-breaking in here. There’s nothing you wouldn’t have already experienced yourself, whether by trial or error.

This post is full of the basic information that you just don’t know when you’re either from another country, or haven’t camped in Australia. And if you’re on the road already, that’s not you.

Let’s get stuck in!

Please note: some links in this post are affiliate links which means that if you decide to purchase I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please see our affiliate disclosure for more information.

The very fact that you’re reading this post tells me that you don’t need to be convinced that taking an extended road trip around Australia is a great idea.

You already know why you want to do this. You may want to spend more time with your family, or see more of Australia, or just not work for a while!

But here are some other benefits that you may not have thought of.

Problem solving skills

When you’re on the road and something goes wrong, you don’t always have the luxury of being able to call someone up to deal with it for you. You have to deal with it, you have to get your thinking cap on and problem solve. You have to reach out to people to ask for help. You have to research a topic you know nothing about to see if you can figure out what’s wrong. You have to try and fix it, and either be pleasantly surprised that you got it right, or learn one way NOT to do it.

And it’s not just you that benefits from this, your kids do to.

Have you ever had the time to teach them to fish, or to light a fire, or to dig a hole to go poop? In our increasingly fast paced and electronic world, they often aren’t given the time or opportunity to learn tactile skills. When you’re camping they can take the time to learn how to light a fire, and practice dozens of times until they’re confident.

All of you will learn great problem solving skills.

A new appreciation for nature

How many sunsets have you missed simply because you were inside and didn’t realise the sun was setting until it was time to turn on the lights? Or you couldn’t see it anyway because you’re surrounded by lots of buildings.

We may be a bit cuckoo, but we got so much enjoyment out of simple encounters with the local wildlife.

It was delightful to make friends with a magpie and feed her scraps of meat, and be totally entertained by her as she frolicked around our campsite.

And we felt special with each night that one frog would come and sit on our outdoor table and greet us (okay, frighten us me) as we headed to the toilet in the middle of the night.

I had never thought about ‘compromise’ as being something that was important for the attainment of my goals. But being on this road trip has certainly taught me that.

Doing this road trip has been a dream of mine for many years. But I thought that I only wanted to do it if I could be in a nice motorhome, with an onboard bathroom, and nice decor and a great solar set-up. And I wanted to do it without having to work or worry about money.

And so if felt unattainable.

But when we decided we’re going to do this trip anyway, there was certainly a lot of compromising that needed to be done.

A camper trailer instead of a motorhome, no onboard bathroom but staying at caravan parks and using their bathrooms, definitely no nice decor and an okay solar set-up.

While there was compromise, it certainly felt nice to not be compromising on our dream. For once.

Yes, a lot of people talk about the benefit of time when you’re on a road trip. Not only time with your loved ones and time to relax. But time to pursue the things that are important to you. Time to read. Time to create.

Time to discover what’s really important to you.

When we started on this road trip, we thought that it might be something we’d like to do for the foreseeable future, but we weren’t sure.

So we said that we’d try it for a year and then reassess.

We also gave ourselves the ‘out’, that if either of us didn’t like it, we could stop whenever we wanted. No harm no foul.

As it turns out, we LOVE this life, so a few things have needed to change in the way that we’re set up.

Picking the right camper for us

I think it’s pretty common, no one’s first purchase of a home-on-wheels is the ‘right’ one. It’s not until you’ve travelled in it, realised what type of travelling you like to do, the comforts that you don’t want to give up, and those features that you just don’t care about.

You have to take it around with you for hundreds of kilometres, set it up, pack it down, be stuck in it in the rain, sleep in it in the heat, cook in it, eat in it and clean it. Then maybe, you’ll have an idea if it’s the right type of vehicle for you.

For us, we got it quite wrong.

The camper trailer was great for a first-go because it was cheap and light, and it certainly was everything we needed for our first four months.

But now that we want to be on the road for at least a couple of years we’ve realised a few home truths about ourselves. We will happily get a caravan and sacrifice those hard-to-get-to places in order to have some more comfort, an easier time setting up and packing down… and a toilet.

Funding our trip

We have loved our trip so much that it’s made us want to live this life for the foreseeable future.

Six months, well, it was actually more like almost 5 months, just isn’t enough time for us to see this country. We don’t want to just drive through all these wonderful locations, we want to set up camp and stay for a couple of days, if not weeks. We want to live on the road.  

So we have to figure out how we’re going to make money. I’ve got a whole section below on ‘ funding your trip ’, but in hindsight, it would have been better if we’d had that sorted before we left.

We’ll start off with a bang and get straight into talking about vehicles. This will be your largest one-off expense and determines so much about your trip.

We’ll have a look at the different types of vehicles commonly available here in Australia and the pros and cons of each.

Just a note for my North American readers, you’ll find that large rigs are pretty rare here. You’ll be hard pushed to find an RV or travel trailer over 30ft and fifth wheels are pretty rare, but becoming more popular.

The list below is in order of the most popular, widely available and most seen options, to the least seen options. (Based on our own travels around half of Australia. The point is, caravans are everywhere, Class A RVs and fifth wheels are not.)

Australia is definitely a caravanning nation (that’s a travel trailer to my North American friends). There are thousands of these traversing the country at any one time.

The pop top is also very popular. The little effort required to pop up the roof when setting up camp means that the overall caravan weight is reduced as well as reducing the wind-resistance/drag of the caravan. Which equals cheaper fuel bills.

best vehicle for travelling around australia

We’ve done lots of research on caravans to help you decide which is best for you:

best vehicle for travelling around australia

Motorhome / Class C

You’ll find lots of these mid-size motorhomes around Australia. They’re a popular choice for renting because they’re large enough to be comfortable, but small enough to be not too stressful to drive.

Check out my favourite motorhome here .

Camper van / Class B

These are great little units; small, compact and having everything you need for a road trip. (Except a toilet, and that’s a deal breaker for me.)

While many are built on a van chassis like the Toyota Hiace, I would also include in this category, the mini-vans or people-movers like the Toyota Tarago or Honda Odyssey.

You’ll see lots of these around Australia, the rented ones painted bright, and somewhat gaudy colours, so you won’t miss them

best vehicle for travelling around australia

If you like the idea of a campervan but would only be interested if they have a bathroom onboard, this post on small campervans is for you. I’ve only included  camper vans that have a toilet and shower.

best vehicle for travelling around australia

Pop-up trailer

These seem to be great for families.

With beds at each end, a small kitchen, a seating area and some built-in storage the pop-up trailer is a good compromise between quick set-up and light weight.

There isn’t too much set-up (well, not as much as a tent anyway) but they’re not as heavy as a caravan.

Pop up trailer extended up, ready for camping.

Camper Trailer

Camper trailers are very popular in Australia. They are light weight, manoeuvrable and stand up well to the rigours of harsh Australian roads and 4WD tracks.

They come in either soft or hard floor. The soft-floor are cheaper and allow you to have a large tent space (like ours) which is great for families who need the space for all the beds.

The hard-floors are quick to put up and bring the tent area off the ground but it does mean that the inside the tent space is limited.

best vehicle for travelling around australia

There are lots of camper trailer manufacturers here in Australia, we’ve compiled a big list below, as well as the pros and cons of our own camper trailer.

best vehicle for travelling around australia

Tent / Roof top tent

The roof top tent is a design that will not limit where you can go.

Quick and easy to set-up, your bed is off the ground (and away from any wild animals), yet it packs up into a compact unit that sits permanently on the roof of your car.

This is a great option for serious 4WD enthusiasts, not needing to worry about towing anything and not adding too much height to their vehicle. It’s perfect for the person that wants to be outside all the time (except when they’re sleeping), because that’s where you’ll be.

The Right Set Up for your Road Trip Around Australia - Which would suit you and your travel style best? A caravan, campervan, motorhome, rooftop tent or... should you just stay in hotels?

Bus / Class A

I do look on these a bit jealously sometimes.

With all that space, and huge windows, it’s as close to an actual home on wheels as you can get, I think.

But the idea of having to drive one of these things make me shudder, and then having to park it!

That’s why the bigger the bus, the more likely it is to have a car being towed behind.

best vehicle for travelling around australia

Fifth Wheel

There are not as many fifth wheels in Australia as there are caravans, but they are around.

While they are large in both length and height, they do look like they could have every mod-con (so you can get your laundry done without having to find a laundromat) you could want.

There are a couple of manufacturers in Australia but not heaps.

I can’t wait till they take off here in Australia and New Zealand and the prices start to come down (I might just be dreaming about that) because I would love one of these.

best vehicle for travelling around australia

Love the idea of a fifth wheel, but not enthusiastic about their massive size? These are all the fifth wheels we’ve found in Australia that are small (less than 25ft).

best vehicle for travelling around australia

To Rent or Buy?

You’ve got two options for a vehicle to road trip around Australia, you can rent one, or buy one. There are two main factors which will determine the option that will suit you best.

  • How long are you coming for? If it’s only a couple of weeks, then it certainly doesn’t make sense to go through all the hassle of buying a vehicle. If you’re planning on staying for a couple of months? Well then it starts to make more sense financially, if you buy a vehicle.
  • The other factor to consider is whether or not you’re planning to go off-road. If it’s a 4WD drive adventure that you want, purchasing your own vehicle may be best option.

Some of the best views and campsites can be found down the dusty dirt roads, if you’re looking to escape the crowds and explore the raw (and often harsh) Aussie outback, then you may want to leave the sealed roads.

Having said that… you can travel all the way around Australia without leaving the seal. Just keep this in mind when you’re deciding whether you’re going to rent or buy.

If your Australian road trip is a couple of months or less, and you want a campervan or motorhome, then renting a vehicle will probably be your best option.

Just a couple of things to note:

Insurance – particularly for off-road

If you’re going to go off the sealed highway (at all!) then make sure you get the right vehicle and insurance package to go with it. It will cost you more, but if anything happens while you’re on the unsealed road you could be up for a hefty insurance excess … and that’s if you’re lucky enough to still be covered.

One-way rentals

You would need to fly into a main city and pick up your vehicle there. Main cities include: Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide, Cairns or Darwin. But if you’re planning on doing a one-way rental, for example flying in to Perth, driving a rental vehicle across to Sydney and leaving it there, make sure to check out the costs. One-way rentals can be very expensive here in Australia.

Renting a caravan

There are places where you can rent a caravan, but then you’ll need to hire a tow vehicle as well. While it can be done, they are not as popular as campervan and motorhome rentals, and you will likely have to do a lot more searching for this. Campervan and motorhome rentals are everywhere, you can easily pick up your rental at the airport making it super easy and convenient.

Guaranteed Buy Back

There are some campervan hire companies that will sell you an ex-rental campervan and give you a guarantee to buy the vehicle back from you at an agreed price. They’ll buy it back at approx. 30-50% of the original purchase priced, based on when you bring it back (it needs to be within 12 months). You just have to have it regularly serviced.

This option looks like it’s set up to appeal to the young backpacking crowd, as I’ve only seen older vehicles in this category which are on the lower end of the price scale, but there’s no reason why it should be limited to the young. ☺

best vehicle for travelling around australia

If you’re going to be in Australia for more than a couple of months, then this option probably makes the most sense for you.

Dealership or Private Sale

In Australia, there are two main ways you can purchase a vehicle, caravan, campervan. By buying from a dealership, or from a private party.

When you buy from a dealership it’s less hassle than buying privately. A dealership:

  • Will have inspected the vehicle and made repairs if necessary
  • Gives you more legal protection because they can only operate within strict laws
  • Will handle all the paperwork such as transfer of ownership
  • Must provide a history check of the vehicle
  • Can offer extras such as warranties and road side assistance

I suppose the biggest turn-off about dealerships for most people, is that you’re dealing with professional sales people. While I don’t want to tar all used-car sales people with the same brush, many of us have had experience with that one salesperson that made us feel uncomfortable, or duped. Obviously, they’re not all like that and there are things you can do to protect yourself, such as getting a pre-purchase inspection.

Generally, the biggest benefit to buying private, rather than from a dealer, is that the seller may have more room to negotiate on their price. That can mean a saving of thousands of dollars, but offers less security for the buyer.

Petrol or Diesel

Having only ever bought regular 2WD cars before, I have never considered whether or not I should buy a petrol or diesel vehicle, they’ve always just been petrol. But once you start looking at 4WD vehicles, there are many that are diesel.

You can get both fuel types, pretty much everywhere around Australia.

Personally, I’ve found that in more metropolitan areas there are fewer diesel bowsers at the gas station. If there are 10 bowsers, then maybe 2 of them will be diesel. (But then, there are less diesel vehicles in metro areas too.)

The more rural you go, the more often diesel is found. I’ve read that in some of the really remote places, you can only buy diesel, and if you happen to get stranded with no fue, a passing motorist, local road workers or nearby farmhouse, is more likely to have diesel than petrol.

I like having diesel because I feel it’s safer to transport, and we have two 20L jerry cans which we carry with us.

Research before you get here

Once you’re figured out which city you’ll be starting from, start looking for the vehicle that you would like to buy, and follow the marketplaces websites.

These are the websites that I recommend keeping an eye on.

The reason why I recommend this, is that it gives you an idea of what types of vehicles are available, the prices, and which types of vehicles sell faster than others. This can help you to get an idea of prices, the condition you can expect a car to be in (at a particular price range) and the availability of different types of vehicles.

Gumtree.com.au – for cars, caravans and motorhomes. Gumtree is probably the equivalent of eBay or Craigslist and both dealers and private sellers advertise on here.

CarSales.com.au – for cars

CaravanCampingSales.com.au – for caravans, camper trailers, motorhomes etc

Just a note – I know that for Gumtree, I wasn’t able to contact any of the sellers (their contact details were hidden from me) because I was in New Zealand at the time that I was doing all the research. When we got to Australia, Gumtree still thought I was in New Zealand and still wouldn’t allow me to see the sellers contact details. A quick phone call to their Helpdesk confirmed that I was now in Australia and they were able to clear my account.

Checks that need to be done prior to purchase:

Rta checks for ownership – by different states.

If you’re doing a private purchase, then you must do a check of who is the legal owner and if there is any finance on the car. This is easily done online at: https://checkrego.com.au/

Pre-Purchase Inspection

Regardless of whether you’re buying from a dealership or a private party, I would still recommend getting a pre-purchase inspection of the vehicle. If you’re confident to do that yourself, that’s cool, but if you’re as clueless as me about all things mechanical, you’ll need to book a pre-purchase inspection with a local mechanic or an organisation like the NRMA.

We chose NRMA , which is a nationwide organisation that does insurance and road-side assistance.

We ordered two pre-purchase inspections through them and found them to be great. It seems that they have inspectors out on the road all the time so once you book they’ve got a team of people they could assign the job to.

For us in Sydney, this meant that we were able to ring up for the inspection and have it conducted within 24 hours. They provide you with quite a comprehensive report (emailed to you) and give you a fairly good idea of what you’re getting yourself into.

We’re so glad we did this.

The first car we had inspected was, in our inexperienced opinion, okay. It was a good price and there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with it. The pre-purchase inspection showed that there were a number of items that would need some serious work in the near future.

The second vehicle we had inspected actually gave a glowing report and we’ve been really happy with our purchase.

The pre-purchase inspections, while not fool-proof, give a bit of peace of mind for those of us mechanically challenged.

Checklists for inspecting a second-hand caravan / camper trailer etc

I’d like to say that I have a comprehensive checklist for anyone purchasing a second-hand caravan or camper trailer. But I don’t, which is pretty much how we ended up with the camper trailer that didn’t have half the features that were listed on it’s ad. But it was road-worthy and safe, thank goodness.

Here are some checklists that will help you on your initial inspection.

Camper Trailer Checklist

CamperTrailerAustralia.com.au – Buying a Used Camper Trailer

AussieLeisureLoans.com.au – Checklist for Buying a Camper Trailer

Caravan Checklist


Big4.com.au – Important Tips for Purchasing a Used Caravan

Outdoria.com.au – Ultimate Guide to Buying a Used Caravan Online

Campervan Checklist

Camplify.com.au – Ultimate Guide to Buying a Used Campervan

RollingSolo.com.au – Killer Checklist for Buying a Motorhome or Caravan

Motorhome Checklist

Buying a second hand motorhome becomes a little bit trickier if you’re planning on buying privately. When buying privately, you have no recourse should you find issues with the motorhome. From my research, it seems that the sensible option for buying a motorhome is to buy one from a dealer. Unless you’re able to do the inspections yourself, of course.

There are companies that will do an inspection for you, however there are not as many as there are vehicle inspectors, which makes sense.

Ownership Costs

Of course, there is always costs associated with owning a vehicle. For any international visitors, here’s what you’ll need to consider for Australia.

Car registration

Vehicle registration is different in each of the eight states of Australia. But here’s the general information:

  • Registration lasts for a year
  • You may need to have your vehicle inspected (at a registered inspection centre, such as a mechanic) for road-worthiness
  • If the registration runs out while you’re on your trip, you may need to return to the state that the vehicle is registered in, to re-register.
  • You are required to purchase Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance when you register your vehicle.

The rules and costs are different for each state, so if you already know where you’re going to buy your vehicle here are the links to each states vehicle registration information:

Australia is not like the USA where you need massive insurance in order to just walk down the street, but you will want to have vehicle insurance.

In Australia we have Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance which is paid when your vehicle is registered (you can’t register without it). CTP is not comprehensive insurance, it only provides the driver cover for any legal liability for injury or death as a result of an accident for which the insured is responsible.

You can easily purchase comprehensive insurance online. When we bought our car, I organized our insurance over the internet (on my phone) while Ben went through the sale process with the seller. By the time we drove off, we were fully covered.

Roadside Assistance

This isn’t a pre-requisite of owning a vehicle, but it’s a very, very high on the list of ‘should haves’.

Unless you’re a mechanic yourself, travelling with all your tools… and spare parts, then you should have road side assistance. ESPECIALLY if you’re travelling to remote areas. You’ve got to remember that in some parts of Australia it could be 300kms to the nearest town, and by town I mean a pub, general store and a gas station. Getting a tow truck could cost you thousands and if your vehicle is broken down, you’ve got no way to tow your home. It gets very complicated, very quickly. Just get roadside assistance, okay?

Options include:

The various RAC is each state:

Once you’ve got your vehicle sorted, you’ll be looking for somewhere to park each night…

I want to talk about camping in Australia, because the type of camping you want to do will help determine the type of set-up you need and any of the accessories you’ll likely want.

Caravan Parks

Caravan parks can be found all over Australia. In every city and town and sometimes even in the very smallest of towns that, if you blink, you’ll miss it.

All caravan parks will have the following facilities:

  • Powered sites – where you can plug into 240V power and water, and drain your grey water.
  • A facilities block – with toilets, showers & laundry room
  • A kitchen – with basic cooking (sink, stove, fridge, bench space) but many have extra things such as toaster, oven, blender, pots and pans, crockery and cutlery.
  • Dumping – so you can empty your toilet cassette or black tank.

Caravan parks can vary widely, from a basic campsite with not much appeal (or grass), to resort-like complexes with multiple pools, children’s play areas, cafes, games rooms and mini-golf.

Private Camping Sites

With the popularity of WikiCamps (an app that lists all the campsites around Australia – see section ‘How to find campsites’ below) it’s been much easier for people to set up campsites on their private property. Since campers will use the app to find their next campsite, the private campsite owners don’t need to spend a fortune on traditional advertising. They just list their campsite on WikiCamps and that’s it.

This could include farms, lifestyle blocks, the local pub with a big garden out the back or some other business with space out the back.

Since this is not regulated, you will get a huge range of options. It may just be grassy spot down by the river with no facilities, or a powered site with water and access to a bathroom block.

Prices are also variable, it can be quite pricey if you’re in a popular tourist area, or it may be ‘free’ but with the expectation that you will buy a drink and/or a meal in the pub.

National Parks

There are National Parks all over Australia and they provide some of the best outdoor experiences. Each of the National Parks is managed by the state government, so they’re all different.

You will find that there is a huge array of camping options, from free camping with no facilities, to fully managed campsites with power, water, dump points and a kitchen.

Some of the National Parks require that you pay a fee to enter the park, and then you pay camping fees on top of that. But they’re all different, so search the website of the National Park for each state. These links should get you started:

Free or Low-Cost Camps

First lesson… you will not find free camps in very touristy areas.

For example, if you’re travelling anywhere along the east coast, don’t expect to find any free camps on the beach. For free camps, you will need to head inland and further away from the main touristy areas and then you’ll find HEAPS of free or low cost camping options.

The one caveat I have to not being able to find free camping along the east coast, is rest stops. There are quite a lot of roadside rest stops where you’re able to stop for the night. But they’re not exactly in scenic areas, can be noisy since they’re right beside the highway and may or may not have facilities. Most will have at least a long drop toilet, but that’s about it.

Oh, and don’t park in designated truck parking areas, these are rest areas for truck drivers only.

More info on free camping in Australia:

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How to find campsites

Here are the two most common ways to find campsites in Australia:

This app is a crowd-sourced database of all the campground and caravan parks across Australia. It shows the details of the campsite, the facilities available, the cost, as well as other information such as whether they allow dogs, local sites to see and the proximity to other amenities. The value of the app lies in the comments, ratings, photos and updated costs of fellow campers.

The app also shows places of interest, dump points, day use areas and even has a map feature to direct you straight to the campsite.

At just $7.99 it is worth every single cent.

Camps Australia

This is a physical book – now I haven’t used this myself, but people that I’ve talked to have been pretty happy with this book. They also have an app which is still only $9.99. I think that the main difference with the Camps Australia list of campsites, is that they’re all verified sites.

Okay, so now that you know the different types of camping that you can do in Australia, hopefully you’ve got an idea of the type that you and your companions will want to do.

If you’re going to be staying in caravan parks for the duration of your trip, then you will be fine with a more basic set-up; you can use the caravan parks’ toilet, shower, kitchen and laundry. You can charge up your electronic devices each night using the supplied power, you can get fresh drinking water and dump your toilet (if you have one).

But if you’re planning to do free or low-cost camping then you’ll need to be self-sufficient . And that means having access to the following things:

  • Water supply
  • Grey water disposal

When you’re free camping you probably won’t have access to drinking water, so you need to take enough for you and your travelling companions, for the number of days you plan to stay.

Your caravan/motorhome/campervan is likely to have a water tank already, but consider how big the tank is, and all the things you’ll be using that water for such as: drinking, cooking, washing (dishes and people) and the toilet.

