What I Learned Doing A Campervan Relocation From Sydney To Darwin

(Last Updated On: May 26, 2015)

Hello everyone if you are one of our regular followers you might have noticed a lack of articles and posts on our Facebook page, well part of the reason is we have been in the middle of the outback with zero internet or phone reception!

You probably read our article on how to travel in a camper van around Oz for $1 a day. Well we did it! A campervan relocation from Sydney To Darwin and in only 6 days and we thought it would help if we shared our experience.

We were actually looking to do a relocation from Sydney to Brisbane as it is much shorter and along the coast. However this route came up and it was a 6 person campervan one of their top of the range models! So we snatched it up.

What I Learned Driving From Sydney To Darwin

Equipped with TV, Fridge, Shower, Toilet, Sink, Gas cooker, Aircon(not just car aircon but a proper aircon system in the roof) and much more!

It was literally booked the night before on CoSeats and put down a deposit of $250(this is to make sure you actually turn up on the day!).

It was a bit of a trek to get there but once we went through all the paperwork and terms of conditions.  We were literally given the keys to this beast of a campervan for $1 a day!

Just to quickly summarize the terms and what you need to know if you are thinking about doing a relocation.

  • Liability – There is 3 options for liability reduction and we went for the cheapest option but not necessarily the best. Which was a deposit of $250 refundable on drop off. This was known as excess reduction. The other two were $500 and $5000! 
  • We also got refunded our initial deposit that we paid when we booked it the night before.
  • Opted in for a toll package – We had no idea how many tolls we would be going through so for $39 it covered you and you didn’t have to register and pay driving through each toll.
  • Most of the other campervan companies such as Britz require a $1000 deposit which is refunded on pick up. Which is one of the biggest turn offs for people.
  • Very important: It can take up to 21 working days to get refunded your $1000!!

The Route From Sydney To Darwin

On paper it actually doesn’t look bad just 45-47 hours and we have 6 days to do it.

Normally you can get extra days at a cost of $50 – $75+ per day however it was already booked in Darwin for the day we were dropping it off! So we couldn’t avail of this option.

Looking at the map below you would probably opt in for the QLD route which is about 300 KM’s less! But we were keen to drive up through the middle of Australia. So opted in for the longer route


We figured we would might be able to drive at night from Sydney To Port Augusta however after missing a giant Roo by about 2 meters at 7pm we shortly gave up on that plan on the first night!

In hindsight we should have opted in for the QLD route as it is shorter and probably a better road.

We soon realized after the second day after only doing 4 hours of driving the day before that we had a LOT of catching up to do! Again this was all booked and planned in literally the night before so we didn’t really plan anything just jumped in the campervan and we were on our way to Darwin!

So long story short we worked out we had to drive 7 – 10 hours a day to make it to Darwin on time as there was no way we were driving at night. This was mainly because we collected the camper at 12 PM! Disaster!!

What you see on the drive from Sydney to Darwin 

Even though we had this disastrous drive ahead of us, the experience was amazing and we saw some of the craziest things along the way. Random cows strolling on the road, giant eagles eating dead roo’s, lots and lots of dead roo’s, amazing sunsets/sunrises and an ever-changing terrain.

If you are driving through be sure to stop at Coober Pedy one of the craziest towns you will ever see!

Road Houses + Campervan parks 

You soon realize once you get past Port Augusta that your phone and car radio no longer works! Along the way we could have stayed on one of the many rest points but we opted to stay at one of the many campervan sites.

It was amazing to see how well maintained these were. Randomly I met loads of Irish girls working in these road houses on the way up to Darwin.

At first I presumed they were doing their regional work but once we got to talking they weren’t! No idea how they discovered the places but from talking to them they were mainly there to work + save as everything was included accom/food etc.

Plus there was no where to spend their money. There was no phone and very rarely internet so I’d be surprised if any of you are reading this now, if you are – then Hello!

Each campervan park had its own cool vibe and there was no two alike. The photos below are just of a petrol station we stopped at somewhere a few hundred miles past Coober Pedy. It looked quite normal from the outside but once I stepped in I had to run and grab the camera. He even had a few old punt notes and coins on the wall. :)

I could write for days about each campsite but it really is something you need to experience for yourself. One thing I will say is every single stop the staff and facilities were amazing!

