When planning a camper holiday in Australia, there is plenty to think about. When and where to go are usually the first considerations. If you’re unsure where to start, you’ll want to take a peek at our Motorhome Renting Guide.
In addition to the tips for ‘getting started’ with our helpful motorhome renting guide, read below for more helpful tips for your planning and answers to some of the frequently asked questions.
First time hiring a motorhome?
You’ll want to take a read of our Motorhome Hire Guide to get you started.
Suggested travel routes – find lots of tips and inspiration on where you can travel in your motorhome hire or 4WD Camper hire.
Free DVD to get your started – we can post you a free DVD that covers information on the popular travel routes to hire a motorhome in Australia. We’ll answer common questions and give you all the tips to get you started and create the motorhome holiday of your dreams.
Free Travel Guide to get your started – download a free travel guide packed with tips to help you choose the right motorhome hire or 4WD camper. There are helpful hints for easy exploring, camping and driving while exploring Australia.
Arriving in Australia
Getting to the depot
Most depots are conveniently located near the main city airports making it a relatively short ride on public transport. In Australia transfers are not included. Please do note that vehicles to need to be collected and returned during depot opening hours. Contact us to find out more about the depot locations for our various partners.
What to expect at pickup
Prior to the pickup, most of our partners give the opportunity for you to register some important details such as your drivers licence numbers etc, prior to pick up. The benefit of this is that it will save you time at pick up if this is done already. We’ll talk you through this prior.
Usually, it is best to allow about an hour for collection of your motorhome, depending on the number of questions you may have. The online registration process does have the option of putting in your pickup/flight arrival time which greatly assists the depot.
Everyone wishing to drive the motorhome needs to be at the depot with their drivers licence (and international driving permit if licence is not in English).
What to pack for a motorhome holiday in Australia
We’d suggest packing layers of clothing for most travel in Australia. Often, when travelling in your motorhome you’ll go through a variety of different climatic conditions, or as you’ve probably heard, there are parts of Australia which do seem to experience four seasons in one day.
Click below for our handy packing list to get you started.
Within Australia there are different time zones, and some states have daylight savings. It is worth noting these time differences between most borders in Australia, just in case you are expected to be somewhere at a certain time… like catching a flight!
On the road in your motorhome hire or 4WD camper hire
Being out on the road has never been so easy with the technology of today! Most of our partners provide a GPS with the motorhome hire or 4WD camper, otherwise can be added for a small fee. There are some good map books out there too if you prefer to have a map on your lap. HEMA maps are a great option.
For our overseas visitors, we drive on the left hand side of the road.
2WD vehicles can only be driven on sealed/bitumen roads. The only exception to this is small distances (up to 12km) on loose road surface to recognised campground access roads. 4WD Vehicles can also be driven on recognised unsealed tracks, but some remote areas are restricted as specified in the Terms and Conditions. Our partners occasionally restricts vehicle movements in certain areas due to adverse road or weather conditions. At the time of hiring you will be informed of what roads are inaccessible to the 4WD you have hired. If in doubt – ask!
Road toll fees only apply in some states such as metropolitan New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. All toll roads in Australia are electronically tolled. This means you will not able to stop and pay cash on these roads, and as the hirer of the vehicle, you are responsible for all toll charges incurred when you travel on a toll road.
Don’t worry though, it’s very easy to set up your temporary road toll pass before you leave the depot. Each of our partners have a different policy around toll roads. Read Motorhome hire Australia and toll roads to find out how you can set this all up.
While of course no one ever has to drink, many do enjoy a drink with ‘happy hour’ at the end of the day. You’re breaking the law if you drive and your blood alcohol concentration equal to or more than 0.05.
We suggest checking out the Alcohol Laws in Australia to keep informed and also to be aware of certain states with additional restrictions such as limiting the amount of alcohol you can purchase at any one time and where you can drink. In particular, certain locations in the NT, WA and some parts of Qld with smaller limits of alcohol allowed to be purchased at one time and ID must be provided.
We do recommend you familiarise yourself with the Australian road rules before driving in Australia to ensure you have a safe and trouble free holiday. (*Please note you will be charged for any traffic infringement, speeding or parking fines that you incur during your hire.)
Most of the motorhome hires will not fit in a standard car park, however you will find a number of popular tourist towns on your route have specific parking for oversized vehicles. In shopping centres, it is usually possible to find an area for parking large vehicles on the peripheral – you’ll just need to walk a little further but certainly easier than navigating low sun shades!
Some of the motorhomes come with an onboard reversing camera which makes parking that bit easier, otherwise if you have someone with you, ask them to hop out and guide you in! Make sure you observe any low hanging branches or anything around that might restrict the height and check the ground for any tree stumps or bollards.
Petrol and diesel in Australia is sold by the litre, with most of the motorhome hires running on diesel. Only a few smaller hightop campers run on petrol. Petrol and diesel fuel costs between AU$1.10 - $1.70 per litre, and can be higher in country and remote outback areas.
If you're travelling on the sealed roads throughout Australia keep an eye on signage in remote areas for the distance to the next roadhouse (the location where fuel is sold in remote locations). It is always better to travel on the top half of your fuel tank – if there are any issues with the fuel bowser or a delayed fuel truck, it can be a long wait if you’re short on fuel. If you had filled up at the last spot, you may be right to push on to the next town/roadhouse. When travelling in a 2WD motorhome there is no need to carry extra diesel – plan your trip accordingly and you’ll find that the roadhouses are conveniently spaced through the remote sections of your trip.