In order to extend your stay you’ll need to think about ways to conserve water, carry more water or have a way of re-filling your water. This may include things such as:

  • Taking navy showers, or no showers, especially if there is a river or lake where everyone can go for a swim. (No soaps in the waterways though!)
  • Taking extra water such as a tank in the tow vehicle, water jerry cans, water bladder or even just extra plastic bottles of drinking water.
  • It may be that you’re able to fill your water containers (e.g. jerry cans) when you’re out and about sightseeing and use these to fill up the tank in the caravan.

You’ve got to remember that in some areas of Australia (i.e. the whole middle of Australia) water is scarce and you need to be mindful of where you’re going and if there’ll be water.

It’s no problem in built up areas, but you’ll need to think about this fact when travelling in remote areas.

When we first set out on our road trip around Australia, I had thought that an on-board toilet wasn’t such a high priority. I figured that if we’re free camping with no toilet facilities, then I’d just go in the bush. But not all free camps are out in the bush. Some are beside the highway, or in an open field, or jam-packed with other free campers.

This is where it really comes in handy to have your own toilet on-board.

There are a couple of different types of toilet, that I think it would be handy to know about.

Cassette Toilet

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This is the most common caravan/motorhome toilet that you will find in Australia. It’s not too dissimilar to a regular toilet, you open the flap at the bottom of the bowl, you do your business and when you flush it empties into a small holding tank/cassette, and then you close the flap.

Emptying the cassette involves taking the cassette out (usually accessed from outside the caravan or motorhome) and dumping it into a dump station or in a toilet.

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Holding Tank Toilet

These are the most commonly found toilets in large RVs in North America; where the toilet empties in a holding tank (black tank) and can be pumped out at a designated dumping point. These are not hugely popular in Australia, they are around, but cassette toilets are well and truly the most popular.

Portable/Chemical Toilet

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The porta potty or chemical toilet is a self-contained unit you can use anywhere. It works on the same principle as the cassette toilet above, but the porta potty comes in two parts with the holding tank or cassette part right under the toilet seat part. You can easily separate the bottom half of the toilet from the top half so that you can dispose of the contents.

The porta potty can be easily moved around (just pick it up, it’s not attached to anything and doesn’t have any hoses etc) which makes it a great emergency loo.

Store it anywhere on your rig and just bring it out when it’s needed.

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In less populated areas of Australia, it’s acceptable to go to the toilet out in nature. However, there is a bit of etiquette involved in this.

Here’s some basic tips for going bush toilet in Australia:

  • Be discreet. No one wants to see you flashing your bits around and definitely no one needs to see you defecating.
  • Number two’s require you to dig a hole. Don’t just break ground , but dig a decent depth hole that isn’t just going to have the dirt blown away.
  • Toilet paper – now this is really important. We have a little bit of an ongoing problem with toilet paper being disposed of incorrectly and creating a despicable scene at some of our most beautiful spots. DO NOT leave your toilet paper behind. Don’t bury it, because it will get dug up by some curious critter. You have two options:
  • either put a match to your toilet paper and burn it (although not in the middle of a dry field or during a fire ban!) OR
  • just put it in the rubbish. Take a little rubbish bag with you and put your loo paper straight in there after use. It’s so easy to do, yet some people seem to think they’re exempt from this problem and refuse to dispose of their toilet paper properly. Once you see toilet paper strewn around, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about, and you’ll be as annoyed (and flabbergasted) by it as I am.

Central to your power solution is your batteries. You’ll use them to keep power hungry things going, like:

  • Electronic devices such as laptop, phone, camera equipment
  • Microwave, coffee maker, TV

But you’ll need to keep the batteries topped up, and you do this by recharging them by either:

  • Charging from the car alternator when driving
  • Solar panels
  • Battery charger when connected to mains power or a generator

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If you’re renting a motorhome or campervan, then this is most likely to be set up already. But if not, here are the BASICS of what you’ll need.

1. Battery – Deep-Cycle Battery

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First question I get is: can you use the battery that’s already in your car – the one that’s used to start the car – to power everything?

No – you need another battery that is a deep-cycle battery. You may hear this referred to as an auxiliary, secondary, or a dual battery system. This is the battery that will be used to power the fridge, lights, devices etc.

A deep-cycle battery is a lead-acid battery designed to be regularly deeply discharged using most of its capacity. In contrast, starter batteries (e.g. most automotive batteries) are designed to deliver short, high-current bursts for cranking the engine, thus frequently discharging only a small part of their capacity.  Thank you Wikipedia.

There are different types of deep-cycle batteries, the most commonly used types in Australia are the Lead Acid Battery and the AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) battery.

 Lithium batteries are becoming more and more popular as they are more efficient, lighter (in weight) and last a lot longer.  They are also much more expensive, you can read more about them in  this article.

The deep-cycle battery can be fitted under the bonnet of some cars (if they have a space already available) or they can be fitted into the cargo area of your car or in the camper trailer/caravan. It will depend on the type of battery you have and the space available.

What do the different sizes mean?

The battery size is determined by the Amp Hours (Ah) of the battery. If the battery is 100Ah, this means that you have 100 Amp Hours of power available (theoretically).

If you have power consumption of 10 amps per hour (for example, you’ve got a fridge that uses 5 amps of power per hour, lights that use 2 amps per hour and other devices that are using 3 amps per hour) then that means the battery will last for 10 hours before it is completely flat.

Unfortunately it doesn’t quite work like that, AGM batteries should only be discharged about 60-80% before you need to recharge them again. But the Amp Hours is a good way of defining the size of a battery.

Now let’s talk about how a battery is recharged.

2. Recharging by Driving

Your deep-cycle battery can be charged by being hooked up to the start battery in your car, which is charged up by the alternator when you’re driving.

he Basics of Battery Power for Camping - one way of recharging your deep-cycle batte

If you’ve heard of things like a DC-DC charger or VSR (Voltage Sensitive Relay) these are pieces of equipment that go between your car’s start battery and the deep-cycle battery, this is to make sure that the battery is charged enough, but not too much and to make sure that the start battery never gets drained.

3. Recharging with Solar Panels

If you want to recharge your batteries using solar panels you will need to have a solar controller or regulator between the solar panels and the battery. The solar controller ensures that the battery does not get overcharged.

he Basics of Battery Power for Camping - solar panels are one way of recharging your

The size of the solar panels you need, will depend on how much power your devices consume. A set-up with a large fridge, multiple lights and devices will need more solar panels than a smaller set-up. I’ve found a very informative article on Hema Maps on the  The Basic Guide to Camping with Solar Power .

4. Recharging with a Battery Charger

attery Power for Camping - when you're at a spot that has mains po

When you have access to mains power, you can also recharge your AGM battery with an AC battery charger . You just plug the charger into the power point and connect it up to the battery.

Battery chargers come in different amp sizes, the larger the amps the quicker the battery will charge. For example, a 10A battery charger will take about 12 hours to recharge a 120Ah battery. Whereas a 20A battery charger will take 5 hours.

Or from a generator – If you have a generator, you can use the AC outlet to plug in the battery charger, and use it just like it were mains power.

5. Powering your 12v devices

Anything that uses 12v can be plugged straight into the battery . This includes things like your portable fridge or lights. You need adaptors or a battery box that are connected to the battery so that you can plug the cigarette lighter plug into the battery.

6. Using 240v devices – you need an inverter

There are other electronic equipment that doesn’t use 12v power, things like laptops, microwaves and toasters. They have the normal plug that you use in your house and run on 240v AC power.

In order to power these devices, you will need an inverter that will convert the 12v DC power of the battery, to 240v AC power for your devices.

he Basics of Battery Power for Camping - you can use your deep-cycle battery to powe

The size of the inverter you buy, will depend on the power consumption of the devices you’re running (i.e. the watts). For example, charging a laptop uses less power than running a microwave, so you will need a bigger inverter if you’re planning to take a microwave with you.

Air Conditioners

Here’s a question that we’ve pondered ourselves as we’ve sweated away in hot and sticky Darwin, or fried in the dry, but 40°C heat of Dubbo: can we run an air-conditioning unit while we’re free-camping?

From batteries? NO

From a generator? Maybe. I’ve heard plenty of people are able to run their air-con from generators, you just have to make sure you get a generator that is rated high enough to power your air-con.

These should be part of every travellers set-up, as important as your batteries, or your hat, or your phone, but so many people forget these.

First Aid kit

Make sure you have a suitable first aid kit and check that everything is within date (i.e. not expired) and that you know how to use everything in there.

Have you all taken a first aid course? Don’t forget, when you’re out in the middle of nowhere (i.e. much of Australia) then you must all look after each other, and that includes having a well-stocked first aid kit and the knowledge to use it.

Search more first aid kits here.

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Personal Locator Beacon / Satellite phone

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Consider taking a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) with you.

Having this device with you can mean the difference between life and death, particularly in remote areas. PLBs are designed to be used on land, and are designed to stay with individuals rather than vehicles. You should make sure that you get one that has GPS as this means it will be much quicker for emergency services to find you. See the Australian Maritime Safety Authority website for more details.

Another option would be to either buy or hire a satellite phone.

While not as cheap as a cell phone, they do mean that you can make calls even when you’re out of cell phone coverage.

And there are satellite messenger devices like the SpotX , where you can send text messages via satellite.

Search more PLB / Satellite phones here

Fire Extinguishers

This one is a no-brainer really. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher in your vehicle and in your caravan/camper trailer.

Search more fire extinguishers here

Emergency Contact List

This is a simple, free and easy to do thing that will save you mountains of stress should you have an emergency situation.

A piece of paper that is easily locatable to you and those travelling with you, that has all the important contact phone numbers and details.

Things like:

  • Everyone’s mobile number – because you may not have memorised their numbers since they’re all in your mobile phone anyway
  • Phone numbers of close relatives – like parents and siblings
  • Your doctors name and number
  • Your medicare numbers
  • Your car insurance phone number and policy number
  • Health insurance numbers

It’s simple stuff, but when it’s an emergency and your phone happens to be flat, you’ll be super glad to have all this info handy.

I’ve got a free emergency contact form template over here if you would like.

There are a couple of large mobile phone providers in Australia like Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, Virgin as well as many smaller companies.

Without a doubt, the company with the best coverage around Australia is Telstra. They have the largest infrastructure network and therefore the largest coverage of Australia.

Update: I’ve been reading reports of Optus setting up cell towers in some remote towns so it will be worthwhile keeping an eye on them too.

Telstra Coverage Map

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Vodafone Coverage Map

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Telstra seem to have a bit of a reputation for not-that-great customer service, but that hasn’t been our experience at all. Yes, you’re going to get put through to a call centre in India, but each time they’ve been knowledgeable and able to help out with our situation.

Also, Telstra is certainly not the cheapest, but with the coverage they have (in both cell service and customer service) they really are the best choice.

If you live in Australia already, then you’ve likely got your phone sorted out already.

If you’re travelling to Australia from somewhere else, then you will probably want a prepaid service. The costs for prepaid phone are not too bad… it’s data that’s the big cost.

Ahh, the bane and blessing of every travellers existence!

Getting internet in Australia isn’t too hard, especially if you don’t need lots of gigs and you’re not in a remote area. But if you need/want heavier internet usage, things get a little bit trickier, and a lot more expensive.

Here’s how you’re going to get internet in Australia:

Free Wi-Fi can be found in all the regular places: shopping malls, airports, MacDonalds, hotels and libraries. Most often this will be capped, so of course this is only good for checking email, social media and browsing.

Hot Spot from your phone or mobile modem

This is a popular, and easy solution. If you’re with Telstra you’ll be able to get internet most of the time. For those on pre-paid it may be your only option.

If you’re not on unlimited data, then please take note, you must change your internet habits!

We found that on the road we had to be a lot more conscientious of our internet usage. You can’t watch whatever you like, whenever you like. You’ve got to stop going down the rabbit hole of endless Facebook or Youtube videos and make the most of free wi-fi when you get it, buy cheap DVDs from the second-hand shop, or read a book. Seriously, you have to get off your laptop / devices for this trip. I think you’ll find that it’s not hard though, there’s so much to see you’ll be glad to see how much you don’t need the internet.

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TV in Australia

I think people who watch TV while their on their road trip around Australia cop a bit of flak for doing so.

I used to be one of those people that gave them flak. :-/

But now that we’re on the road ourselves, I totally understand peoples desire to watch some TV.

After a day of adventuring and exploring, it’s really nice to be able to relax in the evening, catch up with the news, watch your favourite TV shows and maybe even a movie.

We do exactly the same thing, but we don’t have TV, we use our laptops and internet.

Since TV isn’t my thing, I’m going to refer you to Free Range Camping who know more about it than me.  See their article all about getting a satellite TV kit here .

So you’ve arrived in Australia, you’ve got your home on wheels, you’ve packed in your clothes and bedding, you’ve stocked up the cupboards and fridge and you’re ready to hit the road!

But which way do you go?

Well, that will depend on a few factors; where you’re flying in and out of, the time of year that you’re visiting, how long you’ve got and your bucket list of must-see places. But the main factor that you’ll want to keep in mind is the weather.

Because Australia is so large, it has a wide variety of landscapes… and weather. In the north you have tropical rainforests, in the south and east you have mountain ranges and the centre is one huge dry desert.

So you’ll want to consider the timing of your visit to some of these areas.

The north of Australia is semi-tropical, making it very hot and humid in the summer (Dec-Feb) and subject to monsoonal type rains and tropical cyclones. The rainy season runs from approximately November to April and can severely hamper travel in the region. Some roads become impassable, being either washed away or totally underwater.

The vast expanse that is the middle of Australia is desert or semi-arid. In the summer, temperatures can be in the high 30’s to 40°C (104°F) during the day.

The winter months are a popular time to travel to the centre of Australia because the day time temperatures are comfortably warm, but you do need to be aware that at night the temperature plummets and you’ll want to have warm clothing and bedding.

A more temperate climate is found in the south-east and south-west regions of Australia. While it’s cold for us, it will rarely get as cold as 0°C (32°F) so it’s not nearly as frigid as our northern hemisphere visitors would be used to.

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Southern Hemisphere Seasons

The southern hemisphere seasons are:

  • Summer – December, January, February
  • Autumn – March, April, May
  • Winter – June, July, August
  • Spring – September, October, November

You will find that many, if not most, people travelling around Australia will travel to the northern half and centre of the country in winter, and enjoy the warm tropical weather while avoiding the monsoonal rains and heat of summer.

Then in summer, they’ll head back south again where it will still be a hot summer, but not as hot.

Shoulder Season

We found ourselves travelling in the north of the country during the spring shoulder season (August/September) and we loved it. While literally hundreds of caravans were heading south as we went north we got to enjoy much less crowded camps but still pleasant temperatures.

Public Holidays & School Holidays in Australia

Being mindful of the public holidays will most likely help you with ‘crowd-control’ more than anything.

Starting your trip in Sydney? Well you DO NOT want to be picking up your campervan from the airport at 2pm on the Thursday before Easter and be heading north. You will be joined by every Sydney-ite desperate to leave the city limits on their first long weekend since summer.

Sure you could do it, but it will save yourself a heap of stress if you knew it was a long weekend and decided to stay the night near the airport instead.

You can find all the public holidays here and since it would also be best to avoid school holidays, if possible, here’s the link to them here too .

Bucket List items

And then, of course, the other thing to take into consideration is those ‘bucket list’ places that you’ve always wanted to see.  

Planning the actual route

For our trip around Australia, it was a case of ‘head north’ and then figure out the rest as we go.

However, if it’s a shorter trip, or you have limited time then you might like to plan out your itinerary a bit more.

Online Trip Planners – these are where you can input your start and finish points, and stops along the way, and it will show you your route along with some tourist attractions along the way. I find them to be a little bit limiting, but they can be a great way to start your planning and give you some ideas.

Here’s one from the NRMA that you may find helpful: Holiday Finder

Pre-made Itineraries – you’ll find lots and lots of itineraries already planned out for you, if you’d like to go that route. For example, Tourism Australia has some great self-drive itineraries here , that you could just follow these trips and you’ll have a great time.

But chances are, you’ll use them as a guide for planning your route, taking note of the things they recommend that appeal to you, and ignoring the rest.

Google Maps – if you enjoy the planning process, you could use something as simple as google maps and enter in your start and finish points, and the places on your bucket list in between.

It’s great how google maps gives you the drive times so you’ll be able to gauge how far you can travel each day.

While you’re there, you can search for local accommodation, restaurants and things to do. You can have a look at the map and see how far away the water is, the next town, the next interesting site to visit.

You can use the information that you find from itinerary examples and online trip planning tools to give you some idea of what would make a good trip, but then totally design it to your own needs, desires, budget and timeframe.

Personally, it’s my favourite way of planning for a trip because I’m in total control.

Packing is a bit of a personal preference and I’m certainly no fashionista, so I won’t be listing out the clothes I think you’ll need. But rather, some of the items that you may not think about bringing.

So of course, bring the shorts, t-shirts, nice dress, button up shirt, comfy undies and high heels if that’s what you want, these are the other things:

Protection against bugs

Light coloured and loose, long sleeve top and long pants.

As dusk approaches and you want to sit outside with your glass of chardonnay or tinnie of VB, there’s a good chance that the mosquitoes or sand flies are also thinking of settling in for their happy hour feast… of you!

It’s no fun wearing longs when it’s so hot, but it’s either that get eaten alive. Or sit inside.

This is a particularly sore point for me, because the insects seem to LOVE me. Insect repellent and long everything doesn’t seem to deter them. They find their way in and it’s no fun.


This photo is what happened in Darwin when we left our window flaps open. All the doors and windows had fly screens but on one side the weave of the fly screen was a bit bigger than all the other openings, we normally kept it shut but it was so hot we made sure that every one was open. The tiny little blighters got through the bigger weave (which happened to be right beside me) and had a feast of my legs. Itchy. For. Days.

Insect Repellent

Everyone says that the only insect repellent that is any good must have DEET in it to be effective. While I’ve been happy enough to buy this at the supermarket I have to admit, it is a pretty ‘corrosive’ product. We had a roll-on insect repellent that leaked and while I can’t remember what it corroded or stripped, but it was dramatic enough that we did quickly decide that it need to be stored in a zip lock bag from now on. And we put this stuff on our skin!?

I’ve read quite a few recommendations for natural products available here in Australia. I’m not endorsing them, because I haven’t tried them; but I’ve heard them mentioned a quite a few times so I’m putting their website links here for your reference: Good Riddance & The Locals

Heat & Sun

Okay okay, everyone sees pictures of sun-kissed Aussies enjoying the beach, splashing around in their next-to-nothings and looking youthful and happy.

That picture is not so common anymore.

More and more people are becoming painfully aware of our harsh Aussie sun and seeking protection from it.

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While a cap may look cool, if you’ve got a favourite wide-brimmed hat then I’d bring that with you. If not, you’ll be buying one when you get here anyway.

Long sleeves and pants

You know, when you see anyone that works out in the Australian sun all day (think road workers, farmers, those crazy cyclists and hikers that walk through the outback) they are most often wearing long pants and sleeves and a wide brim hat. Take your cue from them, especially if you’ll be spending your whole day outside in the summer.

In the water is where we are usually having the most fun and so forget to reapply sunscreen. Rashies are so, so popular now, so join the trend. They are especially great for kids, and everyone is wearing them, so you won’t be the odd one out.

It’s not as effective as staying out of the sun in the first place. But if you can’t/won’t keep your skin out of the sun then at least find a high SPF sunscreen and reapply regularly.

Yes, it does get cold!

I’ve reminded you a few times throughout this post that it can get really hot in many parts of Australia, but it’s certainly not hot all the time and in all places!

If you’re going to be in the middle to south of Australia during the winter months, then you’ll need to pack your warm clothes too. Average winter temperatures would get as low as single digits in ° Centigrade (34-48°F).

And don’t be fooled into thinking that the middle of Australia is hot all the time. In the winter, while day time temperatures may be warm, it can get down to zero (°C) overnight and take a couple of hours to warm up again in the morning.

There are a few considerations that you need to be aware of when it comes to driving in Australia. Things that may be quite different to where you come from, so let’s list them out:

International Drivers

In Australia we drive on the left side of the road and the majority of vehicles have the steering wheel on their right side.

You can use your overseas license in Australia for your entire visit, as long as you remain a visitor. If your license is not in English you must also carry an English translation or an International Driving Permit (IDP). Information on the IDP can be found here .

Australian Road Rules

Just like you would in any new country, it makes sense to familiarise yourself with the local road rules. A good article which outlines the major parts of the road rules (especially those pertaining to international drivers) can be found here . (Scroll about a third of the way down the page to get to the heading ‘Australia Road Rules’).

Driving at dawn or dusk

What might be quite different for our international visitors is that it if you are in a country area, it is recommended that you don’t drive at dawn or dusk times of the day. This is when the wildlife is the most active, and the chances of you hitting a kangaroo, wallaby, wombat or other creature, increases greatly.

You may not think that hitting a wallaby is that big a deal, but if you were to hit a large kangaroo that’s decided to bound across the road at the last minute, these can be big enough to cause serious damage to your car.

Driver Fatigue

In some parts of Australia you can be driving for hundreds and hundreds of kilometres, with little change in the landscape and huge distances to cover. Don’t push it. If you’re tired, there are plenty of designated rest stops, so make the most of them.

GPS and maps

You may think, like us, that phones are so useful now and that getting a GPS is a waste of time and money.

Or you may have figured out already, unlike us, that in the middle of the outback a phone is useless if you don’t have any reception. So at the time when you really need reassurance that you’re heading in the right direction to your intended campsite… you have no idea.

Unless you’re able to use an app that doesn’t require an internet connection but still uses the GPS function.

Otherwise, I’d recommend getting a GPS so you can have your navigation running all the time and there’s no arguments when you want to use the phone to take pictures and videos to post on Instagram!

And don’t forget the good old paper map. You remember them, right? You know that a paper map isn’t ever going to leave you stranded because it can’t get an internet connection, or doesn’t have a line of sight to the sky or has gone flat. There is nothing quite so old school, yet safe and practical, as having a physical map. You’ll find these in every Information Centre around the country.

Most Useful Apps

There are gazillions of apps that you could be using to plan and navigate your way around Australia. But for us, there were just a handful that I couldn’t do without:

I mentioned WikiCamps in the camping section and this is, without a doubt, the most used app on my phone. Ok ok, maybe facebook and Instagram are used more often, so I should probably say that WikiCamps was the most important app on my phone. I used it everyday that we needed to find a new camp.

