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What to avoid when travelling around Australia

Fishy Car Sales, and Bloody Oyster Shots

storm 22 °C

large_Melbourne_night_parkville.jpg

So you wanna go away for a bit, you wanna see something new. You arrive in this country as a backpacker, with the lifestyle and mentality of a backpacker. You want to see the lot!

I planned on driving all the way around Australia since before I even arrived here. Originally I thought I could do it 6 months into the trip. Well, here I am now, over a year later and I'm still stuck in the same town. Various mishaps with work early on got me stuck long enough to make stronger ties with the locals, which in turn reeled me back in once I finally left.

I went and bought a van, but now things are not looking out the way I wanted. The van might get returned, as it is not what I hoped for, and the previous owner has been extremely rude and offensive in my dealings with him since the pick up. But life goes on, whatever happens, happens. You just have to float along.

So instead of complaining about negative crap I will give anyone looking to do the big down-under-loop some advice on things to look out for in the prep stage:

  • Allow yourself ample time for saving money. 6 months might be enough if you can keep expenses very low. Do some couchsurfing, or move into the van already before travelling.
  • Driving around Australia is expensive. 20-25 000 kilometres is a long way to go and will cost you about $6-7 000 in petrol alone if you are driving a van or jeep.
  • Don't go alone. Partly for safety reason, partly for company, partly for economical reasons.
  • Have plenty of water and preferably a backup power supply (solar is excellent in this country) you'll also need a jerry tank to keep extra fuel.
  • Don't trust anyone for your car/van/jeep purchase. Not even a friend of a friend (never buy cars from friends, wherever you are), to some people money is more important than friendship and morality.
  • Know the rules for car purchases in your state. Here in Victoria a registered car needs to be Roadworthy when you buy it. If it isn't you, as a buyer, put yourself in a really difficult situation as you need to have a Roadworthy to change the ownership and will only get 2 weeks to do it, and fix eventual flaws. The only time you should buy a car without Roadworty is if it's unregistered.
  • As a buyer your only responsibility is to make sure everything is in order and hand in the papers to Vic Roads here in Victoria (check your state for local laws).
  • You need to pay transfer of ownership fee which will vary depending on the price on your vehicle. I think it was $8 for every $200 you spent, plus $16 motor vehicle duty or something like that.
  • Know your way around cars, just in case anything goes wrong in the middle of nowhere it could be good to know how to change a tyre for example.
  • When buying the car make sure everything is working. Minor things like rust on a door or dints and scratches can take the price down on a fully functional car to a level you can actually afford. Spray paint it yourself if you want it to look nice that badly. The engine, tyres and electrical components of the car are far more important than it's beauty. Also keep size in mind, get a car/van/jeep with the right dimensions for what you had in mind for the back.
  • I've been given the advice not to drive in the dark when I'm in the outback, as there are camels all over the roads at night, and trust me: you don't want to hit one of those bad boys.
  • Don't get in the way of the big road trains; massive trucks with several trailers in tow. They'll come rushing towards you at high speed, with no way to steer clear of you. Drive to the side, stop and wait for them to pass. Or make sure they have enough room to pass without having to do any sudden turns.
  • Maybe most importantly: don't speed. Take it slow, take it all in. You're not in a hurry and you don't want to miss anything along the way.

You can find more info on vic roads website (for Victoria, other states may vary).

Just make sure you get the right gear and plan properly.
But in the end it's meant to be an awesome experience. Don't stress too much. Be safe, don't be stupid, and you won't have to worry about Wolf Creek-like scenarios.

That's all I've got for now. I'm going back to prepping the trip... or finishing my beer, whichever is easier... mmm beer.

Beppe Karlsson, Melbourne

Posted by Beppe.Karlsson 05:41 Archived in Australia Tagged australia car van beppe_karlsson driving_around_australia buying_van buying_car

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