Australia, if you haven’t noticed, is a big country – the more land to cover, the more time and transportation is needed. However, Australia is a very expensive country so accommodation and transportation will cost you… Because of this, a lot of travelers that visit Australia buy a van when they get there and sell it when they leave [usually 1-12 months later].
Buying a van is a great idea for long-term traveling because it will be your transportation and accommodation in one… no more worries about catching a bus, lugging backpacks around the city, finding a hostel, leaving earlier than you wanted due to lack of accommodations, etc. Traveling is stressful. Buying a van is also stressful, but once you have the van, your travel experience will be a million times better.
Where to Buy in Australia
The biggest Traveler Car Market is in Sydney– located in the Kings Cross Parking Garage.
When we were there, we had heard about it through some passing travelers, but we didn’t know where it was. We asked about it in a few stores, hostels, and coffee shops but everyone looked at us like we were crazy – none of the locals had any idea about this underground [literally] car market.
Once you find the Kings Cross Parking Garage, go to the bottom level and you’ll see all the vans lined up, with doors open, ready to show. Walk around, take pictures, pick up a flyer with details, and try to pick which would be the best for you.
To make the process easier for buyers and sellers, there is even an office on that lower level dedicated to helping travelers.
(1) Don’t buy the cheapest – it’ll either break down in the middle of the outback and/or it’ll be difficult to sell when you decided to leave the country.
(2) An Australia bank account might be easier to transfer money – if possible, try to open one when you arrive or before you leave home.
(3) Ask questions – ask what was done to the van since they owners had it… if they said they replaced something, ask if it has been replaced before… if something has been replaced a number of times, then that is most likely going to be a problem time-and-time-again…
Legal Issues and Paperwork
(1) Registration [aka “rego”] – the previous owner will have the paperwork… his/her signature is need alongside of yours. It is better to have the car registered in the state ofWestern Australia because that is the cheapest and also you can renew online if need be [all the other states you need to be in the state to renew the rego]
(2) Pink Slip [aka RCW or “Roadworthy Certificate”] – the owner will have a pink slip which states that the car is up to certain standards checked by a mechanical inspection by a licensed garage in order to sell [usually costs about AU$90]… you can not buy a car from someone without this pink slip.
(3) Insurance [Not Needed] – basic insurance is covered in the rego… this only covers if people are injured [not repairs to the vehicle]. However, you can purchase third-party insurance if you feel the need…
(4) Permanent Address – You will need to provide an Australian address in the state the vehicle is registered. Travelers won’t have a permanent address, but that is ok. It was recommended that we use a hostel or someplace that we knew we were going to towards the end of our journey… a better option is using the address of a post office. “Australian post offices provide a free mailbox and forwarding service. All you have to do is call the post office and ask if they have any post for you, and if there is, ask them to forward it to a post office in a town you will soon be visiting.”
(1) Rego in Western Australia – Try to purchase a car with a registration from Western Australia – I could be wrong on this because it’s been awhile, but I’m pretty sure we were told that WA vehicles can be sold anywhere in Australia whereas if you have a vehicle registered in any other state, you are kind of force to sell your car in the state where it is registered. “Selling out-of-state registered car is not impossible but it can be a lot of headaches, time, and money-wasting”
Wicked Campervans are another option if you want a campervan to drive across the outback. Wicked Campervans are graffitied and are all unique on the outside [some with really bizarre art] and are pretty stripped down on the inside – usually just bare bones of a car with crazy artwork…
You’d think that these would be cheap, but they’re not. Between the odd art, the bare metal on the inside, and the price being almost doubled [compared to buying a van from another traveler], I almost walked away without ever turning back… However, Wicked Campervans come with 2 huge advantages that privately buying does not:
(1) 24 hour roadside assistance – If you’re van breaks down in the middle of the Australian outback, then [as long as you have cell phone service] Wicked Campervans will come to you ASAP and fix anything wrong with the vehicle. With privately purchased vehicles, you can buy roadside assistance insurance separately, but it’ll cost over AU$1000… Another advantage is that the roadside assistance is for the CAR, NOT THE PERSON… meaning if you sell the car before 1 year, then the new owner will get the remainder of the year of roadside assistance… this is a great re-sale perk!
(2) 40% buyback guarantee – Once you decide to sell the Wicked Campervan, you can try to sell it to another traveler for what you paid for it OR, Wicked campervans will buy it back from you for no less than 40% of what you paid! This is a nice safety net for travelers that might not have a lot of time to hang out for a few weeks and try to sell a car.
UPDATE: Last I checked, Wicked got rid of the 40% buyback guarantee! But in place of that, they lowered the prices of all their campervans…
If you’re not digging the lower price but really like the buyback option, then yet another option is THE AUTOBARN [a company just like Wicked, but still does the buyback guarantee]
Be Sure to Also Check
(1) Relocation Cars – FREE cars to get you where you want to go!
(2) Gumtree.com – “Craigslist” forAustralia, New Zealand, and the UK
Resources: Registration Details