It’s just $7.99 and worth every cent.

This app used to be part of the WikiCamps app but they’ve separated it out into it’s own app. There were a couple of times that we became a little concerned that our fuel was running low but we weren’t sure how far it was to the next town. Or we were at a town with half a tank of diesel left but diesel was $1.55 per litre. A quick look on the app assured us that the next town was 130 kms in the direction we were going and it was $1.42 per litre. So we kept driving. It helped us to save money and, more importantly, keep the stress and anxiety levels in check!  This app is free.

Special Considerations for Outback Travel

I’m just going to put this map of Australia here, superimposed over a map of North America, to remind you of just how large Australia.

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But while the population density of the United States is 33 people per km 2 , the population density of Australia is a measly 3 people per km 2 .

Population Density – Australia Map ( Source )

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Once you have a look at the geography of Australia, it all starts to make sense when you see that most of the middle of Australia is largely uninhabited. Sure there are small towns, and even a large town (Alice Springs) but no cities, and lots and lots of space in-between.

See all that pale yellow expanse in the Population Density – Australia Map above? All of that space has a population density of less than 0.1 person per km 2 . So that’s just one person per 10km 2 . That’s hardly any people.

I think I’ve made my point. You get it, that much of Australia is large and remote.

It’s not only remote and sparsely populated, it’s also desert or semi-arid. Which means you MUST ensure that you have enough drinking water on-board your vehicle so that, should the unforeseen happen, you can at least stay alive.

It’s also going to be hot. Depending on the time of year that you travel, it’s going to be really hot. Make sure you’ve got appropriate clothing, that your set-up affords you some shade when you stop, and that you have ways to cool down when you need to.

Some of the ideas we had are a 12v fan, a fridge or freezer for cold drinks, and a spray bottle with water that you can squirt on yourself every now and then.

Fuel & Other Spares

Use the FuelMaps app to see where your next fuel stop is. Carry extra fuel if possible.

Make sure your vehicle is in good working order before you leave on your trip.

Make sure to take the common spares such as oil, water, spare wheel & wheel changing kit, some basic tools.

Road Conditions

Anyone who’s driven on an unsealed back country road will know the displeasure of road corrugations / washboards. Having everything shaken to within an inch of your life is bad enough… doing so for over 500km is just soul-destroying!

We found this out ourselves due to some less than stellar planning. On the road from Burketown QLD to Boroloola NT, I couldn’t understand why the Maps app kept wanting us to go the longer 1,255km route instead of the more direct 523km route.

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If I’d taken just a few moments to notice the time difference between the two routes, I might have put two and two together.

And hence, we had two days of bone rattling corrugations. Our car and camper trailer handled the corrugations with aplomb – even though EVERYTHING was covered in red dust – but imagine if we’d had a caravan. I think that would have, literally, shaken a caravan to pieces. With our light little camper trailer we could afford to make mistakes like that and be none the worse for wear.

When we get a caravan, we’ll have to be more careful and aware.

We have no regrets taking that road though. What ensued was a great little adventure that involved a lot of laughing as we shuddered down the road, a couple of exciting (to us) river crossings and picking up three locals in the middle of nowhere to give them a ride to the next town… 150kms away!

Alcohol Restricted Areas

Here’s something you may not be aware of:

There are parts of Australia where alcohol restrictions are in place. You will come across these areas in parts of the Northern Territory, Far North Queensland and some parts of Western Australia. The restrictions vary in each state and area, and are constantly changing, but can be a total ban on alcohol consumption or a limit on how much you can buy, when you can buy and what you can buy.

There will be signs on the road as you enter into these restricted areas, but you’ll also be made well aware of any restrictions when you buy alcohol. If in doubt, just visit the nearest Information Centre and they’ll have all the info you need.

In one bottle store I heard a lady complaining loudly that she was a visitor to the area and shouldn’t have to be subject to the same restrictions as the local people.

But you’ve got to remember that while these restrictions may be a bit of a nuisance to you as a visitor because they limit how many drinks you can have at your daily happy hour; the restrictions are certainly not for your benefit.

It’s for the benefit (in terms of safety and health) of the local community. In the aboriginal communities where these restrictions are in place, the goal of the restrictions is to minimise the dreadful harm caused by rampant alcohol abuse and misuse, and associated violence.

Now, this is going to be the hard section to write. Of course you already know that everyone is different so eveyones road trip around Australia budget is going to be wildly different.

If you’re on holiday for a limited time, you may not be so worried about costs because you’re going back to work as soon as you get home anyway; compared to the person who has made being on the road their new lifestyle, and is now a lot more selective about what he spends his limited resources on.

First up, particularly for our international visitors, Australia is expensive.

All cost estimates are in Australian Dollars.

I think the most helpful thing I can do here is to share our budget with you, tell you how we came up with this budget, and whether it proved to be practical on the road.

Setting a budget

This is the budget that we had set ourselves before we’d even left New Zealand . Setting a budget for something when you don’t even know what you’re getting yourself into, can be quite hard. But I did lots and lots of research and did the best I could.

Our budget was divided into two parts, the One-Off or Set-Up Costs that we would incur within the first few weeks of arriving in Australia, and then our Living Expenses for six months on the road.

One-off costs

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Getting to Australia $2,100 – Fights, rental car, hotel etc. This will be zero if you live in Australia already, significantly more if you have to come from the other side of the world.

Vehicle $10,000 – I had a look at sites like carsales.com.au and gumtree.com.au to see what type of vehicles were available and the price range. While $10k is on the low side for a 4WD vehicle, we were recommended a Hyundai Terracan so I did a heap of research on them and we decided it would be perfect for us and our small budget.

Camper trailer $5,000 – Once again, it was only by looking online at lots and lots of camper trailers, caravans and campervan etc that we came up with a budget of $5,000. We realised that we could get a good quality camper trailer for that price and still afford all the things we thought we’d need.

Toilet & Tent $300 – This is for one of those pop-up shower tents and a porta-potti.

Solar, Battery & Fridge $3,000 – We were hoping we’d get lucky and find a camper trailer that already had a dual/portable battery system, but we weren’t banking on it. So we set this budget of $3,000 after doing lots of looking for batteries, fridges & portable solar panels online and figuring out how much it would cost us.

Insurance $500 – I just used www.iSelect.com.au to figure out what insurance would cost if I purchased one of the cars I’ve been looking at.

Roadside Assistance $250 –  through NRMA

Maintenance $2,400 – I guessed this one. Based on $100 per week for 6 months…ish. Oil changes, punctured tyres, ummm other stuff?

Misc – because there’s always miscellaneous!

Business costs $1,700 – this won’t apply to everyone, but for us I needed to keep some money aside for regular payments for things like hosting, domain name renewals and other business costs.

Other bills or giving – mortgage, car or caravan loans, charitable giving – anything else that you will keep paying regardless of the fact that you’re heading off on a trip of a lifetime.

Six Months Living Costs

When trying to come up with a ‘living budget’ for our road trip around Australia, I racked my brain for all the things I thought we’d need to pay for. I started with the things we already pay for in our lives – rent, food, petrol, phones, internet, entertainment, gifts, subscriptions. And then added all the things that would be extra being on this trip.

The thing is, you won’t know everything. You’ll get some of it wrong, when you’re on the road you’ll realise that you needed to allocate more money to one area and you allocated too much money to other areas. But figuring out a budget beforehand, allows you to know how long your money is going to last you. If you’re waaaay overspending your weekly budget you’ll be able to know in advance that you’re likely to run out of money. Either that’s fine… and you break out the credit card. Or you tighten your belt and cut back on the less important things.

I probably did things a little bit backwards, but I calculated (sometimes guessed) how much we would spend each month and therefore for the whole six months. Then I divided it by 26 weeks to come up with the weekly budget.

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So here’s how I determined our monthly budget:

Camping fees $400 – would be just like paying rent, or paying for a hotel/motel every night. From some quick online research I could see that $30 per night for a caravan park (unpowered site) was reasonably normal. Ben and I talked about trying to free camp for four nights per week and staying in a caravan park for the other three nights per week. That gave us a budget of $90 per week for camping fees, which I rounded up to $400 per month.

Not exactly a science to my methods, but at least it gives us something to work with.

Food $1,000 – we’ll still eat generally the same things as we do now and in the same quantities, so that shouldn’t change too drastically. Having lived in Australia previously we knew that the food prices between NZ and Australia are reasonably similar.

For any international readers, I would suggest taking the time to go through one of your regular weeks grocery list and jumping on to an online shopping site like www.shop.coles.com.au to price each of the items. It’s a time consuming exercise for sure, but it will give you a really good idea of what you should budget for.

Fuel $800 – it’s gonna be a lot, I mean you are driving around Australia. Here’s how I roughly calculated how much fuel would cost us.

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Expected KMs – I used google maps to give me an approximate kilometres for a half loop starting in Sydney, following the coast up to Cairns, across to Darwin, down through the middle via Uluru to Adelaide, and then across to Dubbo.

This came to 10,175km. Since this amount is just direct distances between major cities I added on another 50% to account for the fact that we wouldn’t be on the main highway the whole time, and for sightseeing etc. It’s just an aroundabout figure so that I knew we were talking about 15,000kms rather than 5,000kms.

Fuel Consumption per 100km – I found some figures online as I was doing all the general research for this trip, that showed people reporting fuel consumption of 12-20L per 100km. I just took a stab and guessed that ours would be 18L/100km. I guessed this because:

  • we wouldn’t be in a vehicle with a huge engine, towing a massive (heavy) caravan, so it wouldn’t be the highest number
  • but we would be in an older vehicle which I just presumed we have worse fuel consumption
  • I was guessing so I thought I’d better err on the generous side (notice a pattern here?)

Cost of diesel – $1.60 per litre. Online I found people quoting an average diesel price of $1.55 per litre, so I added another .5 for good measure.

Add all those figures into my calculation and this is what I got.

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I rounded the per month cost up to $800 (because I’m continually adding in padding when I’m doing lots of guessing like this).

Electricity $0 – will now be zero as it’s covered in the nightly rate at caravan parks, or our battery system with solar will cover our needs

Gas – we didn’t have a budget for this because we only used gas for cooking so it was hardly anything. But if you’ve got a gas fridge or water heating system you’ll need to factor that in.

Phone / Internet  $100 – presuming you’ll be going with Telstra, just look up their website and see which pre-paid or contract plan (depending on which suits your circumstances) works for you. For us we figured we’d have two phones with each one on the $50 per month pre-paid.

Spending $400 – yeah, this one is a total guess. You’ll need to think about what kind of travel you enjoy.

While we love a good tour or attraction or night at the pub as much as the next person, we also get a lot of joy from a bundle of newspaper-wrapped fish and chips while sitting on the beach. If it happens to include a glass of Veuve Clicquot then you’ll find me in a world of happiness!

While we would LOVE to have a much bigger budget here, we knew this was the most flexible area of the budget because it is all about our ‘wants’, not our ‘needs’. Just because we’re tight-arses, doesn’t mean that you have to be.

You may find it helpful to break this bucket down even further. Here are some other categories that could go under ‘Spending’:

Coffee – although I love a good coffee, I would only buy one as a treat, so I don’t need a separate budget for it.

Alcohol – this on the other hand… we probably should have budgeted for. :-O

Sightseeing Trips – you’ll need to factor in museum or attraction visits or any of the we’re-only-here-once-so-we’d-better-do-it visits.

You know, things like swimming with whale sharks, a scenic flight over Uluru or a sunset cruise on Sydney Harbour. If there are must-dos on your list, then I would find out the price of each of those attractions (online) and add them to the budget.

Eating out – any takeaways, pub, café and restaurant meals.

Hair and beauty – haircuts and styling, nails, waxing – anything that you know you’ll want to get done while you’re on the trip.

Dog sitting services – if you’ve got an extra family member with you

Kid expenses – I don’t know what extra costs kids have, but I hear they’re expensive. ☺

It cost us…

I kept pretty good records of our expenses for our whole trip and I’m pleased to report that I wasn’t too far off. I had way under-budgeted for in one area, but we made up with my over-budgeting in other areas.

Here’s how it panned out at the three month mark:

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Not too shabby.

We’re happy with this, we didn’t stress over every dollar, but we did keep an eye on things.

And here are the ‘Living Costs’ for the first three months. Though it fluctuated wildly each week, it averaged out to being on budget .

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Every person and family will have a different budget, but by taking the time to at least price out what you think it will cost you, it will help you the plan your trip.

This is the question that has always stumped me the most.

For us, not only did we need to save for the caravan or motorhome, but also for our living expenses while we were on the road.

I had always thought it would be at least $100k for a motorhome and then $50k to travel for a year. While that is a HUGE amount of money and already felt out of our reach, the idea of then having to go back to work, well, I think that might have been the most frightening prospect of all.

So a few things had to happen before we could even contemplate setting out on this trip.

  • We had to downsize our motorhome expectations A LOT, and
  • We had to either figure out ways of making money online, or get comfortable with needing to stop and work as needed.

Downsizing our motorhome expectations

I’ve always been obsessed with RVs.

I love reading about all their features and new developments. I love reading blogs from people that have been travelling and working in them. And most of all, I love looking at RV floor plans, trying to decide which layout, size and type would be best for us.

So I decided to start my own blog about RVs, appropriately titled RVObsession.com.

Now, I could read anything and everything on the subject of RVs, all in the name of research!

It was this obsession with RVs and all my reading from so many different types of RVers that it started to dawn on me that we didn’t need the fanciest rig in order to travel. We just needed something we could afford and then we’d figure it out from there.

When I started looking for something that we could afford , rather than something we wanted , a world of options opened up.

We realised that a camper trailer was the cheapest option (while still being a step up from a tent because the bed and much of the kitchen was already set-up) for a road trip around Australia but we would still be reasonably comfortable.

Our budget for a camper trailer and car was $15k… a far cry from the $100k I thought we’d need for a motorhome.

Downsizing our expectations meant we could get on the road in three months… not three decades.

Figuring out ways to make money online

In all honesty, we’ve been trying to make money online for years (and years).

We’ve spent thousands of dollars on programs and tools and information products (probably enough to afford us a nice caravan by now :-O) and, while we’ve made some money here and there, it hasn’t been much.

And only recently we started making enough money from our blogs to cover our living expenses. 

You can read more about how we’ve been making money to fund our travels here:

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Just a caveat about making money online: we’ve been involved in some really good quality programs and learnt from some really great people.

We’ve done everything from MLM, blogging, affiliate marketing to advertising, creating courses and sponsored posts. We’ve bought ads and traffic, learnt copywriting, created autoresponders and email newsletters.

We’ve done lots of stuff, but we totally recognise that we have lacked focus, discipline (argh) and the tenacity to consistently apply these things to one business idea.

We’ve learnt that we have to fix those things (discipline etc) first, and then consistently apply all the technical skills we have.

All that to say: just because we’ve not seen much success with making online money YET, we still believe it’s a valid and valuable way to fund your travels, and we’re still working very hard at it.

Phew, caveat over.

Okay, so on to what we are doing to create an online income:

We have two blogs (this one and RVObsession.com) where the aim is to make money from advertising on the blogs, affiliate marketing and sponsored posts.

Both RVObsession and this blog make money through ads and affiliate marketing.

It’s always been my goal to make money from blogging, and it’s a slow, long and hard process… not helped by the fact that I’m very inconsistent at posting new content.

Blogging is the long game.

So in the short term, the two other ways we make money online is through offering virtual assistant services and freelancing.

Virtual Assistant

It can be a little tricky to define exactly what a virtual assistant is/does but in a nutshell:

A virtual assistant is someone who helps you run your business, whether a traditional or online business, by doing any online tasks that you need.

This could be ANY tasks that can be completed online.

It could be admin tasks anyone in the corporate may undertake like: diary management, minute taking, email management, answering the phone, ordering stock, managing a database, customer service or cold calling.

Or it may be scheduling posts on your blog, social media management, email marketing or running ads.

Currently, I help one blogger by running her Instagram account, and the other client I have is a motorhome manufacturer who’s Pinterest account I have set up and manage.

I think that being a virtual assistant is a fantastic way of creating an online income. It what I’ve done and this is how I got started as a VA .


Generally this is someone who has a specialist skill that they provide to businesses on either a one-off project or an ongoing basis. This includes services like: writing, website development, design, app development and more.

Currently I have one freelancing gig where I write articles for a motorhome manufacturer every month.

Casual & temping work

This is our least favourite way to make money as we road trip around Australia, but it’s what we’re the most used to and there’s plenty of it around.

When we stopped in Dubbo, Ben had a casual job at a tyre shop. And I had a casual admin job and then a temping contract for a couple of months.

It’s not our favourite way of working because it means we’re tied to the one location, plus you have to wear work clothes every day.

But it’s easy and familiar and as I said before, there’s plenty of it around.

This is the main way we’ve made money on this trip so without it we’d be screwed.

This is just what we are doing to make money and hopefully it will give you some ideas about what you could do if you also need to make an income while you’re travelling.

This topic could be a whole ‘ultimate guide’ in itself, but I’ve written a bit more about ways that I’ve seen people making money while on a road trip around Australia. You can read that here .

I realise that’s a lot to take in and maybe you’re stuck in the stage of, ‘yeah that’s great to know all that stuff… but what to I do now!?’

I’ve put together a timeline planner to help you go through all the steps that you need to think about and set up, in order to turn your dream into a reality.

I wish it could be as easy as saying, ‘follow these steps, and in one year you’ll be on the trip of a lifetime!’, but we all know that a cookie-cutter approach will not work for everyone. We’re all so completely different, with different needs, wants, budget and level of compromise!

This planner will help you to determine what things you should be thinking about, and at what stage. Just go to our Free Resources page to download it.

If you want to download this huge post as a PDF, you can purchase it below for $9. 

Phew, that’s my take on Getting Set Up for a Road Trip Around Australia ! I really hope you got some value out of this tome. If you have any questions, please feel free to add them in the comments below and I’ll get to them as soon as I can.

Save the ‘Guide to getting set up for a road trip around Australia’ to Pinterest

Car and caravan on outback road. Text overlay: Getting set up road trip around Australia

Tuesday 15th of December 2020

Hi Michelle and Ben.

I’ve stumbled across this blog and have found it a brilliant read. So well done! And just what I need! Thank you. I’m all inspired and more confident in giving it a go and making my dream a reality. Thank you x

Olivia Confidus

Friday 3rd of April 2020

Just lucky I found your blog! Great, thanks for the beginner's guide on planning an Australian trip! I hope after quarantine I can do it.

Saturday 4th of April 2020

Yes, once this is all over (who knows how long that's gonna take?) I can't wait to get out on the road again! M :-)


Monday 25th of March 2019

Great content, you should also include the removalist services that are somethimes necesessary when moving on Australia. Thanks and looking back for more informative articles.

The best car for an around Australia road trip

There are few cars better than this one to travel across this wide brown land in than this luxurious SUV and this is why.

New Lexus NX luxury SUV

Most expensive car to own revealed

Sydney toll road bombshell revealed

Sydney toll road bombshell revealed

Bold plan to save motorists up to $1800 a year

Bold plan to save motorists up to $1800 a year

I’m after a prestige SUV, budget around $100,000, to last me the next ten years. After 40 years of basic cars, I’m keen on things like heated leather seats, premium audio and decent power. We’ll tour Australia but no off-roading or towing and only grandkids would use the rear seats. Diesel, petrol or hybrid’s fine, but not electric and reliability concerns me. I’ve tested a Porsche Macan (great fun) and Lexus NX 350 (very luxurious). I’d also consider a Genesis GV70, Audi Q5 or BMW X3, but not a Mercedes.

Paul Brown, email

The Lexus NX350h is a luxurious and reliable SUV. Source: Supplied

Reliability’s key – you want to keep your SUV a long time and prestige brands aren’t cheap when they go wrong. The well-respected J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study ranked Lexus and Genesis first and second this year. BMW was mid-table; Porsche and Audi lower still. It may be US data, but reliability is global. Your budget’s good and so are your choices. Let’s spoil you rotten.

Lexus NX 350h Sports Luxury 2WD, about $83,000 drive-away

The NX’s hybrid tech is very efficient over long journeys.

Hard to look past for pure luxury. This is the hybrid with 5L/100km economy – incredible for a medium SUV – and there’s no plugging in required.

Your trips don’t warrant all-wheel-drive: the money you save with the 2WD can go on the Sports Luxury pack. Highlights include power heated and ventilated leather seats, a giant 14-inch infotainment screen with navigation, 17-speaker audio, wireless phone charging and a digital driver display. Pick the cream/black or hazel/black interior for a proper palatial feel. It’s comfy to drive and whisper quiet inside but its 20-inch wheels don’t like rough surfaces. The 2.5-litre hybrid powertrain combines for an ample 179kW but it’s no thriller. There’s a five-year warranty, the first three services are capped at $495 and Lexus offers spoil-yourself owner benefits.

Porsche Macan T, about $110,000 drive-away

Few SUVs can match the Porsche Macan’d thrills.

Slightly over budget, but it’s worth picking the T for $3400 over the base Macan.

It has 20-inch dark alloys, power and heated leather seats instead of fabric, pumping Bose audio and, for more driving joy, adaptive dampers and switchable drive modes.

It’s sports-car special inside and the drive is dynamically joyful with a popping exhaust soundtrack.

Cornering balance trumps all else here, it cruises well and the 195kW/400Nm turbo petrol is rapid enough. But you pay for it. Economy’s 9.5L/100km, expect five years of services to be $4500 and the warranty’s a very stingy three years.

Safety’s not great either. The heart over head choice and you won’t tire of staring at that Porsche badge.

Genesis is Hyundai’s luxury offshoot.

Genesis GV70 Luxury, about $87,500 drive-away

Striking design, good value and a less sheep-like choice.

A 279kW/530Nm 3.5-litre turbo six-cylinder’s available but it’s much pricier and I reckon overkill. The 2.5-litre turbo offers a mighty 224kW/ 422Nm going through the rear wheels, but at 9.8L/100km, it likes a drink.

I found the ride a bit firm but cabin comfort and quietness were exceptional. The optional Luxury pack is spoil-yourself sumptuous, with quilted Nappa leather heated and ventilated massage seats, 16-speaker audio, a 14.5-inch touchscreen, 3D digital instrument cluster, panoramic sunroof and self parking. Safety, too, is incredible. Great owner benefits include free first five-years/75,000km of servicing and free body colours.

