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10 Tips For Planning Your First Australian Campervan Trip

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Australia is an incredible place for van travel whether you are a local explorer or a traveller from abroad.

Warm weather, unique landscapes and an abundance of wildlife are among the top reasons to take a campervan trip in Australia, and those things are also the reason it’s worth doing a little planning before you head away to explore Australia. You are likely to come across a lot of diversity on your way, from changing weather conditions to the roads you are driving on, and even the way of life in different places.

We’ve put together some great tips on how you can prepare for your epic Australia road trip, so that you can make the most of your time away and be well prepared for whatever you find along the way!

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Why you should plan your Australian campervan trip

Australia is an incredibly diverse country where you are unlikely to mistake one area for another. That is just one of the amazing reasons it’s so great to explore! You can go from a rainy hustle and bustle city to a quiet and extremely hot outback town in a matter of hours, so you will want to ensure you have the right gear packed.

It’s also a fairly big country, so planning your routes (and gas station stops!) is a must. Route planning is also a great way to make the most of your time away so you can pack in all your must-see locations!

A little bit of research on the areas you are planning to travel to will help with deciding on what to bring and what you will need to be aware of, such as cultural practices.

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What you need to know about travelling in Australia

The weather

Across the six states and two territories in Australia, there can be quite different weather conditions in each place. Although Australia does have four seasons, some areas reflect more of a wet and dry season.

Some areas such as the Northern Territory can be very hot and dry, meaning you need to take plenty of sun protection and water in the campervan, even over winter. Other areas such as Tasmania bring far more rainfall, and temperatures can be cooler.

When checking the forecast you should check what the weather is like at the time of year you are going, and also what the temperatures are like in the day and night, as some areas do fluctuate considerably.

Australia is also at risk of bushfires, so it’s a good idea to check live weather maps regularly to ensure it's safe for van travel.

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The wildlife

Australia’s wildlife is just as diverse as its weather, and there is so much of it to see from the native Tasmanian devil through to migrating whales.

Although it can be a lot of fun seeing Australian wildlife, it’s still important to respect that the land and sea are shared, so a bit of caution is sometimes required:

  • Swim between the flags at beaches
  • Drive the camper carefully to avoid wild kangaroo and other land animals
  • Close the camper doors at night (especially in outback areas) to keep your camper free of curious critters
  • Don’t leave food or rubbish behind - dispose of scraps so that wildlife are not put at risk if they consume it
  • Don’t approach animals unless you know it is safe to do so - they might be beautiful but they can be dangerous!
  • Never leave campfires unattended as the spread of fire puts wildlife and people at risk

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Where you can park overnight 

Australia has many holiday parksNational Parks and free camping areas to choose from whilst you are travelling around.

One of the most important things to do when choosing where to stay overnight on your Australia road trip, is to ensure you are picking somewhere legal to stay the night. You could be in for an unwelcome fine if you park illegally, so always check first.

Other things to consider are:

  • When you will need to plug in and power up the camper. Ensure you are using a route that has powered sites along the way. Some areas of Australia are very remote so this is a pre-planning must!
  • When you will need to visit a waste disposal site. This is generally every few days, and you can easily find dump sites with the use of the thl Roadtrip app
  • What facilities or amenities you might need. Perhaps you are accumulating rubbish and need to dispose of it, or maybe you need somewhere to hose the outback dirt off your boots? Plan your overnight stopping locations around places that have practical resources like bins or wash down areas

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10 tips for planning your first Australian campervan trip

1. Choose the trip length and budget

First things first, you will need to decide how long you want to go for and what your budget is. Remember Australia is fairly big so it takes time to travel from one area to another.

Things to consider when looking at budget are:

  • Where you will camp - are you planning on mostly free camping, or do you want the luxuries of a holiday park?
  • Petrol costs - if you are planning van travel for a long period of time, consider what gas costs you might be looking at for the vehicle and things like BBQ gas bottles
  • Miscellaneous costs - Australia does have some toll bridges and visiting central city areas may require some parking costs
  • Food costs - will you be stopping off for meals each day, or do you plan to cook your own meals in the camper?

2. Build your destination bucket list

The next step is to decide which areas you want to visit. Each state and territory has something unique to offer whether you want to hit the most popular tourist spots or smaller hinterland towns.

Whether you go coastal, outback, wine country, tropical forest or all of the above, a bucket list will help you to get some idea on a rough path.

