(This post was last updated on February 11 2023)
In this post you can read about our experience with renting an autocamper and how we went by with the travel itinerary. In the bottom you will find a budget overview of our 15 days journey in West Australia.
My partner and I booked an autocamper holiday for the first time ever in both of our lives. It was something I would never have done myself. It is literally a small, livable luxury truck that can take you out on the wild Australian adventure.
I have been camping with my family almost my entire life on Greek camping grounds, and my partner has been on wilderness treks in the Scandinavian mountains with his friends. Therefore, we felt comfortable going on this adventure together!
We were not fully prepared for all the practicalities in the autocamper (RV), but we learned a lot while on the road.
Choosing the right autocamper for our needs
We were traveling outside the prime tourist season in the late spring, and therefore there was a lot of options to begin with once I looked into the autocamper prices. But closing in 1,5 month before our trip, I started to get worried that they would sell out!
I had found a Danish website that compares prices across rental companies and makes great offers on autocampers. There was a good deal on a Britz Discovery autocamper for 15 days with pick up in Perth.
Our requirements were: decent bathroom/toilet, cruise control, GPS, outside barbecue and awning (the roof/shade you can extend from the van to sit outside). We also considered a four-wheel drive (4WD), because then there would be (almost) no limits to where we could go! But that means no shower and toilet, sleeping in a tent in weather conditions we were unsure about.
Honestly, I do not think we missed out so much by not having four-wheel drive (4WD). Because we already had so many wildlife encounters and enjoyed the laid back vibes in the wilderness of Cape Range National Park up at the Ningaloo Reef. Also the many free camping spots offered plenty of birds, kangaroos etc.
Picking up the autocamper from the rental company
After the COVID lockdown and social distance, the rental company THL that rents Britz, Maui and Apollo vehicles, did not give us any introductory tour inside of the autocamper before we embarked on our journey. Which is very stupid since you rent out these things that itself almost costs as much as a house, but also you don’t get much customer service when you start the journey.
First we were confronted with the reduced liability insurance (which my partner and I had agreed, that we would not pay for), but it was impossible for them to carry out the ‘transaction’ of the refundable deposit (upon returning the autocamper in perfect condition). We came prepared but unfortunately we ended up spending a day trying to fix the transaction issues at the rental company THL in Perth.
Something I really liked about the facilities at THL was that you can collect FREE leftover food items, spices, cooking oil etc. when you pick-up the van. Once you return again, you can leave any unused/leftover food items there for the next people 🙂
In the late afternoon just at office closing time we were able to leave (after being forced to pay the reduced liability insurance). They ended up ‘upgrading‘ us to a newer van, a Maui Cascade instead of our Britz Discovery. We were however warned about this by the website where I found the offer, and they can only upgrade the chosen model, never downgrade.
We went north to one of the suburbs to Perth to do our grocery shopping, and then we free camped by Moore River Rest together with a bunch of other people with 4WD’s and autocampers!
Lessons learned from the first time in an autocamper
- Before traveling too far into the bush, make sure you camp somewhere not too far from the rental office for the first night, in case there is something wrong with the autocamper.
- Fill up your fridge and shelves first thing. Collect free items at the rental office before leaving!
- You can get pretty far without a toilet in the autocamper, if you choose a cheaper option. The toilet kind of take out the charm if you are on a couples vacation 🙂
- Make sure to get a Telstra Sim card. We had cellphone service almost EVERYWHERE, and my partner even had an online job interview in one of the most remote places we stayed at!
- Download offline-maps for the areas you will visit. We never needed to use the GPS in the car!
- Do research on apps like Campermate (free) or WikiCamps Australia (1 month free trial). Here you can find info on the nearest dumpsite, campsites etc.
- Buy sanitizer and hand wash soap! You will thank yourself after changing the toilet casette.
- Drive with care! Lots of wildlife roam the roads, and the corpses of dead kangaroos were plentiful. Do not drive at dusk or dawn, that is when a lots of animals get active and move around.
- Diesel/fuel was hella expensive. For the 15 days itinerary (see below) we spent a total of 860 AUD!