BMW X3 20d, ABOUT $94,000 DRIVE-AWAY

If you’re looking for a diesel option, BMW’s the master of refined, efficient oil burners. It drinks only 5.9L/100km – great for touring – and the 140kW four-cylinder, while not quick, is very responsive. The X3 is BMW’s bestseller as it’s a superb all-rounder. There’s ample luxe, a smart cabin and a dynamic drive that has you seeking out twisty roads. It lacks the wow factor of the others but you do score a 12.3-inch screen, wireless everything and lovely leatherette trim. The warranty is now five-years/unlimited km, while a basic five-year service pack is a palatable $2400.

The Genesis trumps all for utmost luxury but the Lexus hybrid isn’t far behind and uses half the fuel. It’s the cheapest to drive away too, securing it the win.

A new comparison site has revealed the most expensive fuel guzzling cars to own, with some popular models achieving a rating of only 0.5 stars out of six.

A highly anticipated report has brought one state’s sprawling toll road network under the microscope.

Motorists could make savings on fewer trips to the fuel bowser if a new plan to slash vehicle emissions is introduced, the Albanese government claims.

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Buying a Vehicle in Australia (van, 4WD, car)

The reputation of an Australian road trip leaves people dreaming of expansive red landscapes, sweeping hills and tropical coastlines. The ultimate way to make the most of Australia’s diverse landscapes and to discover the wilderness is travel by car or campervan. Many backpackers often prefer taking a road trip when travelling in Australia. There is the option to rent a vehicle for the trip or for endless freedom you could purchase your own. Compare both options (purchase / renting) depending on your interests and needs before beginning. Whether you are looking to discover wild rugged landscapes or to cross the country for work, the vehicle you choose can make a difference. Covering vehicle models, insurance details, vehicle registration information and vital checklists, this is a complete guide to help you buy a vehicle in Australia.

Table of Contents

Buying a vehicle in Australia: advantages and disadvantages

As you know, buying a vehicle has many advantages, especially in a huge country such as Australia. But, make no mistake, you should know that it has its downsides too. Rest assured, they are less and will not prevent you from taking the plunge of the purchase!

  • More cost-effective for a long trip (from 2-3 months).
  • Maximum freedom: to go where you want, when you want
  • Have the impression of having a home, you own it, you can do what you want to it.
  • No time or destination constraints
  • Possibility of soliciting employers and being accommodated on site (this is a great advantage when looking for a job compared to those who do not have a vehicle, for example).


  • Contrary to renting, Buying a vehicle you will tend to get an older vehicle with higher mileage and more
  • If you fall down, you can not swear for yourself (and Australian hospitality!), no assistance as rent.
  • Resale can also be a disadvantage (or advantage) depending on time and location.
  • Research is longer at the time of purchase, and the sale time can also be long.

Read also : Life in a van in Australia

Impact of the Pandemic: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a notable impact on the vehicle market in Australia. Supply chain disruptions have led to shortages in new car inventories, which in turn has driven up prices for both new and used vehicles. Additionally, there has been a shift in consumer preferences, with more Australians seeking vehicles for domestic travel and outdoor adventures, given the restrictions on international travel.

best vehicle for travelling around australia

Choosing a vehicle to travel around Australia

Between a 4WD, a van or a car, the question arises and is not without consequences. Here are some criteria to take into account, they will help you see more clearly in your search:

  • The type of road trip you plan to do and the regions you want to explore,
  • its duration,
  • your need in terms of comfort,
  • and of course, your budget.

The three types of vehicles to consider and compare include:

A 4WD (Four-wheel-drive)

best vehicle for travelling around australia

A 4WD is suitable if you plan to  go off track  and engage in the outback, in the sand (on the beach for example, especially at Fraser Island) or take on water crossings. 

Some national parks are accessible only by 4WD, particularly in the north of Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The most famous sites in these states are the Kimberley, Kakadu National Park (part of it is accessible with a conventional vehicle), Bungle Bungles and Karijini National Park.

To sum up, buy a 4X4 vehicle if you crave adventure and want to discover remote areas or difficult to access places.

However, buying a  4WD vehicle is an expensive option. The price can range from anywhere between $8,000AUD – $15,000AUD . Also consider calculating in your budget fuel consumption. Four-wheel-drive vehicles offer comfortable interior room but, can become tight if you are travelling with more than 2-3 people. 

You can choose to buy a 4WD vehicle that is already equipped or not. It is quite common to find travellers with a fully furnished   4WD for sale (a bed or a rooftop tent). It should also include all necessary equipment for cooking and camping. Otherwise you can choose to  buy a 4WD unequipped  (cheaper) to benefit from more seats or you want to design and do the interior fit out yourself.

The most common models are: Mitsubishi Pajero, Toyota Landcruiser, Nissan Pathfinder, Ford Explorer, Nissan Terrano, Nissan Patrol, Holden Jackaroo, Jeep Cherokee.

Buy a regular car

best vehicle for travelling around australia

A car is a good way to travel economically and is the cheapest vehicle to buy . The disadvantage is especially space. Depending on the model of car but, you might have to count on sleeping in a tent rather than inside the vehicle. 

However, this is a great option for socialising and making travel buddies , which in turn will save you money if you end up car-pooling. A car will also be suitable for backpackers who are currently working and are opting for the  occasional road trip and relatively short   trips , to go from one city to another for example.

The most common models are: Ford Falcon, Holden, Mitsubishi Lancer, Toyota Camry, Subaru Outback / Liberty. Station wagons  are quite popular for backpackers and are highly prized as they offer more space and provide space in the rear for a bed.

Buy a campervan

Campervans are a classic for road trips in Australia! It will allow you to adopt a lifestyle that is more  comfortable  by the space it offers and will be  better suited to long journeys / stays.

Expect  between AUD4,000 and AUD10,000 for the purchase , depending on the equipment, vehicle age and the number of kilometres.

Owning a campervan is less convenient for socializing and car-pooling with other travellers on the road as vans are often equipped for 2 sometimes 3 passengers. Vans would benefit those traveling  as a couple . The van is also  a big advantage to look for jobs in agriculture  (farm work, fruit picking) as some employers will require you to have your own house or “own accommodation.” 

In general, life will be more pleasant there than in a car or 4WD, in particular thanks to the space it has. However, it can become impractical when it comes to parking in town.

There are different types of vans, such as “classic” vans: the small van, “poptop” vans where the roof is raised by hand to allow for more room, the “Hitop” which has a permanent raised roof allowing the option to have a second bed in the upper part of the vehicle, or 4×4 vans (which are a good compromise) which allow you to take the tracks more easily.

The most common models among backpackers are: Toyota Hiace, Mitsubishi Express, Mazda E2000, Ford Econovan, Toyota Townace, Nissan Urvan.

best vehicle for travelling around australia

Checklist for Buying a vehicle in Australia

If you decide to buy a vehicle in Australia, it is important to think carefully and take your time so you do not buy a vehicle that does not hold up (no hidden defect(s), not too many kilometres on the odometer, well equipped …). Here is a list of things which it is important to be vigilant before buying a van, a car, or a 4×4 in Australia.

Check everything! Starting with  general external conditions of the vehicle : are there traces of rust? Paint spots that could disguise the fact that the vehicle has had an accident? Look at the condition of the tyres, the engine (if there is residue built up, traces of leaks around it). Test that the doors and windows open and close properly, windshield wipers and all lights are working properly. Check for a spare tyre and a jack. A bull bar and solar panels will be a plus during your road trip.

Also pay attention to the inside of the vehicle : find out about the electrical system and do not hesitate to test it. Ask if the vehicle has one or two batteries and make sure you ask the current owner to show and explain how it all works. Do not hesitate to switch on the ignition and try the car radio and the ventilation (air conditioning AND heating).

In addition, your contact with the seller is an essential criteria. Chances are you can sense whether the person is trustworthy or not, so don’t hesitate to start the conversation. Remember to ask all possible and unimaginable questions (your money is at stake). Ask the seller about previous repairs, mechanical history of the vehicle (with supporting invoices), previous use. If you buy a vehicle from a local who has owned it for a long time, it will certainly be well maintained.

We advise you to test drive the vehicle before purchasing. Avoid at all costs buying a vehicle that you have not been able to test drive. Drive it, even if it’s not long, it will allow you to note if an unusual noise is heard, to try the brakes, the clutch, to see the handling and if you are comfortable with driving that vehicle (particularly for vans). Before driving, check that the papers are in order and that the registration has not expired. If the owner refuses to let you try it, beware.

Registration information

The “ Registration ” or Rego of a vehicle is very important. This is similar to registrations in the UK, US and Canada. All vehicles are required to be registered in a state of Australia.  It is necessary to check whether the vehicle has a valid registration.

Know that  each state has different regulations . This is an extremely important point, because some states require a roadworthy certificate inspection every year and before the resale of vehicles. And in this case, the roadworthy certificate inspection shall be performed in the state in which it is registered (making it a more complicated resale).

If the rego is still valid and it comes from a state requiring a roadworthy certificate, you’ll know that your vehicle was deemed “safe” there in the last year. If it is not valid, do not forget that it is  required, and you should budget for it.  So, plan for any repairs that are required as a result of the roadworthy inspection.

You should also consider  whether the price  of registration for your van / 4WD / car is justified or not. A vehicle whose registration is already expired may not be a good plan. To register a vehicle, count between $500 and $1000 per year. 

Registration also includes a  third-party insurance . So, if you want a more complete insurance/all risks, plan a supplementary budget beyond that.

Also remember to check (before the purchase) if the seller has no fines to pay by going to the Government website: https://transact.ppsr.gov.au/ppsr/Home , you don’t want to have the bad surprise to have to pay in his place…

Read also : Registration in Australia : Complete Guide

Buy a popular vehicle

It is not advisable to buy a rare vehicle in Australia, which could cause you problems in case of failure, especially if you need to change parts on your vehicle. If you breakdown in the country or in a small town it may be difficult to find parts. Having had this experience, it sometimes takes 15 days to receive a parcel! It will be much  easier and certainly cheaper to change parts  on your vehicle if it is popular make and model around Australia. Popular vehicle makes include: Toyota, Nissan, Ford, Holden.

Ask questions

Frequent contact with the seller is essential. There’s a good chance you will feel if the person is reliable or not.  Do not hesitate to start a conversation . Ask some important questions like:  has there been any repairs  to the vehicle? If so, which ones and  when ? Ask to see the mechanical servicing history. Also ask  who were the last owners : were they backpackers? Did they make a long road trip? Was it a work vehicle? Were they Australian owners? If you buy from a local who has had it for a long time, the vehicle is sure to be well-maintained.

best vehicle for travelling around australia

Where and when to purchase a vehicle in Australia?

Where should you buy your van in australia.

Many agree that it is  in larger cities  you will find trusty sellers. Sydney and Melbourne constantly have swarms of sellers and buyers. Here you will have plenty of choice. Buying a vehicle  in a city less populated such as Adelaide or Cairns can be a good plan if you do it at the right time. There’s fewer sellers certainly, but also fewer buyers, which can allow you to  negotiate prices  . This is especially true for vans and 4WD (furnished). There’s not a better or worse time for buying a car as opposed to vans and 4WD’s..

In terms of how to go about it;  the site  Gumtree  is a great resource for ‘for sale’ ads that you can search and compare without leaving your home.  However, beware of ads that seem too good to be true , they can hide defects or be scams! Also check MarketPlace on Facebook, with ads from previous backpackers leaving the country.

The  “car market” is also a good place to start looking, especially for those wanting to buy a van. You will have the advantage of looking at several vehicles in person rather than just pictures. You will also have the advantage of being able to discuss directly with the seller. The car-market Sydney is renowned.

Best time to buy a van in Australia?

The location and time are key factors for doing good business and not too much hassle.  It is more advantageous to purchase a vehicle in low season  (between April and September). During that time, backpackers depart more than they arrive, thus the supply is higher than demand. Many backpackers do not anticipate enough time for resale and are forced to sell their car at a lower price. They are in a hurry to catch their flight home and do not have the time. This is where you can come in, if you’re not too rushed and you arrive between March and September, you have a better chance of finder a great deal!

Tips for Finding the Best Deals

  • Research and Compare: Utilize online platforms to compare prices across different dealerships and private sellers. Websites like CarSales, Drive, and CarsGuide are excellent resources for comparing vehicle prices and features.
  • Negotiate: Don’t hesitate to negotiate the price. Often, there is room for negotiation, especially if you are informed about the market value of the vehicle you are interested in.
  • Look for Deals and Incentives: Keep an eye out for special deals, manufacturer incentives, and rebates, especially during promotional periods or when new models are about to be released.

best vehicle for travelling around australia

Insurance explained

Registration of your vehicle includes “compulsory third-party insurance” (CTP Insurance). It is insurance that covers any injury caused to a third party in case of an accident where you would be at fault.  No material damage will be considered , nor those of your vehicle, or those caused by other vehicles. You have no legal obligation to take out supplementary insurance, but it is recommended as the repair costs can be high (imagine you collide with a Mercedes or a Porsche ..). The main insurance companies are NRMA, AAMI, RACQ and QBE.

Important note

Be aware that some insurance companies only cover permanent residents (RACQ Roadside Assistance, for example, only covers permanent residents of Queensland). We have had several experiences from backpackers following misadventures with this insurance company because they were not permanent residents. So find out about this before you take out insurance.

We also encourage you to subscribe to roadside assistance . This can be reassuring when going on a road trips across Australia because in the event of a break down, they will come to your rescue. Be careful though, some conditions may state that you will not be supported in specific circumstances (if you are not on bitumen roads for example).

Things to know before driving in Australia

Speed and driving.

Speed limits are different from Europe. Outside built-up areas, you must drive at 100 km/h (110 km/h on expressways). Some roads in the Northern Territory are limited to 130km/h.

Driving in Australia is on the left and the steering wheel is on the right. If you are not from the UK, you will certainly get confused at first but will quickly get used to it as you go.

You will find them in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. The license plate of your vehicle is scanned and you pay directly for your journey via the Internet in the days following your visit. You can also pay in advance or buy a pass. It is a good option if you intend to use the paying section of road regularly, it will be much cheaper for you (go to the Linkt and E-toll sites).

We advise you not to drive after dark (under no circumstances other than force majeure). Indeed this is THE favorite time for wildlife to appear right in front of you. Your visibility is reduced and therefore your reflexes will be slower.

Road trains

These road trains made up of several trailers (1 to 4) are impressive in their size! They are a permanent threat on gravel or sealed roads (especially in the outback). It often happens that on the roads there is not enough space for two vehicles that overtake (especially if a road train is involved). If you see one in the distance, pull over to the side of the road to let it pass. Because launched at high speed with its imposing weight, it won’t give you a chance.

Have a minimum equipment in your vehicle.

  • A tow strap: if your vehicle (or another) is stuck and you need help to get it out
  • Gasoline (at least a can): if you break down in the middle of nowhere or your fill-up is about to end and there is no gas station nearby
  • Water and food: at least 5L of water/person and provisions of food in case you break down
  • Everything you need to change a wheel: jack, key and spare wheel.

Useful Digital Resources and Apps

Here’s a look at some of the most useful digital tools available:

  • FuelMap Australia: This app provides real-time information on fuel prices at different stations across Australia, allowing users to find the cheapest fuel nearby. It also includes features like tracking your car’s fuel consumption and expenses.
  • PetrolSpy Australia: Another great tool for comparing fuel prices, PetrolSpy allows users to view recent fuel prices submitted by the community, ensuring you can always find the best deal on fuel.
  • Drivvo: This app helps in managing all aspects of car maintenance. From tracking fuel consumption and service costs to setting reminders for regular maintenance checks, Drivvo keeps your vehicle’s health in check.
  • myCARFAX: Known for providing detailed vehicle history reports, myCARFAX also offers maintenance reminders and tracks service history, helping you keep your vehicle in top condition.
  • CarSales: Australia’s largest online vehicle marketplace, CarSales offers a vast selection of new and used cars. It provides detailed car reviews, price comparisons, and a range of filters to help you find the perfect vehicle.
  • Gumtree: A popular classifieds site in Australia, Gumtree is a great platform for buying and selling used vehicles. It offers a more direct and personal approach to vehicle transactions.
  • CarsGuide: This platform not only allows you to buy and sell cars but also provides valuable advice, car reviews, and the latest automotive news.

Selling your vehicle

Anticipate and think about resale . It is advisable to calculate your whole cost by planning to  sell the vehicle in the high season  (from October to January).

Allow a couple of weeks or even months before reselling your van/car/4WD, although it is still early, start to prepare your ad for the Internet, think about the money you want to get for it, etc. .

At resale, please have the deed of purchase, the certificate of registration and history of vehicle repairs. In some states (Queensland, Victoria, NSW, ACT), you will be required to conduct a roadworthy inspection prior to resale.

To maximise your chances of resale,  restore and clean your van. Take a lot of quality  photos  of your vehicle for your ad. Post  an ad with as much detail as possible  (age, mileage, equipment …) on Gumtree and Facebook groups.

FAQs On Buying a Vehicle

Yes, tourists can purchase a vehicle. However, you need a valid visa to register the vehicle.

You can find vehicles for sale in Australia in car dealerships, garages, online car sales sites such as Carsales, local newspapers, Facebook groups or on Gumtree.

Yes, you can negotiate the price of a vehicle in Australia. For example, for a purchase where the rego is coming to an end, or if the tyres are worn, etc. However, find out what the market price is and do some research before you start negotiating.

Regulations vary from state to state, but as a general rule you will need proof of purchase, proof of address in the state where you want to register, a technical inspection, your passport and driving licence.

If the vehicle has a current rego, it is possible to drive the vehicle before registering it, but you must ensure that you are covered by motor insurance and that you have proof of purchase with you in the event of a roadside check. If the vehicle no longer has a rego then you will need permission to move the vehicle. The rules vary from state to state, so we advise you to consult our dedicated article: Vehicle Registration in Australia .

For people wishing to take a short road trip and enjoy a reliable and well-equipped vehicle, here are more details on van hire in Australia: – Buy or Rent a Van in Australia? – How to rent a Cheap Campervan in Australia – Which Campervan insurance is best?

If I buy fully comprehensive insurance in Brisbane will I still be covered to and stay in other states of Australia without getting different insurance cover. Because here in the UK if I was to buy insurance here it covers me everywhere in the UK. In addition to 90 days in Europe?

Hi, yes your comprehensive insurance will be active nationwide. Cheers

I am currently renting for less than 3 months in NSW and have no previous fixed address in Australia. If I was to buy a car from WA that had rego still in date how would I go about purchasing the car. Would I need to buy NSW plates and registration or is there another way?

Hi Tom, you can keep the WA plates (recommended if you are travelling around) – you will need an address in WA. Otherwise you can change the plates fro NSW ones (if you intend to stay in NSW)

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18 Tips for planning a road trip around Australia

planning a road trip around Australia

After living and traveling in Australia for almost three years, we put together TOP 18 TIPS for planning a road trip around Australia . Our tips will not just help you save money but they will also reveal you all things you should be aware of, so you are well prepared for all that Australia has to offer. So let´s get start planning a road trip around Australia together.

Would you like to learn more about planning trips? Check our Reverse Travel Planning Strategy !

Here are our TOP TIPS for planning a road trip around Australia:

1) driving conditions.

Get yourself familiar with driving conditions and road rules in Australia. Police officers are the authority here in Australia and fines for violating the road rules are huge. Unlike in Europe, you can´t really talk yourself out of the fines here…


You should know that Australian highways do not usually look the same as in Europe. When I planned our road trip I thought it would be pretty quick and easy to travel on the highways. Oh, how wrong was I?

If you do not know already, most of the highways are just single-lane roads. That makes trucks or road trains overtaking much harder than on a typical multi-lane highway. Also, a speed limit is much lower than in Europe, just 110km.

Last but not least, watch for animals. Cattle, kangaroos, and wombats wander around the roads because most of the farms do not have fences. So allow yourself enough time to complete the trip. You might not travel as fast you think you will.


How we broke down in the Australian Outback

Saving money while travelling belongs at the top of our priorities every time we travel. But as we learned from road tripping in Australia, there is one item on our list we never save money on and that is a car insurance. Road trip around Australia was rated as one of the most beautiful road trips in the world. Therefore there are thousands of people who drives around Australia every year. And every traveller face a dilemma, should they or shouldn’t they bought a car insurance? Is the car insurance worth the money? Full coverage car insurance Full coverage car

Cost to travel in Australia

How much does it REALLY cost to travel in Australia?

By googling how much does it cost to travel in Australia, you will probably be scared to death to even think about going there. Why? Because the internet is full of warnings how Australia is uber expensive. And yet, there are thousands of backpackers travelling happily around Australia every year. Yes, cost to travel in Australia can be high, but just if you choose it to be. Australia probably never will be as cheap country to travel around as Southeast Asia. However, with our tips, we will help you to lower your overall cost to travel in Australia significantly. Don´t

planning a road trip around Australia

After living and traveling in Australia for almost three years, we put together TOP 18 TIPS for planning a road trip around Australia. Our tips will not just help you save money but they will also reveal you all things you should be aware of, so you are well prepared for all that Australia has to offer. So let´s get start planning a road trip around Australia together. Would you like to learn more about planning trips? Check our Reverse Travel Planning Strategy! Here are our TOP TIPS for planning a road trip around Australia: 1) DRIVING CONDITIONS Get yourself familiar

The best car to travel around Australia

How to choose the best car to travel around Australia?

The best car to travel around Australia can be a challenge to find. Especially if you have never been in Australia before.  But, the first time for everything is always the most exciting one, right? However, choosing a perfect vehicle for your road trip around Australia for the first time can be little overwhelming. RVs? Motorhomes? Campervans? Trailers? What do these names mean? Which one is better? How to choose the best car to travel around Australia? What type of vehicle should you choose for your epic Australian adventure? What is the best car to travel around Australia? How to


Plan your fuel stops carefully – the price difference can vary big time!!! And always, always fill up when you see the gas station, especially in Outback. The distances between gas stations are sometimes enormous…

best vehicle for travelling around australia


Always watch for discounts. Check if Woolies still have discounts for grocery shopping. This supermarket often offers discounts. You buy food, they give you fuel discount.

Travel planning


Be aware of custom controls. On the borders of Northern Territory, Western Australia, and South Australia, custom control exists. It means that every car has to stop and it is searched by custom police. They are looking for vegetables, fruits, honey and other types of food. The reason is that pests, diseases, and weeds can travel with you as you cross the borders. You can face fines for taking prohibited items across borders.