When travelling in the 4WD campers, depending on the route taken, a little more planning may be required.
The battery system will provide power for between 12 – 20 hours when fully charged depending on use. Most of our vehicles operate on ancillary battery systems which power internal appliances such as the fridge, lights and water pump. The batteries only recharge when you drive the vehicle or when connected to mains power. Idling the engine won’t provide enough power to recharge the house battery. When you are connected, all equipment automatically runs on mains power rather than the battery. Appliances such as the television, microwave, rear air-conditioning and power points only run on mains power.
Please do let us know if ‘freedom camping’ is your plan, as there is a quite a variance with the features between our partners in terms of the size of solar panels and if there is a 3-way fridge in the motorhome hire.
It is possible to comfortably stay away from powered sites for the majority of the vehicles, especially if you are driving reasonable distances each day. Generally, it is recommended by our partners for many of the motorhomes to be plugged into power every 2nd night. Cooking is on gas stoves, and the vans are fitted with 12V lights, from the house battery.
It is important if staying in a freedom camp with no facilities that you leave no trace on the environment to ensure the area remains beautiful.
Some people cringe at that the idea of having to empty the motorhome toilet, however it’s not as bad as you might think.
Prior to use, a special toilet chemical is added to the toilet which breaks down the waste to a blue liquid (depending on the brand you use). Every 2-3 days, you’ll need to empty your toilet in a designated dump point.
You’ll find designated dump points at most caravan parks or at specific locations. Your motorhome has a ‘cassette’ where the waste from the toilet is collected. This cassette is accessed and removed from the outside of the motorhome. When at a ‘dump point’ you simply pull out the cassette from the side of the motorhome and wheel it to the dump point. It can become pretty heavy, as remember it is now full of liquid…so you’ll be grateful for those wheels! It is then a matter of pouring this blue water down the designated dump point, then setting up the toilet with the chemical again ready for the next couple of days.
We’d suggest, even if the toilet is not full after 2-3 days to empty it anyway, as often there can start to be a smell around that point.
There are apps that let you know the location of dump points if you’re not staying in caravan parks including, otherwise ask at the helpful information centres.
Where can I camp at night in a motorhome hire while travelling around Australia?
Commercial Campgrounds / Caravan Parks
Australia has an extensive network of caravan parks in all major tourist centres and most towns. Caravan parks offer excellent recreational opportunities, plus showers, toilets and usually many other facilities, like laundry facilities. Powered sites enable you to connect your vehicle to electricity. There is usually no need to book ahead, although this is wise in peak periods in popular destinations. An example of this is locations around the Cairns area, including Cape Tribulation, Darwin and other capital cities/beach locations during the busy tourist season.
The approximate cost is AU$25-55 per night at most locations for a powered site for 2 adults, however in a high tourist area or with a family, this can be higher.
Most national parks have areas set aside for camping. There are often showers, toilets, barbecues and picnic areas. National parks are also beautiful and peaceful locations to stay overnight. National parks do not usually offer powered sites. The rules in each state and territory vary for camping, with some allowing ‘first in first served’ style camping with a self-registration system, and others only allowing online/phone bookings that must be pre-booked.
Click to find more information on National Parks and camping in Australia.
Low cost or free camping spots are situated outside of bigger cities. Some are simple road side rest areas and others can be located in some of Australia’s most scenic of places such as in national parks or even alongside an idyllic beach. Council laws do prohibit camping on the side of the road nearer towns and cities. For further information check our freedom camping information and don’t forget, there is also the Camps Australia Wide app as they are listed there too!
You’ll also find on your travels in some outback communities a ‘RV Friendly’ sign. This is a scheme set up to help local councils attract travellers that are wanting to freedom camp. These communities will offer a short- and long-term rest area, fresh water and a dump point amongst other useful services. In exchange, most travellers support the community with maybe a meal out, grocery and fuel shopping etc.
How do you find the locations to camp?
There are a few different ways, however a great starting point is the ‘wiki camps app’ which is an online crowd sourced information app which shows the locations of the both commercial and free camping, along with reviews from other travellers. There is a useful ‘trip planner’ tool as part of this app too.
Another way to find free and low-cost commercial campgrounds is with the Camps Australia Wide Guide, which is a great HEMA map with the locations marked – available both in a map book and app.
Most state and territories offer a directory of the major commercial caravan parks in their region.
On the road, chat to other travellers, especially when travelling through outback areas where it’s not necessary to pre-book, such as popular tourist locations that have a limited number of campsites like Cape Tribulation. You’ll often hear about a hidden gem, or a caravan park with a point of difference such as local entertainment or a camp oven dinner. It’s often these fun-filled evenings that end up being one of your trip highlights, or at least an unexpected highlight!
Returning your motorhome hire
Sadly, that day will come where you need to dust the sand off your flip-flops and return the motorhome.
In most cases, your motorhome or 4WD camper hire is expected to be returned with a full tank of fuel with the toilet cassette and wastewater emptied. Some partners offer additional services for a fee that have more inclusions and can speed up the returning of your camper for an extra fee.
In terms of cleaning the motorhome before returning, please ensure you have washed and put away all your dishes, wiped down the benches and swept out the floor. It is most helpful if you can take the linen off the beds, however there is no need to wash the linen prior to returning the motorhome. With most of our partners the outside of the motorhome does not need to be washed, unless you’ve had lots of fun and it is not just the usual light road dirt on the outside. This important for the 4WD campers and you’ll have extra instruction on this when you collect your camper to make sure you are comfortable.