Even one place had full on pub party, no idea where everyone came from but there was a good 30 people there and the next roadhouse was a few hundred km’s away.

Tips and things you should know about campervan relocations

  • If you ever just wanted to try campervaning it is probably the cheapest way of doing it, once you factor in the deposit + FUEL
  • **FUEL** Some relocation offers give you a fuel allowance, in our case we had a $100 voucher refunded on drop off. When we dropped the campervan off we had done a few hundred KM’s over our limit(yea there is a limit) as a result we had to pay around $60 for the extra KM’s :Sadface
  • This was due to the route we took, they just subtracted it from the $100 fuel allowance so  it wasn’t so bad.
  • You think all you will have to worry about is Kangaroos but there are “wandering cows” loads of them and they would be much worse than hitting one of the many Kangaroos.
  • There is so many road trains with 3 or in some cases 4 carriages (over 50 m long).
  • Overtaking these in a car is bad enough but in a 6 person campervan it is quite a challenging!
  • Don’t drive at night! From seeing the amount of dead wildlife along the way I can only imagine that they were from the big road trains who drive through the night.
  • Most of the cows also black which means at night are even harder to spot! You are also not covered by insurance if you crash at night so that is another reason not to do it.
  • Driving from sunrise to sunset for the last few days really drains you! Sounds obvious but it really does be sure to switch between drivers and take regular breaks.
  • The road signage is brilliant! There is great rest facilities all the way from Sydney to Darwin
  • Stock up on alcohol(always drink responsibly lol) once you get into the outback the cost of beer + wine is super expensive so grab an ole crate or two if you want to save some money.
  • Bring some CD’s or buy some! Once your radio goes and trust me it will, you will get bored with the silence very quickly. Surprisingly our state of the art camper had no aux or usb or anything besides a CD player.
  • You can buy some on the way but the outback music collection is emm not as inviting as you might think.
  • Cruise control is one of the best things you will ever use!
  • We didn’t use the campervan toilet as you have to empty and clean the container before you bring it back which didn’t sound that appealing!
driving from sydney to darwin

Yes that is a bird!

How much did everything cost? 

In theory the idea is great it’s just $1 a day, you get $100 towards your fuel with food and everything I won’t spend that much in the 6 days??

Unfortunately this is not the case, while you save a TON of money on not renting the campervan(the one we had would have been $350 a day to rent!) the other costs quickly add up!

Most expensive cost FUEL – Okay we figured it will cost maybe 300 – 500$, this was just a guess but what we didn’t take into account was the price of Diesel as we drove up through the middle of Australia.

When we were leaving we were paying around $1.30 per liter and our peak was $1.98 per liter! The down side is you can’t just pick your fuel prices there is literally 300 – 400KM’s  between each road house.

In total we spent close to $1000 on diesel. So if you are making the trip be sure to take this into consideration. If there is 4 – 6 of you doing it then it’s not as bad but in our case there was only 2! :(

Campsites were actually quite reasonable ranging from $18 – $30 a night. Food is actually really good with many of them having nice little restaurants. I’d recommend ordering a T-Bone steak they are massive and delicious!!

Coffee – I can only imagine the amount of coffee that was consumed in the 6 days but surprisingly the road houses do great coffee! About $5 per coffee but it’s a much-needed addition to the road trip.

IMG_6338

We opted out of staying here.. as inviting as it looked ;)

Conclusion 

Okay I could literally write pages and pages about this road trip but I hope the above has given you a bit of insight into campervan relocations.

Would I do it again? Probably not anytime soon, it was an amazing experience and we saw SO much in such a short time.

If I was to do it, I would make sure I got a few extra days, these are normally around $75 a day and do a shorter route such as Brisbane to Sydney or Cairns To Brisbane. There is literally tonnes of routes you could take. On CoSeats Relocation page you can browse whats available very easily.

We actually had planned another relocation from Darwin to Cairns in a 4X4 camper, it was $15 a day and less KM’s but our bank accounts were depleted and after 6 days of non stop driving we decided to cancel it.

Bottom line if you and a few others are planning to move somewhere else in Australia and are flexible with time give it a go. You will be surprised how much fun it is.

One of the best feelings in the world is when you get there! We had to drop it off by 2:30 PM and we arrived at 2 PM and it’s such a great feeling!

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