So the rule is “Eat it or bin it.”

On every border, there are special quarantine bins and you must dispose of any restricted products there.

And what food are we talking about?

1) Animal products

2) Vegetables

5) Plant or plant products

Do not do the same mistake as we did. We did our grocery shopping just 5 km before borders. Custom controls took us almost every food we had just bought. So we had to buy all the food again after crossing the borders.

Travel planning


If you carry a gas stove in your campervan, always buy a spare gas bottle in big cities. You would not believe how hard is to sometimes buy those things in small cities in Outback. You can easily end up paying $50 for a small gas bottle instead of $10 in Bunnings.


Check the size of a water tank in your campervan. The most common one has volume of 20l, which is not a lot. So, consider buying another water tank into your campervan. It costs around $10 in K-mart.

Water can be a hassle in remote areas, not every water is safe to drink. In an area where water is precious, you will pay a big money to purchase it. And there is even a safety reason, if your car break down, 20l will disappear in matter of hours…


Be prepared to pay an entrance/admission fee in almost every national park, so plan your budget carefully.


Consider doing your grocery shopping in bigger cities along the way. Prices are way cheaper there and the offer of goods is more extensive. But be nice and spend some money on local markets too. Locals usually produce fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat. By buying those products you support local farmers instead of big market chains.

There are villages around Australia that welcome backpackers and travelers with open hearts. These villages provide places to stay, BBQ areas and sometimes even hot showers for our convenient. Most of the time for free. So be supportive and spend some money in local shops.


Avoid being disappoined by booking your tours and attractions well ahead. Especially those very popular ones are very early book out. We tried to book our tour to Great Barrier Reef two weeks ahead and they were completely booked out. So we had to wait another week, which delayed our next plans. So choose your tours and try to book them as soon as possible to secure your spot.


Check the toll roads. There are not many of them, nowadays tollways are found in the eastern states of New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland. All are currently within the urban limits of Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.


Plan your camps carefully. Especially free camps tend to be really busy so finding a free spot can be tricky after 5 PM. Also if your rental agreement states that you are not allowed to drive after dusk, start to look for an accommodation after 3 PM. That way, you have enough time to find a free spot for yourself without violating the rules.


Not all the Australian Outback roads are sealed. In fact, most of the roads in Outback and Western Australia are unsealed, and many require a four-wheel drive vehicle. The best maps for driving were proved to be HEMA maps. They have all the unsealed roads perfectly marked so you can not make a mistake.

For example, a few years ago, Google maps showed that you can drive from Uluru to Perth through Great Centra Road. The problem is that Google showed this road as sealed road. When in fact, this road is considered to be one of the toughest unsealed roads in Australia. So be careful when deciding which road to drive and if unsure ask locals.


The golden rule of every camping trip in Australia – Always leave your itinerary with someone. If you do not have anyone, use local information center, police or travel agents.


Always carry enough water, food, first aid, spare car parts etc. If you plan to travel to the remote areas or drive the unsealed roads, consider renting a satellite phone. Phone coverage is really bad around Australia, so you might be without a signal for few days.


Always print or download all your tickets, itinerary and entrance tickets into your phone. Internet coverage and phone coverage is bad, really bad in some parts of Australia, especially in Outback. So you might not be able to access your email in days.


Traveling is about gaining knowledge. So do yourself a favor and get familiar with basic skills like how to change a tire, refill oil etc. There might be a time when these skills will be very handy.


Always carry a duct tape 🙂 It seems silly, but trust us, it helps us a lot. It is a very cheap solution for almost all breakage around or in a car. Especially, the heavy duty one.

Planning a road trip around Australia

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Can't road trip without a Red Bull

How to actually drive around the edge of Australia

The great Australian road trip

© Chris Fithall

25 of the most iconic Australian road trips to drive in your lifetime

A beginner’s guide to driving around australia.

Start here, pass go, collect $200

© Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Where should I stop?

Sydney is an essential stopover

© Liam Pozz

The Pinnacles, Western Australia: a worthy detour

© Tobias Keller

Finding the right wheels

What will your adventure machine look like?

Taking the right tools and supplies

Sea Cliff Bridge, New South Wales

© Ian Cochrane

Australia's 5 best country surf towns

Where to sleep.

Binalong Bay, Tasmania

© Roxanne Desgagnes

Campfire at night, roadtrippers delight

© Siim Lukka

Eating and drinking

You can't go past a meat and potato pie

Visit local markets for killer Australian produce

© Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

The Gold Coast isn't a bad place for a pit stop

© Matt Barrett

Lace 'em up: 9 of the best marathons in Australia

How much will it all cost.

Ain't nothing to it but to do it

© Juan Di Nella

Further reading:

The young aussie on a mission to run an ultra on all …, we ranked the 10 most out-of-this-world adventures you ….

The top six off-road expedition vehicles

Not all 4x4s are suited to long-distance, remote-area expeditions, so the 4x4 australia team share their six top choices.

90e31b61/2022 toyota landcruiser 79 70th anniversary edition 35 jpg

There are attributes a vehicle must have to cement it as a successful long-haul expedition rig capable of conquering the Australian outback.

Off-road capability, touring range, load-carrying capacity and reliability are prerequisites, but there are plenty of other factors that separate the pretenders from the real deal when it comes to touring Australia.

An expedition vehicle also needs to be tough, practical and functional. There needs to be a good range of aftermarket accessories available for it, to suit the demands of the job at hand. If you can’t equip it with gear to protect it in the scrub, or gear to help it safely haul all the items you’ll need on a big trip, then it simply won’t make the grade.

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3c1c1236/edewar 240130 ford everest 0870 jpg

Simplicity is also an advantage when it comes to the best 4WD for remote travel. If something breaks in the bush, many miles from help, you need to be able to fix it where it lies.

With modern four-wheel drives this is not as straightforward as it once was, thanks to electronic engine management and traction aids. Luckily, modern vehicles are also far more reliable these days. Still, old-school mechanical fuel management and traction aids are hard to beat.

Taking the above factors into account, 4X4 Australia has come up with a list of the top six rigs suited to long-haul, offroad expedition use.

  • Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series
  • Land Rover Defender
  • Nissan Patrol GU
  • Jeep Wrangler JK
  • Ford Ranger/Mazda BT-50
  • Toyota LandCruiser 100 Series

1: Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series

Toyota landcruiser 70-series

Topping the 4X4 Australia list of expedition vehicles is the venerable LandCruiser 70 Series , a vehicle that ticks off just about every attribute required in a long-haul, remote-area offroad tourer.

The LandCruiser is tough, with a full box-section separate chassis, live axles front and rear, coil springs up front and rudimentary but effective leaf springs at the rear.

This simple design gives the LandCruiser good chassis flex when off the beaten track, good body isolation from road noise and vibrations, excellent wheel travel and good load-carrying capacity.

The Cruiser is powered by a grunty yet frugal 4.5-litre V8 turbodiesel engine that’s proven exceptionally reliable since its launch in 2007. It generates a claimed 151kW at 3400rpm and 430Nm from a lazy 1200rpm through to 3200rpm, making it ideal for hauling heavy loads, towing big trailers (up to 3500kg) or slogging through difficult offroad terrain.

4x4 aftermarket: Gear guides

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The engine is mated to a five-speed manual transmission and simple part-time 4x4 driveline with manually locking hubs and optional (standard on GXL) front and rear diff locks. This driveline, combined with impressive low-range gearing and the Cruiser’s decent wheel travel, endows the 70 Series with excellent offroad capability.

Double Cab and Wagon variants come with a 130-litre fuel tank while Single Cab and Troop Carrier models are offered with two 90-litre fuel tanks for a touring range in excess of 1500km. There are four body styles on offer, so that means there’s a 70 Series to suit just about every budding adventurer.

The 70 Series is equipped with ABS and dual front SRS airbags, and a revised interior has (almost) dragged the Cruiser into the 21st Century. The air-conditioning system is also second to none, which is bloody important on those long, hot days in extreme environments.

Toyota landcruiser 70-series space

If you want to modify your LandCruiser 70 Series, the aftermarket offers just about everything from protection equipment, suspension kits and GVM upgrades to traction aids, snorkels, roof racks, cargo systems and more.

Toyota offers some of the best parts and service in the country, with a big network of dealers around Australia. If you intend to go global roaming in your 70 Series, the vehicle and parts are available in most corners of the world, although you might struggle in North America; the 70 Series was never officially sold in the USA or Canada.

If you don’t have the dough to stump-up for a new 70 Series LandCruiser, there are loads of second-hand models on the market with plenty of life left in them.

The next best thing to the current TDV8 model, in terms of performance, is the Cruiser equipped with the 1HD-FTE 4.2-litre direct injection turbodiesel engine. But for those who prefer the simplicity of mechanical injection – and who aren’t in that much of a hurry – the 1HZ 4.2-litre indirect injection naturally aspirated diesel is the pick.

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2: Land Rover Defender (1990-2016)

Land rover defender driving

To some people the idea of travelling long distances in a Land Rover Defender is hell on earth, but to others there is no better way to explore the most remote places on the planet.

The previous-gen Defender can trace its lineage back to the original Land Rover launched in 1948. Despite its turbodiesel engine and sophisticated electronic traction control system (on 90, 110 Wagon and 110 Double Cab models), the Defender was largely manufactured by hand at Land Rover’s Solihull factory.

The Defender’s aluminium body sits atop a rugged box-section separate chassis. Suspension is by way of live axles front and rear with long-travel coil springs. Payload ranges from just under a tonne in the 90-inch wheelbase model to almost a tonne-and-a-half in the 130-inch Crew Cab model.

If fitted with just two seats, even the short wheelbase Defender 90 offers a decent size cargo area, and many people use this model for remote area expedition travel. The 110 Wagon offers even more space and the cab chassis models can be kitted out to carry a massive amount of gear, or can be set up with a variety of accommodation options.

Defender rear

All models are powered by a frugal yet surprisingly strong 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine that pumps out a claimed 90kW and 360Nm from 2200rpm to 4350rpm. The engine is mated to a six-speed gearbox and a full-time 4WD system with lockable centre differential and two-speed transfer case.

Excellent low-range reduction makes the most of the engine’s low-rpm torque when tackling difficult offroad terrain and good axle articulation endows the Defender with formidable offroad capability.

Although fuel tank capacity is modest in Defenders (60L for the 90 and 75L for 110 and 130 models), the engine is quite frugal. There are also plenty of aftermarket auxiliary tanks available to increase the capacity.

You can source just about anything you want to suit this Defender, from protection equipment, diff locks, suspension kits, roof racks, ladders, cargo systems, water tanks and much more.

Icon defender

Unlike Defenders of old, this generation offers quite a high level of luxury – a modern dash and ventilation/air-conditioning system, as well as optional leather trim.

Still, you’ll have to get used to the cramped cabin that makes driving a Defender a unique experience – window down and elbow out is the most comfortable position.

When it comes to reliability, Land Rover doesn’t have the most enviable reputation – although this is not entirely fair. I have driven Defenders in some of the most remote places on the planet and have never had a serious mechanical failure. And as the Defender is sold all around the world, sourcing parts is rarely a problem.

If you’re looking at older models, the Td5 turbodiesel offers a good combination of performance, fuel economy and reliability. Older 300Tdi and 200Tdi models are getting a bit long in the tooth.

3: Nissan Patrol GU

Nissan GU Patrol front

Like the 70 Series LandCruiser and the Defender, the Nissan Patrol GU is a relatively simple and tough design that’s well suited to remote-area travel.

The big Patrol features a box-section separate chassis, live axles front and rear and coil springs all-round, with rear leaves on some cab chassis variants.

Its wide track and long wheelbase make it a stable platform that is well suited to carrying all the gear you need on a big trip, and it’s available in wagon or single cab chassis configurations.

MY16 models are powered by the ZD30 3.0-litre four-cylinder common rail turbodiesel engine, it makes a claimed 118kW and 380Nm from 2000-2400rpm. Over the years, this engine hasn’t had the best track record and, for remote area travel, 4X4 Australia’s Ron Moon recommends the older mechanically injected TD42T 4.2-litre six-cylinder turbodiesel engine for its simplicity and reliability. Ron should know – he’s driven his stretched Patrol all over the world without a problem.

GU Patrol rears

The Patrol has a simple part-time 4WD system with manually locking hubs on DX models and auto-locking hubs on ST models.

The two-speed transfer case offers reasonable low-range gearing. Excellent axle articulation keeps all four wheels on the ground... most of the time.

The Patrol GU has been on the market in various guises since 1997, so there are plenty of aftermarket accessories available for it, including long-range fuel tanks, water tanks, protection equipment, roof racks, cargo systems and more.

Depending on the tray or camper fitted, the cab chassis variant of the Patrol GU has quite a long rear overhang. There have been examples where the rear chassis section has bent under load. Set it up correctly, however, and this won’t be a problem.

A 3200kg (manual) towing capacity will haul most trailers with ease – at least those designed to tackle genuine offroad conditions.

GU Patrol interior

Wagon variants have a carrying capacity between 600-700kg while the cab chassis will carry between 1100kg (coil rear springs) and 1300kg (leaf rear springs).

The interior of the Patrol offers generous space and comfort. There’s plenty of cabin width and the long wheelbase ensures there’s enough legroom for those in the second row of the wagon.

Servicing and parts support is good in Australia and the Patrol GU is sold in many countries around the world other than North America, so if a global expedition is on your bucket list then this is one of the vehicles you could easily do it in. Many parts are interchangeable with the older Patrol GQ, which has been around since the late 1980s.

4: Jeep Wrangler JK

Jeep Wrangler JK front

The Jeep Wrangler JK makes the list thanks to its exceptional offroad capability, the fact it’s available with a powerful yet economical turbodiesel engine and because there are so many aftermarket bits and pieces that can transform it into a genuinely capable expedition vehicle.

If you want the Wrangler Rubicon spec, with its standard sway bar disconnects and super low-range gearing, you’ll have to opt for the 3.6-litre petrol V6, which we wouldn’t recommend for long distance expedition work. Still, the base-spec Wrangler Sport is a very capable offroader.

The JK has a separate chassis design with live axles front and rear and coil springs all around. Of the petrol or diesel engine options, the 2.8-litre common rail diesel is the pick for expedition work, pumping out a claimed 147kW of power and a stump-pulling 460Nm of torque from 1600-2600rpm when mated to the five-speed auto transmission, or 410Nm from 2600-3200rpm with the six-speed manual ’box. This engine can achieve fuel economy on the right side of 10L/100km.

Jeep Wrangler JK rear

The Wrangler is available in traditional two-door short wheelbase guise or the more expedition-friendly four-door long wheelbase Unlimited model. The Unlimited offers much more interior space than the shorty, although load-carrying capacity isn’t great at a shade over 400kg.

As the Wrangler is a US-market vehicle, the list of aftermarket accessories is almost endless, and includes massive suspension lifts, protection equipment, diff locks, super low-range reduction, cargo systems, long-range fuel tanks, water tanks and more.

Jeep Wrangler JK side

While not everyone’s cup of tea, driving offroad with the roof down truly immerses you in the environment, and in this respect the Wrangler offers a unique experience. Or you could just fit the hardtop and whack on the air-conditioning.

5: Ford Ranger/Mazda BT-50 (circa 2016)

Mazda bt 50 front driving

Significantly bigger than competitors such as the HiLux, Navara and Triton, the Ranger/BT-50 was built on a separate chassis with a live axle rear-end with leaf springs and an independent front-end with double wishbones and coil springs.

Load capacity ranges from 1000-1400kg depending on body style and model, so you’ll have no problems hauling all the gear you need for a remote area expedition. Towing capacity is a whopping 3500kg.

Upgrade your Ranger

Ford Ranger Bullbars

There are two engines on offer; a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel (in the Ranger only) makes a claimed 110kW at 3700rpm and 375Nm of torque from 1500-2500rpm, while a 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbodiesel ups claimed output to 147kW at 3000rpm and 470Nm of torque from 1500 to 2750rpm.

Both powerplants offer more than enough grunt but the bigger five-cylinder engine is the pick, and works well mated to either the six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Low-range gearing is excellent, with an overall reduction in manual gearboxes better than 50:1 in first gear, and better than 40:1 with the auto in Low.

A combination of electronic and mechanical traction aids endow the Ranger and BT-50 twins with excellent offroad capability, including Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Hill Descent Control (HDC), Hill Launch Assist (HLA) and a standard electronically locking rear diff.

Mazda bt 50-rear fridge slider

Both engines average better than 10L/100km, giving the Ranger/BT-50 a touring range of around 800km from its 80L tank. Want more? A number of aftermarket companies manufacture long-range fuel tanks to suit the vehicle.

In fact, you can get all sorts of aftermarket goodies to suit the Ranger/BT-50, from protection gear, snorkels, winches and suspension kits to tub liners, canopies, roof racks and cargo systems.

Even though the Ranger/BT-50 is a ute, don’t let it fool you into thinking it’s a commercial vehicle; top-spec models are as well-equipped as any wagon on the market and offer excellent comfort for those long stints behind the wheel.

The Ranger/BT-50 is available in single, extra and dual-cab models, either as a ute or cab chassis, so there are plenty of options to suit all requirements, even for those who want to fit a camper on the back.

6. Toyota LandCruiser 100 Series

Toyota landcruiser 100-series front

We ummed and aaahed a bit by the time we got down to the bottom of our list of top six expedition vehicles but, in the end we couldn’t go past the Toyota LandCruiser 100 Series – at least, the Standard HZJ105R.

This base-spec LandCruiser manufactured from 1998 to 2007, was the last to be fitted with live axles front and rear with coil springs all around, whereas higher grades were fitted with an independent front suspension that wasn’t as bush friendly as the live axle design.

Being the base-spec Cruiser, you need to look at the Standard as a blank canvas. It has a bare-bones interior with low-rent cloth seats and vinyl trim, skinny steel rims and a basic barn door arrangement at the back. But that can be a good thing, and there are plenty of examples on the market that have already been modified for expedition travel.

Toyota landcruiser 100-series rear

Power comes from a lethargic and somewhat asthmatic 1HZ indirect injection, naturally aspirated 4.2-litre six-cylinder diesel, which is claimed to make a modest 96kW at 3800rpm and 285Nm of torque at 2200rpm.

But this simple engine is supremely reliable and relatively easy to fix if something goes wrong. And you can always fit an aftermarket turbo and intercooler to extract plenty more power from it. There’s also a 4.5-litre petrol version, but we wouldn’t recommend that for long distance expedition travel.

The standard 145L fuel capacity sounds pretty good, but the old 1HZ isn’t as fuel efficient as modern electronically injected turbodiesel engines. Expect consumption of around 12.5L/100km for standard vehicles in a good state of tune, and significantly more when fully laden and driving off road. Luckily there are plenty of long-range fuel tank options on the market.

Toyota landcruiser 100-series side

A 900kg payload means you can kit this Cruiser out with all the goodies you like and still have plenty of capacity to carry a heap of gear for extended remote area expeditions. And there are plenty of goodies available to suit the 100 Series, such as protection gear, suspension kits, diff locks, snorkels, roof racks, luggage systems, performance parts and more.

Sourcing parts for the 100 Series is possible just about anywhere in the world. The HZJ105 was sold in Australia, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America, and while not sold in Europe or North America those continents got other versions of the IFS 100 Series, and various parts are interchangeable.

The best thing about the LandCruiser 100 Series Standard? You can pick them up for as little as $10K! But be willing to spend more for a model with low kays, few signs of offroad abuse and appropriate modifications.

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Travelling Australia by Car The Great Aussie Road Trip www.www.compassandfork.com

Travelling Australia by Car: The Great Aussie Road Trip

Are you considering travelling Australia by car? Read this tongue in cheek article on what to beware of and what makes a road trip in Australia so unique.

Travelling Australia by car is a great way to see the country. Whether you are planning an epic, around Australia road trip, or a Sydney to Great Ocean Road holiday, you should be aware of some uniquely Australian idiosyncrasies, as well as the potential issues that might catch you out while driving in Australia. But let me say from the outset – traveling by road in Australia is very safe – I would say as safe as anywhere in the world. You just need to be prepared.

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It shocks most people to learn Australia is such a vast country. Australia is basically the same size as the continental United States. Texas fits into the state of Western Australia, 4 times! In rural areas, there can be long distances between towns. And, in the more remote parts of Australia, the distances between towns can be vast.

What You Need to Know About Travelling Australia by Car

Yes, a lot bigger than Texas, but without the US Interstate Highway System. Most Australian cities have well designed freeways systems, but out in the country areas it is a different matter. The only 2 major cities connected by freeway are Sydney and Melbourne, and that has only just occurred in the last few years, having taken 45 years to complete, since the first freeway section opened in Victoria.

There are some large chunks of freeway standard highways connecting Sydney and Brisbane and between Melbourne and Adelaide. But, generally speaking, driving in Australia is like driving on the USA’s scenic byways or state route system. Slower and passing through towns, where you definitely need to stay within the speed limits. There are large tracts of undivided highway (single carriageway) with no median strip.

But remember, although Australia is the same size as the continental US, it only has 1/17 th of the population, with most of the population living in the major cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart and Canberra. Bottom Line: There is no traffic to speak of in rural Australia.

Australian motorists drive on the left and Melbourne has trams to contend with. These are no big problem, just follow what the locals do. All major roads have blacktop (bitumen) but you will experience dirt roads in the more remote places.

What You Can Expect to See When Travelling Australia by Car

Travelling Australia by Car The Great Aussie Road Trip www.www.compassandfork.com

Travelling by car, gives you the opportunity to experience the best road trips in Australia. For example, a Great Ocean Road trip is one of the best road trips from Melbourne and a great way to complete a Melbourne to Adelaide drive, along the coastal route. When driving in country Australia, you will see many unique things. Here are a few of them:

Australia is Obsessed with the “Big” Attraction

The big Banana, the big pineapple, the big koala, the big lobster. The big shrimp? No, we call that one the big prawn! The big worm? No, that one is so big, it is called the giant worm.

I could go on for a few more paragraphs with the “big attractions”. They are slightly hokey, but always good fun to stop off and take a break from driving. And some of them are actually quite educational, if you want to learn about pineapples and bananas, and so on.

Country Towns, Country Pubs and Quick Meals

One of the great bonuses of not having an extensive, freeway system is you have the pleasure of experiencing, the quintessential, Australian, country town, which you would otherwise, zip past the outskirts of, if on a freeway.

