To experience Australia we quickly settled on a roadt-rip in an Autocamper or Campervan. We ended up renting our Toyota Hiace campervan for 3 reasons:
One problem was that on the never models the child seats are placed all the way in the back. That was a no-go both in terms of motion sickness and not being able to speak to each other during while driving.
Therefore we had to go with an older 2002-2004 model where the child seats are placed farther in front.
It also saved us some money and we made it through without major problems but naturally with some smaller things breaking like curtain straps, mosquito nets and the like.
Noah and Vitus are sleeping on the extra floor mounted on top of the van which actually works much better than expected. It is not exactly spacious but the cave-like feeling seem to fit the kids and they get a good night’s sleep almost every night. Once we have gone through the 5 min. trouble of making the bed there is plenty of space for two adults to sleep “downstairs”.
Only real pain is driving in strong cross winds. You can really feel the extra height and it sometimes feels more like a roller-coaster ride when you suddenly get hit by a strong gust from the side. The lesson is simple – drive slowly when it is windy and try not to get stressed out by the queue forming behind you. Unlike Danes Australian drivers are very good at pulling over to let faster vehicles by when they find themselves creating a queue and we tried to follow their example.
It does however require reasonably good/dry weather for a small campervan to be a perfect fit for 5 people. Fortunately we only had a single all-day-rainy-day and never has the van felt so small and cramped. But when we can open up and let the kids loose on a campground it is perfect.
One of the benefits of a campervan is the feeling of freedom – to go anywhere and stay there for as long as you feel like. But if you want to keep your food fresh in a fridge, use a microwave, toaster and charge computers, mobile phones and Ipads you either need a serious amount of batterries, solar power or a generator. We bought a 2.000 watt, inverter generator second-hand for 250 AUD on GumTree.com.au in Adelaide and that turned out to be a great idea.
Though most campgrounds in national parks do not allow you to use them on the actual campsites the rangers are happy to make an exception if you ask politely if you can do it in the parking lot. Especially if it is a silent type like the one we bought which was only 53 db at 7 meters (A GenTrax 2kva). So often we would just park the campervan and while we were hiking or on a trip for a few hours the generator would power our van-batteries back up as well as the computer, Ipad and mobile phones. Brilliant!
2 weeks before the end of our trip we put it up for sale again (pick-up in Sydney) for a bit more than we paid and got lots of response. In the end we did however hand it over to our Danish friends and lived without it for the last 3 days of our trip. Especially Jesper found it a bit hard to say goodbye though and even did some checks to see if it was possible to send it home to Denmark.
Our campervan being powered up by the generator for the last time:
The van was delivered successfully back in Sydney on Feb. 4. after a rather hectic cleaning session. This is btw. what a hotel room looks like after 1 month in a campervan: