We have been confidently telling everybody that we’re going to buy a campervan in Oz – it’s the cheapest way for four of us to get around and it will provide an exciting part of the whole adventure for the girls. We’d even decided what colours we were going to paint it if it needed a touch up (white with coloured dots – just like a Boden catalogue!). We’d worked out whether we’d name it after the Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo, or something else. And Charlotte had been sketching out interior designs so that everybody could sleep without putting their foot into somebody’s ear.
Arriving in Sydney, one of our first ports of call was Kings Cross Car Market – 5 floors down in the underground car park lurk backpackers selling their cars and campervans. There were about 15 vans there, but it served to highlight that we’re not a normal backpacking couple. There were none that would accommodate 4 people easily (although one enterprising backpacker piled 3 of his mates in to demonstrate how four people could sleep in the double bed!). The choice was everything from 20 year old VW Combivans to 10 year old Toyota vans. The Combivans were definitely the most attractive to look at, but they really wouldn’t fit us all in without nerves being badly frayed by the end of week one. The vans were all priced between $3,500 to $6,000 (£1,400 to £2,400) – the closer the sellers come to their departure date, the bigger the price cuts.
But as there wasn’t anything we went along the road to talk to the dealers on Williams Street – these are professionals, that make a living selling campervans to travellers. Sadly, they had cars that mostly looked as if they’d fall apart next week, except for one exceptional one, ideal for a family of four, costing $20,000 (£8,000 ish). The problem with that one is the resale value – typically in 4 months time when we come to sell we could lose $6-8,000 on it – and there would be a danger of losing more if we couldn’t find a buyer (and as there’s not many families travelling like us, we’d be in a fix). So we were a bit stumped. Then we wandered along to Kings X Campervans, which rents vans out, and spent the afternoon looking, negotiating, thinking, negotiating, hesitating and then finally closing a deal to rent a van.
We decided to hire for 2 months, until December, which will cost us $4,500 (at $69 a day). Then in December we’ll need a car that seats 6, when Gloria and Michael (Sarah’s parents) join us. We can’t get a campervan with 6 seats, so we’re going to have to hire a different vehicle anyway – and if we bought our own campervan we’d be stuck with 2 vehicles to move around. So all in all, we’ve got a good arrangement – we’ll end up paying less in campervan rental than we’d lose by buying and selling (with no risk!), and we’ll end up hiring a car in December for the extended family travelling. And then in January we’ll take a look at what we’re doing, and then decide what we need for the last month in Oz.
So all the planning we did – about painting etc – was wasted, as we won’t be allowed to paint somebody else’s van!
We felt good at the end of the day, because we’d made another step forward on our travels, and we have a positive move forward to leave Sydney on Saturday morning. We’ll also have somewhere to ‘settle down’ for a couple of months (even though it’ll be moving, the inside will seem like a static home)