RVs have been a long established means of touring or vacationing in Australia.
The size of the country, plus the comparitively small population, has made it a requirement to plan well for an extended trip.
Many visitors from North America or Europe are surprised by the scale of the country, roughly equivalent to each of these continents.
I have driven by car many times between Sydney and Perth, from the East (Pacific Ocean) coast to the West (Indian Ocean) coast.
This is a distance of 4000 Kilometers or 2500 miles, driving 10-14 hours a day takes 4 days. (the Indian Pacific train trip takes 2 1/2 days, by air it’s 4 hours)
Now consider that one third of the area of the country is the state of Western Australia. WA has a population of 1.5 million, of whom 1.3 million live in Perth.
This compares with the total Australian population of 20 million. So there is not much in the rest of the State. Crossing the Nullabor plain there is a gap between service stations and motels, for fuel and rest, of 100 miles or 160 Km.
The dream of many an Aussie on retirement, is to travel around the country in some form of RV. So there is a growing, and continually refreshing market for all types.
Motor homes, class A, B, or C, conventional trailers, or caravans, fifth wheelers, and camper vans. Along with conversions, professional or home grown, these vehicles are increasingly seen on the highways throughout the country.
Another factor affecting the design requirements of an RV for use in Australia, is the climate variances. The Northern areas are tropical, the Southern areas are temperate, and get snow in the high country.
Throughout the country, but especially in the centre and on the West coast, there is a high proportion of sunshine, and ultra-violet exposure of people and materials can be a problem.
Temperatures can range from 40-45C in Summer, to -10-15 in the Winter. Of course this is the “wrong way round”, and you can escape a freezing Europe or North America for a Hot Christmas vacation.
RV rentals are readily available in all areas of the country, and you can pick up and drop off at different points. You can find your own beach, with no-one around, or visit a camel farm, or gold, or diamond mine.
If you would like to be a little more adventurous, you can rent a 4×4 RV and experience the outback. There are also guided tours in 4x4s so you can go and see the bush, and the wildlife – crocodiles, anyone?
In the first part of this post, I tried to give a sense of the country from a newly arrived road trave enthusiast’s point of view.
Now, I will be looking at what you can expect to find if you rent a campervan, as we call them.
There are two or three National companies, like Kea or Britz that rent these, with availability in all capital cities.
There range includes two to six berth vehicles, with all supplies, such as cooking utensils, dishes bedlinen etc. These are roughly equivalent to what would be supplied in a vacation apartment if you stayed for a week.
The vehicles are commonly Ford, Mazda or Volkswagen based, 4 or 6 cylinder turbodiesel with manual transmission. They include a 4×4 Land Cruiser conversion.
The daily rate for a short term rental (less than 3 weeks) varies up to $300 Australian. (AU$1=US$0.75). Longer periods are slightly less. You will pay up to $345 for a full package with full insurance cover, plus “extras” like outside table and chairs.
Even if there are only two people travelling, it is worth getting the 6-Berth for the extra space, plus no folding of seats etc.
Many smaller companies serve local areas, for instance 4×4 safaris from Perth.
The roads generally good quality on the main routes between capital cities, some of the minor routes can be less satisfactory, some still have no bitumen.
A hazard on some long distance truck routes, in the Northern Territory especially, can be the Road Trains. These are large semis with two trailers. It is a good policy to keep out of their way!
The drivers are very capable, but their vehicles can only be driven within their limits!
Take heed of the long distances I mentioned in the first article. Often in 40+ degrees C (105+F) the hundreds of miles of straight road with a featureless landscape, although beautiful, can be mesmerising.
Don’t let all this put you off! This is a wonderful country, unlike anything you’ve experienced.
You don’t have to stray far from the big cities (Sydney 4 million Melbourne 3.5 etc). But it would be a shame if you missed it! After all, is New york City typical of the US? or London typical of England? Paris of France?
I don’t think so! Give it a go!
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