From late December 2017 to mid June 2018, I lived in a tiny metal box on wheels having the time of my life. One small campervan gave Emma and I complete freedom; we could do what we wanted, when we wanted. If we wanted to eat breakfast overlooking the coast, track down aboriginal hand paintings, explore prehistoric rainforests or simply sleep, we could. Welcome to vanlife in Australia!
I’ve said this before but there is absolutely no better way to experience all Australia has to offer than in a campervan. From the unimaginable overnight heat, endless horizons and kangaroos coming to have a sniff around, these experiences all get under your skin and show Australia off in a way that can’t be done by flying here, there and everywhere.Before we set off on our vanlife adventure in Australia, I read a lot of articles on what to expect. What I found helped most were statistics; details that I could actually work with. For the geek in me, I could try and work out exactly how much it would cost for our own road trip. I wanted to keep track of as much as possible whilst travelling so I had a few spreadsheets covering fuel, distance, food and accommodation. I found the food the hardest to keep up to date but we eventually settled on a weekly cash budget.
If you’re planning your own adventure or are simply curious as to what vanlife in Australia entails, keep reading. For me at least, these statistics are really interesting!
Total Nights (excluding an Airbnb Stay in Sydney) – 154
% Free Accommodation – 54%
Total Accommodation Cost – $1,750.97
Average Accommodation Cost Per Person Per Night – $5.68
Total Distance Travelled – 15,845km
Lengths of Britain Covered – 11
Times Could Have Driven from Durham to Istanbul – 4
Total Spent on Fuel – $2,851.30
Average Cost Per Litre – 151.2c
Average Cost Per Fill – $53.80
Average Distance per Fill – 288km
Average Cost per km – $0.19
Cheapest Petrol – 123.7c, Cowra, New South Wales
Most Expensive Petrol – 213.5c, Ayers Rock Resort, Uluru, Northern Territory
Number of Breakdowns – 4
Times Almost Run Out of Petrol in the Outback – 1
Times Hitch Hiked in the Outback – 2
Total Campervans Killed – 1
Best Sunset – Bowen, Queensland
Best Sunrise – Orange, New South Wales
Hottest Temperature – 42 degrees, Cowra, New South Wales
Coldest Temperature – -1 degrees, Alice Springs, Northern Territory
Average Number of Bugs in the Van Each Night – At least 100
Wild Cassowaries Seen – 1
When looking over these stats at the end of our trip, what surprised me was how much we spent on accommodation. That is obviously on top of what we spent on the van in the first place. I had thought that we’d be able to free camp anywhere and everywhere. However, if I’m honest, it really wasn’t like that. For a peaceful sleep somewhere nice, we’d often find ourselves paying for a campsite rather than beside a petrol station for example. On the East Coast too, there are far fewer free camps than you’d imagine and, even then, it takes some serious planning each day.
For a sense of exactly what our road trip entailed, below is an approximate route from Google Maps. We did manage to fly over to Perth after our breakdown but Emma and I feel our road trip is incomplete. At some point in the next few years, once everything’s back in order, we will be finishing off the lap of Australia.
Hopefully these statistics will help you in some way when considering vanlife in Australia. It’s not for everyone and there’s definitely more to it than what you’ll see on social media but it’s a truly life-changing experience that will make you appreciate the little things in life.