Here you will no doubt pass a number of typical Australian hotels, affectionately known as pubs. Many, will feature the classic, Australian veranda, providing great shade and an opportunity to have a drink or a meal outside. On the subject of pub meals, they are colloquially called “counter meals”. They are typically served between noon and 2pm for lunch and 6pm and 8pm for dinner, although many pubs now serve outside of those hours.

Travelling Australia by Car The Great Aussie Road Trip www.www.compassandfork.com

Failing that, your next best options are to hunt out the local bakery for pies (maybe Australia’s national dish), pasties, sausage rolls and sandwiches or rolls. They’re always good and home-made. The local fish and chip shop is also a good bet! Fish in Australia is of high quality. Fish and chip shops also serve burgers- try an Aussie burger with the lot! Your burger will come with beetroot and fried egg!

In all seriousness, towns may be few and far between and options for eating are limited. Pack some snacks and drinks in the car and if it is near mealtime you might be better off to stop and eat rather than drive to the next town which might be hours away (and everything closed when you get there).

Which means filling your gas tank in town might also be a good option. Sometimes options to refuel are far apart. If you have a quarter of a tank or less- refuel. Gasoline or gas, as Americans call it, is petrol in Australia. Fuel is sold be the liter. The price on the sign is for a liter of petrol. So yes, fuel is much more expensive than in the USA but about average for the rest of the world.

Wildlife Signs and Agriculture

Travelling Australia by Car The Great Aussie Road Trip www.www.compassandfork.com

Travelling by car in Australia, you see great wildlife signs. And, you will almost certainly see kangaroos hopping around the place, especially around sunset and sunrise.

Depending where you are, you will also see emus, koalas, parrots, hawks and eagles. Wedge tail eagles are the world’s largest eagles and they are a sight to behold!

Unfortunately, you will also see many feral animals such as foxes, rabbits, goats, cats and camels. Yes, camels are in the outback and were the original road train in Australia’s outback. There are so many camels, some are actually being exported to the Middle East!

If you are planning an East Coast Australia road trip, you see large tracts of land devoted to agriculture. Think, vineyards, cotton, peanuts, pecans, sugar cane, macadamia nuts, pineapples and bananas. Inland, you will see more grapes and vineyards, oranges, apples, pears, wheat (lots of that) and of course plenty of dairy and beef cattle and sheep. Australia is one of the very few countries in the world with food security (no need to import any food items).

Great Australian Town Names with Many Put to Song

Many Australian towns derive their names from local, aboriginal names or just have odd names. These are always sure to please. Here are a few examples:

Cootamundra, Wagga Wagga, Wangaratta, Dunedoo (hmmm), Humpty Doo, Mangalore, Nowhere Else (seriously), Nar Nar Goon, Tittybong, Wee Wah, Woolloomooloo (very easy to mis-spell) and Yackandandah.

In fact, many of these great names have been put to song. I’ve been Everywhere Man , by Lucky Starr is quintessentially Australian. Give it a listen, it is classic how quickly he can sing the names of the towns.

Legal and Safety Matters

Australia, quite deservedly, has a reputation for being a very safe country in terms of crime, as well as having a very low rate of car accidents, when compared to other countries. But nonetheless, you should take note of the following legal and safety matters when travelling Australia by car.

Don’t Speed, Drink or Run Red Lights in Australia

As you see everywhere in Australia, if you drink (alcohol) and drive in Australia, you’re a bloody idiot! We have advertisements bombarding us with that message. Just don’t do it! The police take a dim view and there will be no forgiveness just because you are a tourist. Absolutely none, I can assure you. Random breath tests are set up in areas to catch you – that’s right- for no reason you can be pulled over and asked to breathe into a breathalizer. The legal blood alcohol limit in Australia is .05. It doesn’t take much to be over!

Oh, and we have speed and red-light cameras everywhere in the cities and rural towns looking for speeding drivers and those that run red lights. Fines for speeding and running red lights are huge. Again, just don’t do it. Turning left (the equivalent of a right turn in the US) on red, is prohibited. There will be no sign saying “no left turn on red” as the default is there is no left turn on red, unless there is a slip lane.

You will notice Australians don’t speed on the highways. That’s because it is easy to get caught and mailed a ticket! And yes the rental car company will find you!

Travelling Australia by Car The Great Aussie Road Trip www.www.compassandfork.com

Driving after Dark in the Country

When driving in the country, be careful of the wildlife. The wildlife can be prolific from about 30 minutes before sunset onwards. Many of Australia’s animals are nocturnal or active in the evenings and early dawn. Kangaroos, particularly, travel together in large mobs and can be hard to avoid.

It is an unfortunate fact of life, but if you are traveling in rural Australia, you are going to see dead kangaroos, wombats and cattle on the side of the road or even in the middle of the road. This can be confronting, so be prepared for it. Just remember, there are millions and millions of kangaroos in Australia.

Generally travel at night is not recommended due to the animals. It is not safe. Hitting a kangaroo is the equivalent of hitting a large deer. It can kill you. Plan your travel times and distances accordingly.

Road Trains in the Outback

Surely, the only country in the world that has road trains is Australia. These make B-Doubles look like mini minors! These huge trucks can be the length of 4 or 5 semi-trailers (or lorries). If driving in the Outback, you will see them.

The drivers are highly trained, just be careful if you attempt to pass them! Most have a sign on the back warning you it is a long vehicle and they are not kidding.

Travelling Australia by Car The Great Aussie Road Trip www.www.compassandfork.com

The Powernap

Australia is a huge country and it can be warm. There can be vast distances between towns in the more remote parts of Australia. Did you know Perth, on Australia’s west coast, is the world’s most remote city? That’s right. It is further away from another city than anywhere else on earth. Much of Australia is dead flat and with dead straight roads. Yes, boredom can sometimes set in!

So, follow the signs and take a powernap. You will see signs everywhere on Australia, to take a 15 minute “powernap”. This is even more important if you are driving solo.

You will see no end of witty signs In Queensland to encourage you to rest, such as “Rest or R.I.P”. There are even trivia quizzes. Pose a question and 5 km down the road provide the answer. A very smart way to snap you to attention.

Fuel and Water in Rural Australia

When travelling Australia by car, there can be long distances between towns in remote and rural Australia, avoid travelling with less than half a tank of fuel. You will generally see signs advising you how far off the next fuel is. And never travel without water. You just never know what can happen and not having water in the case of a car break down can be disastrous.

Travelling Australia by Car The Great Aussie Road Trip www.www.compassandfork.com

Lights on for Safety, Even During the Day

Did you know that the longest stretch of straight rail line in the world is along the Nullarbor plain in South Australia and Western Australia? It measures 297 miles (478 km) of dead straight rail line without even 1 minor curve.

Well, a Sydney to Perth driving itinerary will have you right next to that railway line. No hills, no curves and no traffic. It’s easy to lose concentration when driving in that scenario, so put your lights on, even in the middle of the day! It is much easier to sight oncoming traffic.

Why You Should Consider Travelling Australia by Car

Yes, it’s big and vast and that is one of Australia’s great charms and the best way to experience this is travelling Australia by car.

The big sky of Australia is just amazing during the day. But at night, it is even better. There is no place on earth to get a great view of the starry, starry night. The stars in Australia are awesome!

The red dirt, the country hospitality, the ability to get away from everything, the friendly pubs, the awesome beaches and coastline (which I haven’t even mentioned) and the chance to observe the Australian culture away from the big cities.

These are all great reasons for travelling Australia by car. Here are some ideas for some great places to visit in Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Tasmania . (You can put your car on the ferry to travel between Melbourne and Northern Tasmania). Look out for our soon to publish, 3 Week Australian Road Trip Itinerary , publishing shortly.

Travelling Australia by Car The Great Aussie Road Trip www.www.compassandfork.com

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Beginner’s Guide to Travelling Around Australia in a Campervan or Car

best vehicle for travelling around australia

Written By Bastian Graf

The best way to see Australia is on a roadtrip. If you’re planning a trip and are thinking about renting or buying your own vehicle then read on. We’ve put together a full guide on do’s and don’ts, top tips and expert recommendations for travelling around Australia by road.

Guide Travelling around Australia in a Campervan

Download the full guide here

Download your full copy of the Beginners Guide to Travelling around Australia, with campsites, extra road trip itineraries and tips from the team.

Getting on the road

The best way to see Australia is on a roadtrip. If you’re planning a trip and are thinking about renting or buying your own vehicle then read on. We’ve put together a full guide on dos and don’ts, top tips and expert recommendations for travelling around Australia by road.


How to choose the right campervan or car for you

To buy or rent? That’s the question…

Top tips for selling your vehicle at the end of your trip

5 best places to visit in Australia in a campervan

  • Survival Tips for Living in a campervan

Australian Driving tips: Rules of the road

  • Show your vehicle some love

Fridge vs. no fridge – lots of space vs. not so much space – proper campervan vs. station wagon … decisions decisions decisions .

Buying or renting a car or campervan for the first time can be pretty daunting and with so many options out there it’s sometimes a little confusing to decide on what the best option for you is. Read on for top tips and expert advice on how to find the right vehicle for you.

Station wagons

These trusty vehicles are cheap, reliable and most importantly easy to pick up all over the country.


  • Travellers who are more than happy to bunk down on a mattress in the back of the wagon or to sleep in a tent.
  • Travellers on a budget – they are cheaper vehicles to run than vans or campervans.
  • Groups of mates who are travelling together (this is a great way to save on the cost of petrol)
  • People who prefer automatic vehicles (over 85% of station wagons are auto)
  • People who are planning to mix it up between camping and staying in hostels.

Cost: Travellers Autobarn offer station wagons to rent from $35 a day, or you can buy one for about $3000 – $5000

Kuga Campervan

We recommend campervans for:

  • People who have some extra cash to spend on a vehicle
  • Travellers who prefer their home comforts such as fridge, kitchen sink and gas stove.
  • Travellers who are planning on sleeping in their vehicle every night and are looking for a little more room.
  • Travellers who are confident with driving a manual

Cost : Bag yourself a campervan for anything between $9900 – $16,000 or rent one from $45 a day.


We recommend vans for:

  • People who can be flexible with their budget and are happy to spend a bit more
  • People who are planning on spending most nights on their trip sleeping in their vehicle
  • People who planning on roadtrippin’ for a couple of months
  • People who are happy to drive a manual

Cost : Pick up a van from Travellers Autobarn from around $4000 – $8000 or rent one from $35 a day


We recommend 4WD’s for:

  • Travellers who have some cash to spend
  • Travellers who are looking to head off the beaten track
  • Groups of 2 – 5 who are planning on sleeping in hostels and motels at night.
  • Experienced drivers who will be confident handling such a big and powerful car
  • Nature lovers who want to explore the most remote parts of Australia.

Cost : A 4WD from Traveller’s Autobarn will cost you between $6000 – $10,000.

Once you’ve decided on the vehicle that’s right for you and your trip the next decision you need to make is whether to buy or rent your vehicle in Australia.

Below is a list of some important factors you need to consider before you make the call:


  • How long are you going to be travelling around Australia for?

This is the most important factor to consider when you’re debating whether to rent or buy your campervan or car. If you’re only planning on hitting the open road for 3 – 4 months (or less) then we recommend you rent. The benefits of doing this are:

  • They come equipped with all the campervan essentials you need
  • 24 / 7 roadside assistance
  • Toll free service number
  • Access to free campgrounds

If you are planning on staying in Australia for as long as possible then buying probably makes the most sense for you. If you are travelling in Australia for a year or 2 then it’s likely you’ll have to find work at some point and having your own vehicle will help to open up lots of possibilities for you – especially if you are planning on doing the farm work that’s essential for getting your 2 nd year visa.

  • How much money do you have?

  At the end of the day, it all comes down to how many dollars you are willing to spend. If you are a backpacker with cash to spare (lucky you), then renting is an easy option that offers no worries, no hassle and extra security.

If you are working to a tight budget then we recommend you take the time to shop around for a good deal on a vehicle. Don’t forget to consider how much you will get back when you sell it at the end of your trip.

  • Looking for complete freedom?

If you want to come and go as you please, you want the option to change your route whenever, paint it, bump it – then buying your own vehicle is for you.

There are a number of benefits to renting your vehicle but if you’re really looking for the ultimate freedom out on the open road then owning your wheels is the way forward.

  • What kind of traveller are you?

Untitled design

If the idea of breaking down on the side of the road in the outback and having to flag down a stranger to tow you to the nearest local garage is your idea of a nightmare then owning your vehicle might not be for you and renting gives you extra security and minimum fuss if something happens.

On the other hand if you’re adventurous, confidant and more than happy to deal with unplanned scenarios then buying is the way to go.


When it’s time to pack up your bags, dust the sand off your flip-flops and start wearing all white to show off your awesome tan it’s also time to sell your vehicle on.

But what do you need to consider?

  • Where will you end up selling your vehicle? It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. April to July is probably the worst time of year to try to sell your vehicle (as Sydney, Melbourne and Perth will all be very quiet). Avoid trying to sell your vehicle in Darwin and Cairns between December and June, and Brisbane and Adelaide can be difficult all year round.
  • Registration and paperwork . The more registration you have on your vehicle the more attractive it is to a prospective buyer (we recommend at least 3 months)
  • How much time do you have? Don’t leave it too late to try and sell your vehicle before you head off back home as it can take 2 – 4 weeks to sell your vehicle on. That’s a lot of time to spend worrying that you might not sell it!


What is a buyback guarantee and why does it matter?

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We also let you return your vehicle to any of our locations – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin or Perth . Too easy!

If you do manage to sell it on yourself for cash then no worries – just give us a call to let us know.

Another added bonus is that you don’t need to worry about any of the paperwork as we handle all of that for you.


  • The Great Ocean Road : Epic beaches, great campsites and breathtaking sunsets.
  • West Coast Adventure in Western Australia : Complete wilderness, outback and epic beaches
  • Tropical North Queensland : Rainforests, the Great Barrier Reef and the chance to experience true Aussie beach bum life.
  • Tasmania : Rural and natural beauty, amazing landscapes and secluded beaches
  • The Red Centre : True outback experience and living in cultural landscapes in the heart of Australia

For some wanderlust inspiration and information on other epic road trips and check out our ultimate guide to the best roadtrip in Australia here.


Survival Tips for Living in a Campervan

Travelling around in a campervan is a brand-new experience to lots of people, so we thought we’d put together some tips to ensure that your trip around Australia with Travellers Autobarn is the ultimate, stress free road trip!

Plan a rough route

Australia is enormous and you won’t be the first backpacker to look at a map and underestimate how long it will take you to drive from one place to another. But, while you still want to keep some degree of spontaneity during your trip, it’s ideal to have a rough idea of where you want to travel to, the route you want to take and how long it will take you to get there.

Have a rough idea of the places you want to stop by and visit, or the route you want to take before you set off.


Once you have hired your campervan it’s likely that you will be departing from one of Australia’s major cities, so we recommend that before you hit the road you stop by a large supermarket to stock up on all the essentials (and we don’t just mean beers and sausages for the barbie!).

Buying food and supplies from petrol stations and small local stores on the journey can hit your backpacker budget hard.

Buying cheap petrol

One of your biggest outgoings is going to be cost of your fuel. One of the best apps we recommend is MotorMouth . It’s really handy for finding the cheapest petrol on sale in your area. And don’t forget, having the air-con on all the time will eat into your fuel tank – so if you’re trying to save some money settle for opening the windows instead.

Campervan Maintenance

Remember that you are responsible for the campervan while it is in your possession. This means that you should treat it like it was your own vehicle, carry out basic maintenance checks every 500 km. Basic maintenance includes checking things like the tyre pressure and coolant levels.

If you’re driving a campervan then make sure you know the height of the vehicle and be wary of driving into car parks, under bridges or low-hanging branches if you aren’t sure.


Bushfires are a common occurrence in Australia, they can be really dangerous – so always make sure you adhere to the guidelines.

We recommend that you visit or download the dedicated bushfire website or app  for each state that you are travelling through (particularly in summer).

If you start a campfire then you must always make sure it is completely out at the end of the night and have at least 10 litres of water nearby in case it gets out of hand.


With the freedom of the road comes a little responsibility, and you should be aware of the paperwork that goes hand in hand with owning a car in Australia. The registration of your car, or the ‘rego’ as it is more commonly known, refers to the set of registration papers that every car must-have. These must be renewed every year and are specific to each state.

Each of the 8 Australian states has slightly different rules – if in doubt check the state website:

  • New South Wales –  Roads & Traffic Authority NSW (RTA)
  • Victoria –  VicRoads
  • Queensland –  Queensland Transport
  • South Australia –  South Australian Government Transport, Travel and Motoring
  • Western Australia –  Government of Western Australia Department of Transport
  • Northern Territory –  Motor Vehicle Registry
  • Tasmania –  Department of Infrastructure, Energy & Resources
Australian Capital Territory –  Rego ACT


If the unfortunate happens and you do come to a standstill surrounded by clouds of smoke coming from under the hood then stay where you are and wait for someone to pass by.

In Australia, it’s not uncommon to drive for hours without seeing another person. So the safest thing for you to do is to stay with your campervan or car. Leaving to look for help could mean that you spend hours or even a full day walking around under the scorching sun and in soaring temperatures before you come across help.

Always carry enough water and food.

The hotter it is, the more water you need.

It’s recommended that you carry at least 4 – 5 litres of water a day, per person . You also need to think about carrying some extra water in case you break down and are stuck overnight. Most large supermarkets stock 10L bottles of water – so make sure you stop off to pick up as many as you need.

It’s also crucial that you pack some non-perishable food to keep you going should you break down – think cereal bars, nuts and dried fruit. We recommend that you try to avoid snacking on salty snacks – it’s just going to make you even thirstier and could speed up dehydration.

Watch out for Skippy!

Australia Wildlife

When you’re driving be aware that collisions with kangaroos, cows and other animals often occur on outback roads, particularly at nighttime, dawn or dusk. If you are pulling a night shift at the wheel then try to ensure that the passenger next to you stays awake and alert to help you watch out for any animals on the road.

Avoid unsealed roads

Although many of the roads in the outback are in good condition, you may suddenly find yourself driving on an unsealed road (such as a field or a gravel track).

If you have hired a campervan or car from one of the big cities like Sydney, Melbourne or Perth, then you might find that the insurance policy you took out does not cover you when you’re driving on unsealed roads. Make sure you read the small print.

To put it simply, a campervan road trip is the only way to see Australia. Speak to the team at Travellers Autobarn for more information and to book your campervan today . 

Or, if you want to read more of our exciting  Guides by Travellers Autobarn , come and hear what we’re talking about!

About the Author

Bastian Graf

Bastian is the Sales & Marketing Manager here at Travellers Autobarn. He holds a Master of Commerce in Marketing and International Business Management, and 20+ years experience in campervan hire, road trips and travel.

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Our travel guides, guide to free camping in australia, guide to buying a campervan, guide to budget camping in australia, guide to family camping in australia, guide to camping in australia, guide to western australian road trips, best east coast road trips in australia, beginner's guide to travelling around oz, best road trips in australia, guide to backpacking in australia, find your nearest travellers autobarn location, other guide blogs.

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Best car to drive around Australia?

I'm seeking your recommendation as to a car. We are retiring soon, and want to start driving around different parts of Australia. We live in WA and will start in that State, so the kays travelled will be long. We plan to go off road, but not extreme. There will be three people in the car and it will need to be useful around the suburbs. It doesn't have to fashionable, but must be very reliable. Our budget can be up to mid-$60s, but less is best. The Mitsubishi Triton dual-cab and Suzuki Vitara seem good compromises between proficiency and value for money.

You first need to decide the level of off-roading you will be doing because that will determine if you need a four-wheel drive or you only need an all-wheel drive SUV . From what you have told us I suspect that an SUV, such as a Kia Sorento , Toyota Kluger , or a Nissan X-Trail would be the best all-round vehicle for you. All of those would fit your budget, they will all go off-road to a reasonable degree, and they're all reliable. The Mitsubishi Triton is a hard-riding ute, which I don't think is what you want, but the Suzuki Grand Vitara is a good vehicle and would also fit your needs.


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Waterline Charters, Wessel Islands, NT © Aussie Fly Fisher

Beaches and islands

Nature's Window, Kalbarri National Park, WA © Tourism Australia

Nature and national parks

Wombat, Symbio Wildlife Park, Helensburgh, NSW © Destination NSW

Eco-friendly travel

Group of friends participate in a body clay ritual at Peninsula Hot Springs © Peninsula Hot Springs

Health and wellness

The Dune Pavilion Deck with views of Uluru at Longitude 131 in the Northern Territory © Baillies Longitude 131

Family travel

Table Cape Tulip Farm, Wynyard, Tasmania © Tourism Australia

Family destinations

Hellfire Bay, Esperance, Western Australia © Tourism Australia

Family road trips

Merewether Baths, Newcastle, NSW © Destination NSW


Ellery Creek Big Hole, West MacDonnell Ranges, Northern Territory © Tourism NT/Salty Aura

Work and holiday

Sand Dune Adventures at Stockton Beach, Port Stephens, NSW © Tourism Australia

Beginner's guide

Man in a wheelchair looking up at the canopy of the Daintree Rainforest in Queensland © Tourism and Events Queensland

Accessible travel

 Mrs Macquarie's Chair, Sydney, NSW © Destination NSW

Planning tips

best vehicle for travelling around australia

Trip planner

Cape Tribulation, Tropical North Queensland, QLD © Tourism Australia

Australian budget guide

 Aerial of car driving through palm trees in Tropical North Queensland © Tourism and Events Queensland / Sean Scott.

Itinerary planner

Kangaroo, Lucky Bay, Esperance, WA © Australia’s Golden Outback

Find a travel agent

Beach House on Wategos Beach, Byron Bay, NSW © Tourism Australia

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Indian Pacific, Lake Hart, SA © Andrew Gregory

Find transport

Snowy region, Jindabyne, NSW © DPIE-Murray Van Der Veer

Visitor information centres

Deals and travel packages

Sydney Airport, New South Wales © Sydney Airport

Visa and entry requirements FAQ

Passengers using SmartGate © Australian Border Force

Customs and biosecurity

Uluru, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, NT © Tourism NT/Matt Cherubino

Working Holiday Maker visas

Bronte Baths, Bronte Beach, Sydney, NSW © Tourism Australia

Facts about Australia

Prairie Hotel, Parachilna, SA © South Australian Tourism Commission

Experiences that will make you feel like an Aussie

Great Barrier Reef, QLD © Georges Antoni / Tourism Australia

People and culture

Castle Hill, Townsville, QLD © Tourism and Events Queensland

Health and safety FAQ

Sorrento Pier, VIC © Visit Victoria, Ewen Bell

Cities, states & territories

Mount Lidgbird and Mount Gower, Lord Howe Island © Tom Archer

Iconic places and attractions

  Wildflowers, near Hamelin Pool, WA © Tourism Western Australia

When is the best time to visit Australia?

