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When my partner and I decided to embark on a trip around Australia, our first priority was to identify what the journey would mean to us. For me, the holiday would be about developing an intimate connection with the land, local people and cultures. For her, it was about travelling comfortably with a warm bed and place to relax. At first glance, our goals seemed to collide. I wanted the raw experience – off-the-map trekking while she wanted to be pampered. We were at a crossroads.
Or so we thought.
We researched all the different ways to travel across Australia. These included hiring a car and staying in local accommodation to taking a bus tour; flying to riding the great The Ghan rail network through the Nullabor. I even suggested purchasing a couple of motorbikes and hitting the road wearing leather (this idea was quickly squashed).
We finally settled on hiring a campervan for our holiday. It was not a mode of transport that I had initially considered but now it is the only way I will travel. We have just completed a six week road-trip of the Australian east coast and Northern Territory and not only did campervan travel tick all my boxes of having an intimate and immersive experience, it also satisfied my partner's pampered lifestyle. She quickly adapted the camper to make it our home away from home.
If you've never been on a campervan trip, here are some of the reasons they may convince you to consider it for your next holiday.
Our campervan gave us the opportunity to explore the Land Down Under at our leisure. At one point on our trip, we came across road that wound its way through the Daintree Rainforest. We spontaneously decided to take it and were rewarded with a spectacular sight of a carpet of green stretching its way into the distance. We could not see another soul in sight and the detour would have never happened if we were on a bus tour.
At that very spot in the Daintree, we decided to spend a couple of hours enjoying the isolation. While my wife relaxed with a book in the shade of the camper, I explored the surrounding forest. With no timetables, flight check-in times or deadlines pressing us to race to our next checkpoint, I could live in the moment. When I eventually made it back to the campervan, we prepared a quick lunch and then were on our way again. The flexibility of the campervan allowed for such a day to be possible.
The personal experience
I have always wanted to find out more about Indigenous Australian culture and traditions. It was on an Aboriginal cultural tour just south of Darwin that I had one of the best experiences of my life. The tour explained the connection the Aboriginal clans have with the land and I even got to blow a didgeridoo. Afterwards, we were invited to stay in a local Aboriginal community. We drove the camper to the community and there swapped stories all night with the local people about our experiences in the area. We then simply retired to the campervan for the night before saying our 'goodbyes' to those wonderful people in the morning.
The creature comforts
As mentioned earlier, my partner made our camper our home-away-from-home, and it took no effort. She simply brought our pillows and blankets from our bed at home as well as my favourite drinking glass. This came in handy in a winery in Victoria. There was nothing like enjoying a quality red at sunset from your favourite glass.
There were also a few times in bad weather when I was glad we chose a campervan for our holiday, instead of camping in a tent. Cold or wet weather was never a problem in the camper, we would just turn the heat on, curl up with our blankets with a warm cup of tea and watch a DVD. It's the simple things about the campervan that made it a real pleasure.
We had a strict budget for our holiday and one of the biggest drawcards when it came to choosing a campervan over hiring a car was the relative affordability. Staying in a campervan is much easier on your purse-strings than many other forms of travel. Caravan park fees are a fraction of the cost of hotel accommodation, while campervan hire costs are about the same as hiring as a car. We were also able to stretch our budget by cooking all of our meals in the campervan kitchen.
The sense of community
I was surprised and touched to learn that the campervan community is a friendly and welcoming bunch of people. We were in Forster on the NSW Mid-North Coast at the campground that overlooked the stunning water when our neighbours for the night introduced themselves. They were a young family and were regular campervanners from Victoria. Travelling in their camper was something the kids looked forward to every season. "We use our camper to explore some of Australia's best spots to fish and surf," said Geoff, their father.
I told them that we were traveling around the Australia's eastern coast and that I was a keen surfer myself. He mentioned that there was a great spot about 20km out of Forster that they regularly visit on their NSW trips. We would often find great pieces of information from fellow campervanners we met along the way.
If you have never hired a campervan before but have always dreamed of one day hitting the road and heading into the uncharted, do what we did and sign up with GoByCamper.com. You'll receive the latest updates on camping travel hotspots and discounts from Maui and other campervan companies.