After our the East-coast roadtrip with our beloved Van Mr. Moustache it's time to share you guys our experiences of the way to travel (the east coast of) Australia.
People often ask us, what is the best way to travel Australia? We will immediately respond to this question to consider buying or renting a car, but this can of course be different for you. What are the advantages and disadvantages of buying or renting a car? When you should not buy or rent a car and go for the bus? We will discuss these question in this blog. This blog does not contain info about hitch-hiking, but of course you can give it a try!
When to rent a car, buy a car or just hop on the bus?
- Hop on the bus; it is definitely the most easy and cheapest way to just hop on a bus. The Greyhound Australia offers a hop-on, hop-of service which can be very handy for you as a traveler. You decide yourself when you want to leave a specific place, so this will give you still a lot of freedom and you don't have to worry about going from the one place to the other. This company also offers a service to travel overnight, which saves costs for accommodation. Another big advantages is that you meet a lot of people in the bus. This can be very attractive when you travel alone. Checkout www.greyhound.com.au for the actual prices.
- Rent a car; being for up to 2 months in Australia and you want to hit the open roads, explore remote beaches and discover hidden gems? It might be interesting for you to rent a car. Having your own car gives you the most possible freedom, save on accommodation costs (checkout the app WikiCamps & Campermate for free campgrounds) & save on food costs. The big advantage of renting a car is that you are ready to go. Everything is arranged for you, so you just chose your car and the same day you can start your trip. There are a lot of possibilities, from small cars up to big camper vans. It's up to you what you choose. The disadvantage of renting a car are of course the costs. So this is why we suggest not to chose for this option if you are planning to stay a little bit longer in Australia and have the time to buy and sell a car. However, on www.juicy.com.au they have some very attractive offers for you to save costs.
- Buy a car; are you planning to stay in Australia a little bit longer and the adventurous you don't want to think about going home? Go and get your own car! It might be a bit horrifying to buy your own car, especially if it's your first one. But so it was ours. An important thing is to prepare yourself and take your time to buy and sell your car. Of course, it is important to chose a car which is reliable and suits your needs. Therefore it's better to invest time in doing research and in literally choosing and buying your car, than wasting your time and money at a mechanic after you bought one. The biggest advantage of having your own car instead of hiring a car is in the most circumstances the cost-saving factor. Another advantage is that the car is yours, so you can do with it whatever you want. Are you interested in buying a car in Australia, it might be your lucky day, because we listed the 10 handy tips for (hopefully) one of the best purchases in your life!
Tip 1. Make a list of your minimum requires of your car. Make a decision if you want to go for a 2WD, 4WD or your own Van. The cheapest option will be a 2WD, but this also has less possibilities. There are a lot of campgrounds only accessible by a 4WD and a 2WD often has less space and no tent on the roof. If you like to have space, because you are not planning to stay in hostels most of the time you should go for a Van. So your comfy bed will be waiting for you every day. Also, there often will be an inbuilt kitchen and room for 3 persons. We decided to go for a Van ourselves because of the space and we heard from other people that you won't miss much because of the only 4WD accessible roads (might be different in Western Australia).
Tip 2. Go find your car online, on notice boards or from your contacts. There are a lot of online sources to find a car as Facebook groups 'Australian Backpackcars', 'car sale Australia' and our favorite www.gumptree.com.au. Make sure you visit more than 1 car to be able to compare different cars, so our advice is to make different appointments straight after each other to safe time. While searching for cars use your list of your minimum requires to make a selection. Our minimum requires list also contained the age of the car, amount of KM's, status of the tyres, replacement of the timing-belt, the size, the REGO and extra's of the car.
Tip 3. Make sure you informed yourself about the REGO. You cannot drive in Australia without a REGO. It can be compared to a 'tax disk'. Each state has other rules for the REGO. In some states you are required to get your car serviced and checked to get the registration. Often you need a roadworthy check from which the cots and requirements also differ per state. There are two states were no roadworthy certificate is required, the two states are Victoria (VIC) and Western Australia (WA). If you buy a car with a WA registered car you even can do the transfer & extension online. Make sure you check how many months of REGO is still on the car and that your car is registrated. The cost of a registration are on average about 50 dollar, so it can safe you a lot of money if the car is still registered for like 6 months. The note of thumb is that you have to be extra focused if you buy and sell your car in another state were the car is registered, especially when your registration will due. You often have to be in the same state if you want to extent your REGO or have to be in the same state to do the roadworthy check of the car. For more information about the REGO you should contact the state where the car is registrated.
Tip 4. Check the maintenance book or map of the car. Always ask the seller about the 'maintenance book' with all the receipts of the mechanics. These receipts will clarify when the car has service and what part are renewed in the past. It is recommended to do 'service' every 10.000 km. The mechanic will check the car and give you information about how the car is doing. Quite important to know after you invested a lot of money in your new home. In this maintenance book you can find when the tyres were replaced (search on google how you can check how well the tyres are doing) and the timing belt was replaced ( should be replaced every 80.000 - 100.000 km). If the tyres are old, considering a tyre will cost you about 100 dollar per piece and the timing belt should be replaced (400-800 dollar) this can result in a lot of extra costs.
Tip 5. Do a purchase check! After all the thing we spoke about are alright for you and you think you found your new home we would highly recommend you to do a purchase check before you buy your car (Note: This is not always necessary if you have to do a roadworthy check for you REGO, talk about this with your mechanic). Especially when you are not very experienced with cars it can be very useful to have a experienced mechanic who takes a look at it. We did a purchase check for just 50 dollars. An important note; a roadworthy check is defenitely not the same as a purchase check. So do not blindly believe the seller if he says that he just did a roadworthy and everyhting is alright.
Tip 6. Get your insurance and/or your roadside assistance. In your registration (REGO) a 3rd party insurance is included for injuries or death. An important not is that this insurance does not cover your car or the other person's car- just people. So you still need an insurance for the car, e.g. - third party, fire and theft. Whatever you require. Make sure you arrange your insurance from a company within the state where your car is registrated. As an additional thing you can do roadside assistance, which can be very handy if your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. The one we have is from RACV where we are very happy with.
Tip 7. Check before you buy a car if there are any fines open. Use this site to get to know if you have any fines; https://transact.ppsr.gov.au/ppsr-mobile/QMVS (make sure you have a VIN code).
Congratulations with your new car, give it a right name and hit the Aussie roads!! Please be aware for wildlife on the roads, wombats can be as a stone in front of your car and kangaroos are attracted by your car lights. So avoid at all circumstances driving in the dark. It's not only terrible for the animal, but your car and your adventure will be gone as well. Also, its pretty important to make sure to check your oil & water level each 500 KMs and do service at a mechanic every 10.000 KMs.
Finally, we are very enthusiastic about having our own van, but buying an own car is definitely not for everyone. You have to invest time in doing research and there can be a lot of issues with your car. Also a lot of people fall into the trap that they buy an overpriced car and expect to get the same amount of money back. Expect not to sell your car for the same price and make a budget for maintenance costs to not be disappointed. So take your time to chose a right car and make a deliberate decision! And do not regret to go for a rented car or the Greyhound bus, because in the end you will probably visit almost the same sightseeings as everyone.
Hopefully these tips are useful & you can find a reliable car to have the most possible fun as we do!
See ya somewhere on the road!
Cheers, Stijn & Anouk