Ringer Reef Winery, Bright, VIC © Visit Victoria

Seasonal travel

Human Progress Pride flag, Sydney, NSW © Daniel Boud

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Silverdale Olive Orchard, Coral Coast, WA © Australia's Coral Coast

School holidays

Sydney New Year's Eve, Sydney Harbour, NSW © Destination NSW

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Sydney Harbour, Sydney, NSW © Destination NSW

How to get to Australia's most iconic cities

Gantheaume Point, Broome, WA © Tourism Australia

How long do I need for my trip to Australia?

Self-drive, Marrawah, TAS © Tourism Tasmania

How to travel around Australia

Car driving on road next to the ocean in Lagoons Beach Conservation Area © Pete Harmsen/Tourism Tasmania

Guide to driving in Australia

Maui Motorhome parked on the coastline in Tasmania © Tourism Australia

How to hire a car or campervan

Family strolling alongside Tilligerry Creek © Destination NSW

How to plan a family road trip

 Car drives along the Matilda Way in Outback Queensland © Tourism and Events Queensland

How to plan an outback road trip


MY RIG Adventures Logo (vector)

120+ Road Trip Essentials Australia (with PDF Packing List)

There is no better way to explore Australia than jumping into your car and embarking on an epic road trip. Whether you decide to stop at motels along the way, or hitch up the caravan and camp your way around, road tripping is by far the best way to see this vast country.

However, being prepared for a road trip will not only make for a much more comfortable journey, it can sometimes even be a matter of safety.

The important categories to cover in a road trip essentials list include:

  • Personal items
  • Clothing & shoes
  • Kids & pet items
  • Entertainment
  • Communication & technology
  • Food & drink
  • Camping & cooking
  • Organisation
  • Vehicle & trailer preparation
  • Travel planning 

Checking all of the essential tasks and items off your road trip checklist will give you peace of mind and ensure that you’re organised ahead of your next adventure.

We are a participant in affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to ebay.com and other affiliated sites. We may earn a commission from your purchases at no extra cost to you. For more information, see our disclosures here .

Road Trip Essentials – PERSONAL

Road Trip Essentials - Personal Items

The easiest way to keep all of your daily road trip essentials together while travelling is in a handy backpack. That way, you can just pick it up and go at any time, knowing that everything you need is in one place.

Medications & Scripts

If you require regular medications, make sure you’ve got plenty packed for your trip. It can help to pack your spare script as well, just in case you need to fill it during the road trip.

Microfibre Towels

Whether you’ll be staying in accommodation or camping, packing 1 x microfibre towel person is a must as they will dry quickly on the road. From showering to swimming, getting clean and dry is essential. It doesn’t hurt to have 2 towels per person if you plan on doing a lot of swimming or using campsite amenities at night.

Check out our review of the Tesalate microfibre towels for caravanning and camping.

Eco Beach Towel

Notebook & Pen

It’s always handy to have a notebook and pen or even some pencils and a rubber in the glovebox.

Notebook & pen uses:

  • Accident/ incident – jot down necessary details
  • Planning – brainstorm travel plans while on the go
  • Shopping lists – for the next stop
  • Boredom – can doodle or play games

Plastic Bags & Ziplock Bags

You never know when you’ll need to throw an item or two into a plastic bag or seal it away in a ziplock bag. From wet clothes to toilet paper, snacks or even your toothbrush! Plastic bags are also handy to use as shopping bags along the way, plus of course, you’ll need something to store your garbage in.

Uses for plastic/ ziplock bags:

  • Keep small things stored together in a ziplock bag
  • Separate wet/ dry items
  • Storing garbage

Reusable Shopping Bag

Many supermarkets in Australia have now banned single-use plastic bags, which means you’ll need to have your own when ducking into the shops for supplies. A fabric bag is always handy and can roll down to a tiny size for storage.

Spare Money

The last thing you want to deal with on the road is not being able to pay for the goods and services that you require in that moment. Make sure you pack spare physical cash, as well as a spare debit card with back-up money on it. That way, if you’re in the outback with no WiFi reception and no ability to simply transfer money onto the other card, you will still be good to go.

Money to carry:

  • Everyday debit card
  • Spare debit card (with available funds in case of emergency)
  • $1 coins for laundromats

Sunglasses & Reading Glasses

Driving along the bright Australian roads can be harsh on your eyes. Sunglasses are recommended in order to reduce straining and squinting. Plus, for those who wear reading glasses, don’t forget to pack a pair of those as well.

Toilet Paper & Tissues

Unfortunately, you can’t always rely on public toilets and rest stops having a topped up supply of toilet paper. It always pays to have a few rolls of your own in the car. Plus, a box of tissues in the car if someone gets the sniffles will keep everyone comfortable.

A great new camping gadget for keeping your toilet paper clean and dry is with the Dunny Buddy Toilet Roll Holder. It’s definitely handy for grabbing and heading over to random toilet blocks on the go.

Dunny Buddy Toilet Roll Holder

  • Bug repellent
  • Floss & mouthwash
  • Hair brush/ comb
  • Hair ties & clips
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Moisturiser
  • Nail scissors
  • Shampoo & conditioner
  • Soap/ body wash

One or two small, compact umbrellas stashed away inside the car door pockets may end up being very welcome on your road trip. If the heavens decide to open up at the exact moment you need to run into a store or attraction, you can simply pop it open and wander on over without getting too wet (hopefully!)

Wallet or Purse

A slim wallet or purse is perfect for slipping into your pocket or bag when you’re travelling on the road. Bulky wallets can take up too much space and are heavier to carry around.

Sometimes, having a shower on the road becomes a luxury, rather than a given. But, if you’ve got a wet washer or some wet wipes, you can still stay hygienic easily enough. They’re also useful for dirty hands when there is no running water nearby.

Aus Line Break

Road Trip Packing Checklist

[ Digital & Printable ]

Road Trip Packing List

What you get:

  • Pre-filled with 600+ items
  • TICK off items as you pack
  • ADD in weights (to organise payload if applicable)
  • 17 categories
  • PRINTABLE format – fully customisable
  • DIGITAL format – completely interactive on your device
  • Download once, use it over-and-over

Road Trip Essentials – CLOTHING & SHOES

Road Trip Essentials Packing List - Clothing & Shoes

  • 7 x shirts – to wear during the day
  • 1 x dressy shirt – for going out at night

Shorts/ Skirts

  • 5 x bottoms – to rotate through during the days

Long Pants/ Jeans/ Leggings

  • 1 x pair – for going out at night
  • 2 – 5 pairs – if it’s cold and you’ll wear them during the day

Jumpers & Jackets

  • 1 x light jumper – for mild climates
  • 2 x warm jumpers – for colder climates
  • 1 x warm jacket – for colder climates
  • 1 x waterproof jacket/ poncho – for wet weather

Socks & Underwear

  • 7 x pairs socks – for your walking shoes & wearing in bed at night
  • 7 x pairs underwear
  • 2 x thermal underwear – for winter & cold climates
  • 2 x wool socks – for winter & cold climates
  • 1 x pair of walking shoes
  • 1 x pair of thongs/ slides – for wearing around the campsite & in the shower
  • 1 x pair of warm boots – for colder climates
  • Bikini/ swimmers
  • Board shorts

Road Trip Essentials – KIDS

Bingara Free Camping, NSW

  • Blankets & wraps
  • Bottles/ sippy cups
  • Nappy Bag (nappies, wipes, cream, change mat, nappy bags etc.)
  • A few favourite toys
  • Drink bottle
  • Educational material (if missing out on school)
  • Entertainment (tablet, books, blocks, ball, sand toys etc.)

Here’s more tips for travelling with kids .

Road Trip Essentials – PETS

Navigator Dog Seat Buddy

  • Collar & tag
  • Balls/ toys
  • Prescriptions & special needs
  • Ensure microchipping, vaccinations, registration, worming & vet checks are up-to-date

Check out the full guide to travelling with dogs .

Navigator Dog Travel Buddy

Road Trip Essentials – ENTERTAINMENT

Road Trip Essentials Packing List - Entertainment

Audio Entertainment

Pre-make some playlists of various audio entertainment for long days on the road. Here are 150+ songs for road-tripping to get you started!

Audio Entertainment:

Ball or Frisbee

A great way to help stretch the legs and bodies during rest stops and at the end of the day is by kicking around a ball or throwing a frisbee. If you’re travelling with kids or pets, they will especially love this.

Binoculars are great for spotting wildlife in the trees both during the day and at night. They also give an extra perspective when exploring new places and you want to be able to see various sites a bit closer.


Board Games & Playing Cards

One of the best parts of a road trip is switching off from our highly-stimulated lives and reconnecting with each other and/ or the world around us. Board games and playing cards provide hours of entertainment without a device or battery in sight! Plus, if the weather turns awful, you’ll be thankful to have some easy entertainment on hand.

Monopoly Australia

Books & Magazines

If you’re old school like me and prefer to physically turn the pages, then one or a few (depending on how fast you read!) good books or magazines will always offer plenty of entertainment. Head to the library before you go and grab some holiday reading. Or, look out for books swaps along the way (often found in campground amenity blocks)

Here are some great novels about travelling Australia , plus some fantastic Australian kids books , to read and help inspire you for your own travels.

Electronic Games

To help keep kids entertained during those long travel days, some pre-downloaded games on a device or a handheld gaming console can break up the hours.

If you want to be able to chill out and have your own downtime (either in the car, or at your accommodation), a set of headphones will be handy. Listen to podcasts, audiobooks, music, YouTube videos etc.

Portable Speaker

One of the best ways to chill after a day of road tripping is with some tunes going in the background while sitting around a campfire, reading a book, playing a game or chatting with your companions. Pack your portable speaker with charging cable and you’re good to go!

Bluetooth Speaker

Tablet or eReader

Another great way to chill out during your down time is to play some pre-downloaded games or make your way through a pile of eBooks. The best thing about a tablet is that you can fit a lot of entertainment into one small device, saving you lots of space and weight.


These days our phones do a pretty damn good job of taking photos. But if you want something on top of that, such as a drone, GoPro or DSLR, then don’t forget to pack your kit, along with the charger and batteries.


Camping App

If you’re camping during your road trip, make sure you download a camping app such as WikiCamps or Camps Australia Wide. These apps are invaluable tools for finding camps, drinking water, dump points, info centres and loads more.

Here are over 25 Apps for Travelling Australia , that will enhance your trip.

What would a modern-day road trip checklist even look like without chargers?!

Chargers to remember:

  • Laptop/ tablet
  • Bluetooth speaker

Map App/ GPS

If your vehicle doesn’t have a GPS system already installed, make sure you’ve got access to Google Maps or similar on your device. To ensure you’ve always got offline map availability around Australia, you can pre-download maps on apps such as WikiCamps , Maps.me or Hema Maps .

  • Pre-download maps
  • Use offline
  • Save on mobile data
  • Maps run off GPS when you don’t have reception

Portable WiFi Modem

You can quite easily use your mobile phone data while you’re travelling, if you have enough of it. However, another option is to take a portable WiFi modem with you for extra internet usage along the way.

A portable power bank that can be charged in your car as you’re driving is a great way to keep all of your devices topped up when you’re out and about.

Solar Power Bank

Satellite Phone

If you plan on heading off the beaten track for any length of time and know that you won’t have phone reception, carrying a satellite phone can become a matter of personal safety. They can be expensive, but with a second hand unit and a small plan, just to cover the time that you’ll be travelling, it means you’ll still have communication with friends, family and emergency services if need be.

A UHF Radio is an essential road trip item for travelling in Australia. This is the main form of communication between truck drivers, passenger vehicle drivers, oversized load pilots and station workers.

Reasons to have a UHF Radio:

  • Communicate with truck drivers
  • Hear if there are any oversized loads coming so that you can move off the road
  • Call for help in case of emergency

The main channel to use on the highways in Australia is Channel 40, which will allow other drivers to contact you and vice-versa if need be. Here’s the full guide for travelling with a UHF Radio in Australia .

Uniden 8060S (UHF Radio)

Road Trip Essentials – FOOD & DRINK

Insulated water bottles.

Rather than carrying cartons of bottled water, which are awful for our environment, make sure every traveller has their own insulated water bottle.

You can carry a 20L water jerry can in the back or the larger 10L containers of water and fill your bottles from there. Even though you may not be filing the bottles up with cold water, the insulation will keep the water from boiling in the car from the heat of the sun.

Travel Cups & Mugs

No road trip essentials list is complete without an array of snacks to keep you going!

Snack Ideas:

  • Cheese & dip
  • Fruit/ protein/ muesli bars
  • Treats (chocolate, lollies, chips etc.)

Plus, unless you plan on eating out or buying every meal on the go, you’ll need to pack ingredients for breakfast, lunch and dinner into your pantry box and portable fridge/ esky.

Water Containers

One of the main road trip essentials in Australia is water and packing a couple of bottles is simply not enough. You should always carry at least a 20L water container filled up, even if you don’t use it all. In case of break down or emergency, water is the number one resource that all passengers will require.

water Jerry Can

Road Trip Essentials – CAMPING & COOKING

Road Trip Essentials Packing List - Camping & Cooking

Many of these items are essentials for those who are camping during their road trip, however, if you’re travelling in a van, check out these van camping accessories .

Aluminium Foil

Alfoil is useful for covering up foods and dishes to pack into the fridge or esky. It’s also great for campfire cooking (especially baked potatoes in the fire!)

Camping Chairs

Camping chairs will always come in handy on a road trip, however they can be rather bulky. If you’re pressed for space, you may choose to go for a waterproof picnic blanket and make use of public picnic tables instead.

Camp Chair

Camping Stove/ BBQ

Something small and compact for cooking on will be essential. A camping stove with spare fuel canisters is a great, easy solution. Another option is to pack a small BBQ with a small 4kg gas bottle.

Camping Stove

Chopping Board

Essential for preparing meals and cutting up food.

Collapsible Table

You can’t always rely on finding a spare picnic table every time you need one. Having a small, collapsible table in the boot is handy for making lunch on the road, cooking at night and even playing a game of cards.

Alternatively, you could go for a swing-away BBQARM, which easily attaches to either a tow mount or rear bar. They make a great, compact little table, which quickly dismantles and takes up very little storage space in the car.


A small amount of both laundry powder and washing up liquid for cleaning your dishes and clothes along the way are both road trip essentials, whether you’re camping or staying in motels.

  • Laundry powder
  • Washing up liquid

Fire Lighters

Getting a fire going on the road can sometimes be a bit tricky, especially if you’re foraging well picked over campsites and can’t find much kindling. In case of difficulty, throw in a few fire lighters to help get the fire going at night.

Fridge/ Esky

If you’re camping while road tripping in Australia, you will definitely need some way of keeping your food and drinks cold. A 12v fridge is the best way to go, however a good old esky with ice will also do the trick. You’ll obviously need to keep topping up the ice at service stations along the way if you go for the esky option.

Evakool 12v Fridge/ Freezer

Hot Water Bottles

If you’re road tripping during winter or travelling through colder climates, one hot water bottle per person will be very welcome under the blanket at night.

Hot Water Bottles

Every camper needs a good lantern for cooking, cleaning and moving around at night. Don’t forget to pack spare batteries or the cable for charging if it’s a rechargeable one.

Camping Lantern

Lighters & Matches

Always carry multiple matches and lighters if you’re planning on having a fire every night. It’s less than fun to arrive at camp on a cold night, only to find you’ve got nothing to start a fire with.

Mattress or Roll Mat

If you’re staying in a tent, you’ll need to pack some type of mattress for sleeping on. The easiest option is a self-inflating mattress, however they can be quite bulky to store. Another option is the humble blow-up mattress with a 12v pump that runs from the car. Alternatively, you can go for a simple roll mat underneath your sleeping bag, which will help to insulate you against the cold of the ground, as well as provide some padding.

Camping Mattress

Mugs or Tumblers

One mug or insulated tumbler per person is all that you’ll need. They will work for both hot beverages in the morning to cold drinks at night. For avid tea and coffee drinkers, you may also want to pack a lidded travel mug for hot drinks in the car.

Alcoholder Mug with Handle

Throw a newspaper in the car to easily get your fire started each night.

Paper Towel

When it comes to cooking on the road, paper towel is really handy in wiping over semi-dirty dishes and reducing what needs to be washed. It’s also handy for wiping hands and soaking up grease from food.

Pegless Clothesline

If you’re going to be camping during your road trip, you’ll need some way of drying your wet towels from the shower. Plus, if you use a laundry along the way, being able to dry your washing at camp, instead of putting it through a dryer, will save time and money. Having one (or multiple) Pegless Clotheslines with your road trip essentials will take up very little space, yet very much come in handy.

Pegless Clothesline

Picnic Blanket

It’s always handy to add a picnic blanket onto your road trip essentials Australia checklist. They’re great for throwing over picnic tables for meals or using as a ground blanket if need be. A picnic blanket with a waterproof backing is even better for those situations where things are a little damp.

Pillows, Blankets & Sleeping Bags

Definite road trip essentials for campers are some pillows and blankets to help stay warm and comfortable at night. For colder climates, a thermal sleeping bag with an extra warm blanket will keep you much warmer.

Plastic Containers & Twisty Ties

You’ll need some way of storing leftover food once packages have been opened. A couple of reusable containers and some twisty ties (or rubber bands) are all handy solutions.

Plates & Bowls

Pack the essential plates and bowls that you’ll need for your road trip. Going for plastic or stainless steel makes them easier for throwing back into the car along the way, without having to worry about breakages. You could even pack some paper plates and throw them into the fire at night, to help reduce the dirty dishes.

Van Go Bamboo Plate Set

Pots & Pans

Ensure you pack at least one pot and one frying pan for cooking. You can also add in a whistling kettle for boiling water, although if you prefer to keep things light, a pot will also do the job.

Camping Pots

Tea Towels & Dishcloths

Road trip essentials for washing the dishes while travelling include a couple of tea towels and one or two dishcloths for cleaning. A scourer is also helpful to remove stuck food from plates and pots.

The easiest camping accommodation when you’re road tripping and moving every day is a simple tent or a roll-up swag. The benefit of the swag is that there’s a built-in mattress, which means less packing and less setting up.


A good quality thermos will keep soups and drinks hot for hours. You can make up a batch of coffee or soup in the morning, store it in your thermos and enjoy it all day on the road.

Thermos Flask

Torch or Headlamp

Along with having a lantern, it’s a good idea to pack a torch or headlamp as well (with spare batteries). A headlamp in particular is much easier for doing nighttime toilet trips, getting things in and out of the car, changing a tyre on the side of the road and even using inside the tent.


Utensils & Cutlery

Some essential utensils and cutlery to pack for your road trip in Australia include knives, forks, spoons, tongs, flipper, wooden spoon and a large serving spoon.

Utensil & Cutlery Items:

  • Can opener (or only buy cans with the ring pull)
  • Cutlery – butter knives, forks, teaspoons, dessert spoons
  • Egg flipper
  • Large serving spoon
  • Sharp knife
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Wooden spoon

3-in-1 Camping Cutlery

Washing Up Bucket

You’ll need a bucket or plastic camping sink for washing the dishes after each meal. You can also use it to store all of the cleaning stuff in.

Collapsible Sink Container Bucket

Whistling Kettle

Having some way of boiling water for tea, coffee and dishes is a must have item on your road trip essentials Australia list. However, if you prefer to pack less items, you could just use a pot.

Collapsible Kettle

12v to 240v Inverter

A small inverter, which is designed to plug into a car cigarette socket, will give you the ability to charge things like laptops and camera batteries if you don’t have access to mains power.

12v to 240v Inverter

Road Trip Essentials – PAPERWORK

Road Trip Essentials - Car Paperwork

Most people never even look at their car manual, but if you’re stuck on the side of the road with a car problem, you might just be thankful you have it.

Double check that your insurance is up-to-date before hitting the road and make sure you’re covered for everything that you intend to be covered for. Pack a copy of your insurance policy number and contact details into the glove box, in case of an accident.

Insurance Tips:

  • Ensure payments are up-to-date
  • Ensure you’re covered for everything
  • Pack policy number & contact phone number into the glove box

Here’s everything you need to know about Caravan Insurance in Australia .

Licence/ ID

Something we should never leave home without is our driver’s licence or some form of ID. This will become especially important when entering licensed venues along the way. For travelling kids who have a school ID card, it’s a good idea to pack that as well, just in case they need to show proof of age for various attractions.

Licences to include:

  • Licence for driver/s
  • Photo ID for 18+ travellers without a licence
  • School ID for kids (if applicable)


These days, most authorities can do a quick rego check with their system and see whether or not your vehicle and trailer are registered. However, it can help to carry registration papers in the glove box just in case you need proof (especially if you don’t have internet access at the time).

Registration Paperwork:

  • Ensure registration is up-to-date
  • Pack paperwork into the glove box

Here’s everything you need to know about Caravan Registration in Australia , with state-by-state costs and regulations.

Roadside Assistance

Make sure you’ve got a good roadside assistance policy to cover you for various break-down situations that may occur during a road trip in Australia. Pack the paperwork with membership number and the roadside assistance phone number into the glovebox.

Roadside Assistance Paperwork:

  • Ensure your car is covered
  • Ensure your caravan/ camper is also covered (under the same policy if possible)
  • Pack membership number & contact phone number into the glove box

Here’s everything you need to know about Caravan Roadside Assistance in Australia .

Road Trip Essentials – EMERGENCY

Road Trip Essentials

Emergency Roadside Kit

All travellers should include an emergency tool kit on their road trip checklist, whether you’re sticking to the highways, or going off the beaten track.

Emergency Kit Items:

  • Basic tools
  • Pocket knife
  • Tyre repair kit
  • Spare fuses
  • Electrical tape/ Duct Tape
  • Torch with spare batteries
  • Reflective safety vest
  • Reflective triangle
  • Window breaker

Roadside Emergency Kit

First Aid Kits

When travelling throughout Australia for any length of time, you should always have a well-stocked First Aid Kit in your car. I also recommend packing a Snake Bite Kit, which will have the specific snake bite bandages with the square indicators on them.

