Oceania (Australia, New Zealand & the South Pacific) - Advice Needed: Exploring Australia - Camper vs. Backpacking
Aug 3, 12, 8:43 pm
Hi FT Community,
I'm looking for some advice from the experienced Australia travelers. I'm going down under with my wife for 4-5 weeks in October and we're yet undecided how we want to get around. My wife grew up with parents who had an RV and she loves that you can stop anywhere you like it. I have been to NZ with a car in 2004 for three weeks, stayed at hostels and I absolutely loved the community feeling, meeting other travelers, cooking in the evening and getting travel tips from others at the hostels.
So here we are and don't know what to do. What's the best way to travel Australia? Are there more amazing camp sites? Or more amazing backpacker locations? Given that we only have 4-5 weeks we decided to focus on the east coast. We'll arrive in Sydney and stay there for 4 nights. Then we want to start the tour. We thought about flying to Adelaide and go our way up to Cairns, via Melbourne, Brisbane and all the other good parts. Would it make sense to split the trip, take the camper for parts and then continue by car and stay at backpackers?
Thanks for all tips and advice! We're really excited about our first visit to Australia!
EDIT: Budget is secondary.
Aug 3, 12, 10:20 pm
Don't underestimate distances in Australia. Adelaide to Cairns via Melbourne is over 3000 miles if you go along the coast. Given the time of year, I would think driving from Sydney to Cairns or perhaps even only to Airlie Beach would be best. If you want to see Melbourne or Adelaide I would suggest flying in and out. My highlights between Sydney and Cairns would be Byron Bay, Noosa (Sunshine Coast), Fraser Island (Hervey Bay) and the Whitsundays.
Aug 4, 12, 9:56 am
Thanks for the info. Any advice on my question?
Aug 5, 12, 1:32 am
Thanks for the info. Any advice on my question?It boils down to a matter of taste and also location. Both are very high quality in Australia, at least in some locations. For example there is a hostel in Sydney at Central (railway station) that is next-door to a 4-star hotel and surprisingly close in quality. Caravan parks tend to be outside of cities and are family vacation oriented. Personally I think a camper van is great if you are getting 4WD and going to remote areas, otherwise I would stay in hotels (pubs) or in your case hostels. It boils down to hostel availability for the locations you want to visit.
Aug 5, 12, 3:45 am
I would agree with Number 6. I don't see a clear advantage of one over the other so will depend on what you prefer.
Aug 5, 12, 7:17 am
Lots of hostels
But they are frequented mainly by backpackers think 20 yr old
Drunk and loud
There is lots of spaces of "nothing" in Australia too so daily road trips can be long. Personally I'd prefer hostels. Let someone else drive the bus between towns and then be right in the centre when you arrive.
Aug 7, 12, 2:23 pm
Get a compact campervan (like this (http://www.britz.com.au/australia-road-trip)). You can stop at campsites or just by the side of the road in remote areas, and you can also drive/park in cities with ease.
Aug 8, 12, 11:49 am
If you're sticking with the east coast and established towns/cities, a car and hotels/backpackers would be fine.
If you were going west or north of Adelaide (I know you're not but for future reference) there are VERY long stretches of road that are VERY remote and have quite a bit of livestock on them. In those areas I'd recommend a campervan (a 4-wheel drive if possible) with a bull bar, 2 spare tyres and at least one jerry can of fuel and one of water. Britz has some good campervans if budget is secondary. Otherwise Wicked has some as well.
Aug 8, 12, 2:44 pm
My experience was to do both, and my method turned out very reasonable (would be even more so with two people!)
First off, check out http://www.standbyrelocs.com . There you can rent one-way campers at close to free. Sometimes they even pay for part of your fuel. They do this because they need the camper somewhere else, and the alternative is for them to pay someone. The downside here is that they give you a relatively small window to drive in (maybe 3 days for a trip that is about 18 hours), and limited miles. The good news is that you can usually pay for extra days at $75/day and get more miles too, in the end it's still a fantastic deal.
I would find a rental that sounded interesting from the city I was in, take it with an extra day or two, and end up in a new city. There you can stay in a hostel for awhile, keeping an eye on the website until it takes you somewhere else. If you end up stranded, one-way flights in Australia are not that expensive (or in my case, only 10k AA miles!).
This gives you a little bit of both worlds, and lots of flexibility, if you or your wife are not scared by lack of ability to plan (the offers rarely have more than a couple weeks notice, and often only a day or two)
I did this from Perth-Broome, Brisbane-Cairns, and Melbourne-Hobart (they even paid for my ferry to Tasmania). It was great fun, and all things considered my costs were less then the fuel I bought.