Travelling Around Australia

Own Vehicle

Having your own vehicle is a great way to see Australia as a backpacker and traveller. You will have full flexibility as to where you go, and you aren’t limited to timetables or bus schedules.


  • Go where you want, when you want
  • No limitations
  • If you have a van/camper you can save money on accommodation
  • See things you wouldn’t otherwise see
  • You are fully independent


  • Cost of petrol (cheaper than Europe but big distances)
  • Can be hard to resell
  • Insurance cost
  • Registration cost
  • Maintenance cost

What to think about when buying

You have a few options with what type of car to buy.

  • Normal car (Cheapest and easiest to find)
  • 4×4 (great if you going remote)
  • Van/Camper (Free accommodation)

It all depends on where you want to travel and what your backpacking plans are. You can, of course, get all the camping gear for a normal car, you can save some money on the purchase price and fuel but you will be more exposed to the elements, as you will need to cook outside, not to mention the limited space in the vehicle itself.

A van or camper might offer more space and facilities, but will often be slower and less economical. It all depends on how you want to travel! I go into a lot more details about a lot more in my eBook.

Where and how to buy

Car markets are popular, and the most famous one is in Kings Cross in Sydney, which is a famous spot for backpackers and travellers.

People park the car there for a week for $100 and sell it from the spot; it is a great place to find a vehicle. You can also find a car online through Gumtree or Car Sales.

I tend to think it best to avoid agents, as they are often more expensive. Most people buy from private individuals. You may even see car notices at hostels or in supermarkets. It is also common to see cars on the street with a sign in the window in Australia.

In the low season, vehicles are often cheaper, but there are often fewer choices. In high season, expect prices to be a bit higher as there are more backpacking buyers.

When you do come to sell, don’t leave it until the last minute, as you won’t get the price you want. On the other, hand if you are a buyer this can be an advantage.

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Things to think about when buying

  • Age of car
  • Tyre condition
  • Number of Kms
  • Previous owners
  • Space
  • Type of car
  • Fuel consumption
  • Registration State and number of months left on it


I certainly advise you to get insurance for your vehicle in Australia. 3rd party insurance covers any damage you do to anyone else (but not your own vehicle), and comprehensive insurance covers your vehicle and anyone else.

If you need insurance, make sure you check out Budget Direct, who I find always has great pricing, which is perfect for independent travellers.

You can also look at roadside assistance in case of a breakdown. Great in case you get stuck in the outback!


If you can, avoid campsites, as they certainly add to your costs! Being prepared with things such as a solar shower and eskys (coolers) can be a great way to camp in the middle of nowhere; it is free and a real adventure.

However, you can’t camp everywhere, and you can risk fines. Tasmania is good by way of free camping, and if you see a Blue sign with a RV on it anywhere in Australia, it means you can camp in the town. Awesome!

Check out Camp in Australia to help you prepare your route. Another great resource is the app Wiki Camp, it costs, but is worth every penny.

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