- Always top up your fuel before leaving any town. Even if it’s ‘only half full’
- Do not choose the first petrol station in town after a long drive – they usually set really high prices, if possible check out the second or third petrol station you come across
- If you have only two wheel drive (most autocampers) DO NOT go off-road. If you drive on gravel road, only take sealed roads and drive slowly (less than 20 km/hour)
- Even if your van’s car battery is charged, it may not be able to provide electricity for charging phones etc. Always keep a charged power bank or two!
- Bring a head torch for when you venture out in the dark to the bush loo!
- Keep the van tidy. You may attract vermin or cockroaches (we got the latter!). Even if you keep it tidy, they might come in anyway.
- Keep the curtains down when leaving the vehicle, remove any valuable items from sight.
- Keep shoes inside the van! Especially in the night.
- Pack light and use soft bags. A hard-case suitcase will not fit anywhere!
- You use less clothes than you think. Camping life is laid-back!
Check out our travel itinerary
We of course found inspiration online to tailor our perfect Western Australia itinerary for our first time in the autocamper. We altered the plans on the road due to unforeseen circumstances, or because we simply fell in love with a place (I’m looking at you, Cape Range National Park, Ningaloo Reef World Heritage Site!)
Our actual 15 days itinerary was as following:
- Perth (picking up the van) -> Moore River Rest (free rest spot near Yanchep National park)
- Yanchep -> Cervantes (The pinnacles) & campsite in Port Gregory (Pink Lake)
- Port Gregory -> Kalbarri National Park (camping in Kalbarri town)
- Kalbarri National Park -> Coral Bay (campsite)
- Coral Bay -> Free camping at Lyndon River rest
- Lyndon River-> Exmouth -> camping at Cape Range National Park, Mesa Camp (Ningaloo Reef)
- Ningaloo Reef – snorkeling all day!! (Mesa camp in Cape Range, big recommendations!)
- Ningaloo Reef – snorkeling (staying at Exmouth camping this time)
- Back to Cape Range National Park snorkeling -> driving rest of the day heading south (camping at a free rest spot)
- The unexpected day at Carnarvon – we got a shredded/punctured tyre!! after getting that fixed -> camping at Wooramel River Station (LOVED that place!)
- Wooramel -> Shark Bay (Stromatolites, Shell Beach etc. Camping in Denham)
- Monkey Mia/Shark Bay (camping in Denham)
- Shark Bay (Pearl Farm /wildlife excursion) -> continue south to a free rest spot Galena Riverside South
- Galena -> Beekeepers Reserve -> Yanchep National Park (camping at Henry White Oval inside the park)
- Yanchep National Park (hiking all day)
- Returning the van: Yanchep -> Perth
All the spots with ‘campsite/camping’ were paid sites, not all powered sites (around 20-50 AUD per night!), where else free rest spots was totally for free. If you save water you can stay for longer at free camp spots.
Actual budget for 15 days
- Autocamper for 15 days (model ‘Britz Discovery’) = 3900 AUD
- Reduced liability insurance = 780 AUD (which was non refundable! this was an unexpected fee for us as we planned to leave a monstrous deposit for the rental company..)
- Paid campsites: Total 384 AUD – free camping for the rest (4 nights in total) = 34 AUD per day on average, which was usually a powered site with the possibility of topping up the fresh water tank
- 14 day holiday pass for unlimited access to National Parks in Western Australia (The Pinnacles, Cape Range, Yanchep and many others) = 40 AUD per vehicle
- Guided tour at Monkey Mia on a boat = 170 AUD, 3 hours
- Expenses for groceries will depend on your diet 🙂
Happy camping and drive safely! It was truly amazing to immerse ourselves in the wilderness, despite us living quite comfortably in the van. We stayed in some wild and remote places outside the more tidy campsites.
We pushed our own boundaries and had a great vacation. I would definitely try an autocamper or campervan vacation again! 😎I
This blog post does not contain any affiliate links.
I might add a lost of my favorite campsites in Western Australia to this post at a later time.
© All photos are my own unless stated and may not be used without permission.
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