For a full list of over 40 items, see our First Aid Kit Checklist .

Below are some pre-made First Aid Kits by Survival, which contain absolutely everything you should need to aid you in an emergency situation.

Survival Home First Aid Kit

Survival First Aid Kits (eBay) →

Snake Bite First Aid Kit

Survival Snake Bite Kits (eBay) →

Jumper Leads or Battery Jump Pack

Another essential road trip checklist item is something to be able to jump start your car with, in the case of a flat battery.

Jumper leads are handy if you can hail down another car and jump off their battery. However, that’s not always possible. In which case, carrying a battery jump pack is a much better option, especially if you plan on travelling a little more remotely.

Portable Jump Starter

You should never fully rely on your phone maps when you’re travelling. Although it’s definitely recommended to pre-download offline maps using your GPS system of choice, what will you do if your phone charge dies? It’s always wise to have a good quality paper map of the area in which you’re travelling through as a back-up.

HEMA Central Australia Map

PLB (Personal Locator Beacon)

A Personal Locator Beacon is a device which will send out an alert to emergency services with your exact GPS location. They are generally carried by hikers, 4WDers and other people who engage in activities that isolate them from quickly being able to receive help in case of emergency.

It’s not essential to carry a PLB as a road tripper unless you plan on heading off the beaten track and will be unreachable if you need help.

Recovery Tracks

Recovery tracks are not just for 4WDers. Even if you are road tripping in a 2WD vehicle, it is still possible to find yourself stuck in damp ground at a campsite, national park or any other unsealed parking spots.

A set of plastic recovery tracks are a simple way to get out of a boggy situation if there’s no one around to pull you out.

Maxtrax Recovery Tracks

Spare Tyre/s & Jack

Check to make sure you’ve got at least one good spare tyre for your car and another for the trailer (if applicable), plus a jack.

  • Car spare tyre – inflated with plenty of tread
  • Trailer spare tyre – inflated with plenty of tread

4WD Recovery Kit

If you plan to head along some unsealed roads, bush tracks and off-grid camping areas, it’s essential to add a 4WD emergency kit to your road trip checklist.

4WD Recovery Kit Contents:

  • Snatch strap
  • Tree trunk protector
  • Extension strap
  • Snatch block
  • 2 x bow shackles
  • Winch dampener
  • Tyre deflator
  • Heavy duty gloves

4x4 4WD Recovery Kit

Road Trip Essentials – ORGANISATION

Car seat organiser.

The glove box can fill up pretty quickly with all of the bits and bobs you want to be able to grab in a hurry. Instead, use a car seat organiser. That way you can store all of the things you need to access quickly in organisational pockets. From tissues and wipes, to suncream, bug repellent, chargers and more.

If you’re travelling with kids in the back, over the seat organisers are the perfect place for them to stash their snacks, colouring books, devices and everything else that would otherwise end up on the floor.

Car Seat Organiser

Having a dedicated day pack is going to make life on the road so much easier. All of the items that you need with you at all times (even if you’re not in the car) should be stored in the day pack.

Day Pack Items:

  • Maps/ guide books
  • Water bottle

Overnight Bag

Rather than having to unpack half of you car every time to stop for the night, take an overnight bag to take into your accommodation with you. The main things that you’ll need are toiletries, towel, clothing and all of the valuables.

Packing Cubes

If you really want to maximise your storage space, roll your clothing up into packing cubes. You can easily organise clothing into either days or categories and even roll them back up once dirty and stack them back away for laundry day (or when you get home). If you want to go the extra mile, you could label each cube or colour-code for ease of use.

Packing Cubes

Roof Storage Box

A waterproof storage box on the roof provides a secondary place to store some of your road trip essentials. For items that don’t need to be accessed every day, the roof can be a good place to store them.

Rubbish Bin

A little zippered and collapsible rubbish bin for the car is the best way I’ve found to keep all of the trash locked away in one place, without fear of spillages. Here are 15 camping garbage bin ideas .

Navigator Wheel Bin Buddy

Storage Tubs

Depending on how you want to pack things, it can help to have lidded storage tubs stacked in the back of the car, labelled with what’s inside. That way, when you are making a beeline for a particular item, you can simply pull out that tub and find what you’re looking for.

Washing Bag

Have a dedicated collapsible bag for all dirty washing so that it doesn’t get mixed up with the clean clothing. Once it’s full or you can get to a laundry, just grab it and off you.

Expandable Washing Laundry Bag

Road Trip Essentials – VEHICLE PREPARATION

Nissan Patrol under the bonnet

Check Vehicle Fluids

Check and top up (if necessary) all of your car’s fluids.

  • Windscreen wiper water
  • Brake fluid
  • Transmission fluid
  • Radiator coolant

Check Vehicle Lights

Go around and check that all of your lights are working on the car.

  • Indicator & hazard lights
  • Brake lights
  • Additional spotlights & light bars

I recommend getting a good set of rubber floor mats for your car as a road trip essential item while travelling throughout Australia. From the outback dust, to the coastal sands and all of the mud, grass and dirt in between… it’s all going to end up embedded in your car floor carpet if you don’t cover it up!

Fuel Top Up

Fill up the car’s fuel tank/s and any jerry cans that you’re carrying for spare fuel.

  • Car fuel tank/s

Phone Mount

If you need to use your phone for maps or anything else while driving, make sure you’ve got your phone sitting in a mount or cradle. It’s illegal to have your phone in your hand while driving in Australia and the police will not hesitate to fine you for it.

Spare Car Key

Packing a spare car key can be helpful in case something should happen to your usual set. Trust me, it’s not unheard of to loose the car keys somewhere along a bush walk or god knows where else!

Of course, the second key needs to be accessible, which isn’t always going to be the case. So, think of a good place for the second key – maybe in your partner’s handbag or in the caravan.

If you’re travelling through the urban areas of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, you’ll most likely find yourself travelling along some toll roads. To pay for the tolls, you’ll need a toll tag in your car (loaded up with credit), which will automatically beep and deduct the fee as you drive through the toll point.

To get a Toll Tag, which will cover you for all toll roads around Australia, head to Linkt .

Tyre Pressure

Make sure all of your tyres (including the spare) are pumped up to their recommended PSI.

Where to find correct tyre pressure for your car (if the tyres are standard size):

  • Owner’s manual
  • Chart attached to the inside of the car door

Ensure all tyres on the car have plenty of tread on them. If not, get your tyres changed before hitting the road. A tyre blow-out when travelling at 100km/ hr can be catastrophic.

  • Legal allowable tyre tread depth in Australia – 1.5mm
  • Recommended tyre tread depth in Australia – Over 3mm

Window Shades

Popping a sunshade up across the windscreen makes a massive difference with keeping the car cool during the day when you’re parked in the sun. It also keeps the steering wheel and front seats a lot cooler.

In addition, you can also get sunshades for some of the other windows to help keep the rest of the car cooler.

Window Sunshade

Vehicle Walk-around

Do a final walk around of your vehicle and trailer, just to make sure that everything is secure and looking good for travel.

Road Trip Essentials – TRAILER PREPARATION

Townsville House Sitting

Check Electric Brakes

Plug in the electric brake controller plug when hitching up and make sure that the light comes on (most units will light up when connected correctly).

Check Trailer Tail Lights

Get someone to stand at the back of the caravan or camper and check that the brake lights and indicators are all working as you go through them from the car.

Jerry Can Fuel

Make sure any spare fuel jerry cans that you carry on your caravan or camper are all filled up and that any old, stale fuel has been discarded. Here are all of the legalities for carrying fuel on a caravan , just so you’re aware.

  • Diesel for the diesel heater
  • Fuel for the car

Jerry Can

Pack Down Inside the Trailer

Make sure inside the caravan or camper is travel-ready. If you want to be even more organised, go and grab yourself our FREE Caravan Pack Down Checklist and Planning Kit .

  • Wind down TV aerial
  • Lock in/ remove TV from its bracket
  • Close all roof hatches
  • Close & lock all windows
  • Open all blinds & curtains
  • Secure all loose items
  • Remove bunk ladder & place onto the bottom bunk
  • Lock in the shower door
  • Lock in the room dividers/ doors
  • Lock in the fridge & freezer doors
  • Lock all cupboards & drawers

Pack Down Outside the Trailer

Make sure the exterior of the caravan or camper is travel-ready.

  • Lock all cabinet & hatch doors
  • Secure & lock bikes onto bike rack
  • Lock entry door
  • Fold entry step away
  • Ensure awning is rolled away, locked & secured
  • Hitch up to the tow vehicle
  • Wind up stabiliser legs
  • Wind up jockey wheel
  • Check tail lights
  • Check electric brake controller

Tyre Pressure & Tread

Make sure your caravan or camper tyres have plenty of tread on them and are at the recommended PSI. Don’t forget to also check the quality and PSI of the spare tyre as well.

Spare Caravan/ Camper Key

Sometimes, things just happen and we find ourselves in need of the spare key. Touch wood that you don’t need to use it, but having one in a secondary location may just get you out of an otherwise tricky situation.

Towing Weights

If you’re about to hit the road with a caravan or camper behind you, it’s imperative that you weigh your set-up and ensure that you’re within your legal towing weight limits.

Remember, every time you add, subtract or shift your load, your various towing weights will also change.

Helpful Information for Towing Weights: ◆  All Towing Weights Explained → ◆ 3 Ways to Work out Tow Ball Weight → ◆ Step-by-step Instructions for Weighing a Trailer →

Vehicle & Trailer Walk-around

Always do a final walk-around once you’re hitched up and ready to go. This is where you’ll often pick up if something has been forgotten to be locked, put away or secured.

Road Trip Essentials – PLANNING

Accommodation style.

The type of accommodation you will be using during your travels will largely affect what needs to be included on your road trip packing list. For example, if you will be utilising motels, then you won’t need to bother with camping gear. Alternatively, you may want to Free & Low Cost Camp, which means you may have to plan your stops around campsites that have toilets on site.

Accommodation Considerations:

  • Plan camps that have amenities
  • Call ahead for vacancies/ bookings with caravan parks & motels

Have an Itinerary

Whether you’re the type to have all plans laid out in a spreadsheet, or you just prefer to wing it, having at least a loose itinerary for your road trip is essential.

Road Trip Itinerary Considerations:

  • Travel time frame
  • Departure & return dates
  • Travel budget
  • Final destination (or at least direction of travel)
  • ‘Must Do’ stops along the way

Plan Rest Stops

Driving for long periods can tire you out. So, every two hours you may either want to switch drivers or make pit stops for a snack, drink some water, go to the toilet and stretch your bodies. This will help you to remain alert and enjoy your time.

Map of Australia Sticker

Check for Roadblocks & Restrictions

Roadblocks can put a damper on every road trip, which is why you need to carefully plan the route that you are going to take. Make sure that there are no road works, closures, or accidents on the way. You may want to keep yourself updated until the day you are going on the trip as well as during the trip.

In this regard, you might want to do some research on the traffic as well using Google Maps or Waze. Nothing can ruin your trip more than blockages caused by a traffic accident, which will just lead to tiredness and frustration.

Check the Weather & Road Conditions

If it’s necessary for you to leave on a less than ideal day for the weather (say, you already have your holiday leave and you can’t change it), then you may use current weather and road conditions information to make an update on your route. Not every area will have the same weather, so an alternative route may well save your trip.

If the weather has been unstable (or is expected to be), then you might expose yourself to muddy roads that are difficult to drive on, bushfires or floods. Needless to say, this can put a great question mark on your safety, which is why you may want to find out what the conditions of the road will be.

For an up-to-date look at where there are bushfires around the country, use an app such as Fires Near Me .

Download an Emergency App

We all hope that our trips will go smoothly, but one can never be too sure when disaster may strike. Inform your loved ones about where you are going, stay in contact, and just in case, download an emergency app, such as Emergency+ . While emergency numbers are excellent, apps can also work as a reliable alternative.

Pack up your Home

Your trip starts even before you leave your home. Therefore, before you begin conquering all the wonders of the Australian Outback, make sure that everything in your home is packed up and in order. 

House Packing Tips:

  • Clean the bathrooms for when you get back
  • Wash the bed linen for when you get back
  • Vacuum the floors
  • Empty all perishable food out of the fridge & pantry
  • Empty all rubbish bins
  • Switch off appliances
  • Lock all doors & windows
  • Let a neighbour know you’re going away (get them to clear mailbox & take garbage bins in & out)
  • Leave jewellery and valuables in a safe place
  • Leave the place looking like someone is still there
  • Set the alarm

If you’re packing up for long-term travel, here are 8 tips for packing up the house .

Avoid Driving at Night

Driving at dusk, dawn or at night in Australia is not a wise move unless you absolutely can’t avoid it. Much of our native wildlife are most active during those times, but are much harder to spot, which increases the risk of having an accident and/ or adding to the roadkill.

Now, it’s over to you. Time to start planning and packing for your epic Australian road trip!

Road Trip Packing List

Road Trip Packing List

No matter what your accommodation style is, the Road Trip Packing List will ensure that you don’t forget a thing.


Travel Planning Tools

Travel Checklists

9 thoughts on “120+ Road Trip Essentials Australia (with PDF Packing List)”

We go road tripping alllll summer usually. These are really really good tips! I love your checklist, it’s something I’ve been meaning to make because we ALWAYS. FORGET STUFF. haha Thanks for all these resources.

Haha it seems as though forgetting stuff is a regular theme. Hopefully you can get out there for some road trips this summer.

We too love road trips as they give such an immersive experience of the places you visit and pass through. But of course one needs to plan so that things run smoothly. This is a very exhaustive and good checklist and has some really interesting points like checking for wildlife.

These are all great tips! I haven’t done a major road trip for a long time but I would really like to do one later this year. Checking for pests and snakes in a caravan that hasn’t been used in a while is a great tip, and so is not driving at night. Driving on a rural road that isn’t well lit (or lit at all) can be a very mentally intensive experience even if the chance of encountering wildlife is low. I wouldn’t have thought about dawn and dusk being active times for animals, either!

Night driving really can be more mentally intense, for sure. Definitely need to thoroughly check the caravan before loading it up for the next trip!

We are big list makers so always good to see another checklist and make sure ours is complete. We sure added a few things this year with more road trips. Good advice to check your route in advance. Especially in summer around here when most of the road construction is done! We often take the smaller roads to travel slower so we can stop when safe. Good planning tips.

I love a good list myself! I think it’s going to be a big year for road trips, as people can’t head abroad. It’s always nice to be able to travel slower if you’ve got the time.

I love love loveeeee road trips and have gone on several before yet I always seem to forget something still hahaa. What a perfect checklist and such a great lifesaver. I’ll definitely have to look into that Emergency+ app!

Road trips are so much fun. Haha there’s always something that gets forgotten!

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Is your favorite No. 1? Here are the top 10 beaches worldwide, according to Tripadvisor

best vehicle for travelling around australia

A trip to the beach is always a good idea. 

Beaches rank as the top preferred vacation destination among 34% of Americans, according to a 30A Company 2022 survey of 1,040 U.S. adults. Even just the act of planning a vacation can make someone happy. 

You likely understand why if you’ve ever spent time on a beach. The place where the water meets the land is a treat for the senses, from the sound of the water lapping the sand to the crisp scent of the salt in the air. Beaches are some of the most beautiful places.

Relaxing beachside is beneficial for your well-being , too. Saltwater has been found to release negative ions that help people feel calmer, and the meditative sound of waves can offer a sense of grounding. Even if you’re not frolicking in the water, the beach is where people can easily connect with nature, which is healing. 

Luckily, there are beautiful beaches everywhere, from places renowned for postcard-perfect beaches like Turks and Caicos to the rugged cliffside beaches of Italy. Tripadvisor recently released its 2024 Travelers’ Choice Award for Beaches, which analyzed reviews and ratings between Oc. 1, 2022, and Sept. 30, 2023, to come up with the best beaches worldwide.

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If you're not into rough waves: This little beach earned the top spot of the calmest beaches in North America

“Who doesn't love a beach? It's certainly my happy place – my kids playing in the surf, the sun sinking behind the horizon. And as the breadth and depth of Tripadvisor's Travelers' Choice Beach lists show, our community is obsessed with them, too,” Sarah Firshein, head of Tripadvisor editorial, told USA TODAY in a statement.

While last year’s best beaches included a wide variety of striking natural landscapes, this year’s awards brought back the picturesque soft sands and crystal-clear waters people imagine when they think of a beach vacation. 

Here are the top 10 best beaches around the world, according to Tripadvisor.

10. Varadero Beach – Varadero, Cuba

A former fishing town, Varadero Beach is situated on the Hicacos Peninsula and stretches along the Caribbean Sea. The sprawling beach actually comprises six beaches , including Varadero, Rincón Francés and La Alameda, so there’s plenty of space to spread out. Visitors enjoy taking a refreshing dip in the vibrant water, snorkeling the sea beds, or water sports like jet skiing or windsurfing. 

9. Siesta Beach – Siesta Key, Florida, U.S.

Snagging the spot as Tripadvisor's second-best beach in the U.S.,Siesta Beach is located on the stunning barrier island of Siesta Key in Florida. This slice of paradise is renowned for its white quartz sand, which is often called the softest sand in the world. A free island-wide trolley service makes it easy for guests to go to and from the beach.

8. Eagle Beach – Aruba, Caribbean

Aruba’s wide Eagle Beach stole people’s hearts last year by ranking as the second-best beach in the world. This idyllic beach is known for its calm waters and the chance to catch nesting turtles in summer. Eagle Beach invites visitors to unwind in paradise, whether basking in the sun's warmth, snorkeling amidst marine life, or simply strolling along its picturesque shores.

7. Manly Beach – Sydney, Australia

Manly Beach is known as the birthplace of surfing in Australia, having hosted the world’s first modern surfing contest in 1964. Besides trying out surfing, visitors can swim, dive, or sail along the stunning shoreline. Manly Beach is a long stretch of sand and includes a small cove, an enclosed swimming area for families and Shelly Beach, a sheltered spot for snorkeling. When people need respite from the sun and sand, they can walk the tree-lined promenade for food or shopping.   

6. Anse Lazio – Praslin Island, Seychelles

Tucked into a bay on Praslin Island, Anse Lazio feels like a hidden oasis. The background of the pristine shoreline and azure sea are lush tropical greenery and large boulders. On Tripadvisor, visitors said they enjoyed playing in the waves or grabbing a drink at the on-site beach bar.

5. Grace Bay Beach – Grace Bay, Turks and Caicos

This Caribbean beach earned the same ranking in last year’s Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Award for Beaches, and it’s no wonder why. Facing the Atlantic Ocean, Grace Bay Beach captivates visitors with its tranquil ambiance since the turquoise waters are never rough, thanks to an offshore reef. Since the beach is part of the Princess Alexandra National Park , it remains pristine and unspoiled.

4. Kaanapali Beach – Lahaina, Hawaii, U.S.

Often called the best beach in the U.S. , Kaanapali Beach offers sparkling warm water and soft white sand. The one-mile-long beach is the ultimate beach escape for anyone, offering cliff-jumping, paddleboarding, snorkeling or just frolicking in its gentle waters. And since the beach is west-facing, it’s the perfect place to watch the sunset. 

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3. La Concha Beach – San Sebastian, Spain

With a long coastline comprising over 4,265 feet, La Concha Beach is a renowned jewel of the Basque Country. Located in the charming fishing town of San Sebastian, this picturesque bay is framed by rolling hills and an uninhabited island people can also visit. A charming promenade with restaurants and amusement offers guests a place to explore off-sand.

2. Spiaggia dei Conigli – Lampedusa, Italy

There’s much to enjoy at Spiaggia dei Conigli – or Rabbit Beach, a nod to the native rabbits that inhabit the area – besides the clear waters and white granite cliffs. Located on the island of Lampedusa off the Sicilian coast, the beach is only accessible by boat or a 15-minute trek by foot, but it’s well worth it. During the summer, it becomes one of the few places in the country where loggerhead sea turtles lay their eggs.

1. Praia da Falésia – Olhos de Agua, Portugal

Vast golden sands and bright blue water help make Praia da Falésia the most beautiful beach in the world, which ranked sixth place last year. With dramatic ombre cliffs of reds and oranges, this beach immerses its visitors in pristine natural beauty. According to Tripadvisor reviews, many visitors to the sprawling beach relished how uncrowded it felt.

Kathleen Wong is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Hawaii. You can reach her at [email protected] .


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    The criteria for our list was simple: the car needs to have excellent off-road ability, be easy to drive, and have plenty of luggage space. So get your bags packed and your route planner ready and check out our 7 best cars for a road trip across Australia. 1. Toyota Land Cruiser 300. Price from: $89,990 Plus on-road costs.

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    However, buying a 4WD vehicle is an expensive option. The price can range from anywhere between $8,000AUD - $15,000AUD. Also consider calculating in your budget fuel consumption. Four-wheel-drive vehicles offer comfortable interior room but, can become tight if you are travelling with more than 2-3 people.

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  16. Choosing the right vehicle for long distance driving

    XV: unequipped. Mazda 3: Too low. Horses for courses. So, for starters here, I'd be forgetting anything with a space-saver spare tyre, or which cannot easily be retrofitted with one. Being limited to 80km/h in West Bumfark after fitting the space-saver will be a pain in the arse.

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    Travelling by car, gives you the opportunity to experience the best road trips in Australia. For example, a Great Ocean Road trip is one of the best road trips from Melbourne and a great way to complete a Melbourne to Adelaide drive, along the coastal route. When driving in country Australia, you will see many unique things.

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    People who planning on roadtrippin' for a couple of months. People who are happy to drive a manual. Cost: Pick up a van from Travellers Autobarn from around $4000 - $8000 or rent one from $35 a day. 4WD. 4WD's are one of the best cars to travel around Australia in.

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    I'm seeking your recommendation as to a car. We are retiring soon, and want to start driving around different parts of Australia. We live in WA and will start in that State, so the kays travelled will be long. We plan to go off road, but not extreme. There will be three people in the car and it will need to be useful around the suburbs. It doesn't have to fashionable, but must be very reliable ...

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    One of the main road trip essentials in Australia is water and packing a couple of bottles is simply not enough. You should always carry at least a 20L water container filled up, even if you don't use it all. In case of break down or emergency, water is the number one resource that all passengers will require.

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    Learn more: Best travel insurance. ... Here are the top 10 best beaches around the world, according to Tripadvisor. 10. Varadero Beach - Varadero, Cuba ... Manly Beach - Sydney, Australia.