A campervan roadtrip through Australia is on the bucket list for lots of travellers and was something I really wanted to do for a long time. We arrived in Sydney and booked an AirBnB apartment for 5 nights, giving us some time to look into options for buying or renting a campervan in Australia to take it around the country and return to Sydney 3 months later.
We’d be spending 3 months in Australia which is a long time for renting a campervan, but quite a short time if you want to buy a campervan and sell it again. Therefore we explored both possibilities, decided what was best for us and ended up renting one. Let us take you through the options.
Buying a Campervan in Australia?
Renting a campervan for a long period can be quite expensive so why not buy one just to sell it again at the end of your trip. Best case scenario you can even sell it for a little more than you paid for it, if you’re negotiation skills are good. Buying certainly has the potential of being the cheaper option.
There are downsides however. The first one: paperwork. You need to make sure the vehicle is registered (or “rego” as they call it here) to your name and in the state it was registered in before (or pay a hefty transfer fee). A pink slip is required as well, which means a safety inspection at the garage might be needed.
Technically this is all you need, but you wouldn’t drive a car without insurance, right? Injuries to third parties are covered by default, but you’ll need insurance to cover damages to other vehicles or buildings. If you end up rear-ending a Ferrari you don’t want to pay that out of your own pocket.
Then there is roadside assistance as well. Australia is huge, so you’ll be driving a lot. Especially when buying an older vehicle, car issues are always possible. You’ll be happy there’s someone you can call when you break down on the highway to Alice Springs with the closest village about 100km away.
That’s all just paperwork though. With a bit of patience and money you can sort these things out in a few days. The main issue for us was finding the right vehicle.
About a month before flying to Australia we started our research by looking through the ads on Gumtree and the Backpacker Car Sydney Facebook group. Plenty of cars and vans to be found for a variety of budgets. It gave us some idea for the price of a used campervan in Australia. I’m not much of a car person however, so I wasn’t sure if I was comfortable buying off a private seller.
Another option was the Sydney Travellers Car Market. This is a place were backpackers can sell their campervan to other travellers while their staff basically helps with all the paperwork. They also have a few garages they recommend for inspections and repairs. We liked this idea, but when we stopped by there were no cars to be found. You need to have a bit of luck with what’s on offer.
The final place we checked for buying a campervan was Travellers Autobarn. We were greeted by a friendly Dutch guy who almost convinced us to go for a 2002 station wagon for $7,500. This includes a couple of insurances (the engine and gearbox are fully covered, for example), roadside assistance and also a buyback guarantee. When we returned the vehicle after 3 months they would buy it back for 50% of that price.
A station wagon wasn’t really what we had in mind when thinking about driving a campervan in Australia, however, and a quick check on Gumtree learned us that similar vehicles were going for about $3,000. There are also quite a few bad reviews to be found on Travellers Autobarn, so in the end we decided against this option.
What finally put us off the idea of buying a campervan was having to sell it again after 3 months. We’d need at least 2 weeks in Sydney at the end of our trip to make sure we’d be able to sell it before leaving the country. Didn’t really sound like a lot of fun.
While buying a campervan in Australia is certainly an option we wouldn’t do it when you’re only there for 3 months. Too much of a hassle for too high a risk.
Renting a Campervan in Australia?
Plenty of travellers rent a campervan in Australia, so there are lots of companies out there to choose from. If you’re on a budget like us you’re a bit more limited. We ended up deciding between Jucy and Spaceships. At first, Travellers Autobarn was an option as well, but there were just too many bad reviews to be found.
The Jucy and Spaceships office in Sydney are conveniently located close to each other and about a 20-minute bus ride from our AirBnB Apartment, so we decided to visit them both and decide afterwards.
Our first stop was Spaceships. They showed us their different vehicle options and we were especially interested in the Beta 2 model. What’s unique about their campervans is the tent extension you can put over its trunk. This allows for some ventilation during the night while still keeping all windows closed (and bugs out!).
Because of our long rental (82 days) they could offer us a much better rate then the one posted online and a free GPS rental as well. As we’d already booked a Spaceships campervan for our visit to New Zealand they lowered the rate even more, so we ended up at $47 a day.
With that quote in hand we made the 5 minute walk to Jucy to check out what they were offering. Their Jucy Crib would be the similar vehicle and looked very interesting as well. The fridge and cooking section was easier to reach and the car felt a bit more spacious. When testing the bed it wasn’t possible for me to stretch out without hitting anything though, so make sure to test that for yourself.
Jucy offered a long term discount as well, but ended up being higher then Spaceships. After presenting the quote and a quick check with the manager they were able to bring it down to the same level, however. Now it was up to us to decide which campervan to rent in Australia.
Why we decided to rent a Spaceships Campervan
The unique tent trunk extension was definitely one of the main reasons for picking the Spaceships campervan over the Jucy one. It didn’t seem too much fun to wake up in a small, non-ventilated campervan every day. The side awning and included chairs and table were a plus as well. And the fact that I didn’t really fit on the Jucy bed.
One final decision to make was about insurance. You can decide to risk it and be liable for damages up to $3,000. For $30 per day you get the peace of mind of having no bond and being insured for everything (except single vehicle rollover). $30 per day is steep, but there is a maximum of $1,200 for insurance at Spaceships. As we were renting for 82 days this meant we’d hit that maximum and could get all-in insurance for effectively $15 a day.
Since we were planning on doing lots of driving and would be passing through the Outback, we opted for that all-in insurance. Not having to worry about anything is definitely worth something!
After arranging everything we were able to pick up our Spaceships campervan the very next day. We’ll be driving it around Australia (not literally around, mind you) for 82 days and will return it in Sydney again without having to worry about selling it. So far, we’re quite happy with our Spaceship!
Lots of choices to make when buying or renting a campervan in Australia. We’ll be able to let you know in a few months if we made the right one!