sandy outback road
Home > Driving Tips > Hire a campervan

Campervan Rental Australia

Tips to find the vehicle that serves your purposes

Motorhome & Campervan rental Australia, this is your freedom pact to explore Australia & the Outback freely and at your own pace. Taking your "home" with you makes you really independent.

Campervan in the Outback
Toyota bushcamper - camping at a sheep station in the bush

Exploring the vast continent of Australia needs some planning, especially for visitors from overseas with limited time. You can't see all of Australia within one holiday (except you have several months available). So it is wise to write down your "must see places" and create an itinerary that still allows you some extra detours within your time limit.

Once you know where you want to go, staying on bitumen, going off the beaten track, travelling the Australian Outback, or along the coastlines, you need to decide which vehicle is the most convenient for you. Then it is time to find a campervan / motorhome & a car rental company that allows you to do that trip.

I know how frustrating it can be when you are ready to hire your vehicle and learn from the terms & conditions that you cannot take the car to your dream destinations. Staying on the safe side, I wouldn't ignore the rules. If something happens to the car in a place you're not supposed to be, you are at risk to lose the insurance coverage and pay for the damage.

So, let me share my own experience and help you to find the perfect vehicle for your holidays in Australia.

Motorhome or Campervan?

First, let us talk about the different vehicles available. Motorhomes and campervans are commonly known as recreational vehicles (RV) in the USA and Canada. Other countries might have slightly different terms as well.

  • A motorhome is a large vehicle, usually build on a bus or truck chassis. Motorhomes available for rent in Australia can accommodate up to 6 people. Shower, toilet and a kitchen is included and offers the convenience of a real home. Heck, some have even TVs and DVD players these days.
  • A campervan (or camper van) is smaller, with basic facilities for cooking like a fridge, stove, sink and a few cupboards. Shower and toilet can be included, or not. It just depends on the size of the campervan.
  • A 4WD campervan gives you the freedom to go off the beaten track. There is not much room to move in the "living section", but you will have a fridge, sink and a portable cooker.
Campervan driving along great ocean road
Campervan, Great Ocean Road
Large Motorhome

Actually, the terms motorhome and campervan are interchangeable. To make things easier, some people just call them a camper.

Apart from the 4WD campers, you won't be allowed to take a motorhome / campervan on unsealed roads. Some companies allow you to drive on an unsealed road for a few (5 to 10) kilometres in order to reach a great attraction, or an official campground. Check this with the camper rental company of your choice.

But... you can see a lot of the Australian Outback / inland when you travel on the sealed highways. So when you are looking for a bit of comfort, or travelling with kids and need more room, a motorhome or campervan is the right choice for you.
When you compare the different vehicles you will see that the equipment varies slightly. The larger the vehicle, the more stuff is included, or can be rented additionally (camping chairs & tables, awnings).

Campervans at a caravan park

However, all campers have bedding, pillows, towels, plates, cups and cutlery for the number of persons the vehicle can accommodate. Air-conditioning is available in all driver cabins, but only the larger vehicles have air-conditioning in the main cabin.

Where to find the right camper van?

Now that you have got a rough overview about the choices you have when you plan to hire a motorhome or campervan, it is your turn to compile your route. When you know where you want to go you can decide about the kind of vehicle you need.

I won't add information about insurance cover and other terms of conditions. These vary widely depending on the rental company.

Discovery Campervans is a booking agency for the major car rental companies. You can compare Britz, Maui, Backpacker, Kea and Apollo campervans on one website.
You will also find the rental conditions, information about the different insurance packages, payable bonds (and how to reduce them). It is a lot of small print to read. However, the good thing is that you have all the information on one website.

Troubles in the Outback
Troubles with the car

Take your time, do your "homework" and you won't get into troubles with your hired campervan in Australia.

4 WD Bushcamper

If you want to travel the famous tracks in the Australian Outback you need to hire a 4WD camper van. Although there are a few different 4 WD models available, the most common is the camper based on the Toyota Landcruiser troop carrier.
The Landcruiser is considered the Australian working-horse, widely used by residents in the Outback. The big advantage is that you will get spare parts and tyres nearly everywhere, even in the remote places.

The Toyota bushcamper is usually fitted with

  • two batteries
  • two 90 l fuel tanks
  • a fresh water tank for the kitchen sink
  • manual transmission and High & low ratio 4WD
The kitchen is fully equipped with a fridge and portable gas cooker, sink, pots and cutlery. With this car you are fairly independent, ready to go off into the wilderness :).

Camping mobile during the day
Bushcamper during the day
There is enough room for 2 large travel bags and other stuff. Be aware that you have to move it all to the front seat at night.

Although the bushcamper is configured for two adults and one child age 4 - 13 years, room for a child on the front seat is rather narrow.
Children from 4 to 7 years of age must use a booster seat in Australia, and I can't imagine to fit this in without the two adults becoming a bit squeezed. By Australian law, children under 4 years must sit in a baby seat, and there are no anchor points for the required seat, so you can't use this car with a toddler.

Bushcamper setting at night
Bushcamper at night
The upper bed in the bushcamper
Box-like upper bed
Now it is a bit spartan living in the bushcamper for a while, but it is also fun.
The upper bed is like a shoe box, there is no room to sit upright, and you have to climb over the cupboards to get up to your bed. But with the windows around, you even have one in the roof, it is beautiful to see the stars at night.

The bushcamper has plenty of store room on the left side, under the bench, which can be used for extra water boxes, spare parts and things you don't need daily.
Items stored in the cupboards and under the bench get more or less covered in dust while you are driving on unsealed roads. But hey, this is the Outback!
When you pick up the camper, the bowls containing plates, cups and the cutlery are already wrapped with clingfilm. Take a clingfilm roll with you, and cover the dishes after you used them!

When you are driving your luggage is stored in the small aisle between the bench and the cupboards, while at night you have to move the baggage to the front seats. So don't bring a large suitcase, flexible bags are much better.

Even if you don't want to sleep in the car, the bushcamper is the best option you will find to go off-road.
There is another 4WD Toyota available for up to five people. It carries a fridge, stove and other kitchen stuff in the back of the car, and comes with a tent. However, for only two people it is more expensive.

Please note that even with this "Outback working horse" you are restricted, and not allowed to use a few of the more challenging 4 WD tracks. This depends on the rental company, so check the conditions before you make a booking.

For more information on Outback driving check the following pages.

Copyright © 2007- Rita Amend.