The different states and territories are:

  • Northern Territory - This is the place to go for a true outback experience and balmy hot weather
  • Western Australia - The largest state, known for its landscapes and Aboriginal culture
  • South Australia - Wine and food lovers should head here to Australia’s wine country
  • Queensland - Head here to visit loads of National Parks, stunning beaches and rainforests
  • New South Wales - Head to NSW for golden beaches and amazing restaurants
  • Victoria - This is the smallest state and its famed for beautiful coastlines and some great inner-city experiences
  • Tasmania - Known for its stunning green scenery and amazing food offerings like seafood

You may choose to explore within a small radius, spending less time on the road and more time out of the camper adventuring. Or you may want to pick a couple of key destinations and leave the days in between up to chance. We recommend starting your trip planning by thinking about where you want to pick up your campervan from, and map a great loop trip from there. Britz have 10 branches across the country, so choose your branch and start building your itinerary.

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Decide what attractions you want to see

Now that you have decided which areas to visit, it's time to research the best things to do in Australia and pick what attractions you want to see!

Some of the unique attractions you can experience in Australia are:

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4. Create an itinerary

The best way to explore Australia and see as many of your top attractions as possible is to use a road trip itinerary planner.

Some areas in Australia are very remote and don’t have services such as petrol stations for long distances, so sticking to known routes can be a good idea for your first campervan trip.

If you’re a detailed planner, some places to consider adding in when creating an itinerary are:

  • Petrol station stops
  • Supermarket stops
  • Campervan dump stations
  • Powered sites so you can charge the campervan

It’s also a good idea to think about the kind of trip you want to have:

  • Do you want to visit the famous tourist spots or go off the beaten track?
  • Do you want to avoid the crowds or are you keen to meet fellow travellers?
  • Are there any time-specific experiences you want to have such as attending festivals, events or even watching wildlife migrate?

Like the idea of winging it and seeing what happens? With a Britz camper, you can do just that! Just make sure to install the thl road trip app before you head out for everything you need to know about your vehicle and so much more.

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5. Understand where you can park and stay

Now that you know roughly the path you want to drive, it’s a good idea to mark out where you plan to stay in each area.

Whether you decide to trim costs down by free camping, stay at holiday parks to enjoy all the amenities, or do a mixture of both, it is really important to at least look at what options are in the area even if you don’t book campervan sites in immediately.

Flexibility is just one of the many great reasons to take a campervan trip, but do remember each state in Australia has its own rules on where you can and can’t park overnight so be sure to check before you stay to avoid fines.

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6. Pack the right gear

The path you are going to take on your campervan trip will heavily influence what you pack for the trip, but there are some items that are a must-have regardless of where your Australia road trip takes you:

  • Sun protection - even in the winter months, you should still pack some sun protection in the camper like sunscreen and hats as the Australian sun can burn even through the clouds
  • Walking gear - there are wonderful walks to take all over Australia, even in small towns, so good footwear is a must
  • Light layers - in some areas such as outback Australia the weather can drop dramatically in temperature overnight so light layers are ideal
  • Water bottles - heading out to explore in a hot country can cause dehydration to set in quickly so it’s a good idea to make sure the whole family have water bottles
  • Things to keep the kids occupied for long drives around Australia are a must - be sure to pack games, toys and devices for those long stretches of road

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7. Read up on road rules

If you are travelling from overseas you should always check the road rules of the country you are driving in to make sure you aren’t fined for breaking road rules or putting anyone in danger.

Keep an eye out for signage indicating that wildlife may be in the area too. Although most motorways are fenced to keep animals safe, outback animals are likely to be far more free roaming!

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8. Read up on cultural must-knows

Aboriginal Australians are the indigenous people of the country and traditional owners of the land. They have many beautiful and sacred cultural beliefs that must be respected, especially when it comes to the land and water.

The best way to make sure you are respecting their culture is to learn a little bit about Australia’s indigenous cultures, and always respect their wishes around occupying certain places, such as Uluru.

The Aboriginal people often love to share their culture with visitors, so be sure to get involved in one of the many experiences on offer. If you are thinking of purchasing a souvenir on your travels, ensure that it is a verified authentic business that supports indigenous makers.

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9. Choose the right campervan

Now that you know how to travel around Australia and what you need to pack, it’s time to choose your wheels!

Some things to consider when choosing the right campervan are:

  • How much storage space you will need - golfing in Melbourne, biking in Adelaide or fishing in Darwin? Whatever outdoor activities you are planning make sure to take equipment space into account.
  • Will you be able to use campsite facilities or do you need an onboard toilet and shower?
  • How much living space do you need - are you happy in a compact space or do you want more space to spread out?
  • Will you be cooking camper meals or eating out?

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10. Use a navigation app

Last but not least, you’ll want to be able to navigate your way through your itinerary, especially in areas where phone reception is limited. Download the thl Roadtrip app, which shows your GPS location, the nearest campsites, gas stations, dump stations, toilets and more. In an unknown country this app will put your mind at ease so you can enjoy exploring!

Ready to head away on your first campervan trip around Australia?

Visit any Britz branch today to rent a travel van for your first trip around Aussie. With 10 branches around the country, exploring new places couldn’t get any easier!